Friday, December 22, 2017

Mozley-Van Natta article in Minnesota Genealogist

My great-great-grandfather-in-law probably didn't make many Baptist converts during his time in Green Lake County, Wisconsin (1846-1877), but he kept at it until his death there at age 55.

He and Elizabeth Van Natta had seven children. Two daughters and two sons have descendants. Their eighteen grandchildren divided into three roughly equal groups: farmers and blue-collar workers; white-collar workers from clerk to chemist; and -- lest we forget -- those who died young. Thanks to generations of careful family members we have several of his and Elizabeth's letters.

They gave their youngest son the middle name "Fremont" in 1862, which likely refers to John Charles Fremont, the famous explorer of the Far West, first major-party Presidential candidate to oppose slavery (1856), and an impetuous if not insubordinate officer in the Mexican War and the Civil War. A daughter was named after a then-famous Baptist missionary who died young overseas, Harriet Newell.

Thanks to Minnesota Genealogist co-editors J. H. Fonkert, CG, and Elizabeth Gomoll for accepting, editing, and publishing this article. Eventually portions of it will fit into a book on the family starting with Rev. Thomas's grandparents in England and including a first-hand account of their emigration from England in 1833.

“Midwest Migrations of Rev. Thomas and Elizabeth (Van Natta) Mozley and Allied Families of Pennsylvania and Wisconsin,” Minnesota Genealogist 48 (Winter 2017): 14-26.

Monday, December 18, 2017

City Directory Coverage Can Be Spotty in Many Ways

These days my genealogy life is busy and not very productive of blog posts. But this morning I re-learned a lesson already known to genealogists who are cautious or experienced or both.

We've all benefited greatly from the increased on-line presence of city directories on commercial websites. Today I was trying to track a particular couple through a few years of on-line city directories for Kansas City, Kansas.

The name I sought was not in's index for 1945, 1947, 1954, 1955, and 1959 -- but when I went into the directory itself, it was there for each of those years. The error was not systematic; other family members with the same fairly distinctive surname were indexed.

Not every year is represented on, and I wondered if KCK directories were not published every year, or whether the microfilming was more complete than digital coverage. It is, a little bit: the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center's microtext catalog shows that they have the 1948 KCK directory, which does not have (and which I will have to check on my next visit). On the other hand, has the 1961 and 1963 directories, which may or may not be on the shelves in Fort Wayne, but are not in the microfilm collection.

Of course, directories themselves are not gospel either, though sometimes they may be about as close as we can get to some facts. I remember having one person's death record I had: she was survived several years by her directory listing!

No news here, just a reminder that good genealogy standards and practices survive digitization and other novelties. You'll find this one in Genealogy Standards #13: "Wherever possible, . . . research plans follow such materials [indexes and family histories and similar items] to original records and primary information." Happy Searching Holidays!