Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Mission- Find ____ Rothenbaum!

Didn't I just post a big project coming up for next week? I can't help it, when I get on a roll I start thinking up all kinds of things to do and this next one is a doozy.

I'm going to attempt to find the ex-husband of my Great Grandmother, Elizabeth Taylor Ward. All I know about him is his surname (no given name yet), that he and Grandma Ward were married in New York around 1912-ish (no idea where in NY), that they had been living in the Adirondacks before moving out to Harvey, IL sometime prior to 1930 when she and my Grandma were found there in the census, that Rothenbaum had, at one point, been in the Army, and that Grandma Ward said she divorced him (considering that he was not shown living with her in the 1930 census and she was employed I'm guessing they were at least separated, if not divorced, by then). Just for an added challenge, I have not found them in the 1920 census so my time frame for most of the events is something like 10+ years.

Right off the bat, I'm thinking this is going to be my first foray into divorce records. Before I head that way though, I think I'm going to try and pinpoint when they might have come to IL. Bessie is shown as a renter in the 1930 census so no property purchase info is going to be found but tax information may be available. I haven't done much work with more recent events so I really need to find out what is available to help figure out a formal plan of attack. But tax and divorce records are really sticking out right now. Both records could give me a first name for Rothenbaum and that would be extremely helpful. Once I know that, I may be able to find info on him from Army records. So there are a few possibilities here. The first thing to do though, is work with their last known location, Harvey, IL (which is in Cook County), and find out what is available there.

More to come on this, hopefully soon.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Big project coming up

My next assignment for the NGS home course is to do a survey of holdings and genealogy related materials at a public library. I was hoping to be able to get this one done prior to Christmas but really, I don't know where my head was on that one. So, I'm going to start this project next week after school starts up again but I was looking over exactly what needs to be covered in the survey and it's can potentially be a great tool, as well as a timely one to compile.

Here's a brief rundown of SOME of the topics to cover:

Is there a local history/genea. room/collection?
Any published genealogies/family histories? If so, are references included? References to original records?
History of the town/county in which the library is located?
Genealogical periodicals?
Access to PERSI?
Early newspaper collection?
Manuscripts collection?
Equipment? (ie. photocopiers, microfilm and fiche readers, computers and their format)
Online databases? Subscriptions?

All references used and referred to should be cited and placed at the end of the survey in a bibliography.

I chose to survey a library about 15 minutes away from where I live, even though I have a library right next door just because I know the holdings of the closer library are pretty much non-existant. The library in Antioch, a little further, has their online catalog listing a bit more substance so I figured it would make for a better report for this project. But really, compiling library surveys for most, if not all, of the county library's would make for a great section in a locality guide (one of our previous assignments for the ProGen group). Something to keep in mind for the future.

Great Genea Gift

Now that Christmas is over and I have a little more time to get caught up on my email and blog reading, I came across some posts on one of the rootsweb genea lists about great genealogy related gifts that some received. I just had to share my own.

My husband, who generally steers clear of genealogy gifts, got me the 3 volume Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States, comp. by Robert Matchette. All I can say about it is WOW! Pretty much everything you want to know about the records holdings at NARA is included. The holdings are arranged by Record Group and the third volume is an index so if you do not know the RG number you can just look it up, go to the appropriate volume and page, and find not only descriptive info on the RG but also some info on the subgroups to find out where exactly within the RG your particular info may be found.

It's an extremely useful reference tool, if you don't have it you may want to look into taking the plunge. I think you'd be glad you did.

Ohio records on the web!

Thanks to Harold Henderson over at the Midwestern Microhistory blog (located here ) for the heads up about various Ohio records soon to be placed online. Included are probate and wills, citizenship papers, and birth and death records. Check out the site for more detailed info on the dates covered, locations, etc. Great news!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Great reference mentioned

If you have Indiana ancestors and/or research subjects and haven't looked at the Midwestern Microhistory blog, definitely hop on over to check out his recent post on a great reference. You can find it here

Monday, December 21, 2009

Wow, what a surprise!

I was catching up on my blog reading this afternoon and nearly fell out of my chair when I noticed Randy Seaver's "Best of the Genea-Blogs" list for Dec. 13-19. Guess who got listed! It's my first mention on any site really and I couldn't be more surprised or pleased. The post mentioned was the one I put up a few days ago about dealing with the 1900 census. I'm glad he thought it was important enough to place among the other great articles (including one by Craig Manson and another wonderful rundown of state census records).

You can find the full list at . Check out all of the blogs listed if you can, they're great!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Reminder- IGHR 2010 Registration Begins Jan 19th!

Hey all, I got my reminder email this morning to let me know that registration for the Institute for Genealogy and Historical Research begins at 9am CST on 19 January 2010. This will be the first year I'll be able to attend and I can't wait!

Here's the info page

courses for 2010

and courses planned for the future

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Working with the Federal Population Schedules

I must be a sucker for punishment because every once in a while I get the urge to revisit a problem that's been irking me for some time now; missing people/families in the federal population censuses. I have a few of these issues where either I just can't find them or they're simply not there but probably the most irksome is finding Mary J. Bromagem (abt. 1839-1908) in the 1900 Chicago census. I found her in the 1899 Chicago city directory and her 1908 death certificate confirms that she died there in 1908. Since the 1900 census can contain considerable personal information (month and year of birth, marriage information, info about children, etc.) it was extremely important to find her, and I did eventually find her with the help of a great census finding aid for the city of Chicago at This website describes enumeration district boundaries and has tons of great maps for the 1870-1930 to help you pinpoint your subject's residence and try to find them that way rather than going through the endless searches with no results.

I used this website to help me locate the family of one of Mary's daughters in the 1900 census by helping me figure out what ED they were living in. First I had to locate them in the city directory and get the address. Then I went to the website and into the 1900 pages. At the same time, I opened up another window and entered the general address into yahoo maps. Thanks to the site, I knew that Chicago has gone through some street name and numbering changes since 1900 so the address as it was, is no longer the same. But at least I could look at the current map and compare it to the ED maps to get the correct ED. Then all I had to do was return to, select the 1900 census for Cook County, Chicago and select the correct ED and go through those pages looking for the address. They were missing from the chronological page but showed up at the end of the enumeration district section. It was easy to see why I couldn't find them in my initial name, age, etc. searches

It looks like the enumerator was unable to get in touch with the family so he probably obtained basic information on the family from neighbors; in this case probably the neighborhood kids because the only one of the three "Stephens" family members shown with a first name is their son. He's shown as Roy-a nickname for his middle name, LeRoy.

So I was able to cross that missing family off my list. At the time I found this page though, I did not have the address and information for LeRoy's grandmother, Mary J. Bromagem, so a quick scan for the rest of the page didn't turn up anything deemed useful. Also, since this page was the list of those the enumerator couldn't talk to and the subjects were placed out of order and away from their neighbors, there didn't seem to be any other important info on the page. I recently came back to this census looking for Mary J., as I often do from time to time, and a family group about 9 households down from the "Stephens" family jumped out

The address for the "Birmish" family (as has the name), 5416 Laflin is the same address shown for Mary J. Bromagem and her son, George, in the 1899 city directory. Also, if you look at how the name is written, it looks like it could be have been written as Birmishon/Birmishom and enumerator notation "pg 3" was written over the last two letters of the name. While Birmish is a long way from Bromagem, Birmishon/Birmishom is much closer. Also, the Stevens family, Mary's daughter, son-in-law, and grandson, is shown at 5432 Laflin while the Birmishons are at 5416 Laflin; they're only a few houses away from each other. The final piece is that Mary "Birmish" is shown living with a son and from the 1899 city directory I know she was living with her son, George. I'm convinced I've found her in the 1900 census, unfortunately I don't get to take advantage of all of the great info shown for others in that year.

So it looks like the enumerator for their neighborhood was unable to reach both the Stevens' and the Bromagems in the 1900 census. But at least I found a great finding aid website and got some great experience in locating people in big cities with a few challenges thrown in for good measure. All in all, not a completely wasted exercise. It still irks me though that all that info was lost. Sometimes that's just the way things go with the census I guess.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Yikes, long time no talk-ProGen work and NGS Lesson 3

So after a prolonged illness and then a medical issue in the family, I finally have a few minutes to get caught up here. I've been trying to play catch up with my ProGen work, as well as my NGS home course work. November's ProGen assignment was to write up a business plan. The reading assignment was "Structuring a Business" (chapter 9 of Professional Genealogy) and then we looked at template of a business plan located at The template was part of a workshop created by the Small Business Administration and included a ton of helpful info on how to develop a business properly from the very beginning. Considering I am pretty clueless on the business side of things, I found this assignment, and the workshop, extremely helpful.

I was also working on Lesson 3 of the NGS home course which focused on contacting family members for information and utilizing queries. There were three parts: writing a letter, conducting an interview, and posting a query. One of the main tips I learned from this section was to remain focused in your queries, no matter what form they take. Once you choose to ask someone for information, stick with one subject rather than trying to ask them about every family member they may have met. I'm writing a letter to my maternal Great Uncle in the hopes that he might have some information to share for me on his father's family. He is one of my Grandpa's younger siblings, but he is also the last surviving member of that family so I would like to try and get some of his memories on paper. The interview will be with my Mom and the subject is my Great Grandmother, Elizabeth Taylor Ward (I've spoken about her in previous posts). The query will be posted on ancestry's community message board regarding the death date and possible burial site for Cassandra Bromagem (Lillian Bromagem's grandmother and my 4th Great Grandmother). Others have stated a death date for Cassandra, however when I was in the county she is believed to have been living in at the time of her death, no death info was found. So that's the plan for Lesson 3. I've gotten the first draft of the letter written, the interview is ready to go, and the query needs to be posted and then I'll send it all in and start working on Lesson 4.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Local Genealogical Society Workshop

I've been pretty sick over the past couple of weeks so I haven't been able to get as much done as I had hoped. Fortunately, I started feeling a little better over this past weekend and was able to attend my local genealogical society's annual workshop (put on by the Lake County, IL Genealogical Society). The keynote speaker was Elissa Scalise Powell, CG. Most of us who read the APG and TGF email lists know of her work primarily with PA research. Her lectures on Saturday were "Hiding Behind Their Skirts: Finding Women in Records", "Thinking Outside the Index: Online Search Techniques", "Sailing into the Sunset: Tips for Finding Your Ancestors on Passenger Lists" and "Rubik's Cube Genealogy: A New Twist on Your Old Data". I think the Rubik's Cube and the Passenger List lectures were probably my favorites of the day, although the "...Women in Records" lecture was also helpful to help get things in perspective for my own searches. All of the lectures included both general information and a bibliography to enable future research. Several of the sources listed in the various lecture bibliographies were new to me so I'll be getting some of those up on the link list soon. This was the first time I've seen Elissa speak and I hope to be able to attend other lectures in the future.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Family Traditions

I think everyone knows of at least one family tradition that's been passed down from generation to generation. A popular one is that "two brothers emigrated to America, one went North, one went South..." or something of that sort. With my family there really wasn't too much information passed down on earlier generations. There were no spoken traditions on where we came from, on either side, and no one spoke of those before then. Probably the closest thing I had growing up was the story my Grandpa told me about how he and his father and grandfather had been in a car in 1921 and they drove across the train tracks right as a speeding train was coming. My Grandpa, then about 4 years old, was in the backseat and got thrown through the windshield. His father, who had been driving, made it through the crash with only some minor scratches and bruises. His grandfather however (that would be Ira Gilkison for those who read about my search for a surviving photo of him), was severely injured and died at the hospital. I don't know how much of a family tradition it is, but it was information passed from one generation to another so I guess it applies.

So there wasn't much in the way of family traditions in my family. I would find out a little bit about why later on. But once my Mom and I started looking into the family history, it didn't take long for us to connect with some Stevens cousins who clued us in on that family's tradition. I think I may have gone over this one before, but I can't remember for sure so here it is again. As usual, it surrounds our alledged immigrant ancestor, Charles Thomas Stevens. The story, as recounted by one of his many grandchildren, is that Charles was born in Bristol, England around 1755. He was a mariner who sailed around the world "several times" and was a naturalized citizen of many countries. He came to America during the Revolution and participated in that rebellion, as well as the War of 1812. He spent time as a POW during both of those wars, first on a galleon and then in a POW prison in England (more specifically, in Bristol, England-the town of his birth). After being released from prison, he returned to America and settled in Dover, NH. The story ends by saying he was the last person buried under the Old North Church in Boston in 1843.

There's quite a bit in this little gem. I've really only scratched the surface on Charles but I have been able to find some facts within this rather grandiose tale. He is in fact buried at Old North and died in 1843 at the age of 88, though he was not the last man to be buried there. He also settled in Dover, NH at least from 1805 which is the earliest I've been able to find him as a grantor in the land indexes there. On that deed however, he was described as "of Dover" which implies that he had been living there prior to this transaction. So I haven't been able to establish exactly when he came to Dover yet. Keeping in mind the story that he was a POW for a time, there is always the possibility that that played a part in the break between records of residence. But there are really quite a few other possibilities to look into as well and quite a bit to investigate about his life too. Sounds like an interesting guy for sure though.

Working, working, working...

Hi all, I know things have been a little quiet this week. I got hit with a nasty virus or something earlier in the week that I couldn't shake until yesterday and then I had to play catch up with my ProGen assignment. This month we had to take the transcribed document that we worked up for last month's assignment and build a research plan for it. We also wrote our background resume, as if we were creating it for our BCG certification application. That was an interesting exercise for sure. I can definitely see where I'm lacking. I really need to get some article ideas on paper and try to get them out there. Yikes! Also this month, I've been working on Lesson 2 of the NGS Home Study Course. This lesson is called "Family Traditions and Family Records". The first assignment is to tell and then evaluate a family tradition. The second assignment is to make a list of family papers that you have been given by earlier generations and briefly tell who gave them to you, who had them before you, and what genealogical clues they contain.

And if being sick and working on two ProGen assignments and two NGS assignments wasn't enough, I've also been getting the brainstorming for my potential James Bromagem article on paper, finally. Seeing that you may be the only one in your ProGen group without published work really keeps you motivated!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

More Cemetery Desecration

I'm just wondering why we have to be worried about the resting places of our ancestors in this day and age. It seems like every week there is word of more cemetery desecration and it just makes me sick. With all of the scandal there has been in the Chicago area, with Burr Oak Cemetery employees selling plots several times over and dumping bodies, and possible missing loved ones at Mt Hope Cemetery in Chicago, and my own situation at Oak Woods with 3, possibly 4 people gone from their records with no idea on their whereabouts, getting a link to the following article this morning is just another example of the horrible treatment of cemeteries lately. This is from Wayne County, Indiana where my in-laws are from.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Surname Saturday/Saturday Night Genealogy Fun

We've got a new Saturday blogging theme and I thought I'd use it to shine a light on a couple of names that haven't gotten much airtime here yet. I couldn't decide between two people so I'll just briefly (as brief as I can that is, LOL) talk about them both.

The first is Simpson Gilkison. Unfortunately I only have a very basic knowledge of his life and what I do "know" comes from an unsourced paper from a cousin. The paper says that Simpson was born to John Gilkeson and Margaret Manley in September 1830 in Fleming County, KY. I was able to confirm that the family moved from Kentucky to Indiana in the 1830s. They were settled in Parke County by the 1840 Population Census enumeration and despite John's death there in 1854 (according to his tombstone and the opening of intestate procedures), the family remained in Parke County. Simpson married Susan Cole about 1856, probably in Parke County, and had something in the range of 10 children. Susan died in 1880 (again, according to the unsourced paper) and Simpson supposedly lived in Parke County until his death in

In terms of research, I've barely scratched the surface for Gilkison records. There are quite a few things to do on my list, including ordering records for several of his children in the hopes that their records will give me clues to details of his birth and perhaps confirmation of his death date and place. Preliminary searches turned up nothing in the limited church records that I have found as of yet, nor have I found a burial site and tombstone for him to help confirm his birth. No record of death has been found yet despite Parke County's taking records of death going back to 1882. Probate records and research into the availability of marriage records in the county, and the surrounding counties, still needs to be addressed. So there is a ton to do with Simpson and one of these days I'll have more than 24 hours in a day to get started.

The second subject for today's theme is Samadras Savery. Samadrus is another dark spot in my files because all I know of him, like Simpson Gilkison, is what I have been told. Unlike Simpson though, details of his life have been researched by several Savery ancestors and these same researchers have done a wonderful job with collateral lines which have been accepted to the Mayflower Society so, while this doesn't completely negate the possibility for errors, for now I feel pretty comfortable with their work. Unfortunately for the purposes of tonight's spotlight, the Savery files are with my Mom. So I'm going to have to wing it tonight.

Samadras was born in 1830 in Cotuit, Barnstable County, MA to George Savery and Catherine Baxter. Samadras would spend his entire life in Barnstable County, a fishing community on Cape Cod. He married Lydia Sturgis by 1856 and the couple would have at least 10 known children, probably more. On census enumerations, he appears as a mariner like most other Barnstable County men. He died there in December 1888. I've often wondered what the origins of his given name were. It seemed unusual to me the first time I heard it, but the Saverys were the very first line that my Mom and I started working on together when I was about 13 years old and I didn't know any 13 year olds named Samadras at the time. By now, I've spent a little more time with New England records and have seen the name more often, but I still don't know where it came from. It would be nice to find out one day.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Nothing like a perfect article to motivate you

After reading Rachal Mills Lennon's 2004 NGSQ article, "The Wives of Jonathan Turner...", for this month's NGSQ study group discussion I decided to get motivated. This article was smooth as silk. The format used made it easy to read, and easy to follow. The methodology was flawless and the conclusion, that even the impossible is sometimes possible as long as you expand your search to anything and anyone that could shed light on your subject, was infallible. After reading an article like that, it's hard not to get motivated about your own work.

So here's my idea: Ever since I first found my Bromagem Great Great Great Grandfather, James M. Bromagem, I always felt that his life would make a pretty good article. There are a few angles but the one that intrigued me was his occupation as a printer/newspaper published, especially after reading another NGSQ article about using one's occupation to help fill in the details of your subject's life and to help find him through the census years(see Hinchliff, "Job Davidson, Cooper in Baltimore, Maryland...:Using Occupation and Birthplace as Census Finding Aids" in NGSQ 94, June 2006, pgs 85-100). Now don't get excited, he wasn't successful; he didn't form any presses that are still in operation today and in fact, most of the presses he did start closed down within a year's time. But this is actually the part that appeals to me as far as being an article topic. Because of the relatively short lifespan of his endeavors, he spent the whole of his life on the move and determining where he could be during any given year was next to impossible. Until I discovered a published bibliography of Indiana newspapers that is. With that tool, I was able to match up his work sites with the births of his four children (whose birthdates were given by the Dr who delivered them in James' widows' pension file) and track his movements by a year, or two at the most, throughout the 1850s and a portion of the 1860s. Being able to track him that closely was something I never thought I'd be able to do when I first started researching him, and it was all due to the fact that he was an on-the-go newspaper man. He attempted to set up presses through the Eastern Indiana border counties and since he was poor, with no land, he didn't leave many other clues such as deed records and the lack of extant tax lists in some of the areas in which he lived made things harder and this is where the importance of occupation came in. Thank goodness for that!

I'm thinking of naming the potential article, "Where in the world is James M. Bromagem, of Ohio, Indiana, and Washington, D.C.?: Another Lesson in the Importance of Occupation as a Finding Aid." :) I'd like to think I could come up with something half as effective as Rachal's article but who knows. I've been too intimidated to try up until now so thanks to that article I've at least got the gumption to attempt it. Now I just need to get it all down on paper.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Taking some time to revisit some names

I am going to try to take a break from the Bromagems for while...yes, again. Some of you may remember what happened the last time I tried to do this. I ended up getting some records that brought me right back front and center to them. Since I'm having some down time with that branch, I thought it might be a good idea to go back and take some time to check out some of the other branches. I have a big list of names on the front page of all the names, or at least most of them, that I have been researching so I may as well chit chat about some of them.

The Gilkison side is my Dad's side of the family and one that he really wishes I would go back to. It's also one of the most challenging and has been the hardest for me to work on long distance. One issue involves the earliest proven generation, John Gilkison (b.abt 1801 KY d. 15 Sept 1854 IN) and Margaret Manley (b.abt 1799 KY 5 Mar 1872 IN). Both birthdates have been handed down by a cousin of my Dad's but she does not have the source written nor has she been able to find out where she got them from. So that's one problem. I have found confirmation of John Gilkison's death date and was lucky enough to find a photo of his gravestone online. So that's a good thing, however, the death of his wife is another shady point since I have not found an obit/death notice for her (not for lack of trying either) so who knows if she actually did die on the date given. Finding some confirmation of Margaret's death and finding out whether the birth dates found by our cousin are correct are on the list of things to do.

Another branch I've worked on are the McKeevers of Delaware Co and Philadelphia Co, PA. I think I've spoken about the McKeevers here in the past. I was focusing on the family of J.B. McKeever and his first wife, Elizabeth Saunders (his first wife's name is a fairly new development and I haven't had a chance to find anything out about her yet). They're a really interesting group and for a while things were just falling into place and I was able to take them back further than I first expected. There is still a ton that I need to do, mainly order a ton of FHL microfilm for church records and that's another reason why I've been putting off going back to work on this branch. I guess I'm saving it for a little extra money to use for ordering the film. Hopefully I'll be able to get back to work with this group again soon.

One branch that I have listed on the homepage are the Sargents. My Grandpa Stevens' middle name was Sargent in honor of his father's family and it's a line which I haven't spoken too much of here because the line has pretty much been covered by other researchers. My branch of Sargents were from the Kittery, Maine area; Hannah Sargent married Charles T. Stevens in 1834 in either Boston, MA or Portsmouth, NH. They had four children before her death in 1848. Charles married her younger sister, Sarah Augusta Sargent (b. 1834 d. 1915), in 1849 and the couple had something like nine more children before Charles died in 1887. Hannah and Sarah were the daughters of Henry Sargent (b. 1786 d. 1866) and Sally Caswell (b. 1794 d. 1855). Henry Sargent was a veteran of the War of 1812 and a distant Stevens cousin that I "met" through the genealogy message boards many years ago discovered that he had been a POW during his service. He returned to Maine and hero and I've found a few wonderful newspaper articles which gave a few characteristics of Henry and told some of his experiences. This same Stevens cousin did a wonderful job documenting her extensive research and the facts that I have gone back to check have been correct. Her work places the Sargents back to England in the 1500s and though I haven't worked my way back there yet to verify the info, it's been great reading (whether it's true or not).

That's probably enough for now. I'll look at a few other lines soon.

Friday, October 16, 2009


With all the talk this week on various blogs, I decided to check out the google news archives search function again. I've used it previously but didn't have many outstanding results; I didn't find anything that I was looking for, but found a few items of small interest so it wasn't a total loss. This week though, I had a few new names to the tree to search and I think that was the clincher that led me to the explanation of a family story that I never thought I would understand.

The backstory here is that my maternal Great Grandfather, Charles L. Stevens (son of Lillian Bromagem and Charles T Stevens), was born in Toronto, Canada in the 1880s. Were any of the Stevens' or Bromagems from Ontario, or even anywhere near Canada for that matter? Big fat negatory on that one. The only family word on the story was that he was born there because his parents had gone up to Toronto for a wedding and his mother gave birth prematurely. No one seemed to know whose wedding it was. Over the years though, I've found more and more evidence of Bromagems living briefly in Toronto during the time frame Charles was born so I began to think that the story must be true, although the wedding part still didn't make sense. I just figured his parents went up there to visit Mary J Bromagem, Lillian's mother, and gave birth to my Great Grandfather while they were there. But there was still something else. When I discovered the Van Wormer connection (Lillian's eldest sibling, Eliza/Lida, married Clemson Van Wormer and Charles Stevens' mother married Clemson's father, Matthew Van Wormer), I found that the Van Wormers were also living in Toronto around the time Charles L. was born there. Again, just another piece of evidence to put towards the theory that he was born there while his parents were visiting their families...

that theory got blown out of the water this week thanks to the google news archives search (keep in mind, the article is from 1887, my Great Grandfather was born in 1888in Canada).

Hmmmmmmmm, now I really don't think they were up there for a wedding :)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - A Satisfying Moment

The topic for tonight's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun is "A Satisfying Moment". It was described on Genea-Musings:

1) Tell us about one (or more) "Satisfying Genealogy Moments" from your family history and genealogy research. What was it, and how did it make you feel? You can make a Top Ten list if you want to!

2) Write your own blog post, or make a comment on this post, or make a comment on Facebook, and tell us about your "moment in time."

So a recent satisfying moment for me was my Eliza Bromagem=Lida Van Wormer discovery. I talked about it in a post back in July. You can see it here

The basic jist was that my Great Great Great Grandparents' eldest child, named Eliza according to a doctor's deposition included in a Civil War widow's pension, disappeared from the traceable records and I couldn't figure out what happened to her. So I moved on and started working on other lines in a related branch but as I was looking into the family, this name kept popping up, Lida Van Wormer. The more I knew about Lida the more coincidences I was finding between Lida and Eliza Bromagem, sharing the exact same birth date for instance. Eventually I became pretty sure that they were the same person but it wasn't until I got that first bit of evidence that I really got up out of my chair and danced around. What I got was a widow's pension application made out by Lida Van Wormer under the Civil War service of her husband, Clemson. On the application, Lida states that her maiden name was Bromagem and at the bottom, Mary J. Bromagem is listed as a witness to the application. Here it is

After I received the pension application, I picked up Lida's death certificate from the Cook County Clerk's Office and sure enough, on the certificate James and Mary J. (Braden) Bromagem are listed as her parents and again, her birth date and place match that of Eliza Bromagem. So even though no record of marriage existed with the Hamilton County, OH Probate Court, I was able to figure out that Eliza was Lida because of the combination of pension file documents from both James Bromagem and Clemson Van Wormer and Lida Van Wormer's death certificate. It was a happy day for sure!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Great new link from the Photo Detective

Maureen Taylor's Photo Detective website offered up a great new link that would be extremely helpful to anyone who has some of the Postcard photos in their collection. If you go to and scroll down a little bit, you'll see a table with the names of Postcard photo companies and their dates of operation so you can date those photos. I have one that someone put a date on but just to check it out, I looked it up in the table on the Playle site and it was right.

Here's my Postcard photo of my Great Grandparents, Charles L. Stevens and Helena (Sigmund) Stevens.

Someone wrote on the back that the photo was taken in 1910 and the postage part shows "Cyko" which, according to Playle's site, made Postcard photos from 1904 to the 1920s. So that fits in, though judging from Great Grandma Stevens' dress and hat, I'd definitely say it was taken during the earlier years. What a getup!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Research trip part 3: Moving on to IN

After the exhilaration of being able to go to the gravesite of one of the earlier Bromagem family members, and actually the first time I've been able to visit a Bromagem grave period, I moved on to Eastern Indiana. I started at the Randolph County Courthouse in Winchester, IN and had some success finding Bromagem land records there, specifically evidence of James Bromagem's (son of Elias whose stone is shown in the previous post) financial problems. I had heard from a cousin that there was such evidence but didn't have the copies myself. Now I do.

In Winchester I also ran into what could be a possible lead in the Mary J. Braden/Hawkins Bromagem maiden name issue. I found someone named J. Park Braden listed in the land deed index and the name stuck out. Mary J and James Bromagem's eldest child, Eliza/Lida Bromagem Van Wormer, had a son named J. Park Van Wormer. There was no indication in the deed that he was any relation to Mary J. but it's something I am going to try to pursue to see if maybe he could be a younger brother/cousin, anything related to her. J. Park isn't exactly the most common name around so I'll keep you posted on the status on that.

I also was able to take a look at marriage applications for Randolph County for my Mother-in-Law. Her Phillips family has Randolph County roots and I was able to take a look at all of the wonderful info included on these applications. Randolph County started recording applications for marriage licenses around 1882 and they are indexed and available through the County Clerk's Office. This date is not the standard for all counties so you must check with your particular location's Clerk's office for more info. There are two parts to each application, one page with the groom's info and one page with the bride's info. Included are the couple's parents names, locations, if the parents are living or deceased, whether this is the first marriage for each person, when and where they were born, and more. Obviously these are great resources when searching for marriages that occurred in Indiana during the latter part of the 19th c.-early part of the 20th c.

From Winchester I went to the Jay County courthouse, but didn't find too much there. I wish I had taken photos inside the courthouse though. It had a gorgeous stained glass ceiling surrounded by painted scenes from Indiana history. That was probably the best part of that courthouse :) That, and the pop machine that had cans for 50 cents.

I made a quick stop at the Wayne County Indiana courthouse to do some more searching for my Mother-in-Law's family and found a great deed where the grantor was the widow of the earliest generation of Turners in this country from her line. The widow was dividing up the property to her children after the death of her husband and their father and because of that, it included the names of several of their sons and daughters so we can compare that list of children with those that we already had. Very helpful indeed!

One thing I must say about Indiana courthouses is that they are expensive. At each of the three courthouses I visited copies were $1.00 per page which can get extremely costly. So be ready to take notes in the form of abstracts and/or transcripts if you have the time. Most also did not allow digital photographs to help combat the copying cost so that's not going to be an option either. Also, the original deed books are at the courthouses so you may want to come prepared with your own gloves to protect your hands, as well as the delicate pages. The Randolph County Recorder's office provided gloves, in both mens and ladies sizes, but I did not see them available at any other location that I visited.

So overall it was a great little trip. I got tons of copies and have some leads to work with too. I also learned a little bit more about some of the records available, the marriage applications were a new resource for me since my own Indiana relatives arrived before their use. So now I can start trying to follow up on some of these new leads, hopefully something will come of them!

part 2: Hillgrove Cemetery, Darke Co, OH

Here is the image of the cemetery that I got from google earth:

From the looks of the photo I figured that I could walk around and try to find Elias' stone fairly easily and I was right, thanks to google earth. This was my first real time using this application and I'm really glad I tried it. All I had to do was enter in the latitude and longitude coordinates, which I had gotten from, a website that I hadn't seen before. Between the two sites I was not only able to see how large the cemetery was, but I was also able to figure out how to get there prior to my leaving home, which was extremely helpful. What I wasn't mentally prepared for though, was the sad state of some of the stones. Specifically, the fact that there were stacks and stacks of stones that had broken, fallen, etc. just lying on top of old bases so you couldn't know where the stones were supposed to go. Some were worn blank but there were some that were still legible. One had only initials at the top of the stone. I started to get worried but soon found the stone, bent backwards a bit, but still in tact and legible. I plan to return periodically and hopefully I'll be able to get a plat map set up as well.

So here is a pic of the cemetery

And here is the stone

Back from the trip, part 1

So I'm back from my research trip to Eastern IN and Western OH and overall the trip was really successful.

The first stop was to the Indiana State Archives in Indianapolis to view the 1850 agricultural census for Eastern IN counties including Wells, Steuben, Randolph, and Jay counties. I was hoping to find some lead to the ever-lasting "Who was Mary J. Braden Bromagem" question. Is she a Braden or is she a Hawkins? Well, as far as the 1850 agricultural schedule is concerned, who knows. I didn't find anyone in that schedule that I hadn't already tracked through the regular 1850 population schedule. So that part was a bust, fortunately it didn't leave a cloud over the rest of the trip.

The next day I started hitting the archives and courthouses in Western Ohio. I have to say that the Greene County, OH Archives did not disappoint. I've spoken briefly about how great they are in the past, due to my experiences with their copy request system, and they are just as great in person. The microform machines are new and in good condition, and easy to read and use as well. The staff is knowledgeable and helpful, and they care about what you're working on too which is great because they may be able to steer you in a new direction based upon their knowledge of county records. Their holdings are also pretty great; they have land deeds, tax lists (though most have been lost/destroyed), some probate files, and much much more on microform. They also have just received the original clerk's deed books so if the microform isn't working for ya, you can just look at the original in-house. The other huge plus is they only charge 6 cents per page for copies! I was able to get a ton of copies, papers that probably aren't vital but are certainly nice to have, and that really means a lot to me. While most repositories are charging out the wazoo and still struggling to keep their doors open and maintain a useful and accessible resource, this little town has one of the best and most user friendly records repositories around. I can't say enough good things about them.

From there I moved up to Darke County, OH and headed straight for the Darke County Courthouse in Greenville. I was able to find a few Bromagem land deeds at the courthouse, but I don't think there was much of significance. I'm still going over the paperwork though so I may come back to this.

The real gem of the day was heading out of town toward Hillgrove Cemetery, the gravesite of Elias Bromagem, father of James Bromagem....

Monday, September 28, 2009

Starting the NGS Home Study Course

I received my first CD of the three part NGS Home Study Course over the weekend. The first lesson really takes things back to the very beginning covering definitions for sources, information, and evidence, a chart showing how all of those parts can lead to proof, two small self quizzes and a very good discussion of pedigree charts and family group sheets. The first assignment is to fill out one of each of those forms. There are about 6 lessons on this CD so it's going to take some time to go through it all but so far I feel like it's going to provide a solid foundation. Considering I started out in genealogy when I was about 12/13 with my mother and neither one of us had a clue about what we were doing, I felt like taking the course was necessary in order to continue to grow as a professional. Going back and re-learning the basics through this highly respected home class seemed like the best way to do so. So I may be a little more quiet lately, taking on the course on top of the NGSQ and ProGen groups, and a research trip this week, plus all of the normal home and post-move stuff is really going to keep me on my toes. Hopefully it won't effect things too much though. Thank goodness I'm a stay at home mom to a school-aged child. I can take advantage of the days a little better than if I worked outside the home. I really don't know how some of you do it all!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Planning my first research trip in a long time

I'm so excited I can hardly keep it together. Next week I get to head out to Indiana and Ohio for a short research trip. I'll only have 2-3 days and while making out my list of things I want to do it'll be hard to get it all done, impossible might be a better word, but when I get back I'll have a ton of info that I didn't have before which will be great.

My first stop is probably going to be the Indiana State Library. I'm probably making a huge mistake but I'm planning on looking at as much relevant microfilm that I can before they close on Wednesday. I probably should follow the rule about going wiht a focus but I feel like since I'm there, I need to try and get as much info as I can. No one piece of info I could gain from there is more important than another so I want to just pick someone to start with and work from there. I'll be spanning the state from Parke County, IN on the West side of the state to Jay and Randolph Counties on the East side and covering both my Gilkison family and my Bromagem side. The microfilm collection at the library is extensive from what I can gather through their website. They have deeds, wills and probate, newspapers, delayed birth records, marriage applications affidavits and records, DAR and WPA reports and all manner of other records for pretty much every county in the state and I plan to see as much of it as I can.

Depending on what I can get from the library, that will tell me what I need and where I need to go on the next day. Much of what the library has on microfilm is held at the county courthouses in Jay and Randolph Counties, but not everything, so I'm assuming visits there may be necessary as well. One of the main targets for these areas is to take a look at the movements of the Bromagems through these towns through land records, tax records if they are available. I already know that tax records for this time in Randolph County are non-existant. They were discarded a long time ago and from what I have gathered from the Randolph County Historical Society, there is no way to piece them back together. I can still check the deeds and see what other types of land records are available. I'm not sure if land was ever owned there or if a mortgage is a possibility so those are all things I can look into. In Jay County, I know that one of the Bromagems owned land so that's a start. I haven't been able to figure out the tax situation in Jay County though, so that may still be an option. Again though, a precise plan for those localities won't be possible until after I figure out what I may already have gotten from the library.

After I've covered Indiana, I need to focus on Darke and Greene counties in the Western portion of Ohio. The two earliest Bromagem generations settled in these two counties and I'd like to dig up whatever I can, especially through land records. I've found that land records, tax records especially, are not only difficult to find sometimes, but they are also pretty difficult to order from long-distance. The same can be said of court records, so all of these types of records are going to have to be searched while I'm there.

The finale to the research trip will be a trip to a cemetery to visit the grave of my Great Great Great Great Grandfather near Union City, IN. This will be the first Bromagem grave that I've been able to actually visit since Mary and Lillian's are missing from Oakwoods in Chicago where they're supposed to be, and James' is in D.C. which I can't get to right now. So I'm pretty excited about that. I was able to pull up the cemetery through google earth which was also pretty cool. I'll see if I can get the screenshot posted here. It's a pretty cool view.

So that's the plan for now. I'll be heading out on Wednesday next week and I'm sure I'll have lots to post about when I get back.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Genea-Musings Ahnentafel Roulette-Great Grandma Ward

One of my favorite genealogy blogs posted this "assignment" tonight and I thought I would post mine here. It's one of the perks of having my own blog, I can talk about whatever I want :)

Here are the directions:
1) How old is your father now, or how old would he be if he had lived? Divide this number by 4 and round the number off to a whole number. This is your "roulette number."

2) Find the person with that number in your ahnentafel. Who is that person?

3) Tell us three facts about that person with the "roulette number."

4) Write about it in a blog post on your own blog, in a Facebook note or comment, or as a comment on this blog post.

5) If you do not have a person's name for your "roulette number" then spin the wheel again - pick your mother, or yourself, a favorite aunt or cousin, or even your children!

The person with my roulette number is my Great Grandma, Elizabeth Taylor Ward. She's a pretty interesting lady but her story has been touched upon here before, at least I think it has. Three facts about her are:

1-Her life's story is actually what brought on my passion for genealogy and apparently she had that interest in family history as well. She applied to DAR in the 1950s and the story goes that she came home very upset at having her application denied due to some missing dates. So upset in fact that she threw her work into the fire. All of her work, all of her knowledge was lost and I've spent years trying to reconstruct it, with quite a bit of success. Her MA and PA roots are extensive and interesting. They include one of our family's links to the Mayflower, by which my mom was able to join the Mayflower Society. They also include our link to some really incredible Salem, MA families, including those linked to what is now known as the Witch House. Her PA ancestors go back to Philadelphia in the 1700s (probably farther, I just haven't gone back myself beyond that yet) and a Captain John McKeever, who offered aid to the American allies during the Revolution. Ironically, it is the info relating to those who were closest to her, her father and brother in particular, that I'm still missing. Information that she could easily have provided and info that would surely, and clearly, have been included on her DAR application paperwork. (This brings us to #2)

2-She had a brother, Raymond, who I have attempted to track in the hopes that he would have living family who could tell me what happened to their father after 1911/1912 when he kicked Elizabeth out of the house for being pregnant. At that time, they were living in NYC and George Ward was a pretty common name, as was his occupation (mechanical engineer, engineer, and other variants). Unfortunately I have lost track of Raymond after 1942 when he filled out WW2 draft paperwork from New Hampshire. Prior to that, he had been living in Nassau, NY so why and when he came to NH is unknown.

3-Grandma Ward was described by my mom as a fairly bitter woman (to put it nicely), I believe rightfully so considering the events of her life. Her mother died when she was about 13, she got pregnant 6 years later, her father kicked her out of the house, the father of her child married someone else and then died, she eventually married a man who turned out to be abusive, and then she had to run half-way across the country to get away from him. She and her daughter, my grandma, settled in the Chicago suburbs and remained there for the rest of their lives.

So I'd say that gives her a right to be bitter and generally not a cheery person. I never got to meet her, she died just a few years before I was born, but I do know that she was completely devoted to her daughter. I inherited an opera book from my grandma with an inscription from her mother on the inside front cover and it's really the only thing that I have to show what kind of person Grandma Ward really was. She wrote a few lines of Emily Dickinson to her daughter:

"She ate and drank the precious words
Her spirit grew robust,
She knew no more that she was poor,
Nor that her frame was dust.
She danced along the dingy days,
And this bequest of wings
Was but a book. What liberty
A loosened spirit brings.

To my Isa on her 19th birthday."

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

First Book Review...I don't have a clever name yet

Hey everyone, I have my first book review ready for you. I chose "Finding Indiana Ancestors" as the first review. It is a book published by the Indiana Historical Society Press in 2007, edited by M. Teresa Baer and Geneil Breeze.

The book is divided into six parts: Getting Started, Identifying Resources, Researching Records, Researching with Maps, Researching Ethnic Groups, and Providing Context and Accuracy. An Index and two appendices are also included. Each chapter is written by a different "expert". Think of Elizabeth Shown Mills' "Professional Genealogy", same format.

Some of my favorite sections are the discussion of how to date photographs using women's clothing and hair styles, a thorough list of what's available at the Indiana State Library, Archives, and Historical Society Library, and a great description of Indiana church records by Timothy Mohon which gives both a brief history of various denominations and some first steps toward finding the records, if they exist at all that is. The map section covers quite a bit of ground from mapping the Ohio River and county boundary changes to auto and Sanborn Insurance maps. Unfortunately, it's done in some pretty general terms.

Which brings me to the down side. While the book seems pretty ambitious by the scope of its Table of Contents, some chapters just don't offer the kind of detailed information that a state-specific guide should offer, at least in my opinion. For instance, the section on "Indiana's Pioneer Periods" is one page and half a paragraph (with the rest of the 2nd page showing a map of the counties and their establishment) about the Society of Indiana Pioneers and the development of their statutes. Not exactly what I was expecting. In truth, the subject has taken up entire books but still. I was looking for more info on Indiana's pioneer period than what was provided, way more info.

Another subject I found particulary lacking was that of migration. While the book does have sections on various ethnic groups in the state, they don't really cover where American emigrants came from. From my own experience, I have ancestors who came to IN from OH and before that, from VA, during what's known as the Pioneer Period, as they put it, but there is no section included which tells you that this was a popular westward movement, what trails may have been used, other areas of origin for those who migrated, other trails, the history of the trails, what areas of the state were particularly attractive to newcomers, etc. All of which would have been extremely helpful in a "Guide" for historical research. If you look up Northwest Territory in the index-which is what Indiana (as well as parts of IL and OH) was known as during the 18th century until it became the Indiana Territory-you won't find it. Surprising? I thought so considering the sub-title of the book is "...A Guide to Historical Research". Also, a section on popular laws and/or ordinances for genealogical/historical research would have been nice. I realize that a complete rundown from the time of the Northwest Territory to the present would be totally impossible and even irrelevant within this framework, but a section of commonly encountered issues such as whether Indiana honored the English Law of the age of majority, laws on slavery, ages for marriage, laws regarding the process of inheriting/obtaining land, etc. (to use very general terms) would have been a nice addition. Some laws are touched upon in the various sections to which they refer but for the sake of reference but I think the subject is important enough to the field that it deserved a chapter of its own.

Still, despite its faults, the book does offer enough guidance for the beginning genealogist and/or newbie to Indiana records and research to make it a recommended title. However, if you've been working with Indiana records for a while you may want to look elsewhere.

Sad day for Philadelphia...

Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter reported last night that Philadelphia will be closing all Free Libraries, as well as the central and regional libraries in the city. Here's the report with a statement posted on the Free Library's website

To read more, visit the Free Library's website here

Monday, September 14, 2009

NGSQ article group

I don't know how many of you are members of this online study group but I thought you may like to see what case studies we've been reading this year. All were available to NGS members through the paper format and also on their website Archives section. If you are not an NGS member (first off, look into becoming a member) then you might find hard copies of the Quarterly at your local library. If not, articles can be easily photocopied and mailed to you through your library's Interlibrary Loan program for a nominal fee, or even free at some libraries. So here's a partial list of what we've covered so far, as others are added I will also add them here for those who may be interested.

Birdie Monk Holsclaw, " From Hypothesis to Proof: Indirect Evidencefor the Maiden Identity of Elizabeth, Wife of George Hagenberger,"National Genealogical Society Quarterly 92 (June 2004): 96-104.

Brenda Dougall Merriman, "Validating Inferences from Records: JaneBaker and Thomas Burnett of Kingston, Ontario," National GenealogicalSociety Quarterly 94 (December 2006): 259-266.

**Helen Hinchliff, "Job Davidson, Cooper in Baltimore, Maryland, and HisLong Lost Descendants in Ohio and Indiana: Using Occupation andBirthplace as Census Finding Aids," National Genealogical SocietyQuarterly 94 (June 2006): 85-100.

Donn Devine, "The Common Law of England: A Key Resource for AmericanGenealogists," National Genealogical Society Quarterly 95 (September2007): 165-178.

Margaret J. Field, "From the Black Hills to the Berkshires: Lessons inUsing Indirect Evidence to Find the Ancestors of Albert Field,"National Genealogical Society Quarterly 91 (June 2003): 85-94.

Victor S. Dunn, "Social News as a Clue to Ancestry: Hester (neeRogers) Cunningham of Virginia and West Virginia," NationalGenealogical Society Quarterly 93 (September 2005): 165-176.

T. Mark James, "Abraham Ott of Orangeburg, South Carolina: Direct vs.Indirect Evidence," National Genealogical Society Quarterly 93 (June2005): 85-93.

Kathryn C. Torpey, "Assembling and Correlating Indirect Evidence toIdentify the Father of Susan Kennedy (1815-59) of Philadelphia,"National Genealogical Society Quarterly 92 (December 2004): 256-68.
[Harold Henderson gives a brief rundown of this article at his blog here]

**This one was probably my favorite case study of the year so far. The author used the subject's occupation as a means to find family members since it was one that was often passed down from generation to generation. A great article with some interesting sources in the footnotes too.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Finally Took the Plunge-APG

After waiting for nearly a year I finally joined APG this week. The Association of Professional Genealogists is an immensely important entity for those of us working towards building a career in the ever-growing genealogy field. A strict adherence to ethics which enforce the belief that a professional is constantly working towards further education and excellence is central to the group's core values and I'm glad I can finally feel comfortable to call myself a member.

My decision to put it off was primarily because I didn't feel like I was up to the task. Two years ago I made the decision to start looking into genealogy as a profession but up to that point I had been a hobbyist and knew absolutely nothing about the field beyond the realm of personal research. It took me almost another year to find out about BCG, APG, and all of the societies and educational resources out there and at the time I knew I was not ready to be listed in APG's extraordinary member list. I'm still a beginner to the business side of the field, but after spending some hard time refining research skills and getting a few pro bono jobs from friends and relatives I'm more anxious than ever to continue to grow and expand my experience with clients and building an actual business for myself. Now is a great time for me to join APG and start taking advantage of their wonderfully informative Quarterly and to get involved with the local chapter as well.

If you aren't an APG member yet, take some time to consider doing so. You must carve your own path and what seems to be working for me, may not be the right way for you. Some people do decide to join an organization like APG earlier on in their development, and you may be one of them. Whether you decide to join sooner or later isn't the real point here though, as long as you do join. Being able to read the articles and go to the chapter meetings is more than just a vital learning step, it's also a great way to feel proud of yourself for getting this far and for making the commitment to continue to grow as a professional. Take some time and consider joining. Maybe I'll see some of you at the next APG Roundtable....

Monday, September 7, 2009

Getting Ready for the First Book Review

Hey all, I received a book through Interlibrary Loan last week and have finally had a chance to start going through it a bit. The book is call Finding Indiana Ancestors: a Guide to Historical Research and it is a compilation of articles relating to successful genealogical research in the state. The articles appear to cover both broad topics, such as historical context in your research, as well as more specific topics, such as church and land records. I'm hoping to have a review put together either this week or next week.

I also have a second review lined up on a book called "Women and the Law of Property in Early America by Marylynn Salmon. Several people from the various study groups have mentioned this book in passing and it seems to be very well regarded as a book to add to your library reference shelf. So I'll be ordering that through my library's ILL this week and will let you all know how it goes.

Friday, September 4, 2009

New book by Maureen Taylor, the Photo Detective

I just read a blog entry on Maureen Taylor's website that she has a new book available through print-on-demand. It's called Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900" and you can order the book through If you have any of those orphan photos with no name and you'd love to be able to identify them, any of Maureen Taylor's books would be a great help and this one looks like it would be another great addition to the collection of photo identification aids.

Make that 4 missing gravesites

For those who skipped the last post, I've been trying to figure out what happened to some Bromagem gravesites. Despite having death certificates for four individuals, all with burial information shown, they do not appear in cemetery records when I call to confirm that they are there. I started to worry when I heard that Oakwoods cemetery in Chicago has been wrapped into the current Chicago-area cemetery task force investigations and called to confirm that Mary J Bromagem and her daughter, Lillian Bromagem Stevens, were in fact there. The cemetery office has no record of either of them and in fact, I was told that they have no one "with that [sur]name". Which made me even more nervous after I went to the County Clerk's office to obtain brother, George's death record which stated that he too was buried there. So that brought the count up to three missing burial sites. The other sibling, Eliza/Lida Bromagem Van Wormer, died in 1930, twenty years after the death of her last surviving sibling, Lillian, and was buried at a different cemetery, Fairmount, outside the city limits.

One of the ideas I had was that perhaps Lida's family, her children and grandchildren, may have moved the Bromagems to a cemetery to be with Lida which would explain why none of them remained at Oakwoods even though the death certificates said that was where they were. So I called Fairmount today and they do not have a Lida or Eliza Van Wormer in their records. Now the missing gravesites are up to four and the investigations at Oakwoods continue. I'm just wondering why Oakwoods doesn't have the Bromagems in their records, even if they were moved at a later date. A visit to the cemetery, with the documentation in hand, is becoming even more necessary with the current investigations.

I thought the death certificates for George and Lida would help me figure out what was going on, but they ended up just widening the problem to surround two more people.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Finally back...but there are problems in Chicagoland cemeteries

Well, after a couple of weeks and a ton of headaches, I've finally made it back home to IL. I've got a lot on my IL to-do list and can't wait to get started. I was actually getting ready to start #1 on that list last week and that's where I ran into some very discouraging, and potentially disastrous, information.

The very first thing I wanted to do once I got to IL was visit the gravesites of the James Bromagem family, as well as a couple of Stevens graves which are at a cemetery not far from that of the Bromagems. The Bromagems, Lillian Bromagem Stevens and Mary J. Braden/Hawkins Bromagem, are buried at Oakwoods Cemetery on the South side of Chicago, not far from where the Bromagems and Stevens family of the turn of the 20th century were living. Oakwoods is clearly printed on each of their death certificates, both of which were signed by the Undertaker. So I figured my first step was to call over to Oakwoods to confirm that they are still there. To my surprise, Oakwoods does not have any record of either of the two women, nor of anyone with the Bromagem/Brumagem (and other variations) surname. Ok, I have an idea as to a possible reason but I'll get back to that in a moment. Coincidentally, on the same day that I was making my phone call to Oakwoods I was stunned to read a news station ticker which read that investigations of misdoings are beginning at Oakwoods Cemetery and Mount Hope Cemetery. They are being investigated for situations reminiscent of the scandal at nearby Burr Oak Cemetery in a Southern Chicago suburb.

Burr Oak Cemetery is being investigated for double and triple selling cemetery plots. The story is that employees were targeting older, not maintained or visited plots, and reselling those plots sometimes two and three times over. In many cases, the bodies and bones of those who had been buried there initially were tossed into fields or hidden and scattered in out-of-the-way spots. Other gravesites just had bodies buried on top of one another until caskets would be unearthed by inclement weather or just by time alone. In the wake of that investigation, the state has created a Cemetery Task Force which will be responsible for investigating all reports of misdealings at cemeteries. Oakwoods and Mount Hope have now received reports against them and are to be investigated.

Finding out that Lillian and her mother, Mary, are not in the Oakwoods computer didn't initially scare me too much because it is possible that they could have been moved by the family later on. Lillian's husband, Charles, and their son, Charles L., were both buried at Mount Hope in 1926 and 1968 respectively. So it's possible that Lillian and Mary could have been moved there to be with the rest of the family at a later date. I was searching for a phone number for Mount Hope when I saw that news that they too are being investigated. So now I'm frantic about getting to the bottom of this. I'm planning to head over to the County Clerk's satellite office tomorrow to get the death certificates for the rest of Mary's children, Lillian's brothers and sister, and check the burial site for them all for other possibilities. The Oakwoods employee I spoke to, again, prior to my finding out about the pending investigations, suggested coming to the cemetery in person with the certificates so I'm hoping to be able to do that this week or next week at the latest. I'm really hoping I can sort through this and find out that it was just something simple and that their sites aren't involved in the scandals surrounding these cemeteries. Fingers crossed guys!

Monday, August 10, 2009

May be away a while

Hey all, just a heads up that things may be quiet on my end for a while. I'm moving next week so we're going to be busy getting packed up and ready to go this week. I should be settled in the new place by the end of next week however, I do not have an internet provider set up yet so I'm not sure when I'll be able to get back on to the computer after the end of this week. Hopefully soon. Next time I write I'll be in IL, my home state. Finally a chance to work with IL records in person rather than by snail mail. I'll have to start learning about a new location all over again but it's going to be fun. I'm especially looking forward to being able to get to the Newberry Library again. That would make a good post for the blog too!

Monday, August 3, 2009

New Website

Thanks to Creative Gene I found a great site today called GenDisasters. You can search for disasters that happened at a particular time and place to see what kinds of accidents, tragedies, weather conditions, etc. your ancestors may have experienced. They may even have played an active part. Take a look, it's a really interesting site.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Don't forget the magazines!

I was getting ready to head off to my son's swim class this morning and wanted to print out some NGSQ articles to read during the 50 minutes class. I started thinking that through the NGSQ article study group, I've probably managed to get through most of the articles that are available online and remembered that the NGS also produced the NGS Newsmagazine. The Newsmagazine also has online editions available to print so I started wading through them. There are some really great articles included and I realized that I may not be the only one who forgets about these mags. Like every other NGS member, I wait anxiously for my Quarterly to arrive and when the newsmag comes, it's like a bonus. I read them both cover to cover and put them aside. Sometimes the NGSQ articles come up on list discussions whereas the newsmag really gets shoved off the radar. It's a bad habit that I plan to reverse. The NGS Newsmagazine articles I printed out this morning were from the Oct/Nov/Dec 2005 edition and included:

"Homesteading in America" by Roberta King; lots of great info on the developments leading up to and resulting in the Homestead Act of 1862 and the legislation and amendments that followed

"Give Me Land-Using the BLM Records" by Barbara Schenck; information regarding Federal Land Patents, Tract Books, and other sources for patent and deed info (including a great bibliography of sources used)

"Deed Books-More than Land Descriptions" by Linda Woodward Geiger, CGRS, CGL; this most imformative article gives a bulleted list right on the first page of all the things you can learn from deeds and then goes into the strategies for using them and how to extract all of that info (there is also a great list of sources at the end of this one too)

The NGS website allows online access to the NGS Newsmagazine from 2005 to the present through the member's only section of the website.

NEHGS also prints a newsmagazine, called New England Ancestors. NEHGS members can view the table of contents for the editions published in 2000. For issues from 2004 to the present, members can view the full articles and contents.

So the rule of the day is don't neglect those genealogy newsmags in favor of only the journals. While the journals may provide the meaty case studies you crave for educational development, the mags may have the source and the history behind those subjects. Don't throw them aside, use them together.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Good list of helpful sites

Check out these lists for a bunch of helpful sites. Some you've probably heard of, others may be new.

Women in the news

A good link to an article reminding us to look for women listed in all the pages of the newspaper, besides just the obits, showed up on Eastman's site this morning. You can find the article here

I've found women listed in relation to church activities a few times and it really helps considering you may not know what church/denomination to which they belonged. So hearing about how someone was holding a tea for the Ladies Aid Association for a particular Methodist Church can be a good thing to know. Plus, it could give you a clue about where they lived since you could probably guess that if they attended that particular church, they must live close enough to be able to get there. Plus you have marriage announcements that could give maiden names and even engagement announcements, especially later on. So it's a good tip that I think some may overlook in favor of just obits when there is a lot more that can be found in the other pages of the paper. Definitely a good article for jogging the memory. There are also some good links to newspaper projects in a few states.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

So much for a break in topics...don't forget that extended family!

Yeah, a break from the Bromagems isn't going to happen. I got an email today with scans from a Civil War pension that a wonderful genealogist offered to get for me last week and I couldn't be happier. Eliza Bromagem, Mary J. Braden Bromagem and James Bromagem's eldest child and Lillian Bromagem Stevens' sister, has been found. By an entirely different name.

The last place I had tracked Eliza last year was in Ohio in 1870 with her family. She is not found with them in the Cincinnati city directories I've checked for the 1880s nor the 1880 census and considering her age, I figured that the most logical thing was that she got married. Either that, or she died of some unknown cause. I made inquiries about her marriage in Cincinnati but nothing was found so I put it aside for another day.

On a completely unrelated topic, my Mom asked me to figure something else out. When she was growing up, she remembered people named Van Wormer always showing up to the family functions and visiting her Grandfather. Apparently he had told her that they were related in some way but never explained it so no one who is alive now knows who these people were. So I started backtracking and pretty quickly found this woman who kept popping up, Lida Van Wormer. As it turns out, she was the grandmother of one of the Van Wormers that my Mom remembered. But there was something else. Her age and place of birth, and the fact that she couldn't be tracked beyond 1880 was a little strange but then I found out that her husband was the grandson of my Great Great Great Grandmother's 2nd husband and that the two marriages fell within a few years of each other. So this set the Van Wormers up to be family associates and explained why wherever there were Stevens and Bromagem family members, there were Van Wormers. Lida's marriage also fell right in the same time frame and place that I lost track of Eliza Bromagem. Could they be the same person?

Fortunately, Clemson Van Wormer, Lida's husband, was in the Civil War and a widow's pension had been filed. Inside the file was the proof of marriage stating that Lida Van Wormer was born Lida Bromagem and she and Clemson were married in 1872 in Hamilton County (the county that Cincinnati is in although marriage records for the city are apparently separate from those in the rest of Hamilton County which is probably why no marriage record had been previously found).

Lida Van Wormer died in Chicago in 1930. She lived there near her mother, Mary Braden Bromagem, who died there in 1907, and her siblings who all died there, and she raised her own family there. Those children and grandchildren of Lida Bromagem Van Wormer were the ones who grew up with my Mom and her brothers and none of them had any idea that they were the family of their Great Grandmother's Bromagem sister. Now they know but unfortunately they do not know what happened to the Van Wormer's they knew. Presumably the older members, Lida's grandchildren, have died but it's possible that their children may still be around in the area. Good thing I'm moving to IL in 3 weeks! :)

And even more importantly than finding Eliza/Lida is that fact that Lida's death certificate is available from the Cook Co, IL clerk and should (keep your fingers crossed everyone!) give me another piece of paper with mention of Mary J Braden's maiden name. Considering the twists and turns I've been having with that lately, it will be interesting to see what, if anything, that record will have to add.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Taking a break from Bromagems

After the Genealogy Trails fiasco, which I still haven't decided on one way or another, I thought I might need to take a step back and revisit some other research problems I've put on the backburner. There are two main problems, three if you want to count one problem that extends to the son of the subject, and they all pretty much deal with gaps in location from one point in time to another.

The first issue is what happened to George Ward. He appears in Newark with his wife and two children in the 1900 census and I can't seem to find him in the 1910 census, although the death certificate for his wife, Elizabeth B./Bessie, is from Manhattan in 1905. No obituary or death notice for her has been found. I have started to look at the George Wards listed in the 1905 NYC city directory and the 1905 NY census but have fallen into the common problem of having quite a few men with the same name, and even some of those men being listed with the same occupation that George had in the 1900 census, mechanical engineer. So it looks like I pretty much have to just go through the list and track all of them over time to see if any of them could be the George I'm looking for. Then I need to track him and find out where he is hiding within the 1910 census. I'm pretty sure that he is not living with either of his children in that year because I believe I have found his son, and possibly his daughter although I'm not 100% sure on that one yet. I have found his son, Raymond in parts of NY and later in NH through military draft cards, but lose track of him after about 1943. I have a feeling that he died somewhere in NH but don't have a date range so it's hard to say for sure. Pretty much though, the problem of what happened to George seems to be a matter of starting with what I know and working from there. Don't they all start that way? It's going to take some time though.

The other problem is similar, but the starting point isn't quite as clear. I have two sisters right around the turn of the century. One is an unmarried woman and the other is a widow, and coincidentally the mother of George Ward from the above problem.

Barnstable County, MA is one of those wonderful places that has digitized images of deeds and from that I was able to find a deed transferring land upon the death of the unmarried sister, Isabella Hopkins, to the widow, Margaret Hopkins Ward. The deed states that Isabella was "of Washington, D.C." and that she died in 1904. I've been trying to place Isabella at the time of the 1900 census but she does not appear in the city directory and I haven't been able to find her in the census for that year. The closest I've come is locating her in the 1891 Washington, D.C. city directory. No obit or death notice has been found for her. Here's where it really gets interesting though. I haven't been able to find Margaret in the 1900 census either, and I have her death information which states that she died in NY in 1907. So in theory, both women should show up in the 1900 census and yet neither of them have been found yet. So that's my other issue, where are Isabella Hopkins and Margaret Hopkins Ward? I thought of the possibility of Isabella marrying later in life (she would have been about 61 y/o in 1900) but the transfer was written up after her death and she was shown by her maiden name, so unless she was married and divorced between 1892 and 1903 I don't really think that's a possibility. And I don't have much of an idea of what to do about Margaret. She happened to die in a resort town, Clifton Springs, NY, which was known for the healing effect of its hot springs. So I don't think that was where she was living. Finding a will or administration for her would be ideal, not only could it clear up some things about where she had been living but it could also help me figure out where her son, George was at the time of her death. But without knowing where she was living, I don't know where that file could be.

And those are the two issues that I'm going to take another stab at here in the near future so I'll probably be doing a bit of chatting here about it. First step though, I'm going to get started on the timelines for both and see if I get any bright ideas from that. Wish me luck!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Monongalia Co, WV here I come...maybe

Ok so apparently I have a tendency to run with things a little too far and I think I did it again. Over the past few days I've been looking on the internet for info about the settlement of what is now Monongalia Co., WV looking for those ever-present Bromagems and found that the Genealogy Trails website for that county needed a host. So, in my enthusiasm, I thought I'd ask about what was required and all the details about hosting a county. Well I guess the person who responded was pretty excited about my query because the next thing I knew, I was working on a sample page to submit to her for review prior to the site being transferred to me.

Now what in the world was I thinking! I have my ProGen and NGSQ groups, a 6 year old son who is out of school for the summer, this blog, and of course the biggie is that I'm moving in a month. How in the world am I going to find the time to work on a Genealogy Trails site, let alone one for a state that I do not live in. True, I'm accumulating a nice collection of resources thanks to googlebooks, interlibrary loan, and the FHC films (if they would ever get here) and I've been working on the Monongalia Co locality guide that may be my ProGen assignment for this month but really. I must be so sleep-deprived an stressed out that my brain isn't working anymore.

In any case, the old site is posted at and I'm not planning on changing too much, other than the brief historical intro on the home page. Some of that info is kindof sketchy and could be done a little better, at least I think so. If I decide to take on the site, I can't imagine it would take very long for the volunteers to get my page uploaded. I'm sure you'll be hearing me rant and rave about it if I take it, LOL!

James Bromagem Gravestone

Here's the photo of James' headstone at St E's from the kind volunteer at Find a Grave.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Don't forget about Find a Grave!!!

Ok, so I admit it. In my efforts to be a serious genealogist and to conduct my research in a professional manner, over the past several months especially, I've neglected quite a few websites in favor of tracking down original documentation and basically just first hand facts. I've been a record snob, I admit it. But the other day I was scouring the web for info, pretty much like any other day, and thought it would be another good opportunity to try to find some info about the files of St Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington, D.C. I don't remember if I've posted about this or not but as a sum up, I have an ancestor whose CW pension file states that he was transferred to St E's from a soldier's hospital in Dayton, OH and that he died soon after arriving. The file did not contain burial info so I wasn't sure what had happened to him after his death. A search with a NARA archivist did not turn up any further info and after reading an article that mentioned that St E's was notorious for burying patients on their grounds in mass graves and/or with no headstones or markers or even paperwork telling who was buried where, I was worried.

So I'm thinking of sites that may be helpful to the search and remembered Find a Grave. As it turns out, there is an amazing retired military vet who has gone to military cemeteries and uploaded the names from all of the graves that he has found, including St E's. James was included along with a photo. I can't tell you how happy I was to see that he had his own grave and headstone, that he wasn't in some nameless field somewhere. He's been found and I couldn't be happier. I sent off an email to the man to ask if I could post his photo here but haven't received permission yet, but if he will allow me, I'm going to post it here also. It seems appropriate that his stone can be seen by descendants and cousins and be with photos of other family members too.

So I'm going to say it, thank goodness for Find a Grave and all of the kind people who take the time to document the resting places of all of these people.

Do you use iTunes?

I was reading my NEHGS e-newsletter this morning and came across a great posting about iTunes. Apparently colleges and universities, including Oxford and Stanford, are posting individual podcasts and even entire courses with syllabus material on iTunes for download onto your iPod and iPhone. My husband just bought an iPhone in June and is always checking out iTunes for new apps so I'm going to have to take a look for myself at what is available.

Can you imagine how great it would be in places like Samford and BYU put some of their genealogy classes on iTunes? While it is possible to enroll in BYU distance classes, I think having them on your iPod or iPhone would make it even more accessible and you could go at your own pace. True, you wouldn't get the professional feedback that you would from being enrolled in the classes, but there is value in following along on your own. And when you need feedback on your coursework, you might just lean on your group members from ProGen or NGSQ or even the TGF list for feedback. But for now, it looks like genealogy classes are a little too specific in scope for iTunes. Still, taking a social history course from a Stanford or Oxford professor on your iPod or iPhone sound pretty cool to me.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Watch out for those false leads-the Mary J. saga continues

So I thought I had made some headway today in the continuing tale of finding Mary J Braden/Hawkins Bromagem's family. Unfortunately it turned into a cautionary tale of checking all of your leads thoroughly before jumping to conclusions. So for those of you who may think that suspicion is sufficient evidence for making those next generation connections, read on.

I was checking googlebooks for really anything that was of interest and came across the old faithful, the "History of Jay County, Indiana" book that I had seen a few interesting excerpts from in the past. This time though, one of the entries took on new meaning when I saw that the father of Mary J.'s husband had sold property in Jay Co. in 1860 to a B.W. Hawkins. Knowing that I was looking for Hawkins as well as Bradens in the counties surrounding Randolph Co., IN, of which Jay is one, I went straightaway to and searched the 1860 census for Hawkins in Jay county. B.W. showed up as Benjamin W. Hawkins and he and his wife, Caroline, had several children all aged appropriately to be siblings for my Mary J. So I tracked them back to 1850 and there they were again except this time they had another daughter, a Mary J., born abt 1839/1840. The exact age that my Mary J. would have been.

So this was looking like a great lead. I automatically started scouring googlebooks and yahoo for more on Benjamin W. Hawkins and came up with a great deal. Apparently he was from an OH and IN pioneering family with a few Rev War vets in his lineage, according to a DAR lineage book from the 1890s. He held several offices in Jay Co. during the 1850s and 1860s including County Clerk and Sheriff and his mother's homestead was a stop on the Underground Railroad. The whole family, including Benjamin, were active abolitionists and guided several groups of runaway slaves to freedom. They were a really exciting family to read about and even more exciting was finding additional sources which named a daughter for him as Mary J. Hawkins. But none said what happened to her. She appears with her family in 1850 and is gone by 1860. Did she die, or get married? Was she staying with a relative elsewhere? My Mary J got married in 1855 so finding out what happened to Benjamin's daughter, Mary J. was essential.

Unfortunately I ran into a speedbump when I found a biography for Benjamin which stated that Mary had died by the time of the publication in the 1880s. Knowing that 19th c. compiled genealogies aren't exactly the most reliable things in the world I kept looking for more. This bio stated that all of the Hawkins family had been buried in the Hawkins Family Cemetery on the land of the old Homestead in Jay Co. So I thought I'd try to find out if those graves have been documented yet. Sure enough, someone on Find a Grave had uploaded the names of 30 people buried there. Going down the list I was hoping there wouldn't be a Mary J. since this would help the case that maybe Benjamin's daughter was the Mary J I was looking for. There it was, Mary J. Hawkins, b. 1839 IN d. 1860 IN buried in the Hawkins Family Cemetery. This was not my Mary J.

I say this is a cautionary tale because it pretty much showed all the signs of being a great lead. The time, the place, the name, the age, even a connection to her future husband's father all worked together to form a great case. Even the population of the county according to the histories and the gazeteers, all pointed to this being the one I had been looking for. If I hadn't continued searching for proof though, I would have made an incorrect connection and linked back to a family that wasn't actually related. It's a big deal so I'm glad I didn't just accept the evidence at face value. Whew! I'm relieved about that, but now I'm back to waiting for the other records to arrive and going back to the drawing board again.

Be careful out there, those twists and turns can be rough!

1798 Tax List

I was doing some reading on tracking 18th century ancestors this afternoon and came across some interesting info on the NARA website. Did you know that Congress was preparing for a possible war in 1798? And did you know that in order to fund the war they enacted a $2 million tax? Well they did and if you have an ancestor who was living in CT, GA, MD, MA (and ME too since that was part of MA at the time), NH, NJ, NY, NC, PA, RI, TN, or VA at the time you're in luck. Those lists, or at least partial lists, exist. Go here to find out where the list you need might be held

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Good tip for Indiana researchers-1850 census

I've been trying to locate my Mary J. Braden/Hawkins in Indiana in the 1850 census through for a couple of months. The result has been kindof mixed in that I'm finding some possibles, but none who were living in the target areas. Well I have been reading up on Indiana genealogy and general background info for more clues and places to look for possible family members, and came across an interesting tip regarding the 1850 census. Apparently, Indiana was experiencing some horrible weather and the enumerators couldn't get to areas that had washed out roads or unpassable trails which accounts for several family groups not showing up on the census for that year. To combat this, if the missing families were farming families you should be able to find them on the 1850 agricultural schedule since this enumeration was taken at a different time. The agricultural schedule gives the name of the farm owner, the number of acres owned, and other info regarding the equipment and livestock, etc. This is not the end all be all for finding your ancestors in 1850, however. The 1850 agricultural schedule does not include farms that produced less than $100 over a year's time. So if you're looking for a poor farming family in IN in that year who doesn't appear in the population census, you're likely not going to find them in the agricultural schedule either, although in most cases it may be worth checking anyway just to be sure.

You can find the 1850 agricultural schedule, as well as those for 1860-1880, at the Indiana State Archives.

Happy Hunting!!