Friday, January 30, 2009

Did Your Ancestor Own Land in Illinois After 1859?

If so , you may be in luck. The Illinois State Library has a fine collection of land ownership maps and atlases, the oldest of which cover Hancock, Stephenson, and Winnebago counties in 1859. These were commercial products and coverage is uneven both as to counties and specific dates.

No, they're not on line; what makes this collection special is that most of it circulates via interlibrary loan. The full checklist of maps is on line (PDF); talk to your local librarian. Just one example: these maps can be used to generate a list of nearby neighbors if you trying to identify a woman's maiden name (even better if you can correlate them with a near-time census listing, not forgetting Illinois' state censuses on the 5's).

(Hat tip to Cyndi's List.)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Civil War at Notre Dame

Writing in the Fall 2008 (#93) issue of Access: News from the Hesburgh Libraries of Notre Dame, special collections curator George Rugg highlights a new group of 123 Civil War manuscript letters recently donated to the university -- the Barrier family letters from Cabarrus County, North Carolina. Until recently ND's Civil War collections have come mostly from the Northern side.

But you don't have to come to South Bend to sample ND's Civil War manuscripts. Many are on line -- both original images and transcriptions, with introductory notes and further reading suggestions -- at the Special Collections website. Among those items now online are

the diary of Grant County, Wisconsin, lead miner David B. Arthur (20th Wisconsin Infantry);

the diary of Pike County, Ohio, blacksmith William Cline (73rd Ohio Infantry, including Gettysburg);

29 letters from Lake County, Ohio, farm worker Charles C. Caley (105th Ohio Infantry); and

a 10 July 1864 battle report from Lt. Col. Edward Bloodgood on the march to Atlanta (22nd Wisconsin Infantry).

There are plenty more where these came from, both on and off line, and they're from all over -- I just cherry-picked those from my area of interest.

It's repositories like this that make a mockery of this blog's premise -- when you "specialize in the Midwest," do you also specialize in all the non-Midwestern items held, and meticulously transcribed and annotated (as these are) in a Midwestern repository? (Yes.) More importantly, it's a lesson in how much digging you need to do to find relevant manuscript collections on any subject. They could literally be anywhere, but Notre Dame is an interesting place to start.

(Full disclosure: these days my straight job is in an entirely different part of the university.)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Tax lists -- a beginning

Thanks to Randy Seaver for highlighting Gena's Genealogy post with a partial list of tax records available on line. It's a good day if you have taxpaying research targets in Williamson County, Illinois, in 1891, or in Belmont County, Ohio, from 1811 to 1816!

Hmm -- looks like it will be some little while before this versatile source type is anywhere close to being well covered on line...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

October 2008 Wisconsin SGS Newsletter --or is that SOS?

Two record compilations fill the latest issue of the Wisconsin statewide genealogy publication:

"Jenson Cemetery Edgerton Wisconsin," Rock County, tr. Bernie Farmer

"Deaths Among the Membership, Wisconsin WCTU 1927-28"

WSGS turns 70 this year, and will hold the annual Gene-A-Rama featuring Christine Rose, CG, 3-4 April in Madison.

Retiring editor David McDonald, CG, offers a farewell note that should be disquieting to those of us who think there's a lot of interesting genealogy to do in Wisconsin: "Since taking on this task in 2007, I have been truly surprised at how little correspondence from members it engenders. With two exceptions, nothing has been forthcoming from members to be included."

Monday, January 26, 2009

December 2008 Indiana Genealogist

I don't know how they shoehorn all this stuff into the Indiana state genealogical quarterly! But here's the December crop. (That link is also good if you want to check out the every-name index to the 2008 issues.)

"Is My Other Family Out There? Case Study of an Adoption Search," by Betty L. Warren

"Indiana University Board of Trustees 1820-1890," tr. Meredith Thompson from Indiana University: Its History from 1820, when Founded, to 1890," by Theophilus A. Wylie (Indianapolis: Wm. B. Burford, 1890) [Woops! If you can use the whole thing, it's on Google Book Search.]

"Sisters of St. Francis," by Marjorie Weiler-Powell

"Items from Marion County Mail," tr. Elizabeth Hague from 3 January 1913

"Indiana Expert Riflemen," tr. Meredith Thompson, from Report of the Adjutant-General of the State of Indiana for the Fiscal Year ending December 31, 1907 (Indianapolis: Wm. B. Burford, 1910)

"Indiana Civil War Soldier Lorenzo Judkins," by Annette Harper

"Indiana Civil War Surgeons, 6th Cavalry, 7th Cavalry, 8th Cavalry," tr. Wayne C. Klusman from Alphabetical List of Battles and Roster of Regimental Surgeons and Assistant Surgeons during the War of the Rebellion (Washington, DC: GM Van Buren, 1883)

"Commission on Public Records," by Shirley Fields

Friday, January 23, 2009

Monroe County Local History Room grows online

I'm late with this, but if you have western Wisconsin research targets, the Monroe County Local History Room is worth waiting for. Early last month they reported expanded online indexes of local newspapers (Sparta, Norwalk, Cashton), business directories (Sparta, Tomah, and countywide), and a 1948 plat book. Believe me, it's even better in person.

FYI for those who are counting, this blog is one year (342 posts) old today.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

More Indiana records online

A hat tip to Jacksonville, Florida, blogger Miles Meyer of "Miles' Genealogy Tips," who serves up a treat of more than a dozen on-line resources for the state of Indiana and the counties of Allen, Clinton, Dekalb, Elkhart, Fulton, La Porte, Madison, Marshall, Montgomery, St. Joseph, and Vanderburgh. Bear in mind that most of these are indexes (without images of the actual records attached), so you shouldn't rely on them until you can get to the real things.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

"The Yankee West"

My first big shock of the New Year was realizing that I am apparently the only person on LibraryThing who owns a copy of Susan E. Gray's The Yankee West: Community Life on the Michigan Frontier, a microhistorical analysis of three townships in Kalamazoo County, Michigan between 1830 and 1860. (If you're a LibraryThing person who can find my techno-semiliterate mistake, please do so and post a comment!)

Even if you don't have people in the area, this book is full of insights about how things happen in predominantly Yankee or New Englander settlements in the Midwest in this crucial settlement time. (I read it avidly in the NFL playoff commercial breaks.) These folks believed in community/family values and they believed in commerce and commercial agriculture.

They were not confused, but their objective was fundamentally ambivalent: to create traditional rural communities of unlimited potential for economic growth. They wanted more of the same, only better. In realizing their goal, however, they altered forever the dialectic between market and morality. {15}
I learned about a new kind of source from her, too. She of course uses the population and agriculture census schedules, township tax rolls, and land records. But she also gets a lot out of Presbyterian and Congregational clergymen's letter reports to the New York office of the American Home Missionary Society. The explanation of how the timing of Michigan settlement, Indian "removal," and the 1840s depression made possible the survival of Ottawa Indians in the peninsula, and helped white settlers survive, is alone worth the price of admission. Please, buy this book and put it up on LibraryThing so I don't feel like quite such a geek!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Was Your Ancestor Working on the Illinois Central Railroad?

If you have Chicago or Illinois connections, keep an eye on Sharon Williams' Chicago history portal/blog, "Chicago History: The Journal of an Amateur Historian." I certainly will.

I haven't begun to explore this whole site -- her posts are delightfully eclectic -- but here's one juicy microhistorical/genealogical item 'way down on her blogroll equivalent (and something I should have known about long ago), the"Digitized Book of the Week" from the library of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Out of many curious postings here (further exploration and monitoring is a must), I found a year-old post on their digitized volumes of the Illinois Central Magazine (1914-1924) for employees.

In this digital treasure chest, the genealogical jewels are concentrated at the end of each issue under "Divisional News." The July 1914 news for the Illinois Division, Chicago District, includes a marriage announcement which fully names the bride but describes the groom only as "Brakeman McLaughlin." We also learn where dispatcher H. H. Weatherford just spent his vacation (Milwaukee), and where "trainmen's caller" John Wilson was about to spend his (Havana [Illinois]). Geo. Starkey secured a leave of absence from his unnamed job to visit a sick relative in Los Angeles. Good stuff. BTW, the IC magazine also profiled towns along its route.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Online death records from Joe Beine

FYI from a week ago at Genealogy Roots Blog: Midwestern counties with resources recently added to the Online Searchable Death Indexes and Records Directory are in Illinois (Adams and Sangamon), Indiana (Elkhart and Washington), Michigan (Calhoun, Hillsdale, Kalamazoo, Oakland, and Wayne), and Ohio (Franklin, Hamilton, Montgomery, and Washington).

Friday, January 16, 2009

Michigan Cemetery Sources!

The Library of Michigan maintains a map and book/microfilm index to cemeteries across the state of Michigan. Much of this material is also in hard copy at the Allen County Public Library not too far south of the state line, as the Michigan Cemetery Source Book and the Michigan Cemetery Atlas. Hat tip to Cynthia Theusch's article in the December 31 issue of their "Genealogy Gems."

Thursday, January 15, 2009

International Black Genealogy Summit in Fort Wayne

Jennifer of the blog "But Now I'm Found: Genealogy Blog in Black and White" reports that the Allen County Public Library will host an international black genealogy summit October 29-31, said to be "the first time that all of the black historical and genealogical societies in the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean will come together." Full info at the second link.

I see that in June the library will be hosting another major conference, the Palatines to America German Speaking Ancestry Conference.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Mississippi-Missouri-Ohio Rivers Frontier

It's not obvious from the title, but Stephen Aron's American Confluence: The Missouri Frontier from Borderland to Border State (Bloomington & Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2006) is part of the series including Frontier Indiana, Frontier Illinois, The Ohio Frontier, and The Wisconsin Frontier. Aron recognized that the story starts, not with what-later-became-the-state-of-Missouri, but with the important confluence of rivers from the Missouri-Mississippi down to the Mississippi-Ohio, and surrounding territory.

One key theme here is a rethinking of the frontier and white-Indian relations based on Richard White's wonderful 1991 classic The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650-1815. None of the governments or tribes that purported to rule the proto-Midwest had power to make their wishes law in day-to-day life, so what actually happened was the result of local negotiations and creative misunderstandings among different cultures. As long as European states and empires competed for the land, Indians had room to maneuver and play one group off against another. After the War of 1812, however, they had only one country to deal with, and its white inhabitants rarely respected other races (although comparatively enlightened leaders like Meriwether Lewis and William Clark tried to do so). Time and again the following pattern was repeated:

Lured again by exuberant descriptions of the region's fertility, increasing numbers of squatters entered the supposedly off-limits area [reserved for Indians, often refugees from further east], then complained about Indian depredations and pressed the government to oust the Indians and confirm their holdings.

Even tribes that were assimilating to European ways of settled agriculture had land stolen from them in this way. Genealogist who take the word of "old settlers" about hostile Indians are likely to be seriously misled about what actually happened back then on the frontier.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Women doctors in Indiana

Have you ever wished you could be a fly on the wall at some point in the past? Then don't miss the current issue of the Indiana Magazine of History, which focuses on women's 20th-century struggle to become doctors. Alexandra Minna Stern introduces and frames Dr. Elsie F. Meyers' "Success! Memoirs of a Female Hoosier Physician," starting in the early 1940s in LaGrange County:

I had no science background and very little money. And I had never heard of a female doctor, much less seen one. ... I think that my father's believing in me was what gave me the strength to try.
Meyers, now a retired anesthesiologist, is a straight talker. Those who aren't themselves medical people, or who didn't grow up in a family with them, may choose not to read the memoir over breakfast. Those who feel the need to believe that every respected ancestor deserved respect may not enjoy it. Genealogists and historians will hang on every word.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Learning about divorce

Why genealogists need to read history, even decades-old history:

Between 1867 and 1929, the population of the United States increased 300 percent, the number of marriages 400 percent, and the divorce rate 2,000 percent. By the end of the 1920s, more than one marriage in six ended in divorce every year. ...

Contradicting the assumption that more divorce meant less interest in marriage, between 1900 and 1920 the proportion of the eligible population choosing to marry rose along with the divorce rate. Moreover, the marriage age declined for both sexes.

That's historian Elaine Tyler May in her 1980 book Great Expectations: Marriage and Divorce in Post-Victorian America. I wish I'd known this (plus what more she has to say that I haven't read yet) when I was writing about a Wisconsin relative who got divorced around 1908! BTW, the book is largely based on divorce court cases in Los Angeles, where many Midwesterners ended up.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

What Comes Naturally -- weekend bonus

OK, it's a history book, but it's real close to genealogy: Oxford University Press has just published University of Oregon historian Peggy Pascoe's What Comes Naturally: Miscegenation Law and the Making of Race in America.

WorldCat shows it in very few libraries as yet, and Santa Claus just left town, so I haven't seen a copy, but it sounds good. One blurb says that she "argues that property and power rather than the desire for racial purity propelled the creation of the body of legislation that stood at the center of racial discrimination against people of color."

In the same category of awaiting (I'm not as sure that I'll read this one, though) is Beyond the Frontier: The Midwestern Voice in American Historical Writing, by David S. Brown (Elizabethtown College), due out in July from the University of Chicago Press. Hey, I just like the idea of thinking -- even for a moment -- of Frederick Jackson Turner, Charles Beard, William Appleman Williams, Christopher Lasch, William Cronon, and Thomas Frank -- primarily as Midwesterners.

Friday, January 9, 2009

St. Louis index at the Missouri History Museum

Strictly speaking, St. Louis is out of my area, but our ancestors didn't know that. Hat tip to Diane Haddad, whose Genealogy Insider blog for Family Tree Magazine calls attention to the Missouri History Museum's Genealogy and Local History Index. The index is on line, the things indexed -- mostly pertaining to St. Louis residents and businesses -- are not, but you can request photocopies. I found a reference to a potential Gedney cousin who appeared in a scrapbook on "Missourians in the European War" (that is, World War I), an eleven-volume set, the kind of thing that often doesn't get indexed.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Hoosier Genealogist: Connections Fall/Winter 2008

If you can't find some new inspiration and new records to investigate from reading the fall/winter 2008 issue of The Hoosier Genealogist: Connections, the semiannual from the Indiana Historical Society, you probably aren't paying attention. The well-written and well-edited articles include:

"After the War: Billy Yank Comes Home to Small-Town America," by Mary Blair Immel, focusing on Civil War veterans in and around Covington, including the unpleasant parts.

"Census Records: Federal Non-Population Schedules," by Curt B. Witcher of the Allen County Public Library. These lesser-known and lesser-used schedules include agricultural, manufactures, social statistics, and mortality. They're all worthy of genealogical attention -- sometimes for basic genealogical information, sometimes to point the way to additional genealogical sources, and sometimes to enlarge our understanding of how our ancestors lived in their place and time.

"'C'est La Guerre': The World War I Correspondence of Kenton Craig Emerson, Steuben County, 1917-1919," by Geneil Breeze

"History in Church Minutes: The Rise and Fall of the Lick Creek Baptist Church, Henry County, 1835-1848," by James B. Cash

"Bank Crash: Legal Papers Gathered in Wake of Bank Failure Tell Stories of Elisha and Martha Hyatt Family and Neighbors in Daviess County, 1885-1896," by Rachel M. Popma

"Servant Cries Foul: Open Letter from Runaway in Indiana Sentinel September 1819, Offers Flavor of Frontier Life," by M. Teresa Baer

"The 'Raintree County' Project: Annotated Transcriptions, Biographical Database and History Compiled through Research of Letters in Grandparents' Attic," by James B. Cash

"The 'Jefferson Chronicles': Statewide Articles from a Nineteenth-Century Indiana Newspaper Correspondent," by George C. Hibben. Rev. William W. Hibben's work as a special correspondent of the Indianapolis Sentinel.

"Civil War Pension File: Some Genealogical Data and Other Gleanings Found in My Great-Great Grandfather's Pension File," by Robert D. Hennon

"Citizens' Petitions: Official Requests to the Governor of Indiana in the Indiana State Archives," by Kurt Jung

"Spanish-American War: United Spanish War Veterans Collection at the Indiana State Archives," by Ron Darrah. A few months of war, a century of records.

Relevant additional material will be posted at Online Connections later this month.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

More Midwestern city directories at Internet Archive

Besides Indianapolis, Internet Archive's best midwestern city directory holdings are in Fort Wayne, Indiana (overlapping the Footnote collection) and Urbana-Champaign, Illinois.

Once again, I didn't find a good way to get the results in order, but for Urbana-Champaign I found directories for 1878-9, 1883-4, 1885, 1890, 1893, 1895-6, 1898, 1898-9, 1900, 1902-3, 1906, 1908, 1910, 1916, 1918, 1919-20, 1921, 1922, 1925, 1927, 1935, 1936, 1937, 1938, and 1940. Most also cover outlying areas of Champaign County. They also have a 1916 directory for the University of Illinois, said to include all 35,000 people ever associated with it up to that time.

For Indiana's second largest city, Internet Archive has 1858-9, 1860, 1862, 1864-5, 1866-7 (Williams), 1867 (Bailey's gazetteer), 1868-9, 1870-1, 1873-4, 1875-6, 1876-7, 1877, 1882-3, 1883-4, 1885-6, 1888 (called "v. 11 pt. 2"), 1898, 1902, 1903, 1906, 1910, 1912, 1915, 1916, 1917, and 1919. Again, many cover more of Allen County.

In the less-ideal-but-still-useful category, IA has a scattering of other directories. In Michigan, there's Saginaw (1915). In Illinois, they have Chicago (so-called 1855 and 1856, which are actually 1855-6 and a May 1856 supplement), Shelbyville (1909), and Galena (1854). In Indiana you can check out Valparaiso (1893), Kokomo (1910-11), Lafayette (1909-10), and Michigan City (1909-10). I'm not personally acquainted with all these towns, but you can pretty much expect to find many more directory years for each one in the right physical library.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Indianapolis City Directories online, two sources

As I've probably said before, the best city directory collections, on or off line, are those that have a steady run so that you can check and correlate from year to year (tedious as that may be sometimes). It's now possible to do a good bit of that work from home for Indianapolis research targets, although nobody has full online coverage yet that I know of. (See the Indiana State Library's catalog for what that would look like.)

For older directories, Internet Archive has a nice collection of images (not transcriptions!) which as of last week included 1857, 1858, 1860-1, 1862, 1865-6, 1867, 1875, 1889, 1890, 1891, 1894, 1896*, 1899, 1902*, 1904, 1906, 1911*, 1912, 1916, 1919, 1921, and 1922. They aren't arranged in any particular order, and the starred* ones are not labeled by year in the search results. Worse, when you click on them to see what the surprise package is, they all three claim to be 1855! You have to look at an actual page (flip book loads a lot faster than the PDF version) to learn each volume's true identity.

For more recent information, visit the fanatically symmetrical IUPUI libraries' Indianapolis City Directory Collection (if you're not local, that stands for Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis), which has images for 1858-9, 1880, 1914 (in 4 parts), 1915 (4), 1916 (4), 1917 (4), 1918 (4), 1920 (4), 1930 (4), 1940 (4), 1951 (3), 1960 (4), 1970 (4), and 1980 (3). If your folks never left 'Naptown, you have a nifty set of census substitutes here!

As you can see, the overlap between these two sources is minimal. My pet peeve is that digital publication sites don't always label their directories exactly as to the year(s) covered. The volume that Internet Archive calls 1858 and IUPUI calls 1858-9 is actually 1858-9, or, in full, McEvoy's Indianapolis City Directory and Business Mirror for 1858-9.

Both Internet Archive and IUPUI's digital collections have lots of other good stuff, so stick around and browse a while.

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Great White Whale and March Madness

In some ways, the semi-legendary State Historical Society of Wisconsin's Draper Manuscript
Collection is the Great White Whale of mid-continent genealogy -- too big to spear, too scary even to approach. Writing in the Allen County Public Library's e-newsletter "Genealogy Gems" for 30 November, Steven W. Myers suggests several approaches available at the library, including Josephine Harper's "Guide to the Draper Manuscripts" (call number 016.978 H23g) "In addition to detailed descriptions of each manuscript volume's contents and a general index," he writes, "useful appendices include an index to Revolutionary War pension applicants, an index to the names of authors, cartographers, correspondents and interviewees, and an extensive inventory of maps present in the collection." Next visit I promise to give this a shot.

Next visit could be in March: Melissa Shimkus and Delia Bourne list seven classes in the first seven days of the month. Detailed descriptions and registration information will be available at Genealogy Special Programs, but in the meantime topics look like beginning-to-intermediate level topics, including Southern lore, Flickr, the Civilian Conservation Corps, and evaluating published family histories.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Drilling a little deeper in the Illinois State Archives online

Anyone with any research interest in Illinois at all has probably come across, and been appropriately grateful for, the three crown-jewel databases in the Illinois State Archives web site maintained by the secretary of state: the Illinois Statewide Marriage Index (1763-1900) and the Illinois Statewide Death Index (1916-1950) and the Illinois Statewide Death Index (pre-1916 but not done yet either). But if you go direct to these treasure troves (which include information on obtaining the original records), which I just made it easy for you to do (d'oh!), you'll miss some other goodies. The archives also has eleven online indexes of Illinois veterans starting with the War of 1812, plus an index of public domain land tract sales, and servitude and emancipation records 1722-1863.

But wait, there's more. For reasons best known to the politicians, many Illinois archival records are distributed around the state in 7 different IRADs (Illinois Regional Archives Depositories). The full list of holdings is in a PDF document here, but most of those you have to go see in person. What's even more helpful is that a selection of these has been indexed on line -- scroll down the main database page to the end, where you will find indexes to such gems as Shelby County Circuit Court Case Files 1828-1871, McLean County Will Records 1838-1940, Ogle County Naturalization Papers (County Court) 1878-1933, Sangamon County Guardian's Case Files 1825-1901, Chicago City Council proceedings 1833-1871, and... but you get the idea. Check it out and you may get lucky. I did.