Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Expected and Unexpected Resources from SW Illinois

The first 2008 issue of the St. Clair County (Illinois) Genealogical Society Quarterly has enough material to make some state publications jealous. Contents include:

the second of two parts of a county marriage index for 1908 (alphabetical by bridal surname, from Lizzie Crowder to Helena Zubrawski).

"E. St. Louis Gazette: Some Vital Stats, 1866, Tidbits 1872."

"Extracts from Death Register Book 1, 8 March 1882-28 April 1883," by Melinda Cahill and Diane Walsh

"Biography of James Bissell 'J.B.' Davis," by Thomas W. Davis, Jr.

"Belleville Public Library Website Adds Features," including a glimpse of a genealogical source I'd never dreamed of: an archival document in German, listing books checked out, the individual patrons' names, and the due dates, 1863-1866. What was your ancestor reading?

Announcement of a new SCCGS project and a first installment of its index: a Funeral Card Collection.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Tech tip

Allison writing at Genealogy Insider has some useful tips for genealogically searching Google Books. (That should be enough to ruin my plans for the rest of the day!)

Dead and Gone is alive and kicking

It's easy to start a blog, it's hard to keep one going. I sure hope Kim Smith at Dead and Gone: Historical Content for Genealogical Research keeps going. (Hat tip to Cyndi's List.) Part of her opening statement:

Because I'm not an historian, nor Indiana Jones, I stumble across information that doesn't make sense to me sometimes. Why did Richard Stout fight for the Dutch, when he was British? Why was my ancestors' land taken from them after the Revolutionary war? Why did another of my ancestors fight for the confederacy, if he lived in Ohio? These are the kind of questions I look for answers to. This blog is intended to provide historical information and pose questions that may be useful for amateur genealogists like myself. I will pick random topics in history and explore them with a genealogist's eye.

For starters, she has a post on exactly the sort of event we genealogists need to know about -- huge at the time but barely a sentence in most history books -- the great Ohio River flood of 1937.

Monday, April 28, 2008

A Century of Chicago Public School Graduates

The Chicago Public School system has established a networking site for its alumni at, and it's also very serviceable for their friends and relations and genealogists. Free registration is required (non-alums can register as guests), and your password gives access to the two "halves" of the site.

The first half consists of web pages, one for each school, with a few historical notes and (already) some alum-contributed data on favorite memories, distinguished teachers or graduates, and the like.

The other half consists of PDF images of the school board minutes for each year from 1873 through 1973, listing names of graduates. You reach these images by clicking on the generic graduation photo labeled "Get historical attendee records" halfway down the right side of every school page.

Graduates are listed citywide by year. Each year is its own PDF file, so it'll help if you know roughly when you expect to find your research target. Within each year they're listed alphabetically by school , and then within each school alphabetically by name. I found my immigrant grandfather graduating from Calumet High School in 1898, and my father graduating from Tilden Tech in 1931. My grandfather's class consisted of nine girls and nine boys; five of the boys and two of the girls took the college preparatory course. You can measure the progress of universal education by timing your downloads: 1898 is a lot faster than 1931!

From 1873 to 1895 the only records are high-school admissions, that is, elementary-school graduates and those who passed proficiency tests. High-school graduates are listed starting in 1896. Early on there's little identifying information, but in later years the record does include elementary-school graduates' dates of last vaccination (1901) or birth dates (1972-3). (BTW, all this information was already public.) The Newberry Library blog reports they're already using the site to answer people's questions.

School records aren't always the first things we think of but they're well worth pursuing. And if you need a boost of ancestral self-esteem, remember: a century ago, a high-school diploma was a more elite achievement than a four-year college degree is today.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Frontier Indiana

Andrew R. L. Cayton, author of Frontier Indiana, is my kind of historian. He's not afraid of the big ideas. (His more recent magnum opus, The Dominion of War, coauthored with Fred Anderson, examines how the United States was "conceived in empire as well as in liberty.") And he tells about them through individual people, communities, and families.

In Frontier Indiana he tells the surprisingly riveting story of the century before Indiana became a state in 1816. It's largely a story of the wars that sprang up repeatedly because nobody could establish firm control of the Wabash River valley. Cayton's individual stories feature trader George Croghan; the village of Vincennes; Kentucky adventurer George Rogers Clark; military men including Josiah Harmar, John Francis Hamtramck, Little Turtle, and Tenskatawa; Anna Tuthill Symmes Harrison, wife of territorial governor and future president William Henry Harrison; and territorial politician Jonathan Jennings.

It's not a straight-line story, and one curious key episode in the 1780s pits the fledgling US government against the vicious cycle of revenge involving the desperate Indians who saw their way of life evaporating and the rampageous Kentucky settlers who didn't much care which Indians they killed.

By 1790, President Washington and Generals Knox, St. Clair, and Harmar had concluded that it would take stronger measures to establish the authority of the United States in the Northwest Territory. They had to act. They had to intimidate both Indians and settlers, awe them with the power and majesty of the American government, [and] demonstrate that the United States could accomplish what no other power -- not France, not Great Britain, not Virginia -- had done. The resulting military strategy would take half a decade and would involve immense problems and some of the worst defeats in American history. But in the end ... the agents of the United States did establish it as the supreme power north of the Ohio River. The same John Francis Hamtramck who despaired of his position in Vincennes in the late summer of 1788 would command the left wing of the victorious American army at Fallen Timbers in 1794, oversee the construction of Fort Wayne at the confluence of the St. Joseph and St. Marys rivers later that year [on the ashes of the Indian town of Kekionga], and assume command of Detroit when the British finally evacuated it in 1796. {126}

Saturday, April 26, 2008

United States Sanitary Commission

And speaking of the Civil War, a contributor to the Association of Professional Genealogists list APG-L points to an unusual record held at the New York Public Library (PDF) with plenty of Midwestern relevance: the records of the Washington Hospital Directory Archives of the United States Sanitary Commission, including more than 9,000 files documenting friends' and families' inquiries about the condition and location of injured soldiers, and the Commission's replies.

According to the collection's scope and content note (PDF),

"The records of the Washington Hospital Directory Archives, particularly the Letters of Inquiry, are rich in content, and will support research in genealogy, military history, medical history, social welfare history, political history, and studies in race, gender, class, ethnicity, and religious culture. The records also illustrate patterns of emigration, migration, language and communication. Inquiries were sent by men, women and even older children from all stations of life," and may amplify or correct other records on the soldiers concerned.

NYPL has an database of these soldiers on line, but the files themselves are not digitized.

Michigan City's Civil War Training Ground, Camp Anderson

Patricia Gruse Harris, longtime local historian and president of the La Porte County Genealogical Society (of which I'm a member), has just published a 41-page book, Camp Anderson 1863-1864, Michigan City, IN Civil War Camp, including references for more information. If there's another book on this subject I don't know about it. Ubiquitous La Porte County historian Fern Eddy Schultz has a brief account on line at the La Porte County Historical Society site, noting that

It is assumed the camp was named for Rev. Edward Anderson, Colonel commanding the 12th Cavalry. I say “assumed” because there is no proof beyond the fact that many Civil War camps were named for their post commanders. It was under his command that the 9th Congressional District raised more volunteers than any other district in the State of Indiana.
At this spot three Indiana Civil War regiments mustered in and trained during late 1863 and early 1864: the 12th Cavalry (AKA 127th volunteers), the 128th Infantry, and the 129th Infantry.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Ohio Frontier

I'm reading my way across the Midwest, in the order it was conquered and settled, thanks to a highly readable series of four books Indiana University Press published in the late 1990s. I started with R. Douglas Hurt's The Ohio Frontier: Crucible of the Old Northwest, 1720-1830. He begins, appropriately, with the end: the final expulsion of the Wyandots from the state in 1843. So far these books are distinguished from the history I grew up with by taking Indians seriously as people.

That's not the only reason the triumphalist, individualist historians of a century and a half ago might not recognize the frontier Midwest of today's historians.

Between 1788 and 1795, some thirty settlements had been planted in Hamilton County alone. Fourteen of these settlements had been founded by loosely organized family-related groups. Only four settlements originated from the location of a single person, while five sprang from the location of single [nuclear?] families. Family ties and informal social and community relationships were more important for the establishments of settlements on the Ohio frontier than individual action.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

When journalism and genealogy mix

Earlier this month the Athens Messenger (Ohio) published an article about a local genealogist. (Thanks to Evernote, I still have it and can find it!)

Some people think there's no such thing as bad publicity; in this case I'm not so sure. It doesn't rank with the poor reporting recently that allowed people to imagine that the Social Security Death Index promotes identity theft (in fact, SSDI allows any minimally vigilant bank to stop it in the act), but it's not encouraging.

I've linked to the article, but here I omit the names of the reporter and the person interviewed, because this isn't about them personally. It's about certain habits on the part of journalists and amateur genealogists alike. Here's the key passage:

Finding one's genealogical past is actually easier than one might think, especially with [Genie Ologist's] help. ... Since she keeps many of the books in an office at her house, she's able to do much of the work from home. Often, it can be done in just a few hours.

"I find it difficult to say no to people when I know how easy it is for me to do it," [Genie] said. "I can easily go back five generations in my office in a couple of hours. People are nice to me. I do something for someone every day."
Volunteering is great. Doing people favors is great. Writing about it is great. But did the reporter or the researcher ever ask the key question: At the rate of five generations in two hours, just exactly how do you know that you found the right family?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

St. Clair County, Illinois -- where you hope your ancestors lived

One of the most active local societies in Illinois, with a sizeable web presence, is in the southwest, right across the river from St. Louis: St. Clair County. I'm a member, so don't take my word for it -- check out their stuff.

They've just announced a new free newspaper database: "Vital Statistics Extracted from the Belleville (Ill.) Daily Advocate, 1927-1954," the gift of Nancy Giles. For those of us who have ancestors after the 1930 census (!) and who are twentieth-century impaired, this is a wonderful thing. My own Flint and Thrall lines converged in St. Clair, so it's already done my database some good and I look forward to zeroing in on the original articles the next time I'm over that way.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Jackson County, Indiana

Jackson County, Indiana, the 14th of Indiana's 92 counties to be founded, has a blog to go with the excellent Jackson County GenWeb site. (Older posts are at a slightly different site.) If you don't know southern Indiana, it's SE of Bloomington and the county seat is Brownstown. New items on the GenWeb site include a 1912 county directory, a cemetery reading, and several local high-school yearbooks.

Does your GenWeb site have a blog attached?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Two Michigan Libraries, from a devoted user

Jasia at Creative Gene has an eloquent and substantive appreciation of the Library of Michigan in Lansing and the Burton Historical Collection at Detroit Public Library. Read and file for when you take on those difficult Michigan relatives. And for those of us who think of libraries as eternal and unshakeable, her story of what happened to the Burton Collection is worth paying attention to.

Michigan Military Camps

Retired archivist Le Roy Barnett has compiled a list of names, namesakes, locations, and years for 86 military camps established in Michigan between 1860 and 1920 -- from Abbey (Grayling, 1915) to Withington (Island Lake, 1884 and 1900). It's in the Winter 2008 edition of the Michigan Genealogical Council Newsletter.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Chicago Nature Writing

Joel Greenberg, author of the definitive A Natural History of the Chicago Region (my lengthy review here) has edited Of Prairie, Woods, & Water: Two Centuries of Chicago Nature Writing, brand-new, gorgeously designed and published by the University of Chicago Press.

I won't even pretend to have read all of his 100 selections, which range from the 1700s to 1960. I can say they include well-known naturalists and writers like Gene Stratton-Porter and Jens Jensen, and unheard-of ones like Colbee Benton. Like Greenberg's own history, this book defines the Chicago region with appropriate generosity, stretching north into Wisconsin, southeast into Indiana, and around the corner into southwest Michigan.

What does this have to do with genealogy, you may ask? Even assuming that you prefer parking lots to parks, two things:

(1) Many of these selections are written by people who were paying close attention to local conditions that have now changed dramatically. Just try duplicating William Johnson's trip from Fort Wayne to Chicago, taken 199 years ago! Or finding anything like the Chicago fish market of 95 years ago. If it were nothing else (and it's a lot more), this is a source of luminously detailed historical background that anyone with Midwestern forebears should treasure.

(2) Greenberg diligently searched for information on his authors, many of whom are a tad obscure. After one contribution on the Indiana Dunes, he writes expressing a feeling about its author that many genealogists can identify with: "Eli Stillman Bailey (1851-1926) is another author about whom there ought to be more information available. He received his bachelor's degree from Milton College (Wisconsin) in 1873..." and continues with information from a history of homeopathy and a volume of Who Was Who. I can't help but wonder what more a genealogist might be able to, er, dig up on some of these folks.

(Greenberg will be on WBEZ-FM 91.5 tonight at 9 pm Central. I'll link to the podcast if one becomes available later.)

Ohio, the 600-pound genealogy gorilla

There should be more liveblogging of genealogy gatherings. Diane Haddad at Genealogy Insider gives us a taste of this past weekend's Ohio Genealogical Society convention in Cincinnati.

You may have seen the maps of the US where states are sized according to population rather than land area, with California and Florida growing to monstrous size and the Rocky Mountain areas tiny slivers? Well, if you made a genealogy-society map of the Midwest, Ohio would be bigger than Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan combined -- a lot bigger. Haddad reports "about 600" on the scene in Cincinnati; the Indiana Genealogical Society meeting in Evansville earlier this month had a paid attendance of 90.

Another comparison might be with the Indiana Historical Society's August gathering, "Midwestern Roots," in Indianapolis. Time will tell.

Across the ocean to Berrien County, Michigan

The internet can close the gap between continents, but leave you not knowing your neighbors. I live just minutes from Berrien County, Michigan (and yes, I have research plans there!), but until this morning I didn't know that "Juliane's granddaughter" blogs from there at Two Sides of the Ocean -- largely about her ancestral researches (surnames Schulte, Feucht, Wellhausen, Schluessler, Kijak, Rubis, Kolberg, and Kramp, from Germany, Pomerania and Poland), and sometimes also about meeting up with fellow bloggers on research trips. (You can catch up with Apple's Michigan adventures at her blog too.)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Indiana Genealogist for March

Thanks to the St. Joseph County Public Library in South Bend, here are the feature stories in the March issue of Indiana Genealogical Society Quarterly:

"The Sultana Explosion," by Ron Hamilton, recounting a disaster in the Mississippi River north of Memphis 27 Apr 1865 that killed about 1900 people, many of them Union veterans -- more deaths than the Titanic.

"John Jansen, Redux," a followup to the December 2007 article, from reader Don Ebbeler

"Profiles of Indiana Congressmen 1897," compiled by Sandy Thompson from Biographical Sketches of the Members of the Sixtieth General Assembly of the State of Indiana (Indianapolis: M.R. Hyman Co., 1897), surnames A through L.

"Deaths of Spanish-American War Veterans," compiled by Ron Darrah from material in the Indiana State Archives.

The issue also includes 20 short regional items, and new editor Annette Harper on "The Rectangular Survey System in Indiana."

Friday, April 18, 2008

Vital records via newspaper

Last weekend the Youngstown Vindicator wrote up DeWayne McCarty's new compilation, Newspaper Abstracts From the Villages of Columbiana and East Lewistown, Ohio: ten years of work, 656 pages, covering births, marriages, and deaths in area small towns from 1870 to 1902.

If you're new to this, be sure to use these abstracts as a guide to finding the actual newspaper stories -- both to guard against error and to find additional material that may lurk in the original.

If you're old to this, you may have wondered if good traditional genealogical work of this kind is about to be superseded by some universal every-word-searchable digitized version of every newspaper that ever existed. I'm told by those who should know that it won't be, not any time soon. Thanks for keeping the faith, Mr. McCarty.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Michigan Genealogist, first issue of 2008

The latest issue of the web-only Michigan Genealogist from the Library of Michigan features a number of interesting sources at the library, including:

Michigan Deaths 1897-1920, the microfilms of which will actually be unavailable until the end of July because they're being digitized by; after that point that they'll be available on the library's website for free.

Microfilm of all issues of the Grand Rapids Herald 1898-1959, a time span that nicely matches the Western Michigan Genealogical Society's excellent online obituary index.

Microfilm of certificates of enrollment issued for merchant vessels at Oswego, New York, 1815-1911 -- i.e., could be information on the ship your ancestors traveled west on. These are National Archives and Records Administration publication M2107 (PDF introduction).

About 30 editions of the Michigan State Gazetteer and Business Directory between 1860 and 1932.

Early Ontario records which include Loyalist family claims. One woman's husband, "always a friend of Gt. Britain," was reported to have left Westmoreland County in western Pennsylvania and "set out to get into [British-held] Detroit" in September 1780, but "was killed by the Indian who had undertaken to be his guide." His widow and children made it two years later.

There's much more, including listings of the oldest people recorded dying in various Michigan counties during 1868, records of soldiers wounded in wars between 1790 and 1848, and an account of temperance activism in Lansing.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A county you wish your ancestors had been orphaned in -- well, sort of

From 1891 to 1899, La Porte, Indiana, was the location of Julia E. Work's Northern Indiana Orphans' Home.

A group of 16 prominent La Porte citizens purchased a large home, originally known as the Walker Mansion and later owned by the Decker family. The building was rented to Julia Work for $480 per year. The Home was a private enterprise; she received no salary; instead, she took all receipts, paid expenses, and any remaining balance was hers to keep. Like any other business, the larger it grew, the more profit there was in it. The physical description given of the building was that it was a large, 2 story brick mansion with a basement. ...

Between March, 1891 and 1893 the home had received 229 children and had placed 146. Initially, there were about 12 counties which contracted with Julia to care for children. ...

Homes for orphans were found principally in states west of the Mississippi river, by agents acting for Julia. The agents found homes for children, placed orders, and were paid a commission for their services. Individuals ordering a child completed an application and were expected to furnish recommendations signed by three responsible citizens. In 1899, while Indiana was sending its children to homes in Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and the surrounding areas, the Indiana State Board of Charities estimated that in the 40 preceding years (1859-1899), between 7,000 and 8,000 dependent children from cities such as New York, Boston, Cincinnati and Chicago had been placed in the homes of Indiana families. One of Julia Work’s theories was that children who came from less than positive influences should be cut off from those influences. Therefore, she sought to permanently remove such children from their birth families and the vicinities in which they were born; thus, her reasoning for concentrating on the western states for foster and adoptive homes.

The home's records have apparently disappeared. Donna Nelson (a fellow member of the La Porte County Genealogical Society) read the local newspapers for items relating to the home and its operations, and the resulting book -- La Porte’s Orphan Train Children: The Children’s Homes, Orphanages and Training Schools of Julia E. Work -- was published in January.

La Porte County has three organizations publishing genealogical and historical material -- the Cemetery and Research Association of La Porte County, the La Porte County Genealogical Society, and the La Porte County Historical Society. Collect the whole set!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Methodist resources at DePauw

Last week I spent a productive research afternoon at the DePauw University archives in Greencastle (Putnam County) Indiana. Their holdings include both university and Methodist information.

The archives' web site offers many opportunities to plan your research, particularly by enabling a search of their Indiana Ministers (1800-1900) Index, which covers eight predecessor denominations: Methodist Episcopal (ME), Methodist Episcopal South (MES) Methodist Protestant (MP), United Brethren in Christ (UB), Evangelical Association (EV), Lexington Conference (LX), Chicago German Methodist (CH), and Central German Methodist (CG).

For Methodist Episcopals, key accessible references are the bound minutes of the annual conferences. Microfilm holdings provide access to some circuits' and churches' early records. All this and places to plug in your laptop too!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Civil War Income Tax

Regardless of your politics, wars and revenue-hungry governments are the genealogists' friends, because they create records. Juliana Smith at 24-7 Family History Circle offers some good tips on searching's new database from National Archives material, U.S. IRS Tax Assessment Lists, 1862-1918 -- essentially nationwide tax lists by state and district. I know a lot of folks have issues with Ancestry, but this is real help, much more than a puff piece for their index work.

Yeah, just when you got the idea of checking every relative born between 1820 and 1850 for Civil War service, now you can check every relative alive 1862-1866 for their tax records! Bear in mind that these returns were of public interest back then too -- I happened on some lists published in the Licking County, Ohio, newspaper, the Newark Advocate.

Quakers and federal cases on line at the Indiana Historical Society

The April issue of the Indiana Historical Society's Genealogy and Family History E-Newsletter is out. Contents include a plug for IHS's August 15-16 conference in Indianapolis, "Midwestern Roots," with an impressive program I can't do justice to right now.

There's also a table of contents for the forthcoming issue of The Hoosier Genealogist: Connections, and a pointer to the Society's ongoing Abstracts of the Records of the Society of Friends in Indiana, AKA the Quaker Records abstraction project, edited by Ruth Dorrel and Thomas D. Hamm. The first two volumes came out in print but the third is gradually appearing on line. This material isn't for casual browsing, but if you have Friends in your family tree it may be quite rewarding. Currently up are items from Hancock, Henry, Madison, and Rush counties.

The key URL to keep an eye on is IHS's Online Family History Publications. As of now the other publication listed there is the 23-page Name Index to the U.S. District Court Order Book, District of Indiana, 1817-1833, compiled by Doria Lynch.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Eli Farmer on the Methodist frontier

There may not be enough genealogy for some tastes in Riley B. Case's new Indiana Magazine of History article "'An Aggressive Warfare': Eli Farmer [1794-1881] and Methodist Revivalism in Early Indiana," but there's plenty of the historical background that good genealogy requires. (The March issue's table of contents is here.)

Methodism was an overwhelming presence in early Indiana. Official Methodist journals reported membership in Indiana in ten-year increments: 775 in 1810, 4,410 in 1820, 20,095 in 1830; 36,076 in 1840; and 72,404 in 1850. From 1805 to 1850, Methodists established 778 churches in Indiana -- more than Baptists, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, and Quakers combined. Methodist strength, however, was almost certainly greater than such statistics suggest. Federal census takers considered a 'church' to be a building, with a determined property value, set aside for religious functions. Methodist circuits included societies, classes, regular and irregular preaching points. {89-90}
The story of Farmer's struggles in the 1830s with thugs on one hand and his own denomination's hierarchy on the other makes a good read. Like some other pastors, he had a successful second career as a businessman, but by the 1870s came to rue the Methodists' growing respectability.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Reasons to wish your ancestors died in eastern Ohio and central Wisconsin

The New England Historical and Genealogical Society eNews for 5 March (which should be archived here but doesn't seem to be) highlights two Midwestern libraries' online databases:

nearly 25,000 obituaries from the weekly Louisville Herald in Stark County, Ohio, by way of the Louisville Public Library, and

more than 200,000 newspaper records from the Marshfield [Wisconsin] Public Library, covering Wood, Marathon, and Clark counties.

Midwesterners in NGSQ

Midwesterners figure in two of the intricate methodological adventures in the current (March) issue of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly.

In "Clara V. Moore and Carrie Peterson: Proving a Double Enumeration in the 1910 Census," J. H. Fonkert, CG, manages to prove that 34-year-old Norway-born Clara V. Moore and her "sister" 37-year-old Norway-born Carrie Peterson in the household at 24 Thirteenth Street in Minneapolis were in fact the same person -- the double entry being the product of some extraordinarily inept census-taking. Conclusion: "Clara was Carrie, Vivian was Sigrid, and Earl was Hjalmar....Researchers must always question census information."

In "Tying Together Indirect Evidence: Finding Frederick Drollinger's Father," Kay Germain Ingalls, CG, produces what seems at first to be genealogical sleight-of-hand, proving that Frederick's father was John from a Preble County, Ohio, Chancery Court case that was litigated long after Frederick and John were both dead, in a state where neither ever lived.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Where there's a will there's a story

Brenda Joyce Jerome, CG, at Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog posts the 1874 will of Blount Hodge, which is (literally) a story in itself and, Jerome is pretty sure, "the most interesting one to be found in Livingston County." I've certainly never seen one like it. Hodge comments extensively on his son's character and plotting against him. He had property across the Ohio River in Pope County, Illinois, as well as in Kentucky. Read the whole thing and check out the links.

March OGSQ

By the table of contents, the new issue of the Ohio Genealogical Society Quarterly has 20 articles! Here are some of the more substantial ones:

"Ohio Hospital for Epileptics, Gallipolis, Gallia County," by Jean Overmeier Nathan [access to its records at the Ohio Historical Society are extremely limited, but at least the 1900 census of its residents is public]

"William Justice Burgenmeyer, Butler County," by Calvin Burgenmeyer

"1900 and 1901 Deaths in Cincinnati, Ohio, with Burials Outside of Hamilton County," by Kenny R. Burck, Doris Thomason, and Kay M. Ryan

"The Perrysburg Journal 1855 Extractions," by Lolita Thayer Guthrie [Wood County]

"Paulding County Soldiers," by Terri Gorney [clippings from the Paulding Democrat in 1918]

"A Section of the Rural Directory of Sandusky County, Ohio," by Jean Overmeier Nathan

"Ohioans on the Move: Biographical Record and Portrait Album of Tippecanoe County, Indiana Part II," by Jean Overmeier Nathan

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Gem of the Midwest

Curt Witcher of the Allen County [Indiana] Public Library's Genealogy Center in the 31 March issue of ACPL's "Genealogy Gems" newsletter:

"I had to smile when a colleague sent me a link to a KNXV Phoenix, Arizona television broadcast where, in a story about genealogy, the newscaster stated the top three places in the country to engage in genealogical research are the Library of Congress, the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, and our own Genealogy Center in Fort Wayne."

This issue also includes a discussion of Holland Land Company records for Midwest feeder areas in western New York and Pennsylvania.

And as part of the last-Saturday "Tree Talks," John Beatty will give a presentation on Indiana church records 10 am on 26 April.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

A bow toward Canton, Ohio

Bloggers are supposed to be up-to-the-minute types; if we're late mentioning something we either hide it or are embarrassed. This time I'm late to the party and I don't care, because I'm so impressed with the Stark County (Ohio) District Library's index to death and obituary items in the Canton Repository, covering the years (deep breath here) 1815-1889, 1900-1955, 1957, 1961, 1963, 1966, 1978, 1979, and 2000-2004 -- so impressed that I don't mind that Karen at Ohio Genealogy told about them last September. Thanks, Karen.

Thank heavens my wife has one known relative with the good sense to die there.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Midwestern Newspaper Indices

Joe Beine's Genealogy Roots Blog points to the updated Historical Newspapers and Indexes On The Internet - USA, which has useful listings for Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin.

But it's not complete. It refers to the Chicago Tribune 1870-1877 index on Footnote, but if you go directly to the Tribune's own archives you can search 1852-1984. (In both cases you have to pay to see more than a sentence or two.) Also, the Indiana State Library site is supposed to have limited indices for Logansport and New Albany (currently inoperative).

Dred Scott's descendants

Genealogy and history work together to recover the full story of Dred Scott, the subject of the notorious 1857 US Supreme Court decision, who died in St. Louis and who has numerous living descendants. Read the article in the new issue of the online journal Common-Place.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Not just remembering the respectable

Dick Eastman blogs about northwestern Ohio genealogist Jana Sloan Broglin's new books but doesn't link to them. Parts 1 and 2 of Hookers, Crooks, and Kooks are available here.

Broglin, CG, is at least a triple threat: in addition to extracting this, um, out-of-the-way information from the 1880 US Census, she's an engaging lecturer, and now as "Aunt Merle" she's a blogger. (Aunt Merle was the real-life inspiration for Broglin's new books, as she was the madame of a house in Toledo.)

I've always thought genealogy is at its best when it finds the people who have been most thoroughly forgotten by respectable, successful society. The carefully pruned family trees and selective autobiographies in the Victorian-era county histories are useful and easy to find, but they aren't the whole story.

Willard Library in Evansville

I can drive to Madison, Wisconsin, or Cleveland, Ohio, faster than I can get to Evansville. But now I have a reason to go: the Willard Public Library's genealogical collection, in a distinctive building at 21 N. First Avenue just north of downtown.

I got a quick glimpse of it (and some fruitful copying done) during a lunch break from the Indiana Genealogical Society conference Saturday. I don't really know if it's the second or third best genealogical library in Indiana, as some claim, but I'd be willing to bet that on an information-per-square-foot basis it's way up there. I am sure that it's a must-see if you're doing anything in SW Indiana or SE Illinois, and after my next trip I'll be able to say more.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

War is hell

J. Mark Lowe, CG, of Robertson County, Tennessee, came just far enough north this weekend to touch the tippy-toe of the Midwest -- he gave four informative and engaging lectures at yesterday's Indiana Genealogical Society's 2008 annual meeting in Evansville. (He also blogs occasionally at Keeping The Story Alive.)

If you left early, you missed his most hard-core talk, on World War I records. Years ago he interviewed 44 WWI veterans in his area about their experiences. When asked about their experiences in that war, almost every one began by saying words to this effect: "I've done everything I could in my life to forget it."

What's old in Hamilton County, Illinois

Southern Illinois' Hamilton County (county seat McLeansboro) has a historical society whose website is new on Cyndi's List, including a listing of the society's next meeting (unfortunately in March), the location and hours of its museum and genealogical library, and its publications -- including oral histories taken in 1978 and recently transferred to CDs and made available for sale.

If you have folks in this part of the world, Linkpendium has a good set of links and the Hamilton County GenWeb site has some unusual transcriptions including state censuses of 1855 and 1865.

So it comes as rather a disappointment that out of the 36,000 or so people in my genealogy database, including a bunch of southern Illinoisans, no one (yet!) has a connection there.

Friday, April 4, 2008

War of 1812

With characteristic generosity, the Missouri State Genealogical Association blog posts links and online resources for the War of 1812, few of which have anything to do with their state. Links include Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio sources, a Newberry Library online listing of mostly print sources for those states plus Michigan and Missouri, plus others outside our immediate coverage area.

Get your deceased relatives shaped up for the fast-approaching 200th anniversary of this conflict that shaped the proto-Midwest and put an end to Indian tribes' ability to survive by playing one government or empire off against another.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Ohio libraries smackdown

The spring 2008 issue of Ohio Genealogy News pushes the upcoming annual conference (April 17-19 in Cincinnati) and describes the online images of state death certificates 1908-1953 now available, but most of the issue is devoted to three libraries: Columbus Metropolitan, Cincinnati Public, and new acquisitions by the Ohio Genealogical Society's own library in Mansfield (and the capital campaign to build a new one).

Columbus now holds the State Library of Ohio's genealogy collection as well as its own. (I should add that SLO still holds some relevant historical materials and the agricultural schedules of the US Census, as well as a very occasional genealogy blog.) Columbus also has the Ohio Huguenot Society collection and a microfilm every-name index to 130 Ohio county histories.

The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, long famed for the quality of its genealogy collection, has the River History Collection (including the Rivers photograph wiki), and what it describes as "the leading African American research collection in the nation, including Antebellum Southern Plantation Records, Regimental Histories of U.S. Colored Troops, and more. Its virtual library includes scanned images of Cincinnati city directories as early as 1819.

In short? It's hard to make a wrong turn in this state.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Best and worst for vital records

Check out Craig Manson's posts at Geneablogie where he lists and describes states with exceptionally good and bad policies on access to vital records. (You'll want to stay awhile for his family stories, too. Hat tip to Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings for the pointer.)

The oversimplified quick story on the Midwest is that we go to extremes: Illinois, Wisconsin, and Missouri are good; Iowa and Michigan are not so good; and Indiana is located in "Vital Records Access Hell." Read the whole thing for the informative details.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Those confusing Chicago city directories

The Newberry Library's Chicago Ancestors web site has just added images of Chicago city directories for 1870, 1871, 1880, and 1885. Believe it or not, they don't overlap with the directories that Illinois Harvest recently uploaded, which I blogged Saturday as "1869-1870" and "1871."

As with many genealogical sources, these directories weren't meant to be a systematic collection of documents for 21st-century researchers. And what we call them isn't what they were actually titled. I have happily cited "1871 Chicago City Directory" as a source of genealogical information and thought I'd recorded enough information to enable me or anyone else to return to the same source. Not quite. Do as I say, not as I did.

Here are fuller citations for the Chicago city directories recently released at Illinois Harvest and Chicago Ancestors, in chronological order. Comments and corrections are welcome.

Edwards' Annual Director [sic] to the Inhabitants, Institutions, Incorporated Companies, Manufacturing Establishments, Business, Business Firms, etc., etc., in the City of Chicago, for 1869-1870. St. Louis & New York: Edwards & Co., 1870. Digital images of the book available at Illinois Harvest, which calls it "Edwards' ... annual directory ... of Chicago. v.12."

Edwards' Annual Director [sic] to the Inhabitants, Institutions, Incorporated Companies, Manufacturing Establishments, Business, Business Firms, etc., etc., in the City of Chicago for 1870-1871. St. Louis & New York: Edwards & Co., 1871. Digital images of the Newberry Library microfilm available at Chicago Ancestors, which calls it "1870 City Directory."

Edwards' Fourteenth Annual Directory of the Inhabitants, Institutions, Incorporated Companies and Manufacturing Establishments of the City of Chicago, Embracing a Complete Business Directory for 1871. Chicago: Richard Edwards, 1871. Digital images of the book available at Illinois Harvest, which calls it Edwards' ... annual directory ... of Chicago. v.14 External Link

Chicago Census Report; and Statistical Review, Embracing a Complete Directory of the City..., by Richard Edwards. Chicago: Richard Edwards, 1871. Digital images of the Newberry Library microfilm available at Chicago Ancestors, which calls it "1871 Edward's Census."

(NOTE: THE ABOVE TWO ARE DIFFERENT BOOKS. My great-grandfather Charles Schriber, soda manufacturer, is listed at the same address in both, at page 799 in the first and page 989 in the second, and with additional information in the second.)

The Lakeside Annual Directory of the City of Chicago. 1880. Chicago: The Chicago Directory Company, 1880. Digital images of the Newberry Library microfilm available at Chicago Ancestors, which calls it "1880 City Directory."

The Lakeside Annual Directory of the City of Chicago. 1885. Chicago: The Chicago Directory Company, 1885. Digital images of the Newberry Library microfilm available at Chicago Ancestors, which calls it "1885 City Directory."

Illinois Harvest offers more formats for viewing the digital images than does Chicago Ancestors, but Chicago Ancestors kindly breaks its PDFs up by letter of the alphabet, so that searching doesn't take forever.