Wednesday, September 30, 2009
There's another problem in her ancestry. Her father's real name was not William Apgar. It actually was William Frame. I proved this to myself several years ago with sources and logical reasoning, but I realized that I never really formalized my proof and as I was doing some work on him today (he was born in Chicago ca. 1888), I realized that I should make certain my case is still solid. As I thought about it a little, I started to remember what I had used even though the records weren't in front of me. Relying on my memory isn't a good thing.
I never did figure out why he chose Apgar as a last name. It was not his mother's maiden name. The Frame family is pretty much all English.
In an upcoming issue of "Casefile Clues," we'll look at my case for William Apgar and William Frame being the same person. Unfortunately there was no record of the "name change," but there are a few official records pointing to the change and a variety of circumstantial sources.
It is a little bit of an usual case. I'm looking forward to writing it up again and seeing what readers think of it.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Comments are welcomed.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
It is an interesting analysis of several pre-1850 census enumerations on a family from Kentucky. Interpreting pre-1850 census records is something that sometimes presents challenges to genealogists. After all, only the heads of households are listed. This week we infer a suggested family structure for Thomas and Sarah Sledd in these head of household census entries.
This week marks our first week that Casefile Clues is being sent out as a PDF file. Subscribers have two options for receiving Casefile Clues in their email: as an intext email or as a PDF attachment. We are excited about offering this option to our subscribers.
Those who subscribe by Tuesday noon (central) can receive this week's Casefile Clues and still have their subscription begin next week. More information on subscribing is available at http://www.casefileclues.com/subscribe.html
Saturday, September 26, 2009
It is not a genealogy "news" newsletter. It is a how-to newsletter, focusing on various problems, records, and Michael's approaches to those problems or interpretations of those records.
Suggestions from readers are always welcome and visitors can learn more by clicking here.
Also included are some comments on clues outside the family that are also indicated by the census.
Subscribers who sign up before Sunday at 6:00 pm (central) will get Sunday's issue. We'll be posting a few images here for those who get the email version of the newsletter.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Thanks and thanks for your support.
If there are readers who know they will have difficulty with this, please let me know. For a variety of reasons, I have decided to distribute the newsletter in this manner. I encourage readers who do not have Adobe Acrobat Reader to download it (my hope is that most of you already have it anyway....).
Comments or concerns can be sent to me at email@example.com.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
What has been in Casefile Clues so far?
So far, Casefile Clues has included articles on the following:
Lessons from the Estate of Mimke Habben
This article discusses an 1870 era probate file in Illinois, focusing on how I organized and used the digital images I made of these records from the Family History Library microfilm. One has to be careful when scanning that sources and citations are tracked adequately and that your organization of your scans does not confuse you even more. There is also some discussion on various terms in the records and the probate process in general.
Framing a Passport Application
This article discusses an 1920 era passport application. The document itself is analyzed for clues and then the discussion continues with a follow up on Google Books where information about the informants on the application is located. The article also includes some tips for effectively using Google Books as well.
The Preemption Land Claim of John Lake
John Lake filed a pre-emption land claim in Chariton County, Missouri, in the 1850s. This article discusses typical material located in a pre-emption land claim, how to access the records, and how information in this claim was analyzed to allow the researcher to work on additional records.
A Chicago Birth in 1913
This article discusses a relative who was born in Chicago in 1913. It is a story of conflicting dates, multiple parents and records that were not clear. Excellent case study when what the family gives you does not make sense and the parents of the person you are "stuck" on decide to get married several times and confuse the issue entirely.
Finding a Chicago Christening
This is a follow up to the previous article in which the birth certificate was never located. Through solid research, sound methodology and just a little luck, the church record of the christening of the person studied in the "A Chicago Birth in 1913" was located. She wasn't christened when she "should have been," which only made finding the record more difficult. Clever use of Family History Library microfilm was necessary in this case.
Civil War Pension file of Riley Rampley
It took some organizing to analyze a 207 page Civil War pension file. This article discusses why certain documents were in this pension and how they suggested additional resource sources, as if 207 pages of paper were not enough.
Finding A Sister: Looking for Ira's Lucretia
Ira Sargent, born ca. 1843 is my brick wall. In this article, I discuss how his potential family was found and my search for one of his potential sisters. She was tracked through several states and eventually located. This research is ongoing and will be updated in future Casefile Clues columns.
Platting out Thomas Sledd's Heirs
This article analyzes a 1831 Kentucky land record that partitions out the estate of a man who died 15 year earlier. The article discusses the likely reasons why and how those theories could potentially be proven. Also included is a discussion on platting out the property using the metes and bounds description. This part is included in a way that those who are not interested in platting can easily bypass that portion of the article and not miss anything.
Each issue is easily 1500 words. These are not short little quick stories. There is enough detail to follow the methodology and understand what is going on, but not information about the family that isn't essential to the research.
Join us by subscribing today! Learn more about Michael's research and help expand your own family tree! Subscriptions can be done annually for $15 or quarterly for $6 every three months. Subscribe now and the back issues will be sent to you for free. This offer expires 22 September 2009.
More exciting topics are on the way, including material from the pre-1850 era.
I am working on topics for upcoming issues of "Casefile Clues." Some future topics include:
- Census work done in an attempt to find out what precipitated the 1831 Kentucky deed discussed this week
- Analyzing a series of pre-1850 census records on one family
- An update on my attempt to locate the likely father of my Ira Sargent (born ca. 1843 in Canada or New York)
- A pre-emption land claim from 1850s era in Missouri
- Census directory work on a 1870-1900 era family in Chicago
Subscribe in the next day and I'll send you the issue from earlier today and start your subscription next week.
This week in Casefile Clues I discussed an estate partition from 1831 in Kentucky. This image shows how DeedMapper platted out the widow's portion of the farm of Thomas Sledd.
There are a few unanswered questions regarding this partition. One is why the plat in the court book is upside down. Another is what really caused the 1831 division, other than no will for the father.
In an upcoming Casefile Clues column, we'll look at ways to find out what transpired in 1831. Meanwhile those who are not subscribers to Casefile Clues can subscribe and have their issue start next week, and I'll send them this week's issue, too!
Friday, September 18, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
I will post there and to the fan group on Facebook as time allows. Keep in mind that "news" about Casefile Clues, links to images, announcements about the newsletter, discounts, etc. are always announced on http://www.casefileclues.com. That should be your first place to check out if there has been a delay, etc.
One only has so much time for the social networking sites if one wants to keep getting the newsletter out on time with helpful information. That's my primary goal, but I do like the social sites and encourage readers to use them to discuss things from the newsletter and to let others know about Casefile Clues. We (actually I) don't have advertising on the www.casefileclues.com site or in the newsletter, so help from readers in "spreading the word" is always greatly appreciated.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
This is the part of the estate that went to Belinda (actually) Melinda Sledd, my 4th great-grandmother.
Her piece wasn't very large. We'll see how many pieces there were to this estate and how a few errors in the actual record were discovered when the deeds were completely analyzed.
Subscribers will get this week's issue sometime Sunday. Those who aren't subscribers can subscribe and get in on the discoveries.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Brick Walls from A to Z
This week we discuss the alphabet looking for clues to ancestral brick walls. The list is meant to get you thinking about your own genealogy problems.
A is for Alphabetize
Have you created an alphabetical list of all the names in your database and all the locations your families lived? Typographical errors and spelling variants can easily be seen using this approach. Sometimes lists that are alphabetical (such as the occasional tax or census) can hide significant clues.
B is for Biography
Creating an ancestor's biography might help you determine where there are gaps in your research. Determining possible motivations for his actions (based upon reasonable expectations) may provide you with new areas to research.
C is for Chronology
Putting in chronological order all the events in your ancestor's life and all the documents on which his name appears is an excellent way to organize the information you have. This is a favorite analytical tool of several Ancestry Daily News columnists.
D is for Deeds
A land transaction will not provide extended generations of your ancestry, but it could help you connect a person to a location or show that two people with the same last name engaged in a transaction.
E is for Extended Family
If you are only researching your direct line there is a good chance you are overlooking records and information. Siblings, cousins, and in-laws of your ancestor may give enough clues to extend your direct family line into earlier generations.
F is for Finances
Did your ancestor's financial situation impact the records he left behind? Typically the less money your ancestor had the fewer records he created. Or did a financial crisis cause him to move quickly and leave little evidence of where he settled?
G is for Guardianships
A guardianship record might have been created whenever a minor owned property, usually through an inheritance. Even with a living parent, a guardian could be appointed, particularly if the surviving parent was a female during that time when women's legal rights were extremely limited (read nonexistent).
H is for Hearing
Think of how your ancestor heard the questions he was being asked by the records clerk. Think of how the census taker heard what your ancestor said. How we hear affects how we answer or how we record an answer.
I is for Incorrect
Is it possible that an "official" record contains incorrect information? While most records are reasonably correct, there is always the chance that a name, place, or date listed on a record is not quite exact. Ask yourself how it would change your research if one "fact" suddenly was not true?
J is for Job
What was your ancestor's likely occupation? Is there evidence of that occupation in census or probate records? Would that occupation have made it relatively easy for your ancestor to move from one place to another? Or did technology make your ancestor's job obsolete before he was ready for retirement?
K is for Kook
Was your ancestor just a little bit different from his neighbors? Did he live life outside cultural norms for his area. If he did, interpreting and understanding the records of his actions may be difficult. Not all of our ancestors were straight-laced and like their neighbors. That is what makes them interesting (and difficult to trace).
L is for Lines
Do you know where all the lines are on the map of your ancestor's neighborhood? Property lines, county lines, state lines, they all play a role in your family history research. These lines change over time as new territories are created, county lines are debated and finalized, and as your ancestor buys and sells property. Getting your ancestor's maps all "lined" up may help solve your problem.
M is for Money
Have you followed the money in an estate settlement to see how it is disbursed? Clues as to relationships may abound. These records of the accountings of how a deceased person's property is allocated to their heirs may help you to pinpoint the exact relationships involved.
N is for Neighbors
Have you looked at your ancestor's neighbors? Were they acquaintances from an earlier area of residence? Were they neighbors? Were they both? Which neighbors appeared on documents with your ancestor?
O is for Outhouse
Most of us don't use them any more, but outhouses are mentioned to remind us of how much life has changed in the past one hundred years. Are you making an assumption about your ancestor's behavior based upon life in the twenty-first century? If so, that may be your brick wall right there.
P is for Patience
Many genealogical problems cannot be solved instantly, even with access to every database known to man. Some families are difficult to research and require exhaustive searches of all available records and a detailed analysis of those materials. That takes time. Some of us have been working on the same problem for years. It can be frustrating but fulfilling when the answer finally arrives.
Q is for Questions
Post queries on message boards and mailing lists. Ask questions of other genealogists at monthly meetings, seminars, conferences and workshops. The answer to your question might not contain the name of that elusive ancestor, but unasked questions can leave us floundering for a very long time.
R is for Read
Read about research methods and sources in your problem area. Learning about what materials are available and how other solved similar problems may help you get over your own hump.
S is for Sneaky
Was your ancestor sneaking away to avoid the law, a wife, or an extremely mad neighbor? If so, he may have intentionally left behind little tracks. There were times when our ancestor did not want to be found and consequently may have left behind few clues as to his origins.
T is for Think
Think about your conclusions. Do they make sense? Think about that document you located? What caused it to be created? Think about where your ancestor lived? Why was he there? Think outside the box; most of our brick wall ancestors thought outside the box. That's what makes them brick walls in the first place.
U is for Unimportant
That detail you think is unimportant could be crucial. That word whose legal meaning you are not quite certain of could be the key to understanding the entire document. Make certain that what you have assumed is trivial is actually trivial.
V is for Verification
Have you verified all those assumptions you hold? Have you verified what the typed transcription of a record actually says? Verifying by viewing the original may reveal errors in the transcription or additional information.
W is for Watch
Keep on the watch for new databases and finding aids as they are being developed. Perhaps the solution to your brick wall just has not been created yet.
X is for X-Amine
With the letter "x" we pay homage to all those clerks and census takers who made the occasional spelling error (it should be "examine" instead of "x-amine.") and also make an important genealogical point. Examine closely all the material you have already located. Is there an unrecognized clue lurking in your files?
Y is for Yawning
Are you getting tired of one specific family or ancestor? Perhaps it is time to take a break and work on another family. Too much focus on one problem can cause you to lose your perspective. The other tired is when you are researching at four in the morning with little sleep. You are not at your most productive then either and likely are going in circles or making careless mistakes.
Z is for Zipping
Are you zipping through your research, trying to complete it as quickly as possible as if it were a timed test in school? Slow down, take your time and make certain you aren't being too hasty in your research and in your conclusions.
The "tricks" to breaking brick walls could go on and on. In general though, the family historian is well served if he or she "reads and thinks in an honest attempt to learn." That attitude will solve many problems, not all of them family history related.
(c) 2006 Michael John Neill--Michael maintains a website at www.casefileclues.com and www.rootdig.com
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Along the way, some problem-solving and methodology is discussed as well.
If you did not receive it, please let me know and we'll take care of it.
Anyone who subscribers within the next 24 hours will have a subscription starting next week, but will still get the issue I just sent out.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
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Friday, September 11, 2009
Let me know what you think. Either post it here, to our fan page on Facebook, or as an email to me separately at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
I think that this woman is the sister of my ancestor Ira Sargent. I'm hoping to connect her to my Ira and her family in an attempt to locate his family. Nothing is straight forward about this family and they apparently move just about every time they see the censustaker coming (or perhaps it was the tax collector they were avoiding!). At any rate, my work on Lucretia and Ira continues and will be featured in upcoming "Casefile Clues" columns.
Subscribe now to receive this the next issue when it goes out this weekend.
For over the past ten years, I have written over 600 weekly genealogy columns, first for Ancestry.com and then for Dick Eastman. My new columns are now distributed exclusively through "Casefile Clues." Additionally I have lectured at local, regional, and national genealogical society seminars and workshops and have presented numerous hands-on computer genealogy classes as well. I have conduced all-day seminars in twenty-five states across the United States. I was formerly on the board of directors of the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS), was on the faculty of the former Genealogical Institute of Mid-American, and have served on FGS conference committees in a variety of functions. I have a master's degree in mathematics and have been on the faculty of Carl Sandburg College in Galesburg, Illinois, since the early 1990s. I have done additional graduate work in education.
My writing style is not overly formal, but focuses on sound methodology, practice, and readability. I write about problems and families I am working on, or interesting records I have discovered in my own research--with the intent of showing how the record could be used, what it means, and why it was created. Every family I write about is one I am researching and every record is one I have actually used. I do not do any professional research for others. I have a pretty deep variety of research experiences and locations upon which to draw my research as by ancestry my children are:
- 1/4 Ostfriesen
- 1/16 Irish
- 1/16 English
- 1/16 German
- 1/16 Swedish
- 1/16 French-Canadian
- 1/16 Belgian
- 1/32 Swiss
- the rest is from most states east of the Mississippi with Colonial origins being in Virginia, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and the Carolinas. And there's always the loose-end ancestor from who knows where.
The goal of "Casefile Clues" is to help you with your own research. Suggestions are always welcomed.
Genealogical interests are broad, but the immigrant experience, migration, and land records are of particular interest.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Sunday, September 6, 2009
Saturday, September 5, 2009
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Friday, September 4, 2009
Casefile Clues is Michael John Neill's weekly how-to genealogy column. Casefile Clues is not copied and pasted text from other articles or press-releases. Rather, it is fresh material drawn from Michael's own research experiences in nearly twenty states and seven foreign countries. Casefile Clues discusses the thought process of how to analyze and interpret documents; how to problem-solve; and how to decide "where to go next." Michael has been actively involved in genealogy research since the mid-1980s.
Columns are clear always have a lesson bigger than the family or area being discussed. Subscribe to Casefile Clues and see how reading short case studies can help you in your own research. Annual subscriptions are just $15, pretty reasonable when you consider that gets you one article every week for an entire year--especially when compared to the prices of other genealogical magazines. I have researched families in most Eastern states and several European countries. The content varies with respect to time periods and locations and I am always open to suggestions from readers. I don't always solve each of my brick walls; however, articles always discuss procedures and methods in an attempt to break them down.
For the past ten years, Michael has written over six hundred how-to genealogy columns for Ancestry.com and Dick Eastman. Now his columns are being distributed from his own site http://www.casefileclues.com/. Email addresses of subscribers are never sold or shared and the website and newsletter are free from advertisements. No advertisers means I am dependent upon readers to help "get the word out," which I truly appreciate. No advertisers also means that within the usual limits, I can say whatever I want and not be concerned with making an advertiser mad. There are no ads to pull.We would love to have you subscribe and see how Casefile Clues can give you ideas to grow your own family tree.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
This article I wrote for Ancestry in 2005 discusses the majority of those steps--something we all need to think about.