Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Graveyard Rabbits Carnival, 12th Edition: Forgotten Cemeteries

As I'm still participating in the Geneabloggers Winter Games, one of the categories suggests joining in on one of the genealogy carnivals offered now. The one that appealed to me most is hosted by the Graveyard Rabbits and this month's topic is Forgotten Cemeteries. I've only had one in-person experience with an inactive cemetery that is small and generally falls off the radar, Hillgrove Cemetery in Darke Co., OH. It actually falls right near the border of Eastern IN and Western OH and lies outside two cities, one in each state. I posted about it right after returning from my research trip last fall and managed to get some pretty decent photos of the rather small (thankfully) cemetery. Here's the link to the post with a google earth photo and a photo of the entire cemetery http://genealogist-in-training.blogspot.com/2009/10/part-2-hillgrove-cemetery-darke-co-oh.html

I was really in awe of this cemetery. I've walked cemeteries before, but most were more recent and/or still active. This was the first one I've been to that was older and abandoned. At one point however, it looked like someone had cared for it because there were many, many broken stones that had been stacked up. I couldn't tell whether the person had systematically gone through and tried to match up the broken pieces and then place them where they'd presumably fallen or if it was just a haphazard straightening up. I will pay more attention on my next visit. Fortunately, my ancestors stone was still in tact though it did lean back a bit. I'm hoping to be able to figure out a way to help preserve it as much as I can, though at this point I'm not even sure if there's anything that can be done. I'd hate to think of his stone becoming one of those unknown broken pieces stacked up somewhere. In any case, I am planning another trip to the cemetery, as often as I can actually since it's not very far from from some relatives so that should give me several opportunities to survey the broken pieces and even get a plat done to record who is there and where they are. I didn't have that benefit the first trip and I was extremely worried about whether or not I'd find my ancestor's stone.

There's also another cemetery just down the street from Hillgrove, called Snell Cemetery. I've heard this one is bigger but dates from about the same time. I don't know what kind of condition that site is in but know that there are other relatives buried there, so it's another place on my to-visit list. Hopefully I can stop by and take a look on my next trip out there. This cemetery is a little different than Hillgrove in that the local genealogy and history society has examined this one a bit more closely. They even have a book about Snell, and another Darke County cemetery called Hiller. So it's not quite what I would call a forgotten cemetery. Hillgrove wins the prize for that I guess. Perhaps because of its size...who knows. Whatever the reason, I found it to be a charming little cemetery complete with a huge, ancient tree at the corner spreading it's branches out over the site and shading the resting place. I can't wait to be able to see it in the Spring or Summer when the trees are full.

Some Genea-news, and an important link to share

Hey all, I had a couple of things pop up in my inbox this morning that I wanted to share. First off, thanks to Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter, found here http://www.eogn.com/, which had a topic today about the UK Archives in Kew giving away microfilm. Much of the inventory consists of census rolls but there are also baptismal rolls and rolls relating to seamen and other topics. The registry is worth a look and you can view what's available here, http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documents/microfilm_doc_for_pdf.pdf . Eastman's site also gives more information as well as contact info you have any questions on how to obtain any of the rolls. You can read more here http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2010/02/the-national-archives-of-the-uk-surplus-used-microfilms-offered-for-disposal.html

The second thing I wanted to share was a good place for some techno gadgets that may be useful. I'm not really into the technology side of things but even I have to admit that sometimes it can definitely make life a little easier, if not proving to be a necessity. So a good place that I've found to look for those gadgets, everything from computers to thumb drives and everything in between, is http://www.newegg.com . I am on their email list so I get to see what and when things are on sale. Today's star, for me at least, is an 8 GB flash drive for $22.99. 8 GB!! Can you imagine how much space you can have? Talk about a backup, that would be a great way to save your files from all of the junk swimming around on the web. So I thought maybe someone here might like to take advantage of that deal, and for everyone else, you might want to sign up for their email list. It's just a good thing to have and take a look at. They always seem to have some good deals for useful things.

Tombstone Tuesday...I know, it doesn't happen often here

I'm doing probably only the second, or possibly the first, Tombstone Tuesday here. I usually don't participate too much because I don't have very many tombstone photos in my collection. Last year however, I found a wonderfully kind researched through Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness, found here http://www.raogk.org/, who took photos of a group of family members who are buried in the Chester Rural Cemetery in Chester, Delaware Co., PA. Included among the burials was my 3rd Great Grandmother, Jemima McKeever Taylor. I don't know very much about her really, she was only about 33 when she died in 1873. She was born about 1840, probably in Philadelphia, PA where her father, J.B. McKeever as well as his parents and grandparents, were living at the time. She married Alfred Taylor, who is buried at Chester Rural Cemetery also, in 1861 at Marcus Hook, PA and had 5 children including one set of twins who both died shortly after birth. Her cause of death is unknown but presumably she died from complications during the birth of her twins in 1873 as all three died that year. Her husband, Alfred, raised their three remaining children, including Elizabeth (or "Bessie")-my Great Grandma Ward's beloved mother-and lived a very active life in the community until his death in 1897. Jemima's gravestone reads:"Jemima McKeeverwife ofAlfred Taylorborn 1837died 1873"Her twins, Alfred and Hill Engle, are buried with her and their information is included below her own.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Tally for Geneabloggers Winter Games

I haven't been doing a very good job at keeping a daily tally on my progress for the Geneabloggers Winter Games, but I have been working so here's the newest tally. For further details on what is involved for each of the categories, visit http://www.geneabloggers.com/competition-categories-winter-2010-gb-games/

I've been lucky enough to get several copies of vital records over the last week and have gotten my citation tally (for category one "Cite Your Sources") up to 23 and I still have a couple more to get done which may bring my total up to 30 by the end of the week bringing a Gold Medal my way. Woohoo!!!

Category 2: "Back up your Data"- This was a pretty easy one for me because I found that most of the requirements relating to protecting and preserving photos has already been done. Lucky break for me. I've signed up with Mozy to help protect my data, as well as backing up several files onto a thumb drive. As for things that are really vital to preserve, they are in two separate safety deposit boxes making everything safe, protected, preserved and it should make for a fairly transition should something happen to threaten everything. This one should bring me a Platinum Medal, the only one so far.

Category 3: "Organize your Research"- Still need to really get to work on this one, though I was able to get a start on it while working on category one. Photos still need to be organized better though so I'm at 3 tasks for this one. Three completed tasks gets me a Gold Medal, but I should be able to attack those photos at some point which would earn me a Diamond or even a Platinum Medal for 4 and 5 completed tasks respectfully

Category 4: "Expand your Knowledge" - This is another category I'm still working on. I've only completed one of the tasks, looking at one of the tutorials on genealogy.com, but I should be able to get 3 or maybe 4 done soon. I will definitely be returning to google maps for this category to map out an ancestral location. I had a great time playing with this program prior to my trip last fall to Darke County, OH and was able to use it to locate a tiny cemetery just outside of Greenville thanks to that program.

Category 5: "Write, Write, Write" - I've did a lot of posting yesterday and some were composed as drafts and pre-published so I've got one task completed. I will probably do one more task, such as participating in a carnival event (such as this one, does that count? :) ). I already have two of the items necessary for two separate tasks for this category so I don't think those count which leaves me with only a couple possibilities. So I'm guessing I'll only have about 2 or 3 tasks completed for this one.

Category 6: "Reach Out and Perform Genealogical Acts of Kindness"- I'm at 5 tasks on this one. I've commented at a new blog, I participated in some indexing at both ancestry.com and familysearch, I joined a society (actually renewed after I had let it lapse), I use the follow feature to follow other blogs, and I invited another genealogist to join facebook. Whew!

So that's the latest tally. Hopefully I can meet my goals, but even if I don't I've already gotten a ton of work done that probably would have just sat for another day (which basically means probably never). So it's already been a great experience.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

When one computer crashes...

Alright, you'll have to excuse this post. It's probably going to be a bit random. But as I posted a few days ago, my netbook crashed so I lost all of the favorites that were on that computer. So this afternoon I was on the desktop, which was my primary computer prior to last May, and rediscovered some favorites that I had saved there. Some of them I thought were worth sharing so here they are:

The ISRR (International Soundex Reunion Registry) http://plumsite.com/isrr/ - This site just looks like a fun thing to keep in mind, especially if you have clients who are preparing for a reunion or who are looking for relatives

The Workhouse http://www.workhouses.org.uk/index.html?Bristol/Bristol.shtml - This was a site that I saved when trying to figure out if there was some truth to a family legend that said one of my Stevens ancestors, the emigrant who supposedly left England for America probably in the 1770s, was a prisoner in Bristol, England during the War of 1812. This site does allude to the fact that what had been a 19th century workhouse, had a history as a prison and more specifically, as a POW prison during the War of 1812. Its name is Stapleton and I have since found out that the FHL has microfilm of prisoners who were released from Stapleton after the war. So far, there's no sign of my Charles T. Stevens, but I haven't finished looking at the film. This site is important because it gives a good deal of background information on a very little known prison during this time. Most people think of places like Dartmoor when they think of War of 1812 POWs and if their ancestor doesn't appear in the lists of for that prison or one of the other biggies, the family history can get discredited. So this is a good site to be aware of just in case one of those POW stories comes your way.

A Primer for New England Research http://www.genealogy.com/genealogy/25_kory.html - Ok, obviously a "primer" can be helpful for whatever basic information it can provide. So for that alone, this was a pretty handy dandy site to keep in mind. But the author of this one, written for genealogy.com, is Kory Meyerink who is also the author of a book on finding hidden sources which is a greatly important resource. So that's two good reasons to check this one out. It may be a little dated, yes, but the basic foundation is still solid. If you need another reason, he gives several recommendations for reference works that are also helpful.

Bureau of Land Management Land Patent Search page http://www.glorecords.blm.gov/PatentSearch/Default.asp? - Pretty self-explanatory. You can search and view original images right from the site. If the images are not included, you can order the files.

Kentucky Land Office site http://www.sos.ky.gov/land/search/ - Have an ancestor who lived in Virginia in the 18th century? Who was involved in some kind of military service during the revolution? Perhaps you have an early Kentucky ancestor? Then you may want to keep this one in your favorites list as well. The Kentucky Land Office site offers several databases for your to search, as well as original (and printable) images online. But just as important is the background information provided for the different records collections. They give a great explanation of the process behind certificates of settlement and preemption.

about.com Genealogy Blog http://genealogy.about.com/b/ - This is the about.com Genealogy channel blog by Kimberly Powell. Kimberly Powell is a well-known genealogist and her blog is filled to the brim with great information as well as posts that just plain interesting reading. If it's not on your regular "to read" list, it should be.

Maureen Taylor, the "Photo Detective" has both a blog found here: http://blog.familytreemagazine.com/photodetectiveblog/?p_PageAlias=photodetective
and a regular site found here:

She uses her blog to show various photos that she has been sent, has in her collection, and/or those which bring up certain aspects of photo identification. Through her main site, you can find out how to send her your own unidentified photos and follow her lecture schedule. You can find out about her WONDERFUL book on either site but my favorite, and one which I think should be on every genealogists bookshelf, is Uncovering your Ancestry through Family Photographs (more info found here http://www.fwbookstore.com/product/1217/genealogy ). Her discussion of how to tell what kind of early photograph you have, ambrotype, tintype, daguerreotype, etc., is worth the purchase price alone.

NARAtions http://blogs.archives.gov/online-public-access/ - If you are a genealogist or even an amateur family historian, you will no doubt rely upon records held by the federal government, specifically the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), to help your research. Keeping informed on what is going on with NARA means you're keeping your eyes on what's happening with those records that are so important to you. In light of all of the proposed changes coming to the National Archives in D.C. specifically, keeping this blog on your radar has become even more important.

Maybe something in this list will be helpful to you. Or better yet, maybe you have your own favorites saved somewhere that may have gotten forgotten.

Well that's a bummer...PA Death Records

Hey all, I just got word through one of my email lists that Familysearch Pilot has removed the Philadelphia Death Records images (these are the cemetery returns beginning as early as 1803). Apparently someone emailed Familysearch to ask what was going on and they confirmed that the images had in fact been removed. They will hopefully be returning sometime later in the year once some kind of registration system has been developed and implemented. There was no further elaboration on what the "registration system" referred to so I'm at a loss. Those records were extremely useful for Philadelphia research at a time when, for the most part, there was no statewide death registration. Those cemetery returns are in many cases the only proof of the date of death for a subject, other than a tombstone which you may not be able to find without knowing the date of death. Let's just keep our fingers crossed that this issue gets taken care of so the images can return.

As far as I know, the index is still available through Familysearch Pilot so you should still be able to search for people. It's only the images that have been removed. For the very earliest returns, which in some cases were just slips of paper with the person's name and very basic info, this may not impact researchers very much. Like many other record types however, as the years went on the format of the returns got more sophistocated and important information can be found. It really just depends which is one reason why those images are so vital; you just never know what will be included.

In any event, let's just hope this gets resolved soon. Those images, along with the index, make up an extremely important PA resource. For now, if you are interested in the index you can find it here http://pilot.familysearch.org/recordsearch/start.html#c=1320976;p=collectionDetails

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

NGSQ Article Discussion Group Today

Hey all, as usual I've got a lot on my plate but in came the monthly NGSQ article discussion for a nice change of pace. The article for this month's chat was "Life and Death on the Frontier: The Robert and Loana McFarland Family of Boulder Valley, Colorado" by Birdie Monk Holsclaw. If you haven't read it yet, it was the 2003 Winner of the NGS Family History Writing Contest and is a definite must read. Those of you who are NGS members can access the article online through their article archives section. Those who are not members, it's just another reason to go join right now.

As I said above, this is a definite read. There are several reasons really but the top two, in my opinion anyway, are
1-it's a fast read; fast, easy, interesting, pulls you in, not confusing/requiring the reader to make charts in order to follow what's going on
2-it includes all of the key elements of a classic case study; it's the kind of thing you would want your BCG certification portfolio to exemplify (there was even some discussion in our group today about this being part of the author's CG application)

When I say that it includes all of the key elements required of a good, strong case study one of the points I'm referring to is the use of tons of sources of all kinds showing an "exhaustive" search of records. Another is the the placement of the subject within the larger historical context of the time and place. In this case, the subject was Robert McFarland and his family through his second wife. Robert began his life in Vermont later moving to IL and ultimately CO while his children went back to VT and even ID and for all of these places, we see historical selections taken from the time and place and placing each of the subjects within that framework. This article represents what appears to me to have been a pretty big undertaking of research and study of New England, newly formed territories in what would become known as the Midwest, and the frontier at a very early time in its history. I do not have any known ancestors (at least not that I know of yet) who ventured out to the Western frontier, at least none that settled there permanently and remained there so this article was not necessarily something that I would have chosen to read on my own (despite my knowledge that case studies, no matter what their content have value in guiding others on proper methodology) but it turned out to be one of the greatest examples of a case study that I've read up to this point, right up there with the article by Rachel Mills Lennon that we read back in October (here's the post on the subject http://genealogist-in-training.blogspot.com/2009/10/im-motivatedbut-distracted.html ).

My point here is read this article! Actually, either get a membership to NGS so you can read all fo the articles, award-winning or not, or head to the nearest library and start checking out as many NGSQs as you possibly can. They serve not only as models, but as motivators for yourself. They're a great way to see in tangible terms where you want your work to be, where you want your skills to be.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Work for the Geneabloggers Winter Games begins

I got a little done for the Winter Games yesterday-5 citations and I completed one part of category 6 (expand your knowledge) by renewing my NGS membership. It expired in December and I had to wait until tax refund time to renew. So right now, I'm at the bronze medal level for category 6 and still need to do a minimum of 5 more citations for a bronze medal in the Cite Your Sources category. My intention is to compete in all six categories, probably to varying degrees, but I'm going to try my best to see what I can get done. For more info on the categories and the tasks involved in each, take a look at http://www.geneabloggers.com/competition-categories-winter-2010-gb-games/

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Geneabloggers Winter Games

I'll admit it, although I love reading the Geneabloggers themed posts, I don't often participate in them myself. Not because I don't want to but more because I've either got something else to rant, rave, observe, vent, chit-chit, brag about or because I just don't have the photos or files for whatever the particular theme may be; I am not the holder of family tombstone photos, I've only got about two or three myself right now (with plans for more coming in the Spring/Summer), so tombstone Tuesday would only happen maybe twice. You get the idea. But the new theme to coincide with the Olympic Games in Vancouver this winter is a great one that I think everyone can, and should (to the best of their abilities keeping in mind any other obligations, of course) participate in no matter what their skill level, experience, specialty, etc. may be.

And besides, it's already pretty fun. The first step is creating a flag for yourself. I must say, I liked that part a lot. Here's mine

When you go to the flag site, http://www.wearemulticolored.com/, they ask you where your home is, what other country has affected you, and where you have always dreamed of going. While these questions may be not directly be what we're trying to accomplish or focus on for these games, it is a great start. From those questions, I narrowed things down to just three. I wanted to keep America on the flag because it's my home and has been the home of several lines of both my Mom's and my Dad's families since the 17th and 18th centuries. I like knowing that I have lines with an American history going back to the beginning and continuing to the present and thought it would be important to show that.

The two other flags incorporated into my flag for the Geneabloggers Winter Games are the flags from Germany and from the United Kingdom. I chose the German flag because that is where nearly all of my recent immigrant ancestors have come from. The Boldas, the Kleinerts, the Siegmunds all came from various parts of Germany between 1880 and 1900 and they are all lines that I would love to be able to know more about one day. The other flag incorporated on my own flag is of course, the flag for the United Kingdom. Maybe this was too obvious a choice but I used it because it represents two big research problems-I have three lines that stretch back to America in the 18th century that supposedly came from Britain, according to the passed down family history at least. But I haven't been able to find proof of that for any of them yet. Mostly because immigration records in the 1700s are virtually non-existant, with only a few exceptions, from what I'd been able to gather. So that part of the flag represents both the possible beginnings of those lines as well as the time and commitment it has and will continue to require to prove it.

The next step of the Games will be to start actually doing the work, beginning with citing sources. I need to go back into my files and cite everything that needs a citation. "Everything" might be a little too ambitious, but who knows. 10 citations will get me a bronze medal, 20=silver, 30=gold, 40=diamond, 50=platinum. So I should be able to get into the files this week and figure out what needs to be done. Wish me luck!!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Complete Computer Crash...ugh!!

Well, after a day of work, including getting the first assignment of three typed up and ready to email out, my computer crashed. I don't know what happened. First it froze, then I opted to restart it, and instead I got the option screen to load in Safe Mode, Last Known Good Configuration, etc. No matter what option I chose however, the computer would not load. We tried everything we could think of and I was feeling just desperate enough today to take the EeePC to Best Buy's Geek Squad when we decided to just wipe it and reload with the system recovery disc. Considering that it was an EeePC however, I had no disc drive so we had to pick one up. The computer is loading now so I should be able to attempt to get it running properly tonight, thank goodness, but I've lost everything that had been stored on it. Any webpages, photos, links/favorites, files, scans, homework assignments, etc. that I had saved there are now gone. The good side to all of this is that I've had the EeePC for less than a year, I got it for Mother's Day, and most of what I loaded onto it initially came from my desktop so I should be able to recover a good deal of what was removed. I'm still going to be lost without my favorites and all of the photos I had saved there.

I almost feel like the fates have been yelling in my ear lately since one of the topics over the past month (at least) on Eastman's Online Newsletter has been the subject of "cloud computing"; where you can store and backup your files through an online server. Even Randy Seaver's site has a new post today about Google Docs for this purpose. Now it's time to take a more serious look at that option and others that are similar. There will be more to come on this, I'm sure. In the meantime, if you're interested check out these links:




First I need to get Adaware and Avast set back up on my computer.....

Monday, February 8, 2010

When Interests Collide...One Heck of an Interesting Find

Genealogists are often found discussing their other interests and hobbies on the various boards and blogs. One that often shared, no matter what the genealogical specialization or subject matter, is a love of books and of reading. I guess it's just one of the perks of this job. We better love reading because we find ourselves doing a lot of it. I'm the same, except I guess a more appropriate description of my other love is antiquarian book collecting. I love reading books that were around when my ancestors were alive, maybe they would even have seen a new copy in a shop, but I love everything about old books. I love that musty smell, the binding, the yellowing of the pages, plus all of the history behind their publishing houses. Everything about antiquarian books excites me...or almost everything. The prices are pretty often less than thrilling to my one-income military family budget. But for my own current collection, I don't have to worry about coming up with that $20,000 for a 1st edition Bleak House so it's no more of an issue than coming up with the money for The Source or Eastman's Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Censuses...

In any case, because I do try to keep up with what's going on in the world of books in general, I regularly read a magazine called Fine Books & Collections along with their blog. One of the contributors, both in print and online is a well-known bibliophile named Nicholas Basbanes. In the winter, generally around Christmastime or soon after, he submits "Nick's Picks" for the best books to give as gifts. It's basically a great guide to the best books he's found recently and it's also a wonderful guide for books to read for yourself. Recently I was playing catch up and wanted to see some of his past picks and found a few general history books that would be interesting for genealogists, but one in particular really stood out for me. It's called Carolina Clay: The Legend of the Slave Potter Dave and the book's author is Leonard Todd. It is a non-fiction account of a slave in South Carolina who created some beautiful works of pottery, some carrying works of poetry written by Dave. The author discovers a connection between his own ancestors and Dave and the book is the account of his subsequent research regarding Dave and the author's ancestors.

I know there are quite a few South Carolina researchers that may be interested in this, but I think it would also be a great read for all of us, besides being just a fascinating read in general. If you'd like the full review from Nicholas Basbanes, visit the blog at http://www.finebooksmagazine.com/fine_books_blog/nicks-picks/ and scroll down the page about 3/4 of the way down.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Still Struggling with Membership to the Indiana Genealogical Society

I have a lot of ties to Indiana genealogy; I have ties there through both my mother and my father's sides of the family and my husband's family has a long-standing history there also. Between the two sides of the family, my Indiana research right now covers several counties such as Wells, Steuben, Jay, Randolph, Wayne, and Parke Counties with a few others thrown in for good measure. So how come only about 2 of those counties are represented in the Indiana Genealogical Society's list of databases (and what's available for them is pretty obscure)? The first five of those counties pretty much make up the entire North-Eastern corner of the state. So how come they aren't getting any attention? Now, to be fair, the Society can only include what they have, which means that someone has to be interested and conduct a research project there, and/or what is submitted to them. This could be a sign that there just isn't much going on in the realm of genealogy in these particular counties. Or not; it could be pointing to a much more problematic issue. I know that Jay and Randolph Counties for instance, both have thriving genealogical communities with at least several very knowledgable genealogists and historians. These people are very active in their communities respective societies so why not with the state society? Good question.

The major problem I can see with the Indiana society is that they do not appear to have much of a partnership with the individual county (or location specific) societies. Ohio is a good example of a state society working with each county society because they are set up as chapters of the state society. Because of this, work that is being conducted and generated within the county/locale chapters gets forwarded to the state society to help increase the usage to members throughout the state and even the country by way of its membership. I don't see the same thing happening with Indiana and it's really frustrating considering most people looking to join a society there would look at the state society's site and think there must not be anything going on in the Eastern parts of the state. And they would be dead wrong.

On the flip-side, I do recognize the need to foster state societies and take advantage of the usefulness of their publications. Just like the articles in the NGSQ, though the topics may not be zeroed in on your particular interest at the time, the methodology and case studies come in handy no matter what the particulars of your research may be. But, for most of us, we turn to those publications with nation-wide standing, such as the NGSQ, the NEHGS Register, TAG, etc. for these models. So then, it's vital for the state-specific periodicals to step up and provide the "between the lines" information that may be too specific to the location to find in the nation-wide journals. And that brings us back to the inherent problem of a limited vision in the Indiana society; it just doesn't appear to be filling in the holes like other state society periodicals do.

I want to support the society, I really do. But when they are only talking about half of the state, there's not a whole lot they can offer over the county societies. If they can formulate a new model where they will be working with the counties to obtain a wider spectrum of information I'll jump on it. Even if it means a hike in membership fees I would gladly pay it if it meant more of the state would be represented (the current fee is a very reasonable $30, but again, the advantages are limited to the counties to which they cover) .

Maybe I'm being a little irrational about it, or missing something. I may be misinformed about the extent of the inner-workings of the society. If I am, great!! Let me know ASAP and I'll sign up immediately. I am super-eager to subscribe to the memberships of those societies to which I can get the most use out of; those societies which will foster increased knowledge and skill when working with records within a particular state. I just don't feel like Indiana is offering that in my case right now and unfortunately, I'm not independently wealthy. Funds have to be distributed to the societies with which I'll get the most usage. If you've got family and/or research work in the Western part of the state however, or even the North-Central region, go for it. They have plenty to satisfy you.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

IL marriage records, part 2

As mentioned in the previous post, I focused on Lake County, IL for my NGS Home Study Course assignment on marriage records. The earliest available marriage records for Lake County held by IRAD begin in 1839, the same year the county was created. In these early years of recorded county history, the marriage records were hand-written returns stating that a license was issued and a return was filed by either a church official or the J.P. No information other than the names of the couple, the attestor, the J.P./church official, and the clerk and the dates of the license and of the event were given. By 1849, a register-like form began to be used stating roughly the same information; names of couple, when the license was issued, the date of the marriage, and who married them. The first actual marriage license application in the collection is from 1893. The application is much more in-depth showing the names of the couple, where they reside, their ages, whether they are related, whether they are both single, reasons why they should not be married, signature of the applicant, and, where necessary, an affadavit from the parent/guardian in the event of an underage bride or groom. The records beginning in 1901 do not include the application. It is currently unknown if these records ever existed or if the questionnaire was purposely eliminated. In any event, beginning in 1901 we find the license and affadavit attached and signed by the groom, clerk, minister/official, and the parent/guardian in the event of an underaged bride or groom. From 1905-1918 (the most recent holdings at the facility) the form has been changed again, this time bringing back the questionnaire-style application, the affadavit (though by this time, seldomly used), and a copy of the license itself. From the first questionnaire format to the more recent one, the questions themselves did not change much. The only difference was in the extent to which the application investigated earlier marriages. Specifically, the questionnaire asked about divorces and adultery which the earlier format did not explore.

Several volumes of the Lake County marriage record holdings available for viewing on microfilm from the IRAD depository at NIU are missing. It was unknown whether these volumes are also missing at the Lake County courthouse in Waukegan. There was a fire in Waukegan in 1875 which touched some government buildings, but from what I've been able find out about it online, it doesn't sound like the county's records were lost. Another important factoid about the collection is that IRAD does have an index to these records, searchable by date and thereafter by the first initial of the surname. The index however, covers years up to 1918 whereas the actual film of the records themselves only goes to 1915 so you will have to rely upon the County Clerk in Waukegan for marriage records between 1918 and 1962. Thereafter, you can order copies from the Illinois Department of Public Health, Vital Records Div. in Springfield.

So now that I have my run-down of availability, I can get this baby typed up and emailed into NGS. As soon as that's done, I will have finished CD 1 and will be ready for CD 2. I don't know yet what will be covered next, but since CD 1 covered all of the basic stuff, I'm guessing CD 2 should have some more "meat" to get into. I can't wait!!!

Success!!! Marriage records found in IL

Ok, for those who have been able to follow my rather schizophrenic genealogy assignments over the past month or so, congratulations! For everyone else, I've been working my way through the NGS Home Study Course and got stuck on the final lesson of the first CD. The lesson has three assignments, two of which I've completed. The final assignment was causing me problems though. I needed to complete a marriage records survey at a local repository, preferably one with the ledgers, manuscripts, loose pages, etc. of genealogists' dreams. Well that didn't happen for me here in IL. I made two wasted trips to two different county courthouses because the marriage records were deemed restricted by the staff, even though IL is not technically considered a closed records state. Another county courthouse in IL denied access to me before I called a courthouse over the border in the neighboring state. They too, denied access to marriage records unless you're looking for an ancestor in which case you have to pay them before they will copy that single record for you. So the question of how to complete this assignment when no one would let me see the records was becoming more and more complex. I made a few discoveries though which might be helpful for those who have some work to do with IL records.
  • the Family History Library has microfilmed marriage records for Cook County (including the city of Chicago), Lake County, and McHenry County in IL and Kenosha County in WI-all of the counties that denied access to the records in-person. All of the films are available to rent.
  • IL marriage records can also be viewed at various depositories throughout the state thanks to the Illinois Regional Archives Depository system, called IRAD. Their website is found at http://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/archives/irad/iradhome.html and you can search the holdings online to find out where the records you might need are located

Today, I visited the IRAD facility located at Northern Illinois University in Dekalb. It was about 4 hours round-trip but considering all of the time I had already wasted trying to complete this assignment, it was worth it just to have found what I needed. I focused on the Lake County, IL marriages but the IRAD holdings at NIU also include various records (not just marriages) for Boone, Bureau, Carroll, DeKalb, DuPage, JoDaviess, Kane, Kendall, LaSalle, Lee, McHenry, Ogle, Putnam, Stephenson, Whiteside, Will, and Winnebago counties. There are six other system depositories located throughout the state. You can find the breakdown of county records here http://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/archives/irad/iradaddr.html#NIU.