Friday, February 29, 2008

Connections: The Hoosier Genealogist

Now a snazzy semiannual, the fall/winter issue of Connections: The Hoosier Genealogist is published by the Indiana Historical Society. Accordingly it often reads a bit like a genealogy magazine turned inside out: instead of authors struggling to find evidence about their ancestors, the authors here are writing about whoever is already in the IHS archives and collections. Sometimes this allows them to tell a crackerjack story.

The genealogically juicy part is that the print magazine's companion, Online Connections, which has indexes associated with some of the articles: for instance, the list of Grant County dentist Charles Priest's patients, and a three-part index of people mentioned in Lucius Keaton's diphtheria diary, with identifying information when available.

"Our Fathers' Stories: The world War II Oral History Collection at the Indiana Historical Society," by Elizabeth Flynn

"Earning Credentials: Genealogical Certification and Standards for Quality," by Elizabeth Shown Mills

"Early Dental Practices: Charles A. Priest's Dentist Accounts, Grant County, 1920-1937," by Geneil Breeze

"Diphtheria Victim's Journal: The Diary of Lucius S. Keaton, Shelby County, 1864-1865," by Evan Gaughan

"Community News: Social Columns of the Rockport Democrat, Spencer County, 1907," by Ruth Dorrel and Evan Gaughan

"Just a Country Girl: Stories from an Early Twentieth Century Hoosier Farm Family, Part 3," by Martha Brennan

"Civil War Soldiers: Addendum to GAR Series, Covington, Indiana, Part 2," by Mary Blair Immel

"Ancestor Migrations: Hennon Siblings Move from Ohio to Indiana and Farther West, 1850s through 1870s," by Robert DeWeitt Hennon

"Inheritance Taxes: Indiana's Inheritance Tax Records at the Indiana State Archives," by Barbara F. Wood. These records cover 1913-1933, but don't get your hopes up -- all counties alphabetically before Marion have been lost.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Illinois' winter quarterly with German pioneers

The centerpiece of the Winter 2007 isue of the Illinois State Genealogical Society Quarterly is part 2 of Gary Beaumont's "German Immigrant Farmers in Illinois," featuring letters from Jacob Menke, who settled near Beardstown (Cass County) in the 1830s, and a diary by Johann Konrad Dahler, who settled near Mount Carroll (Carroll County) in the 1850s.

"Around us there are about 20 German farmers," wrote Menke, "including three medical practitioners with a degree, jurists, theologists, mechanics, even a mayor of Giesen, foresters etc. -- very educated people with whom we have a very pleasant contact.... We are likely to establish a reading or literary circle and a club..."

Dahler on the winter of 1856-57: "From beginning to end there was deep snow, on which smooth ice three inches thick had formed. When we needed firewood and went with the oxen to drag it in, they would go perhaps three paces on the ice and then break through.... We lost our 2 cows, which had cost 30 dollars apiece. We had a log stable for them and slough hay for feed but we lacked straw for bedding in the extreme cold."

Other articles:

"Illinois Resources: Where From to Kansas? Illinois!" by Cherie Weible

"Alderman Protects Family Graveyard," by Jeanie Lowe

"The Digital Revolution in Genealogical Research: What's Coming from Family Search, Part 1," by Susan A. Anderson

"Six Degrees of Separation or Two: Applications for 'Cluster Genealogy' and 'Genealogy Buddies,''' by Margaret M . Kapustiak

"Are You Killing the Things You Love?" by Patricia L. Miller

"Ask the Retoucher!" by Eric Curtis M. Basir

"Richard F. Sutton's Story: A Revolutionary War Soldier, Part 1," by Raleigh Sutton

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Indiana Genealogist for December

The current issue of the quarterly publication of the Indiana Genealogical Society runs heavily to military and religious sources:

"The True Story of Arthur Andrews, A Soldier of the Revolution," by F. W. (Bill) Farnsworth -- a fascinating disambiguation of two (or three?) same-name patriots.

"Introduction of DePauw University's United Methodist Archives," by Wesley W. Wilson

"Hoosier Soldiers in 29th Infantry Division, WWI, Part II," by Thomas P. Jones

"Case Study: The Travels of John Jansen," by Ron Darrah

"Researching Your Family History at the Indiana State Library: An Overview," by Autumn C. Gonzalez

"Lineage Societies: The SAR," by Robert D. Howell, Sr.

I can't think of a state magazine so careful to distribute the shorter articles equitably: eight of the nine districts of Indiana has a few short items like "Dubois County Court Cases, 1898," and "Danville Woman Dies Three Times." The two most significant list Earlham College faculty 1859-1922, and Allen County veterans of the Spanish-American War.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

All Things Civil War and Michigan

Ohio has its own publication tying genealogy and the Civil War. Michigan may not match that, but John M. "Jack" Dempsey's Michigan Civil War Blog sure helps. Recently he posted about a forthcoming Civil War extravaganza, "Michigan's Fight for Freedom: The Civil War Era" (PDF), Feb. 27-May 4 at Macomb Community College, with multiple presentations getting down to as much detail as a talk about Company K of the First Michigan Sharpshooters, "the only all Native American company to serve in the war from Michigan."

Monday, February 25, 2008

From the far north end of the Midwest

Thanks to Jessica's Genejournal for pointing to an elegant blog orchestrated by Ceil Wendt Jensen, CG, "The Polish Pioneers of Calumet, Michigan." Calumet was a mining town about halfway up the Keeweenaw Peninsula, which sticks out into Lake Superior on the north side of Michigan's Upper Peninsulra. The blog "explores the Polish community of Calumet, Houghton Co., Michigan. They were not the largest ethnic group -- but many Midwestern families trace their ancestry back to a miner in Calumet." I especially like the map showing some of their ancestral villages near Poznan.

No danger of sentimentalizing this place. A recent post transcribes the records for Andrzei Adamski, a "drill boy" born in 1875 and killed 17 Dec 1889 or 1890 by an "explosion of dynamite." The year 1889 appears on the gravestone and mine accident report; it's 1890 in the county death returns. Go figure.

South Bend in NYGBR

In the January 2008 issue of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record (contents not on line), Stefani Evans, CG, finds circumstantial evidence of the identity of Nathan MacCorkle's wife Catherine that might satisfy a hobbyist. She pursues the case to find an unusual piece of direct contemporary evidence confirming Catherine's Dodge parentage. Nathan and Catherine lived in New York and Pennsylvania; their youngest two children wound up in South Bend (St. Joseph County), Indiana -- Emma Elizabeth (MacCorkle) Housekeeper 1850-1918, and James Monroe MacCorkle 1853-1925.

The article doesn't carry them forward, so of course I had to go look. The 1900 census enumerated J. M. and Anna (____) "McCorkle" and six children in the city's First Ward, and "Nick" and Emma Housekeeper with one child present (out of a total of four) in the Second Ward. J.M. was a clerk, and Nick a blacksmith.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Religious sources

The Association of Religion Data Archives looks heavy on recent polling data and light on history, but poke around a little and you'll find some background that's almost sure to shed light on people you're researching. My favorites are the denominational family trees.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Preservation along the National Road

Belmont County, Ohio, is the first county west of Wheeling, West Virginia, smack on the major migration route known in different time periods as the National Road, US 40, and Interstate 70, which by my somewhat arbitrary definition would make it a gateway to the Midwest. 24-7 Family History points us to an editorial in The Intelligencer Wheeling News-Register with some good news:

During a recent meeting of the Cumberland Trail Genealogy Society, plans to construct a building to house the [county] records were discussed. County Commission President Gordie Longshaw noted that locations in Barnesville and Morristown are being investigated as possible sites for the building. Funds are available for construction, it was noted.

Commissioner Charles Probst added that commissioners hope to employ a full-time librarian to oversee the records repository. There also has been discussion of finding ways to organize the old records, making it easier for researchers to use them.
Judging from their website, CTGS is pulling its weight too.


Last week's email brought a welcome new issue of the Bassett Branches newsletter, AKA "Splinters from the Tree," from the Bassett Family Association. It's mentionable here because Jeffrey Bassett coordinates the group's work from Mundelein, a northern suburb of Chicago. The group combines DNA studies (he wrote up some early results in the Spring 2004 issue of New England Ancestors, available here but member$hip in NEHGS is required) with just keeping track of various lines of Bassetts in the old-fashioned way. We should all be so lucky as to have such an active surname organization.

Friday, February 22, 2008

How did you find THAT?

The Midwest turns up where you least expect it, like smack in the middle of the article, "Identifying Benjamin W. Cohen of New York and New Orleans," by Teri D. Tillman, CG, in the current National Genealogical Society Quarterly (member$hip required, earlier blogged here).This article is a wonderful genealogical tour de force. Her key piece of evidence that New York City doctor Benjamin W. Cohen and New Orleans dentist B. W. Cohen were the same person comes from -- a 10 Feb 1842 letter now in the archives of the University of Notre Dame! (page 252)

I love unconventional sources as much as the next guy, but what's the story behind the story? How did the author ever get the idea that it might be worth trolling the archives of a Midwestern Catholic university for information on a Jewish dentist in Louisiana?

Genealogizing outside the lines...

The wonderful Genblogfinder tempts me to stretch my definition of the Midwest:

On our far right-hand side, Pittsburgh will be hosting the August 1-3 meeting of the FEEFHS, the Federation of East European Family History Societies. The conference blog lists speakers and topics including "Austria-Hungary" (in two parts, naturally), "Recruiting Rules of the Austrian Army," "Russian Empire Research," and "Polish Archives: Behind the Scenes in Gdansk & Poznan." Conference blogs don't tend to be cutting-edge, but it does give me a warm fuzzy feeling that people are working these resources.

On our left-hand side, the Davenport (Iowa) Public Library's Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center, AKA "Quad City Memory," is blogging at "Primary Selections from Special Collections." Recent posts include generous excerpts from Capt. Chester Barney's unique and wry recollections of the Civil War, and a cliffhanger about Davenport barber, foot doctor, and ex-slave General Houston.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Look who's blogging

The Indiana Genealogical Society has a blog. Actually it's almost a year old. AFAIK this is a rarity among genealogical societies -- it looks like Indiana is in the lead here. Do you know of others?

So far it's mostly devoted to queries, announcements of local meeting topics, and communications with the volunteers busy on the 1790-1857 Indiana marriage indexing project. (Remember when queries had to be squeezed into the confines of a print newsletter? IGS's policy is generous.)

And in a self-effacing way that Garrison Keillor would appreciate, so far it has scarcely been used to promote IGS's April 4-5 annual conference in Evansville, featuring J. Mark Lowe, CG, FUGA, who will earn his keep by giving four of the eight lectures, covering Kentucky, the internet, bad research, and WWI.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Chicago Genealogist, Winter 2007-2008

In the new issue of Chicago Genealogist we find...

"Baptisms in St. James' Catholic Church Register of Confederate Soldiers Interred at Camp Douglas, Chicago, Illinois," submitted by Jeanne Larzalere Bloom and Barbara Baker. (This is quite a find; I just hope Confederate researchers don't get worn out before they think to look in Chicago!)

"Lewis-Champlin School Class of June, 1913, Graduating Exercises," submitted by Doris Carlson Sterm

"Hyde Park High School, 'Aitchpe' Yearbook 1934-1935," all classes, submitted by Joseph L. Rhodes

"Using Coroner's Records," by Mary Penner

"City of Chicago Ordinance 1861, Prohibiting Bathing in the Lake," submitted by Helen Sclair

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Believe it or not, my wife has been telling me this for years

Michael John Neill at

with the advent of searchable databases, most genealogists are not coming anywhere close to tracking what they search for in a specific database or on a given website. ...

I've seen articles where it has been said someone cannot be found in a census. I rarely see where the specific unsuccessful searches are listed out in an attempt to defend the "can't find them statement."
Read the whole thing. Remember, the dog that didn't bark in the night-time was evidence in Sherlock Holmes' day, and it still is.

Ten Thousand Ships in Milwaukee

Most folks take an interest in the vessels that carried their ancestors across the ocean, but how many of us know how much information there is on the boats that carried our people across the Great Lakes, from New York and Pennsylvania to Michigan or Wisconsin?

Right now I'm wishing I lived closer to Milwaukee (although at least I can get there entirely by train :-)). That's where the Wisconsin Marine Historical Society and the Milwaukee Public Library have consolidated the work of many Lakes aficionados into a Great Lakes Marine File that holds, among other things, records of more than 10,000 lake-going ships of all kinds from 1679 to 2008 and counting. Don't miss this chance to make our forebears' experiences real.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Cemetery Detective

Shirley Wolf has rediscovered 10 African-American cemeteries in southern Indiana's Floyd County, and she may be on to 10 more, according to a long feature story by Katya Cengel in the Sunday Courier-Journal newspaper published across the river in Louisville. The story, perhaps inevitably, leads with Wolf's controversial use of dowsing to find burials, but farther down we get a taste of her genealogical technique:

To locate the unmarked cemeteries, she went through the county's death records, from the early 1900s to the 1960s. When she found an unfamiliar burial site, she would check if the person was African American, and if he or she was, Wolf would check to see if the person owned land. If he or she did, Wolf would visit the property to see what she could find, asking those in the area if anyone knew about a cemetery. ... A picture framer of German, French and Swiss descent [and a past president of the Southern Indiana Genealogical Society], Wolf is focusing on African-American cemeteries because she wants people to know that, despite the ravages of slavery, "there are things that can be found."

Sunday, February 17, 2008

A touch of theology

"Families are, as Latter-day Saints like to say, forever. What they don't say is that the church is not forever."

That's historian of religion Kathleen Flake of Vanderbilt University, writing at "Sightings," an occasional web publication of the Martin Marty Center at the University of Chicago. As genealogists we benefit from the long-standing and highly motivated work of the Mormons, but few of us non-believers know the beliefs undergirding that work. Here's a taste of Flake's account of prophet Gordon Hinckley's recent funeral, but read the whole thing:

Cameras followed the mourners, focusing on his five children, twenty-five grandchildren and sixty-two great-grandchildren who formed the cortege to the cemetery. There, possibly most surprisingly, the eldest son dedicated the grave without fanfare. Notwithstanding the presence of the entire church hierarchy, the son stepped forward to pronounce: "By the authority of the Melchizedek priesthood, I dedicate this grave for the remains of Gordon B. Hinckley, until such time as thou shall call him forth." Then, church leaders were "dismissed" ..... As the church teaches is the case in the afterlife, only the family remained.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

History and Change in Whitley County, Indiana

The other night I was reading a 2003 article in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly (available online to members) by Elizabeth Shown Mills. Recapping the history of genealogy in the US, she explains how, after the Civil War, "Genealogy became a tool of ideologies and prejudices rooted in concepts of blood, heredity, race, and stock," often claiming or implying that northern Europeans were genetically better than others.

After that immersion in an unpleasant past, it was a a breath of fresh air to find Becky Wiseman at kinnexions pointing to a recent Talk of the Town profile of Dani Tippmann, the incoming director of the Whitley County History Museum. Tippmann is a member of the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma; a distant uncle is Little Turtle, who fought on the losing side against Gen. Anthony Wayne in the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794. Besides having older-than-the-oldest-old-settler credentials, Tippmann's been extensively involved in local and regional history activities.

And if you click over to the Whitley County Historical Society's site and scroll down, your jaw may drop (as mine did) to see the number of genealogical records and indices available on line for this county just west of Fort Wayne.

Sigh. How could my ancestors and relatives have skipped over it altogether?

Friday, February 15, 2008

Not just Palatines

I hope some readers are as ignorant as I was: the organization Palatines to America isn't limited to migrants from one part of Germany, it covers all German-speaking migrants. The group's full name is Palatines to America German Genealogy Society and it's headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, where it will hold its national conference June 19-21. (Thanks, Olive Tree Genealogy Blog.)

If I could get there, I'd just love to hear Swiss expert Maralyn Wellauer talk on "Sources and Strategies for Successful Pre-19th century Swiss Genealogical Research."

Wisconsin wants your tired, your poor ancestors yearning to be documented

New issues of the Wisconsin State Genealogical Society Newsletter are coming thick and fast these days as new editor David McDonald, CG, gets the publication calendar caught up to the real calendar. (We just did October last week!)

Contents of the January issue are below. But for those who dream of writing for such publications as well as reading them, there's even better news. McDonald writes,

"This editor is also seeking well-written and appropriately documented family genealogies for Wisconsin-connected clans. Sadly, many journals and publications have stopped publishing such pieces. Examples of good research and writing (and editing!) can help everyone be and become better genealogists. Especially welcome would be pieces highlighting various ethnic and religious groups groups among the mid-19th Century migrants to Wisconsin, as well as those tied to colonial-era families.... They may have made homebrew or been teetotalers, played pinochle or bridge. So long as they have Wisconsin connections, they have a story worth telling."

Meanwhile, in the January issue:

Research Policies at the Wisconsin Vital Records Office, by Roland K. Littlewood

Women's Club of Eau Claire, 1899

"Slacker" Lists from World War I (continued)

Wisconsinites on the Federal Payroll (as of 21 Mar 1880) (continued)

Portage County, Carson Township, St. Barthlemew [sic] Cemetery

Portage County, Dewey Township, Torun Cemetery

Waushara County, Poy Sippi Township, Poy Sippi Cemetery, all read by Wayne and Alta Guyant in the 1970s

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Calling All Klopfensteins

And, speaking of Allen County, Indiana, a worldwide reunion of the descendants of Elmer and Lois Klopfenstein and allied families (including other Klopfenstein branches) is set for 20-21 June in tiny Grabill, Indiana, ten miles northeast of Fort Wayne and about the same distance west of the Ohio state line. "Not just a family meal" but a "planned program" is promised.

I'm impressed that Rootsweb's Worldconnect project shows 9495 entries under the surname. Even allowing for many duplications, there surely could be enough Ks around to multiply the normal population of Grabill by several times.

Genealogy Gems (not a blog)

It's the email newsletter of the second biggest genealogy library in the country, the Genealogy Center in the spanking new Allen County Public Library in downtown Fort Wayne. Subscribe at their website; it's a quick read with useful information (including a new orientation video in Quicktime format) even if you can't physically visit this Midwestern genealogical mecca. The January 31 edition of "Genealogy Gems" has a couple of articles on a source type close to my heart -- directories.

The library's online presence is growing and pleasantly idiosyncratic: so far it offers three searchable Indiana statewide databases: Indiana artists, Indiana WWI deaths, and the mortality lists for the Indiana Farm Colony for the Feeble-Minded (AKA Muscatuck Colony, in Jennings County), 1924-1937.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Chicago Postcard Museum

You can't go there physically, the museum is here. Like a good history or a photo album or a museum exhibit, it's unlikely that your ancestors will pop up here (although since the proprietor includes the message sides of the postcards, it's possible!). What you will get is some perspective on how the city used to look -- at least the parts the buyers and sellers of postcards cared to commemorate. I'm fond of this image of the produce market on South Water Street west of State but got a headache trying to figure out which high-rises have their footprint there now.

The images may be downloaded free provided that the downloader gives credit or a hyperlink to the museum.

Finding Indiana Ancestors

I don't have 50 introduction-to-genealogy-in-our-state books lined up to compare side by side, but the Indiana Historical Society's Finding Indiana Ancestors: A Guide to Historical Research might just be the class of the field. Frankly, I wasn't sure I could justify the $30 price; having checked it out of the local library and looked it over, now I think it's a bargain -- and the kind of book that may be useful both to novices and those who've been around a while.

Beginners can benefit from the overview chapter on internet research by Amy Johnson Crow. I'm looking forward to learning the differences between the Indiana State Library, the Indiana State Archives, and the Indiana Historical Society Library. And even the browser can benefit from the six model articles, including Randy Mills on placing ancestors in historical context and Ernie Moore's hard-headed investigation of the family story that William Park Herron was wounded at Chickamauga. Fair warning: long-time Indiana researchers may already have many of these articles on their shelves in back issues of Hoosier Genealogist and THG:Connections.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

First trip to the big library

Can you imagine discovering that a bunch of your own family papers had been donated to a research library halfway across the country? A thrill, yes, but kind of scary too. Anyway it makes a great blog post at Apple's Tree, which is just that sort of blog, with lots of stories and details. This time she gets advice from commenters on how to prepare for a big high-stakes research trip to a place you've never been before, in this case the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Add your two cents if you have any.

South Bend Area genealogy

Highlights of the Jan 2008 Quarterly Newsletter of the South Bend Area Genealogical Society:

"Leopold Pokagon, Potawatomi Chief: A historical and biographical sketch," by Ken Reising

"Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Byerley Observes Anniversary" (1906 South Bend Tribune)

"Ask the Retoucher" column, by Eric Curtis M. Basir

"Revolutionary War Soldiers Buried in St. Joseph County with details," by Richard Berkheiser, transcribed from Schuyler Colfax Chapter DAR files

"New Books on the Shelf," St. Joseph County Public Library and Mishawaka-Penn-Harris Public Library

"Marriages at St. Paul's German Lutheran Church in South Bend, 1879-1903," transcribed by Karen Bond

Monday, February 11, 2008

Help from upstream

Lots of Midwesterners have lines going back to upstate New York (which, geographically speaking, is most of it). If you're working in that area, don't miss the long, detailed, and extremely helpful new post on finding vital records there at Upstate New York Genealogy Blog.

(Extremely short version: start yesterday.)

DuPage County has a longer reach than you think

The other day I looked up the program for the February 23 annual meeting of the DuPage County (Illinois) Genealogical Society, and got a pleasant surprise. (FYI if you're not from Illinois: DuPage is Chicago's biggest suburban county.)

The society is bringing in speakers that should attract genealogists with no ancestral ties to the county at all, such as yours truly. They include Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, of western Pennsylvania; Jana Sloan Broglin, CG, of Ohio; and Michael John Neill (whose blog made me give this a second look; if you don't recognize his name, you really have not been paying attention). I like the idea of bringing in folks from "upstream" states, where our research will often take us, whether we approve or not!

Information here on the one-day event will be in St. Charles. (It's not too late -- see you there?)

DPCGS president Jeffrey Bockman will also give an overview of using maps in genealogical research; he got some publicity last month in the local Naperville Sun.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

U of I treasures on line

The University of Illinois library in Urbana-Champaign was my introduction to serious libraries back in the day. Now I can visit it without making the drive! The library has a growing treasure trove of digitized books (actual images) at Illinois Harvest (digitization by the Open Content Alliance).

Unlike the University of Michigan's collection of county histories, there's no overall index function. But you're still better off staying home, because each individual book is viewable and searchable in PDF, TEXT, DjVu, and FlipBook formats.

Those with a broad conception of genealogy will bring in the most bushels of facts per electron. Illinois Harvest offers 39 themes for browsing, including genealogy with 56 titles. But that's only the start, since in addition they have digitized 114 county and local histories! And of course very many of the 395 items under "Chicago" are genealogically relevant too.

Also be aware that books may be filed inconsistently into the themes. If you browse "Genealogy Resources" you will find a ~1918 The Farmers' review farm directory of Coles and Douglas Counties, Illinois ; but you will miss the same year's Prairie farmer's directory of Montgomery County, Illinois, which shows up only among the 24 titles under the theme "Rural Life and Agriculture."

More on this great resource later. Now please pardon me while I wipe the drool off my keyboard.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Michigan statewide searches

Every state is different, but Michigan is more different than most. Statewide resources haven't always been easy to find. Thanks to Miriam at the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society Blog for pointing out James Jackson's Michigan Biographical Index (MBI), with 1.5 million-plus citations drawn from a wide variety of sources, literally from a to y (see his FAQ).

Each name is linked to a citation for the source, which may be sought in libraries or on line. The MBI apparently overlaps somewhat with but doesn't completely duplicate Michigan County Histories and Atlases (MCHA) from the University of Michigan. For example, both include the 1892 Portrait and Biographical Record of Kalamazoo County, Allegan and Van Buren Counties, but the MBI doesn't include Weissert's 1928 An Account of Kalamazoo County, which MCHA does.

Run your people through both of them. MCHA has images of the actual pages; MBI has pulled together so many sources (some indexed by him for the first time) that his site can be viewed as a way of locating new sources that you've missed.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Sandusky History

The Sandusky History blog is "inspired by the collections of the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center and Follett House Museum," and produced by the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center. Recent posts have covered a Feb. 9 appearance (woops! that's tomorrow!) by the distinguished genealogist and lecturer Tony Burroughs of Chicago State University; an 1830s autograph album belonging to Marcia Coburn Vinton of Massachusetts, whose daughter was a pioneer Sandusky settler; the 1924 life story of former slave Sophronia Jefferson; and the tradition of Leap Year parties. Thanks to Dorene Paul for alerting me to this one, as my forebears seem to have skipped that part of Ohio.

Wisconsin genealogy: focus on records

The contents of the current (October) Wisconsin State Genealogical Society Newsletter reflect in part the view of editor David McDonald, CG, that "it's great fun to see an article come forward that explores a hidden or largely unknown source":

"World War I 'Slacker' Lists"

"Wisconsinites on the Federal Payroll, 1880"

"Burials of Indigent Soldiers -- Sauk County, 1891-1902"

"Roster of Lodges, Knights of Pythias, 1899"

"The Woman's Club of Madison, 1895-96"

"Waupaca County, Saint Patrick's Cemetery, Lebanon Township"

"Rock County, Saint Joseph's Cemetery, Edgerton"

Thursday, February 7, 2008

December OGSQ!

Contents of the December 2007 Ohio Genealogical Society Quarterly,published by the largest state genealogical society in the US:

"The Lambert Family of Ohio," by Jan Trent Perna (Knox and Licking counties)

"Society of Civil War Families of Ohio Roster 2007," by Brent Dean Morgan

"Biographical Sketch of the Sloan Family," by Lettie Kuster (1910, Henry County)

"Understanding Your Ancestors' Autographs," by Linda Jean Limes Ellis

"Knox County: Some Facts and Figures" (1915)

"History of the Boyce Family" (1904) (Richland County)

"1884 Deaths in Cincinnati," transcribed by Kenny R. Burck and Doris Thomson

"Placing the West and Edwards Families in Kentucky and Ohio," by Jeanne Stella

"Genealogical Data Relating to Women in the Western Reserve Before 1850," by Jean Overmeier Nathan. This information, mostly from the late 1800s, includes this passage on Betsey Shaw Quiggle of Hambden Town[ship], Geauga County: "She raised eight children to maturity, and all their clothing and bedding was woven by her own hands. When out of thread, she manufactured some from the bark of soft wood trees."

"City Directory of Bryan, Ohio" (1932) (Williams County)

"Ohioans on the Move: Portrait and Biographical Album, Sedgwick County, Kansas," transcribed by Dan Spelman

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Old newspapers in Quincy and on your desktop

I'm a big fan of Michael John Neill, not because he's from western Illinois too, but because he weaves genealogy lessons so neatly into the stories of his own ongoing research. In this recent post on his site, he points out that while many big-name pay-for-view genealogy sources have collected old newspapers and made them searchable, they aren't the only place to look.

All genealogy is local. Neill reports that the Quincy Public Library in Adams County, Illinois, has "scanned old Quincy area newspapers from the microfilm, and created a digital database that can be searched."

And all genealogy is global: if you're lucky enough to have research targets in western Illinois between 1835 and 1890, you can search for them here. (Oops, "Please note that the Archive may not function properly using Mozilla Firefox.") FYI, the first paper they have for this old river town is the 17 Apr 1835 issue of the Illinois Bounty Land Register.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Desktop Genealogist

Burned out on research? Treat yourself to a visit with the Desktop Genealogist, Terry Snyder of Fremont (Sandusky County), Ohio, who blogs under the auspices of her hometown newspaper. She tells a good research tale too, but I was struck by the way she captured the genealogical impulse in her answer to the recent genealogy-carnival question, which of your ancestors would you choose to have dinner with?

Pauline Gleffe is Snyder's German great-great grandmother who probably never came to this country at all. But in this imagined time out of time, after dinner, they'd watch as Terry's grandmother and her son arrived for a visit.

"Pauline would be watching intently the granddaughter and great-grandson she had never seen, and I would be watching just as intently a father and grandmother I have known so well. We would look up, she and I, our eyes meeting, and both smile in a way that would need no translation."

Monday, February 4, 2008

Outline maps for counties

The inimitable Bill Bryson ("I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to.") explains how important directions are to Midwesterners.

"Any story related by a Midwesterner will wander off at some point into a thicket of interior monologue along the lines of 'We were staying at a hotel that was eight blocks northeast of the state capitol building. Come to think of it, it was northwest. And I think it was probably more like nine blocks.'" (The Lost Continent, page 15)
In that spirit I was delighted to find Genealogy Miscellanea flagging the National Atlas website as an excellent source of free printable county maps for all states. It reminded me of another, more obscure site offering a variety of free maps: For Illinois (and every other state AFAIK), offers

(1) county outlines (no names or towns) on a physical map of the state,
(2) county outlines with elevations (not much of that in Illinois),
(3) county outlines with major highways,
(4) county outlines with major highways and a good sprinkling of towns,
(5) county outlines and names with lakes and rivers,
(6) county outlines and names in color,
(7) county outlines and names and county seats in color.

Now, can anyone suggest a site that has a township map for each and every county in the US?

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Chicago Genealogical Society turns 40

Articles in the 40th anniversary issue of Chicago Genealogist (Fall 2007):

"'Did You Know Our Great Great Uncle Was a Mayor of Chicago,'" by Earl J. Beese

"Renamed Streets of Chicago -- 1900," by Gail Santroch (reprint)

"Index Listing of Obituaries from Illinois Staats Zeitung," by Debbe Hagner (reprint)

"The Alwards of Woodbridge, Scipio, South Bend, Niles and Chicago," by Timmins Alward Dodson. This family largely followed a classic migration pattern from northern New Jersey to Cayuga and Livingston counties, New York; Berrien County, Michigan, and St. Joseph County, Indiana; Cook County, Illinois, and points farther west.

"Class 7A-7B of Bateman School, 1939-1940," by Doris Carlson Sturm

"Kindergarten Class of Bateman School, 1934," by Doris Carlson Sturm

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Online records update at Genealogy Roots

There's no substitute for Denver-based Joe Beine's Genealogy Roots Blog, which makes up in quality for what it lacks in frequency. His 14 Jan post, for instance, includes word of three online marriage indices for Indiana (statewide, Marion County, and Whitley County), and one for Michigan (Kent County).

Friday, February 1, 2008

Places you wish your relatives lived: Monroe County, Wisconsin

Ideally your relatives lived in a place small enough to create accessible individual records (such as obituaries) and large enough to know how to preserve them. Monroe County, Wisconsin, on Interstate 90 between Madison and La Crosse, is such a place. Its local history room is housed in half of the first floor of an old Masonic hall in downtown Sparta, the county seat -- conveniently across the street from the local library and county offices.

Don't let its small size deceive you. The MCLHR has a useful online presence including indices of local newspapers, court records, censuses, burials, and biographies -- which made my two half-days of research there far more productive than they would have been otherwise. A crew of volunteers overseen by Jarrod Roll continue adding to them. Off-line physical resources include plat books, yearbooks, church records, Sparta city directories going back (at intervals) as far as 1897, and an index to the Monroe County portion of Wisconsin's 1905 state census. For my money the jewel of the collection is a photocopy of the handwritten record of Sparta's Woodlawn Cemetery.

While you dig for ancestral gold, less document-oriented members of your party can explore the rest of the first floor, which houses a nicely designed local history museum, and then the upstairs, where the Deke Slayton Memorial Space & Bike Museum honors local astronaut and famous son Donald Kent Slayton.

(One warning: if you have a tracphone it will be useless until you drive about an hour east or west.)