Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Year End Offer on Casefile Clues

Don't forget our special year-end offer for Facebook fans (and regular website viewers) --the back issues and a year-long subscription for $23 visit here email me if the link does not work at

I just realized I posted this on my other site and never posted it here--hence the lateness of this posting.

Issue 22 is out--Crossing the Pond

Issue 22 has been sent to subscribers (intext email will go out in a few hours). This obituary is one of the images from this week's issue.

Subscribe now and get issue 22 and see what happened with Elizabeth Wachter, her family, and records on her in Germany--not to mention a discussion of some gaps in my research!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

First Name from this Week's Article

Issue 22 is being wrapped up as I write this post.
The image comes from a 1860 census in Davenport, Iowa. Transcribers have always read this first name one way and I think it's actually spelled a little differently which is partially explained by the way the name was said. Subscribe within the next 24 hours and I'll send you this issue and you can get it on the fun.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Issue 22 Running Late

As an FYI to subscribers, Issue 22 is running a little late. The holidays got the better of me and what I thought would be a "quick" article, isn't. It's amazing how inconsisent things become when one really starts to look at them more closely.

We'll post an update here and on Facebook when Issue 22 goes out. In the meantime, those who aren't on our subscriber list can subscribe and still get Issue 22.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Year End Wrap Up

It has not even been 6 months since Casefile Clues began self-distribution from our own website. I would like to thank everyone for their support of Casefile Clues. I do appreciate it.

We are going to continue to send Casefile Clues weekly as a PDF file, with no advertisements in either the newsletter itself or on this website. I do ask readers to not forward copies of Casefile Clues to others--our annual subscription price of $15 is very reasonable considering the newsletter is delivered weekly. I do appreciate those who have helped to get the word out about Casefile Clues.

We've made several changes since we began self-distribution in July. Our format is easier to read, the layout is improved, the citations are better (thanks Sue!), and illustrations are an integral part of each issue.

Don't just take our word for it though, read what others have had to say about Casefile Clues:

Remember that Casefile Clues is distributed between Sunday and Tuesday. I shoot for sometime Monday, but that does not always happen. One of the goals in 2010 is to get the distribution time on a more consistent day and time of the week.

Salt Lake City Research Trip May 2010

2010 Salt Lake City Research Trip
5th annual
27 May-3 June 2010
With Michael John Neill

Spend a week with your ancestors!

Our trip size is limited to ensure each attendee has ample opportunity to ask questions and get help.

Trip includes:
· Pre-trip planning via a private website for those who wish to participate
· Availability to ask questions of Michael and other group members before we leave
· Help preparing for time in library
· Morning presentations
· 1 on 1 consultations with Michael

Why Salt Lake?
Salt Lake City, Utah is home to the Family History Library, maintained by the Genealogical Society of Utah and affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day saints. Anyone of any faith can use the library and the collection is not equalled anywhere in the world. The Family History Library has millions of rolls of microfilm, tens of thousands of books, and other materials all geared towards family history and genealogy research. These records cover the entire world, with many records from the Americas and Europe. The Family History Library has a significant amount of local county records and European church records on microfilm. Michael encourages trip members to search the library's online card catalog before our time in Salt Lake. Thousands of genealogists visit the library every year and many are overwhelmed by the five floors of the collection upon their first visit. Our trip is to help you get beyond being overwhelmed and get to your research.

Who can go?
Our trip is not limited to members of any society, ethnic group, or research interest. Lodging is close enough to the Family History Library that participants can easily walk to the hotel and back several times a day if necessary. Attendees make their own flight arrangements and we meet at the hotel the first evening. Michael will help you in making arrangements if necessary.
If you have always wanted to go to the Family History Library (FHL) in Salt Lake, but never wanted to go by yourself, our trip is perfect for you.

What about the days?
Our trip does include Memorial Day, but the library will be open their normal Monday hours on that day. Sunday is a part of our time in Salt Lake--providing a day of rest for those who need it, a day to sightsee for those interested in that, or a day to regroup for those who realize they want to change focus after a few days in the library. Michael also consults with those who need it on Sunday afternoon--providing consultation time without taking away from library time.

Getting Help?
Help is available with organizing and problem-solving for those who request it. Michael suggests you begin your planning early to make the best use of your time at the Family History Library.

Where do we stay?
We stay at the Salt Lake Plaza Hotel—conveniently located next door to the library. Extremely convenient, even for those with mobility issues. Hotel room and travel not included in trip price. We do have a group rate at the Salt Lake Plaza please contact Michael at for information on making your reservations at our group rate of $85 a night plus tax.

Can I stay somewhere else?
Sure! We have had people stay in their RV, with relatives, or at other lodging nearby. The Plaza does offer guests a free shuttle service to and from the airport-a savings in and of itself.

Who is Michael?
Michael has lead research trips to genealogical libraries for ten years, including trips to the Allen County Public Library in Ft. Wayne, Indiana and the Family History Library in Salt Lake. He has researched his own genealogy for over twenty years and has worked on ancestors of his children in ten states and six foreign countries. For ten years he was a regular columnist for, writing over 400 regular columns.
Michael will help you with digital scanners and equipment as time allows. Attendees are also allowed to give input into lecture suggestions. Lectures are different every year.

When to we start planning?
When you sign up. We do NOT begin planning for our research time in Salt Lake when we arrive in Salt Lake. The pre-trip planning process is an important part of our trip experience and Michael encourages all attendees to begin preparing as soon as they sign up for the Salt Lake City Research Trip. Attendees are encouraged to interact with Michael and each other well before our arrival in Salt Lake.

What skill levels of researchers attend?
We have a variety of researchers who go on our trip, coming from across the United States and Canada. The level of research experience varies. Some need direction on what resources to use and what approach to take (we call it "homework"), others have never been to the library before and need help setting some focus, and some just do not want to spend a week in the library by themselves. A few do not utilize the 30 minute consultations, instead asking Michael questions "on the fly." That is fine. Sometimes a quick shot in the research arm is what is needed. A significant part of Michael's library time is scheduled with him in a specific spot where he can be asked questions by participants.
Print out a registration page to mail in:
Registration fee is $250. Trip participants are responsible for their own transportation, lodging, and other expenses.

To pay by check or money order contact Michael at


We'd love to have Casefile Clues readers join us in 2010 and are looking forward to our 5th annual trip.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Clipping leads to numerous discoveries

This clipping in a vertical file in the Champaign County [Illinois] Historical Archives lead to a variety of discoveries on John M. Fecht and his family. The information contained in this unsourced clipping was the first step in a series of discoveries on John and his family--there's even more to the clipping than is shown in this post.
Issue 21 of Casefile Clues discusses and analyzes some of the records discovered related to the life of John Fecht, include accidental death, court appeals to the state supreme court, fraud, and more.
Subscribe to Casefile Clues now (only $15 a year) and I'll start your subscription with issue 21 just to get you started. We've got interesting things planned for the year ahead. Join us and get in on the discovery and pick up some ideas for your own research in the process.

Issue 21 An Unsourced Clipping Leads to More

Issue 21 has been sent out to those who receive it as an attached PDF file. It will be sent later this evening to those who get it "in an email."

Contact me if you should have received it and we will figure out what happened.
Thanks. Michael

Monday, December 21, 2009

Topic for Issue 21

We are avoiding the holiday theme this week. Issue 21 involves state supreme court action, fraud, and death by train.

Issue 21 being proofed

Issue 21 is being proofed and will be sent right after it runs through that process. This week's story is sort of sad, but fortunately generated a great deal of records.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Mail-in Subscription Form

In answer to requests, I have created a mail-in subscription form for those who wish to pay by check or money order. It's not fancy, but functional and that's what counts. Just view and print out the pdf form, enclose payment and mail. It's that simple.

Questions can always be sent to me at Thanks!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Discount on Family History Library Trip Extended for Casefile Clues Subscribers

If any Casefile Clues subscribers would like to take advantage of the discount on my Family History Library trip in May of 2010, email me and I'll give you instructions on registering so you can still get the early registration $50 discount. Our $200 early registration rate actually expired yesterday, but I'm extending it for Casefile Clues subscribers until 21 December 2010.

Email me at and I'll send you the page to use to get the discount.

Subscribe now and you can still take advantage of the early discount.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Thoughts on 1870 Census Search Article

Anyone with comments on the charts and search procedure discussed in this issue can either post them here or send them to me at Getting a discussion going would be great.

Issue 20 of Casefile Clues Sent

This week we look at some strategies for organizing an 1870 census search for the elusive Ira Sargent. Readers should have their issues in their inboxes if they subscribed before Saturday at midnight. Thanks!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter Reviews Casefile Clues

There was a nice review of Casefile Clues on Eastman's blog on Sunday. I won't copy and paste it here, but if readers want to see if, take a look at the Eastman site and see what Dick had to say. Remember that one newsletter complements the other quite nicely, Eastman's keeps you up on the news and Casefile Clues helps you to analyze those records you find and those families that don't make sense.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Back Issues of Casefile Clues 1-10 and 11-20

As mentioned earlier in an earlier post, subscription cut off times are Saturday night for the issue dated the immediate Sunday thereafter.

Those who are interested in back issues can purchase them in sets of 10. Orders can be made by clicking on any of the following links which will take you directly to PayPal to process secure payment.


Volume 1, Number 1--"Lessons from an Estate Record"

Volume 1, Number 2--"Passport Records"

Volume 1, Number 3--"Preemption Claim"

Volume 1, Number 4--"Multiple Parents"

Volume 1, Number 5--"Finding a Chicago Christening"

Volume 1, Number 6--"The Civil War Pension File of Riley Rampley"

Volume 1, Number 7--"Looking for Ira's Lucretia"

Volume 1, Number 8--"Platting out Thomas Sledd's Heirs"

Volume 1, Number 9--"Finding and Analyzing Pre-1850 Census Records"

Volume 1, Number 10--"Getting from One Ira to Another"

Volume 1, Number 11- "The Homestead Application of the Heirs of Rolf Habben"

Volume 1, Number 12-"Is the Wrong Name Correct?"

Volume 1, Number 13-"Brick Walls from A to Z"

Volume 1, Number 14-"Jumpstarting Your Research"

Volume 1, Number 15-"Finding Geske and her Girls"

Volume 1, Number 16-"A Lot on Barbara's Lots"

Volume 1, Number 17-"Starting to Get Help from a Professional"

Volume 1, Number 18-"Analyzing a Biography"

Volume 1, Number 19-"Public Sale"

Volume 1, Number 20-"Charting an 1870 Census Search"

Friday, December 11, 2009

Locations in the Ongoing Frame/Apgar-Demar Problem

I try and use as many maps as I can in Casefile Clues. This one comes from Google Maps and will be updated as this family is analyzed more. Click on "DeMar Apgar Locations" to view the map in a new window with locations marked.

View DeMar Apgar Locations in a larger map

I can't quite get this to display in the window they way I would like, but I am working on it. Modern maps are included in Casefile Clues when appropriate. Maps contemporary to the time period are used whenever appropriate.

Midwestern Microhistory Mentions Casefile Clues

Harold over at Midwestern Microhistory mentioned Casefile Clues a few weeks ago. I would have caught it sooner, but apparently my Google alerts are not as great as I thought they were.

At any rate, Harold had some nice unsolicited comments to make about Casefile Clues, which I appreciate and can be read on his blog. He did comment that "Neill's ancestors pack more melodrama into a few decades than mine did into a few centuries."

There'll be more melodrama in upcoming issues, but the focus (as Harold mentions) is on the records and the research. But working on a "colorful" family sometimes makes the writing easier. It doesn't always make the research any easier, but that's half the fun.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Change in Back Issues Price

Effective Saturday, the charge for back issues 1-10 will go up to $5.50. PayPal is taking more of a "ding" out of it than I thought. You can purchase them here:

Back issues of Casefile Clues are grouped in sets of ten. The next set will be 11-20. The price of back issue sets will remain at $5.50.

Monday, December 7, 2009

A reader success

I just received this message from a subscriber, and with her permission am posting it here. I'm always interested in hearing research stories generated by articles. Thanks!
I am a new subscriber, and I quickly read all of your back issues. I have a brick wall that I've been researching for several years. After reading your Casefile Clues, I started to backtrack (yet again) my steps on this family.

I recently started searching old newspapers from the 1930s and found one that stated my gr gr grandmother, Mamie Bartley Jackson Clayton, had visited her brother, E. Shultz, in Hartford, KY. I've never heard of E. Shultz or that surname, so I started trying to find out Mr. Shultz's first name. While 're-reviewing' census records, I remembered Case File #12, which looked at the Demar/Frame family and how one of the persons in the household was listed as a 'roomer' but was most likely a relative.

I just happened to look up my gr grandfather, Sylvester Jackson, in the 1920 census again, and he was living as a 'boarder' with Ed and Caroline Shultz in Saline County, IL! Bingo! He was probably living with his uncle, the 'E. Shultz' that his mother had visited in the 1930s. I then checked the Illinois deaths online database and found out when Caroline Shultz died and requested an obituary look-up from the local library. I will also obtain her death record to get more clues. I've known my uncle lived in this household for years, but I never suspected he could be living with relatives. Thank you for providing a case file clue that helped me knock down another brick on my wall!

Issue 19

Issue 19 just went out--discusses an early 20th century sale bill and how it can be analyzed for clues.

If you did not get it, please let me know.
Subscribe now and I'll send it.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Subscription Cut Off Times

To streamline the subscription process:

Every issue of Casefile Clues is dated on a Sunday. In some instances, issues may not go out until Monday or Tuesday, but Sunday is our actual "date" of the issue.

Effective immediately, subscriptions received by 12:01 am Sunday will begin with that Sunday's issue. Subscriptions received after that time will begin the following Sunday and will be processed sometime after Sunday's issue has been sent to subscribers.

This really should not impact most subscribers as subscribers will get back issues from the last issue when back issues were "grouped." Back issues are grouped in sets of ten and sold in groups. Anyone who subscribes in time for issue 19 (which will be dated tomorrow), can request issues 11-18 at no charge. Anyone who subscribes in time for issue 20(which will be dated 13 December), can request issues 11-19 at no charge. Anyone who subscribes in time for issue 21 (which will be dated 20 December) will have to purchase back issues as 11-20 will be grouped and sold as a set.

This was done to make it easier for my staff (that is, me) to deal with charges for back issues.

Friday, December 4, 2009

NARA renovations

I don't normally put "news" here as that's not the focus of Casefile Clues, but genealogists need to be concerned about potential renovations at NARA in Washington DC.

More info here

Please spread the word.

Give Casefile Clues for the Holidays

Need a gift for that genealogist you know? Has someone on a genealogy list been really helpful to you over the past year? Give them the genealogy gift that gives back every week: Casefile Clues.

Every week, your family history friend will get another copy of Casefile Clues, filled with analysis, methodology and suggestions. Casefile Clues won't research your friends problems for them (unless they are a relative of Michael's), but articles are written to get readers thinking about their own research problems and provide ways to analyze, organize, and synthesize information. And we talk about brick walls some weeks as well.

Blog Reviews of CC:
* DearMyrtle
* AnceStories
* Reclaiming Kin
* GeneaMusings
* GeneaBloggers
* GenBlog
* Notes that Matter
* BellaOnline

Clicking on our PayPal link will allow you to purchase a gift subscription for your friend. Just put the friend's name and email in the instruction box. Don't worry, if you forget, I will know who ordered the subscription and PayPal will tell me it was a gift. So if your instructions are not there, I'll contact you and get them. It is that easy.

No stamps, no rushing around, no wrapping-and it keeps on giving every week.

Credit card orders are processed by PayPal--a PayPal account is not necessary. If you want to order by check--contact me at for details.

Give a Holiday gift subscription to your genealogy friend today! You don't even have to go outside or leave your chair to do your shopping.

22 Issues for 50 cents

(please ignore the "date" that appears at the top of this post--it was made on 10 Feb 2011).

Starting at 8:00 PM Central time on 10 February 2011 until 11 February 2011 at 10 PM, we're offering issues 1-22 free with a subscription purchased at $17.50. That's 22 issues and a YEAR more of Casefile Clues for only 50 cents more than the normal subscription price. Orders can be processed securely here or email Michael at for other arrangements.

Topics from the first 17 issues of year 2 are:
  • Volume 2-Number 1--Problem-Solving--a variety of techniques for breaking through those brick walls.
  • Volume 2-Number 2--A 1907 Committal--An insanity record.
  • Volume 2-Number 3--A 1921 Divorce--looking at a 1921 era divorce from Chicago
  • Volume 2-Number 4--Leaving John's Hands: Documenting Post-Death Land Transfers
  • Volume 2-Number 5--The Acquisition of John Michael Trautvetter's 228 Acres
  • Volume 2-Number 6--The Original Versus the Record Copy
  • Volume 2-Number 7--Multiple Marriage Mayhem:
    Starting the Search for Emma (Sargent) Pollard Ross Oades Pollard Snavly Olenbaugh
  • Volume 2-Number 8--A Handful of Problem-Solving Strategies
  • Volume 2-Number 9--Two-Thirds of an Acre from Uncle John: A Partition Suit Proves a Sibling Relationship
  • Volume 2-Number 10--A Minimal Estate Gives Some Direction: The 1886-1888 Probate of Benjamin Butler
  • Volume 2-Number 11--Signing What We Could Not Read--immigrants unable to read English sign a 1870 era document that is incorrect and a lawsuit results.
  • Volume 2-Number 12--Dad Raised my Daughter--A newspaper account of a court case in the 1880s discusses an early 1870 out-of-wedlock birth.
  • Volume 2-Number 13--Using the 1860 Census to Formulate a Passenger List Search Strategy
  • Volume 2-Number 14--Search Strategy for Benjmamin Butler in pre-1870 Census Records--this looks at ways to find the missing 1850 and 1860 census enumerations for man who "appears" in Iowa in 1870.
  • Volume 2-Number 15--Pre-1850 Census--analyzing 1810-1840 census entries for Thomas Chaney in Bedford County, Pennsylvania.
  • Volume 2-Number 16--Names in the Probate--analyzing various names in a probate settlement from 1903. Nicknames and diminutives were part of the problem.
  • Volume 2-Number 17--Bridging a Twenty-Year Census Gap-1870 to 1860. Showing that an 1870 Iowa, 1880 Missouri, and an 1850 Michigan enumeration are for the same man.
  • Volume 2-Number 18--Four Passports and a Foreign Death: George Washington Drollette. Analyzes four early 20th century passports and a US State Department death report from 1933.
  • Volume 2-Number 19--Diplomatic Employment Applications. Analyzes and summaries letters of support for employment with the US State Department between 1901-1906.
  • Volume 2-Number 20--Just One Wife Who Shaves Her Age. Records hinted that a man might have had more than one wife. Despite age discrepancies and first name variations, we've likely proven that there was just one wife.
  • Volume 2-Number 21--1930 Census: Primary, Secondary, Original, Derivative, Direct and Indirect. You'll never look at a census entry the same way again-also shows how in this case, New York became Kentucky
  • Volume 2-Number 22--Finding the Biegers in 1850. Organizing our search and our negative search results in an attempt to find a German immigrant living in Cincinnati in 1850.

Salt Lake City Genealogy Trip with Michael May-June 2010

The early registration deadline of 15 December is fast approaching for my 5th annual genealogy research trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. We spend an entire week in Salt Lake, right next door to the Family History Library.

Registration gets you:
  • help with pre-trip planning
  • morning lectures (optional)
  • onsite help (twenty minute consultations as can be scheduled and "drop in" help as needed).

We always have a great time and make great discoveries. More information on the trip is available on our site Many like to go with a group, especially if they have never been before or don't have anyone "from home" going with them. You don't have to have a roommate.

Registration is $200 until 15 December and does not include, travel, hotel, or expenses.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

$25 Amazon Gift Card Drawing

Prize drawing for Casefile Clues Subscribers!

Anyone who has subscribed to Casefile Clues on an annual basis by 11:59 p.m. CST 10 Dec 2009 will be entered in a drawing for a $25 gift card. Each subscriber is assigned a number, based upon when they subscribe. If you would like to know your number (it is only used internally, but is not a state secret), email me and I will tell you.

One winner will be drawn at random on 12 December 2009, which is when the winner will be announced. Read what bloggers have to say about Casefile Clues:

Subscribe now and get your name in the pot!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

New Subscribers

A few things for new subscribers, just in case you missed them in earlier messages:

1) Make certain is on your "allowed sender" list or whatever so that the email with the newsletter attached does not get caught in your spam filter, etc.

2) The email address to which this message was sent is the one to which your newsletter will be sent. I think I caught every request for a "non-paypal" address, but if I didn't please accept my apologies and send me a reminder.

3) The newsletter is sent on Sunday or Monday. I post an announcement to our "Casefile Clues" fanpage on Face Book and to the newsletter's website the newsletter has been sent. If you see the announcement and don't have your newsletter, please contact me.

4) Back issues 11-20 can be purchased for $5.50. The early issues (1-10) are not quite as nicely formatted as the later ones, but the content is good and shows how we've made progress and improvement since we started. Issues 1-10 can be purchased for $5.50. The link to choose and go to a secure site for payment is here.

5) Back issues 1-20 can be purchased as a group for $11.00.

6) Every year in May I have a group trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake. More information is here:

7) If you know of anyone who may be interested in the newsletter, feel free to spread the word.

8) Questions, comments, ideas, and suggestions can be sent to me

9) Last and most important, thanks for subscribing to Casefile Clues!


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Casefile Clues on Dear Myrtle

Myrtle had some nice things to say in her blog today about Casefile Clues, which I really appreciate. I won't repeat her post here, but will link to it for those who'd like to take a gander at what "Ol' Myrt" had to say. She refers to herself by that term, so hopefully it's not getting me into trouble.

The "Cyber-Monday" discount got extended by one day to give her readers the benefit so if anyone missed it there's still a few hours--it's over at midnight tonight West Coast time and that's it. You'll still be able to subscribe, but the regular price ($15) will apply.

Off to work on next week's newsletter. ;-)

Recent Casefile Clues Topics

I've listed topics from recent issues of Casefile Clues. Subscribers will receive issues 11-18 complimentary with their subscription which will begin with issue 19. Remember that while these articles are on specific people, the intent is to get you thinking about your own research and analyzing the information you have.

Recent issues of Casefile Clues have included:

11- "The Homestead Application of the Heirs of Rolf Habben"

This column discussed the homestead claim of the deceased claimant's heirs. Included is a discussion what types of records are typically in a homestead file, why the copies look so strange, and what other documents should be researched as a followup.

12-"Is the Wrong Name Correct?"

This column discussed a name that appeared on the surface to be incorrect. A 1910 Chicago census enumeration seemingly had the wrong last name for a household member. Further research hints that the individual unofficially changed his name ca. 1909.

13-"Brick Walls from A to Z"

This column was a quick run-down of suggestions for breaking brick walls. It was a reprint of an earlier column of Michael's from several years ago. We don't often use older material (this has been the only time, but deadlines got the best of me and this was a very popular piece).

14-"Jumpstarting Your Research"

Just a few ideas to get you brainstorming.

15-"Finding Geske and her Girls"

Losing a an ancestor on the other side of the pond and finding her in the United States. This required using a variety of records and techniques to find this 1880 era immigrant when her "new" married name was unknown.

16-"A Lot on Barbara's Lots"

A 1900 era probate failed to mention how an estate's real property was disposed of. Finding those deeds revealed quite a bit of genealogical information, even though the actual amount of property and its value was relatively small.

17-"Starting to Get Help from a Professional"

My initial column in an ongoing series on working with a professional, focusing on being focused, deciding what to
research, why certain things are researched, and staying within a budget.

18-"Analyzing a Biography"

This column encourages readers to go back and fully analyze all those county "mug book" biographies they have. Several techniques for analysis are included through an extended example. I even made a major discovery just in completing the analysis on this 19th century biography.

Subscribe today and get in on the fun. We've got updates on older columns and new ideas coming.