Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Ohio Civil War Genealogy Journal #1

For some reason, my subscription to Ohio's excellent Civil War genealogy journal has arrived in a huge gulp of the first three magazines of 2008 all at once! We'll take 'em one at a time. The journal's home page on the Ohio Genealogy Society web site includes the current table of contents and a PDF of a full sample issue from 2006. OGS also has online Civil War databases, including two big ones available to nonmembers . . . although why anyone interested enough in Ohio to be reading this wouldn't want to join the nation's largest state genealogical society, I can't imagine.

Volume 12, No. 1, 2008:

"Ohio's Bounty System, Bounty Jumpers, & Brokers," by Darrell Helton. Lucid, detailed, and of value to those of us researching non-Ohio soldiers, especially those who enlisted later in the war. Relies heavily on Eugene Murdock's Ohio's Bounty System in the Civil War.

"Irish Catholic Civil War Veterans and the St. Colman of Cloyne Cemetery, Washington Court House, Ohio," by 2006-2007 Senior Research History Class, Washiongton Senior High School, comp. and ed. Anna Bryant. Teacher Paul LaRue. Read these and imagine how your life would have been different if you'd had a high-school history class -- any high-school class -- like this.

"The Willich and Hecker Posts, Grand Army of the Republic, in Cincinnati's Over-the-Rhine," by Jack Simon. Includes 1898 listo f members including units and 1898 addresses.

"Ask the Experts." OCWGJ has a "Panel of Experts" who answer written questions from subscribers -- in substance and detail. I don't know of any other genealogy journal anywhere that does this.

"Surname Index for OCWGJ, Volume XI, 2007," comp. Beckie Lee Petty and Susan Dunlap Lee

"Ohio Association of Ex-Prisoners of War," submitted by Betty Lloyd.

"Civil War Flags at Ohio Historical Society."

"The Search for James Andrew Monroe Clymer, Company I, 21st Ohio Volunteer Infantry," by Brad Quinlin

"1883 Census of Pensioners, Henry County, Ohio," by Michael Elliott -- amplified from the original 1883 Pensioners Report.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Current Obituaries by State

The ever-vigilant Jasia at Creative Gene alerts us to Michigan Daily Obituaries, which turns out to be just one member of a family of blogs that reprint a given day's obituaries from entire states at a time! For our immediate area of interest, there are:

Michigan Daily Obituaries, beginning 7 August 2008.

Indiana Daily Obituaries, beginning 11 August 2008.

Ohio Daily Obituaries, beginning 25 June 2008 but apparently not updated since 24 September.

Illinois Obituaries, beginning 24 September 2008.

I see also sites for New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and all the states northeast of them except Maine, plus Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, Georgia, and Tennessee. Not all are present: when I visited, Tennessee had no posts.

These sites are not particularly transparent; the only clue to the blogger's identity is "gh" at an incomplete profile listing only some of the sites. Nor is it clear how extensive the coverage is in a given state: a quick check of the first few 27 September entries for Illinois found reasonable distribution: Chicago, suburban, Rock Island, and Peoria. This is surely an automated system that "harvests" links to obituaries from newspaper web sites.

One noteworthy quirk: each day's entries are alphabetical by whatever part of the deceased's name came first. Researchers trying to keep up with particular surnames in particular known states should nevertheless find this a time-saving resource.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Balloon-Frame Houses

Chances are your ancestors -- or you, for that matter -- lived in at least one of the houses identified by art historian Fred W. Peterson in Homes in the Heartland: Balloon Frame Houses in the Upper Midwest, just reissued in paperback by University of Minnesota Press.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Southern Illinois resources from Illinois Harvest

Southern Illinois county histories recently digitized at Illinois Harvest:

Page, O. J. History of Massac County, Illinois. Metropolis: s.n., 1900? 383 pages, including 33 pages of "Pope County historical reminiscences" by J. E. Y. Hanna.

The Biographical Review of Johnson, Massac, Pope and Hardin Counties. Chicago: Biographical Publishing Co., 1893. 619 pages.

Historical Souvenir of Williamson County, Illinois. Effingham: LeCrone Press, 1905. 200+ pages.

Leonard, Lulu. History of Union County. Anna: s.n., 1941? 124 pages.

Allen, John Willis. Pope County Notes. Carbondale: Museum of Natural and Social Sciences, Southern Illinois University, 1949. 95 pages.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Did your ancestor do time in Pennsylvania in the 1800s?

Lafayette College economist Howard Bodenhorn has studied patterns of criminal sentencing in mid-19th-century Pennsylvania, and the National Bureau of Economic Research has put an abstract of his working paper #14283 on the web. In short,

The observed disparities [in sentencing] in the mid-nineteenth century . . . are different than modern disparities. Instead of longer sentences, African Americans and recent immigrants tended to receive shorter sentences, whereas more affluent offenders received longer sentences. The results are consistent with other interpretations of the period as the "era of the common man."
(Gee, I wonder what kind of era we're living in?)

If that makes you want to read the whole thing, you'll either have to pay $5 or get next to an academic database.

Check his list of publications on the web site for leads on some more offbeat angles on genealogy, such as "Single Parenthood and Childhood Outcomes in the Mid-Nineteenth Century Urban South" and "Colorism, Complexion Homogamy and Household Wealth: Some Historical Evidence."

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Early patents index

From the days when the Midwest and Northeast were the invention headquarters of the world . . . new on Cyndi's List is 19th Century Patents, an alphabetical index to inventors by name, including all those who obtained "X patents" from 1790 to 1836 and "the first 10,000 utility patents (1836-1853)." Residences and patent numbers are included.

If you have an inventive research target from that era, let me know how you do in finding any of these folks via Google Patents or the US Patent and Trademark Offoce website. I've had very mixed results.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Picturing southwest Michigan

National Genealogical Society president Jan Alpert writes in the NGS newsletter "UpFront with NGS" about picking up a pictorial history of Van Buren County, Michigan, to walk the streets of a town she's never been in search of the grandmother she never knew. Grandma's name isn't in the index, but she finds her anyway.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Have you thanked a historical society today?

Lee Drew at FamHist Blog tells how historical societies, including the Walworth County Historical Society in southeast Wisconsin, helped her fulfill a 40-year ancestral quest.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Clay County, Indiana, ancestors

Thanks again to Tamie Dehler of the Terre Haute newspaper for calling attention to the Clay County Indiana Genweb's online posting of the wonderfully named and wonderfully comprehensive 1896 Encyclopedic Directory of Clay County, Indiana. Talk about census substitutes that are better than the original!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Breaking down a brick wall + Milwaukee Germans

The occasional blog "Relative Musings" has a nice story about breaking down a "Bruce" family brick wall in early Milwaukee.

And if it's Germans in Milwaukee you want, be sure to visit Adele Marcum's really well sourced blog called, well, Milwaukee Germans.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Genealogy and teacher education

Dr. Christine Sleeter, professor emerita at California State University, Monterey Bay, will talk about "Critical Family History, Identity & Historical Memory" September 25 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

It turns out that well-done family history can help new teachers recognize that their own identities and histories are not so simple -- white people have ethnicity too! -- and thus be better able to deal with the diverse classrooms they'll encounter. Sleeter discovered this for herself researching her own family history, while always asking about the context: who else was living there and what the different groups' political, economic and social relationships were at the time. It turns out that good genealogical practice is good historical and teacher-training practice too.

"Our stories are our own stories," she wrote in Educational Studies 43(2):114 [apparently available online only through academic databases], "but they need to be informed." When she started asking questions she learned, for instance, that her probable great-grandparents left east Tennessee abruptly in the early 1880s and settled in Yampa, Colorado, from which the Ute Indians had recently been forced out. In an 1885 census, she writes, "Oliver reported being from Switzerland, and Celesta from Germany. I suspect they left Tennessee to escape Jim Crow, and concocted stories about where they were from to explain the not-quite-Anglo appearance of one or both of them." There's some DNA and census evidence that her family's vague story of Cherokee ancestry may have been a mask for a less acceptable situation -- an ancestor who was the child of a slaveowner and a slave.

I had no idea that family history was being used professionally in this way; it's part of the evolution of genealogy, from telling simple stories that deify historic ancestors, to understanding that often unpleasant facts of violence and racism lurk in all of our pasts.

. . . But in that process we shouldn't lose our methodology: Sleeter assumes too much about census informants. In fact, we don't know who gave any census taker the information that was written down.

P.S. Two genealogy/history books that combine good research and uncomfortable truths are Martha Hodes' The Sea Captain's Wife and Victoria Freeman's Distant Relations.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Germans in NW Ohio

If you've got Germans and live within range, check out the noon brown-bag program at the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center this Wednesday. "Becky Hill, Head Librarian of the Hayes Presidential Center [another online and physical resource in NW Ohio you don't want to miss], will discuss the German roots of a large percentage of Northwest Ohio residents. Germans in this area came mostly from two different migrations - one usually through Pennsylvania in the 1700s; the other direct from Germany in the 1800s." SLARC has details and registration info.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

College football and genealogy

Writing in Friday's issue of the Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Franklin County, Ohio), Michael Arace reports on Robert Neal's report on his Methodist relatives, Granville and Oliver Frambes. Granville sold much of the land on which Ohio State University now stands; Orville went west as a missionary and founded the Los Angeles Academy which became the University of Southern California. Without this pair of brothers tonight's college football extravaganza might not have been possible.

If you're more interested in the Frambes families than in the score of the OSU-USC showdown, one starting point a couple of moderately well sourced online databases are at worldconnect when you search on Granville Frambes. Orville married a Stevens, and Google Book Search shows snippets of a Stevens book that at least mentions Frambes.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Getting down to business in Michigan

Jasia, world's liveliest genealogy blogger, laments in a comment yesterday not getting much help finding business records in the Mitten State. I found one place to start on line, but clearly you'd have to go there, and what they have might not necessarily be what you need -- that's the way with archives.

The Archives of Michigan enumerates more than 100 businesses for which they have something in this circular (all these circulars are PDF files).

Of course it won't include her grandfather's baking company unless those records were saved and donated there. Maybe they weren't kept. Or maybe they were donated to another archive, closer to home. Or maybe they're still moldering away in some relative's attic! (I have a research target that was a Michigan business for years, but its archives, to the extent they exist, are across the lake in Wisconsin because the business later moved.)

Looks like you might have better luck if your research target was a Michigan corporation, because they had to file reports to the state starting in 1840. Here's the Archives of Michigan's corporation circular, but it doesn't name them all. Looks like lotsa microfilm, the 1840-1980 index alone runs 25 reels. Obviously it'd be a big help to know when your targets were in business there.

But that's not all. The Archives also has circulars indicating their holdings in shipping and navigation; mining; lumbering, logging, and forestry (including some payrolls); licensed professions (auctioneers and ferry masters go way back); and account books and ledgers (including individuals, churches, societies; some going back to 1813). Yee haw!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Getting down to business

It's pretty much 100% likely that your ancestors worked for someone else, or started a business that employed others. The records generated this way may still exist. But how many people get around to them?

If the idea of "most underrated" made any sense, I'd be tempted to say business records are the most underrated category of records among genealogists. The Newberry Library recently added a research guide, American Business History Research at the Newberry Library, that has helpful resources even for those who can't get to the actual library.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Annals of Cleveland

The Allen County (Indiana) Public Library's monthly email newsletter, "Genealogy Gems" (back issues here), can be counted on for at least one resource find per issue. In July (yes, I am behind, thank you for asking) we find the Annals of Cleveland, a WPA-era indexing of early city newspapers and court cases as "Cleveland Newspaper Digest" 1818-76 and the "Cleveland Court Record Series" 1837-77. They're available in both microfiche and bound volumes, although the print version of the newspaper digest stops in 1858. An online taste is available here.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A Google Books index by state

The ever-observant Jeanne Bloom, CG, points out Rainy Day Research's index to Google Book Search -- genealogically relevant books (many mug books from the late 1800s) available in full text, organized by state. (RDR also has a line in California newspapers.) I observe 52 titles for Illinois, 27 Indiana, 69 Michigan, 61 Ohio, and 18 Wisconsin -- and not just the usual suspects. This resource will only get better as Google draws more books into its maw.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Lake County Indiana resource

The occasional Region Roots blog from the Lake County Public Library in Merrillville points out an old but good index resource that was a 1938 doctoral thesis at the University of Chicago: "Sources & History for the History of Lake County, Indiana," by Minnie Margaret Ravenscroft. It's a cumulative index to 15 sources.

The thesis is not on line. And it's not in many physical libraries either. Besides Lake County, worldcat reveals that the following libraries hold copies: Hammond Public, University of Chicago, and the ever-reliable Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Statewide Illinois Harvest

Newly digitized books of statewide interest at Illinois Harvest. The first two are also available on Google Book Search.

Peck, John Mason. A Gazetteer of Illinois. Jacksonville, IL: R. [actually C.] Goudy, 1834. 376 pages.

Carpenter, W. H. The History of Illinois, from Its Earliest Settlement to the Present Time. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1857. 255 pages.

DeMotte, H. C. The Alumni Journal [of the Illinois Wesleyan University]. Bloomington:[Illinois Wesleyan University], Volume 2 (1872), Volume 3 (1873), Volume 4 (1874).

Caton, John Dean. Early Bench and Bar of Illinois. Chicago: Chicago Legal News Company, 1893. 252 pages.

Book of Memorial Memberships. Jacksonville, IL:s.n., 1929. 3rd edition. 212 pages. Illinois College. Portraits and brief biographies of close to 200 individuals, including a number of WWI casualties.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


Nancy Cunningham and Nancy West put up a new family web site August 3, with an awesome collection of links to cemetery readings (with gravestone pictures) and scanned original documents such as marriage certificates for the Munsell/Munselle lines that moved from Licking County, Ohio, and Jefferson County, Illinois, to Texas. Anyone with any connection to this family will benefit from looking here, and anyone without it will be inspired to think of new ways to share their own family information.

Other lines connected by marriage include Barton, Brookman, Collister, Cornstubble, Cowey, Deveroux-Smith, Holliday, King, Shipp, Stephenson, and Tillotson.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

July South Bend Area newsletter

Articles in the July 2008 issue of the South Bend Area Genealogical Society Quarterly Newsletter (Volume 33, issue 3):

"The Thompson Family Journey," by Barbara Weiler, a firsthand account of a covered wagon journey from Ohio to Iowa in 1861: "During the trip we were very careful not to discuss the war as we often met folks who were southern sympathizers."

"Obituaries of St. Joseph Co. natives found in the Los Angeles Times and the Orange Co. Register (California)," comp. Eleanor E. Borkenhagen

"1862 Civil War Letter Found in Rafters of Old Minish House," by Bill Minish with reprints from 1999 articles

"Blackrobe: Father Benjamin Petit and the Potawatomi Trail of Death," by Ken Reising:

"Fr. Petit was on the scene at Menominee's village [Marshall County, near Twin Lakes] as his parishioners were being rounded up and prepared to move. On the morning of September 4, 1838 orders were given to move .... As the Indians were marched off from what had been their village they could see white settlers already harvesting the corn that the Indians had been forced to leave behind."

"1910 Index of Heads of Households for River Park, Indiana"

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

More light on the subject

Kathy Alvis Patterson at "Alvispat's Weblog" lists five common errors in her Light ancestors' genealogy, and correcting them. We need more documented blog posts like this, as there are too many "false facts" circulating on almost every line.

Also, her profile includes several Amazon lists, including one of nonfiction history books relating to genealogy -- many goodies here.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Electronic but not free -- Marshall and Putnam counties, Illinois

At Wholly Genes Archive CD Books USA offers for $14.95 a download of the unindexed but now every-word-searchable book:

Ellsworth, Spencer. Records of the Olden Time; or Fifty Years on the Prairies Embracing Sketches of the Discovery, Exploration, and Settlement of the Country, the Organization of the Counties of Putnam and Marshall... Lacon, Ill. : Home Journal Steam Printing Establishment, 1880. 754 pages.

Don't bother with my summary when you can read one from Barbara Vines Little, CG.