Under My Nose, by Michael John Neill

Sometimes those disappearing ancestors did not disappear the way we thought they did. Rather they are right there in front of us waiting to be found. This week we look at such a situation. Our search reminds us of several research techniques that any family historian needs to have in their repertoire when the ancestor seems to vanish without a trace.

Sarah Wickiser Calvert’s only known record of existence was an 1862 Delaware County, Ohio, deed where she sold property apparently inherited from her parents. After that, I had concluded she simply evaporated. The question was where she departed as she apparently could not be found in other records. Based upon census enumerations and more detailed information on her known siblings, it was estimated Sarah was born between 1802 and 1810, probably in Pennsylvania. Any other details of her life were unknown, including the name of her husband or her date of marriage (other than the fact that she was married by 1862).

When a relative is “lost,” one place to start looking is near other relatives, former neighbors, and associates, particularly ones who have moved. It is often helpful to have a “family map” handy to assist in keeping the various names straight. Continue reading

Tips from the Pros: Take a Break from Census Research and Read About It, by Sherry Irvine, CG, FSA Scot

British Census.bmpThere must be dozens of websites offering British Isles census data in amounts large and small. You can also find a proliferation of text about censuses online. For me it is a treat to get away from the computer, relax in a comfortable chair, and read about records and research.

This is what I suggest you do. Earlier this year Ancestry published Finding Answers in British Isles Census Records, by Echo King. It is an easy read and an informative one.

The book follows a logical sequence starting with a chapter that tell the story of the British census. It’s an interesting one, from origins of the idea in the 1700s to the first census in 1801, and the change to nominal records forty years later. It was quite an undertaking, collecting so much information and publishing results very quickly, all without any automation to speed the process. Then, several chapters guide you through access, indexes, searching census copies on the Web and on microfilm, interpretation, and the details of individual enumerations. The seven nominal censuses open to public scrutiny are reviewed one by one, 1841, 1851, and through to the most recent available, 1901.

Your research will improve if you read this book. Census work becomes even more fascinating when you know the story behind the records, understand the questions your ancestors had to answer, and realize the way mistakes occurred then and now.

If your research in England, Wales, or Scotland has bogged down, take a break. Since you probably don’t like reading a lot of text on your computer screen, I suggest get away from it and read something else. There is nothing like a break from research to help you spot hidden clues, and if that break expands what you know about the records, so much the better.

AWJ Editor’s Note: You can buy Finding Answers in British Isles Census Records, by Echo King and other Ancestry publications at 15% off in the Ancestry Store.

Your Quick Tips, 26 November 2007

Note Boundary Changes
Recently, I found it necessary to change the genealogy program that I had been using. The instructions said to always record birth, marriage, and death places exactly as they appear on the original record. My database displays a message whenever the date does not match the date of creation for the place specified. However, it may sometimes be necessary to add notes to explain where to find these places.
For example:

  • Daniel Shipman was born about 1747 in Bladen County, North Carolina.
  • 1750: part of Bladen County became Anson County
  • 1762: part of Anson County became Mecklenburg County
  • 1769: part of Mecklenburg County became Tryon County
  • 1779: part of Tryon County became present day Rutherford County

Most websites I’ve seen state that he was born in Rutherford County. Some of his siblings were born in Anson County; although, the family does not seem to have moved. All of this can be quite confusing without explanatory notes.
James L. McConaughy Continue reading

The Year Was 1831

The year was 1831 and in the lands of partitioned Poland, a group of Polish cadets from the Russian Army’s military academy in Warsaw gained control of the city and the Sejm declared a national uprising against Russia. But Russia had controlled the Congress Kingdom up to that time and would not bow to demands for Polish independence. The first battle took place in February. Although Polish forces were able to defend Warsaw for a time, it was clear that the war was over; the remaining Polish forces surrendered on 5 October 1831.

The failed uprising spurred a wave of emigration westward, particularly to France, but to the U.S., Great Britain, Switzerland, Belgium, and other countries as well.

Late in 1830, Belgium had also risen up to become independent of the Netherlands.
But in August 1831, the Netherlands again invaded Belgium briefly during the “Ten Days” campaign of William II, but when French intervention threatened, an armistice was signed and the Dutch withdrew. Continue reading

Photo Corner, 26 November 2007

William �Mode� Morrison taken about 1915Contributed by Don Morrison
This is a picture of my grandfather, William “Mode” Morrison taken about 1915. He owned a garage in Manteno, Illinois, at that time. I have always liked the picture as the buggy and car show the changing times.

Click on the images to enlarge them.

 Annie (nee Pemberton) Garvis, Thomas Tame, Levi Garvis, and Edna (nee Garvis) TameContributed by Marchem3
Here is a photo (left to right) of Annie (nee Pemberton) Garvis, Thomas Tame, Levi Garvis, and Edna (nee Garvis) Tame–four generations of my family. (My mother, Edna, died in 1999.) The photo was taken about 1935-36. Annie came to Australia from Lancashire, England in 1885, her family was glasscutters. She married William Garvis (Jarvis) in 1886 and after his death in 1926, married a George Fitzallen. She died in 1940. William and Annie lived and worked at Canning Downs near Warwick, Qld, and had their family there. William worked with horses. Annie was a domestic. It is interesting to note that William immigrated to Australia as JARVIS, married as GARVIS, raised his children as GARVIS, but was buried as JARVIS. Makes researching VERY interesting! The photo is not in good condition but no less valuable to us.

Garcias Are Catching Up With Joneses

There was an interesting article in the New York Times on Saturday about a new report from the Census Bureau that says,

Step aside Moore and Taylor. Welcome Garcia and Rodriguez.

Smith remains the most common surname in the United States, according to a new analysis released yesterday by the Census Bureau. But for the first time, two Hispanic surnames — Garcia and Rodriguez — are among the top 10 most common in the nation, and Martinez nearly edged out Wilson for 10th place.

The article online also includes a database where you can search for a surname and see the ranking of that surname, how many Americans out of 100,000 carry that name, it’s rank in 1990, and how much it has moved up or down since 1990. It’s kind of fun to play with. I found that in addition to carrying the #1 surname of Smith, I am also researching Miller, which comes in at #6 and Kelly, which is #69. So to all the Garcia and Rodriguez researchers out there, I feel your pain. 😉

On the bright side, researching really common surnames IMHO helps us really hone those research skills! Continue reading

New at Ancestry

Ancestry____logo.bmpPosted This Week

Coming Soon

  • U.S. Passport Applications, 1787-1925
  • Historic U.S. & Canada Atlases, 1591-2000
  • Major U.S. & Canada Newspaper Update
  • North Dakota State Census, 1915 & 1925
  • Southern Claims Commission Records
  • Stars and Stripes, Pacific Theater, 1942-1964

Weekly Planner: Rediscover Your Heritage

Over generations, the customs of our ancestor can sometimes be lost. Rediscover your heritage by investigating some of the customs of your ancestors. What holidays did they celebrate and how? What was their diet like? Did decorations have symbolic meaning? What kind of clothes did they wear? By learning more about these customs and everyday life, you’ll forge a stronger bond with your ancestors.

Click here for a printer friendly version of this article.

Wallet-Friendly Traditions for the Holiday Season, by Juliana Smith

MyFamily.com 2.0 Sample SiteAs I wrote last week’s column, I was still in that, “I’m not ready for the holidays” mode. But this morning I went out and bought my annual turkey (which I got on sale for a really sweet price!) and with the thought of next week’s turkey and dressing (my favorite meal), I’m starting to get a little more in the mood. This morning I broke tradition and even let my daughter listen to the holiday music station on the way to school. Typically this is something that is not done until after Mommy has started shopping. My rationale is that if I don’t hear holiday music then I’m not behind with shopping–kind of an ostrich approach, but it works for me.

I’ve noticed as the years go by, I’m finding myself adding new traditions. Most of them are not quite as uh . . . “eccentric” as the whole holiday music thing, and a lot of them have to do with family–past and present. So in this week’s column, I thought I’d share some ideas that you might like to turn into traditions for your family. And since many of us may be stressing about the cost of gas, heating, and holiday shopping, I’m focusing on cost-efficient traditions.

Family Newsletters
While the custom of sending family newsletters has been the object of ridicule on sitcoms, and even with some people I know, I love receiving them. Since you’re reading this newsletter about family history, I’m betting you agree. They’re full of the stuff that we wish we knew about our ancestors. These are holiday greetings that I save. (Yes, I save some others too, but as nice as the sentiment is, the one from my insurance guy is probably going to hit the old recycle bin.)

Beyond the usual “what we did this year,” you can spice your newsletter up by adding some family history. Do you have a family recipe that other family members might enjoy? Type it up or scan grandma’s recipe card to print on the backside of the newsletter. Write up a brief biographical sketch about an ancestor, or simply share an interesting find that you made recently. A copy of a passenger arrival record for your great-grandfather or a census record may even prompt a relative to share something they have stashed away. Continue reading