Sunday, April 10, 2011

Updating Midwest Genealogy website

Be sure to check out my newly formatted website for Midwest & Beyond Genealogical Services. There is some new information posted about my Sieckmann and Rippe lines. The Sieckmann family lived in Fillmore County Nebraska for many years. They arrived in the U.S. in 1870 and by the following spring they were settled on their homestead in Fillmore County. The Rippe family arrived in the U.S. in about 1857 and settled in Will County, Illinois. They later moved to Fillmore County, Nebraska in about 1880. Both families intermarried and their are lots of descendants of various lines of both of these families. If you are related I would like to correspond with you.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Website updates

I have been busy updating several of the websites I maintain for genealogists researching in the midwest.  You may want to take a look at some of them.  I have added some photos to my Fillmore County, Nebraska website.  I also added an updated version to Sharon Lawrence's an excellent guide to researching in military records.  I have also made some updates to the Buchanan County, Missouri site.

I also maintain websites for the Association of Professional Genealogists:  Heartland Chapter and Northwest Missouri Genealogical Society.

I also plan to update the Livingston County, Missouri website soon.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

MoSGA Awards 21st Century Fund Grant

The Missouri State Genealogical Association [MoSGA] recently awarded a grant of $996.95 to the Morgan County Historical Society in Versailles, Missouri. The Historical Society will use the funds to purchase archival supplies to preserve, organize and display their county’s school records dating from 1846 to 1961. The records were recently donated to the society by the Morgan County RII School District.

MoSGA’s 21st Century Fund was established in 2005 during the Association’s 25th Anniversary. The fund provides grants of up to $1,000 to Missouri societies, libraries and/or archives to promote preservation and publication of Missouri genealogical data. 

January 1, 2011 begins a new grant cycle. Grant applications and guidelines are available on MoSGA’s Web site  Application deadline is April 30, 2011 with grants awarded prior to July 1, 2011.

The 21st Century Fund is supported by generous donations from the genealogical community.  If you wish to make a tax deductible contribution, please send it to MoSGA, 21st Century Fund, PO Box 833, Columbia MO 65205-0833. Thank you for your continuing support.

Martha L. Henderson, Chair
21st Century Fund Committee
Missouri State Genealogical Association

Saturday, July 17, 2010

More Genealogy Websites

Not all websites are equal:

I thought I would take a bit of time here to jot down some of my favorite genealogy websites, but before I do, I want to remind you that not all information on websites is of equal quality.  There are websites which offer free information.  These are often databases with information transcribed from the source record and are often very helpful as finding aids, but you should always try to view the original source data or a copy such as a scanned image or photocopy yourself.  There are beginning to me more websites that do publish images of the original source material.

Don't overlook Wiki Articles too.  They often have helpful information about a geographic location, biographical information about a person.  You can find almost any kind of information in Wikipedia.  Again you will need to double-check the source of the information.  Anyone can contribute to a Wiki so some are better than others.

The social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter are also offering another way for family members to connect and share information.  You might want to investigate if you prefer this way to connect to your family and genealogy friends.  This is a good way to connect with relatives to share documents that might not be available from any other source.

There are also several subscription websites that generally do offer images of the source documentation and they provide search tools to help you search their extensive databases which connect you to the image link.

Free Websites:

  • Missouri Digital Archives - death certificates, land patents, coroner's inquests, etc.  New information added frequently.
  • FamilySearch - now starting to offer links to some documents; keep checking this site as it just keeps improving.
  • FindAGrave - this website is also under constant revision; volunteers contribute cemetery listings and often include photos of the cemetery marker and biographical information.
  • Newspaper Abstracts - new information from newspapers contributed daily.
  • U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service - information about ordering U.S. Immigration service records.
  • Rootsweb - an old standby; this website has been around many years; consists of volunteer contributed information; databases; photos; historical and biographical information, much, much more.
  • GenealogyToday - This site has both free and subscription areas.  In the free area it contains reference articles, how-to information, good collection of funeral cards and other unique databases as well as links to less common genealogy websites and search engine that links to other well known genealogy sites.
Foreign Record Sites

Subscription Websites

Watch for updates to this post!!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Genealogy Blogs: A wealth of information

There are several excellent blogs filled with tips to help you find your midwestern ancestors.  How do you find these blogs.  One of the easiest ways is to use Google and put in the name of the state genealogical society in the search bar.  The links below are just a few of the Midwest state genealogical society blogs.

It is also a good idea to check to see if the state historical societies in your state of interest have a blog.  A couple of state historical society blogs of interest are:

Besides these organizational blogs there are many other people blogging about genealogy.  Use your search engines to locate links to blogs that are of interest to you for great ideas.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Lesson 5: Major Record Groups for Genealogy Research

This article will be an overview to the various commonly used records for genealogical research.  The order in which they are presented in this article is a general listing of the order I generally use to research a family when starting from the beginning.

Family Papers

This record group was discussed in this blog previously in Lesson 2: Gathering Records for Your Genealogy.  Don’t overlook starting with this type of records and information.  The family papers provide a foundation and clues to use to assure that you are researching the correct line.  They will generally provide some information about names, geographic locations, interesting stories about individuals that may provide the necessary clue to connect you to other documentation.  Most people can find some information about family members in their family files or by talking to relatives.

County Histories, Family Histories and Biographies

These sources are much like the Family Papers.  They will provide clues as to where family members lived, who they married, names of their children, their occupations, religious affiliations, other memberships, military service, political affiliation and much more.  Not everyone will be lucky enough to find a biographical sketch, family history or a county history about their family.

Vital Records

These records provide documentation about three facts for individuals:
·         Birth
·         Marriage
·         Death
Vital records are records kept by government agencies to document life events.  In the U.S. the state is usually the government body that maintains the records and most states did not start keeping vital records until the early 1900s.  So before ordering a vital record for your ancestor make sure you check the particular state for the dates which their records cover.

Census Records

Governments collect information about their residents mainly for tax purposes, however, this record group is one of the most helpful for genealogists researching families between 1850 and 1930 in the U.S.  The U.S. government collects census information every 10 years and has since 1790 – 2010, however, due to privacy issues only makes publicly available those census records prior to and including 1930.  Census records prior to 1850 do not name each household member by name.  They are still useful though and should not be overlooked for ancestors that lived in this time period.
Sometimes the individual states also collected census information.  Examples of states that collected information include:  Kansas, Iowa, Florida, Minnesota and others.  You will need to investigate this further for your particular geographic interest.
Watch this blog for more on Census Records!!  This is a very important source of information and will have a more detailed article in the future.

Land Records – Patents and Deeds

What is the difference between a patent or a deed documenting the ownership of land.  Patents were issued to individuals when the land was transferred from a government (federal or state) to an individual.  Examples include:  military bounties, cash entries, land grants from governmental acts, etc.  Deeds are legal instruments that document the transfer of ownership from one private party to a second party.  The parties can be people or businesses.  Deeds are usually filed in local government repositories such as courthouses whereas patents are usually filed at the state or federal level. 

Obituaries and Death Notices

Local newspapers often document the death of citizens in their area.  These can be a short death notice in the classified section or in the Brevities / Public Records section or they can be an obituary located anywhere in the newspaper. 

Cemetery Records

Some cemeteries have records available that tell who is buried in the cemetery.  Other cemetery records may be part of the church records if the cemetery is located on the church grounds.  Other cemeteries are family plots or rural cemeteries that are no longer maintained and records are difficult to find for these cemeteries.

Probate Records

These are one of the most helpful types of records if you can find them for your ancestor.  If your relative left a will it may give you an understanding about who and what was important to that person.  There are two types of estate settlements:  Testate – for those who left a will and Intestate for those who did not leave a will.  If the person died with property one of these methods is used to distribute their property at the time of death and to care for minor children.  These records are generally filed in the location where they owned property or where their minor children resided at the time of their death.  Often the estates were settled where they resided at the time of their death and are filed with the county government in the court that had jurisdiction during the time period when your relative died and their estate was settled. 
Estate files usually contain the following types of information, time and place of death, will, codicils, inventory of estate, list of beneficiaries, sale records, deeds, guardianship information, accounting reports and information about the final distribution of property after payment of debts.

Social Security and Railroad Retirement Board Records

These are good sources of information about your ancestor during their adult life.  The person had to complete an application form to obtain a number within these systems.  For Social Security the form is called an SS-5 Application Form.  It includes name, birth date and place, name of employer, address at time of application and their signature.  Social Security also maintains a death index which is available online.  It is known as the SSDI or Social Security Death Index.  A simple Google search on either of these terms will produce links to sites with access to the SSDI and is very helpful in determining approximate date of death and place of death so additional research can be conducted about the person.
The Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) is similar to Social Security and maintains similar record types.  They may have more information than SSA if your ancestor worked for the railroad.  For more information Google Railroad Retirement Board or RRB.

Military Records

Many of you will have ancestors that served in the military.  Records are often available for their military service or when they applied for a pension due them for military service.  The most useful genealogical information generally comes from the military pension applications and files.  Not only the person who served can have a record, but their eligible survivors may also have filed for a pension on behalf of their service.  The type of information found include proof of military service, affidavits about eligibility by associates, proof of marriage or birth of children, payment records and date / place of death.

Church Records

Many of religious groups keep records about their members.  Some of the common records include:  birth, baptism, confirmation, marriage and death records as well as membership rolls, attendance records, tithing records, minutes from the governing groups in the church.  Sometimes you can find copies of church bulletins in genealogy societies, church newsletters, denominational newspapers, membership directories with photos.  These are only a few of the examples of the types of records that may be available from churches that can help with documenting your ancestor.  Some of these records have been microfilmed by the Family History Library and are available on microfilm through your local Family History Center.  Some microfilmed church records are available from State Historical Societies and Archives or they may be available from the church regional headquarters.

Mortuary / Funeral Home Records

Some mortuaries and funeral homes are willing to help genealogists by making copies of their records available to genealogy societies in their region and also to individuals who write for a photocopy of their ancestor’s record.  Remember that the Funeral Home does not have to share their records with you as they are not public record.  These records generally document the name, date of death, date and place of burial, who paid for the final arrangements, and other miscellaneous information that helps you know more about your ancestor.  They may record religious affiliation, spouse’s name, etc.

Immigration and Naturalization Records / Passport Applications / Passenger Lists

If your ancestor was born in a foreign country or traveled to a foreign country these records may be available for your ancestor.  These records can be helpful to establish where in a particular country they came from before coming to the United States.  The amount of information found in these records depends on the time of immigration, the particular record type, the particular log and other factors.
Watch for future articles about each of these record types and how to find them.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Lesson 4: Document, document, document!!

Kinds of Sources

Once you have the information written down on the form or entered into your genealogy software program you will need to document the source of the information in the various documents.  Sources can be classified in various ways:
·         Primary source – a source that is recorded at or near the time of the event and the information is provided by someone who was an eyewitness to the event.
·         Secondary source – a source that was recorded some time after the event and / or the information is provided by someone that did not witness the event.
·         Direct evidence – a document that states the information directly.  It directly states the information such as the date and place of birth or death.
·         Indirect evidence – information when taken as a whole allows one to draw a reliable conclusion.
·         Original source – a genuine document in which the information was documented at the time the event took place such as a marriage license or certificate; a baptism record written by the official performing the sacrament at the time of the event; a land deed signed by the grantor.
·         Derivative source – is not the original document recording the event.  It can be a transcription, a photocopy, a photograph, microfilm or other reproduction of the document.
·         Transcription – is an exact copy of the document; word for word, including punctuation, misspellings, and is not altered from the original or copy of the original.
·         Extract – is a summary of the information in the document and may include word for word copies of pertinent information.
·         Abstract – describes the content of the original source, but only includes what the person abstracting the information believes is essential information.

Formatting of citation information

There are two excellent books on citing your genealogical sources.  The first book is the currently accepted practice of source citation:
·         Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace by Elizabeth Shown Mills, Genealogical Publishing Company, 2007.  ISBN:  978-0-8063-1781-6.
·         Evidence:  Citation & Analysis for the Family Historian by Elizabeth Shown Mills, Genealogical Publishing Company, 1997.  ISBN:  0-8063-1543-1.
Both books are worth having.  The older book is easier to carry along with you to repositories so you can write the proper citation on any records you are photocopying.  The “Good Practices of Genealogical Citation” rule is to put the citation on the front of the copy of each page so that any subsequent copies will have the citation.

Links to articles about Genealogical Citation

Why should I cite my sources – more information: