Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Good news for Michigan researchers!

Yesterday (Monday) FamilySearch posted a new collection, "Michigan, Death Certificates, 1921-1952." The official description says it includes images, but at this time it's just an index. Still a big help . . .

For the immediately prior period (1897-1920) the go-to source, index plus images of the original records, is at Seeking Michigan (use the "Advanced Search" button).

Monday, April 29, 2013

Speaking at NGS in Las Vegas

After a hectic but very enjoyable time at both the Ohio and Indiana genealogical societies' conferences this past weekend, I will be speaking twice at the National Genealogical Society gathering in Las Vegas, "Building New Bridges," next week:

Wednesday, 8 May -- APG luncheon talk on some ways to be advocates and still be genealogists.

Friday,10 May, 4 pm -- A case study, " 'Are We There Yet?' Proof and the Genealogy Police," in the Board for the Certification of Genealogists' BCG Skillbuilding track (go here and then do a search) on a not-too-difficult name-changing ancestor and the lessons we can learn from it for our own research. Is there a place in genealogical methods for the term "flying leap"?

Hope to see y'all there!

Harold Henderson, "Speaking at NGS in Las Vegas," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 29 April 2013 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

Friday, April 26, 2013

Self-referential Friday with new web site intro

The old web site introduction seemed a little long-winded, so I'm trying the following on for size:

Welcome to Midwest Roots!

I have been a professional writer since 1979, a genealogist since 1999, a professional genealogist since 2009, and a Board-certified professional genealogist since 1 June 2012. Use the “Contact Harold” box to get in touch.
I hope this site will help your genealogy quest in at least one of the following ways:

(1) Use free resources here, including
(2) Hire research help. I can do lookups (flat fee) or research brick-wall problems (hourly rate). If you’re not sure whether this will help, check out my list of genealogy publications or use the form to ask for free advice. I am based in northwest Indiana, near Michigan and Illinois. I have researched in many areas but am most familiar with the Midwest and upstate New York.

(3) Hire writing or citation help. I can critique or edit your draft of an article or presentation. (If you’re not sure whether this will help, send me 5 pages and I’ll send you a free critique.) Or I can focus on bringing your source citations closer to Evidence Explained standards.

(4) Find a presentation that appeals to your society.

(5) Find a useful blog post at midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com.

Harold Henderson, "Self-referential Sunday with a new web site intro," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 14 April 2013 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Tracing an informal adoption using ordinary sources

In the lead article of the March National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Paul K. Graham, CG, AG, finds the well-hidden facts of the parentage of Mrs. Florence Nelson (1862-1942), who died at one end of Indiana (Elkhart County) and was buried at the other (Switzerland County).

The article uses commonplace genealogy sources from Indiana and Missouri, but deploys uncommon logic in analyzing, correlating, and resolving their contradictions. Florence's death certificate was filled out wrong, but even that error provided a clue. Her 1887 marriage record named her parents -- but that was only the beginning. She was completely unmentioned in her father's probate. Was her own statement in her marriage record wrong?

Get your copy of the Q to find out how the apparent contradiction was resolved -- it's in good genealogy libraries everywhere and is a benefit of NGS membership. The article solved the genealogical question, but it stands as a reminder that even the best genealogy cannot always explain the family history. "The most consequential event of her life -- separation from her family -- remains unexplained."

Paul K. Graham, "A Family for Florence I. (Crouse) Nelson: Unraveling an Informal Adoption in Missouri or Indiana," National Genealogical Society Quarterly 101 (March 2013): 7-18.

Harold Henderson, "Tracing an informal adoption using ordinary sources," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 24 April 2013 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

Monday, April 22, 2013

Illinois roads almost a century ago; Indianapolis almost 2 centuries ago

Fulton County, Illinois, and vicinity -- state road map 1925

The ever-faithful University of Wisconsin Internet Scout's Report for 12 April 2013 (volume 19, number 15 -- quite an old resource in internet time) alerted me to a digital collection of State of Illinois road maps beginning in 1917. (The interface will require a little patience if you're looking for a particular year.)

In 1925 paved roads (solid lines) were scarce. Dotted lines were projected roads. Black-and-white roads were "graded." White roads were "dirt." Passenger trains were not superfluous at this time! -- but construction was moving rapidly. The 1926 map shows impressive changes (the series itself provides a microhistorical overview of road construction). And by 1929 the state published a map in two colors, with red solid lines indicating "interstate" highways.

This 1925 map shows no county lines, but does give population figures (hard to see in this image) for incorporated towns. It includes many hamlets now all but forgotten. Also check out the "stairstep" roads (Vermont to Ray, for instance) where the road evidently followed right-angle section lines rather than a diagonal path.

For a significant further step back in time, check out the named roads (no claims as to pavement!) in 1917, complete with their colored or symbolic insignia and individual names (no route numbers). Yes, in those innocent days there was a Swastika Line, and the roads themselves are shown in railroad style, with the towns as little circles within the route line.

Three generations of my family grew up in the range of this map -- my mom's generation in San Jose (on the Mason-Logan county line) in the early 1930s, mine in Farmington in the 1950s-60s, and our kids' near Summum in the 1970s-1980s, both in Fulton County.

Moving east a bit . . .

If you want to delve into the deeper past, IndyGenealogist Ron Darrah has a much-used three-volume find for you in the Indiana State Library, Thelma M. Murphy's 1985 typescript, "Marion County, Indiana, Pioneers Prior to June, 1830." She wrote, "It was a labor of love and it helped to be told 'it can't be done.'" That's the spirit. Thanks, Ron.

"Illinois State Highway Maps," Illinois Digital Archives (http://www.idaillinois.org/cdm/landingpage/collection/isl9 : accessed 12 April 2013).

Ron Darrah, "248. Indy Source for Pre-1830 Ancestors," IndyGenealogy, posted 10 April 2013  (http://indygenealogy.blogspot.com/2013/04/248-indy-source-for-pre-1830-ancestors.html : accessed 12 April 2013).

Harold Henderson, "Illinois roads almost a century ago; Indianapolis almost 2 centuries ago," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 24 April 2013 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

Friday, April 19, 2013

Speaking in Cincinnati and Bloomington

FYI -- hope to see you there!

Next Friday (the 26th) I'll be speaking at the Ohio Genealogical Society conference in Cincinnati on "First Steps in Indiana Research." (Tom Jones keynotes the day before.)

On Saturday the 27th I'll be speaking at the Indiana Genealogical Society conference in Bloomington on "Land and Property: The Records No Genealogist Can Do Without" and "Probate Will Not Be the Death of You." (Josh Taylor is the featured speaker.)

Harold Henderson, "Speaking in Cincinnati and Bloomington," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 19 April 2013 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The treasure of Jasper County -- 1918 women's registration!

As part of the national mobilization for World War I, in April 1918 thousands -- perhaps millions -- of American women filled out cards giving their names, ages, birth countries, marital status and husband's name if any, employment if any, educational level, skills, and detailed health status. All this was done under the auspices of the quasi-governmental Council of National Defense.

In Jasper County, Indiana (population under 14,000), more than 3,200 of these cards were preserved. According to Sue Caldwell, the Indiana Genealogical Society's county genealogist for the county, a cabinet was specifically designed to hold them. The cabinet resided in the Rensselaer courthouse for years
"prior to being given to the Jasper County Historical Society for display in their museum. Unfortunately, the members looked on the old cabinet as a treasure to be displayed and for many years didn’t recognize the value of the contents. It is not known what other counties did with their cabinets or registration cards. Research is continuing to locate the balance of Indiana’s registration records."

 Above is the front side of one of the Jasper County cards, for 66-year-old Miss Elizabeth E. Alexandera of Kniman, who was knowledgeable about dairying, gardening, poultry raising, cooking, housekeeping, and sewing and millinery. (The back had room for remarks and health issues.) The historical society has indexed the cards by name, husband, and address, but the index is not yet on line. Plans for analyzing and imaging the cards are afoot.

Caldwell notes that
"Fields were provided for age, country of birth, country of naturalization, color or race, persons dependent upon them, present occupation and by whom employed, education level completed and details on advanced education, and the type of business experience and training broken down into 154 different categories. Women could volunteer to be trained in some categories such as making bandages for the Red Cross. Comments were to be made on the 'Personal Equipment' of the woman including health, physical defects, voice, sight, and hearing."
Jasper County is big enough to have a historical society, and small enough that these days the society is open just six hours a month. These cards are not known to have survived in any other Indiana county, nor had the state archives staff ever seen one. Says Caldwell, "These cards could be the greatest genealogical find of the last hundred years if cards from all of the states could be located. No other survey contains the mass of data about women that the registration cards do."

A seemingly well-documented Wikipedia article surveys the CND's history and refers to a 1984 scholarly book by William N. Breen, Uncle Sam at Home: Civilian Mobilization, Wartime Federalism, and the Council of National Defense, 1917-1919, available in numerous college and university libraries. A quick Google search reveals that many states do have records of the Council for National Defense in their archives. It's not clear whether any of them include any of these registration cards. The agency also appears in National Archives Record Group 62.

If nothing else the cards offer brief glimpses of life 95 years ago:
Mary Prohosky (Mrs. J) “cannot talk English and is not able to do hour work. Went to school in the old country and is not the same in here.”

Miss Nettie J Ellis had a Dayton, Ohio address, but was serving as acting principal at Monnett School.

Belle Warne’s card noted “This woman is physical unable to do anything and has six children under eight”.

Julie Nafziners was “born in France, naturalized US, 4 yrs experience in a post office and 4 yrs experience as a bookkeeper”. She also attended Onarga Seminary.

Stella Newbold has “14 yrs experience in teaching music, but health has failed since injured in tornado”.

Olden Ouida has “2 ½ yrs in Mexico—knows some Spanish, 2 yrs work under Kate J Adams of Coulter House Chicago. Can use typewriter. Has travelled all over U. S. capable, reliable, has ability (executive ability)”.

Almira Prather completed a card but disclaimed any responsibility for the war work because she didn’t start the war.
Anyone with thoughts -- or better still, knowledge -- about these cards and where any more like them may be found, inside or outside of Indiana, please comment below, or communicate with Sue Caldwell at suecald1 "AT" embarqmail "DOT" com.

Harold Henderson, "The treasure of Jasper County -- 1918 women's registration!," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 17 April 2013 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

Monday, April 15, 2013

What online catalog?

Librarian Pamela J. Cooper of Indian River County surveyed members of five Florida genealogy societies and got over 600 replies. A majority of those replying said they had never used online catalogs -- whether from home, at their hometown library, or elsewhere. (First posted on the Genealib mailing list, mentioned here by permission.)

What do you think this means?

Find out what she thinks at the National Genealogical Society conference next month, Friday morning at 8 am.

Harold Henderson, "What online catalog?," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 15 April 2013 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Good news for Midwestern researchers!

Admit it -- you turned your back on FamilySearch for a few minutes, just to do your taxes or watch the snow fall. And now you find that they've put up browseable images of:

  • Chicago Catholic Churches 1833-1925, and 
  • Ohio Probates 1789-1996.

Friday, April 12, 2013

67 Allegany County NY decedents

FamilySearch's uploading of more than 14 million New York probate images from 1629 to1971 is an immeasurable boon to genealogists with research targets in the Empire State. It can, however, be immeasurably frustrating to find any particular person in the browse-only collection! It's divided by counties, and within counties by type of record and within that by volume or box. The boxed loose papers, organized by decedent, are among the most valuable probate records, and they don't even have page numbers!

Since I had to root through one of these virtual boxes anyway, in order to find my wife's ancestor William Berry, I kept track of all the other decedents whose estate papers had lodged in Box #2 from rugged Allegany County. The list of 67, with initial image number for each, is now on my web site. They are in order of appearance; if you don't have time to read all the names, use control-F to search them. They appeared to me to all be in the 1830s-1860s time range, where such records are most valuable. There are way plenty more materials in this one collection that would benefit from any sort of finding aid.

Here's a May 1845 summons to the next of kin of the late Gideon Hayward. James Hayward was living in Vigo County, Indiana, and Jane Davis nearby in Clay County. These are not just "New York records."

Gideon Hayward estate, Estate Papers 1807-1930, Box 2, Allegany County, New York; image 755 of 770, “New York, Probate Records, 1629-1972,” FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org : accessed 10 April 2013), citing FHL microfilm 594,806.

Harold Henderson, "67 Allegany County NY decedents," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 12 April 2013 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

In praise of research travelogues

It can't do everything, but a research chronicle can teach as much as a logical reconstruction. Two of my favorite genealogy periodicals reminded of this recently.

Malissa Ruffner, "The perfect puzzle piece," NGS Magazine vol. 39, no. 1 (January-March 2013), 40-43. "Recently I found a piece that didn't belong to my puzzle but it was so unique and well-defined that I was compelled to look for a puzzle that needed it" -- in the Green and Lanterman families.

Tami K. Pelling, "In Search of Medda," Crossroads vol. 8, no. 1 (Winter 2013), 26-30. "To prove or disprove Medda Sissie Hay as a child of Rubin and Mary, a timeline for the family was created, and the quest for Medda began" -- in Vigo and Vermillion counties, Indiana.

NGS Magazine is a benefit of membership in the National Genealogical Society. Crossroads is a benefit of membership in the Utah Genealogical Association.

Harold Henderson, "In praise of research travelogues," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 10 April 2013 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

Monday, April 8, 2013

Saturday in Lafayette

Tami Pelling and Barbara Fitzpatrick put together a nice one-day genealogy gathering called "History Begins with You" in downtown Lafayette this past weekend. Ron Darrah of Indianapolis (and of the IndyGenealogy blog) alternated giving talks. The audience had lots of thoughts and questions.

Ron totally persuaded me to spend more research time on fraternal and similar organizations that became especially common after the Civil War. After church and school, they were often the main thing in small towns and ethnic neighborhoods, and even those groups that no longer exist left many traces in obituaries and on tombstones. Their records, if you can find them, are not just context-providers but potential alternative sources of vital records -- especially since many of these gruops were insurance organizations as well.

Do catch Ron's talk ("The Fraternal Order of Everyone") if you get a chance. And if you don't, check out Kay Haviland Freilich's article in The Source on "Business, Institution, and Organization Records."

Harold Henderson, "Saturday in Lafayette," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 8 April 2013 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Your Unsourced Undated Newspaper Clipping, Blogging, and Michigan State Censuses

Sometimes other genealogists provoke us to remember things we had forgotten.

* I once had one of those classic unlabeled newspaper clippings, one that would gain credibility if it could be properly sourced. And there is one often distinctive identifier that even the most clueless newspaper-clipper can't erase: the font, typeface, and layout. Fortunately I had reason to think that it belonged to a particular town and an approximate point in time. I made a copy of it and took it to the local library, and compared it to the two local newspapers being published then. One of them matched, reducing the search time required to find the original -- but not to zero!

* Wondering what to blog about, or whether even to start? Although I don't use them, Geneabloggers offers a myriad of "blogging prompts" keyed to days of the week. There are some basic decisions to make: do you want mainly to contribute original material, or be an aggregator of others (by mentioning and linking, not wholesale copying!)? In either case, what really "gets you going" about genealogy: a particular region? methodology? theory? family stories? technology? conferences and institutes? Start out with a focus based on the passion within your passion; over time you will find that it changes, as this blog has. Finally, plan a schedule and work far enough ahead of it so that you can read your draft posts "cold" one more time before publishing them. That way you can be a perfectionist within reason and still get it done.

* I've said this before, and now I'm saying it again: if you have Michigan people, you should be reading Bushwhacking Genealogy, which just reported on progress in digitizing early Michigan state censuses.

Harold Henderson, "Your Unsourced Undated Newspaper Clipping, Blogging, and Michigan State Censuses," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 4 April 2013 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Speaking Saturday in Lafayette, Indiana

It's not too late to drive over to Lafayette Saturday and hear Ron Darrah and me talk about genealogy all day (we alternate so as not to get out of breath).

He'll speak on the "Fraternal Order of Everyone" and "Show Me the Money." I'll be talking about indirect evidence in "Finding Berrys in New York Property and Probate Records" and "Indirect Evidence: When Perry Mason Isn't on Your Side." See you there? Check it out at History Begins With You.