Using Ancestry: Captured! Stories in Revolutionary Records, by George G. Morgan

John Soards (Swords) listed in â��Pay Roll of Captain George Warleys company in the 6th Regimt of South Carolina continental Troops commanded by Colo Wm Henderson from the 1st of August to the 1st December 1779.â��Every beginning genealogist quickly learns that some informational sources are better than others. Granny’s recollection and oral description of a family wedding that occurred forty to fifty years ago may be slightly incorrect because of the passage of time, or even because she only heard about it from another family member.

Therefore, an exact image of the marriage license, the marriage return entered in the courthouse, a newspaper wedding announcement, or a descriptive letter written by a relative who attended the wedding (written immediately after the event) will all be more reliable resources. That is the case because they were created at or very near the time of the event. And even though there may be factual flaws, transcription errors, and other “problems,” these sources are essentially more reliable than Granny’s story–even though Granny’s account is most certainly a pointer toward the original sources.

I recently had one of those revelations with one of my own ancestor’s American Revolutionary War stories. Let me explain. Continue reading

Tips from the Pros: Using the Geographic Names Information System, from George G. Morgan

Sometimes when doing your research, it is difficult to locate specific places. There are villages, place names, crossroads, cemeteries and other features for which you know the names but which you cannot locate on a standard map.

The U.S. Geological Survey has a website for its Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) which can provide precise latitude and longitude information for you.  The site is located at and allows you to enter the name of a feature, specify the type of feature it is, the state in which it is located, and even the county. Press enter and the server locates and displays matches for you.

I entered Cooper Cemetery, specified feature type “cemetery,” and county of Caswell in North Carolina, and was presented with the cemetery’s latitude and longitude. I then entered no feature name, but specified a feature type of “cemetery” in the county of Talladega in Alabama, clicked Send Query and was presented with fifty-two cemeteries. If they know the cemetery and it’s in their database, your search will locate the cemetery.

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Your Quick Tips, 16 July 2007

“Widowed” Doesn’t Always Mean the Spouse is Dead
Widowed does not always mean that the spouse is dead. When researching my ancestors and relatives from the 1870s through the 1920s, I have found on several occasions that my aunt, cousin, or great-grandmother was “widowed.” In trying to find when the spouse died, I found out–to my surprise–that the spouse was not always dead, but living with other relatives or married again.

One example is: my great-aunt Josie was listed as widowed and living with her grown children in North Dakota in 1900. Well, I thought poor Karl had died just as the children were grown and he could enjoy his later years.

Then I accidentally saw his name in a Minnesota census. Yes, it was the right age. Yes, he was born in Germany. “What’s going on here?” I wondered.  Karl was living with a daughter of a previous marriage and he listed himself as “D” (divorced) while Aunt Josie had listed herself as “Wd” (widowed).

Josie’s first husband did die young back in Kentucky, but she remarried. Should she have listed herself as widowed? I found several instances where the woman listed widowed, but the man listed divorced. This seemed to be a trend as divorce was frowned upon.

Keep looking until you are sure “Wd” means widowed.

Tom Humphrey
Jacksonville, Alabama Continue reading

The Year Was 1869

Promontory Utah last spike transcontinental railroad.bmpThe year was 1869 and in the town of Taylorville, Illinois, it is remembered as the year that it rained–not cats and dogs–but amphibians. Following days of heavy rain, local residents found strange serpent-like creatures in “every ditch, brook, puddle, and pool.” Scientists believe that it was the “Lesser Siren” that rained down on the town, and that the creatures had been sucked into the atmosphere via a waterspout and carried on the jetstream for an hour or two before landing in Taylorville.

Later that year a more traditional, but deadlier storm struck the areas surrounding the Bay of Fundy, including New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and parts of Maine. Known as the “Saxby Gale,” a combination of weather factors and a lunar high tide conspired to create a devastating storm surge that caused extensive flooding that drowned both people and farm animals, and winds that grounded boats around the Fundy Basin.

In the U.S., east and west were finally connected by rail. On 10 May 1869 the last spike was driven in the transcontinental railroad at Promontory, Utah. (Click on the image to enlarge it.) With the joining of the Central Pacific Railroad and the Union Pacific Railroad the trip from the Missouri River west to the Pacific was reduced from four to six months to six days. 

Another transportation route was opened in 1869 with the opening of the Suez Canal. The canal created an all-water route from the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea, allowing easier access from Great Britain and Europe to India and east Africa. 

A New Jersey physician and dentist, Dr. Thomas Branwell Welch launched the fruit juice industry with the pasteurization of Concord grapes into “unfermented sacramental wine.” The beverage that would eventually be known as Welch’s Grape Juice earned nationwide popularity at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago.

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Photo Corner

Juanita Blanche, born 10 December 1907 in the Arizona territoryContributed by Kathy Young
This is a photo of Juanita Blanche, born 10 December 1907 in the Arizona territory, taken at the time of her May 1928 wedding to my grandfather, Glenn Bailey. Happy 100th Birthday.

Click on the image to enlarge it.

Margaret Fitzgerald, and her twin sister, Frances Fitzgerald, in New Haven, ConnecticutContributed by Bill Rodman, Suffern, New York
This is a photo of my wife’s great-grandmother, Margaret Fitzgerald, and her twin sister, Frances Fitzgerald, in New Haven, Connecticut. The twins are just shy of their thirteenth birthday. I am told that the occasion was our nation’s Centennial, 4 July 1876.

Mecklenburg-Schwerin Census, 1819 Online at Ancestry (in German)

Allgemeine Ansicht, Schwerin, Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Deutschland The Grand Duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin was formed in 1815 through a division of the Duchy of Mecklenburg. It was the larger of the two resulting Mecklenburg Grand Duchies. Now, and Ancestry World Deluxe members can search the 1819 census of Mecklenburg-Schwerin online.

In 1819 the German Confederation (an organization created in 1815 by the Congress of Vienna to organize the remaining states of the German Nation) ordered, by a law passed on 18 June 1819, that a census of Mecklenburg-Schwerin be conducted. The purpose of this census was to determine each Confederation territory’s exact military quota. It was taken in August of that year.

The 1819 census was the first general census of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. The complete census has survived and the entirety of it is contained in this database, including an electronic every-name index to it, as well as images of the original census records. Continue reading

Ancestry Posts California Marriage and Divorce Indexes

Ancestry logo3.bmpAncestry has posted indexes to California Marriages and Divorces. Marriages cover the time period between 1960 and 1985 and divorces from 1966 to 1984. The search index links to images of the actual indexes from the state of California. There are more than 4.8 million marriages in this database. Information that can be found in the marriage indexes includes:

  • Names of bride and groom
  • Ages of bride and groom
  • Marriage date and county location
  • Registrar and state file numbers

There are more than 3.5 million divorces also available. These records include:

  • Husband’s name
  • Wife’s name
  • Date divorce was filed
  • County divorce was filed in
  • Case and state file number

Click on the links below to access these databases:

Photo Corner: Looking for Antique Car Experts…

071307SoldierCar.bmpHere’s another mystery for our readers to solve. Does anyone know what kind of car this is? Here’s what we know…

How about a picture of an old car that I’m trying to get identified? The man is a serviceman and the picture was taken in 1951 in Stuttgart, Germany.

Doug Burnett
Satellite Beach FL

 Oop, I forgot to post the photo on the first run through! Sorry ’bout that! 😉

Hey CNN, Where’s Family History?

Was just checking out the news on CNN and ran across a special section on leisure, spotlighting various pastimes. Now, I know that family history isn’t as widespread as say gardening, but I would have thought we would have garnered a mention somewhere. There is a top ten list of hobbies as selected by users in a survey, and napping comes in at number 7. I don’t know about you, but for me there have been nights where family history has come well before sleep. 😉

In the Find Your Hobby section, other suggestions were creating your own cleaning supplies, parapsychology, participating in archaeological digs (that one does sound fun!), and building a homemade liquid cooling system for your computer. Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with these hobbies. I’ve made homemade cleaning supplies (although I don’t really consider it a hobby) and this time of year, any kind of homemade cooling system is welcome. As for parapsychology, I have some ancestors I’d really like to contact, but IMHO, family history is a bit more mainstream.

What do you think? I’d be interested to hear from you where you think family history ranks. Let me know in the comments section of this article.

Where Am I? Church in Poland–possibly Grajewo or Wierzbowo?

Polish Church, possibly in Grajewo or Wierzbowo?We got our first submission for the new Where Am I? section of the blog today, so without further ado…

Attached is a photo of a Catholic church in Poland. On the back of the photo a relative wrote:

“Church in Poland. Busha was baptized there and received her First Holy Communion there. This was the last place she went to before leaving Poland.”

“Busha” is grandmother in Polish. Adela Rose Rozinska was my great grandmother and a lovely person. Someone later added “Grajewo” to the back of the picture. That could be the city where this church is located. That is, if it still stands after the two World Wars. She was from the Russian Partition area of Poland. Another likely city could be: Wierzbowo, where I believe she was born, 16 Dec 1883. She came to the States around 1901 or 1902. America was the “land of opportunity.” Adele was the eldest and it was decided that she would make a fortune here. She never saw her parents again. She met and married my great grandfather, Edward Tomaszewski and having 9 children was never able to afford to go back and visit.

Maybe there is someone who can identify the church or lead me to where I may find help.

Kindest regards,
Dori House

Click on the image to enlarge it.