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!!

Ohio is looking for Rev War graves

I just got a link to an article this morning that I wanted to share here. The Ohio Genealogical Society is looking for the gravesites of Revolutionary War vets. Volunteers and members of the county chapters are walking cemeteries looking for those who served in the Rev War in order to document the names and locations for future reference. The article mentions that many graves that have been found, have no mention of their service and some are calling for them to be memorialized in some fashion.

I was excited to hear that they were planning a documented (and I hope published) collection of the names and locations because that would be a great reference for those seeking the resting sites of their ancestors. But I was also excited about the effort because the brother of one of my ancestors (another Bromagem, this site is becoming Bromagem central! LOL) was Rev War vet and I have long suspected he was buried in Ohio but just haven't had the time to try to find him. It was one of those things on the neverending "to-do" list. But now I feel like if I can't get around to it, he won't be lost for long now that the Ohio Genealogical Society has taken the initiative. I think it's a great thing, and how wonderful would it be if more states would join in.

So here's the link to the article, take a look.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Another strike out

So as some of you may know, my ProGen assignment for last month was to create a research plan for a brick wall problem. The problem I chose for the assignment was to find the parents (and siblings too, if possible) of Mary J. Braden Bromagen. I've spent so long working with the Bromagems over the past year or so, and still have small issues to work out, and was hesitant to completely step aside from that subject so choosing to look for the family of James Bromagem's wife seemed to be the right choice. Considering that I had absolutely nothing on her early life, prior to their marriage in Indiana in 1855, I thought it would be a fun subject to get into as well. Fun isn't really the word that I would choose at this point to describe the search.

So I got the research plan together and was really anxious to get started. I was going to continue gathering vital records on Mary's sons, particularly the death record for her eldest son, George, since she was still alive when he died and they had been living together not long before his death-she could potentially have been the informant on his death certificate and would therefore have provided first hand information regarding her maiden name and place and date of birth. However, things got sticky the day after my plan was finished. I received the death record for her daughter, Lillian, and it gave an entirely different maiden name for Mary, Hawkins. The informant was Mary's son-in-law and usually I wouldn't give much credit to information provided by an in-law of all people, but in this case I knew that Charles had a close enough relationship with Mary and dealt with her pension office affairs and would have known personal details of her life. So I thought there might be something to what he wrote on her daughter's death certificate. I entered Mary J. Hawkins into the search and sure enough I got a hit. In 1835 William Hawkins married Mary J. Braden in Harrison Co, IN. The name of the bride and the date of this marriage fit in perfectly with someone who could be related to my subject, possibly even her mother. So now I need to go back and redo a research plan that will include an investigation of this couple to find out if this is indeed a relation.

If it is Mary's mother though, why then would her maiden name not appear on her marriage certificate as Mary Hawkins? Could William Hawkins not be her father? Or was there a divorce and Mary was given her mother's maiden name? These are all premature questions of course. But they are things to keep in mind for the future. I've been scouring census records looking for Bradens with a daughter matching Mary's stats in the 1850 census, and while there are possibilities, none are in the target area of Randolph County, where Mary and James were married in 1855. I also checked the census records for 1840 and 1850 for Mary and William Hawkins' family in Harrison Co. It looks like William had died by 1840, or was at least out of the picture because Mary J. was on her own with a child in Harrison County in the 1840 census. Another thing to keep in mind.

I hit another snag in the road today though. After reading my newest NGS Magazine this morning, I was reminded that sometimes women returned to their parents home to give birth to their first child. The pension paperwork stated that their first child, Eliza, was born in Wells Co, IN in 1856 so I thought I would look for Bradens and Hawkins in Wells Co in the 1850 and 1860 census. I wasn't able to find any leads there though. I thought I had one, but when I followed it in 1860 it turned out not to be correct.

So for now, I just need to keep gathering records on the children and then get everything together and see what I have. Then I'll get a new plan together to investigate my leads. It's a little frustrating being in record limbo now though. I want to keep moving on but once again, the long distance aspect is getting in the way. Very frustrating!

Virginia Historical Society Event

In this month's Virginia Genealogical Society Newsletter there is an announcement for the Virginia Historical Society stating that there will be no admission charge on any day between June 6th and August 30th. Usually there is a $5 admission fee for adults, except on Sundays so this would be a great time to check it out if you haven't already. The Virginia Historical Society is located at 428 North Boulevard in Richmond, VA. They are open Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10am-5pm and on Sundays from 1pm-5pm only the galleries and shops are open.

Free Book Download and Maureen Taylor

In the new volume of the NGS Magazine (April-June 2009, v. 35 no. 2) there is an announcement about an offer made available by F + W Media. If you go to their website, and sign up for their e-newsletter you can receive a free download of Maureen Taylor's "Photo Detective" from Family Tree Magazine. Maureen Taylor is known as an expert on combining photography and genealogy so if you have an interest in finding out more about dating old family photos and how to find out who is in those old photos, you should check out the free download, as well as Maureen's website at and her blog at

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

New blog resource for those working TN, KY, and VA

I stumbled across a set of blogs last night that have some helpful information for those working with Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, research and even a bit of North Carolina too. The link is and it's one woman's genealogy site with separate blogs for each of the three states, as well as a blog on genealogical evidence. Clicking on the link will take you to the home page and if you look to the right side there are the links to get to the blogs. There are some interesting and helpful threads in each of them so it's definitely worth checking out, especially for those working in the states of interest.