Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Persistence really does pay off

I just knocked down a brick wall that has been bugging me ever since I discovered one of my great-great grandfather's siblings was married twice. But the discovery wasn't about the husband, but rather his wife's FIRST husband.

I started trying one of the newest databases at FamilySearchLabs and for a lark if nothing else I started going through my Wilhelm names and those associated with it and thought I would take a stab at Charles L. Wilhelm's second wife, Elizabeth (Wear) Hahn. Wear is her maiden name and Hahn is the surname of her first husband. She had three children with him but I hadn't been able to find his first name, until just a few minutes ago.

I typed in Elizabeth's name and used Hahn not Wilhelm, since in the database parents of the deceased person are sometimes, but not always listed. As I scrolled through the list of names looking for anything familiar I spotted Elizabeth with her MAIDEN name of Wear. In that one listing was her daughter from her first marriage, Lillie, who died in 1898 (I didn't have this information either). And there in the column 'Spouses and Children' it said JACOB HAHN and Elizabeth Wear. BINGO, there he was just waiting to be found, her first husband.

I still can't believe that I finally found him but it really is true, persistence DOES pay off. Now that I have his first name I can see what else I can find out including his parents and perhaps I can even locate him in the census records and find out why he didn't live with Elizabeth and maybe even when he died.

Knocking down these little brick walls are what make genealogy research fun, thanks to FamilySearchLabs this is one brick wall that I am glad to have finally knocked down.

New databases to search

FamilySearchLabs has completed its 'beta' testing and has 'launched' its site with brand new databases for genealogists to search. I haven't tried them all out yet but one did catch my eye as I was scrolling through to get to one I use regularly, the Ohio death records. Its similar but titled 'Ohio Deaths and Burials'. Of the dozen or so names I've tried, just to see what would come up, I've found three that contain a little bit more information than I had before the search. It isn't much but then again EVERY little bit helps, especially when someone died before 1908, which is when the Ohio death certificate database starts (it ends with 1953). The new 'index' doesn't have images (wish it did) but has basic information and the dates go up to 1997 and start in 1854 or thereabouts.

I'm quite excited about the new database and plan to try as many of my Ohio names as possible. Should make things interesting and as always frustrating which goes with the territory of genealogy research, but it isn't that bad.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

No new clues

Haven't heard back from Maureen, but then she is busy with other genealogical projects. I told her there was no hurry. Haven't gotten any other clues through the photos, though a few of them have the 'I.N. Conrad' on the back, one has 'Port C. Baxter', one has 'J.W. Gould, Artist, Carrollton, O.' stamped on the front, one has 'Gould & Baxter Unexcelled Pictures, West Side Public Square Carrollton, Ohio' and in fine print 'All negatives preserved for future orders'. Speaking of negatives, the very first picture has one behind it and I am still very tempted to go and get a print made just to see if a clearer image can be produced.

Got an e-mail from a woman off one of the message boards I posted the album link to, unfortunately she couldn't identify any of the pictures but liked that I had them. That's nice but that's also no help to me. I really wish the others had names on the bottoms like the one of Emma Wilhelm did, it would make my life a whole lot easier. I would like to add these photos eventually to my family album because at least then I would know what they looked like. Maybe someday I'll get to do that.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Mystery of the Photos part 2

This mystery may get solved yet, or at least it may get some new life put into it with the help of Maureen Taylor. She specializes in identifying photos and has offered to help me. I'm waiting to hear back from her on what she wants me to do and gave her some additional information that I didn't put in my original query. She said that the first couple of photos are the most important folks to the creator of the album. If that's indeed true, and since Emma Wilhelm, my great-grandmother's sister was the 6th photo in the album, its entirely possible that the first two photos are that of her and my great-grandmother Mary, and my great-great grandfather, Henry Wilhelm. I'll keep you posted and see what happens.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The wrong maiden name leads to the right one

Collateral genealogy is a funny thing sometimes. Finding information on a great-grandparent's siblings can sometimes be a challenge but finding anything on their spouses can be more of a challenge. Today I was going through my Fry file to see if I could find any new information on siblings of my great-grandfather or great-great grandfather. FamilySearchLabs is a 'pilot' site, meaning they are still trying things out but the databases they have online are incredible and most of all its FREE, which is of course the best part for genealogists that can't afford the ridiculous prices states charge for vital records.

The one database I use the most at the site is Ohio Death records because you can save and then print the records later on. So I go looking for relatives and have been surprised every once in a while when I find a name I didn't expect and even when I don't find a name. Some databases contain errors (let's face it most of them do, no one's perfect) especially the ones on Rootsweb, that's why its always a good idea when you find information online to do your own investigating to see if what you've found is actually accurate.

That's exactly what I did with Willard Grant Fry's wife, Rose. I haven't been able to find not only when she died but anything about her parents and so I thought I would try again. I tried the Ohio death records at FamilySearch with no luck, though I found her husband easily, but in listing his widow it didn't mention her maiden name, which I had thought was HUEBNER. Turns out it was partly right. I noticed that I'd found their marriage information at another site, Stark County Probate records (google it). And there her maiden name was listed as EBNER. Now sometimes there are errors in the probate records (which also have marriage records not just wills and estate files). So I went to the other FamilySearch site, the one that I started at in 1998, familysearch.org and put Rosa Ebner in just to see what would come up.

BINGO, she was listed in the 1880 census with her parents and siblings. I returned to the other site and found five of her siblings and her mother listed in the Ohio death records. But the one thing that gave me proof I was now on the right track and it hadn't been an error was the name of the informant for her mother, Josephine Ebner, nee Miller. It was 'Mrs. Wm. Fry' aka Rosa! That's the one piece of information (and sometimes the undertaker or funeral director) that can knock a brick wall down, the informant on a death certificate. It can sometimes be the only thing that can convince you that you found the right person, especially if you are researching John Smith. Always look over everything contained on a record like a death certificate, you never know when it will give you a clue to solve a mystery.

Happy Monday!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Collateral genealogy

Collateral genealogy is the study and/or research of those relatives that you are not directly related to but that could hold the key to information you are seeking regarding those direct ancestors. Some people find that researching ONLY their direct ancestors/relatives is enough for them but they are missing the possibility of knocking down brick walls if they don't research the siblings of their great-grandparents.

When I write up a family history, I want it to contain as much information as I can possibly find on that particular surname. Granted most information is usually gleaned from other databases posted online at various websites but if you take what you find and seek out more information that corroborates what you initially find then you can at least add to that information and even correct errors you find.

And sometimes when researching those siblings or collateral relatives you come across connections that you might've suspected but didn't have any evidence to substantiate that your hunch was right. Speaking of hunches, detectives sometimes rely on a 'hunch' or 'feeling' and genealogists sometimes have to do the same because its the only thing they have. If you think you know that a relative is linked to a surname you've already been researching 9 times out of 10 you are probably right.

Everytime I come across a surname that I recognize I go through my files and look for that name and then see if I can connect the dots and find a common ancestor that they share. You'd be surprised how many families have intermarried in different generations, especially if they both lived in small towns. Some of my Ohio ancestors have done this more than once and my instincts usually tell me there's a connection somewhere but it always takes more research to hunt it down and find it.

Never brush off the possibility that your great-grandfather's brother is the key to finding out your great-grandmother's maiden name, it just might surprise you to learn that the two brothers married two sisters and not only her maiden name but her parents are waiting to be discovered. Give collateral genealogy research a try.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The package arrived

Well the package from Steve arrived today and it contains copies of the letters he collected as well as the transcriptions of those letters, the brief family history of the Morrisons and the Stanleys, census records, Civil War information on Amos and Robert Morrison, as well as his correspondence with Jason. He also included a photo of who he believes to be Robert Morrison in his GAR uniform around 1900.

I also saw two other names through his correspondence that I may try to contact. One was an e-mail and the other came from Ancestry in a family tree. The latter I can't do anything with till I go to the library. I didn't read through everything as it is a thick stack of pages but am grateful to Steve for making the copies for me. I learned that he found the information on the Morrisons because he was researching the soldiers in the 1st OVI (Ohio Volunteer Infantry) and isn't actually related to them but I agree that you feel like you are when you do that much research.

I'm going to post a link to the mystery photos on various message boards and may ask photo detective Maureen Taylor for some help. I'm not giving up but I'm running out of ideas about how to solve this mystery of mine.

The Mystery of the photos continues

Upon checking my e-mail this morning I learned that Jason's cousin could not ID any of the photos in my album. To say I'm disappointed is an understatement as like Jason, I was hoping for at least one ID to give me a further clue as to who those people are. They have to be someone in the family because why would Emma Wilhelm, my great-grandmother's sister be among them. I asked Jason to relay my thanks to his cousin and ask him (when he gets over his cold) about his connection to the Wilhelms, as I'm curious as to where he fits in. Being that they both live in Ohio and I'm assuming both live near to Minerva (Jason lives in Malvern) that his cousin's connection isn't to another Wilhelm, as both Minerva and Malvern are small towns.

If you think I'm going to give up on ever identifying the photos you are wrong, the problem is that I don't know anyone else that I could send them to. I've even sent them to 'cousins' that have nothing to do with the Wilhelm line simply because I have to try anyone. The only reason I feel they are connected to the Wilhelms or even the Walkers (my great-great grandmother's maiden name) is because of the photo of Emma Wilhelm. That one picture is my only clue as to who they might be. I've got some other avenues to try so wish me luck and if you are curious or want to look at the photos in case you think you can recognize them let me know.

Happy Monday.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Good News, Bad news and other stuff

The good news...the guy that first contacted me about having information on the Morrison line has finally mailed the package to me. He sent it Priority on Saturday so maybe with a little luck I'll get it tomorrow, though with the mail delivery service we have around here, I'd be REALLY lucky to get it tomorrow.

The bad news... I still haven't heard from Jason's cousin about the photos. Jason is the one that is related to the Wilhelms 'by marriage', which frankly is another way of saying one of your parents married into the family.

I've decided to write an entry each day (hopefully I can actually keep that up). I watched the movie Julie and Julia tonight and I liked that Julie created the blog and blogged about the recipes she made and even ones that didn't turn out so well. I may not start the daily blogging right away but I do know that it'll be something around the subject of genealogy, that I'm sure of.

Genealogy is very similar to reading about history in that its the history of our ancestors. It isn't just names, dates and places but what they went through as they went from children living with their parents (or grandparents) to young adults to when they married and had families of their own and how the world changed around them.

I've really enjoyed the show 'Who Do You Think You Are?' and even though it isn't returning with a new episode for another week, I have to speak my mind about something. Various websites and even Facebook have places where you can comment about the show and in all honesty I have gotten so sick and tired of people complaining not only that the show evolved around 'celebrities' but also that those same celebrities are just 'handed' the information and that none of the real research is shown.

People, first off, those celebrities you keep complaining about ARE people just like the rest of us. They have family histories just like you and me and BEFORE they became famous or were discovered or whatever they were 'normal ordinary' people. Second, the show more than likely would NOT exist if they didn't have celebrities as the subjects of the searches and they probably wouldn't have gotten good ratings if 'ordinary' people were the focus. I think the genealogical community is LUCKY that Lisa Kudrow finally brought this show to the US and even luckier that it was picked up for a second season. The show isn't about the research, at least it isn't the main focus. The show is about celebrities finding out something about their own families that they never knew and hadn't thought about.

Some may agree with me and some may not, that's your right, however there IS a program that does focus on us ordinary folks. Its called The Generations Project and it comes from BYU in Provo Utah. It is on their own BYU Television channel which can be found in some areas but if you don't get the channel, you can always catch the episodes online. The program airs on Monday nights on BYU television and is re-aired (so to speak) online at their website, the link to the episodes are also posted on Facebook, which is where I watch them and much like WDYTYA, it too has been picked up for a second season. Try to remember that just because they are famous doesn't mean they don't have a few black sheep or skeletons in their family closets.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Never liked waiting

Patience is not one of my virtues, especially when it comes to genealogy. I finally found someone that could possibly identify some photos that were in an album I found at my paternal grandparents house. There are about 2 dozen photos most are those you find in antique stores mounted on cardboard but there are a couple that are on metal, one being about the size of a postage stamp. None of the cousins I share research with recognize any of them and I was about ready to give up on ever being able to put names to the faces. I did manage to read some faint writing at the bottom of one that said 'Emma Wilhelm'. She was my great-grandmother's sister. There at least I had a clue as to who the mystery people could be, part of the Wilhelms I had researched.

It was only after I had posted to a message board about a collateral line, the Morrisons that I thought I would finally have names for those photos. A cousin of a friend, of a friend who was helping to research the Morrisons was actually related to the Wilhelms by marriage. HIS cousin is directly related to them so I sent the first one a link to the photos and am still waiting to hear if he was able to recognize anyone. I had scanned the photos that were on metal and sent those as well. The only one I didn't send now that I think about it was the one of Emma Wilhelm.

The first contact that was helping a friend research the Morrison line offered to send me some of the research he had done, letters and other information that I didn't previously know about but has actually helped me put some pieces together about that family that my great-great grandfather's sister married into. I still don't like waiting but hope that the wait will be worth it not just for the Morrison information but also that I will finally be able to put those photos in my family album and solve that mystery that has bugged me since I discovered the album. Hope to have some good news soon.