Thursday, September 30, 2010

SS5 Card Request Submitted

I've submitted the request for the SS5 card of Martha Greenstreet as mentioned in an earlier post. We will keep readers updated on the progress of the request and we'll write about the card in an upcoming issue of Casefile Clues. And we'll have a complete citation for the card in the newsletter as well.

Stay tuned. Subscribe now and get in on the fun.

Receipt for Recorded Deed--Comparing the Original with the Record

This is the receipt that was attached to the original deed indicating it had been recorded.

The date is June 15th, 1863. We're comparing the actual deed with the recorded copy for the next issue of Casefile Clues. Very interesting. I'm not certain I'll look at a hand transcription of anything quite the same way again.

Subscribe now and get in on the fun.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

John Michael Trautvetter's Land Articles

I've gotten some good behind the scenes emails about the John Michael Trautvetter articles (the last two to go out). I'm answering those as time allows--but I do appreciate them. Readers with ancestors far away from Illinois have said the articles gave them ideas for their own research, which caused their questions.

I'm hoping to incorporate some of their comments and ideas into other articles. I've got a few more records that illustrate other land ownership issues, women's property rights, etc. One is in what was the frontier of Virginia in the 1760s-1780s and one is somewhat later.

I finally think I've figured out why a will was denied by a judge in 1900 even though a search of the court journals and ledgers made no mention of the reason behind the denial. That too is an interesting study of property rights and inheritance. Even though that family was very German with very German names the concepts are applicable to just about anyone as the ethnic group has absolute nothing to do with the real legal issues involved.

Subscribers know that John's heirs had a little difficulty because one of children had died and the grandchildren had an in-law for a guardian. John's brother had a daughter who also died young along with her husband. That couple died a few years after John's daughter and her husband.

In the other case the child also inherited property and real estate via her mother. A relative of the father immediately filed for guardianship. The mother's family filed a counter-petition and eventually appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court. The mother's family received guardianship and I've wondered if they learned from what happened with John's family as the situation was similar and just a few years earlier. Getting the papers of the appeal is on my long-term to do list.

Subscribe now and I'll send you the two land articles on John Michael to get your subscription off to a good start.

Comparing the Original with the Recorded Copy

I'm wrapping up V2I6 of Casefile Clues where an original deed is compared with the recorded copy at the courthouse. It's been an interesting experiment, especially when one considers how many of these recorded copies genealogists use in their research. (Issue 6 is NOT out be patient).

Elizabeth Shown Mills in Evidence Explained discusses some of these issues and we'll touch on those in this real world example. If there's interest, I'll try and get more originals to compare with the handwritten recorded copies.

Subscribe now and get on the distribution list to get this issue. We're working hard at Casefile Clues to keep putting a new twist on things where possible. Remember genealogy isn't just about using the latest technological toy. It's how you use the toys that is important and sometimes you don't even NEED the toys. We'd love to have you join our group of subscribers and get in on the fun.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Emphasizing the Research Process

One of the things we try and do at Casefile Clues is to emphasize the process. Sometimes that means we don't write the research up in the "cleanest" fashion or present things in the most orderly way. Research is not always done in strict chronological order; things are not discovered in the easiest order to understand; and the significance of details is not always immediately evident.

I hope Casefile Clues reflects that.

One of the things I don't like about some journal articles is that the package is "always neatly wrapped." Research doesn't always happen that way. Sometimes there are loose ends that are "discovered" when the writing takes place and sometimes those loose ends have to stay "loose" because deadlines loom whether loose ends have been tied or not. We do try and admit the loose ends--because that is important too.

Sometimes the suggestions are inadvertantly directed in the way I know the research is going or has gone because I know more than is in the article. I try not to write that way, but sometimes it slips out.

The John Michael Trautvetter article on his property acquisition is a good case in point. The article had already gotten long enough without going into conjecture about where he originally got his money for the first purchase (partially because I have a few loose ends to research yet). Suffice it to say that it seems very reasonable that he recevied his inheritance at a young age, before either of his parents died. His parents had a few "issues" as did his "in-laws" and we'll cover those in more details in future issues of Casefile Clues. I just hate to include things that are conjecture when I don't have as much evidence as I would like or I feel there's some research lacking. I do feel it's important to document the research process and include sources as we go and we've tried very hard to do that.

If you'd like to see where our research progresses, consider subscribing to Casefile Clues. We try to be clear, exhibit sound methodology, and include all documentation. And some of these stories I just can't make up!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Does Your Casefile Clues Expire in August?

Issue 5 of Volume 2 was the last issue for August 2010 of Casefile Clues. If your subscription expired in August and you have not yet renewed, it was your last issue.

It's not still too late to renew. Current subscribers can renew their subscription here at the annual price of $17. We've got some interesting topics planned over the next several months--both from earlier articles and from reader suggestions. Email me at  if you need to know when your subscription expires.

And if you've chosen not to subscribe--good continued luck with your research.

Issue 5 of Casefile Clues Sent--John Obtains Property

Issue 5 of Casefile Clues has been sent as a PDF file. If you did not receive it, please let me know. I'm processing a few new subscribers tonight, but everyone else should have the newsletter in their inbox.

It discusses several deeds and mortgages documenting property ownership for a German native who lived in Illinois and obtained property over a fifty year time period.

One of the unanswered questions is where he got the cash to buy his first 180 acres. That's on our list of "goals" in this issue and hopefully down the road we have an answer to that.

If you aren't a subscriber, join now and get in on the fun! Casefile Clues at only $17 for  year of weekly issues is one of the best genealogical bargains around...

SS5 form request

I've decided to request the SS5 form (Application for a Social Security Number) for Martha Greenstreet.

born: 30 Sep 1890
died:  Mar 1981

Her Social Security Number was 480-22-9796.

She was a half-sister to my great-grandmother, Ida Sargent Trautvetter Miller and I'm curious what she listed about her parents. They  were both daughters of Ira Sargent who has been mentioned in the Casefile Clues blog and in the Casefile Clues newsletter. I need a better fix on who she indicates was her mother.

We'll post updates and include a detailed analysis in the newsletter after the form has arrived.

Stay tuned. Subscribe now and get in on the fun.

John's 228 Acres on Google Maps

This is the approximate location of John Trautvetter's 228 acres as shown on Google Maps.

View John Trautvetter's 228 acres in a larger map

Subscribe to Casefile Clues now and see what his land records had to say about him and his family. Bethany Cemetery--where John and his wife (and his mother) and numerous other family are buried, is just a half mile or so to the east.

Issue 5 Wrapping Up--John obtains property

Issue 5 discusses how J M. Trautvetter obtained the property he owned at his death. The analysis is straightfoward, there's not any metes and bounds descriptions in this article. The property acquisitions take place over a nearly fifty year period (1866-1914)  in just one quarter section. This is not just an article for German or Illinois research as there's analysis and discussion that's applicable to other areas as well.

We'll see how chronologies are always important and why the dates of recording are not to be ignored.

Seeing again that deed records are not boring!

Subscribe now (before the issue goes out) and I'll start your subscription with issue 5. You can request issue 4 too, if you'd like at no charge. That's the one where John's property is "disposed" of after his death.

Get in on the discovery!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

John Michael Trautvetter's Farm in 1874

This is an image of section 31 of Walker Township, Hancock County, Illinois, which shows the J. M. Trautvetter farm as of 1874. As we'll see in V2I5 of Casefile Clues, John still had 40 acres yet to purchase and that one transaction only required two deeds to complete. I'm wrapping up issue 5 of Casefile Clues--realizing I don't have a plat map that reflects the final purchase, but genealogy research is always about loose ends.

The map confirmed what we inferred from a few convoluted documents which are discussed in V2I5 of Casefile Clues.

Subscribe now and get in on the discovery. John's property acquisition is interesting and there are still some unanswered questions. Who said land records were boring?

Need to Renew?

Current subscribers have a renewal link in the cover email with every issue. We encourage subscribers to use that link to renewal as it makes processing renewals easier. That's why there's not a renewal link on the site.

If you need to know when your subscription expires, email me at and I'll let you know.

And if you aren't a subscriber, you can get on the list via this link.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

SS-5 Form

This is the SS-5 Form for my wife's grandmother Anna Margaret Lake.
I'm thinking about ordering another one and blogging about it and then using it for an upcoming issue of Casefile Clues. Anyone interested in that idea?
Either respond here or respond on the Fan Page on Facebook. I haven't decided whose card I'll request, but I have a few people in mind. I've written about this one before and have had it for years and would prefer to use a new one.

Issue 4 is out...

Issue 4 has been sent. If you did not receive or have missing issues, please let me know at mjnrootdig@gmail.comor

Information on back issues is here

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Buying Issues from Year 2

Topics from Year 2 have included thus far:
  • Issue 1--Problem-Solving
  • Issue 2--An 1907 Insanity Case
  • Issue 3--A 1921 Chicago area divorce
  • Issue 4--Disposition of John's Property--death of ancestor was in Illinois in 1917.
Purchase options for Year 2:
Information on purchase options and topics for year 1 can be viewed here on our site

There Hand and Seal

This is just a snippet of a scan of an 1863 deed that is recorded in the Hancock County, Illinois Recorder's Office. Readers who remember their English will realize there is an error in the image.

The question is: What does the original document say? Is the error in the original or is it in the transcription. I've got the original 1863 deed and in issue 5 of Casefile Clues (volume 2), readers will see what the original document said. We will also discuss a few other irrgularities with this document and ways the clerk usually noted those items.

Subscribe now and get in on the discovery! Your research may never be the same.

Upcoming Topics

We are working hard on catching up on the back issues of Casefile Clues. Upcoming topics are:
  • Issue 4--Unaquiring Property--How John Trautvetter's heirs sold his farm. Actually how they had it sold is more appropriate.
  • Issue 5--Aquiring Property--How John Trautvetter acquired his farm. It wasn't as simple as just one purpose.
  • Issue 6--The Original versus the Recorded Copy. We will look at an 1863 deed and compare the original with the handwritten copy at the county courthouse.
Down the road:
  • Agricultural and Industrial Census
  • Mortality Schedules
And a few things that we have set up for a little further down the road. Suggestions are always welcomed and can be sent to me at

Subscribe now and get in on the discovery!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

It's a Dirty Job

I was looking through the payments from the estate of John Michael Trautvetter for amounts towards property taxes and mortgage payments. This struck my interest, although it has nothing to do with the article on which I'm working. Issue 4 will discuss how John's property was "unaquired" after his death and issue 5 will discuss how he aquired it.

Subscribe now and get in on the fun. There will be no discussion of hauling manure in issue 4 or 5.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Thanks for the Renewal Comment

A renewing subscriber included this comment in their payment:

"Thanks so much for the newsletter. I have used your suggestions repeatedly."

Thanks for the comments--they help keep me motivated to write.

And don't forget we're half-way through our 24 hour sale--1 year for $11!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The First Three Issues of Year 2

Issue 4 of Year 2 is going through final draft today (analyzing a series of land records) and will be sent early this week. Subscribe now and I'll send you issues 1-3 of year 2 for free-as it's easier than selling individual issues.

Issues 1-3 were on:
  • a 1921 Divorce
  • a 1906 Era Insanity Case
  • Problem-Solving--A General Approach
We're getting good comments on the newsletter and are looking forward to following up on families from Year 1 and working on some new problems in Year 2.
Subscriptions can be processed securely here (PayPal account is not necessary). If you need non-credit card options, please let me know at


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Want to Spread the Word About Casefile Clues?

I appreciate those who have helped spread the word about Casefile Clues. It does help. For those who'd like to let others know about Casefile Clues, this page has a good summary of what Casefile Clues is about and our philosophy.

Don't forget that samples can be requested by sending an email to



Service Members Civil Relief Act

In volume 2, issue 3 of Casefile Clues, the wife who filed for divorce, signed an affidavit indicating the husband was not in military service at the time of the divorce hearing. The divorce took place in 1921 for those who are not subscribers to the PDF version of Casefile Clues.

There was a reason for this. The Service Members Civil Relief Act was probably the reason for the affidavit.

To learn more, here are two sites with additional information:
There is a remote chance Mary was lying, but further research on William needs to be done.

Subscribe today and I'll start your subscription with issue 3 and you can see what brought this discussion about.

Door Prize Copies of Casefile Clues

Is your society sponsoring a seminar or workshop? If so, contact me at about getting a door prize donation of a one-year subscription to Casefile Clues.

Monday, September 13, 2010

11245 or 11445 and it is Stephenson or Stevenson?

An astute reader noticed the slight discrepancy in the address for William Apgar in issue 3. Yes there is a different address in the illustration from what is stated in the text of the article. I should have noticed it and commented about it.

In Mary's "Affidavit of Non-Residence" she indicates William lived at 11245 Stephenson Street.
In Mary's testimony she indicated he lived at 11445 Stevenson Avenue.

We'll make the modifications and post a notice when a corrected issue is available.

Whether or not the discrepancy was on purpose or not on Mary's part is another matter entirely. All of which indicates the importance of accurately citing the source and how sources within the same document series can disagree with each other.

New Subscribers, Back Issues, etc.

If you subscribed or bought back issues before 11:00 PM CST, your order has been processed. Please let me know if it has not so I can follow up.

I'm playing catch up on email--for some reason, writing about a divorce seems to have brought out the emails (positive, by the way and thanks for that) from readers.

If you would like to purchase back issues, a list of topics can be found here along with ordering instructions.

And if you aren't a subscriber, you can subscribe securely here.  If you need alternate payment options, send me an email at


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Our Google Map for Issue 3-A 1921 Divorce

Quite a few of you have taken a look at the Google Map that goes along with issue 3 of Casefile Clues--A 1921 Divorce.

View Apgar Divorce in a larger map

Our use of the map here is not all that sophisticated and our analysis in issue 3 of Casefile Clues discusses reasons why the green dot is unusual. As work on the family continues, the map could be used to determine likely churches attended by the family, potential burial locations, etc. All of this analysis must be done while keeping the ethnic and social background of the family in mind.
If you haven't taken a look at the map, give it a click and view it using other options. Email me if you've have suggestions or things you'd like to see with maps in future issues of Casefile Clues.
And if you aren't subscribing, consider adding Casefile Clues to your genealogical toolbox.

Issue 3-A 1921 Divorce Sent

This issue has been sent. Contact me at or if you have not received yours.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Images from the 1921 Divorce Case

The images here are from the actual divorce files discussed in issue 3 (which is being proofread as this is written--it's not in your inboxes yet).
Cover from the Apgar vs. Apgar divorce case

Before locating divorce records, remember that while it takes two to get married, it only takes one to get divorced. Consequently a divorce case may be filed whereever one of the parties lives. Residency requirements may vary from one state to another and over time.

The husband in this case either could not be found or did not want to be found. Regardless, there is no response from him in the file.

Issue 3 analyzes the records and discusses further research options on this family.

William Apgar was given notice in the newspaper--there's a receipt in the records for the publication of this notice.

And there's an envelope indicating that William could not be found.  In issue 3 we'll have complete citations for the records used, too. Subscribe now and get in on fun. Join us before issue 3 goes out and you'll get it to start your subscription to Casefile Clues.

Google Map for Issue 3 updated

I've updated the locations for the Google Map that corresponds to the locations mentioned in issue 3 (which is being proofread now, so just hang on). The green dot is where the family lived in 1920 and the other dots are locations mentioned in the 1921 divorce record. The area of the blue and red markers are where the family had lived from approximately 1905 and until the 1940s. In issue 3 we see the likely reason the family moved for the 1920 census--not quite what you might think!

View Apgar Divorce in a larger map

Subscribe now and get in on the fun!

Friday, September 10, 2010

1921 Divorce for Issue 3--the Map

This link will take you to a Google map showing the three locations mentioned in issue 3--which is being finalized today. One of these places is "wrong" in the records and we think we've got it figured out.

Take a look!

Subscribe now and get in on the fun.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Original and the Recorded Version

I have an original copy of an 1863 deed that I purchased on Ebay a few years ago.

In  an upcoming issue, we'll compare the actual deed with the transcription in the Recorder's Office in the county courthouse. The image shown on this blog post is the receipt acknowledging the recording of the deed. The receipt was attached to the actual deed.

Subscribe now and see how the original compares to the hand recorded copy. We'll have copies of both.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Benjamin Butler's Estate Settlement

Regular Casefile Clues readers will remember that I've been working on Benjamin Butler, likely father-in-law of Ira Sargent.

Butler died in Vernon County, Missouri, and I just obtained a copy of his estate settlement. Unfortunately, it did not provide the connection to any of his children that I had hoped for.

Consequently we'll be looking at his estate in an upcoming issue of Casefile Clues and seeing where to go next.

Subscribe now and get in on the discovery.

Friday, September 3, 2010

A Little Bit About Casefile Clues

We've got some new fans, followers, and subscribers, so I'm reposting this about the newsletter. (samples can be requested at or

Every week Casefile Clues brings you one or more of the following:
  • Sources--Some weeks Casefile Clues focuses on a specific source or type of record, discussing how that source can be accessed, researched, and interpreted.
  • Methodology--Some weeks Casefile Clues works on one of Michael's problems. Many times these problems are "in progress," and Casefile Clues reflects that by explaining what was researched, why it was researched, and where to go next (and why).
  • Case Studies--Some weeks Casefile Clues focuses on a specific record on a specific person and analyzes that record, discusses what it says (and what it does not) and where to go next based upon that person and the specific record.
  • Citations--Casefile Clues includes citations of sources and records. Articles can easily be read without them, but we include citations for those who prefer to have them and we do try and model citations in the style of Evidence Explained.
  • Reasons--Casefile Clues tries to give you insight into why certain research avenues were pursued over others. Often the genealogist simply does not have time or money to locate every piece of paper available. Sometimes it is necessary to go with what likely will give us the "most bang for the buck."
  • Readable--We work very hard to make Casefile Clues readable. Columns are not "fluff" or generic "how-to" pieces.
  • Coverage--Casefile Clues covers all American time periods and records. All families discussed come from the ancestry of Michael's children who lived in a variety of states and countries. All examples are from actual families on which Michael has worked or is working. If you are subscribing when Casefile Clues begins discussing Philip Troutfetter, you'll see that you just can't make this stuff up.
And no advertising---so remember to spread the news. We run on a shoestring budget.

And no agenda--because there are no advertisers to irritate, I can say whatever I want. I'm usually not controversial because it is about the research. But if I use something or mention it, it is because I actually use it.

And if really want to help---consider having Michael present at your seminar or workshop. Handouts and "overheads" are regularly updated, often with newsletter examples, and I've been called "engaging," "entertaining," and "informative." I know you're not going to remember every word I say, so I keep that in mind when presenting. The goal of my presentations is to motivate you by the use of examples to get out there and get researching and to write and analyze in the process.

Happy Labor Day

I'm thinking about using some occupational things for future issues of Casefile Clues. I've written about Pullman records before, but I'm looking for some other records besides those--maybe I can find something from the Singer Sewing Machine Company my wife's uncle worked for in the 1920s.

Our Labor Day Sale is going on this weekend, please let others who may be interested in the newsletter know about it here

Issue 3 is being wrapped up--it's not in your inbox yet. I've been getting some good feedback from readers on topics as well as some suggestions for future ideas.

I'm working on writing up some material on one of my Virginia families and we're going to look at another set of pre-1850 census records since it's been a while since we've done that. Good ol' Ira Sargent's place of burial will be discussed in a future issue. It looks like his wife's paternal family were migrants from New York State to Michigan in the 1830s-1840s which is interesting and challenging research.

Thanks to all the readers for their support and don't forget to spread the news about Casefile Clues. It really does help.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Free New Sample Copy of Casfile Clues

Please feel free to foward this to others who may be interested.

List members can receive a free, no-obligation copy of my genealogy how-to newsletter Casefile Clues. This is a "fresh" and recent issue.

Send an email to to request a free sample copy of Casefile Clues. Responses are sent manually, so do not expect an instant response.

Your email address will not be used, shared, or anything else.

Thanks and good luck with your research.

Ira Sargent's Last Few Years in the Peoria Asylum

As regular Casefile Clues readers know, I likely will never know where Ira Sargent's remains are located today. He died in the Peoria State Hospital in 1916.  Issue 2 from volume 2 mentioned discussed the county court records of Ira's committal and we are working on locating addition records for upcoming issues. There are a few sites that provide more information on the hospital:

I'm not much on the ghost things myself, so I've avoided those links. Ira's not buried on the grounds, but I'm considering making a trip to the cemetery as I do have an uncle whose supposedly buried there.

Subscribe to Casefile Clues today--where we do discuss a variety of research problems.

Rush County, Indiana Newsletter Mentions Casefile Clues

The September 2010 issue of the Rush County (Indiana) Genealogical Society newsletter (page 5) contained a nice mention of Casefile Clues which has been reproduced here.

I appreciate readers and fans who mention the newsletter so that others can learn about it. The publicity really helps and is greatly appreciated.

The society, interestingly enough, has its address in Milroy, Indiana, where my great-great-grandmother was born in the 1840s.

Site visitors who would like to subscribe to Casefile Clues can do so here.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Give the Gift Of Casefile Clues

Is there a genealogy friend that you think might like a subscription to Casefile Clues? Give the gift that keeps on giving and that doesn't use any postage or paper (unless they want to print something?).

Your friend can get a yearlong subscription to Casefile Clues--and you and your friend can even compare notes on various articles as they come out.

A gift subscription to Casefile Clues is only $17--payment can be made securely here (with a credit card--PayPal account not necessary). Help your friend jump start their research by giving them a subscription to Casefile Clues.