Saturday, June 14, 2014

Neighbor Nuptials: HistoryGeo Puts Neighbors On the Map

Who did your early ancestors marry? Of course, it was often their neighbors! Last week I learned about HistoryGeo through a Genealogy Guys podcast (#263) and was able to visually see that my Coppenbarger & Randolph ancestors of De Witt County, Illinois were neighbors!

HistoryGeo's First Landowners Project contains nearly 8 million original landowners in a single map. You can search for landowners by surname or by location. My Coppenbarger & Randolph ancestors were early settlers in De Witt County, Illinois (then Macon County) under the Land Act of 1820. Basically, this land act required cash instead of credit for land purchases. It also dropped the price of an acre from $1.65 to $1.25 and tract size from 160 to 80 acres. This land was available for purchase in the Northwest Territories (Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota) & Missouri. These lower prices ($100 for 80 acres versus $264 for 160 acres) encouraged many settlers to move West, including my two families from Virginia.

1833 U.S. Land Office Record for Jacob Coppenbarger then in Macon County now in De Witt County, Illinois
HistoryGeo doesn't just show you a map with names and the year of purchase. If you click on a specific piece of land you can see the following:

  • the names of all warantees & patentees
  • the patent date
  • the accession (I don't know what this field is)
  • location
  • township
  • range
  • section
  • aliquot
  • meridian
  • authority (for example, mine shows it's from the Land Act of 1820)
  • longitude
  • latitude
You can also click on the following links:
  • "View U.S. County Boundary History"
  • "View this Spot in Google Maps"
  • "View BLM Source"
  • "View BLM Document"
Unfortunately, the BLM website (Bureau of Land Management) doesn't seem to be working today so I can't share any specifics from there. I know when I looked at a document the other day, it was the same as the above document I found on But, there might be more records available.

A few other things I noted about the Coppenbarger & Randolph families while on HistoryGeo's maps:
  • I found that the two families owned a lot of land! (most of my ancestors were fairly poor, but this branch might be an exception)
  • I found other 'neighbors' who my family intermarried with - like Elisha Butler
  • I found the Randolph Cemetery which was located on Elisha Butler's land (there is also a cemetery 'search' button for these maps!)

One note: most of the First Landowners are from the west coast and central United States, not from the colonies. I counted entries for 30 of the 50 states. So, it really depends on where your ancestors lived as to whether or not you'll find this site very useful at this time.

Next up: I'll explore the Antique Maps Collections!

Do we share common ancestors? I'd love to talk! Please write me at

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

2014 Jamboree Sessions Online...FREE!

Southern California's Genealogical Society presented the multi-day Jamboree last weekend. I wasn't able to travel there, but planned on watching some of the 'live streaming' videos they were offering for free. But, my schedule didn't allow it. Well, they are offering them FREE online until July 5th! Then, later this summer they will be offered to members on their site. (Membership is $35 per year.) 

If the above link doesn't work, I found it by going to the Jamboree site and then clicking on the "watch on livestream" button which is near the green "follow" button. 

The 10 session available are:
  • Denise Levenick: Dirty Pictures: Save Your Family Photos from Ruin
  • Dr. Maurice Gleeson: Ireland and the Slave Trade
  • Dawn Thurston: How to Write a Personal History that Captures Your Interesting Life
  • D. Joshua Taylor: Resources of the DAR: Beyond Revolutionary War Soldiers
  • Cyndi Ingle: The Internet: A Genealogist's Printing Press
  • Dr. Maurice Gleeson: Researching Your Irish Ancestry Online
  • Bennett Greenspan: The Future of Genetic Genealogy
  • Michael Leclerc: Researching Your New England Ancestors
  • Judy Russell: Rights & Responsibilities
  • F. Warren Bittner: Elusive Immigrant!

Monday, June 2, 2014

"Aged Woman Answers Summons"

Lately, I've been having a lot of success in researching my Karbach/Koerbach family. They came from Germany around 1850 or 1853 and settled in Norwalk, Huron County, Ohio. One of the wonderful resources I have discovered is the Rutherford B Hayes Presidential Center which has an index of obituaries in several area newspapers. I've now ordered about 15 obituaries for only $3 each.

One of the obituaries I ordered was for my great, great, great grandmother, Mary Ann (Reuter) Koerbach. I received the 'obituary' with this wonderful title: "Aged Woman Answers Summons." In it, I found two clues: one saying that she was married in 1847 and "came to America three years later". And, the other saying she "was born in Koblentz, Prussia, May 4, 1825..." Here's the article:

Norwalk Reflector Herald -  May 22, 1914 - page 1, column 22
I did some research on Koblentz, Prussia mainly using Wikipedia. It is also spelled Coblenz (English), Koblenz (German) & Coblence (French). The word means "confluence" and it is at the confluence of two rivers: the Rhine and the Moselle. Koblenz, the preferred spelling today is located in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate, which is one of 16 German states.

Remember: you can't always believe everything you read! For many years I thought my Eastwood ancestors had come from Leeds, England as I found that in an obituary. But, as I learned this year, they actually came from LEES!!! (No "d" and a very different place.) So, this is just a 'hint'. After all, we don't know who gave the information to the newspaper and Mary was 89 years old!

P.S. I have found out that they came from a smaller, nearby village of Ediger. You can read more about that on my "Translating Latin" post.

Do we share common ancestors? I'd love to talk! Please write me at

The 1828 Will of Peter Close's Relict: Catharine Elizabeth Close

Yesterday, I shared the 1810 will of my 5th great grandfather , Peter Close of Armagh, Mifflin County, Pennsylvania. Peter's wife, Catha...