Thursday, July 21, 2016

Married in a Buggy

While researching my great, great grandfather, Reuben Houston Ward (aka Rev. R. H. Ward), I came across this short, sweet newspaper article today:

LINDEN, Sept. 22.-(Special.)- James W. Lewis, Circuit Court Clerk, and Miss Dickson were married by Rev. R. H. Ward at his residence on March Creek Sunday afternoon. The couple came to his residence in a buggy, and stopping under the cool shade of a beech tree they called for the minister. He went out and while seated in the buggy they were united in the bonds of humanity. The newly married couple started at once for Linden.

Lewis-Dickson Marriage, The Tennessean, Nashville, Tennessee, 23 Sep 1897, page 5, column 3,
digital image, newspapers.com (http://www.newspapers.com : accessed 20 July 2016).

"Miss Dickson" was Minnie Jane Dickson (1869-1962) who was also my 1st cousin, 3 times removed. Her father, Jacob Tipton Dickson (1843-1931) was the son of my 3rd great grandfather, William Kennedy/Canady ("W. K.") Dickson (~1811-possibly late 1860s).

Wouldn't you love to find a marriage article like that about your ancestors?

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Success! Finding Wrongly Transcribed Names on Census Records, Part 2

A few months ago, I shared how I had some success finding wrongly transcribed names in census records by searching for neighbors instead of the people I was actually researching. I am also having success finding people by using "exact" searches without a last name. Here's an example:

The family of John M. and Matilda Boyers was located in Sumner County, Tennessee in 1830. In 1840 and 1850, they were found in Tishomingo County, Mississippi. The 1850 household included the parents, who were listed as ages 49 and 44, and eight of their younger children with ages ranging from 3 to 17.  Although it is possible the parents died before 1860, it is unlikely all of the children had also passed away. So, why couldn't I find them after 1850?


1850 U.S. Census, Tishomingo County, Mississippi, Southern Division, population schedule, page 93B & 94A, dwelling #117, family #117, John Boyres [sic] household; image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 9 July 2016), citing National Archives microfilm M432, roll 382.

Here's how I ran the search for an 1860 census record without using a last name:

  • On Ancestry, click "SEARCH" then "Census and Voters Lists"
  • In the right column, click on "1800s censuses"
  • In the right column, click on "U.S. Federal Census Collection"
  • Near the bottom of the page, click on "1860 United States Federal Census"
  • Then, fill in the search terms

I first tried one of the daughters, Lucinda, since her name is fairly uncommon:

  • First name: Lucinda and set to "exact"
  • Last name: [leave blank]
  • Birth Year: 1840 then click on "exact" and change to "+/- 5 years"
  • Birth Location: Mississippi, USA and set to "exact" for "this place"
  • Lived In: Tishomingo County, Mississippi, USA and set to "exact to this place"


Screen shot of Ancestry and the information I filled in

After clicking "SEARCH," only 11 results showed up. The 10th hit was for a "Lucinda Rogers," who was, in fact, my Lucinda Boyers!


1860 U.S. Census, Tishomingo County, Mississippi, Corinth Township, population schedule, page 469 & 470, dwelling #3168, family #3168, John N [sic] Rogers [sic] household; image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 11 July 2016), citing National Archives microfilm M654, roll 593.
The same steps worked using her brother, "David E," with changing the birth year to 1844. Even using the mothers name, Matilda, and choosing "lived in Mississippi" (not Tishomingo County) only got 8 hits and one of those was for Matilda Boyers/Rogers!

It really helps if you have rather unusual first names. And, though searching for the son, David, resulted in over 400 results when searching for "lived in Mississippi," by changing it to "David E" as it appears on the 1850 census, you decrease the number of hits to only 8.

Let me know if you try this technique and it helps you find one of your missing families!

Monday, July 11, 2016

A. L. Merrill: County Commissioner (Clinton Co, PA Trip, Part 1)

Two weeks ago, I visited Clinton County, Pennsylvania with three of my dad's first cousins. We spent some time at the Ross Library in Lock Haven briefly researching our Stewart, Merrill, McClintock/McClintick, and Close families.

Entering Ross Library, Lock Haven, Clinton Co, PA
Ross Library has a wonderful card catalog. Each card indexes a specific person and record. The records I saw included the Clinton County marriage license docket 1894-1897, the library's "local history/memorabilia" albums and photograph collection, and various newspapers including: the Clinton County Times, the Clinton Republican, the Clinton Democrat, and the Lock Haven Express. I believe the library has all of these newspapers on microfilm, but they are not digitized.

A card from the card catalog at Ross Library, Lock Haven, Clinton Co, PA.
We looked through the card catalog and were eager to see what was in this "memorabilia album" about my great, great grandfather (their great grandfather), A. L. Merrill (aka Augustus Lippencott Merrill). We showed the librarian the card, and he left to retrieve the item. He came back with a scrapbook page which included this...

Card located at Ross Library, Lock Haven, Clinton Co., PA.

This is A. L. Merrill's business card from when he ran for County Commissioner! I believe he was commissioner from about 1905 until 1915. I loved seeing this card and was able to actually hold it in my hands!

Photo of me at Ross Library.

Behind me, you can see the incredible card catalogs. Unfortunately, we didn't have a lot of time, but I spent mine going through the Merrill cards. There were dozens of cards, so I used my cellphone to take photos of the cards that interested me. When I returned home, I discovered one which hadn't registered when I took the photo. It's for an A. L. Merrill, but it is not my great, great grandfather...

Another card at Ross Library.
Instead, it is one of his two "missing" babies that I have listed on my ancestry tree! So, now I have a name and date of death for one of these little ones.

Besides this card catalog, they also had a traditional file cabinet that held files by surnames. There wasn't a lot in the surnames I was looking for, but I wish I would have taken a photo of something I did find. It was my own request from about 1999 asking for obituaries of various family members from Clinton County! And, behind it, they had stapled copies of all of those obituaries. I should have written a note and updated my email address in case someone else discovers this file at a later date.

Lastly, while writing this article, I uncovered another item: I found a photo of A. L. Merrill from 1907, just a few years after he became commissioner! We are in the process of trying to track down the original of this photo in the hopes that I can get a better copy and permission to share it.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Tip: A Quick Way to Scan Hundreds of Page

Before heading to Clinton County, Pennsylvania for a quick research trip two weeks ago, some cousins and I hired a researcher to pull some court files regarding our Stewart family. Upon our arrival, we drove to her house, paid her for her work, and received over 200 pages of copies. How exciting!


I doubt I will ever go "paperless" as I love being able to spread papers out and work on them side by side and rearrange them. However, I also need to have digital copies of these documents both for my own research and to share with my cousins.


Today I spent about an hour digitizing all of these documents. The actual scanning only took about 25 minutes with my ScanSnap IX500. It would have been faster if the papers hadn't needed staples removed. After that, I spent another 35 minutes briefly looking at each set so I could label the files. Now, I've saved the files to DropBox and they are ready to be shared!

By the way, this is my craft/genealogy room. We moved into our new house two years ago, but I still usually use my kitchen table for my work. Within the next few months, I'd like to hang up photos, maps, etc, and really start using this as my work room.

Monday, July 4, 2016

GRIP: A Perfect Midweek Break at Nearby North Park

Before heading to GRIP (Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh), I organized an informal outing to nearby North Park. I'd went last year with some friends and we had walked around the lake. This year, I was hoping to go kayaking.


The day started out quite chilly, but thankfully the wind died down and the sun peeked out and Zola and I had a wonderful time on the lake.


Five other GRIP attendees also headed to the park. We all enjoyed some much needed outdoor time... a little nature and a little exercise.


Last year, I'd fallen in love with the gorgeous old boathouse which has been renovated into a restaurant. It is also where you get your rentals. Beware! Online it says the last rental is at 7:00 p.m., but they gave us a hard time when we showed up at 6:53. Thankfully, they ended up letting us go out.


The weather was perfect for kayaking! We saw two tricolored herons who let us get quite close without flying away, and many gorgeous plants along the shoreline. 


Here's the group from GRIP who went out to the park that evening: Don, Denise, Debbie, Beth, Lisa, Zola, and me. (I hope I got everyone's name correct!) I think a trip to the park is a perfect midweek break to sitting in class hour after hour!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

GRIP: A Week in Review

This past week, I had an amazing week at GRIP: Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh!


I took "Fundamentals of Forensic Genealogy" which was primarily taught by Michael Ramage, J.D., CG; Kelvin Meyers; and Catherine B. W. Desmarais. Besides these three, Bethany Waterbury also taught two lectures. All four instructors were wonderful and I am already applying things I learned during the course.


GRIP offers three evening lectures each week to the public. This photo is from Thursday night's lecture by F. Warren Bittner, CG, titled "Understanding Illegitimacy: The Bittner Bastards of Bavaria." (Bittner is still being introduced at this point.) This lecture hall was being reconstructed last year, so it was nice to have it finished and available for us to use. I'm usually too tired, "brain-dead," and have homework so I haven't attended very many lectures. But, Bittner's lecture was great.


This photo of the cafeteria was taken at the beginning of breakfast on the last day of GRIP and the crowds have not gathered yet. I've really enjoyed the food the past two years, but didn't think this year's food was as good. The ice cream, however, was great as always! The acoustics in here are horrible; you have to practically yell to be heard even across the table. But, this is a great place to meet "old" friends and start "new" friendships, and I enjoyed doing both.


Taken in the lecture room, this is my friend Jill and me. We were in the same class three years ago and roomed together last year. Since she lives in Pennsylvania and I live in Texas, GRIP has become our yearly get together. When I came the first year, I didn't know anyone. Now, a big part of GRIP is getting to catch up with the friends I've made over the years.


Although the week started out unusually hot, a cool front came in Wednesday and the weather was amazing. In fact, most of Wednesday was actually quite chilly! I love being in Pennsylvania in the summertime, and the Texas heat was quite a shock when I stepped out of the airport on Friday.

Now to decide what course to take next year...

Success: Finding a Death Certificate With a Misspelled Surname

My last post was about how I found my grandfather's younger brother's birth announcement by searching a newspaper using their addre...