Sunday, December 27, 2015

Who Was Sarah "Sally" McCage's Father?

Sarah E. McCage (~1812-1860), who married William Kennedy Dickson (1811-probably 1860's), was born in Tennessee and lived in Perry County, Tennessee by 1840 (if not before). I'd seen her maiden name, McCage, on other researcher's trees, but last year is the first time I found it on a document. One of her children, Jacob Tipton Dickson, had written his mother's name as Sarah McCage on a Civil War Questionnaire in 1920.

Jacob Tipton's Civil War Questionnaire (Question #8 lists "Maiden name in full of your mother: Salley McCage.
She was the daughter of "dont know" and his wife "dont know."
I've been looking through's War of 1812 Pension Files lately. (The are currently posted through the letter M, and I'm "patiently" waiting for the W's for Whitwell.) Today, I came across a Samuel McCage from Tennessee who looked like a possible father or uncle for Sarah. Samuel was from Humphreys County, Tennessee which is adjacent to Perry County, Tennessee.

I found Samuel's Find-A-Grave memorial and a researcher lists Samuel's children, which did not include my Samuel. It did, however, say that Samuel McCage lived in Perry County, Tennessee until the late 1840's! But, her birth of May 1811 to April 1812 does not fit nicely with Samuel's marriage date of March 29th, 1812.

Could Samuel McCage possibly be Sarah's uncle? And, there's still a chance Samuel is her father.

I had never found Sarah and her husband, William Kennedy Dickson, on the 1840 census... until recently. I looked for Samuel McCage in the 1840 census in Perry County, Tennessee. I found him, and just 3 names down was Kennedy Dickson with his wife and three young children.

Since Sarah was born in 1811 or 1812, we are looking for a possible father who was born between 1780 to 1790. Perry County is a burned county, so I'm still looking for Sarah's elusive parents. If you have any ideas, please let me know!

Do we share common ancestors? I'd love to talk! Please leave a comment with a way to contact you or email me at

Why Did They Divide the County into Two?

William Kennedy Dickson (~1811-1860's), my 3rd great grandfather, signed a petition in 1845. At the time, he was living in Perry County, Tennessee. The petition? Some citizens of Perry County are asking that their county be divided. So, why do they want the county divided?
Detail from map of the United States of America by H. S. Tanner, 1834
(found on various sites)
Above is an 1834 map of Perry County, Tennessee. Running almost down the center is the Tennessee River. Perryville, the county seat, is on the west side of the river. That was the issue. The people on the east side of the river, including William K Dickson, pointed out the hardships of crossing the river: "the citizens residing on the east side of the Ten[essee] River are compelled to submit to a constant [unreadable] and unjust tax for ferriages in attending courts said which is oppressive in the extreme besides the risk of their personal safety." (Petition transcribed by Jerry L. Butler & posted on the TNGenWeb site.)

In other words, they are complaining about the cost and danger of crossing the river via ferry anytime they need to go to the courthouse!

According to "Historical Resources on Microfilm: Perry County," in "November, 1845 Perry County was divided to create Decatur county from lands lying west of the Tennessee River. The division took effect on 1846 Apr 6. Perryville was retained as the county seat for Decatur (until it was moved to Decaturville) and a new county seat for Perry was needed. For two years between 1846 and 1848, the Perry court met at the Harris farm, about four miles south of present-day Linden. A new woodframe courthouse was constructed at Linden in 1849. This is said to have burned during the Civil War, destroying a body of records."

I enjoyed learning more about my ancestor's hardships & why he would get involved in trying to have the county line & county seat moved. And, it's always a good idea to know the geography of where our ancestors lived. "Little things" like rivers could make a BIG difference in their daily lives!

Friday, November 20, 2015

How To Set a Primary Photo on the NEW Ancestry

For the past few months, I've tried to figure out how to set a "primary photo" for an individual. It was easy on the "old" Ancestry! I finally called Ancestry and they quickly sent me an email with a link that explained the steps I needed to take. I don't think it is intuitive (or I would have figured it out!), so I'm sharing the steps.

STEP 1: Go to the profile page for the person on your tree and click "Gallery" to see all the images.

STEP 2: Click on the image you want to use as the primary photo.

STEP 3: The image opens up on a new page. Below the person's name and photo information, there is a line that says "LINKED TO" followed by a blue bar with the person's name and a 'down' arrow. Click on the that bar to reveal more information.

STEP 4: You should now see two options: "Use as Profile Image" or "Unlink Person from this Photo." Click on "Use as Profile Image."

When you return to the person's profile page, you should see the new image next to their name.

The photo of William Lowry Ward, my grandmother's "Uncle Lowry," was one I got a copy of while visiting my mom's a few weeks ago. Lowry was a son of Reuben Houston Ward and Sallie Harriet (Dickson) Ward. 

Uncle William Lowry Ward (1896-1970)

Monday, November 16, 2015

Ancestor Fought in Creek Indian Wars: Pension File Discovered in War of 1812 Records

As you probably know, the War of 1812 Pension Files are free on Fold3 and they continue to add more names each month. I'm "patiently" waiting for the Ws for my direct ancestor, Thomas B. Whitwell. But, in the meantime, I was scrolling through the names in Tennessee where my grandmother's maternal family lived.

Under the letter D, I came across the fairly common surname, Dickson, which was my grandmother's maiden name. As I clicked on each of these men, one name stood out to me: Joseph Dickson. I have four Joseph Dickson's on my tree. Two were born after the War of 1812, but one was born in 1772 and another was born in 1795 (though I figured he was probably too young). The Joseph in the Pension File was from Linden, Perry County, Tennessee which is where "all" of my grandmother's family lived.

The pension file includes 37 pages and never mentions his wife or family members. But, three different papers indicate his birth year. The first is image #29 which is dated 7 May 1855 where Joseph says he is "aged fifty nine years." The second letter is on image #32 and is dated 09 Dec 1852 and Joseph says he is "57" years old. Third dated 29 May 1871 saying "75 years" old. All of these ages match my Joseph Dickson, born on December 1st, 1795, exactly.

Joseph Dickson (1795-1898) was my fourth great-grandfather, and this pension file was the first piece of evidence I'd ever seen that he fought in any war.

So, what did I discover in Joseph Dickson's pension file?

Joseph Dickson's Pension File (image from Fold3)

  • Joseph received two pieces of Bounty Land: 40 acres in 1850 (claim #93350) & 120 acres in 1855 (claim #57224) - this is something I need to look into further! (Image #1 on Fold3)
  • He enlisted on Jan 28th, 1814 & discharged on May 23, 1814 in Tennessee Militia under Captains Michael Moulton & Joseph Williams (Image #1)
  • Mentions the "Creek War" (Image #4)
  • Lists length of service as 116 days (Image #7)
  • Discusses that, besides actual fighting days, he was also paid for 200 miles "travel allowance" (Images #9 & #10)
  • States "Joseph Dickson aged 59 years a resident of Perry County in the state of Tennessee who being duly sworn according to law declares that he is the identical Joseph Dickson who was a private in the company commanded by Captain Joseph Williams in the regiment of mounted riflemen commanded by Colonel Michael Molton in the War with Great Britain declared by the United States on the 18th day of June 1812 (with the Creek Indians) for the term of three months and continued in actual service in said war for fourteen days, that he has heretofore made application for bounty land under the Act of September 28th 1850 and received a land warrant No------- not reccolected (?) for forty acres which he has since legally disposed of and cannot now return.   [paragraph] He makes this declaration for the purpose of obtaining the additional bounty land to which he may be entitled under the act approved 3rd day of March 1855. [paragraph] He also declares that he has never applied nor received under this nor any other act of Congress any Bounty Land warrant except the one above mentioned. [signed] Joseph Dickson (Image #29)
  • States "... that he volunteered at Dickson [County] on the [blank] day of January 1814 for term of 3 months and continued in actual service for the term of 3 1/2 months and was honorably discharged at Camp Blount on the 10th day of May 1814 as will appear by reference to certificate of discharge herewith filed - and by the muster rolls of said company (Image #32)

  • Includes Joseph's actual discharge papers! (Image #35)
  • A fill-in-the-blank form dated May 29th, 1871 says he is "not" married & all information about a wife is crossed out. Joseph's wife died in 1867, but this is still puzzling as it is asking about who his wife's name "was"... (Image #36)
From this information, I looked at the Tennessee Secretary of State site at "Regimental Histories of Tennessee Units During the War of 1812" and was able to determine that Joseph Dickson served under Colonel Robert Dyer in the Tennessee Volunteer Mounted Cavalry. One of the Captains of the regiment was Michael Molton who Joseph stated he served under (though he listed him as a colonel). Molton also signed Joseph Dickson's discharge papers.

The brief history of this regiment (at the above site) states that it was "part of General John Coffee's cavalry brigade throughout most of the Creek War. The unit participated in most of the battles of the war, including... Horseshoe Bend (27 March 1814). There were several companies of "spies" in the regiment: companies of cavalry that were sent on reconnaissance patrols and usually took the lead in the line of march for Jackson's army."

Battle of Horseshoe Bend (public domain image from Wikipedia)
A great synopsis of the Battle of Horseshoe Bend is at Access Genealogy: "The Creek Indians, who had been allies of the British during the War of 1812, were angered by white encroachment on their hunting grounds in Georgia and Alabama. In 1813, some Creeks under Chief Red Eagle (William Weatherford) (1780-1824) attacked and burned Fort Mims on the lower Alabama River, killing about 500 whites [the Fort Mims Massacre]. Afterward, US militiamen, led by General Andrew Jackson (1767-1845), invaded Creek territory in central Alabama and destroyed two Indian villages, Talledega and Tallasahatchee, in the fall of 1813. Jackson pursued the Creek, and on March 27, 1814, his 3,000 man army attacked and defeated them at that Battle of Horseshoe Bend on the Tallapoosa River in eastern Alabama. More than 800 Creek warriors were killed, and the power of the Creek nation was completely broken. At the Treaty of Fort Jackson on August 9, 1814, the Creek were compelled to cede 23 million acres (half of Alabama and part of southern Georgia) to the whites. It is sometimes considered to be part of the War of 1812."

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Veterans Day Photos

Thanks to photos posted by family members on Facebook, I'm happy to share photos of some of our 21st century veterans. (Photos shared with permission.)

My dad
Served in the U.S. Army

My dad's brother, Jim
Served in the U.S. Army  (1958-1962 in Korea)

My husband's grandfather, Fred Clifford Hunter
Served in the U.S. Navy during WWII

My husband's grandfather, Jim Leeds (middle), with two of his brothers
Served in the U.S. Army during WWII

Johnnie Leeds, a brother of Jim Leeds
Served in the U.S. Army during WWII

Monday, November 9, 2015

Memories of an Antique Clawfooted Tub

Growing up, the house we lived in had been built in the late 1800's. Though it was two stories and had four bedrooms, it only had 1 1/2 bathrooms: a half bath under the staircase and a full bathroom upstairs. The full bath didn't have a shower; it only had an antique, claw-footed tub. The tub was painted white, inside and out, but the outside paint had peeled off in places. Surprisingly I have many memories centered on that old tub.

Me (age 2) & my baby brother in the antique tub
My sister, brother, and I were 3 "stair step" children. My sister, the oldest, was almost 2 years older then me; and I was almost two years older than my baby brother. When we were very young, my mom would pile all 3 of us in the tub at one time to give us a bath and wash our hair.

In the summers when we were a little older, my mom would put us in the tub in our swimsuits to "cool down" before our naps. One day, she put us in the tub and went downstairs to take care of something. She heard lots of giggling and laughing and screaming. She went through the entryway, directly below the tub, to see what was going on. She saw water pouring down the wall by the front door! We had discovered how to use the back end of the tub as a giant slide. It sure could make a splash!

Well, one Sunday morning, we heard a noise in the attic running back and forth across the ceiling. The door to the attic was in the upstairs bathroom; it just had a trapdoor without any stairs. There was a piece of wood you'd push up and over and then you'd have to use a ladder to get into the attic. My dad decided to fill the tub with water, open the attic door, close the door to the bathroom, and check on the situation when we got back from church. When we got back, my dad found a terrified squirrel in the bathroom. I always thought he found it in the tub, but my mom said he was caught in the window shade trying to get out. My dad was able to catch the squirrel in a towel and took him outside. Perhaps in shock, the squirrel climbed up into our big oak tree and just sat there staring at us for a very long time.

Strangely enough, the bathroom was at the front of the house with a window over the tub facing the street. We didn't have central air-conditioning, so we often had the frosted window partially open to catch any breeze. If you peeked out the window, you could see what was happening all the way up and down our street. And, you could hear conversations in our front yard!

My mom always told us not to bathe whenever there was a storm; the lightning could electrocute us. When I was about 8 years old, I was going through confirmation class at our church. We went to a Baptist church, so we often heard the gospel. We were told that we were all sinners, that Jesus had died for our sins, and that to go to heaven we had to accept Jesus as our Savior. I'd wanted to accept Jesus as my Savior for quite awhile. But, I was dreadfully shy! In our church, you had to walk down the aisle to profess your faith. The very idea of this had me petrified.

That night, it started thundering and lightning while I was in the tub. I finally realized that I could actually die that very night. And, that without Jesus as my Savior, I would go to hell. So, in that tub, I bowed my head, confessed myself as a sinner, and asked Jesus to come into my heart. And, yes, I walked the aisle the next Sunday!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Help Please! Navy Portrait, but Which War?

This is a photo I scanned while at my mom's a few weeks ago. I know which part of my family it came from, but I'm having trouble identifying which war this young man served in. If I can figure that out, hopefully I can identify him.

Can anyone tell me which war this young man fought in. Thanks in advance!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Grandma's Old Family Photos

After writing about my Grandmother, Evelyn (Dickson) Kaechle, this past weekend, I decided to share some of her old family photos. The photos were probably all taken in Perry County, Tennessee where my grandmother grew up.

This is a photo of Sallie (Dickson) Ward, my grandmother's grandmother. My grandmother was raised by Sallie since her own mother, Nora (Ward) Dickson, died when she was only 8 months old. Sallie lived to be 99 years old and lived her entire life in Perry County,Tennessee.

This photo was labeled "Sallie & Mary." Sallie is Sallie (Dickson) Ward who is also pictured above. This "Mary" is almost certainly Sallie's older sister, Mary Elizabeth (Dickson) (Sutton) Dickson. She was born in 1849, about 11 years before Sallie's birth. Mary lived to be 87 and died in 1939. So, this photo was probably taken in the 1930's.

My grandmother told me this was a photo of "Mary Ary, Tom Ward's daughter." Tom Ward is one of Sallie's sons. He did have a daughter named Mary, who would've been about a year older than my grandmother. So, it is likely these first cousins grew up as close friends in Perry County. However, I don't have any information on Mary Ward after the 1930 census when she was 15 years old. 

The only Mary Ary in Perry County has been attributed to other parents by researchers. There is also a Mary Erie in the 1940 census in Wayne County, Tennessee who might be Tom's daughter. Either way, more research is needed!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Born 100 Years Ago Today: A Tribute to My Grandmother

My grandmother, Evelyn (Dickson) Kaechle, was born 100 years ago today. Though she died in 2004 at the age of 88, I'm paying tribute to her by sharing part of her life's story in words and photos.

Evelyn was the fifth child born to James Bedford & Nora (Ward) Dickson. Both the Ward and Dickson families had lived in Perry County, Tennessee for generations. But, for some reason, Evelyn was born about 100 miles away in Newbern, Dyer County, Tennessee on October 10th, 1915.

Sadly, when Evelyn was only 8 1/2 months old, her mother died. I remember Grandma telling me her mom died from "eating too many fresh vegetables," but the death certificate says her cause of death was "billious dysentery." Evelyn's mother was only 30 years old.

This is the only photo we have of my grandmother as a young child. She's about 2 and she's holding a pet chicken, most likely in Perry County, Tennessee. On the left is Elsie Jo Ward (age ~14), one of grandmother's first cousins, who is also holding a chicken. In the middle is Sallie (age ~58), the grandmother who raised my Grandmother Evelyn. And, on the right is Ethel Ward (~20), Sallie's youngest daughter. I scanned this photo at my grandmother's house about 15 years ago. I don't know what has become of the original.

Though Evelyn's dad evidently felt comfortable taking care of the older children (who were ages 12, 10, 8, & 4), he must have decided baby Evelyn would be better off with her maternal grandmother. So, Evelyn was raised by her widowed grandmother, Sallie (Dickson) Ward.

Evelyn lived with her grandmother in Marsh Creek, Perry County, Tennessee surrounded by family including her father, siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins. In the 1920 census, 4-year-old Evelyn was living with her grandmother and two unmarried uncles: Uncle Lowry and Uncle Grady. In 1930, she was still living in Marsh Creek with her grandmother, Sallie, and Uncle Lowry.

This is a photo of my grandfather and grandmother, Evelyn, taken in 1941 either right before or right after they were married in Ohio. The original is in my mother's possession.
Around 1941, at the age of 25, Evelyn met Sherman Kaechle who was working at a farm in Tennessee. They traveled to Toledo, Ohio where Sherman had family, and were married on July 5th, 1941. Though they lived in Tennessee for a few years, Evelyn would live most of the rest of her life in Indiana.

Although she didn't grow up in the same house as her father and older siblings, she still had a nice relationship with them. This is a photo of my Grandmother Evelyn, on the right, with her father, James B Dickson, in the middle, and oldest sister, Bernie, on the left. Original photo in possession of my mother.

Evelyn and her husband, Sherman Kaechle, with the first of their 7 children

Evelyn's first 4 children, a son then 3 daughters, were born within just 4 years of each other. Her fifth child, a son, was born 6 1/2 years later. The last two boys, born less than 12 months apart, weren't born for another 5 years. Altogether, Evelyn raised 7 children, 4 sons and 3 daughters. The oldest child was 16 1/2 when the last baby was born.

Grandmother Evelyn (Dickson) Kaechle with my siblings and me (I'm on far right)
Evelyn survived breast cancer in 1986. But, 8 years later, the cancer returned; this time it attacked her bones. My mother took care of Grandma for several months at home. Eventually, though, Grandma was moved to hospice.

My mother, daughter, and I got to spend those last few days with her, though she responded very little. I held her hand and my 3-year-old daughter and I sang hymns to her. It was a sweet, but sad, time as I watched Grandma slip away. Peacefully, in the middle of the night on June 6th, 2004, Grandma Kaechle breathed her last. I believe she went home to be with her Lord where I will one day see her again.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Another Sad Chapter of Reuben Ward, Murdered Minister: A Case of an Insolvent Estate

Earlier this year, I wrote about my grandmother's grandfather, Reuben H. Ward. According to my grandmother's story, he was a Methodist circuit rider who had been murdered while going down the river. His body was then thrown overboard. I uncovered more details of the story through newspaper articles.

Index from Ancestry's Insolvent Estates, Perry County, Tennessee
Ward, R. H., page 62; Notice there is one more Ward and 2 more
Whitwells who are also likely my relatives. I haven't looked at these yet.

This week, while looking at Ancestry's new "probate and wills" databases, I discovered more information about Reuben H. Ward. I found that his estate was insolvent.

What is an insolvent estate? It's when an estate is in bankruptcy. So, the estate has more debt than equity. In other words, the person owed more money than they could pay back.

Reuben H. Ward
Image from Elizabeth Ramey, used with permission

In this case, the two administrators of Reuben's estate, Geo. D. Whitwell (Reuben's first cousin) and J. A. Denton, were ordered by the Clerk of the county, J. R. Godwin, to "give notice in the Linden Mail [a newspaper] and also at the Court-house door, in the Town of Linden, Tennessee, for all persons holding claims against the Estate of said deceased, to come forward and file them with me, as Clerk aforesaid, for a pro rata distribution on or before the 7 day of July 1907." [Unfortunately, according to Chronicling America, only three issues of the Linden Mail still exist, so I won't be able to find a copy of this notice.]

The order was apparently signed on January 7th, 1907. The first creditor appeared on January 21st. This was the Stewart Drug Co. saying Reuben (or his estate) owed them $3.95.

Over the next two years, a year and a half beyond the distribution date, a total of 30 creditors would be listed with amounts owed between $1.30 (to John T. Stanford) and $261.11, but with a $19.00 credit (to J. M. Lancaster). Among the many individuals listed, I also noticed the following:
  • Murray & Essary, Attor'y's
  • Paducah Furniture Company
  • Lexington Hardward & Furniture Company
  • L. V. Frazier (who I know from research is the local doctor)
  • J. T. Mossite Co. Judgement & [???]
  • J. P. Dickson (who I know to be his widow's sister)
  • Citizen's Bank, Lexington, Tenn
In all, the amount Reuben's estate owed was $1,559.81. Unfortunately, "G. D. Whitwell Admr. has $125.00 to pay these claims less expenses of Admrs fee and clerk fee." So, these claimants probably only received about 10 cents per dollar of what they were owed.

Of course, I can't help but think of Reuben's widow, Sallie, who was only 45 at the time of Reuben's death. She had 8 of her 9 children still living, though the oldest three were already married. But, still living at home were the youngest five children: Lillie, age 18; Mittie, age 15; Mary, age 13; William, age 10; and Grady, age 7. 

Not only did Sallie have to worry about her missing husband for weeks, find out about his possible murder, and struggle through the murder trial, but now she also had to suffer the probable embarrassment of her husband's insolvent estate. And, how would she survive and provide for her children without his estate?

Sallie Ward, 1910 Census, Perry County, Tennesse
In April of 1910, about 3 years after the date set to pay off all claimants, Sallie was enumerated in District 1 of Perry County, Tennessee. On the same page as her two married sons, she is listed as a 49 year old widow with 5 children at home, now aged between 21 and 11 years old. Under occupation and industry, it has listed "farmer, farming." It says she works on her "own account" rather than as an employer or employee, and that she hasn't been out of work during the past year. Under education, it lists that she can both read and write. And, under "ownership of home," it lists that she owns, via a mortgage, her farm. It appears she's doing quite well for herself and her family!

Ten years later, in the 1920 census, two of Sallie's sons have taken over the farm and she's living with them.

So, Sallie survived. But, it must have been tough! Sallie raised my grandmother, Evelyn, so I feel a special connection with her. My grandmother's own mother died when she was just a baby, so Sallie was the only mom my grandmother ever knew.

Do we share common ancestors? I'd love to talk! Please leave a comment or email me at

Monday, October 5, 2015

3 Reasons You Might Have Trouble Finding Your Ancestors on Ancestry's "Wills and Probate Records"

Over the past couple of days, I've spent some time looking for ancestors and other relatives on Ancestry's new "Wills and Probate Records" series. I was having trouble finding any of my numerous Perry County, Tennessee relatives, so I decided to skip the index and look at the actual records.

Here are the steps I used to get started:
  • Went to
  • Clicked on "Search" then "Card Catalog"
  • For Title, typed in "Probate" and the state's name (in my case, "Tennessee")
  • Clicked on "Tennessee, Wills and Probate Records, 1779-2008"
  • On the right hand side, chose the county (in my case, "Perry")
This gave me three choices:
  • Minutes of Insolvent Estates, 1883-1936
  • Settlements, Guardians, 1865-1913
  • Wills, 1863-1959
REASON #1: The years you're looking for aren't really includedThough the original title said it included "wills and probates" from 1779-2008, for Perry County the records years are much smaller: 1863-1959. (Perry County formed in 1819.)
Next, I opened up the "Wills, 1863-1959" section. At the bottom, there's the filmstrip which you can flip through to see the various subsections. In this "Wills" section, there were three subsections: 
  • Wills, Dec 1863-March 1900
  • Wills, Jan 1892-Nov. 1959
  • Settlements, Guardians', and Admin., June 1877-May 1893
REASON #2: The type of record you're looking for isn't located where you'd expect it to be. In this case, the "Settlements, Guardians', and Admin., June 1877-May 1893" is under the "Wills, 1863-1959" section, and not the "Settlements, Guardians, 1865-1913" section. 

Since each of these subsections is indexed, I looked for my Whitwell surname in each index. Though I didn't find any Whitwells in the two "Wills" sections, I did find three Whitwells in the 3rd section containing settlements, guardians', and administrators.

Index page for Perry County, Tennessee, "Settlements, Guardians', and Admin 1877-May 1893

Though I don't recognize J. R. Whitwell and W. C. Whitwell, I have several possibile matches for Thomas (or Thos.) Whitwell. His records are found on the following pages: 113, 193, 231, 247, 331, 447, [Gdn] 488, 517.

Transcription: A Settlement this day made with Thos. Whitwell
Admr. of P. Whitwell decd.      As follows:

I looked at each page and found the following records:
page 113 - Thos. Whitwell, Administrator of the estate of P. Whitwell, deceased
page 193 - Thos. Whitwell, Administrator of the estate of P. Whitwell, deceased
page 231 - Thos. Whitwell, Administrator of the estate of Geo. G. Sheffield, deceased
page 247 - Thos. Whitwell, Administrator of the estate of G. G. Sheffield, deceased
page 331 - Thos. Whitwell, Administrator of the estate of P. Whitwell, deceased
page 447 - Thos. Whitwell, Guardian of Sallie Sheffield, minor heir of Geo. G. Sheffield, deceased
page 488 - Thos. Whitwell, Guardian of Sallie Sheffield
page 517 - Thomas Whitwell, Guardian of Sallie Sheffield

As you can see, the index is listing the name of the administrator or guardian and NOT the name of the deceased! So, you won't find your deceased relative through this index! (Wow!)

REASON #3: The names indexed are for the administrators or guardians... NOT the deceased! This really surprised me. To find these records, you'd either have to know the name of the administrator or guardian, or actually look at each page.  

As far as these records, who are P. Whitwell and his estate's administrator, Thomas Whitwell? 

P. Whitwell is my 4th great grandfather, Pleasant Whitwell, who died December 20th, 1875 in Perry County. His estate continued to be "settled" for more than 9 years. The last record, on page 447, is from February 1886.

Thomas Whitwell (1826-1901) was Pleasant's son. His daughter, Mary Elizabeth Whitwell (1848-1887) was married to the George G. Sheffield (1848-1881) listed above. The last item, page 517, is from the year 1892. Sallie would've been about 19 years old and the last living minor child of George G. Sheffield and Mary Elizabeth Whitwell.

Do we share common ancestors? If so, I'd love to talk! Please leave a comment or email me at

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Flip Pal Mobile Scanner: A Review

Do you have a pile of photographs waiting to be scanned?

Do you have old photo albums which you want copies of but don't want to risk damaging the photos by removing them?

Or are you going to visit a relative or to a reunion where you might want to scan photos?

A photo scanned this weekend at my mom's of me, age 7, in our roses
Using a flatbed scanner is a tedious, time-consuming process which is more difficult to use 'on the go.' And, using a cell phone to capture images from a relative's scrapbook, which I've done in the past, produces poor quality copies (though they are better than not having any copies!)

I recently purchased a Flip Pal Mobile Scanner. Last week, I tried it on a scrapbook at home; and this weekend, I tried it on a box of photos at my mom's.

My first reaction is: WOW!

I've had piles of photos I've needed to scan, but the process takes so much time and effort that the photos have just sat there. With this scanner, the process is now quick and easy! I'm thrilled with my new scanner. But, there are also a few downsides to this little scanner.

Using the Flip Pal upside down to make copies in an album
  • It's FAST... about 7 seconds when scanning at 300 dpi and maybe 10-15 at 600 dpi (which you need for enlargements)
  • It easily scans photos still in scrapbooks or photo albums
  • It's lightweight and easy to transport
  • It saves files as .jpg instead of .tif (which gives better photo quality)
  • It's hard to see exactly what you're getting when scanning from an album (though it probably gets better with practice)
  • It has a small scanning bed (though it has a 'stitch' function which I haven't tried yet)
  • It chops off a part of the photo if you line it up against the edge of the scanning bed
  • It isn't easy to get a scan straight if you don't line it up against the edge of the scanning bed
The scanner isn't perfect. But, it is a wonderful tool that allowed me to scan more than 100 photos, put them in folders, and label them in only a couple of hours. In that same amount of time, I might have been able to do 15-20 photos with my flatbed.

Note: Though I think using the Flip Pal to scan photos is a wonderful tool, I would still take the time to use a traditional scanner to scan the most important images and save them as .tif files.

I'm excited to tackle some other scanning projects I've had waiting around the house! I've had two stacks of photos my husband's aunt let me borrow that I haven't taken the time to scan. Now, I will be able to scan them and give other family members digital copies of these photos! And, I plan on revisiting my aunt and uncle's house where I took hundreds of photos with my cell phone. This time, I'll use my Flip Pal and get better images from their scrapbooks!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Blog as "Cousin Bait"

Cousin Bait. That's one of the reasons I, and other genealogists, blog. In other words, we're hoping relatives will find our blog posts, recognize their own family members, and get in touch with us. When they get in touch with us, we hope they'll share information with us as we share with them, too.

I started blogging about a year and a half ago, though I was fairly sporadic at first. I have now completed 140 posts. And, I recently got my first 'nibble!'

Bob wrote me saying he'd read my post about George Correy of Chester County, Pennsylvania. The post was about George's 1781 will which had been decided upon by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

I actually don't even know if George Correy is related to me, but I do have Correy family members in Chester County during that time period. This is a complicated family with many Correy's in the same area with the same name.

Bob wrote me to tell me he thought I'd made a mistake in my reasoning. And, I had! (I've since corrected the blog post.) But, while emailing back and forth, I was able to help correct one of his errors, too! (Another great reason to have cousins to work with!)

Through our discussions, we found out we are cousins through another Correy couple. David Correy (~1708-1787) and Susanna (~1717-1760) are my 6th great grandparents. Their daughter, Mary Correy, who married John Watson, is my direct line. Another of their daughters, Agnes Correy, who married David Mackey, is Bob's direct line.

We are now working together to try to untangle some of these Correy relationships.

Do you blog? If so, have you met other cousins because of your posts? Or have you found a cousin through someone else's post? If you're not blogging, you might consider it. It's a wonderful way to find more cousins!

Do we share common ancestors or do you know more about the Correy family? If so, I'd love to talk! Please leave a comment or email me at

(Image from Wikipedia)

Monday, September 21, 2015

Tip: Study the Entire Document

The fifth person on this list is Edmund Kaechle. His age appears to be 24 years old and he died about 1885. If you look at the person above him, Charles, you will see he is 5 years old. The "y" for Charles' 5 years looks nothing like the "4" on Edmund's 24 years.

That was my big mistake. Even though everyone in this cemetery plot are my family members, I didn't study the list to see how the ages were recorded. If you look again, you'll see the ages are as follows:
  1. 55y
  2. 2d
  3. 42y
  4. 5y
  5. 24
  6. 90y
  7. 70y
  8. 52y
  9. 72y
Do you see how the ages are recorded? Each age is followed by a "y" for years or a "d" for days. 

I hadn't realized that and mistakenly read Edmund's age as 24 instead of 2 YEARS. What a big difference! Thankfully, I asked a cousin if he knew who this Edmund was who was 24 years old and died about 1885. He replied that he thought the age was 2 years. And, this changed everything.

Reinhardt Kaechle, the first person on the list and my 2nd great grandfather, had a 'missing child.' In other words, he had three sons that I knew about, but his wife, Mary, had listed on her 1900 census that she was the mother of 4 children with 3 still living. This Edmund was likely that 4th child!

I plugged in the name and possible dates (b 1884-d 1886) and got a shaky leaf hint that lead me to Edmund's headstone (which he shared with his father, Reinhard). It turns out that Edmund was actually 3 1/2 and died in 1886, but the information was close enough to come up with the hint.

I've had this record for more than 10 years. I had the clue I needed to find Reinhard and Mary's missing son. But, it took another person's eyes, and really reading over the entire document, for me to solve the identity of Edmund.

What I still haven't solved: Who is #2 on this list, the 2 day old Frank who was born and died in 1909?

(Note: Here's another post about the headstone)

My Line of Descent

  • Reinhard(t) Kaechle (1844-1900) m. Mary Magdalena "Lena" Koerbach/Karbach (1848-1938)
  • Francis "Frank" Kaechle (1868-1911) m. Anna "Annie" Regina Adam (1867-1936), my maternal great grandparents
Do we share common ancestors or do you have additional information about this family? I'd love to talk! Please leave a comment or email me at

Friday, September 18, 2015

Headstone Surprise: What I'd Overlooked

The 1910 census has two wonderful columns labeled "mother of how many children" and "number of those children still living." My 2nd great grandmother, Mary (Koerbach) Kaechle, was a 52-year-old widow in 1900. In the census, she's listed as having 4 children with 3 still living in 1910. I only had names for 3 of her children: all sons.

Yesterday, I came across the record that solved the identity of this missing child, another son. The record was a photo of Mary's husband's headstone, Reinhard Kaechle. There, on the bottom of the stone, it lists the name of another deceased. The deceased is Reinhard and Mary's 3 1/2 year old son, Edmund.

Find A Grave memorial photo posted on Find A Grave by Debbie Bleger (thank you!)

I had found and saved this photo about 5 weeks ago, and I don't know why I hadn't look closer at the inscription. Sometimes, we need to slow down and really look at each document, and photo, we find. Otherwise, we are likely to overlook something important: perhaps even a missing child.

Do we share common ancestors? I'd love to talk! Please leave a comment and/or email me at

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Surprising Connection Between My Husband's and My Tree

My husband I do not share any direct ancestors. However, my father's DNA test led to a surprising discovery of an 1873 marriage between the granddaughter of my 4x great grandparents and the son of my husband's 4x great grandparents. Here's how I made the discovery...

Ancestry's hint showing my dad's potential DNA
match with Hardin Davis Trammell

I was looking at my father's DNA matches on Ancestry under "New Ancestor Discoveries."  Ancestry says these are "potential new ancestors or relatives who are not already in your family tree." My dad's DNA showed 5 of these "potential" matches. So, what was strange? I recognized 3 of the people. But, not because they are related to me and my father. I recognized 3 of the people because they are related to my husband!

One of these 3 potential matches was for Hardin Davis Trammell (1844-1915). That's a fairly unusual name, right? Well, Hardin Trammell is my husband's 3rd great grand uncle. In other words, he's a son of my husband's 4x great grandparents. I didn't have much information on him, but I did have 25 'shaky leaf' hints. One of those hints was a story by another researcher which says that his second wife's name was Eliza L. Bookout.

Bookout? That's another unusual name! And, it's another name I recognize. My 4th great grandparents were John & Sarah "Sally" (Vaughan) Bookout! And, they had a daughter named Eliza whose family I hadn't yet found.

My next step was to find out more about Hardin D Trammell and Eliza L Bookout.


Hardin Davis Trammell, the son of my husband's 4x great grandparents, first married in 1866 after fighting in the Civil War. He married Sarah (Ragsdale) Cook in 1866 and had 4 children over the next few years. Sadly, Sarah evidently died in childbirth when their youngest son was born on February 27th, 1873. Hardin was left with four young children aged 5, 3, 1, and the newborn.

Hardin & Eliza (Bookout) Trammell in front of their Oklahoma home circa 1910
Photo on Ancestry by mossbuster; used with permission

Not surprisingly for the time, Hardin quickly remarried to provide a mother for his young family. At the age of 30, he married 18-year-old Eliza Bookout on May 29th, 1873. The couple had 10 more children together, so together they raised a total of 14 kids. They remained together until Hardin's death in 1915 at the age of 71.

My husband, a descendant of Jarrett Trammell, and I, a descendant of James & Ellender Bookout, share
DNA with the descendants of Hardin D & Eliza (Bookout) Trammell


Because the descendants of the 10 children of Hardin D and Eliza (Bookout) Trammell share DNA with both my husband's family and my own, Ancestry discovered our "potential match." Although my husband and I don't share DNA or common ancestors, we are both related to the descendants of Hardin D Trammell and Eliza E Bookout!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

What Acts Constituted "Extreme Cruelty" and Could Lead to Divorce 100 Years Ago?

While researching a divorce case believed to be the brother of my great, great grandmother, I came across a book on Google Books that tells of those acts of "extreme cruelty" which could make a divorce possible. The book is dated 1917 and the list was quite enlightening!

It starts by stating "it is not essential that the misconduct charged as extreme cruelty should be of a criminal character, or such as the guilty party can be prosecuted for in the criminal courts, but it is sufficient if the acts are such as are calculated to destroy the plaintiff's happiness, and have that effect."

(image from Wikipedia)
Here are the "acts of extreme cruelty" listed, with my favorite being listed last:
  • ...the persistent circulation of false and slanderous reports by a husband, derogatory to his wife's chastity, especially when the wife is of a refined and sensitive nature...
  • ...the persistent, willful, and habitual conduct of a wife toward her husband in an offensive and opprobrious manner, accusing him in public and private of infamous conduct in violation of his marriage duties, and calling him vile and vulgar names...
  • Consorting with persons of loose morals, or lascivious inclinations toward the opposite sex, and showing or expressing a preference for them...
  • The communication of a venereal disease... 
  • personal violence
  • violence and threats of injury
  • fault finding, nagging, profanity, abuse and violent conduct
  • compelling a wife to submit to an abortion
  • unreasonably and persistently prejudicing children against their mother
  • unreasonable refusal of intercourse by the wife
  • persistently addressing the wife in brutal language, accusing her of adultery, perjury and fraud
  • profane, obscene and insulting language, habitually indulged in towards a wife of refined feelings and sensitive nature
  • accusations against the wife of immoral or unchaste conduct
  • calling vile names and persistently and without cause charging dishonesty and infidelity
  • wife calling husband opprobrious names, accusations of immorality, and unreasonable refusal of cohabiation
  • abusive epithets applied by the wife, and refusal to prepare meals
Source: The Michigan Law of Marriage and Divorce: with Forms of Procedure Conforming to the Michigan Judicature Act" by James M. Powers, 1917, online at ttp:// (accessed 05 Sep 2015) 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Who was the Father of Reinhard Koechle?

As I worked on my Koechle/Kaechle chapter for the Holthoefer family book, I was shocked to come across a piece of conflicting evidence which threatened to chop off a branch of my tree. For years I'd worked with the thought that Reinhard Koechle's father was Thaddeus Koechle. But, upon discovering Reinhard's death certificate at Seeking Michigan, I saw his father's name listed as Mathias. For about 24 hours, I was desperately trying to determine who really was the father of Reinhard Koechle.

Detail of  Reinhard Kaechle's death certificate (from Seeking Michigan site) showing father's name as Mathias

Reinhard's death certificate (detail above) lists his father as Mathias, not Thaddeus as expected. The informant was Geram Kackle, who must have been Reinhard's son, Jerome. 

Jerome was born in 1871. Thaddeus, Reinhard's expected father, died in 1880. But, though Jerome would have been about 9 years old when Thaddeus died, Jerome lived in Detroit while Thaddeus lived about 120 miles away in Norwalk, Ohio. So, should Jerome have known his grandfather's name? Probably. If he knew his grandfather's name was Thaddeus, why would he say Mathias?

Here is the evidence I have that Reinhard's father is actually Thaddeus, and not Mathias:
  • No records have been found for a Mathias Koechle either in Norwalk, Huron County, Ohio, where the family settled after migration, nor in Grissheim, Freiburg, Baden, Prussia (now Germany) where the family lived before coming to America.
  • Reinhard is found in the household of Thaddeus Koechle both on the 1851 passenger list as a 6 year old child (coming to America) and the 1860 U.S. Census in Norwalk, Ohio at the age of 16.
  • In Reinhard's pension file, there is an affidavit from both Theresa (Koechle) Mueller and her husband, Charles. Theresa is a daughter of Thaddeus Koechle, so she's an expected sister of Reinhard.
  • In Theresa's affidavit, she is trying to prove Reinhard's marriage to Mary Magdalena Karbach/Koerbach. "Lena's" surname had been badly spelled as Garabaugh. Theresa's affidavit states that there were only two witnesses at the wedding of Reinhard & Lena: one was related to the JP and the other was Jerome, "the brother of Reinhard." Thaddeus did have a son Jerome which would mean Reinhard's father was also Thaddeus.
I believe this is sufficient proof that the "Mathias" listed as Reinhard's father on his death certificate was in error. But, after going through all of this, I realized I had another piece of evidence...
  • A baptismal record for Reinhard Koechle with parents Thaddeus Koechle and Katharina Kern in the right year, 1844, and the right place, the village of Grissheim. No other records have been found with his birth date listed. This is just an index listing on Ancestry, but I've ordered the FHL film to get the actual record.
So, between my other pieces of evidence and the baptismal record, I feel confident in saying that Reinhard Koechle's father was Thaddeus Koechle.

Do we share common ancestors? I'd love to talk! Please leave a comment or email me at

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Publishing Family Research

How do you share your genealogy work? For the past couple of months, I've been working on a family history book for one of my lines: the Holthoefer family.

Although I contributed some of the research to the main part of the book, my 'big' contribution is a short chapter on a collateral line: the Kaechle/Koechle family. Even a 'short' chapter takes a lot of work!

Headstone of Thaddeus Koechle
Photo by Shirley Lindenberger Hazelwood, posted at 

Though it's been a lot of hard work, I've learned a lot as I went through the process. And, no, it isn't over. But, tonight I sent in my "final draft!" We still have a few weeks where we can make minor corrections, but the majority of the work is done.

How about you? Have you ever written a book about a branch of your family? Or how do you share your research with others? I think a book is a great way to share our discoveries!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Something About Mary

LESSON LEARNED: Changing the spelling makes a difference!

For the past few weeks, I've been working on the family of Thaddeus Koechle who immigrated from Germany to America in the summer of 1851 with his wife and 5 children. But, there was something odd about the oldest child, Maria or Mary. She appeared to have been born about 2 years before Thaddeus and his wife, Katharina Kern, were married.

Thada Koechle, passenger #281, 05 July 1851, Ship Monmouth, New York, Passenger Lists,
 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010
(Maria, age 17, is 3rd on this list)
On the passenger list, their 'oldest child' was listed as Maria. But, in the 1860 census, the only other document I'd found which listed her, she was called Mary. That's pretty common as several of the children have their German name on the passenger list and a more Americanized version of their name after arriving in America. I chose to use the more Americanized versions of their names and had this daughter listed as Mary.

Last week, another Koechle descendant asked me why I had the family listed as Kaechle instead of Koechle. Basically, "Kaechle" is the spelling that was passed down in my family, though Koechle was the German spelling and the spelling used by the original immigrant family. But, since Kaechle is what I'd know all my life, I was using Kaechle.

After my distant cousin asked this question, though, I realized my mistake. So, I went into my Ancestry tree and changed the surnames of this family to Koechle / Kaechle. And, I added the original German spelling of the first names, including changing Mary to Maria / Mary.

As soon as I did this, I got a "shaky leaf" hint from Ancestry. What had they found? A birth/baptismal record for Maria Koechle!

I excitedly clicked on the link and this is what I found:

Name: Maria Koechle
Date of birth: September 6, 1834 (2 years before the marriage of Thaddeus & Katharina Kern)
Date of baptism: September 7, 1834
Father's name: Thaddeus Koechle (as expected)
Mother's name: Magdalena Riesterer (NOT Katharina Kern!)

So, it appeared that Thaddeus had a previous marriage!

After adding this information to my tree, the next hint that appeared was for the marriage record of Thaddeus Koechle and Magdalena Riesterer on October 21st, 1833, less than a year before the birth of their daughter, Maria.

Though I have not been able to locate a death record for Magdalena (Riesterer) Koechle, it is likely that she died while Maria was quite young. Thaddeus married his second wife, Katharina Kern, less than two years after the birth of Maria.

What are my next steps for Maria?

  1. Look at the original, microfilmed copy of the birth/baptismal record as Ancestry only had the indexed version. (I have ordered the FHL microfilm.) 
  2. Continue to search for hints as to what happened to Maria Koechle in America. The last record I've found for her is the 1860 census in which she is 26 years old and living with her father, step mother, and step siblings. It is unclear at this time as to whether she got married, died relatively young, or even moved away from her family.
My Line of Descent
  • Judas Thaddeus Koechle (1807-1880) m Katharina Kern (1811-1894)
  • Reinhard/Rheinhardt Koechle / Kaechle (1844-1900) m Mary Magdelena "Lena" Karbach (1848-1938)
  • Francis "Frank" R Kaechle (1868-1911) m Anna "Annie" Regina Adam (1867-1936)
  • Sherman Joseph Kaechle (1907-1987) m Ethel Evelyn Dickson (1915-2004)
Do we share common ancestors? I'd love to talk! Please leave a comment or contact me at

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Staying on Campus at GRIP

Summer is basically over as school is back in session this week. I had a wonderful summer with lots of travel, but it's nice to be home now and getting back to a more regular schedule.

Unfortunately, with all of the craziness of summer, I haven't been blogging much! So, I hope to rectify that and blog regularly.

One of my trips this summer was to Pennsylvania where I spent a week at GRIP: the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh. In this post, I'll share about my dorm room experience. In later posts, I'll share about other aspects of my week at GRIP.

Bold Hall at La Roche College
This is the main door to Bold Hall: the dorm room where many GRIP students and teachers make their home for the week. Since I'd been to GRIP before, I didn't have to wonder about where to go. The first stop is through these doors where we started the check in process and got our room assignments. (The rooms are reasonable with private rooms costing $330 and double/shared rooms costing $275. This includes your meals for the week!)

Room showing one of two beds, one of two dressers, refrigerator,
microwave, and one of two 'closets'
Although last year I stayed in a room by myself, this year I roomed with one of my friends I'd made last year: Jill. Jill actually picked me and another lady up at the airport and drove us to La Roche College. At check in, we got our room keys, class notebooks, name tags and more. Then, Jill and I got our luggage and headed up to the 3rd floor.

When we opened the door to our room... it was HOT! Now, Pittsburgh was having their hottest day of the summer at that point. I think it was around 90 degrees. But, our room's air conditioning was definitely not working. Our room was a lot hotter than the hallway. It was unbearable.

Bathroom area - plenty of space to store toiletries for two
We went back to the sign in desk to 'complain' and were told that a lot of the rooms on the 3rd floor were having a/c issues and someone was on their way to fix it. At that point, we decided to wait until after dinner to try to move in.

After dinner, we met one of the custodians in the hallway and he'd 'bled' our line and said it was better. It did feel a little cooler. By bedtime, it was bearable, though still slightly uncomfortable.

Unfortunately, as we were getting ready for class the next morning, our room started getting warmer. By lunch time, we knew our a/c was definitely not working. Before dinner that evening, we got new rooms on the first floor. It wasn't fun packing everything up to move down 2 floors and to the other end of the building. But, we were thankful for the a/c!

Frustratingly, the staff was never able to get our internet connection working properly in our new room. While taking classes with homework, that is definitely an issue! We ended up doing our homework either in the main building or on Bold Hall's first floor's common area.

Adding to the frustration of this year's a/c and internet issues, last year I had a similar problem with the a/c in my room. Like this year, they couldn't get my a/c fixed and I had to pack up all my belongings and move to a different room on the second day.

Oh, and the beds? Not comfortable! My first bed I felt like I was sleeping on chain mail. My second? More like a trampoline. I didn't get a good night's sleep until the 3rd night when I finally was tired enough that I had to sleep.

Will I stay in the dorms again?

The answer: probably. Although I've been frustrated with both the a/c and internet issues, having a room so close to the classes, dining room, and even other friends is a definite plus. But, I wish they could get these issues fixed!

5 Dorm Room TIPS

  1. Bring your own pillow. One is provided, but it is very flat and not very comfortable.
  2. Bring your own sheets. Then, use the sheets provided as a mattress pad.
  3. Bring your own blanket. One is provided, but it is kind of stiff and not fluffy. Also, if you 'happen' to get one of the cold rooms, you might appreciate having two blankets!
  4. Bring an extra bath towel, hand towel, and washcloths. You are only provided one of each for the entire week.
  5. Bring your own toiletries. It's a dorm room, so nothing is provided but the toilet paper. You might even bring your own toilet paper!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

What Might You Find in the NEW database, Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007?

While at GRIP (Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh) last week, the news at dinner one night was that Ancestry had released a new database. It was called "Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007" and offered more information than the "Social Security Death Index." But, we were told, do your homework first! (Yes, classes at GRIP have homework in the evenings!)

(image from Wikipedia)
I didn't access the new index until a couple of nights ago. I decided to work with one of my more unusual surnames: Kaechle. And, I found a lot of new information!

If you don't know how to find a specific database on Ancestry, here's one way:
  • Go to the "Search" drop-down menu at the to of the page and select "card catalog"
  • Type in at least part of the database's title - I typed in "Social Security"
  • Click on the one that includes "Applications and Claims"
From here, you can search for a specific person OR surname. Or, you could even search for everyone with a certain surname who was born in a specific state. I typed "Kaechle" in the surname box and clicked "exact" for spelling. I received 21 matches and was able to identify all but four of them.

What kind of information can you find on this index? You can see a list by clicking "learn more about this database" on the left-hand column. It tells you the information MAY include:
  • applicant's full name
  • SSN
  • date and place of birth
  • citizenship
  • sex
  • father's name
  • mother's maiden name
  • race/ethnic description (optional)
  • details on changes made to the applicant's record, including name changes and life or death claims
What NEW information did I uncover on the 17 people I viewed?
  • date of death
  • middle name
  • correct (or at least different) spelling of spouse's last name
  • maiden name!
  • names of spouse's parents
  • a daughter I didn't know about
  • an alternate name for a mother
All of this was terrific new information! But, the most interesting finds were the last two.

A daughter I didn't know about

How did this happen? Well, Myrtle Marie Sommers, born 1891 in Toledo, Ohio, was the daughter of John Sommers and Lena Kaechle. She would have been about 9 years old in the 1900 census. But, I can't find her family in 1900. By the time I find the family in 1910, Myrtle Marie was already married and gone. So, I didn't know she existed!

There is a note on this application that says: "Jul 1963: Names listed as MYRTLE MARIE MAHER." So, I also have her married name! From this, I've been able to find her husband and some of her children.

An alternate name for a mother

Clarence Alexander Kaechle Jr's parents are listed as Clarence Alexander Kaechle (Sr) and Christine A Zelmer on a marriage record index found on Ancestry. I was 'shocked' to see this new index listing Clarence Jr's mother as Ann Simmons who I already had as another wife of Clarence Sr.

My working theory at this time... Ann Simmons might be Clarence Jr's real birth mom, since this is a Social Security application. But, perhaps Christine Zelmer either adopted him or raised him, so he called her "mom" and listed her as his mother on the marriage record. 

Yes, more research is necessary!

So, as "good genealogists", what's the next step after viewing these new Social Security records? Order a copy of the "real" thing! You can find a copy of the SS-5 online request form here. But, at $27 each when you know the SSN and $29 when you don't, these are expensive! I'll only be ordering more significant discoveries.

Have you seen the new Social Security database? Have you found anything new or made any breakthroughs? 

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...