Thursday, September 29, 2011

Travelogue Writing For Genealogists

I suppose I'm in the minority, but that never really bothers me too much.

For those who don't know, genealogy travelogue writing is a style that emphasis how research was conducted, the order in which certain documents were located and the path the research took. It is suggested that this type of writing is not really relevant to most genealogical researchers and that a style that lists the materials that have been located along with an analysis is preferable.

Personally I learn more from why certain things were done rather than just an analysis of documents. Don't get me wrong, I can learn from an article that discusses all the records that were applied to a specific problem. But I learn more about research and methodology when I see what a document lead that researcher to do next and why they did it.

The reason a significant number of researchers have brick walls is that they do not know where to go next in their research when they have one document and no additional information. Showing them a whole stack of documents with the completed research does not always help.

Students in my math classes learn more when I show process, when I show things that do not work and when I make mistakes. When they can see my process and ways that I "problem-solve," that helps them to develop those skills themselves.

To be certain there is a benefit in seeing the final work on a problem, all neat and clean and organized. But if I'm to learn about research, or if I am to teach about research, then I need to either see the process of research demonstrated or to demonstrate that process.

I'll stick to travelogue style writing for my research and for most of my lectures. Travelogue writing is not simply listing what was done in the order in which is was done. Researchers want to see process--particularly researchers who are stuck in their own research.

At least that's my thoughts.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Webinar Feedback

I've been getting feedback from my first two webinars:
Excellent webinar!

Thanks for the great presentation.

I thoroughly enjoyed this webinar, and the timing could not have been better as I am going to Marion County, Illinois, next week to dig out court records. Thank you for doing it at such a reasonable price.

Thanks so much for the presentations. It was gratifying to me to have you go over the steps of your search. It validated what we have been doing for the past couple of years. Wished we could have heard this earlier. Having you explain your reasoning for each step was helpful.---The thought process.

We have some tweaking to do, but are making changes to our procedure as we move forward. We are trying to keep registration costs as low as possible to make this learning experience possible for as many as we can.

Upcoming topics:

  • Seeing Patterns-Organizing Information
  • Court Records
  • Land Records
  • More..

View my current webinar schedule here:

Thursday, September 22, 2011

How Many Hands Completed This Document?

This is one of the records analyzed in issue 48 of Casefile Clues. It appears to me that several people wrote on this document. We look at possible reasons why and discuss several concepts, including why digital or microfilm copies aren't always great.

Anyone subscribing today can have their subscription to Casefile Clues start with this issue. Jump start your research.

Issue 48 is out

Check your emails....

If you aren't a subscriber you can subscribe here

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Winner in the Find Elias Apgar in 1880 Chicago, Illinois, Census

CR of the greater Chicago area found this 1880 census reference, which I'm reasonably certain is the Elias Apgar who was the subject of our Casefile Clues contest. Congratulations!

It doesn't answer any "big" questions, but it does explain where Elias was located in 1880. His wife is enumerated as "Louise" and not Ann, Anne, or Anna, but otherwise things are pretty much a match.

In a nutshell, here is why I think it is him:

  • The ages of Elias and Louise are within two years of their ages on their death certificates
  • The address 325 (Illinois Street is not shown in the image post, but that's the street being enumerated on this page of the census). 
  • Occupation is consistent with city directory and reasonably consistent with his death certificate. 

1880 U. S. Census
  • City of Chicago, Cook County, Illinois
  • Enumeration district 190
  • Page 475C
  • Family 267
  • lines 40 and 41
  • obtained digitally on on 17 September 2011

Friday, September 16, 2011

Followup on "A Will Denied"

Issue 47 of Casefile Clues discussed an 1889 will that was denied--along with the likely reason for the judge's refusal to admit the will to probate.

Based upon the 1889 Illinois Revised Statutes, it does not appear that Antje Fecht would have been barred from writing a will because she was a married woman at the she wrote her will. That was one loose end mentioned in issue 47 of Casefile Clues. If the will had been written a few decades earlier, that might have been a problem.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Win A Year Of Casefile Clues-Find the Apgars in 1880

Our latest contest to win a year of Casefile Clues (we have a winner!)

Find Elias and Ann(e or a) Hartmann Apgar in the 1880 US Federal Census. There is more information on Elias in this blog post on the Rootdig site. The Apgars are likely in the greater Chicago, Illinois, area, but I am uncertain as to their precise whereabouts.

We have a winner--thanks for playing...

Friday, September 9, 2011

Cash Sale Not Completed Before Purchaser Dies

We have discussed cash sales of federal lands in Casefile Clues before. Those files are typically uninformative--they pretty much indicate the purchaser made the payment and where the patent was issued.

This one potentially may be different and I'm debating obtaining a copy of the file for use in an upcoming newsletter.

Thomas J. Rampley appears to have initiated the purchase and James Shores is listed as his assignee. Thomas J. Rampley died in Coshocton County, Ohio, in 1823 and James Shores was his son-in-law. The question is whether or not there will be other information in the file.

The use of "assignee" makes me think Thomas signed over "assigned" his rights to James, but that's not necessarily what happened. And it is possible that there is some mention of Thomas' heirs in the file. It is also possible that Thomas' heirs are not mentioned in the file. The children of Thomas are known with reasonable certainty, but probate records on Thomas do not clearly list his heirs. It may be worth obtaining this file. My hope is that the "assigning" was not done while Thomas was alive...that would make things more interesting.

I think I will obtain a copy of the file---just to see what it contains. Stay tuned-subscribe now and get in on the details when the records have been obtained.

Issue 47 is out~

Issue 47 has been sent. If you did not receive yours, please email Thanks!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Were the Habben Wills Written by the Same Person?

There is no indication on the 1889 will of Antje Fecht (shown partially below) who actually wrote it or who was the lawyer under whose direction it was written. It is possible that it was actually written by the lawyer who composed. it. The handwriting looks an awful lot like the handwriting of the 1877 will of her husband, Mimke.

Below are several sentences from the 1877 will of Mimke Habben which was discussed in the very first issue of Casefile Clues

Both documents are filed in their respective estate packets with other probate records originally maintained by the Hancock County, Illinois, Circuit Clerk. The actual probate packets are housed in the office of the Hancock County Recorder. Complete citations are given in the issues of Casefile Clues where these documents appear.

The will of Antje will be discussed in the next issue of Casefile Clues to be released.

Looks to me like these documents were written by the same person. Do readers have an thoughts?

Readers of Casefile Clues will see why it is slightly ironic that the same person wrote both documents.

Of course, if I were using the transcribed copies of the wills in the county's "records of wills" comparing the handwriting would only mean the same office clerk copied the wills, and that would not tell me anything about the authors of them.

Denying a Will in 1900

The next issue of Casefile Clues discusses the denial of probate for a will written in Illinois in 1877. The judge's refusal makes no reference to the reason and we'll see just what type of "fight" there was to get this widow's will kicked out by the judge.

It was not a difficult case, but makes the point that assumptions must be made with care.

Subscribe now and join the discovery.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Finding Gesche's Passenger List

It has been over a year since I wrote about Gesche Fecht. She was the third wife of my third great-grandfather Johann Grass from Ostfriesland, Germany. Locating her was not easy--but I'm 99% certain I've finally found her on a manifest from 1887--under her maiden name.

We'll have a more complete update later on, but I think I've found her manifest entry thanks to recently released passenger list indexes at

The entry below shows Gesche Fecht (her maiden name) with her apparent son Geerts Weerts listed before her and her apparent daughter Antje Weerts listed after her.
This is from the passenger list for the America, which landed in Baltimore on 10 July 1887. 

The names are not quite what are expected for Gesche and Antje, but there's a reason behind the apparent discrepancy and the ages are pretty much spot on. 

We'll have an update in a future issue, along with a complete analysis and a citation. Just because it "looks like" I have the correct people does mean that I necessarily do. In this case, it helps that the name is uncommon, but the relatives travelling with her help to seal the deal.

The manifest is the last missing piece in locating Gesche--the rest of the puzzle was explained in issue 15 from year 1 of Casefile Clues, "Finding Gesche's Girls."