The Year Was 1830

Castle at Lazionki (i.e. Lazienki), Warsaw, Russia (i.e. Warsaw, Poland) from LOC Photo Collection at AncestryThe year was 1830 and France was in a recession. The Bourbon monarch, Charles X, dissolved the Chamber of Deputies and began placing restrictions on the press. The result was an uprising in Paris. The city was taken by the rebellion and in the end Charles X was forced out and left the country. The throne went to Louis Phillippe, Duke of Orleans.

Poland, which had been divided amongst its neighbors in 1815, also saw an uprising in the Congress of Poland, which was under oppressive Russian rule. The rebellion in November 1830 had a promising start, drawing sympathy from other countries, but was soon put down. The Russians sought retribution. Polish estates were confiscated and given to Russian officials, universities closed, officers pressed into service in the Russian military, Polish nobles (known as the szlachta) were dispossessed and sent to Caucasus, and others were executed. (Other resources: “The Polish Way: A Thousand-year History of the Poles and their Culture,” by Adam Zamoyski.)

In America, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was founded by Joseph Smith, Jr. in northwestern New York following the publication of the Book of Mormon. The Church would grow to include more than 10 million members over the next 167 years.  Continue reading

Photo Corner

Thomas Harvey Jefford, and his wife, Arabella French Ryan JeffordContributed by Dale Davis
This is a picture of my great-great-grandparents, Thomas Harvey Jefford, and his wife, Arabella French Ryan Jefford.  They were married on 22 May 1859 and I have always wondered when this picture was taken. 

Click on the image to enlarge it.

Harry Liggett of Akron, OhContributed by Harry Liggett, Akron, Ohio
The baby on the blanket is Harry Liggett of Akron, Ohio, who would like to know the make and model of the old family car in the photo.  The photo was taken in Dennison, Tuscarawas County, Ohio, in 1930. 

Who Am I? Photos

I am in the process of going through the hundreds of photos that readers have sent in throughout the past year and have found quite a few that people have bought at auctions or garages sales, or found in their own collection, but that are unidentified or orphans belonging to another family.  I’m starting a Who Am I? section of the blog where I’ll periodically post photos that need to be identified.

If you’d like to submit a photo, please send me all the information you have on it, and the photograph (of course!) as an attachment. I’ll try to make this a weekly event.

I have also received a number of beautiful photographs that, because of the shape or some other reason, I cannot fit in the newsletter. So I’m going to try to post a few of them each week as well. I have quite a backlog and we’ve already made several family connections through the Photo Corner.

So without further ado, I give you today’s Who Am I? photos, along with the messages that came with them. Click on the images to enlarge them.

JulianaMystery woman, possibly from Noxubee County, Mississippi

I would really like to know who this woman is. I found her in the papers of a deceased relative. That relative’s parents (Lewis Carpenter and Minnie Nicholson Carpenter) came from West Point (Noxubee County), Mississippi and settled in Chicago in the early 1900s.

Sharon Morgan Continue reading

Family History Library Research Retreat April 2007-Spaces Still Available

My Ancestors Found_weblogo.jpgClasses to be held at the Plaza Hotel with daily research in the adjacent Family History Library in Salt Lake City.
When: April 30th-May 5th, 2007

Don’t miss a unique opportunity to explore the world’s largest Family History Library in the company of other researchers (soon-to-be friends) and caring professionals who want to help you connect with your ancestors. Imagine taking classes that fit your needs and having a real, professional genealogist sitting beside you in one-on-one sessions so you can finally do the kind of research you’ve been dreaming of.

Well, now is the time! Five floors full of microfilm, microfiche, biographies, periodicals, and digital files can seem overwhelming, but not after you’re given the grand tour, the specialized classes, and have been guided in where to go and what to do with your research by folks who know and love the FHL. Continue reading

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Megan Smolenyak to Participate in Roundtable Discussion on Race Relations

megan-headshot.jpgAncestry Weekly Journal columnist and Chief Family Historian at has been invited to participate in a roundtable discussion on race relations. Congratulations Megan on this great honor!   The press release from Ancestry follows…


Roundtable Discussion on “Improving Race Relations: Where Do We Go From Here–Chaos or Community?” with Ed Koch, former New York City Mayor, Howard Dean, Chairman DNC and Harold Ford, former Congressman of Tennessee

PROVO, UTAH – April 18, 2007 –, the world’s largest online resource for family history, today announced that Chief Family Historian, Megan Smolenyak, will have the honor of speaking on a National Action Network Convention panel on Wednesday, April 18th. Recently, Ms. Smolenyak discovered a shocking connection that linked the ancestors of the Reverend Al Sharpton with the late Senator Strom Thurmond’s ancestors sparking a nationwide discussion on family history. The panel discussion will be broadcast live on Reverend Sharpton’s National Radio Show.

“As seen from the unlikely discovery of the connection between Rev. Sharpton and late Sen. Thurmond, we’re all more interconnected than we could possibly imagine,” said Megan Smolenyak, Chief Family Historian for “Our roots reveal more than who we are and where we’re from – they bring all our stories full circle and tell a powerful story of our past. It’s an honor to be invited by the National Action Network to discuss how we relate with and to one another with such an important group of individuals.” 

Ms. Smolenyak will be speaking on the panel with Ed Koch, former New York City Mayor, Howard Dean, Chairman DNC and Harold Ford, former Congressman of Tennessee on the topic of Improving Race Relations: Where Do We Go From Here – Chaos or Community? On Wednesday, April 18th at 12:30 p.m. ET at the Sheraton Hotel in New York City. Continue reading

Using Ancestry: Nosy States Equal Pay Dirt for Researchers, by Mary Penner

In 1875, my ancestor George Wise owned eighty acres of land valued at $400. 500 rods of rail fence enclosed seventy of those acres. He planted twenty-five acres of corn and one acre of sorghum, plus he had two acres of orchards. That year his family made 150 pounds of butter. He had two horses, one milk cow, ten swine, and one dog.

Who’s responsible for cataloging these ancestral tidbits? The state of Kansas. Kansas was curious about all sorts of agricultural happenings in 1875. The state inquired about how many pounds of cheese farmers made and how many pounds of honey their bees produced. They also wanted to know how many sheep had been killed by wolves or dogs.

Was the Kansas government being particularly nosy? Some farmers may have thought so, but, actually, the state was conducting its regular census. Kansas surveyed residents every ten years between 1865 and 1925. In fact, many states obtained their own census data apart from the federal census. The states generally took their own censuses to apportion voting districts and to divvy up state government representation. But, since they had census takers slogging across the state counting heads, they figured they might as well get as much information out of their citizens as possible. Continue reading

Tracking Other Families to Find Mine, by Juliana Smith

It was taunting me, mocking me even. It was that darned spreadsheet I posted in conjunction with last week’s article.  Every time I looked at all those blanks, I was frustrated. Finally one night after the dishes were done and my daughter was tucked in bed, I decided to answer the challenge.

James Kelly in particular was haunting me. We have a significant number of records for him, but prior to 1880 I’ve been unable to identify him in the census. I know of a daughter, Anna Maria Josepha, born about 1837 (through her burial and death record), and through her obituary I know that her mother’s name was Margaret. There are family stories about a son who died in the Civil War but so far I have nothing to substantiate that. There is another James Kelly in the family plot who was either buried or moved to the plot in 1865, so it’s possible that this is the Civil War veteran. (There were four family members who were interred in the plot on the same date, including one who died in 1852, so I am working on the assumption that at least some, if not all of them, were moved from another plot and didn’t die at the same time from an epidemic or some kind of accident.)

The thing is, for as much time as I’ve spent going through censuses, I still don’t have them. I decided to follow up on some of the close matches to either make a connection or rule them out. Here are some of the methods I employed in trying to find a match. Continue reading