Friday, December 29, 2006

2007: Realistic Expectations

In hindsight, my genealogy resolutions for 2006 were pretty ludicrous. Although one brick wall was busted, I wasn't able to get very much done. This time around I'll try to be a little more practical:

1. File more papers.

2. Scan and tag more photos.

3. Complete at least one surname project.

That's about it. It may not seem like much, but considering how much I actually got done in 2006, it would be fantastic to make progress in these three areas.

I need to concentrate on resolutions #1 and #2 just to survive, so to speak. Having papers sorted and filed will make it easier to find what others are looking for, or what I need in order to review clues. Not being able to easily find certain papers is frustrating. And while I'm a big fan of Picasa, I'm way behind on tagging photos. I also have a mountain of photos to scan. Doesn't everyone, though?

The surname project is something I've been heading toward since I became interested in genealogy. I'm at a point, at least for some families, that it's time to start putting everything together into a booklet or CD-ROM package. I look forward to using the newest version of Ancestral Quest when it's released, and finally getting serious with Passage Express.

I don't anticipate ordering nearly as much microfilm in 2007 as I did this past year or the year before. By cutting back on microfilm I'll be able to free up some time. More importantly, though, there won't be as many papers and/or digital files to deal with after a visit to the library. This is really where I hope to gain some ground on the information I already have, but haven't dealt with in a proper manner.


Monday, December 18, 2006

MO Death Certificates, 1910-1929 and 1950-1955

The Missouri death certificates project is making steady progress. When the database went online in April, approximately the first ten years of records were scanned and ready for the public. Since then, certificates have been added a year at a time. Users will now find that the Archives and volunteers have made their way through the second decade of records, as well as the last five years for the project.


Success in Springfield

I went to the Lincoln Library in Springfield, Illinois, and came away with a clue that may someday allow me to cross off the FUCHS family on my "Where did they come from?" list.

Adam FUCHS' obituary states he was from Markersreuth, Bavaria, which is in northern Bavaria and not far from the Czech border. It's great that a town name was specified, but I've got two problems with this info. First, in Adam's daughter's obituary it states she was from Nürnberg, which is 123 km southwest of Markersreuth. It's possible that Adam migrated to the big city at some point, but I feel a little uneasy with the discrepancy; I haven't found much migration within Germany in my German research, especially with those that farmed. The other issue is that the Family History Library has no church records available for Markersreuth. (I've thought about writing to the church in Markersreuth, but I'm still waiting for previous letters to Germany to even be acknowledged.)

I also found a few other obituaries and mentions of those that had moved away and died out of state. There were also several instances of not being able to look for an obit because film doesn't exist. Oh, well.

The Lincoln Library is a very nice facility and I look forward to going back; it's a lot easier to find obituaries there than running all over the state looking for microfilm. Parking at the library was better than at the nearby State Archives, and the staff was helpful.

While in Springfield I passed on the Lincoln Museum, but did go on a tour of Frank Lloyd Wright's Dana-Thomas House. I liked some aspects of the house, but overall I don't see what all the fuss is about. Especially bothersome was the interior scale, which isn't suited for someone 6'3".

[, ]


Over at Rootdig, Michael John Neill reports that Google now lets users search for patents. I haven't found anything relevant to my ancestors, but I did find a few records for distant relatives (e.g., August RICK, the nephew of a 2nd great-grandmother).

As Michael noted, it's probably best to include the town name in your search so that you won't have to sift through as many search results.

Google Patent Search

[, ]

Small world

From time to time I get together with a cousin (4th once removed on the WIEDEY side) and her husband to do a little research and chat. While discussing random research topics, she mentioned having trouble finding records in southwestern Missouri and northwestern Arkansas. I misheard her comment and replied that I was also having trouble finding a few records in southeastern Missouri while helping a sister-in-law with her genealogy. She asked where in SE Missouri I was researching because her husband was from that area, specifically Puxico in Stoddard County.

My sister-in-law's father and ancestors were from Puxico.

After exchanging a few names of interest, it was shocking to find out that Janet's husband Ron is the 2nd cousin of my sister-in-law.

[, ]

Sunday, December 03, 2006

If you could travel back in time to conduct genealogical research, what software would you take with you?

I don't use Legacy, but I subscribe to their blog for its other news. Over a month ago, their post "Transcribing images made easier with Transcript software" caught my eye. I downloaded the program, but only recently tried it. Man, how I could have used this several years ago.

Ignore the two comments on the Legacy page about MS Word being an adequate substitute. Any process that requires two separate windows -- one for the image, another to type text -- is less efficient than using Transcript, even when the windows have been resized for simultaneous display.

Two words, guys: window focus.


I may eventually be able to claim common ancestry with someone not very popular

Renee Zamora wrote about BYU's Relationship Finder last week and I figured there would little chance I could use it. Then I remembered that the AVERY family of Connecticut was likely included.

As I've written before here and on my site, connecting myself to the AVERYs is a bit tenuous. It all depends on some admittedly thin evidence found on the SHIPMAN family. The SHIPMANs as a whole aren't exactly a researcher's dream, unless you're into that frustrating, hair-pulling kind of self-inflicted abuse. The conclusion reached by myself and others seems reasonable, but it's far from a slam dunk.

Anyway, I looked up the AFN for Margery AVERY, believed to be the grandmother of Charles SHIPMAN, who is the earliest SHIPMAN I know I descend from, and waited for the results.

I don't know what I expected to find, but at the bottom of the list were John HANCOCK (3rd cousin, once removed), George H. W. BUSH (4th cousin, 6 times removed) and George W. BUSH (4th cousin 7 times removed). The connection is through Richard INGRAHAM, someone I apparently need to research if/when I ever get serious about my New England and British roots.

[, , ]

'Tis the season

I must have missed the start of the season before Thanksgiving, but I feel better now that I've recently seen the annual ritual of bickering about old family and regional recipes being relevant to genealogical mailing lists start up again.


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Can't stop him from voting

I wasn't making much progress at the library the other night, so I renewed two films for another month. I was still in the mood to find information, just not on those reels. As I walked past a film cabinet while looking for something else, I saw drawers filled with registers of voters in St. Louis City.

After a quick chat with a librarian and a few minutes consulting a ward map, I got lucky and found 3rd great-grandfather August RICK listed in the records from 1908. At the age of 78, August was still working as a team driver (likely hauling coal). More surprising is that he was registered to vote on the same day his wife died at 6:20 a.m.

Aside from that odd/disturbing fact, I was happy to find that August's date of naturalization was listed. I had previously found that his paperwork had been filed in St. Clair County, Illinois, in 1860. But since those papers had been discarded, the exact date was seemingly lost to a landfill somewhere in the Midwest. But in order to verify August was eligible to vote, someone obviously checked with the Illinois court and wrote that information on the voter registration register.

I hadn't thought about using voter records for that kind of information, but I will in the future. There are still a few holes to fill in my citizenship research.

[, ]

Waiting for the GEDCOM to be released

Via Digg: Genealogy of Influence.


Monday, October 23, 2006

Thursday, September 28, 2006

False Hope

I thought I had done it tonight. I was so sure the mystery of the EBERT family was about to be revealed. Not just once; I had two chances to learn the name of the town they came from in Germany. Neither source panned out, though.

My first crack at their hometown came while reading a small booklet about Osage County, Missouri history. In the front of the book was a description of a monument that named many of the immigrants who settled in Osage County. That was followed by a list of the names, their year of immigration and, in many cases, their hometown. So, I'm thinking, "This is great! Just another page or two to see what it says for the EBERTs..." All that was listed, though, was "Conrad EBERT and Rosalie KNIDDEL" (sic?). It doesn't appear that their year of arrival in America was even known -- it was actually 1841 -- since that detail was omitted. And the EBERTs were among the minority of names without a specified German hometown.

Next, while looking at a book of transcriptions of Osage County cemeteries, I headed to the back of the book to look at the index. I noticed, though, that a section in the back of the book was devoted to church burial records -- from the church the EBERTs attended. It's been my experience that local Catholic burial records don't provide many clues, but I was floored to see so many German town names listed. Unfortunately, this detailed practice began years after Conrad and Rosalie had passed.

I did find the names of EBERT descendants who helped sponsor the monument, so hopefully I can make contact with those folks and see if they know where our ancestors came from.

[, ]

"Grandpa, you're still alive?" (AP): Obituary's 'Itsy Bitsy' inaccuracy is attributed to impostor.


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Cross another name off the list: Holtermann

Not that I need to order even more microfilm, but after just finding 3rd great-grandfather Wilhelm HOLTERMANN's baptism record, the names of his parents and his place of birth, it looks like there are at least a few more rolls of film in my near future. I'm pretty darn pleased to have found this information, because there sure hasn't been anything in St. Louis records to help. The sad thing is, I realize now that I could have figured this out months ago had I been more aggressive. Heck, the HOLTERMANNs' origin could have been solved over a year ago had I followed through on a hunch and a suggestion. As it turns out, Wadersloh -- south of where I first suspected (Wiedenbrück) -- is where Wilhelm and his siblings were born and baptized. Wiedenbrück and Wadersloh were targeted as the result of collateral research, which really does pay off sometimes.

The first clue that the Catholic records of these towns should be checked was actually what I (and Cousin Dan) were not finding: Wilhelm HOLTERMANN and Dorothea LODENKAMPER's marriage record in St. Louis. This made me suspect that the couple may have been married prior to their emigration. So, the next step was to take a look at the IGI. Search results showed that the name LODENKAMPER (and variants) was somewhat concentrated around Wiedenbrück and Liesborn (south of Wadersloh). An online contact also suggested looking into this area based on his ancestry. The problem was, all of this was far too vague for me and I really dislike wasting time and money on films without some sort of definitive clue to justify getting my hopes up.

Research of other HOLTERMANNs in St. Louis and Osage County is what helped break down this brick wall. Passenger lists for Ferdinand and Bernhard HOLTERMANN referenced both Wadersloh and Wiedenbrück. (Additionally, a man named Peter Heinrich LODENKAMPER was aboard the same ship as Bernhard HOLTERMANN and Peter's last residence was in the same are of Westphalia.) Ferdinand HOLTERMANN was determined to be worthy of interest because he settled in Osage County, Missouri, not far west of St. Louis. Bernhard HOLTERMANN was even more likely related to Wilhelm HOLTERMANN because he settled in St. Louis, attended the same church and one of his citizenship papers was filed the same day Wilhelm filed his.

Ordering microfilm from the FHL was a no-brainer, but where to start was a little tricky. I decided on Wiedenbrück since that appeared to be Bernhard HOLTERMANN's last residence (based on the passenger list). While Bernhard may have once lived in Wiedenbrück, examination of the those Catholic records showed no HOLTERMANN families (or at least no matches) among the baptisms and marriages. (There were plenty of LODENKAMPERs, LAUKAMPERs, etc., but still no matches to Dorothea or other St. Louis LODENKAMPERs.) I was a little disappointed by the lack of results and, as usual, was distracted by other research. Months passed. Then, this summer when Cousin Dan and I started to communicate, I decided to order the Wadersloh records and resume looking for the HOLTERMANNs and LODENKAMPERs. Thankfully, this second attempt at guessing the town and church was successful.

Although not baptized with his full name, Wilhelm Louis/Ludwig HOLTERMANN was listed near the end of the roll of microfilm. Realizing that dates in American records aren't always exact, I was happy to find that his date of birth, 7 August 1821, was correct and I wouldn't need to order another roll of film to view baptisms from 1822 and beyond. Wilhelm's parents were listed as Anton HOLTERMANN and Friederike HÜLSMANN. So far, Dan and I have found that Wilhelm had at least six siblings. One of Wilhelm's brothers was named Bernhard Joseph, who by all accounts looks to be the same Bernhard HOLTERMANN who immigrated to St. Louis. Although we are currently unable to connect Ferdinand HOLTERMANN of Osage County to our HOLTERMANNs, I did find Ferdinand's baptism in the Wadersloh records, and the two HOLTERMANN families are intertwined throughout the records as sponsors and witnesses -- somewhere further back there just has to be common ancestry.

With a little luck, we'll be able to extend the HOLTERMANN ancestry even further. In all of the baptism records of his children (as well as when named as a sponsor), Anton HOLTERMANN is listed without another name. I suspect that his full name may have been Jodocus Anton HOLTERMANN, which was found in a 1780 baptism record. If correct, then his parents -- Wilhelm's grandparents -- were Bernhard Anton HOLTERMANN and Maria Gertrud BADDE. There is quite a bit of circumstantial evidence in the Wadersloh church records to suggest most of the HOLTERMANNs can be traced to the HOLTERMANN-BADDE couple.

While one German brick wall has been torn down, the LODENKAMPERs still remain a mystery. The Wadersloh church records are chock full of people by this name, but we've yet to find anything relevant to the St. Louis immigrants.

[, , ]


Little did I know the other day that the book I was considering purchasing was actually in the possession of my brother's in-laws. After a conversation and then a phone call, it looks like I'll be receiving their copy on loan in the near future.


Friday, September 22, 2006

Beneath Los Angeles

Via Defamer.


New location for images

After a few missteps, I think I'm about to settle on using Google's Picasa Web Albums to display scans and photos. Eventually, I'll move everything from the RootsWeb Freepages site over to my Picasa account, and then add even more images.

I haven't uploaded much yet, but those few that are interested in the HOLTERMANNs of St. Louis may notice that some significant progress is finally being made on Wilhelm's ancestry. (More on that another time.)

Picasa is a great program, but now having the ability to upload the images (with their captions) really makes this a must-have tool, in my opinion. Google is offering a lot of storage space (250MB) for free and RSS feeds are available for the entire set or each subset of images. Fantastic.


Playing with fire?

I don't like buying anything without having the opportunity to at least look it over for a few moments. Genealogy/family history books are no different. In fact, I'm now even more apprehensive about buying books after having been disappointed with the lack of documentation in a few of the titles. That doesn't mean I won't repeat the mistake again, though.

I was recently willing to spend a few bucks on a book that I'd use for a few months, then give as a Christmas gift. (Give me a break, I was going to give it to a toddler who wouldn't know any better or, hopefully, appreciate it for several years.)

The book was auctioned online and I didn't want to go overboard, so I only exceeded my initial limit a few times. As it turned out, though, a few people really wanted this book and it sold for about twice as much as I had hoped to get it for and about 30% more than my highest bid.

Since then, I've found two copies for sale at a fixed price. Great. The prices are lower, but still close to what the auction ended at and it looks like these books are a little more worn. Darn.

Should I take another chance? (Keep in mind that the book has no information on my ancestors; my interest is solely for a kind of side project.)


MO Death Certificates

The Missouri State Archives is still plugging away; they now have death certificates through 1927 scanned and online.

The Archives' snail mail service still takes a few weeks, but it's really not that bad considering the price -- just a buck per copy.


Thursday, September 14, 2006


Paying sizable fees for copies is something I've tried to avoid, but there are some records -- such as those in German archives -- that just cannot be had on the cheap. With that in mind, I recently decided to finally order a few emigration papers from the Niedersächsisches Landesarchiv-Staatsarchiv Osnabrück. I've known that these records were available for at least a year, but just couldn't bring myself to ordering them even though it was almost certain that three of the names in the index were of a 3rd great-grandfather, his brother and half-brother. There were other names in the index that will require future consideration, but to get my feet wet I decided to order the emigration records for Johann Friedrich BENNE, Johann Heinrich BENNE and Johann Friedrich SCHUMPE. (I passed, for now, on Ernst Heinrich BENNE's paper for reasons that aren't important at the moment.)

The two BENNE records were exactly what I thought they'd be and had some key details that shed new light on the family's migration from the Kingdom of Hannover to Missouri. The highlights are that Johann Friedrich BENNE and his wife, Clara Maria LANGENHEDER, apparently had a son before they emigrated. Considering their marriage date and the time they left Hannover, I would have to guess that the boy was either Clara's from a previous marriage or was born before the couple was married. If the latter turns out to be the case, it may be possible that this boy -- named Ernst Heinrich on a passenger manifest -- was overlooked in past attempts to research the family. I mean, would anyone have looked for a boy baptized as a LANGENHEDER a year or two prior to when his parents boarded a ship at Bremen (and just a few months after they were married)?

The other key detail came from Johann Heinrich "Henry" BENNE's record. Henry did not receive permission to emigrate until his younger half-brothers, Johann Friedrich and Ernst Heinrich, had already been in America for over six months. This means that there's little doubt that Henry, his wife and children, were in fact not on the same ship as other family members in the fall of 1842, and we still have to find another passenger manifest.

As for the record of Johann Friedrich SCHUMPE, it turns out that this name in the index was a red herring. Maybe it's because the site lacks a lot of documentation, I did not carefully translate the pages or I failed to ask enough questions leading up to my order, but what I got was a record for a woman whose father was named Johann Friedrich SCHUMPE. What I was hoping to receive was a record for a single man in his early twenties. It's not a bad thing that the Archives apparently indexed every name referenced in these records, but without additional information for context, such as a date or (in some cases) a clearly defined location for the origin of the record, ordering copies based on a matched name may cost you more than you're used to for failed searches. In this case, it cost me about $20 to learn this lesson.

So, for $45 total, which covered the cost of copies, research fees and postage, I was able to obtain two useful records that weren't available any other way. And unlike some archival requests, I received my copies in just a couple of weeks. Despite the SCHUMPE mistake, I'm happy with the results and am now in the process of getting information from a church in Hannover. And if a lead on another German family doesn't pan out, I'll be ordering church records from another archive later this fall. I'm excited about taking the next step with my research. I just hope the results are worth the money.

Those interested in ordering emigration records from the Archive in Osnabrück should check out the two links below. And if anyone needs the email address of the person in Osnabrück to deal with, let me know. (I haven't dealt with the Archives in Hannover and Wolfenbüttel.)

[, , , ]

Thursday, August 31, 2006

William Holtermann

"New" Cousin Dan pointed this out:

   "To help the poor, the Vincentian Superior John Timon challenged the laymen of St. Louis in 1846 to begin the first unit of the St. Vincent de Paul Society in America. It was the initial Catholic organization in St. Louis that went beyond parish and nationality. Of the eighty-nine men who took an active part in the society in its first six years, the president, Dr. Moses Linton, a convert, and none others were Anglo-Americans, mostly from Kentucky and Maryland, spiritual director Father Ambrose Heima and ten others were German, five were French-American, and one was Slavic. The other officers and all of the other members were Irish or Irish-American.
   "Among the early German speaking members were John Amend, Charles F. Blattau, Kaspar Brinkmann, Joseph Broeken, John C. Degenhart, John Everhart, John Everhart, Jr., Dr. L. B. Ganahl, William Holtermann, Philip Karst, Augustin Laufkotter, Christopher Pieper, Francis Saler, and H. J. Spaunhorst."

From The St. Louis German Catholics by William Barnaby Faherty, S.J.

[, ]

The Families of the Werther and Halle Stadt Parishes

A little progress has been made on the KINDERMANN-SCHIERBAUM line -- "little" being the operative word. I found Margaretha Ilsabein KINDERMANN's baptism record, as well as the baptism records of her siblings. I'm still not sure exactly what their father's full name was -- all I can conclude is that it was likely some combination of Friedrich, Wilhelm and Heinrich. Wow. Who would have guessed?

I am no closer to figuring out where Frau KINDERMANN, née SCHIERBAUM, came from, though. These early Halle Stadt (1760s) marriage records are about as devoid of details as it gets: names and the date are all you'll find in most of the entries; no ages or names of parents.

The VOSSIEK family is coming together nicely, though it will likely be several more months before I finish up their Werther church records. Again here, though, I'm having trouble locating the baptism records of what I'll call the "first generation." I know that I'm nearing the beginning of the available records, but it seems like some of these folks just showed up in the area as adults when they were married. I may have to study up on Westphalian history to see if there was an influx of immigrants in the early 18th century.

I'm not sure what to do with the DEPPERMANN family. A marriage record luckily specified Anna Katharina (Margaretha) Ilsabein DEPPERMANN's date of birth and father's name, but one or the other looks to be wrong. There was a girl similarly named born on 6 Sep 1809, but the father's name does not match her marriage record. Not even close. Am I to assume those present at the wedding, including the bride, could recall her exact date of birth, but not her father's name?

Finally, the good news is that I've added two generations to the HOLZ line. Heading into looking for Ferdinand Friedrich HOLZ I was worried that he was not listed in the IGI while hundreds of other children from Werther were indexed. But it turns out that some sections of those records were not indexed and it was easy to find Ferdinand. Now, if I could only find out what happened to him in my own backyard after immigration, that'd be great.

[, , , , , , , ]

Random items

  • Although I haven't been posting as much as I used to, I still try to keep current with the feeds I subscribe to.

  • It's great to see Lee Anders back blogging.

  • If you've never used a microfilm scanner to make digital copies of records, stop what you're doing and immediately find the nearest one.

  • The last few talks I've attended have either not quite been what I expected or, frankly, duds. Sorry, but when I'm either falling asleep or thinking about how many records I could be finding while a speaker bores me, there's a problem. I'm not a public speaker and it may not be fair to criticize, but the problem seems obvious: Don't go on and on about your families if you have no way of offering practical advice that others can use. And if the talk is billed as a couple of hours for teaching others how to do something, you'd better do just that. Anyway, a week from Saturday I'll be going to another talk that, on the surface, promises to be unique and interesting. This is the Show Me State, so we'll see.


Holtermann, Lodenkamper

Another distant cousin has found my website; he's the second or third contact I now have on the HOLTERMANN-LODENKAMPER line. The great thing is that he seems very interested in research, something I can appreciate. Unfortunately, he's probably just as frustrated as I am that the origin of these families is still unknown. On the other hand, it's a relief to know that his conclusions about the families are in line with my findings and beliefs, namely that the LODENKAMPER name is just too uncommon for there not to be some connection between our Dorothea and the family of Bernhard LODENKAMPER. Additionally, it's likely that Wilhelm HOLTERMANN and Bernhard HOLTERMANN of St. Louis and Ferdinand HOLTERMANN of Osage County, Missouri, may have been related or at least from the same region of Prussia.

[, , , ]

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Colonial lecture

A recent lecture about Colonial ancestry was not what I expected. Sure, I knew there would be talk about royal connections, but what nearly put me to sleep was almost two hours dominated by royals and notables -- not how to find connections to those people, but rather a laundry list of names.

It was obvious the speaker knew the material, but are people that desperate to find such a connection? Maybe, but I'm not so sure that was the case the other day. I wasn't the only one fidgeting and few people were taking notes. The same talk probably plays better elsewhere (New England?), I guess.

When a break was finally taken, I headed to the basement to research a few things I can't do at my local library. By doing so, I skipped the rest of the lecture. So, to be fair, maybe the lecture got better after noon. And I do regret not sticking around for a free consultation.


Hey, this Internet thing works

Within the last few weeks two distant cousins -- one from the BENNE family, another from the LANKAU family -- have either found my website or old (and outdated) message board posts. As usual, I don't have proper reports to exchange. Hang in there, I'll get them done eventually.

[, , ]

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Rick; Electric Funeral Car

I try not to stray too far down collateral paths, but the case of Jacob RICK seemed interesting. Third great-grandfather August RICK had a half-brother named Jacob (Jakob), born on December 25, 1836, in Siegelsbach, Baden. A church record from St. Louis shows that a Jacob RICK was in the area before 1860 and a passenger list shows that a man of the right age (and traveling with others believed to have been family) immigrated in 1853.

The next step was to find this man in census records. Jacob RICK is listed in 1870, 1880 and 1900 in San Francisco. The first two census records list him as a native of Baden. The 1900 census lists his date of birth as December of 1836. So far, everything matches up. The only things holding me back from definitively stating this was in fact August RICK's half-brother are: I haven't found additional records to show he was in St. Louis, and I haven't found his marriage record. I just don't feel comfortable connecting this man to the family in my database since San Francisco is so far from where other family members lived at the time.

Reviewing an index of California deaths helped provide details about Jacob's wife and children. I then contacted the Main Branch of the San Francisco Public Library to order free obituaries, two of which I've received so far. Now that a cemetery has been identified, I'm hoping to find out when Jacob died -- likely between 1900 and 1905 -- so that I can request his obit. The obituary of his wife Elizabeth was fairly detailed and if Jacob's is similar, I should be able to finally resolve whether he's family or not.

As for the title of this post, when Jacob and Elizabeth's son George died in 1910, an electric funeral car was used from San Francisco to Cypress Lawn Cemetery in Colma. Not knowing exactly what that was, but figuring it may have had something to do with streetcars, I went to Google and found that it had been discussed on the San Francisco mailing list several years ago. Interesting.


Holz, Vossiek, etc. in Werther

I wasn't expecting much while looking for assorted Lutheran records from Werther. But I recently found a detailed marriage record for Ferdinand Friedrich HOLZ and Anna Katharina Ilsabein DEPPERMANN which noted who their fathers were, where they lived and when they were born. This may not seem like a big deal, but glancing through the IGI you won't be able to determine when the bride and groom were baptized, despite thousands of Werther records having been indexed.

It looks like the missing baptisms may be the result of an incomplete index. I noticed this when I started to find "new" VOSSIEK baptisms while going through every page. I'm not going to spend time analyzing how many records were not indexed, but it's worth noting that I found the VOSSIEK baptisms in the section for those that lived in the Werther parish (kirchspiel), outside of the city (stadt).

So, within the next few days I'll be back at the library trying to find the HOLZ and DEPPERMANN baptisms. Hopefully, details will lead to the names of their mothers, which would then lead to marriage records. Even without the baptisms, though, the dates of birth listed in the HOLZ-DEPPERMANN marriage record shows that they were older than that was indicated in their passenger list entries.

As far as the other names I'm researching in Werther -- KINDERMANN, SCHIERBAUM and WURSTEBROCK -- I did find a couple of marriage records, but haven't finished looking for deaths/burials.



City directories from Magdeburg have yielded three different addresses for Karl LANKAU in the 1820s. Each record shows that he was a shoemaker (schuhmacher/schuhmachermeister) and lived in the eastern part of the city, near the Elbe River. Unfortunately, it seems that this area was heavily bombed during WWII and there's not much to work with from the FHL catalog pertaining to the Altstadt section of Magdeburg.


Fantasy Coffins

Yahoo/Reuters: Ghanaians say stylish goodbye with fantasy coffins. Stylish coffins (four photos).


Sunday, April 30, 2006

FHL digitization

Reporting on the Family History Seminar, Renee Zamora mentions:

6. The LDS Church is now working with Archives on digitize their records, they will create an index and if people want to view the original they will get charged a fee. That's they way they can still bring you these indexes for free. It's in the works.

Sounds good to me!


Revisiting a family story

A few years ago, I was first told a story about how one of our ancestors died while immigrating from Germany. The story goes that the woman died, was buried at sea and her body could be seen bobbing up and down while "following" the ship in its wake. The story was recently mentioned again, but this time it was said that the woman died during the trip on a river heading to the St. Louis area, after disembarking from the ship that brought the family to America. Additionally, this woman is said to have been an ancestor's first wife -- a detail I don't recall having heard the first time.

I was initially led to believe this related to the BENNE family since grandpa is who had told the story, but it doesn't seem like anyone died during that family's immigration and Johann Friedrich BENNE's first wife, who he married in Buer, Hannover, lived for 11 years in St. Charles County before dying in 1854.

So, if it apparently wasn't the BENNEs, what other families on grandpa's side could this story relate to? Beyond that, was this woman really one of our ancestors or was she married to one of our ancestors? Big difference.

Without going into lengthy descriptions, I feel confident the story does not relate to the SCHUMPE, UHLMANNSIEK, MEIER and VOSSIEK families on grandpa's side. The remaining possibilities are the BULL-SCHOKNECHT and HOLZ-DEPPERMANN families.

After discovering the details of the BULL-SCHOKNECHT immigration, I believed that the old family story actually described their travels in 1867. After all, grandpa's grandma was a little girl on that cholera-ridden ship and it's easy to see how the story might have been told and misunderstood. However, all of those deaths happened at sea, not on a river, and it doesn't appear that great-great-grandma's mother died. (It should be noted, though, that I haven't had much luck researching that particular 3rd great-grandmother and certain inconsistencies could possibly be explained by a death after immigrating but before arriving in St. Charles.)

The HOLZ-DEPPERMANN family is such a mystery to me that it's entirely possible that the story describes Anna Katharina Margaretha Ilsabein (DEPPERMANN) HOLZ's death. After all, I cannot find her in local records past the 1854 passenger list. But if the story makes reference to a "first wife," implying that there was a second wife, then I do not believe this is the correct family branch. There is inconclusive evidence that Ferdinand Friedrich HOLZ died within months of immigrating and a second marriage record for him has not been found.

There's no guarantee the story has remained accurate over the years, but at this point I still think the story actually describes the BULL-SCHOKNECHT immigration and 2nd great-grandmother's eyewitness account of over 70 people, some she may have known, dying from cholera while crossing the Atlantic Ocean. I'll always keep an eye out for new information which may help solve this, though.


Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Five misc. items

The Genealogue (Chris Dunham) explores how genealogists use God in their GEDCOMs with "Searching for God at" A quick search shows 291 WorldConnect entries with an individual whose surname is GOD (if it's a surname, it should be in all caps, right?). I don't have time to look at many of the entries, but it's interesting to see that Adam and Eve are listed as God's adopted children by one researcher. So, if they were adopted, who were their parents? And you thought modern adoptions were hard to trace...

George Lewis at Random Genealogy notes that "Google Maps Has Street Maps For Most/All of Europe." Sure enough, Buer is there, surrounded by fields.

Another post from The Genealogue, "Oh, Canada!," takes a not-so-serious look at the problem of "tombstoning."

"Online Family Genealogist" from Before You Are Gone touches on an issue many people probably don't think about: What happens to your online genealogy and will someone be able to continue with it?

The Genealogue (yes, again) lists the "Top Ten Signs Your Child Will Be a Genealogist."


Sunday, April 23, 2006

Problem at local cemetery

Post columnist Bill McClellan writes today about a problem down at Calvary Cemetery: Burial dispute forges family tie but also threatens to break it.

The family plot in question is in Section 18, Lot 222.


The Big One

An article in the Post today (Sitting on Shaky Ground) rehashes what St. Louis-area residents already know: When the next big earthquake happens in the New Madrid area, we may be in for a rough ride due to the makeup of our soil.

A map shows that many areas where ancestors lived starting in about 1830 (and where I currently live) have the potential for increased shaking. Ancestral locations in downtown St. Louis, along the Mississippi River in Madison County, Ill., and the bottoms in eastern St. Charles County, Mo., are all marked as having the most risk.

When the 1811-1812 quakes happened, none of my ancestors were this far west. They were still in Kentucky, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York and Germany. I wonder if any of them -- other than the Germans -- felt the quakes.


Friday, April 21, 2006

Relatively Speaking

I haven't been able to listen to or record Relatively Speaking, Irene Johnson's genealogy radio show, much lately. There just always seems to be something going on during Sunday afternoons and early evenings. It turns out that I wasn't missing anything, because the show was cancelled.

A few days ago I noticed that Relatively Speaking was no longer mentioned on the AM820 schedule. I didn't recall any of the blogs I read mentioning what was going on, and Google turned up very little. The one site that did make note of the news was Genealogy Today, on their audio page. Illya D'Addezio confirmed by email the news that I hoped hadn't happened: Relatively Speaking was cancelled a few weeks ago.

I don't know what the odds are of Irene continuing her show in another form, but I hope she considers a podcast.


New obit database

Dick Eastman has mentioned that ProQuest hopes to launch a database for obituaries this summer. The project will be called ProQuest Obituaries.

The press release indicates that obituaries from major newspapers as far back as 1851 will be included. The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, The Atlanta Constitution, The Boston Globe, and The Chicago Defender were listed. I think St. Louis was still a major city in 1851 -- Gateway to the West, hello? -- so I would hope that one of the area papers is considered. The Post didn't start until 1874, so I guess that would leave the Globe-Democrat (1853-1986) as the most likely candidate to be part of the database. Frankly, I'd like to see ProQuest do something bold and also make the Westliche Post (German, 1857-1938) part of the project considering the German influence in St. Louis.


MO Archives update

From the Missouri State Archives website:

Important Death Certificate Announcement
Optional Expedited Service

The Missouri Death Certificate Database has proven widely popular. Researchers conducted over half a million searches within the first days of the database’s release. This amount equals nearly five months of searches on all the Missouri State Archives’ other online databases combined. Within two weeks, we have received requests to copy 7,000 death certificates. At the same time, we have received 700 e-mail queries regarding the database. These numbers continue to grow. We are pleased that so many people are benefiting from this database. Unfortunately, this unprecedented response is overwhelming our staff, who must also complete their regular duties. As a result, staff response to copy requests is currently taking up to twelve weeks.

We are committed to reducing the wait for patrons. To help relieve demands on staff, we have accelerated the schedule for release of online images. Rather than releasing images by decade, we will release images as scanning for each year is completed. Already, we have added 1921-1922 and expect to add 1923 very soon. Images to 1925 will be released by the end of June 2006, and we anticipate having images up to 1930 available in September 2006. We have also hired temporary staff to help us meet the initial demand for copies.

Knowing the challenges we face in meeting this demand, the Friends of the Missouri State Archives has volunteered to provide expedited service for those patrons who need their copies sooner than we can provide them. The Friends of the Missouri State Archives – a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization that supports the activities of the Missouri State Archives – has offered to hire and oversee additional workers to copy death certificates. To cover the cost of this program, an additional fee would be charged for each copy.

This expedited service is optional. Copies will still be available at the cost of $1 for anyone that prefers to have their request completed by the Missouri State Archives staff. For those who would like faster service from the Friends of the Missouri State Archives, copies will be available for $5 per name requested. There is also no limit to the number of requests that can be made through the Friends. Fees generated from this service will be dedicated exclusively to the death certificate project. As you search the database, you will find instructions on how to request copies from either the Missouri State Archives or the Friends.

We hope that these measures make an already successful project even better for our patrons. Our goal is to provide you with the fastest and most efficient service possible. We are grateful for your patience as we strive to meet that goal.

Time to run a new report for 1921 and 1922 deaths...


Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Naughty mailing lists

From time to time, mailing list and message board administrators decide to move on and offer the responsibilities to those that may be interested. Such an offer was made today for RootsWeb message boards that deal with surnames. The thing is, the surnames are apparently acceptable in the United Kingdom but potentially "dirty" in American English. The example offered was CRAPSTER.

I know it's juvenile, but I wish the whole list was posted. I don't think any of my surnames are as interesting.


St. Joseph's death records

One of the projects I intend to complete sooner rather than later is something I forgot to mention last week: transcribing St. Joseph's Catholic Church death records.

St. Joseph's (a.k.a. Shrine at St. Joseph's Catholic Church) was the primary church for the EBERT, HOLTERMANN and LODENKAMPER families between the mid-1840s and about 1900. The church's records are on microfilm and a few sections are indexed, but making these records more accessible has been the work of just one person. Since I've used these records several times and feel comfortable reading them (an English/Latin mix), I offered to help out.

I was assigned the task of working on death records in the 1860s. After my first transcribing session I realized it was going to take forever to complete my assignment. I then decided to take a digital camera so that I could transcribe the photos at home. It just isn't a good use of time to transcribe the records at a library I don't visit as much as I'd like. Most of the photos turned out well, so I've got a few years worth of records to work on. Had I transcribed the records from microfilm, it may have taken me a few hours to complete each year and I only go to that library about once a month.

Working on projects like this is good practice for researchers and I'd recommend it to anyone with a few hours to spare.

[, , , ]

Using Orb to share photos, videos

I've been messing around with Orb as a possible replacement for posting some photos on Blogger (the nephew's photo blog), and potentially all of my genealogy-related scans at RootsWeb, and hopefully for the few video files I've put on Ourmedia. An alternative is much needed because I don't look forward to using Blogger for multiple-photo posts and Ourmedia isn't very fast at times.

After installing Orb and specifying which folders to share, you can then notify people about what files you're sharing. It's a pretty simple process. The catch is that your computer needs to be running for others to see the files you're sharing. While that may not be a problem for many, finding enough time around here to remain continually online for users to browse at their leisure is a little tricky, what with severe weather occurring often in the Midwest. I also don't leave the computer running while I'm gone for more than a few hours. If I could find a way to overcome the connectivity issue, I'd use Orb exclusively to distribute photos and stop uploading to the nephew's blog in a heartbeat. It works that well.

Videos are a different story. Orb streams videos from the host system to the user and unless your ISP has a high upload cap it will be an extremely annoying visual experience.

I haven't tested how well audio streams, but will try that later this week. I'm falling behind on podcasts -- haven't listened to The Genealogy Guys in two or three weeks! -- and if I can do that elsewhere without taking files with me, that would be great.



The Genealogue has surpassed the 1000 post mark. If you are not keeping track of Chris' informative and humorous posts by visiting regularly or with the feed, you're really missing out on some great content.

A thousand posts is a lot of work, especially considering that many are about articles from all over the place. It can't be easy to always find something to say about all of the articles The Genealogue mentions. To put it in perspective, I'd have to write about 800 new posts about little research updates and complaints to catch up.



English versions of the Geogen maps have been added. Descriptions of the maps are still in German, but running the text through a translator can give you an idea of what it's all about.


Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The plan

Last night I finished off the latest batch of FHL microfilm, thirteen rolls ordered in January. Results were mixed and it has left me with an even stronger desire to take a break and regroup. Ideally, I won't set foot in the library for the whole summer except to fill in a few holes while finishing off some long overdue projects and new leads, unless extremely tantalizing (e.g., info about the origins of the EBERT or HEATON families), will have to wait until the fall. So, my immediate plans are to:
  • Finish cleaning up my notes for each family report, with WIEDEY, HALL, BENNE and BOSWELL (in that order) being first in line.
  • Clean off my desk by processing the stacks of papers that need to be scanned, transcribed or abstracted and then filed.
  • Do the same to the papers in a couple of boxes.
  • Attempt to work my scanner to death by scanning too many photos to count.


German surname distribution

Christoph Stöpel has a couple of cool webpages: Geogen and Lokator. English translations are forthcoming, but it's said that the Geogen maps are based on data from recent versions of German telephone directories.

Geogen is returning some interesting results for the surnames I've searched, namely that some of them no longer exist. I'm not sure if that means the names have died off, if the records need to be reexamined to validate the believed spelling or if the name evolved into an alternate spelling, but I did utter "uh oh" a couple of times the other day. Less shocking and rather pleasing were results that showed some of the names are still concentrated in districts where the families lived as far back as the 18th century.


Vacation time; You're sick and now you're dead!

Obviously it's in bad taste, but I didn't know -- never thought about it -- that having a fake obituary published could get someone charged with "tampering with records." The article makes no mention of attempting to obtain a death certificate or trying to collect life insurance.

KCCI (Des Moines): Boy's Fake Obit Published So Mom Could Skip Work.


Thursday, April 06, 2006

Yet another post about MO death certificates

About 60 people -- not counting various library staff, Archives personnel and those I presume were media -- were at the announcement of the database today. Secretary of State Robin Carnahan was there for the announcement. There's nothing here to really comment on except that she said 27,000 volunteers were involved in this project. The figure didn't make sense at the time, but when it was later reported that 27,000+ searches have already been made, I think that's the number that slipped into her speech. According to an email from the State Archivist, there were 598 transcription volunteers. I believe there were also several other volunteers at the Archives in Jeff City helping with other aspects of the project. I bring this up only because the error was not corrected and I'm curious to see if any media reports quote the incorrect figure.

As already mentioned, over 27,000 searches have been made in less than a day. This popularity comes with a price: it is now extremely difficult to use the database. I noticed the slowness this morning before leaving, and now it's even worse. I'm even more appreciative of the advance notice now than I was on Tuesday!

The big news is that by Labor Day the Archives hopes to have the 1921-1930 certificates scanned. Additionally, when the Dept. of Health releases the 1956 records later this year, the Archives will make them available to volunteers for data entry.

I can't try it now to make certain, but I would suggest to those searching for records in St. Louis City and County to try both locations if you use that part of the search to narrow the number of results. It seemed like there was some overlap -- potentially due to how the records were written or transcribed -- yet each location would return a different number of results. (The City and County have been separate since 1876.)

Finally, sending a buck to the Archives for a photocopy is fine, but the records I've printed on a low-end printer look OK so far. At the announcement today, the Archivist said essentially the same thing.

[, ]

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Press release for Missouri death certificate project

The Missouri Secretary of State has issued a press release announcing the 1910-1955 index of state death certificates, and provided a link to the database. (I should also note that this morning the Archives emailed to let me know that they had fixed the bug I alluded to last night and now searching for records works exactly as intended.)

Carnahan Provides Access to Over Two Million Death Certificates

New, online database will include death records from 1910-1955

Jefferson City, Missouri -- Secretary of State Robin Carnahan announced that her office will unveil a new, online death certificate database tomorrow during an event at the St. Louis County Library Headquarters.

The database, which is the largest online project ever completed by the Missouri State Archives, contains over two million individual death certificates searchable by name, county, or month and year. In addition, the database contains digital images of certificates from 1910-1920, with subsequent years to follow.

"I'm pleased that our office can provide the public with unprecedented access to information about Missouri's history. This online database is an invaluable tool of genealogical and historical research that will enable us to learn more about the history of our families, as well as our common past," said Carnahan.

A death certificate can reveal information of great value to genealogists and historians about the life of the deceased, such as occupation, birthplace, parents, and marital status. A death certificate can also reveal important information about social history, such as recording the deadly influenza epidemic that struck Missouri and the nation in 1918, causing more deaths than any other year from 1910-1955.

Within the collection are the death certificates of the notorious James Gang outlaw Cole Younger; Kansas City political boss Tom Pendergast; St. Louis Civil Rights Attorney Homer G. Phillips; and numerous Missouri governors.

The Death Certificate Database was made possible by the work of over 600 volunteers and students from across the nation and other countries, who logged over 27,000 hours. Volunteers will continue to work on the project until digital images of all the certificates are available online, an accomplishment that will benefit genealogists and scholars throughout the country. The database will be available at

[, ]

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Census Bureau to go mobile in 2010

MSNBC: Census takers to trade pens for handheld PCs.


More about the Missouri 1910-1955 death index

While the entire index of old Missouri death certificates (1910-1955) will go public on Thursday, only the records from 1910 to 1920 have been imaged to date. This is understandable considering the number of records involved -- over two million. Plus, this is exactly what the Archives predicted last summer when they commented on the status of the project's progress. Images of the certificates after 1920 up until 1955 will follow chronologically, so in the meantime researchers can submit a request for a photocopy.

The Archives' request policy will allow up to five (5) requests at a time by mail. When you click on the link to request a copy, you will be taken to a page explaining this policy. Another link will then take you to a PDF of an order form that you can fill out online and print.

Images of the scanned certificates are also saved as PDFs, so those without that software will want to install it before Thursday. (A note to Firefox users: Do not try to open the images in a new tab. By doing so you'll only load another page of the search results. Instead, just click on the "view image" link and a new window with the PDF will pop up.)

I'm currently finding that the search tool has a little bug. It's still possible to find the names I want, but it's taking a little longer to do so. I've reported the issue and won't comment unless it persists.

[, ]

New genealogy blog

George Morgan, half of the Genealogy Guys podcast, has a new blog: Along Those Lines (feed: One of his firsts posts, "Get the Records While You Still Can!," is an interesting read about the nonsense taking root around the country regarding access to vital records.


Schuknecht, Wiegert and the Groß Methling records

Microfilm of the records from the Lutheran Church in Groß Methling did yield some useful clues about the SCHUKNECHT (SCHOKNECHT) and WIEGERT families, but due to the limited details on some records and quality issues the results were not ideal. For example, it is currently not clear who Katharina Maria WIEGERT's mother was because A) there were two baptism records for a girl named Katharina Maria WIEGERT and while one clearly names her father, Otto Michael, the other only mentions that the father's last name was WIEGERT, and B) a search for Katharina Maria's burial record -- to help determine when she was born -- was unsuccessful. Additionally, Otto Michael WIEGERT apparently had two wives, but only one marriage record was found and it is not very easy to read.

Otto Michael WIEGERT's burial record was found, but a baptism record was not. This may indicate that his parents did not live in the Groß Methling parish at the time, believed to have been around 1733.

Burial records for both Christian Michael SCHOKNECHT and his wife, Katharina Maria (WIEGERT), were not found, though their marriage record and a couple of their children's baptisms were. There was no indication that Christian Michael SCHOKNECHT was baptized in Groß Methling.

Those ordering this film in the future should note that the FHL's description -- Taufen, Heiraten Tote 1652-1875 Konfirmationen 1753-1875 -- is an overview of the records. What the researcher will find is actually:
  • 1652-1685 Marriages
  • 1694-1789 Marriages
  • 1704-1711 Baptisms, Marriages, Deaths
  • 1753-1799 Deaths
  • 1786-1799 Marriages
  • 1753-1799 Baptisms
  • 1783, 1786-1799 Confirmations
  • 1800-1870 Baptisms, Marriages
  • 1856-1870 Confirmations
  • 1800-1870 Deaths
  • 1800-1855 Confirmations
  • 1871-1875 Baptisms

Most of the records after about 1790 are easy to read and the amount of detail improves. Records prior to about 1790 are lacking some key details and don't always print that well. There was also a section of the records -- in the 1750s, as I recall -- which appear to have water damage.

Title: Kirchenbuch, Evangelische Kirche Groß Methling (AG. Dargun)
Film: 0069177
Quality: 6 (out of 10)

[, , , ]

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Fear the copyright

I know this is old news to most, but Wal-Mart no longer allows customers to make copies of photographs deemed to be made by a professional. I knew this, but the last time I needed photos quickly, a Wal-Mart employee let me make prints of a scanned studio photo from the late 1880s. When I recently tried to make prints of two other scans -- one from a photo taken before 1900, the other from about 1900 to 1910 -- I was told they couldn't sell me the prints.

Consider this from the San Diego Union-Tribune:

"Also adding to the confusion is the change to copyright law Jan. 1, 1978. Photos taken before that date are subject to different copyright rules from photos taken afterward."

"The law allows customers to copy professional photos commissioned before 1978, unless the photographer and the customer had an agreement to the contrary, Moilanen said."

Sorry, but I'm not exactly inclined to track down the descendants of a specific photographer to see if they have any of his old business records, with the goal being to see whether he and my 3rd great-grandparents had some sort of contract regarding reprints. And that's if the photo is even labeled by a studio.

To me, the bottom line is obvious: Wal-Mart doesn't think much of and/or trust their employees and they've created a blanket policy to avoid being sued. The issue of date isn't up for debate; the photo center workers will not print the photo. Period. I may test this policy soon by taking in other old photos to see what happens.

More recently, according to one listener of CNET's Buzz Out Loud podcast, at least one Staples (or one overzealous employee) has a similar view regarding photocopies. If you download the March 31st podcast (feed), skip ahead to about 28:07 to hear the story of how obituaries from the 1880s weren't allowed to be copied. (You can also go to Podzinger and look for the time stamp of this discussion -- they show 28:17, but the story begins slightly before the terms I used for the search. This is a stream, so there's no need to download the entire MP3.)


Saturday, April 01, 2006

Missouri 1910-1955 death index online soon

In August of 2004, legislation went into effect stating that the Missouri Department of Health was to transfer death certificates at least 50 years old to the State Archives. The Archives then announced that they would make the information on those records more accessible by creating an online index linked to scans of the certificates. This was called the Missouri Post-1910 Death Records Project. It was recently announced to volunteers that the index is scheduled to go online soon.

Researchers can also benefit from this project by obtaining photocopies for just $1, saving $12 per copy -- the Dept. of Health's fee had risen from $10 to $13 in recent years. The Archives makes getting copies very easy; just email them a name, date of death and the county in which the person died. You will then receive an emailed response with ordering instructions. (Only submit one name at a time by email, and don't request another record until you have received a copy in the mail. Be patient. It may take a few weeks to complete the ordering cycle. If need to get several different copies, you'll have to visit the Archives in person, where you can request ten at a time.)

Volunteers were sent a packet of pages from the old printed index and then set about entering the details into a spreadsheet. Each entry had up to fourteen different details, though most had just nine or ten: page number, last name, first name, middle initial, file number, month, day, year, county and sometimes the city. Prefix, suffix and alias name were fields rarely used. Transcribers could also enter notes in the last field. My packet was approximately 70 pages with 3687 entries. In all, 598 volunteers transcribed over two million names covering 1910 to 1955.

It remains to be seen how many of the certificates have been scanned so far, but a searchable index will be more than enough to help Missouri researchers. And a less obvious benefit to the database may be that some entries in the index, which were previously listed out of order, will now easily be found. While working on my packet of papers, I noticed a few entries that were one or two pages out of place alphabetically. I know that the Dept. of Health would search a five-year span for a record, but would they also check multiple pages of the printed index, too? If that didn't happen, then this may help in some cases. I have one test case in mind: James HEATON's 1919 certificate was not found.

I could go on and on describing how useful this index will be once it goes online. I have used the Illinois State Archives' death and marriage indexes too many times to count and Illinois is my second state in terms of ancestors and collateral lines. Missouri is where the bulk of my research takes place, so I'm going to be using this site a lot to track down leads that the Social Security Death Index, published cemetery indexes, and the few obituaries that have been indexed don't cover. My primary benefit will be searching for collateral individuals. Finding out when those people died will then open up numerous other research opportunities.

An event at the St. Louis County Library's Main Branch (1640 South Lindbergh Blvd., just south of Clayton Road and across from Plaza Frontenac) is scheduled for April 6th, the day the project opens to the public. A reception and brunch is scheduled the next day in Jefferson City.

[, ]

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Under the Tree

So far, I like what I've heard from Meredith Williams' Under the Tree genealogy podcast.



One of the hosts of 10, a video podcast about technology, is getting her DNA tested for a segment on the show. There's not much to comment on at this point since the results will be shown in a future segment, but it was interesting to see what other tests (allergies, etc.) available.

[, ]

Monday, March 27, 2006

No luck in Bavaria

Back in December, I submitted six GEDCOMs* to the Society for Family Research in Franconia as part of their annual, free project to try and find matches between researchers. The results just arrived: No one else had matching information for my BURGER, EBERT, FUCHS, KRUG and SCHWEIGER families. (The sixth file was for another BURGER family, whose relation to my ancestors is currently unproven but likely.)

Although more than two million names were submitted, less than 600 people sent files to the Society. Since there don't seem to be many FHL films for Bavarian church records -- well, at least in the places I need to research -- I hope this project becomes more popular.

I found out about the project from one of the RootsWeb mailing lists. I'm sure details will be posted later this year for the next round of the project.

* The files only had basic information (name, places, dates) and were limited to two generations.

[, , , , , ]

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Free access to The New England Historical and Genealogical Register

From the New England Historic Genealogical Society's eNews (March 15th):

Free Non-Member Access to the Register Online March 20-22

As a way to introduce potential members to the wealth of information available to members, NEHGS is pleased to offer free access to one of the thousands of databases on, The New England Historical and Genealogical Register. Normally available only to NEHGS members, the Register database will be accessible to all from Monday, March 20 through Wednesday, March 22, 2006.

Published quarterly since 1847, the Register is the flagship journal of American genealogy and the oldest journal in the field. The database includes issues from 1847 to 1994. For more information visit

Non-members will be asked to provide contact information, which will not be shared, but will be used to send information about membership to visitors. Visitors will be taken automatically to the Register database after submitting their information.

PLEASE NOTE: Only the extensive Register database will be open for public use. The remainder of the databases continue to be accessible to members only.

We encourage all NEHGS members to spread the word about this offering, but to avoid disappointment, please make sure to mention that this offer is limited only to the Register. Thanks for your help in letting others know about the wealth of significant information offered by NEHGS.

Non-members can use the Register database for free March 20 to March 22.


Sunday, March 12, 2006

RootsWeb message boards

I know RootsWeb is having trouble with their boards, but I think the problem may be more widespread than their message indicates:

A hardware failure has stopped the board indexing. This means the search engine is not picking up posts. No time estimate was given on repairs. We apologize for the inconvenience.

A few days ago I was unable to find a message in my history that I had posted last summer. Not knowing the exact date, I navigated through a few pages of the board's archives to find the post. When I found it and refreshed my history, the link was then visible in my history. I thought that was odd.

Mysteriously, though, another message that I thought I had posted in that thread was gone. This bothered me because what was missing was my "thank you" to someone that not only pointed out a useful website for an area I know little about, but had taken the time to look up the names I had asked about.

I then posted a (second?) "thank you." The next day I was notified by email that the person who had helped me last summer had replied to my post. But when I clicked on the link to read her post, it was gone and so was my most recent "thank you."

I don't know what's going on, but I will not be posting anything until this is cleared up.


Saturday, March 11, 2006

Online maps now does mapping, similar to Google and Yahoo. I like the animation, but the site seems slow.


Eastman's survey

Dick Eastman has posted results to his survey about genealogists and computers. Among his comments, is this:

"Of all those who use Windows as their primary system, 88.8% are using Windows XP. This surprised me a bit, as XP has not been around too many years. It shows that genealogists frequently upgrade their systems to the latest available hardware and operating system software."

Personally, I think the reason for such a high number of XP users is that Windows 95 crashed a LOT and Windows 98 wasn't much better. I still recall with some bitterness having to reboot Windows 95 multiple times on some days. Many days, actually. I never used Windows ME, but I can't recall hearing or reading much positive about that operating system, especially when it came to installation.

I've been using XP for three years and can't recall more than a few times that the system has locked up. It's even possible now to leave the computer on for days without a problem, something that I can't imagine could have been done with Windows 95.

One should also consider that support and security updates for Windows 95 was discontinued, and on June 30th of this year the same will happen to Windows 98 and ME.


Friday, March 10, 2006

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Personal DNA Map

The National Human Genome Research Institute at the U.S. National Institutes of Health hopes to have the cost of DNA sequencing down to $1000 by 2014. Assuming that goal will be met, setting aside pocket change -- say, 35¢ -- each day for the next eight years would allow you to pay for a digital readout of your personal genome.

National Geographic News: Coming Soon: Your Personal DNA Map?

[, ]

Dictionary is a cool site, but I'll be sticking with for now. The biggest drawback to is that they don't generate a list of suggested words when you enter something that is misspelled. This happens to me quite a bit while transcribing old death and burial records, and I need the correct spelling or definition of a medical word.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


A cousin from the WIEDEY family has located an 1894 deed which mentions a family member in Redlands, California. This deed is key because it proves that previous discoveries of a city directory and census record do in fact show that a family member headed west after 1880. Great find, Janet!

Yahoo's people search shows just three WIEDEYs in California, but if any descendants of Friedrich (Fred) Wilhelm WIEDEY and his wife, Minnie, are out there, we'd like to hear from you.

[, ]


We've got a "new" contact in the family, another descendant of James HEATON's son, Edwin.

[, ]

Monday, February 27, 2006

Up in smoke

Juliana Smith's column in today's Ancestry Daily News (Seeking Out Images for Your Family History) reminded me of a family story about photo disposal.

It was probably in the early 1950s, when one of my great-grandmothers decided she wanted to get rid of numerous old photos, reasoning that she had no use for photos of people she couldn't identify. While other family was barbecuing, great-grandma put two and two together and proceeded to get a box of photos from the house. Despite one of her daughters pleading not to burn the photos, that's exactly what happened.

There's no telling who was in the photos. I suspect that since she didn't know who the people were, it was likely the photos were either very old -- she was born in 1883 -- or had belonged to her husband's family and, naturally, she probably wouldn't have been able to identify all of his family members. (No one has mentioned anything about Alzheimer's-like behavior, so I assume she really did not know who the photos were of.)


Who/Where is next?

I may not be done with the current batch of film for several more weeks, so it won't be until then that I decide where to next focus my attention. Wherever that is, it will likely be after a break from FHL film that I've been wanting to take for a while. A break then will work out well because I'm ahead of schedule ordering films this year.

The path of least resistance is preferable and at the moment that looks to be the families who attended church in Werther, Westfalen (DEPPERMANN, HOLZ, KINDERMANN, VOSSIEK, etc.). I might as well take care of the easy stuff and since the IGI shows info (extracted, not submitted) for at least two or three generations of these families, I think this qualifies as relatively easy. But without even seeing them I'm a bit worried about the Werther records. Lutheran records from nearby Bockhorst, Borgholzhausen and Rödinghausen are similarly formatted and not especially detailed. I'm running into the same issue with some records from Horn, which is somewhat in the same neighborhood, generally speaking.

After Werther, I guess the goal for this year and perhaps next year is to finish off all of the films where I know I'll find information. Without looking, I'd guess there are several films from assorted German places that I need to get in order to take the next step. Once those are finished, it'll be decision time: Do I start semi-blindly ordering films on a regular basis hoping to hit the jackpot, or do I go to Salt Lake City to research broader areas more quickly than ordering a few rolls of film each month?



I don't know if it's the format of the church records -- light on details -- or that his name varies in the records, but Jürgen Heinrich (a.k.a. Johann Jürgen) GEINER is kind of mysterious to me. Jürgen was probably born between 1727 and 1733, dates gleaned from the ages that were listed in records many years after the fact. Jürgen was said to be 47 when he remarried in 1780, but was listed as 72 when he died in 1799. Although many of the church records from the Borgholzhausen area are already indexed, where and when Jürgen was baptized and his first marriage are unknown.

[, ]

New theory

As reported by Discovery News, here's a new theory that's not at all depressing: Early Humans Were Often Eaten.


Friday, February 24, 2006

NARA on Google Video

National Archives and Google Launch Pilot Project to Digitize and Offer Historic Films Online.

National Archives via Google Video.


African American Lives

Cemetery Special and Destination America, the last couple of PBS programs that had at least a little to do with genealogy (or so I thought), were not all that interesting. So, despite the seemingly increased blog chatter in the days leading up to the airing of the latest program, I didn't plan on watching African American Lives no matter how often it was mentioned. From conversations I suspect that some people may have thought this show didn't have anything to offer them and as someone who probably won't ever have to research slaves, this also crossed my mind. Just before heading out the night it first aired, though, I decided to record it because I was curious about the DNA research.

It was a wise decision on my part.

African American Lives was well produced, did a fantastic job of digging up family stories, and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. was a very good host. The two-hour program (parts one, "Listening to our Past," and two, "The Promise of Freedom") flew by -- always a sign of good TV or filmmaking -- and I couldn't wait for parts three ("Searching for Our Names") and four ("Beyond the Middle Passage"). I would heartily recommend African American Lives to anyone already researching their ancestors or someone who might be a little curious and hasn't yet started research.

For a program that does so much right, there were a few things worth nitpicking:
  • Nine different subjects may make for a collection of diverse stories, but I felt that had the number been pared down more time could have been spent telling the stories of each family or focusing a bit more on the research.

  • I recognize that television programs are edited quite a bit, there is limited time to explain some topics and some details may not lend themselves to keeping the audience interested, but I was a little surprised at how much the census records were trusted. Maybe it's just me, but when I see dates of birth that consist of a month and a year, I immediately think that the 1900 census was the source of such information. The program did not indicate where the birth dates came from, but considering how easily Gates seemed to accept what other census forms showed, it would not surprise me if the 1900 census was in fact the source. It should have been explained that census records are useful, but they have their limitations. [Personally, I am on a bit of a mini-mission to edit all entries in my database to make sure any dates of birth sourced from the 1900 census have "abt" (about) preceding the date. I have found many of the dates from the 1900 census are correct, but I have also found numerous instances of the month or year being just a little off.]

  • Similar to my issue with dates from census records, I'm a little skeptical of how literacy was addressed in the censuses. Just taking a quick look at the records I've used, I found one individual who supposedly could read and write in 1850, 1860 and 1880. In 1870, apparently he could not. Another example shows that a man in his mid-20s could not write when the 1880 census was taken in June, but when the census was redone* in November he could. I'm sure if I spent more time looking for examples I could find at least a few just in the records I've saved for personal research. And let's not overlook how children were classified: A large number of enumerators seem to have ignored the literacy issue of the youngest children, yet there were also those who pointed out the obvious, that a toddler could not read or write. The point here is that, again, census records should not be taken literally and Gates should have qualified what he told Oprah Winfrey about one of her ancestors learning to read between 1870 and 1880. If there was additional evidence to support the finding, great. But that seemed a bit misleading to me.

  • Gates was also eager to accept that a "Jane" listed in other documents without a last name was his 2nd great-grandmother. Was it likely? Probably. But it would have been safer to qualify such a statement. I sensed that the genealogist assisting him was trying to be cautious, but Gates' exuberance kind of took over the segment. It was understandable, though.
These issues are relatively minor. I bring them up only because African American Lives could be what sparks a whole new wave of researchers and while it may not have made for good TV, I don't think it wouldn't have hurt to have explained the pitfalls of census records or warned against making quick judgments of records without other supporting evidence. There are probably two things that need to be stressed the most to new family researchers: Don't completely trust any one source and have some sort of organization when recording your findings. I can attest that both issues -- the latter in my case -- will eventually become huge roadblocks if not taken seriously.

The final two installments of the series were what I was really waiting for. I still do not fully understand which DNA tests are better than others, or if one test can do it all, but I am very intrigued by the test that shows percentages of ancestral roots. I may have missed it before, but I don't recall previously having heard about that test. (My results probably wouldn't be that exciting, although there are a few lines that have not yet been thoroughly researched.) With this test, African American Lives seems to have destroyed the belief that blacks cannot find out where they were from. Granted, it's not perfect and doesn't make up for the fact that tracing specific individuals beyond a certain point is impossible, but I would think this is an exciting breakthrough.

Again, this was a wonderful program. Don't pass it up should it ever air again, or see if your library will be carrying the DVD, which according to Amazon ships on May 2nd.

* I've read that St. Louis, in an attempt to not fall behind Chicago, padded their 1880 totals. When it was discovered, the census was redone in the fall. Those researching ancestors in St. Louis have two sources of information and twice the work fun. The rivalry between the cities continues today and is primarily played out at Busch Stadium and Wrigley Field. The St. Louis Cardinals have won nine (9) World Series titles -- second, I believe, to the Yankee$ -- between 1926 and 1982, and have been National League champs sixteen (16) times, the last being in 2004. The Chicago Cubs haven't won the National League pennant since 1945 and haven't won a World Series since 1908. :)

[, ]