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.