Friday, December 31, 2010


I'm sending a great big thank you to and all of their indexing volunteers for getting the 1905 New York state census indexed and placed on their website. Last night I was able to find my Great Grandma Ward with her parents and her brother living in Manhattan thanks to the index. I've searched city directories and the 1910 federal enumeration with no luck; George Ward is just too common of a name and I was never sure who was who. Thanks to the index and being able to find them in the 1905 state enumeration, I now have an address to work with to help sort the same-namers out.

The state census for 1905 New York does not provide a heck of a lot of info, but can be helpful just for the sake of being able to locate people, at it is in my case. The house number and street are given, as well as the name of the head of household and the relationships of those living with him. Age, gender, race, place of birth (however this is only given as country of birth, states are not given on the section that I was working with so only "US" is given as POB), whether citizen or alien, and occupation are also given for all in the household. So it's a pretty standard enumeration but since it falls in between two federal enumerations, it can really help you out when you're trying to locate people and not succeeding with the federal censuses and city directories.

It's also nice to have one more enumeration with the whole family together before things start to get dicey. My Great Grandma's mother dies in October of 1905, just a few months after the June enumeration date of the state census, and none of the other members of the family have been found in the 1910 census. In fact, my Great Grandma goes missing until 1930 when she turns up in IL with my Grandma, who is aged 18. So this 1905 enumeration is now the last appearance for most of this family group until I can manage to track them down elsewhere. It looks like things really changed after the Mother in the family died because they seem to just disappear. Getting this address is a great start though because now I can sort through the city directories again to try to see if there was a Ward living at the address from the 1905 enumeration. I'm wondering if perhaps after the death of his wife, the family may have moved from Manhattan though since none of them seem to show up in the 1910 census. I may have found Raymond living as a boarder in one of the other boroughs, but I'm not completely positive that it's the same person. So for now it's a mystery. But I'm very happy to have been given the use of the index to locate them in the first place so that my research can continue.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

My gene-presents from Christmas

My Christmas wish list this year was full of gene-books and boy did Santa deliver. Well, not so much Santa as my family but they did a great job. I got several books that I've wanted for quite some time and just haven't been able to spring for. Here's what I got:

The Great Wagon Road by Parke Rouse

Lord Dunmore's Little War of 1774 by Warren Skidmore

North Carolina Research by Helen Leary (If you haven't checked this out yet, you really need to do so. It's not just an NC book. The info it contains holds true for just about every locality so it really works as a general reference and information manual rather than just a locality specific reference.)

Old Title Deeds by N.W. Alcock

Monongalia County (Virginia) publick claims by Janice Abercrombie

Map Guide to American Migration Routes by William Dollarhide

Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Censuses by William Thorndale

Whew! That's a long list and I'm so so so happy to be able to dive into these titles whenever I want now. Some of them, like the books by Thorndale and Dollarhide and Leary and Skidmore, have been on my wishlist for a looooong time. So now it's time to cross them off the list and start looking for new ones! :)

Still working but I can almost see the light

Hi all, just a quick post to say that I haven't gotten lost in all the paperwork. I have successfully completed all but one assignment for the NGS HSC Home Course and just need to get my notes for the final assignment out of the notebook and typed into the computer before turning it in. The holidays kindof threw a wrench in my plans since I had a ton of things to do, like everyone else I'm sure, school has been out for 2 weeks, and some car troubles were thrown in for good measure (ugh!) but I am nearly finished now. The final assignment for the course is to write a biography for one of your ancestors. The most difficult part of the assignment was choosing who to write about. Even with most of my assignment written down in my notebook, I'm still wavering of maybe switching subjects and starting over with someone else. That's pretty much why I haven't gotten the thing turned in yet; I can't decide who to write about. But with IGHR registration looming in the background (it begins on Jan. 18th) I don't have a lot of time to dilly dally. The NGS HSC course, graded option, is a requirement for getting in to the Advanced Methodology course at IGHR at Samford University taught by Elizabeth Shown Mills and it needs to be completed before I can attempt to register for the IGHR course. So it's time to put the pedal to the metal and get this thing done.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Are you keeping a research log?

After sitting in on the ProGen 11 chats this week (I'm the coordinator for this group and it was their first week of official assignment discussion chats), the topic of research logs came back up. This is sort of a hot-button issue for most people because it seems like folks are either meticulous about it or it's something they strive to get better about. One of the blogs I follow,, also brought up the topic of keeping track of your searches this week and the post is one that I really wanted to share here. Hopefully it will give everyone some inspiration!

Thursday, December 2, 2010


I haven't disappeared off the face of the earth, yet that is. I'm finishing up the NGS Home Study Course this week...hopefully. I have 2 1/2 assignments left to finish up and have the notes ready to be typed up for one of those. So I'm almost there. Whew! I'll be back as soon as I'm caught up! Wish me luck!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day

Just a quick note to say Happy Veterans Day to you all. Enjoy it by thinking of and/or spending some time with the Vets in your family!

For me, today is a day to be especially thankful for my hubby, an active duty petty officer in the Navy. Today is also a day for me to think of my Dad, who was another Navy man, as was my father-in-law. I also have many special vets in my extended family, including my cousin and uncle who are Army guys. Coincidentally, I also spent some time finishing up the military records lesson for the NGS HSC today, for which I was reviewing the Civil War Compiled Military Service Record for James Bromagem, my great great great grandfather. And finally, I have a great uncle who was much loved by my mother's family and who died at Normandy in WWII. Today is a day for us to think of him and to be thankful for him as well.

This day is always kindof a sad day to me, thinking of those who were not able to return home and wondering if the next deployment will be the one that could take my own husband away, but taking the time to remember them and what they do and what they did is so important. They deserve all the time and respect and love that we can all muster for them, those who are gone and those who are still with us.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Adventures and Lessons in Finding Julius Bolda's Origins, Post 3

So while I was trying to figure out what to do with all of this information, I was also trying to find out more about Julius' possible mother (and father/stepfather) who were living in Detroit, MI prior to 1910. I didn't find much, but I did find several message board posts online for people descended from Michigan Boldas who came from Poland. They were all finding origins in the area of Puck, the current location of Wladyslawowo, previously Grossendorf. None of these posts mentioned Julius, but some familiar names were popping up like Frank Bolda (Franz Bolda, who arrived with Julius and his mother in 1887 took on the name Frank while living in Michigan as did a child Franz who also arrived with them and settled in Michigan) and Joseph Bolda (a name familiar to me because that was the name Julius' wife cited as that of his father, as well as being the name of one of the Boldas travel companions in 1887). The only link connecting the Michigan Boldas and Julius prior to the research on the place names and locations in Poland, is the name of his mother from his death certificate because Veronica Bolda arrived with him in 1887 and settled in Detroit with her presumed husband, Franz and another child named Franz who both Americanized their names to Frank. The names Frank and Joseph are pretty common so that really wasn't a super strong link. But having the place name turn up as the origins for descendants of that Michigan line be the same of a possible origin for Julius really does add more strength to the case.

I think that covers the run-down for now. I think what I'm going to do next is try to get Frank and Veronica's death certificates and Frank's naturalization paperwork. Since it's out of state again though and my date ranges are still pretty general, I'm thinking the best way to go about it is to order microfilm from the FHL and see what I can glean from that. I think at some point I can order film of the Catholic records from the area of Poland where I believe Julius came from. Finding a baptismal record would be the ideal situation but I'll definitely need to do just a bit more research to be sure of what's available and what I'll find.

Adventures and Lessons in Finding Julius Bolda's Origins, Post 2

Ok, so now that I've thoroughly stressed that you're going to need some kind of guide to help you navigate the Meyers Orts Gazetteer of the German Empire for the first time, I can show you why. First though, there was no entry found for a Grossrudorf, so what we found was for Grossendorf:

So we can see 6 entries for Grossendorf on this page (there were also two others shown on the following page but neither of those were in the right area to be the correct location). Each of the different locations was designated numerically. Following that number, there is an abbreviation which specifies what the location is categorized as. For instance, the first possible option with the name Grossendorf has a D. When we check with the family search appendix we see that "D." is the designation for a dorf, or village in English. Next, is the location abbreviation and various information regarding kingdoms and duchies. With this information you can narrow down where the most likely place with this name was located and then compare that to a modern map.

However, I got some excellent advice from a couple of German and Polish specialists including Stephen Danko, who maintains a blog at He pulled a handy dandy Polish gazetteer and managed to narrow things down even more and found the Polish name and current name for entry number 5 from Meyers Orts. This Grossendorf is in modern-day Poland and is currently known as Wladyslawowo in the area of Puck. At the time, this information didn't hit me particularly hard but soon enough I had reason to think I had a good lead on this.

Probably should move on to Post 3 now...I told you there was a lot to talk about! :)

Adventures and Lessons in Finding Julius Bolda's Origins, Post 1

I've been chomping at the bit to get back to this topic and have had so much to post about. Getting sick kindof put a damper on things and also managed to remove me a bit from the conversations that helped bring me to some conclusions and a plan of attack for the future, but I'll try to remember as much as possible to get through this.

So, when we left off with this topic, I had just received the naturalization papers for my paternal Great Great Grandfather, Julius Bolda, from Cook County, IL. Julius arrived in the US from the port of Bremen in 1887 and by the time of the 1910 census enumeration, he claimed to be a naturalized citizen living in Chicago. Because his paperwork was filed before 1906, his naturalization was handled through the local courts rather than the Federal government. When you order naturalization paperwork from Cook County, you get both the Declaration of Intent and the Final Papers. There isn't a whole lot of "new" information given in these pages, but the real prize is pretty much a single question: where was he born? And they're not just asking for the country here, they are asking for the town/village. In Julius' case, his place of birth appears to be shown as "Grossrudorf", right? That one issue became the center of a pretty fascinating conversation a couple weeks ago on the APG list. This is where the fun begins!

Like just about every other "official" record genealogists face in their research, this page has its backstory. First, while it does look like Julius signed the bottom of the page, he did not fill out the information, including that given for his place of birth. Instead, the clerk filled it out which presents us with its own special set of issues. When he wrote the place name, he wrote what he thought he heard, not necessarily the proper spelling of the name. So we can't be real sure at this point whether the name is actually right. Also, his handwriting is suspicious because when we look at the rest of the page, the clerk had several inconsistencies with his letter forms. For instance, lower case "n" and "u" were also shown the same way and more pertinently, his lower case "e" and lower case "r" were also written the same way. Taking these problem with his lettering into account, the name can now be Grossendorf rather than Grossrudorf.

So now that we have a couple of options for names, we throw in the big elephant in the room. These place names no longer exist!! Yep, so even after you think you get this name figured out, you still can't just open up a map and find it. At this point, you need the Meyers Orts Gazetteer of the German Empire and a little help (actually a lot of help) from the research help articles on Meyers Orts is, fortunately, available for ancestry subscribers here and the family search article on how to use it is found here between the two, you have a pretty good chance of success but it is absolutely crucial that you take a little time to go over the German handbook on family search first so you know what you're looking for, how to find it, and what you're going to see on the page. The reason for this is that the gazetteer is written in German script and has entries made up of all kinds of abbreviations specifying certain information. You need the familysearch guide, or some other online guide, to help familiarize yourself with the script and then to help you decipher what it is you're looking at and what information it's giving you.

I'll continue in a second post next...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Sick as a dog

Well, I had planned on posting about my Julius Bolda information over the weekend/this week but I got hit with something over the weekend and can't seem to shake it. Ugh! So I'll just have to wait to post about the adventures of chasing Julius.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Wow wow wow!!

Ok, this must be some kind of record. I got TWO sets of records over the past week from the two places I thought I would be most likely to wait the longest for turnaround time. I got the naturalization papers from the Cook County, IL archives and I got the CMSR (compiled military service record) for James Bromagem from NARA. Both of which were sent in just a couple of weeks' time and managed to beat out my order for microfilm from the FHC which I ordered around a week or so before both of them and am still waiting for.

There's really too much to talk about with Julius Bolda naturalization records so I'll save that for the next post. Some of you may have seen the discussion about it on the message board but wow, was it an interesting weekend working on that!

As for the service record, it was for the NGS Home Study Course Lesson 14 on military records. The assignment was to order a record from NARA, which I did online and which may be the reason for the quick turnaround time, and then write a report telling what information is given. The report is to be thorough enough without being just pages and pages of transcription. What it actually sounded like to me, was gaining experience in writing a research report on a record as you would for a client. It just gave me that kind of vibe, very much like something we did in ProGen. So that's basically what I did. I also needed to provide a citation for the CMSR.

This was my first real in-depth work with a Civil War CMSR and it was pretty much as I expected. My experience was what I would term mediocre-not the worst outcome but not necessarily the best either, it falls somewhere in between. The reason I say this is because when I worked at the National Archives, one of my jobs was to give people the files they ordered to be pulled. So when I was working in the research rooms and the pulls would come in, I saw many, many sour faces when they saw the CMSRs come to them. They were more often than not, only a couple of cards and didn't really say anything. We were actually trained to tell people that if they're looking for information on their Civil War ancestors, that they needed to order the pension files rather than the CMSRs for that very reason. It was very very rare that we saw one that was filled to the brim with information. So when I ordered CMSR for my ancestor I was already prepared not to expect much. I already had his pension so I was pretty much only getting the CMSR for this assignment and anything else was a bonus. And, as predicted there is no new vital information given in his service record. It did however, serve to confirm some bits of information that were touched upon in the pension file, such as where he enlisted and a few of the places he had gone with his unit. Also, there was some confusion in the pension file about his unit and the service record helped clear that up by explaining that the initial unit he was in changed names in 1864. So he wasn't in two separate units, it was just one unit that had two different names.

Most importantly, it cleared up the issue of whether he had been taken as a prisoner of war. This was a serious matter of contention in the pension file because his widow claimed that he died as a cause from his getting sick while he was in the service, probably due to poor treatment while held prisoner. There was very little proof shown in the pension however, just one sheet with a remarks section that says there had been suspicion of his being taken in 1862. The service record was a bit more in-depth on the matter because the muster rolls from the time he went missing, in December 1862, until the time he was returned in June 1863, had remarks saying he was missing in action, then presumed taken prisoner, and finally that he had been exchanged and was returned to duty. The packet also contained copies of pages entitled "Memorandum of Prisoner of War Records". These pages told when and where he had been taken prisoner, in this case at Murfreesboro, TN on 31 Dec 1862 (the Battle of Stone River), where he was held, and what camps he was in before returning home. These were pages that I hadn't seen first hand in the service records before, so I was very glad to be able to see what kind of information is available in the CMSRs for those who experienced being POWs.

One thing that I wondered about after going through the packet however, was how in the world a newspaper man ended up being taken prisoner. It was very clear from his service record that James was able to continue his civilian occupation as a printer during his time in the service. I wouldn't think that this would place him in the position of being taken prisoner. That is, until I read this This website describes the battle as being an attempt by the Confederates to cut off the lines of communication. And there you go, that would be why a printer would have been taken prisoner. That is, if he were acting in his capacity as such at the time of the raids. His unit, the 9th IN cavalry, was also there at the time so he could very well have been an active part of the battle. Either way, without the service record, I wouldn't have had this information and I wouldn't have had the details on what he had been doing during the war. This was pretty interesting.

One other tidbit. I have no photos of James or his wife. I have no photos of his parents or his siblings, at least none that I know of. Thanks to one of my very kind, Bromagem cousins, I do have a scan of one of his extended family members, as well as a photo of one of his daughters (my Great Great Grandmother Lillian, who is also the woman in the photo of my google icon) thanks to the son of my Great Uncle Stevens. None of these few images equal the physical description that was given in James' CMSR. Though brief, it is pretty much the only thing I have to devise a picture of him in my mind. He was described as being 5 feet 6 inches tall at age 29-31, with light eyes and light hair, and a sandy complexion. If you look at the photo of Lillian from my google icon, she's got dark hair and dark eyes so I'm guessing those were not features she inherited from her father. But I really do treasure that description. I'm a firm believer that seeing what someone looks like adds a dimension of "realness" to all these facts and dates and information you pick up along the way. Without looking at their face, it can sometimes be hard to make that connection to them and to really feel like they lived. With James, I've felt a connection for some time before now, but that's primarily because I've found so many details about his life and he's been more than just random facts for so long now. But now I have a physical description of the real man and that really adds to the connection I already had.

So while I can warn you that you may not find much more than a single muster roll card in your ancestor's compiled military service record, I can say that there are times and there are instances where that one page may tell you enough.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Same Birthday as yours?

Yes, yes, I know I don't usually do the group posting things but this time I have one that I know of right off the bat. The parts for this mission, as posted by Randy Seaver over at Genea-Musings, are:

1) Is there a person in your genealogy database that has the same birth date that you do? If so, tell us about him or her - what do you know, and how is s/he related to you?

2) For bonus points, how did you determine this? What feature or process did you use in your software to work this problem out? I think the Calendar feature probably does it, but perhaps you have a trick to make this work outside of the calendar function.

Ok, so my ancestor who shares my birthday is my great great great grandfather, Simpson Gilkeson (1830-1899). We share September 19th as our birthday though his was just under 150 years before mine. He was born in Kentucky, I'm not 100% positive in which county yet, and according to his obituary, he and his family moved to Parke County, IN when he was around the age of 4. Not too much is known about Simpson himself. Since his father was the one that we have been tracking because of the migration, and his son was my Grandpa's Grandpa who died in a train accident which my Grandpa was also a party to and told me stories about, Simpson has kindof gotten lost in the shuffle as far as details about the man. Another issue is that there really hasn't been a whole lot to find about him, other than a lively obituary that helps to fill in some of the blanks of his life. No civil birth certificate, no evidence of baptism, no death certificate, no city directory entry, no tombstone or known grave site. All we have are several decades of census enumerations, an obit for one of his children who died young, and his own obit. And thank goodness for that since it's the only documentation we have for his date of birth and any telling of who he was. His obit says that everyone who knew him liked him and called him "Uncle Simp". His marriage certificate is the only civil evidence we have of him right now. That said, we do have the Parke County probate packet indexing going on now, so by the time we get to 1899 I might get some more insight into his life that way.

.......just as a heads up in case you're waiting for the update to that info. We're currently on the 1835-1841 date range so it's probably going to be a while before we get all the way to 1899 :)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Not having much luck

While I'm waiting for all of my records and microfilm to show up, I thought I'd try to find some additional passenger lists on ancestry. While most of my immigrant ancestors, the Kleinerts, the Boldas, the Siegmunds, all came from parts of pre-20th century Germany, I also have one branch of French Canadians who came over and settled in Kankakee County, IL. There has already been some extensive research on this family, the Dellibacs, including a good deal of research on their Quebec origins. But I was hoping to find a passenger arrival record for the immigrant ancestor, believed to be Moise Dellibac. I've done a quick search on ancestry and came up dry so this one will be a little more complicated than finding the record for Julius Bolda. Maybe this can be my interim know, another one. Apparently I just can't sit still and wait. In any case, this sounds much more interesting.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Want to see Julius?

With all of this talk about finding the parentage and origin of Julius Bolda, I thought maybe it would be fun to post a photo. At least, this is a photo we think is Julius. I say we "think" it's him because there is no identifying info anywhere on this photo (which is in the possession of my aunt) and we haven't come across any other photos of this person with identifying info to confirm our suspicion. The only reason we think it's him is because the woman he's sitting next to is known to be Marie/Mary Ptak Bolda, his wife (and the informant on his death certificate). Mary lived until the 1940s so we have several photos of her, some of which identify her by name, and with that very prominent widow's peak of hers, she's pretty easy to spot. So with her in the photo we believe this to be Julius sitting next to her. We haven't been able to identify the others in the photo with them yet but it's very possible that these could be the families of Julius and/or Marie, including perhaps their siblings considering the ages of the three people on either side of them. That is something else more research on both of these individuals might be able to help with.

In any case, Julius should be the man in the middle with the hat. Not much of a smiler was he? :)

Waiting waiting waiting..In the meantime...

I'm impatient, I know that about myself but it doesn't make all of this waiting any easier. I'm waiting for naturalization film from the FHC so I can finish my NGS HSC assignment on naturalization records. I'm waiting for the naturalization file for Julius Bolda from the Cook County Archives (I'm already well aware that I'll be waiting a looooong time for that one) and I know there are other things that I'm waiting for that I've already been waiting for for so long that I've forgotten what they were.

In the meantime, thanks to Jen over at the Chicago Family History blog I remembered the "They Became American" program at NARA Great Lakes in Chicago in November. The speaker is going to be Lou Szucs and since moving back to IL last year it's been hard not to hear everyone talking about how wonderful her lectures and programs are. Even my local library with its virtually non-existent genealogy section has a book or two by Lou in their collection. So I called over to NARA today to see if they still had seats available and fortunately, was able to snag one. The program is on Saturday Nov. 13 at the Pulaski location in Chicago.

So now I'll be waiting for something else but at least this will be fun waiting, as opposed to "when is that envelope finally going to show up" or "I hope my file didn't get lost in the mail" waiting. :)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Finding out about Michigan vital records

So far, I've figured out that Michigan is a pricey records state. Death records are ordered from the Department of Health , for the whopping sum of $26. That's more expensive even that Cook County, IL and I've been complaining about their $15 charge for a some time now. Also, I don't have an exact date of death for Veronica or Frank so there are additional charges in the search fee there. The couple appear in 1910 but are gone by 1920 so that's a 10 year range at about $3/$4 per extra year they have to search which takes the grand total up to $66 for one record. Yikes!! And there is no online database that I've been able to find to help me out with the year/s of death for this couple. There is an index to deaths online, here , but it only goes up to 1897.

So obviously I need to narrow things down a bit. I've already decided that the Detroit area is going to be the best bet to start with because that is their last known location and they had been settled there for some time. So the main problem here is the time frame. The Family History Library Catalog has a film listing for deaths occurring in Wayne Co., MI between 1867 and 1917. While this doesn't cover our entire search area, it does cover enough of it to be a resource worth checking out. So I'll start there and see what happens. If neither one of them are listed in that film, it's a good bet that they either died in those last years between 1918 and 1920 or maybe they did in fact move.

Another way to go about this would be to try to view the indexes to wills and or probate/estate cases opened in Wayne Co. between 1910 and 1920. Unfortunately, the FHL films covering this topic do not seem to be very comprehensive, one film set only goes to 1914 and the other possibility has next to nothing in the catalog as far as topical info to let me know what years are covered, and without a more concrete date range I don't think I'll be able to find what I'm looking for unless I can find a researcher who can go to the probate court and search the indexes in person. And just to be sure I covered all the easy bases first I checked Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness for possible volunteers to do this and Find a Grave for Frank and Veronica Bolda and came up short on both sites.

This is all just my initial thoughts though. I've still got some reading and researching to see how things in Michigan work and what options are available to me. I will find these people though, and I know I'll be able to figure out what was going on and get some kind of confirmation on whether they were Julius's parents or not. I'm getting there, it's just going to take some more work. It's fun though, so that's ok.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Not to get off the subject but...

I've just gotten confirmation that I'll be taking on the "Always a Hoosier" project for the Indiana Genealogical Society. This project documents the bios and the burial sites of those born before 1930 and who were buried in the state. Essentially what will be built is giant database to those buried in Indiana, along with some biographical info.

For more info, and to find out how to add your ancestors to the database, check out the IGS website here

So go to the website and get your Indiana ancestors added to the list and into the IGS periodical!

Ok, now back to the Bolda stuff! :)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Brainstorming with the Boldas

So after getting the death certificate for Julius Bolda, I've got some conflicting evidence regarding his parentage. His wife, Marie/Mary, was the informant on the record and while she did give confirmation that Veronica, the woman Julius was traveling with upon arrival to Baltimore in 1887, was his mother, the information she gave regarding his father's name was not the name of the man who was Veronica's husband at the time of their arrival and in subsequent census records. I need to try to find out if this is just a case of a mistake, which is a very often occurrence on death certificates since the person who would be able to identify their parents is not around to name them, or if Veronica had been married previously, or if Franz/Frank also used the name Joseph.

Right now I'm still undecided about whether this is a mistake or not. I knew already that Veronica and Franz, the man she and Julius arrived with in 1887, settled in Detroit and they are found there in 1900 along with their other children,

Several of the children who appeared with Franz and Veronica on their passenger list have since died according to this census, and Veronica claims to have only three children now living-the three living with her. Julius would make the fourth and I'm looking at it (right now) that she was counting her surviving children who were living with them. But that's just one inconsistency found in this census enumeration. Another is the marriage date. Franz and Veronica claim to have been married 29 years. That would mean they would have gotten married around 1871-ish, depending on the time of year and taking into account the June date of enumeration. Julius' birth date, (and this too is a source of conflict) though conflicting, generally falls within the 1868-1869 date (though his death certificate and naturalization index card give 1860-1861 as his date of birth). So far, the earliest record giving his birth date is his passenger list which states he is 18 in 1887 and this is consistent with the est. 1869 birth date. No matter whether he was born in 1861 or 1869, both dates predate Veronica and Franz's given marriage date. As does the existence of another young male traveling with the Bolda family during their arrival in Baltimore.

Josef Bolda, appears to be aged 24. It's also interesting to note that Joseph was the name Mary cited as Julius' father. He's obviously too young to be so but that could be the explanation for where she had heard that name before. Another thing to notice is that the family is arranged first by the head and spouse, followed by children in descending order according to age. In this light, Josef could be seen as being 14 years old instead of 24 which would then make it more plausible for Franz to be Julius' father because without his age to push further beyond the 1871 marriage date from the census, we don't have much more than a couple of years difference between the marriage and the estimate birth date for Julius. A couple of years is much more easily explained then nearly 10. It should be noted though, that when you look at the handwriting on the page, the connecting flair of the first number is more common when the number is a "2" than when it is a "1" so it does look more likely to be "24" than "14" from that perspective.

With the information we have right now, and most of it is pretty speculative at this point, I don't really have a feeling one way or another as to whether Franz, known as Frank in Michigan, was Julius' father. At least not yet. I feel like it's entirely possible for him to have been a child from a previous marriage, and it's not completely unlikely that if that was the case, the father could have been a sibling or a some other relation to Franz, which would explain why Julius was a Bolda even if Franz wasn't his biological father, not to mention the possibility of adoption. But that's thinking that the name issue was more than a mistake. It very well may be just that. Marie may have just gotten the names mixed up, especially since this couple lived out of state and it was unlikely that Julius and Marie would have spent a lot of time together, if any at all. She did use a name that we know was used in the immediate family so I think it's very possible that she just mixed up the names. But at this point, who knows.

There is quite a bit to figure out so I'll be working on things for a while. Now that I have more evidence that Veronica is his mother though, there is definitely going to be more time devoted to tracking the family in Detroit. It's time to start getting acquainted with Michigan records. This will be my first endeavor in that state and right now I'm clueless. I was able to find out a bit about ordering death records from Michigan....

Good news more good news and another mystery

Ok, so yesterday I headed out to one of the Cook County, IL court offices hoping to get a copy of Julius Bolda's death certificate. The satellite offices of the county can be a great way to avoid the long turnaround time that can happen when ordering vital records through snail mail. The problem though is that not all offices have access to all the records so your success can be hit or miss.

So last time I was at the office in Rolling Meadows I was able to get 3 out of the 4 records I was hoping for. This time I only got 1 out 3, but the one I got was the one I wanted. Julius' record was available and here it is

If we do a quick rundown of the info, we can see the Ward St address that matches both the census records and the naturalization card, and also, as predicted, Mary, his wife, is the informant. So we can be assured that this is the right person. With that out of the way, we can take a look at the info provided. What I was really interested from this record was place of birth information and parentage. Unfortunately, this record isn't much help for the place of birth because Mary just put "Germany". So we'll have to wait for the naturalization paperwork from the county and hope that more details will included there.

Regarding the parentage information, this is where we get another bit of good news, as well as the mystery. Mary confirms that to her knowledge, Julius' mother was Veronica. This is consistent with the theory that the older couple who arrived with Julius in 1887 in Baltimore were his parents. But instead of seeing the name of the head of that family from the passenger list, Franz, here we see that Mary has given the name of Julius' father as Joseph. So there's the mystery. Was Mary just mistaken about Julius' father's name, or was Franz not his father afterall? If this was the case, then that would mean that Franz was Veronica's second husband, but then why would Julius' surname be the same as Franz and not his real father? Unless his real father was related or Franz legally adopted him....

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Off to Rolling Meadows today...keep your fingers crossed for me

Hey all, I'm heading out to the Cook County Clerk satellite office in Rolling Meadows, IL today. I'm going to try to beat the system by going to request Julius Bolda's death certificate in person rather than sending in the request via snail mail. Cook County, like so many other county clerk's offices around the country, tends to have a pretty long turnaround time for records. Fortunately, they have more than one office. Though the main clerk's office is in downtown Chicago, not the easiest place in the world for me to access, there are also suburban offices in the North, Northwest, and in the South so no matter where in Chicagoland you are, there should be a clerk's office somewhat close to you. Rolling Meadows is the Northwest office and while it is definitely more accessible to me, it's still a good 35-40 minutes or so away. But, if they have the records there you can avoid the turnaround time of the snail mail method. The hitch here though is that the satellite offices do not have ALL of the records available to them. The last time I went down there I had a list of about four people for whom I needed death certificates and I was able to get all but one of them. The other one is only available from the downtown location. I'm hoping that won't be the case for Julius.

For those who need vital records from the Clerk's Office, Cook County offers one other option. is the clerk's office genealogy portal site. From that address you can check for the record you need online and if it is available you can download it directly onto your computer. Millions of records have been uploaded to the site, but not all of them are currently available. Out of all of the records that I've ordered from Cook County, I think only about three or four were available for download through that site. So it is still a work in progress but it's worth a shot, especially if you do not live locally and can't access the satellite offices.

So keep me in your genealogical thoughts today guys, I need some good luck to get this record today! :)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Passenger Lists and Naturalizations- I found him! I found him...maybe

Ok, in the last post I mentioned that I had just started working on the NGS HSC Lessons 12 and 13, Passenger Lists and Naturalization Records. While they are two separate assignments, and could be done for two different people, for me they kindof meshed into one lucky, and potentially big, find.

So I started out with the passenger list lesson and wanted to take the opportunity to poke around and try to find something new, rather than going with an earlier find I discovered a few years ago. Out of half a dozen 19th century immigrant lines that I know of right now, I only have one potential passenger list for one family group. So this is an area that I definitely needed some improvement and basically, more time to investigate and this lesson absolutely fit the bill. I started trying various name searches on ancestry for the surnames I was looking for in their immigration collection- Dellibac, Kleinert, and Bolda from my side and Norwodworski and a few others from my husband's side- and found some promising hits for Julius Bolda, my paternal grandma's grandfather. He first appears in the 1900 census enumeration living in Chicago, on Ward St, with his wife and family and giving an arrival date of 1892. Great, right? This should be no problem. Well, except there is no Julius Bolda who arrived from Germany in 1892. There is one who arrived in Baltimore in 1887 with a large family, including an older couple presumed to be his parents, and his age is compatible with Julius' estimated birth in 1869. However, the older couple and several of their children were found to have settled in Detroit, MI, not Chicago. It's close, true, but there is nothing in this passenger list to tell me that it's the same Julius. So I decided to search a little deeper.

In 1900 Julius is an alien; he is not naturalized. In 1910 however, he claims to have been naturalized. So, in theory, since he was living in Chicago between 1900 and 1910 and claimed to have been naturalized between those census years, there is a great chance that his naturalization papers went through the Cook County, IL court system. The federal government did not take over naturalizations until 1906 so there are a couple more years on the side of a local court. Fortunately, ancestry has recently updated their naturalization holdings and the place and period needed for a search for Julius are now available and here is what I found:

Julius Bolda, arrived in Baltimore in APRIL in 1892 and lived on WARD St. in Chicago. I put the important stuff in caps because I wanted to make sure I explained them. As for the month, this is one of the important points I read about in the lesson material for the course. When immigrants were asked later on when they arrived, they often got the years mistaken but the months correct, or at least the seasons, because while they may not have kept track of the passing of the years they would have been aware of the seasons, especially those with a farming background whose year would have revolved around the planting and harvesting of crops, which occurred seasonally. So here we see Julius says he arrived in April on his naturalization card and the passenger list we found, showing the Julius Bolda who arrived in Baltimore with the large family, also arrived in April, though 5 years earlier than claimed on the Soundex card. The other key point here is the address. The subject Julius lived on Ward St in Chicago in the 1900 and 1910 census enumerations that we had already confirmed as being the correct person. We also know that the subject Julius was naturalized between 1900 and 1910 so we have a good case.

The address pretty much tells us that the Julius on the naturalization card is the correct Julius. If that's the case, then we can then say that the Julius on the card is probably also the same Julius from the Baltimore passenger list who arrived in APRIL 1887. If this turns out to be true, then we now have the names of several of Julius' siblings as well as his potential parents, Franz and Veronica as seen here:

One way we can try to confirm whether Franz and Veronica were his parents is to order his death certificate. He died in Cook County, IL in 1915 and the form should ask who his parents were. Of course, we have to keep in mind that the informant, whoever that person was, may not have known who his parents were. However, even if the informant didn't know, all is not lost. Considering the size of his family, there is the slight possibility that the informant on his death record could be a sibling who could then be identifiable from the passenger list or census enumerations for Franz and Veronica in MI. I have to say though, I have a sneaking suspicion that the informant for Julius was probably his wife, Marie (Ptak) Bolda, who lived until the 1940s. There's no telling if she knew the names of Julius' parents so it's going to be a gamble. If she didn't, I do have one other option but it's not going to be a fun one. Julius was Catholic so there may be a baptismal record for him somewhere but I would need to order his naturalization papers and hope that he gave his hometown, or at the very least the area from which he came. As far as I can tell so far, his ship, the Donau, left Germany from Bremen which doesn't tell me a thing about where he came from. Getting confirmation of his parentage this way is not going to be easy at all so I'm just going to have to keep my fingers crossed that Marie knew the names of her in-laws. That or that one of Julius' siblings came into town for the funeral and helped out with the informant information.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

ProGen 3 is now finished...NGS HSC CD 3 here I come

Well, yesterday was the last day for my peer group and I in ProGen 3. We are now finished with the course. Our last topic was on marketing strategies and business record keeping. We spent some time talking about what has worked for those with running businesses and those who are not currently "in business" yet got to ask some questions. We also spent some time talking about filing systems which was pretty eye-opening. I have to admit, I'm not much of a stickler with the filing. Oh, I have the file folders, and most are labeled, but they're scattered around the house rather than in one primary location. Next to the desktop computer, next to the netbook and printer, on the coffee table under the good reading get the picture. It's not my fault though, really. I use my "files" everyday, whether it's for the ProGen assignments or the NGS HSC assignments, or just for my own project at the time. Ok, I could put them back in the file box or at least keep them all together, but what fun would that be? Besides, I like to be able to sit down, see a file and start getting back into it.

Speaking of the NGS HSC, I've gotten caught up on that now too. I finished up CD 2 with lesson 11 which was on migration. For the first assignment in that section, I had to print out/copy a few maps charting the migration of a family through three generations. I found some wonderful maps at David Rumsey's site, as usual, and was able to chart the Bromagem movement from Monongalia County, VA (now WV) to Montgomery Co., (and later, thanks to county boundary changes, Bath County) KY, to Greene County, OH, to Darke County, OH, to bordering Indiana counties including Randolph, Jay, Wells, and Blackford. I had to look at possible paths to and from each of the locations which was really interesting, to sit in front of maps that were pretty near contemporary to the subject I was tracking, and try to figure out how they would have gotten from one place to another. I found that the Ohio River was probably a major player for the Bromagems because they could pick it up outside Pittsburgh (Monongalia County is currently considered part of the Pittsburgh metro area) and take it into central Kentucky, near where they briefly settled. Then they could hop on the Little Miami River to head up to Chillicothe, OH and from there pick up a short road to the Greene County, OH area. If you still aren't familiar with David Rumsey's map site, at, you need to head over there, bookmark it, and return as much as possible. The maps on the site are absolutely beautiful, plus pretty essential tools for the family historian.

The second assignment for this section was a pretty big one. I had to choose an ancestor and one census year in which he/she appears. Then compile a spreadsheet with at least 100 of that person's neighbors in that year and do the same for the next census year. So overall, you have a spreadsheet covering two census enumerations with at least 200 total included. Then, you go over both statistics looking for similarities, anything that can help you to group the people and figure how your subject fit into the mix when historical context is mixed with the social background you've just compiled. If your subject moved between the two census years, then you need to find out more, such as what was going on in that particular geographic location that may have contributed to a move. Was it religious? Social? Was there a conflict going on at the time? I chose to follow Emsley McMasters, the Methodist living in the North Carolina Quaker Belt during the Civil War. Obviously I had already discovered that the Quaker Belt area was struggling with some serious, violent and unstable internal warfare during the Civil War, as if being a country at war wasn't bad enough. So I knew that his move was likely to provide a safer and more stable home for his large family (there were 8 children living under his roof at the time of the 1860 census). Indiana would have provided the land but his destination in particular, Parke County, would have provided a strong North Carolina community as well as a community with an established Quaker contingent, so the values would presumably have been similar to what he, and subsequently, his children would have grown up with. It was also accessible to him from the very well traveled Wilderness Road which he could pick up outside Salisbury, NC and take west into Kentucky, where he could pick up the Ohio River and from there, the Wabash River, which runs along Indiana's western border and have several waterways branching off of it in the Parke County area.

All of this information was to be recorded in a report to complete lesson 11. I ordered the final CD of the course last week and it's already arrived so I've been taking a look at the workload and figuring out what needs to be ordered. The lessons this time cover, immigration, naturalization, military records, evidence analysis and kinship, and writing the biography of an ancestor. I did start poking around on ancestry a bit for the immigration and naturalization lessons and I think I got lucky. I'll post about that next...

Friday, September 17, 2010

Still juggling, and adding more to the plate

Well, I'm still working on getting caught up after my Dad's passing last month. I've got 4 assignments to finish up, 2 for the NGS HSC and 2 for ProGen, my NGSQ group meets next week to discuss a great article by Stephanie Evans (which I'll try to post about soon), I'm getting indexed entries and photos from the project in Parke County, IN and now I've just agreed to be a coordinator for a future ProGen group. Yikes!

The two NGS HSC assignments I'm finishing are Lessons 7 and 11. Lesson 7 is on Church and Cemetery records and I had to order an FHL film to view the records of St Martin's Episcopal Church in Marcus Hook, Delaware County, PA then do an inventory of what was on the roll. It was definitely interesting reading, however there was an issue with the film notes from the familysearch website not matching what was supposed to be on the roll. But for the most part, I did get to see the hand-written entries naming the first vestrymen for the congregation in 1724 and various early 19th century entries for baptisms, marriages, and burials. Cool stuff there. The second part of this lesson was to make a cemetery map. This was one of the assignments I worked on back in June when I took my research trip to Parke County. I did a map for the Linebarger Cemetery which is just outside Rockville, IN. I had some weather and time issues however, so the map is not yet complete as far as getting all of the names and transcriptions but I hope to be able to finish it up in the spring.

Lesson 11, the second lesson I'm trying to get finished up, is the migration lesson. The first assignment is to print out an outline map or other map which you can then use to track the movements of a family group. I'll have to fill everyone in on this more later since I'm still in the middle of doing this but I'm using the movements of my Bromagem family for this one, showing their earliest known beginnings in Monongalia County, VA (now WV), then to Scott County, KY, and finally over to Greene and Darke Counties in OH and Randolph and Jay Counties in IN. The map is supposed to show the possible routes used to get to these locations as well and that is actually the part I'm researching now so I'll get back to that topic here once I'm finished with the assignment.

For ProGen, I'm working on the final 2 assignments of the group- the proof summary and the marketing plan. Initially I had thought to do the proof summary on the proving the parentage of Lillian Bromagen Stevens but once I got it all down, it ended up looking more like a case study than a proof summary. What that pretty much means is that there was no conflicting or indirect evidence. It all pretty much fell into place. The only real conflicting issue is the maiden name for her mother, which I've spoken about here in the past and which is an ongoing work-in-progress for me. So instead, I think I'm revisiting a different Bromagen issue for this assignment. I'll be going back over the work I did to prove that Lida Van Wormer was actually Eliza Jane Bromagen, sister of Lillian and eldest child of James Bromagen and Mary Jane Braden/Hawkins. Again, more on that when I know for sure which way I'm going :)

So that's the sum up for now. I'll have more details coming soon.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Getting back to business...Indexing Project Begins

Well, admittedly I've gotten VERY behind on my various projects this month. My Dad was in the hospital then hospice before passing away on the 13th and so I haven't done much of anything this month. But something big did happen genealogy-wise that I wanted to share. I started working on getting an indexing project in Parke County, IN started and we've now had two volunteers go in and index and/or photograph probate packets there.

Currently, we have around 700 photos to index as well as an additional number of packets that have been indexed. We started with the earliest records which generally begin in 1833 though there are several pages referring to earlier cases. So we're just getting started. Right now we're looking for volunteers who can go on-site to get the records indexed and/or photographed but now that the info is starting to come in, we're also going to be needing some volunteers to do the typing. Right now we're thinking that once the information is entered into the database, we'll post it on the Parke County GenWeb site which is managed by one of our volunteers. We're not sure yet if the site is capable of holding the massive amount of info, and especially photos, but at least for now that's what we're thinking and if it turns out we need additional space or need to look elsewhere for a home for the info we'll cross that bridge when we get to it :)

So if you live in IN or were planning a visit and may have some time to spare to help index a few packets, please let me know. Or maybe you're not local to the area but would still like to help with the keying-in, drop me an email as well.

This is going to be a HUGE project and we could use all of the hands we can get.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

David Gilkison 1948-2010

My Dad passed away last week after a long, hard battle with colon cancer. He was originally diagnosed in 2001, recovered, and had just a couple of years free of the disease before it came back with a vengeance. He couldn't shake it after its return and even ended up losing one of his kidneys because of it. This last bout was really bad and he had to take aggressive chemo treatments and radiation and nothing was making much of a difference, but he just kept taking more and more hoping that there would be a change. He really fought hard but it was time for his body to rest and for him to have some peace.

He was born in the South suburbs of Chicago and I really can't imagine him living anywhere else, despite the fact that he always said he wanted to retire in California, probably around San Francisco. His mother was the granddaughter of German immigrants and his father came from a long line of Indiana and Kentucky farmers. They divorced when he was very young. He graduated from high school and went into the Navy during Vietnam and managed to come back home. He married my Mom and worked as a truck driver. I always thought he was kindof an anomaly in that profession because he was a whiz with money (I was the only 1st grader with shares in a couple of stocks!) and loved art and art history. He would have been a great art history professor or stock trader I think, he was that interested in the subjects and that good. Not really the kind of jobs that you usually think truck drivers could do, but that was Dad. He was also passionate about his two favorite hobbies-photography and golf. The history buff in him turned his interest towards the works of Ansel Adams and hickory-shafted golf clubs rather than the more modern styles, though he did have interest in the changing faces of his hobbies too.

I'll definitely miss the way he encouraged me, sometimes more like pushing :) and he always seemed to care what was happening with me and what I was up to, just like a Dad should. It's still hard to think that the time has come to say goodbye, but I'm glad that he's finally got some rest and peace.

Here's probably my favorite picture of Dad with his own dad, my Grandpa

Friday, August 6, 2010

Interesting tidbit

I'm not sure if you all have seen the news around the gene-boards about the Tuttle farm in Dover, NH going up for sale, but if not you can find the story here:

Most people are taking an interest in the story because of the fact that the farm has been held by the same family, the Tuttle's, for 378 years (or at least that's what they're claiming). My interest is more personal. My immigrant Stevens ancestor settled in Dover in the 18th century and his neighbors were the Tuttle's, and I've got a few deeds between he and various members of the Tuttle family at the time. As I read the news article, it sounds like the family started out with a much smaller plot of land and over time, added to their holdings so I'm guessing by now the land they hold encompasses my ancestors old plot as well. It's kindof funny to think that the descendants of his neighbors are now selling his old land along with their own, hundreds of years after his initial purchase.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Indiana Probate Packets

Are you researching an Indiana ancestor who died prior to civil death registration? Can't find his death date? Or researching an ancestor who died in IN after registration but you want more information? Not sure where to look? You may be in luck thanks to an often overlooked resource for Indiana-the probate packets.

On my most recent trip to Parke County, IN I was working on my NGS HSC lesson on probate records. The lesson called for me to do an inventory of the probate holdings available in the county so I was basically just snooping around the back room of the Clerk's Office. While they do have the standard ledgers that you see just about everywhere else, they also have a huge set of metal drawers that look like they're built into the wall. The only identifying info on the front of the drawers are little pieces of paper with typed years on them. So for this trip, I decided to find out what these drawers had inside. Boy was I surprised. Inside, were the complete probate files, often called case files in other states, with loose pages from the probate proceedings. Included in these folded up packets were things like the petitions for administration, inventories, recipts, and any other documents that had been presented to the court pertaining to an individual's probate case. Yes, several of these items were noted in the ledger books so you could find out when someone died from those as well, but with these packets, you're not just reading a notation in a ledger than an inventory was presented, you're looking at the inventory itself. More importantly, you're seeing the widow's petition for the release of the estate which can tell you any number of things such as names of children and whether she could write. You can also find out a great deal about extended family groups, such as the decedent's brothers which can help reconstruct another generational family group.

In one of the probate packets for a family member, I found that the widow did not present her own petition for the estate. Instead, her husband's brother did it for her and prior to this time, I had not been able to connect the decedent with anyone else in the county. Also, in the same drawer, right in front of that probate packet was another, thicker probate packet for someone else with the same surname. So I opened it up and found that this was another relation to my ancestor (I'm not entirely sure but I think it may be another brother) and that my ancestor was actually administering that estate when he died and included in that relation's packet was a receipt from my ancestor's widow showing that the new administrator had paid her for her husband's share of the estate to which he had been working to administer when he died. It was an unbelievable find and one that I wouldn't have been able to make so quickly without those packets. It's one thing to see the same surnames in a ledger book, but it takes quite a bit of work to go through and track all of those people and try to bring out the relationships between them without something like these packets with their personal letters spelling out relationships and things like receipts to tell you that yes, these people were related and had dealings with each other.

As stated initially, these probate packets are held by the county Clerk's Office. While the order books and will books and books of the Common Pleas Courts have been filmed by the FHL, these packets have largely been ignored, probably due to the fact that seeing the proceedings in the order books tend to answer the main question people have for these pre-registration deaths: when did so-and-so die? However, when you want to know more about the person than just when did they die, like what was their widow's name, or who administered the estate, or who were the children, the packets are invaluable. The can even tell you things you hadn't thought of yet like the names of two of your ancestor's brothers and those are all things that can seriously open up your research leading to older generations, maternal lines, and filling in previously unknown children. These packets should not be ignored just because you think you've answered the main when did he die question and that is why they are starting to come to the attention of others, such as the Indiana Genealogical Society, who are beginning the long process of indexing and digitizing these packets to both get them out there for researchers to discover and use and to preserve them for the future. I'm working on starting at least an indexing project for the Parke County packets right now so hopefully they'll start to become available in the near future as well.

If you've got Indiana ancestors, get out there and go through those packets! You never know what secrets they'll have inside.

Few words about KY research

When I went to Kentucky the week before last for a girls' weekend with some friends from college, I made sure to leave a couple days for some on-site research. I've got KY roots on both my Mom's and my Dad's side, but my main target was Gilkison research in Fleming County and Bath County.

While I had used microfilm of KY records fairly frequently before, ordered through the Family History Center, this was my first time working there in person so I wanted to be sure I knew where I was going and what I was going to find. The one thing that I realized is that where Kentucky is concerned, the county courthouse shouldn't necessarily be your first stop. The Kentucky Archives in Frankfort has tax lists, will books, and marriage information, plus other information sent to them from the courthouses from all of the counties so pretty much, if you hit the Archives first, you'll know whether the courthouse may have more information for you. In my case, it told me right off the bat that I wasn't going to find what I was looking for where I was planning to look.

My target was John Gilkison who married Margaret Manley in 1819 in Fleming County. I was hoping to find more information about him in Fleming County, especially when I discovered the full run of tax lists for the county available at the Archives. As it turned out, he was never taxed there and by 1820 he was enumerated in another county, 1830 yet another, and by 1840 he was in Indiana. And other than his marriage return, there is absolutely no evidence that he was even in Fleming County beyond his marriage and the tax returns helped prove that. What the tax returns did show me were other Gilkerson families there at the same time John was floating around Kentucky providing possible relations to John, including a William Gilkerson who was of the appropriate age to have been a generation older than John (father, uncle, etc.). I was able to track William through about 50 years of tax lists and establish a death range, attach him to a confirmed son and a couple potential others, find him in a deed index, and even find his marriage return from 1799. If I had had more time, I could have searched the tax lists for the surrounding counties to see if and how John was enumerated but that's going to have to wait for another time.

So my biggest tip on Kentucky research is don't jump straight to the courthouses without checking if the KY Archives might have what you need as well. If I had known how complete those tax lists ran, I would just have skipped the courthouse visits on the second day and returned to the Archives to search those surrounding counties for John.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

First up, Illinois land grant records at NARA Chicago

Ok, so yet another of my NGS Home Study Course assignments dealt with Land Grant records. Fortunately, right now I'm living in the greater Chicago Metro Area and can take advantage of the holdings of the National Archives, Great Lakes Region located on the south side of the city.

The assignment is to first determine whether you live in a federal land state or a state land state. The state land states are most easily remembered as those states formed from the thirteen original colonies, states formed by land from these states, and lands used as bounty land from them; Maine, Vermont, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Virginia, Texas, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Hawaii make up these states which are also known as non-public states, of which there are twenty. Ohio also had land which falls into this territory because a good portion of it was used as a military district for veterans.

The remaining thirty states are federal land states because the land they cover belonged to the government after the Revolutionary War. Illinois is one of these states and it is the records of the various Illinois land offices which I was to focus on for the assignment.

The main purpose of the assignment was to do a survey of the records held by the repository you visited. For the sake of time when considering the massive holdings of the National Archives, I was to look at the state I live in and report on what records are available for that state alone. Below is the list that I compiled.


-It should be mentioned that NARA Great Lakes-Chicago location has more than just IL land grant records. Indiana was also included in their catalog and it's possible that their holdings may include Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota and Ohio as well, though there are two NARA Great Lakes locations and the other is in Dayton, Ohio. For specific information on which land grant records are held at which location you can contact the Archives at or 773-948-9001

-NARA only has land grant records for federal land states. For grants outside these states, where the grants are often known as patents, check the Bureau of Land Management, General Land Office, website at where you can search the patents online

-The finding aid for land records at NARA Chicago included Illinois land office records which were only available at the Washington D.C. location. For a complete catalog of the land records of the various IL land offices, these records should be consulted.

Illinois Land Grant records available at NARA Great Lakes Region, Chicago, IL**

Chicago Land District (1835-1855)
Abstracts of Cash Entries
Abstracts of Military Bounty Land Warrant Locations
Galena Land District (1835-1840)/Dixon Land District (1840-1855)
Registers of Cash Certificates
Edwardsville Land District (1816-1855)
Register of Final Credit Certificates
Registers of Cash Certificates
Declarations of Consent under the Relief Act of 2 March 1821
Relinquishments under the Relief Acts of 2 March 1821, 18 May 1824, 4 May
1826, and 21 March 1828
Kaskaskia Land District (1809-1855)
Applications to purchase
Register of Credit Certificates
Declarations of Consent under the Relief Act of 2 March 1821
Relinquishments under the Relief Act of 2 March 1821
Relinquishments under the Relief Acts of 18 May 1824, 4 May 1826, and 21 March 1828
Register of Cash Certificates
Receivers Cash Account Book
Palestine Land District (1821-1855)
Registers of Cash Certificates
Vandalia Land District (1821-1855)
Registers of Cash Certificates
Quincy Land District (1831-1855)
Registers of Cash Certificates
Danville Land District (1831-1856)
Registers of Cash Certificates
Shawneetown Land District (1814-1855)
Registers of Cash Certificates
Springfield Land Office (1823-1876)
Registers of Cash Certificates

(I have a Word document/pdf file of the above list also. If anyone would like a copy, just drop me an email)

I didn't forget to blog, I swear!! :)

Hey all, I just wanted to drop a quick note to let you know that I haven't forgotten about the blog. I was out of town all last week in Kentucky on a research trip/get-together-with-friends things. This was my first on-site KY research trip so I have a few things to discuss with that but I need some time to go over my notes. Also, sandwiched inbetween my Parke County trip a couple weeks ago and the KY trip I just got back from, I managed to head down to NARA-Great Lakes Region in Chicago for a look at their Illinois land grant holdings and I want to go over that information as well. Plus, I'm still working on typing up all the data for the NGS HSC lessons that I've gotten this month. So I'm swamped now. But I'll also be working on starting to get some of it up here too so keep watching for it.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Parke County Trip, Part 2-The Good News

So I spent my first post on my trip last week (to Parke County, IN) basically talking about the frustrations I found there, and there were a few. This time I can talk about the great stuff I found, primarily in the back room of the Clerk's Office. Besides getting two assignments for the NGS Home Study Course finished while I was working in the Courthouse, I was also able to check out a couple of things for my own personal research. What I found were three complete probate packets. Some areas no longer keep these but Parke County has them going back to about 1833. Two of the ones that I found were for my direct ancestors, William Williamson and Emsley McMasters.

Emsley's packet was pretty standard: it had a page where the two administrators/appraisers signed on, an inventory of his items and their value to make sure that his estate was worth less than $500 (it ended up just under the cut at $488), and because of this, it also had a petition from his wife asking the court to release the estate, including both real and personal property to her. It includes the land description at the bottom which is great because now I can try to match it up to the land description in an entry for Emsley in the 1867 deed book and then try to find it on a map. So that's a little project I can hold on to for next time.

William's packet though, was a little different. For starters, I didn't have an exact date of death for William though I knew that he died probably between 1856 and 1860 so I started with the probate order books first. I found success there when I saw that his estate appointed administrators on May 1, 1858. In the same book, just before William's entry though, were several entries next to the name John Williamson. I had no idea who this person was, he's not one of the other Williamson's living in the county in the 1850 census, so I started looking at the pages with John's estate happenings. As it turned out, a William Williamson was appointed administrator of John Williamson's estate in March 1858 but died the next month, the same as the man I think is my William Williamson. So I pull both John and William's probate packets. John's is first and inside are tons of receipts and IOU's that John incurred prior to his death. Apparently he had tons of debts around town and couldn't pay them all. One of the receipts was this one

This receipt was for Susan Williamson, who was my William's wife which means this was the proof I needed to show that my William and the William that was administrator for John Williamson's estate were the same. It also establishes a relationship between John and William which gets a little more complex once I looked inside William's probate packet. In that one, the petition for the estate was not done by William's widow, Susan, as it was in Emsley's case, but instead it was done by a Conrad Williamson as representative, or "next friend", of Susan. This was a name I recognized from the 1850 census because he and his family lived in the same county and he himself was only a couple years older than William. In this petition he begins by saying he is in fact, "brother of William Williamson". So with these two packets I've now got a relationship between three men, two of whom are confirmed brothers with the third suspected to be either another brother or perhaps a cousin.

For now, I'm thinking John is a brother or cousin, someone of the same generation as William or Conrad, rather than their father because he seems to have been moving around more than someone who was probably in their 70s would have done. He has still not been found anywhere in the 1850 census and he didn't appear as having any land in the deed indexes and books either. His packet didn't have a petition for estate by a widow and he wasn't listed as having any heirs or children either. Keeping in mind his IOUs and receipts that the later administrator (who I'm also tracking to see if there is a relationship there) had to pay that doesn't generally fit the behavior of an elderly man either. But there is still a lot to be done with these two packets.

From two probates, look how much info I've gotten! It was great! I've since found out a little about Conrad too which is nice. He may have lived long enough to have a death certificate in the county which would be wonderful if it turns out that the informant (whether it's a widow or one of his kids) knew the names of his parents, specifically his father. So that's what I'm looking for now. And of course, I'm still on the lookout for John to see if I can get a more concrete hold on how he fit into the family.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Was just catching up on my reading-Ohio recs at Family Search

Hey everyone! I was just catching up on my blog reading and caught this heads up from Linda at Flipside and thought you should know

Apparently Ohio death records, which had previously been accessible from the's pilot page (with full view of other records with similar search terms) have now been moved to a beta site. I ran into a similar situation a few months ago when the Philadelphia cemetery returns (titled as death certificates on the site because they are are mixed in with later death registers, etc.) were removed as part of a site change. I checked the beta site to see if they were there, and sure enough, they too are listed as part of the record collection on the beta site. So I was really excited to see them back and glad that the Ohio death records haven't been lost either. Check out the site and view the full record collection list to see what's available now

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Back from Parke County, Indiana...

and it was your typical research trip complete with both pleasure and pain :)

The bad news was that two out of the three cemeteries I visited had fairly disappointing results. At West Union Cemetery, a medium-sized township cemetery, I was looking for the stone of Perry Williamson. His 1913 death certificate and obituary both say that he was buried there but after about an hour and a half of walking around and dodging bugs I was unable to find it. If he ever had a stone, and it's very possible that he never did, it's gone now or among the many broken and worn stones that are stacked up against two large trees on the cemetery grounds. Despite the fact that it was a public cemetery, no known documentation regarding lot purchases and/or lot maps exists so for now we'll just have to be satisfied with the belief that he's there somewhere. That doesn't really work for me but there isn't a whole lot I can do about it short of hiring someone to do one of those ground surveys to tell us where the people yeah, if there's anyone out there who would like to donate the funds for that be sure to let me know :)

So then I moved on to Causey Cemetery. Causey, unlike West Union, is a small family cemetery located on a very narrow gravel road and I went to the grounds armed with a copy of a photo of the stone I was looking for. So one would think I knew what I would find. You'd like to think that anyway. I was looking for the stone of the earliest confirmed Gilkeson ancestor-the one who first came to the Midwest from the East. John Gilkeson died in Parke County in the 1850s and his stone was photographed for a local transcription project that fizzled out before accomplishing very much, many years ago. I was estimating that the photo I had of his stone was about 10 years old, maybe slightly less. In the photo, the stone is in great shape, standing straight up, and is well readable. After two walk-arounds not finding it on my own, this is what I found

The stone is now about to fall forward, onto the writing. I don't know anything about cemetery restoration right now, but you better bet that I'm going to get to know a heck of a lot about it very soon. As a private family cemetery, the thought of lot maps and anything written down about who is in this cemetery is almost laughable so the thought that once that stone goes down no one will be able to know where on the grounds he is really makes me itch. At the rate this thing is going down, my son won't even be able to find it if he decides he'd like to see it a little later down the road. And that is not good. So I'm going to be trying my best to save this one and to get a project going to maybe get a full cemetery map done in the event that other stones go down.

So that covers the disappointments for the cemetery day. My final disappointment of the trip came the following day in the Courthouse. I spent the bulk of the day in the Clerk's Office going through the Probate records, doing inventory for the NGS HSC as well as looking up records for my own research. Parke County is fortunate to still have the complete probate packets dating back to the 1830s (though the county was formed in the early 20s, a serious fire around 1830 destroyed those precious early records) and they are in the back room in wall drawers. Did you catch that? "Wall drawers". This means that the packets were placed in the drawers decades ago and obviously the office has accumulated additional modern file cabinets over the years. Those new file cabinets need space somewhere in the room and guess where they went? Yep, about 1/3 of the old probate drawers are completely inaccessible because there are new metal file cabinets, filled with new case files, parked right in front of the drawers. They're filled, that means they are not able to be moved without a dolley and/or some very strong moving guys. And they're filled with NEW cases which means there really isn't any motivation for the staff to arrange any kind of help with moving them just to reach some old stuff that they don't use.

Remember Perry Williamson who I was searching for at West Union? He died in 1913 and I thought it would be great to take a look at his probate packet. Perhaps there would be a cemetery receipt included since several of the packets I viewed that day were filled with final receipts. Well, can you guess where the 1913 drawer is? If you guessed behind the file cabinets, you guessed right. It's on the bottom row all the way over to the right, directly behind the file cabinets. And to make matters worse, these probate packets have not been filmed, abstracted, indexed, nothing so they are basically dead to the world. They're obstructed and inaccessible with not much hope that they will be made available, at least not anytime soon. I'd love to say that some grad students could make it a summer project or something, but without a local genealogical society to back it up I don't see that happening.

And on that lovely note, I'll end the bad news. I'll post about the good news next...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Big score today...and a reminder

Hi all! Today I went down to my local Family History Center to view a couple of films that I ordered about a month or so ago. One roll was the index of marriages in Fleming County, KY up to about 1890 (up to the letter "h"). The other was the actual marriage book of returns for the county. Once again, I was reminded to never trust the index to be complete. I ran through it and did not see the marriage that I was pretty sure should be there so I swapped rolls and started going page by page through the record book. This wasn't too difficult because the registry entries were in the order they occurred starting with the earliest and worked forward in time so since I had a range I would know where to stop. Sure enough, the second to the last entry on one of the pages was my 1819 marriage return of John Gilkeson and Margaret Manly. Not much info was given but it was at least a confirmation that the marriage occurred in the place I thought it did. And it also served as my second reminder, in about a 2 month time period, that if at first you don't find what you're looking for in the index don't give up. Both today's record and another marriage record I found in a different location were not included in the indexes and were only found by going directly through the record book going page by page.

This can be tedious, but the payoff is huge. And really, what choice do you have? You either put in the time to find the record you need, or you don't, and then you have a big gap in your research. And really, I'm far too partial to having as much info as possible to have large gaps of the unknown in my info if I can help it. So don't give up so easily when searching for your records!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Quick Moment for something Interesting

Ok, I've pretty much spent all day working on CD 2 of the NGS HSC and while doing the research for one of the lessons I came across an interesting reference. I've heard of locales holding get-togethers/reunions for Civil War vets throughout the remainder of the 19th century and into the 20th century and always thought about how great it would be to be able to have seen them in person. I would kill for time travel to check those things out but today I had a different thought on the matter.

In a county history of Parke County, Indiana there was a brief reference to a soldier's reunion occurring in the county seat, Rockville, in 1875 (no exact day was given). At that time, my only Confederate ancestor (at least the only one that I've found so far) was a fairly recent citizen of Parke Co., having migrated shortly after the war. Part of my assignment was to look at the list of 100+ neighbors living in close proximity to him at the time of the 1870 census; they were all from Indiana and most of the families that I've seen were from Union families. In the little snapshot of a list that I've compiled, Emsley McMasters and his family were probably one of only a handfull of former-Confederates in the area suddenly swarmed by several thousand former Union sympathizers and veterans. I've already posted about my theory that he was probably not a willing Confederate participant, but regardless, it makes me wonder just how comfortable he may have been on the day of that "reunion".

....Oh, and did I forget to mention who the honored guest of the Parke County event was? It was General William T. Sherman. Yes, that Sherman. The Gone with the Wind burning of Atlanta Sherman. Now that's the kind of guest that would make any former Confederate get the warm and cozies, right?


Just my random thought for the day. One of many anyway :)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Back from IGHR, whew!

Alright, this is just a post to say, sadly, that IGHR 2010 is now over. It was my first time there and it was wonderful. To anyone who hasn't been yet, I really do recommend it very highly. A listing of courses on the docket for next year can be found here

Also, some news for next year came down the grapevine while I was there. Apparently, they are going to try something new for the online registration process for the 2011 Institute to help with the overflow problem crashing their servers, as it did during the last registration. The idea is to stagger the registration by time so that not everyone is trying to register for all courses at the same time. In theory this could be a big help, but we'll have to wait until January to find out. Til then, I'll be studying up and finishing the NGS HSC course to get ready for Course 4: Advanced Methodology next year. That class actually had a pop quiz on the first day and a good deal of homework throughout the week. Whew! Gotta get myself as ready as possible for that one!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Heading to IGHR

Hey all, I'm getting to head off to IGHR for the week. I'll be getting together with the ProGen'ers tonight so I may see some of you then. Then tomorrow I'll be sitting in the course on Virginia Military Conflicts and their Effect on Migration, can't wait!

Be back next weekend

Friday, June 11, 2010

Possible new group brewing over on the message boards

Hey all, not sure how many of you are signed up for the Transitional Genealogist Forum and/or the APG public and private message boards, but over the past two days or so there has been a flurry of activity over discussions on how to attack the valuable substance of "Evidence Explained" by Elizabeth Shown Mills. The discussions are culminating in the beginning of a possible public list group discussion, a yahoo group specifically for the study of the book, and a separate study group loosely based upon the ProGen model. If you haven't signed up for any of the message boards, now may be a good time to do so and then throw in your two cents on the subject. It sounds like a good group for studying one of the most important aspects of our field may be coming soon.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Just a quick reminder to everyone that registration for 2011 SLIG (Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy) opens this Thursday (June 10th) at 9 am MST. The early registration fee for this year is $320 and it will be held at the Radisson in downtown Salt Lake City, UT. The Radisson is offering a special rate for those attending and, according to the UGA website, they will also be coordinating room-sharing. For more info on the Institute, see

Tom Jones will be teaching his Advanced Methodology course this year, and there are several locale-specific courses as well including a New England course with hands-on consultation time from NEHGS experts.

I'm not sure if I'll be able to go yet, but I'd love to. The cost for the registration, plane fare, hotel for at least 5 nights, and meals for all of those days, plus the fact that it's held in January while my son is in school and my husband will most likely be working 16 hour days makes it difficult for me to fathom an attempt. However, I'm working on a plan...I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I'll be able to come up with something before Thursday because like IGHR, registration for SLIG fills up fast. So if you have even the slightest desire to go, you'd better hop on the 'puter and register early.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Happiness is staying busy

I've been feeling a little like a chicken with its head cut off lately with so much work. I've been working on two ProGen assignments, editing group members' research reports and figuring out what to do for the big final assignment, continuing work on an ancestry project for my aunt's DAR application, and continuing what I can on CD 2 of the NGS HSC course. Fortunately, most of the assignments for the CD are things that need to be done elsewhere (visiting courthouses, making a cemetery map, ordering church record film/visiting church record repository, etc.) so there's only so much I can do here. I am still working on the Census Analysis and Migration assignment though.

So on top of all of this research and paper work, I'm very happy to say that next weekend is the start of the Institute for Genealogical and Historical Research (IGHR) at Samford University in Alabama! I know several of us registered back in January and it's almost time to head out. I'm flying down next Sunday and the course will last until the following Friday. There were a ton of courses to take, they all sounded great, but I opted for the course of Virginia and its military and migration. Virginia is such a feeder state that I felt it was imperative to know more about what was happening within its borders at a time when so many of my own ancestors were living there and what was going on that could have impacted their decisions to move out when they did. This will be my first year at IGHR and I can't wait.

Another bit of great news is that the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) has extended the early bird deadline for registration to this year's conference in Knoxville, TN. You can take advantage of the savings as long as you register prior to June 21st. More info can be found here

The last bit I wanted to share was a great article for anyone interested in North Carolina research, especially during the Civil War. The article is from "The North Carolina Historical Review" (January 1984) and is entitled "Neighbor against Neighbor: The Inner Civil War in the Randolph County Area of Confederate North Carolina". It's a fascinating yet sometimes horrifying article about a pro-Union, anti-slavery majority in a Confederate state. I ordered this article to help me gain some perspective on my McMasters family who was living in Randolph County during the War and promptly left immediately after. It's no wonder. If things were bad for the inhabitants of that area during the War, it doesn't sound like it was any better there after. The appeal of land in a land in Indiana that hadn't been touched by the War would have a strong pull to a family in danger of losing everything they had and surrounded by anger and death. This article would be interesting to anyone with North Carolina ancestors, but also to those wanting to know more about the inner struggles going on during the War. We all have Civil War connections and getting a glimpse of what the people living through it dealt with on a day to day basis can be vital to understanding the context of their society. If you'd like to take a look, you can order the periodical from or order it through your library's ILL