Friday, December 31, 2010

About Casefile Clues

We've got some new fans, followers, and subscribers, so I'm reposting this about the newsletter. We'd love to have you subscribe if you have not already joined us.

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.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Family History Library Trip with Michael--Deadline Extended through New Year's Eve

We've extended the early bird registration deadline for my annual Family History Library (Salt Lake City) Research Trip until 31 December 2010!

For more information, visit this blog post:

or email me at

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Issue 17 Sent--Last November issue

Issue 17 has been sent to all subscribers. If you do not have yours, please let me know so that I can send it to you.

Anyone whose subscription ended in November of 2011--this was your last issue. You can renew via the link in your cover email with the newsletter.

Died in Hanoi in 1933

This is part of one of two documents being written up for issue 19 from volume 2 of Casefile Clues--a Reports of Deaths of American Citizens Abroad, 1835-1974, for George Washington Drollette, who died in Hanoi in 1933.

Based upon other records which will be discussed, Drollette had been in China for at least thirty years upon his death. We will look at other records that these materials suggest and discuss the primary and secondary nature of some of the information contained in these records. His widow claims that Drollette's son was her step-son in a letter that accompanies this report, but other documents conflict with that statement.

The widow also claims she does not know where the son is, but last thought he was in Indiana. I'm pretty certain I've found him in 1930 in California.

There are lots of potential leads on this family, but we'll try and stay focused on George for now. There's enough on him to keep us busy for a while.

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Bridging a Twenty Year Census Gap

In issue 17 of Casefile Clues we look at a family for whom I can't (at least not now) find in the 1860 census. We've seen Benjamin Butler before in 1870 and 1880 census enumerations. This week we look at how his likely 1850 census enumeration was found.

There several steps to the process and there is still a remote chance that I don't have the right guy in 1850, but the case is pretty strong.

In issue 17 we'll look at the research process and the case for why this Benjamin in 1850 is the same one in 1870 and 1880. The main problems are:
  • the children from 1850 are out of the household by 1870
  • Benjamin has moved several hundred miles
  • Benjamin has apparently had two wives--an 1850 wife and an 1870/1880 wife.
Subscribe before issue 17 goes out and you subscription can start with this issue. Get in on the discovery.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Subscriptions Received After this post

Any subscriptions received after this post runs live will start with issue 17 of Volume 2.
Happy 2011!

Year 2--Topics for Issues 1-16

Remember that each issue of Casefile Clues is more than just a discussion of the one record or family. Our focus is on organizing your information, seeing where to go, and analyzing what has been located. Topics from the first 16 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.

Annual subscriptions are $17.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Providing for My Deceased Daughter

Issue 16 of Volume 2 of Casefile Clues discussed naming irregularities in the will and estate settlement of Barbara Haase who died in Warsaw, Illinois in 1903. The image in this post is from part of her will that was not discussed in that issue.

In the second part of Barbara's will she allocates $30 for her tombstone and $30 for the tombstone of her daughter Frances. Barbara also indicates the person she desires to be her undertaker and that her coffin should be of plain lumber and covered with plain black cloth. This blog post includes a picture of Barbara's tombstone--apparently what $30 got in Warsaw, Illinois, in 1903. Barbara is  buried in the Lutheran Cemetery, Warsaw, Illinois.

The stone put on Frances' grave no longer exists. The stone on her grave today is much larger than this one and also includes her husband's information. Frances and her husband are buried at Bethany United Church of Christ Cemetery in Tioga, Illinois.

We've discussed John in Casefile Clues too. This cemetery is just a few miles from his 228 acre farm the acquisition and disposition which has been discussed in Casefile Clues.

Subscribe today and get in on the fun.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Issue 16 is out

Issue 16 from volume 2 has been sent. If you have not received it, please check your junk folder, etc. and then let me know.

A few of you have full inboxes and a couple of others have out of date "out of office" auto-responders on.

Happy Holidays!

The Likely 1850 Census Entry for Benjamin Butler

Regular Casefile Clues readers are familiar with Benjamin Butler. This is the entry from the 1850 census that I think is probably him. This entry is from St. Clair County, Michigan, and was indexed under "Butter" at In a future issue of Casefile Clues, we'll discuss why there is a good chance this is the "right" Benjamin and what records have led me to this conclusion. This image from the 1850 census actually shows two individuals from the neighboring household, the house/family numbers were cut off when this image was made.

And, as always, we'll have a complete citation to this census entry and every record used in our analysis.

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Why I Write About My Own Families

Regular readers of Casefile Clues know that I only write about ancestors (or relatives) of my children. There are several reasons for this, but they all boil down to the fact that I think it makes Casefile Clues the best how-to magazine I could put together.

One of the things I do regularly in Casefile Clues is analyze documents. Sometimes just one document is analyzed, sometimes a series of documents from a casefile or packet of papers are analyzed. Oftentimes to completely analyze these documents as accurately as possible, it is necessary to have a fairly good knowledge of the family. That would be difficult to do if I wrote about different families all the times, particularly ones I had not researched. An excellent example is issue 16 of volume 2 which is coming out. I could have easily analyzed a different probate order and series of records, but much of the commentary on the names would have been difficult if I had not already researched the family.

I don't Casefile Clues to be a "grab one document about a family you don't know and discuss it." While sometimes that can be helpful and instructive, I think knowing information about the family helps to analyze the material more completely and accurately. It also helps in interpreting things that might be easy to misunderstand.

We are also going to continue to focus on problems that are "in progress." I think it's instructive to see research as it progresses, not just the finished product. While I realize that even "finished research" is never done, most how-to material either discusses records in general or summarizes a completed project. Here at Casefile Clues, we like things "half-baked" (grin).

In the near future, we'll see how I am pretty certain I am on the right track with Benjamin Butler in 1850. There is some documentation that hints I'm in the right direction and that I have located him in 1850. Research needs to firm up the connection, but at least what I have found so far does not indicate the "wrong" person has been found.

We'll see how our analysis of Thomas Chaney's pre-1850 census entries compares to other information on his children.

And we'll have follow ups on a few other people we have not discussed in a while. We'll also look at some documents recently released on and FamilySearch.

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Issue 16 Names and the Will of Barbara Haase

Issue 16 of volume 2 of Casefile Clues discusses a 1903 era will and the problem that resulted because of the varying ways in which names were used in the will and in which they were spelled.

  • We make the case, that in this situtation, Addie was not the nickname for Adolphena. Addie was instead the nickname for someone else.
  • We make the case, that in this situation, what looked like Tena was not Tena, was not Lena, but was actually Fena.
  • And that I'm reasonably certain the executor paid the WRONG person $250 because I think the executor paid the wrong Ida. Issue 16 makes the case.
Subscribe now and get in on the fun when issue 16 goes out.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Order Probating Barbara Haase Will

I'm wrapping up the article on the Order Probating a 1902 will. Fortunately I have the court book record copy and the original, which were apparently written by two different people. The names are easier to read on one than on the other.

I still don't know why children of one daughter were given notice, but I'm leaving that as an unanswered question for a later issue. Sometimes one has to know when to stop.

Interestingly enough, the testator gives her grandson $1 and gives his wife $250. That I think I have figured out. It really doesn't have too much to do with the analysis of the order and the heirs, but makes for an interesting aside.

Subscribe now and get in on the fun. Old records are rarely boring.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Actual Order Probating Barbara Haase's Will

This is the list of heirs from the actual order ordering the probate of Barbara Haase's will in Hancock County, Illinois, in 1903. The handwriting on the order is different than the handwriting on order in the record book. Blog readers will know that the names were posted from that order a few days back. On this copy the name of the first person is clearly Louisa--which was one question from the previous post.

But here's the rub.

The 8th name on the list of names from the order book appears to be Tina, Tena, or Lena Trautvetter. However, that's not how the name appears on this listing. The reality is that the appearance of the name on this listing is the actual spelling of the name--she was not Tina, Tena, or Lena.

We'll discuss this in issue 16 of Casefile Clues--subscribe now and get in on the fun.

Why Were the Grandchildren Sent Notice?

I posted part of this question to a genealogy mailing list in hopes of getting an answer, but I'll also post my thoughts and comments here.

I'm writing up a 1903 "Order Probating Will" for Barbara Haase of Warsaw, Illinois. We've seen Barbara before in Casefile Clues, but have not taken a look at her estate file in too much detail. The order confuses me and I'm not certain if I should write up what I have and know for an article or wait for an answer which I may never get.

The notice regarding probate of will is sent to the heirs and legatees of Barbara. That's to be expected in this location and in this time period. The heirs include Barbara's surviving children and the children of Francis Trautvetter who died before Barbara. In this case the legatees are all heirs--other than a few spelling and name variances.

What confuses me is why the children of another daughter are also included in the notice regarding probate. This daughter is not deceased, apparently of sound mind (money is disbursed to her directly and not to someone on her behalf), and lives in the area. Three other surviving children of Barbara had children of their own and their children are not served notice. The children of the surviving daughter are not mentioned in Barbara's will. The only grandchildren Barbara mentions in her will are those who are the children of her pre-deceased daughter Frances.

The probate packet includes references to these grandchildren (children of the surviving daughter) being sent several notices (along with the other heirs and legatees), but makes no reference as to why. These children (of the surviving daughter), are not mentioned anywhere else in the probate, received no money, made no claims, no appearances in court, etc. Some of the children of the surviving daughter are minors and a guardian ad litem is appointed for them (and for the minor children of the deceased daughter as well).

One potential item to consider is that the husband of the surviving daughter (the one whose chidlren are mentioned) is deceased.  The husband of the other surviving daughter  (whose children are not mentioned) is alive. The husband of the pre-deceased daughter is also alive, but is not mentioned anywhere in the estate records either.

I think I'm going to write up what I know for the next issue and do a follow up as necessary. Sometimes we never do get all the answers, but it's good to note when something is unusual.

Stay tuned--subscribe now and get in on the discovery.

Renewing Casefile Clues

Subscribers who wish to renew or extend their subscription to Casefile Clues can do so using the link in their email or the link in this post. This link flags your payment as a renewal.

Those who wish to start their subscription can do so here.

Those who need alternate payment options (check, money order, etc.) should email me at for details.

1903 Order Probating Will

Issue 16 of Casefile Clues contains an "Order Probating Will" from 1903. Most of it is fairly straightforward, except for a little bit of the handwriting which was discussed in an earlier post.

What is strange is the individuals who were sent notice about the will. The heirs of the deceased at the time of her death were her five children and the children of a deceased daughter. For reasons I haven't figured out, children of a surviving daughter were also sent notice regarding the estate. The children of the surviving daughter are not mentioned in the will.

Why they were sent notice may have to remain a mystery.

However, two of the deceased daughter's children were sent "double notices" regarding their grandmother's estate. That I have figured out and we'll explain it in issue 16 of Casefile Clues.

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Anonymous Comments Allowed

Subject to moderation by me, anonymous comments are now allowed on the Casefile Clues blog.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Issue 15 has been sent

Subscribers should have received their copies of issue 15 from volume 2, which discusses 1810 through 1840 census entries on a resident of Bedford County, Pennsylvania.

If you did not receive issue 2 and are a subscriber, please let me know at or

If you aren't a subscriber, subscribe now and I'll start you off with issue 2.

Does Not Look Like Lena to Me

Would you have thought this will reference was directed to "Lena Ensminger?" It certainly looks like something else, but it's clearly to whom thie 1902 will from Warsaw, Illinois, was referring. Issue 17 will discuss the "order" directing this will be admitted to probate and I'm thinking of transcribing the will for a future issue of Casefile Clues. Many names are spelled creatively in the will and even the executor did not know who a few of the people were. There is a likely reason why the son didn't know exeryone to whom his mother left money--but we'll save that detail for later.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Genealogy Tip of The Day Nominated for Top 40 Genealogy Blog

Our sister site, "Genealogy Tip of the Day," has been nominated for one of the Family Tree Top 40 blogs. Remember that Tip of the Day is not about being long-winded, selling stuff, or dreaming up things we've never done or used. Just quick tips. Tip of the Day is free (unless you choose to get it on your kindle).

Give us a vote--and pretend you're from Chicago--vote often.

That's it for the plug--there are Casefile Clues columns to write!

Thanks for the nomination.

Another Pre-1850 Census Article

The next issue of Casefile Clues will revisit some pre-1850 census entries I analyzed over ten years ago. I've cleaned up the analysis and included illustrations. Our next issue will look at a series of entries for Thomas Chaney in Bedford County, Pennsylvania.

Subscribe now and get in on the fun.

What Is That Letter?

I am working on a transcription of this list of heirs and legatees for an upcoming Casefile Clues article. I find myself debating the first name on the list. It is intended to be Louise/Louisa Meyer(s), oldest surviving daughter of the individual whose will is being admitted to probate. What I'm wondering is if her name isn't being written as "Lou I Myer." 

There is a Louisa Mundy further down on the list--showing a "Louisa."
There is also an "Ida Trautvetter" down on the list as well, showing how the writer made their "I." 

I'm still thinking. Feel free to post any thoughts.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Casefile Clues for Christmas

Give your genealogy friends the Christmas gift that keeps on giving: a year of Casefile Clues. At only $17 a year, Casefile Clues is a great genealogy bargain.

Orders can be processed securely here. Make certain to enter your friend's name and email address in the memo/information to seller portion of the payment area. If you forget, I will contact the purchaser for instructions as this link is for gift purchases only and if I don't see instructions, I will know it was for someone else and not for you!

Give your genealogy friends a year of Casefile Clues for Christmas!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Born at Sea-Followup

I have the image from the "Births at Sea" that was referenced in an earlier post. There are a few differences between the information on the birth record and what is known about the family. The differences appear at this point to be minor discrepancies:
  • The first name of mother is different from what I have for the mother's name--but the manifest name for the mother is different from the birth record entry and the manifest first name is the same as the wife's first name in the 1880 census.
  • The maiden name of mother is missing the "Van" but how many August Mortiers can marry a Van Hoorebeke or Hoorebeke girl?
  • The family arrived on the USS Georgia in 1880, very shortly before they were enumerated in the 1880 census in Rock Island, Illinois.
The image with this post is the Mortier family entry on the ship manifest.

Despite the slight discrepancies, the birth entry referenced in the earlier post has to be for the Mortier family who was later in Rock Island, Illinois.

In an upcoming issue of Casefile Clues, we'll summarize the records that have been located and where the research should progress. Even in writing up this post, I've seen a few holes that need to be filled.

And, as usual, we'll have complete citations of all records used in our analysis.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Can't Read the 1910 Census and Born at Sea?

Does that look like Henry Mortier as the name of the head of the household in this 1910 census entry from Bowling Township in Rock Island County, Illinois. I'm pretty certain that's what it is. I revisited this entry when trying to validate an entry on the site. It looks like Henry's parents had a baby on board the ship they immigrated on in 1880.

I think this entry below is for Henry's parents on the new Familysearch site and was double checking all the census records for the parents after their immigration. I'm not certain how long this child survived.
I'll pull the manifest entry and 1880 census entry for the Mortiers and post those in an update. Hopefully we'll work this up for an upcoming issue of Casefile Clues.

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Missing Issues, Back Issues, etc.

Please let me know at or if you are missing any issues. A few of those who purchased back issues had full email boxes when they were sent. A few others have had emails returned for a variety of reasons.

If you need purchase/subscription options there are choices on this blog post.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Issue 14 is out

Issue 14 has been sent. Check your inbox if you are a subscriber. If you're not a subscriber, consider subscribing today.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Coming Up...

The next issue of Casefile Clues will discuss using Benjamin Butler's 1870 and 1880 federal census enumerations to conduct an effective search in pre-1870 census records for him. Stay tuned or subscribe now and get in on the discovery.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Registration Winners Announced

Winners have been notified in my drawings for my Family History Library trip to Salt Lake City, Utah and the Allen County Library in Ft. Wayne. Check your email.

There is still time to register!

One Day Discount Offer on Family History Library and Ft. Wayne Library Trips

For the past several years, I've lead research trips to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City and the Allen County Public Library in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.  Both trips have focused on helping registrants with their research and keeping registration limited.

For just 24 hours after this post goes live, we are offering a 20% discount on both these research trips. I'm running two trips in 2011, one to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, and one to the Allen County Public Library in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.

From now until 2:00 P.M. CST 3 December 2010, you can register at a twenty percent discount in either or both trips. This offer will not be repeated or extended. Links are below. Full payment must be made to get discount rate.To get the discounted rates, use the payment in this post only-return to this blog post if necessary after reading about the trip.

Make this your early present to yourself.

October Subscriptions Have Expired

Issue 13 was the last issue with an October 2010 date. If your subscription expired in October, it was your last issue. You can renew with the link that comes in the email with your newsletter or daughter.

Subscribers who need to renew or extend their subscripton can do so securely here:
If you have questions about your subscription, please email me at