Your Quick Tips, 27 October 2008

Combine First and Last Names
It always boggles my mind when I can’t locate a family in one of the census years, but find them easily in some of the others. It usually comes down to the spelling of the name. Well, if you have run out of options, maybe this might work. Try combining both the first name and last name as the last name. I was searching for the name Michael Leone and could not find him or his family members in the 1910 census. I decided to leave out the name and just search by the county and state. It worked! I found the family under the last name Micaklone (aka Michael Leone). I believe the census taker misinterpreted the name as one.

Diane Tortorella
Levittown NY Continue reading

The Year Was 1817

National Road, Wilsons Bridge, Maryland.jpgThe year was 1817 and Europe was facing a devastating famine. Harvest failures in the years prior caused rising prices, while troops returning from the Napoleonic Wars faced rising unemployment. The combination led to poverty throughout Europe and mass migration, with many people jumping on ships to the Americas, while others migrated east to areas of Russia that hadn’t been hit as hard. Because so many of the immigrants were poor, many either traveled to the U.S. via Canada–a trip that cost less than traveling directly to U.S. ports. Many Irish immigrated to England, settling there or staying temporarily before moving on.

As refugees gathered in camps, disease also became a problem. Typhus was particularly prevalent in many areas of Europe, England, Scotland and Ireland. The typhus epidemic, which would last until 1819, claimed an estimated 65,000 lives in Ireland and parts of Scotland were also particularly hard hit as well.

Across the ocean, the U.S. was growing. Alabama Territory was split off from the Mississippi Territory, and Mississippi would achieve statehood later that year.

The growing country needed a growing transportation system and these needs were met in a variety of ways. The steamboat era had started six years prior, but until 1817 traffic was limited to travel between New Orleans and Natchez. In 1817, the steamboat Washington made the first round-trip voyage between New Orleans and Louisville. That trip took forty-one days. 

Construction began at Rome, New York for another waterway that would provide a vital link between the Atlantic Ocean and the Great Lakes via the Hudson River. The Erie Canal would be completed in 1825 and opened up areas west of the Appalachians to settlement and commerce.

An improved overland route westward was completed in 1817 as the Cumberland, or National Road reached from Cumberland, Maryland, to Wheeling, Virginia on the Ohio River (now part of West Virginia).

There was tension along the Florida border in 1817. Under the control of Spain, Florida was a popular haven for runaway slaves. Attempts to reclaim the fugitive slaves met with resistance from the Seminole Indians who lived in the northern part of Florida. They retaliated with raids on nearby Georgia homesteads and troops were called in under General Andrew Jackson. The First Seminole War would last into 1818 when Jackson captured the Spanish fort at Pensacola.

Image: National Road, Wilson Bridge, spanning Conococheague Creek at Route 40 (Old), Hagerstown vicinity, Washington County, Maryland

Photo Corner, 27 October 2008

Andrew Jackson GodfreyContributed by Donna Godfrey
This is my great-great-grandfather, Andrew Jackson Godfrey, better known as A.J. or Jack. He was a druggist and grocer born in 1840 in Kent County, Michigan. Andrew was one of the first settlers in the town of Burr Oak, Kansas and he built the first house there.  He enlisted in the Civil War in the Union Army, Company B, Seventeenth Indiana Volunteer Infantry. He was elected the first County Commissioner from his district in 1871, the First Justice of the Peace in Burr Oak in 1870, and was an active member of the Masonic Order.

Click on an image to enlarge it.

Hannah Jones at the far left, and her siblings (following left to right) George, Sylvia and EdwardContributed by Rebecca Eschliman
Taken circa 1892 in Sharon, Pennsylvania, this picture features my grandmother Hannah Jones at the far left, and her siblings (following left to right) George, Sylvia and Edward.

Mesa Family History Expo, 14-15 November 2008

Mesa FH is going to be one of the sponsors for the upcoming Mesa Family History Expo to be held November 14 and 15 at the Mesa Conference Center in Mesa, Arizona, and we want to invite you to attend and stop by our booth for a visit. We really want to meet you!

Over 100 classes will be presented by experts and industry leaders from the local and national genealogical community. Products and services from genealogy companies will also be showcased in an exhibit hall. The keynote address will be given by Don R. Anderson, Director of the LDS Church’s Family History Library and World Wide Support. will be teaching classes on a variety of subjects. All classes will be held in the Apache room. Here’s the list:

Friday, November 14

  • 10 a.m. – What’s New on – Suzanne Russo Adams, AG
  • 11:30 a.m. – RootsWeb: How can this community site assist you in your family history research? – Anna Fechter
  • 1:30 p.m. – Saving the World’s History One Record at a Time:’s World Archives Project – David Graham
  • 3 p.m. – Searching on — Suzanne Russo Adams, AG
  • 4:30 p.m. – Immigration and Emigration Records on – Adele Marcum

Saturday, November 15

  • 8 a.m. – Getting the Most out of Family Tree Maker – Duff Wilson
  • 9:30 a.m. –’s Family Trees — Suzanne Russo Adams, AG
  • 11 a.m. – DNA Ancestry – Darlene Odenwalder
  • 1 p.m. – Finding Your UK Ancestors on – Echo King, AG
  • 2:30 p.m. — DNA Ancestry – Darlene Odenwalder
  • 4 p.m. – US Census And Voter Lists at – Echo King, AG

Expo details and the class schedule are available online at:

There is no cost for attending the keynote address or visiting the exhibit hall. For those wishing to attend the classes, pre-registration is $75.00 through November 1st.  After November 1st, registration at the door will be $90.00 for both days.  Cost will be $50.00 per day at the door for those wishing to attend only one day of classes.

Cook County (Illinois) Naturalization Index Online

The Cook County (Illinois) Clerk of the Circuit Court’s office has posted a new index to Naturalization records (primarily Declarations of Intention) that it holds from 1871 through 1929. There are currently 150,000 of the 500,000+ records held by the Circuit Court available in the database, but they’re continuing to add records. They’ve also included a form to request your ancestor’s entire naturalization file from the court, which may include more than the declaration of intention. 

Ancestry New Search Offers “Hot Keys” and Search Refining Shortcut

Ancestry____logo.gifForgive the tardiness of this post, but I missed it when Anne posted it on the Ancestry blog. They’ve added new “hot keys” to the new search interface. Now while you’re in the new search:

  • N will bring up a new search window over your browser.
  • R will bring up a new search window and also prefill in the fields from the previous search you conducted. (Great for refining searches!)
  • P will bring up the preview window for the first in a set of hits you’ve received from a search. Then just hit > (or J) to browse to the next preview, and < (or K) to browse back to the previous preview.

In addition to these hot keys, I noticed another improvement when I was searching today. After you do a search, at the bottom of the Refine Search box, there is a link to Start a new search. When you click on that, it offers you the choice of starting a new search of all Ancestry collections, starting a search of a particular collection (if you were doing a search within that particular collection), or searching the one database that you are in. 

I’ve been playing with these all day today and am finding them very helpful!

Weekly Planner: Set a Family History Goal

This month is Family History Month and it’s a chance to re-energize our family history research. Why not give yourself a goal to work towards? We set all kinds of goals in our lives–work benchmarks, getting healthier, financial goals, etc. Just as in other areas, goals are helpful in motivating you into action. Give yourself a deadline for writing that biographical sketch or publishing your family history. Set a financial goal for that dream research trip. Or just set aside time each day to devote to a project, whether it be cleaning out files, or finally compiling that family newsletter you’ve been meaning to get out. Wherever your priority lies, setting a goal is the first step in achieving success. Share your family history goals with us in the comments section below.

Politician’s Family Trees: What’s in Them For Me? by Juliana Smith

Mark Twain is quoted as saying, “Why waste your money looking up your family tree? Just go into politics and your opponents will do it for you.” While politicians seem to be focusing more on their opponents’ jugular veins this year, there are still a lot of researchers and journalists who are equally intent on digging up their roots. No matter what we may think about the candidates or their stand on the issues, the methods professionals use to uncover their roots can also be applied to our own work.

There have been almost weekly news stories regarding the heritage of the presidential and vice-presidential candidates. With my Irish roots, I found it interesting that they all had this in common with me. This week, a press release from revealed more on the candidates’ family histories, and one even featured a story about George Washington, and what would have likely happened had he decided to go along with plans for establishing a monarchy instead of a presidency. The Ancestry Publications team approached Ancestry Chief Family Historian Megan Smolenyak to do the research on the project, and the article, “The Man (or Woman) Who Would be King,” appeared in the September/October 2008 issue of Ancestry Magazine. Based on Megan’s research and some fascinating interviews, it was determined that an 82-year-old retired regional manager from San Antonio, Texas would be King of America today.

When the “Washington as King” press release was first posted on the 24/7 blog, several people commented on to say, “Why can’t that be done on my lines?” 

There are several possible answers to that question. Almost all of us become stymied in our research at some point or another, and although teams of researchers worked on these high-profile cases for quite a while, even these famous candidates probably have some lines that are tough cases to crack.  That said, there are some tricks for getting beyond those dead ends we sometimes encounter. Let’s take a look at some detours we can take:

While it may not be a good thing when a politician side-steps a question, side-stepping in your research to a sibling, or even a cousin, can be a very good thing. My third great-grandmother, Catherine Kelly, died at age twenty-six in 1851, leaving behind two children, a husband, and not much of a trail. The records of her daughter, my great-great-grandmother Emma didn’t reveal much either, but by tracing Emma’s sister Ann Eliza, we found reference to an aunt that helped us to slowly fill out the family structure. It was through this approach that we were able to finally learn the names of Catherine’s parents. Continue reading