Thursday, April 30, 2009

Tombstone Thursday in Lenawee County, Michigan

The Crazy Cemetery Ladies of Lenawee County have posted readings of at least some cemeteries in five townships of this SE Michigan county: Adrian, Fairfield, Madison, Ogden, and Palmyra. Be sure to check all the tabs on each page; despite the unorthodox web design a lot of real-world work has gone into this.

Fair warning: Not all pages have all links to the others, and the promising-looking links to Fairfield morticians and to their "dump" page don't work for me. But if you live half the country away and have people buried in one of these cemeteries, you won't mind.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Chicago newspapers history and whereabouts: 4 online sources

The most authoritative source for Chicago newspapers has to be the Illinois Newspaper Project, which lists 1394 titles, and enumerates, for each, which libraries are known to have them.

INP doesn't give a family tree of newspapers or a good sense of which ones existed when. The Encyclopedia of Chicago has three nice timelines of selected Chicago dailies, selected Chicago foreign-language dailies, and selected suburban papers, including mergers and disappearances.

Wikipedia also offers a list.

Most readable but least satisfactory is Chicagology's "family tree" of papers, which names only 39.

None of these sources is without errors of omission or commission, but Chicagology's linked account of the Chicago Times (written many decades ago but unattributed) is terribly incomplete.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Digital Book Index

Do you need more books than you can afford? Check out the Digital Book Index. I like to browse by subject (even though some headings are idiosyncratic), but it's all good. (Hat tip to Kathleen Lenerz on the APG Rootsweb mailing list.)

Under the subject heading "Local-Regional: Mid-West: Wisconsin," four pages of books are listed (in small font) including the 1889 Plat Book of Outagamie County Wisconsin (via the University of Wisconsin), Juliette Augusta Magill Kinzie's 1873 Wau-Bun: The Early Day in the North-West, (via the Library of Congress), and Albert Hart Sanford's 1908 The Polish People of Portage County (via Harvard).

Under the subject heading "Economic Hist: City Business & Commercial Directories," you can find city directories from Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Fond du Lac, Milwaukee, and Steubenville, as well as quite a few from Pittsburgh and Hannibal (not necessarily listed together, however -- you have to do some work!).

All online. Almost all free. You may go down and not surface for a week or two, but it'll be worth it.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Methodology Monday in Evansville, Indiana

Tom Jones says we should spend as much time trying to figure out what to do with our sources as we spend finding them in the first place. I agree, while noticing with some embarrassment that almost every post to this blog has been about finding sources, not what to do with them afterwards.

I'll try to spend at least one post a week on interesting examples of methodology in tough cases. They may not all be from the Midwest but this one is. And since I won't unravel every detail of the reasoning, hopefully you'll be inspired to consult the original.

The semiannual Genealogist is perhaps the least well-known of the three or four top-ranked genealogy periodicals. I'm sure Fall 2007 is not its current issue, but it's the most recent one indexed in PERSI. Lead article is a 40-page monster by Stephen Alden Ralls, "The Lost Second Family of Colonel Hugh McGary Jr., Founder of Evansville, Indiana."

Polly (Blevins) McClain McGary had three McGary children in the early 1820s in Indiana. Everyone agrees Hugh McGary was the father, but which one? Hugh McGary Jr. of Evansville, Vanderburgh County, Indiana? His nephew Hugh McGary of Sangamon County, Illinois? Or his other nephew Hugh McGary of Arkasas and Missouri? And for that matter, who was the Hugh McGary who married Polly McClain in Vanderburgh County 7 September 1826...after two of those three McGary children were born?

The nephews had been favored because a fairly reliable 1889 county mug book from Arkansas identified this Huge as one who had served in the Black Hawk War -- both nephews had done so, but their uncle Hugh Jr. hadn't. But one nephew stayed in Sangamon County and his probate mentions children of two other marriages but none of these three. And the other nephew was only 13 at the time of the first McGary child's birth.

So Ralls pieces together a mosaic of evidence that makes the case that Hugh Jr. and Polly had two children born prior to this marriage and a third born after, at least one of these while they were both married to other people. Both were tried separately for adultery in the local court in 1825 (specifics not available) and not convicted. After that episode and one day after her divorce from her first husband, who had been elsewhere for some years, they took out a marriage license.

Ralls analyzes the evidence in the form of five arguments that Polly's first husband McClain was the father of the three children, and ten rather stronger arguments that Hugh Jr. was. He sniffs out a coverup from the very fact that Hugh and Polly's marriage is mentioned in no local history until the year 2000: "Since a marriage is a significant life event, since Hugh had been a very important person, since histories typically document important events of important people, and since this marriage is the last definite record of Hugh's presence in Vanderburgh County before disappearing, then it seems clear that its absence reflects an intent to conceal." (page 159) IOW, Hugh was a good ole boy and the other good ole boys protected him as much as they could.

For a masterful marshaling of indirect evidence to reach a conclusion that no record states in so many words, this story is hard to beat, even with the gaps and uncertainties, and the lack of a letter or other window into the minds of the participants. The genealogical summary traces 24 "new" grandchildren in Hugh Jr.'s descendant lines.

Ralls, Stephen Alden. "The Lost Second Family of Colonel Hugh McGary Jr., Founder of Evansville, Indiana." The Genealogist 21(2): 131-171.

Friday, April 24, 2009

NE Wisconsin history

One of the pleasures of attending Wisconsin's well-planned Gene-A-Rama earlier this month was getting acquainted with Voyageur, "Northeast Wisconsin's Historical Review," in the vendors' hall. It's based in Green Bay, so anything in that general area seems to be fair game.

I picked up the Summer/Fall 2008 issue (which was in the future the last time their web site was updated) and have been reading my way through stories about the Green Bay Packers' abortive post-WW2 out-of-town training camp; "the day [a piece of] Sputnik [IV] fell on [a street in] Manitowoc"; the story of "Baby Doe," a frontier Colorado beauty from Oshkosh; the history of Green Bay's small public squares; Sheboygan's grand old ballpark; and stories from the Wisconsin Oneidas, who were involved in the only WPA project with a linguistic focus and that employed Native American researchers.

Not a genealogy magazine, but if you have people anywhere in the upper right-hand corner of Wisconsin this is a great way to soak up their history.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A new motto for the Great Lakes Region National Archives

No doubt about it, the National Archives are intimidating. And it's not the kind of place to wander in and ask, "Whaddaya got?" But when you're ready with specific questions, you can start with the Great Lakes Region in Chicago. Call first and talk to an archivist.

What can you find there? Absolutely anything, and not necessarily where you expect. The National Archives' official motto is "What Is Past Is Prologue," but a case could be made for changing it to "Who Woulda Thunk It?"

An article in the Great Lakes Region's February 2009 monthly newsletter (not yet on line) describes the paper trail created when the federal government sold off its holdings on Grosse Isle in the Detroit River after World War II and hired a title company to do a search. That file included a photocopy of a 6 July 1776 treaty or deed to Alexander and William Macomb and signed by several Potawatomi chiefs:

Chief Magina's seal is an upside down deer and Chief Nanakota's seal is a fish with a very distinctive crosshatch pattern. The final pictograph, a tent, is that of Wabateathaque; his is the largest and closest to the signatures of the English.

Not just amazing, but conceivably of genealogical use if you need to confirm an 18th-century Native American identity by matching signatures. The citation is Grosse Ile Naval Air Station - Real Property Disposal Case Files. Records of the Chicago Regional Office. Accession RG 291-75A-0238-Box 25 Folder 15. Records of the Federal Property Resources Service. Record Group 291. National Archives-Great Lakes Region (Chicago).

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A helping hand from north of the border

Anyone who's working in Wisconsin and Michigan knows how often Canadians pop up and need to be traced back across the border. I'm not going to pretend to any expertise whatever, just thank the Resource Shelf for including a pointer to Library and Archives Canada and its selection of online genealogical databases, some of them including original images. Resources include censuses, marriage and divorce records, as well as immigration and naturalization, land, military, and directory records.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Indiana conference and databases

Members of the Indiana Genealogical Society have a conference Saturday in Indianapolis, featuring military records and Pamela K. Boyer. The stay-at-homes have four new members-only databases on the website to explore, three of them offering leads to military records (these are not images of the records themselves and should not be cited as such):

Revolutionary War Veterans Living in Indiana Who Received Pensions (1835)

Students of Earlham College, Richmond (1859)

Roster of 79th Indiana Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War (1861-1865)

Public Service Company of Indiana Employees Serving in World War II (1944), list from the Danville Republican newspaper

Three cemetery indexes from Noble and Wabash counties are newly available to all visitors.

Monday, April 20, 2009

"The poor man's Harvard"

You may be missing a research resource if you don't know what Valparaiso University was called before 1906. VU's special collections and archives hold records and pictures going back to the founding of the Valparaiso Male and Female College by Methodists in 1859, and its resurrection as a proprietary institution, the Northern Indiana Normal School and Business Institute in 1873. The NINSBI was marketed as an affordable school, hence the promotional nickname. It became Valparaiso College in 1900, took on the current name in 1906, and became a Lutheran institution in 1925.

The archives include commencement programs from 1869, student transcripts 1919-1969 and some ledger books before that, university catalogs 1875-1918 (medical, dental, and pharmacy had their own), some 6000 pre-1925 alumni cards now in the process of being digitized, yearbooks from 1905, student newspapers (the Torch) from 1914, and more. None of these collections is complete and indexes are few; if you think maybe your research target attended school in the area somewhere, sometime, this is not the place to start a fishing expedition. The institution included a high school and a preparatory school, whose records are included. Also a century ago it seems to have been attracting a surprising variety of students from overseas, including Korea and Russia.

(Hat tip to special collections librarian Judith Kimbrell Miller's presentation to the La Porte County Genealogical Society.)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Getting Away With 11,000 Murders

Anyone with research targets in Chicago should spend a minute to check out Homicide in Chicago 1870-1930 -- not one more cutesy mass-market promo, but a searchable database from Chicago police records and the Chicago Historical Homicide Project, courtesy of director Leigh Bienen of Northwestern University, with a fat collection of scholarly papers from the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology to go with it. Don't miss sociologist Roland Chilton's "Homicides among Chicago Families 1870-1930." Some 1,487 of the 11,000 Chicago homicides in the database were among family members, and of these "family homicides over the sixty-one-year period involved husbands and wives much more frequently than parents and children."

If you can spend just a minute you're better than me -- I got stuck there for most of an hour. No Chicagoans? Just curious? Search on "vampire."

Another searchable database in the same vein is at the Illinois State Archives: Cook County Coroner's Inquest Record Index, 1872-1911. The Archives also has its own index to the homicide records, which apparently includes only the victims' names.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Where Many Midwesterners (and Their Money) Ended Up

My step-great-grandfather had some land in Florida; I think it even had oranges on it. If you have Midwesterners in your tree, chances are some of them had to do with the Sunshine State. Check out Florida Memory in general, and the broadside collection in particular.

Hat tip to the Wisconsin-based Scout Report.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

OGSQ Spring 2009

The spring issue of the flagship publication of the largest statewide genealogy organization in the US:

Henry C. Howells IV, "The American Descendancy of the Howells Brothers and George Henry Coggeshall"*

Tom Neel, "Kisey McKimm, ex-Slave, Paulding County, Ohio"*

Eric E. Johnson, "History of the 19th Regiment of U.S. Infantry"* (3rd prize OGSQ writing contest)

Jean Overmeier Nathan, "Moore's Standard Directory of Crestline, Ohio 1907-1908"

Beverly Blose Downing, "The Ancestors of Henry Lemuel Blose"

Jean Overmeier Nathan, "Divorces Granted by Acts of Legislation State of Ohio 1803-1851"

Linda Jean Limes Ellis, "Andrew & Josephine Zagorsky, Their Lorain Love Story"

Jean Overmeier Nathan, "Decennial Tax Valuation, Cincinnati Real Estate 1892"


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Chicago book and event

The April newsletter of the Chicago Genealogical Society brings word of a long-awaited publication: Chicago Cemetery Records 1847-1863, 296 pages of sexton's reports and certificates, treasurer receipts, deeds, and undertakers' reports for $50 + $5 shipping. If you have pre-Fire research targets, either buy it or start a campaign for your local library to do so.

CGS and the Newberry Library co-sponsor a May 2 workshop with Maureen Taylor, the Photo Detective -- we're already too late for the early-bird registration discount.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Online Plat Book Indexes, an idea whose time has come?

If your research targets lived in Monroe County, Wisconsin, the Local History and Genealogy Room allows you to search for them in the county's 1877, 1897, 1915, and 1948 plat books. More counties should get on this bandwagon, reminding on-line folks of the importance of land records (few of which are digitized or indexed on line), and of geography itself as a part of genealogy.

The good folks at Census Finder have state maps with counties and links to online maps of some of them, including plat maps. You can check out your favorite state either by scrolling halfway down the main page and picking a state to see its county map and list -- or by simply typing into your browser's address bar, substituting the state's two-letter postal abbreviation for "xy."

I found many Midwestern counties with beautiful graphic displays of one or more plat books, but only two others with actual indexes: Eau Claire County, Wisconsin for 1910, and Lee County, Illinois, for (hold your breath) 1863, 1872, 1900, 1921, 1935, and 1941. Lee County may be small but it's mighty in genealogy. My great-grandparents lived there for many years but owned no land.

Ironically, doesn't have Monroe County's plat book indexes listed yet.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Tracking Revolutionary War Pension Payments

I've heard top genealogists complain that we spend far more time learning where records are than what to do with them once we find them. NARA archivist Claire Prechtel-Kluskens does her darndest to right the balance with a blockbuster article in the Winter 2008 issue of Prologue, "Follow the Money: Tracking Revolutionary War Army Pension Payments." She writes,

Pension files of Revolutionary War veterans and their widows are well known as excellent genealogical and historical research sources. Few researchers, however, venture beyond the pension file to follow the "money trail" of records documenting the actual pension payments. . . .

Researching the records relating to pension payments is time consuming and involves understanding and using arcane, obscure, and unindexed records. It is not surprising, therefore, that no guide to this research has ever been published. This article attempts to fill this gap by going step-by-step through the research process . . . .
And what a gap it is. She leads the reader through a dozen or more record groups, following her example couple, Massachusetts patriot William McCullar and wife Chloe, through the decades to Chloe's probable death in the early 1840s in Licking County, Ohio. If you aspire to squeeze every ounce of information out of these records, print this one out and study it.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Kitchen Cabinets and War: Indiana Magazine of History for March 2009

If these two articles aren't to your taste, the first 102 years of the Indiana Magazine of History are on line.

Nancy Hiller, "A History of Hoosier Cabinets." A New Castle, Indiana, firm attempts to ease the heavy labor of housework around the turn of the last century -- excerpted from a forthcoming book. "What differentiated the Hoosier cabinet most markedly from its predecessors . . . was its meticulously organized interior storage, a testament to the late nineteenth-century preoccupation with functional design." Or, as the magazine ads put it, "A kitchen without a cabinet is like a farm without a plow."

Frank Carroll, tr., "The 1863 Diary of William H. Carroll, Mess No. 2, Company D, 24th Indiana Volunteers." Carroll, of Daviess County, was one of five brothers who joined up. He saw action and was wounded in the attack on Vicksburg. His entry for 26 May 1863 reads in part, "Firing commenced at daylight This morning & Was kep up Stediley all day Some Rebals deserting occasionley & coming over to our Side holding a bunch of coton in their hand for a flag of peace deserters Report that Scoars of Women & children are Being kild in the citty."

In the book review section, Darrel E. Bigham of the University of Southern Indiana finds more to criticize in A Little More Freedom: African Americans Enter the Urban Midwest, 1860-1930, than the review previously blogged.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Illinois Spring 2009 Quarterly

Illinois State Genealogical Society Quarterly 41(1), Spring 2009

Margaret J. Collins and Daniel W. Dixon, "The Inventive McWorters of New Philadelphia, Illinois: Patents as a Genealogical Resource" -- some amazing drawings from Pike County African-American inventors of a century ago, plus a wakeup call about the existence of the Illinois State Library's Patent and Trademark Depository Library.

Mary Manning, "The Robert R. McCormick Research Center: Military Records and More," located at Cantigny Park in Wheaton, DuPage County.

Ann Wells, "Military Monument in Union Cemetery," Crystal Lake, Lake County.

Jeanne Larzalere Bloom, "Military Separation Papers as Record Source" -- although no longer a public record.

"Faces from the Past -- Identifying Photos with Marge Rice." A gallery of identified but as yet unclaimed images, 1895-1910.

Oriene Morrow Springstroh, "Aurora Historical Society: An Overview of Its Genealogical Resource Holdings."

Kristy Lawrence Gravlin, contr., "Family Bible Collection" -- Chapman, Crampton, Jones, Butler, Moulton, Ordway, and associates.

Oriene Morrow Springstroh, "Confessions of a Grateful Genealogist" -- including details of an 1855 Henry County estate sale.

"New Genealogical Publications at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library for 9 August-15 November 2008"

"Illinois Newspapers Available on Interlibrary Loan"

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Online Death updated

Joe Beine's Genealogy Roots Blog updates the Online Searchable Death Indexes & Records. For the Midwest we have items in:

Illinois -- Boone, Kane, Madison, McHenry, and Winnebago counties
Indiana -- Morgan County
Michigan -- statewide and Delta County
Ohio -- Clermont, Cuyahoga, and Trumbull counties
Wisconsin -- Milwaukee County

Monday, April 6, 2009

From a feeder state: Western New York Deeds

If your Midwestern research targets came from New York state, you may already know that New York has county (and town[ship]) historians. The excellent property-records blog In Deeds points to a partial indexing of Ontario County deeds at the historian's web site. Check out your favorite county for other unexpected goodies.

And if you're thinking, "That's just one county out of dozens in western New York," well, not exactly. Ontario County was formed in 1789. Between 1796 and 1854, fourteen children and grandchildren counties were formed from its original area. See it happen at the previously blogged FamilyHistory101 site.

Hmmmm...if you need precise details, visit a good library and check out the multivolume Atlas of Historical County Boundaries, since it looks to me like the Ontario County chronology and FamilyHistory101 may disagree on some points.

(FYI this is MMH post #400.)

Friday, April 3, 2009

Did your forebear make this trip in 1847?

Check out page 300 in the previously blogged Appletons' Railroad and Steamboat Companion, a summary of the five-day, 1500-mile trip from New York City to Chicago in the summer of 1847:

by boat from NYC to Albany...

by train from Albany to Buffalo (riding all night if you're in a hurry)...

and the rest of the way by "one of the large and elegant Upper Lake boats" ("ladies and gentlemen...with guns, fishing-tackle, harps, flutes, violins, and other music")...

stopping at Cleveland, Detroit, "Mackinaw," where you can try your luck at fishing "in water so clear that you can see a trout twenty feet from the surface"...

and then south down Lake Michigan to Chicago, population 16,000.

Total fare: $21.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Getting There in 1848 and 1870

"Did Railroads Induce or Follow Economic Growth? Urbanization and Population Growth in the American Midwest 1850-1860" (PDF, National Bureau of Economic Research) Four economists have researched the effect of railroad development on Midwestern settlement between 1850 and 1860. If you're like me, you'll read the introduction and the historical information about how fast the new transportation mode developed (and how Ohio tried to quash it to protect the state's investment in canals!), skip most of the technical part, and check out the conclusions. It turns out that (if I have got it right) railroads didn't speed up settlement, but they did speed up urbanization. Not surprising given that they can't stop everywhere and therefore are a centralizing technology.

And then you'll discover that they footnote some very interesting old railroad and ship travel guides. (In order to measure the effect of railroads, they had to know exactly where they were when.) The links didn't all work for me. These are the ones I found, either directly or after a little fooling around, and I'm pretty sure there are more. These are extremely cool resources if you have folks migrating to or through the Old Northwest in this era:

Appletons' Railroad and Steamboat Companion
, 1848 (Google Book Search)

1870 railroad map, not sourced

Travelers' Official Guide of the Railways and Steam Navigation Lines of the United States & Canada, June 1870. Note the prematurely psychedelic cover typography and the long list of local times.

Grain Dealers' and Shippers' Gazetteer, evidently 1891 (as digitized by Pam Rietsch), accessible one railroad line at a time. The maps are awesome; the gazetteer part contains names as well.

For further searching, check out the University of Texas's justly famous Perry-Castaneda Map Collection (no tilde available on blogger?).

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

All About Cleveland

If you have Western Reserve or Cuyahoga County ancestors and don't know about the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History, it's time to get on the bus. It includes biographies, general articles, images (salt mine, anyone?), and a historical timeline (pick a number between 1 and 10 and you will have the total population of the city in 1800). There must be a map of the city's neighborhoods somewhere, but I couldn't find it. Let me know if you do!

Hat tip: Internet Scout Report