Speaking at the Family Reunion

I’ve been asked to speak at the annual Ufkes reunion in Carthage, Illinois, early in July.

It can be tempting to simply ramble off lists of dead relatives at presentations like this and convert oneself into a walking talking four-generation genealogy.

That’s a temptation best avoid.

Genealogies consisting only of vital statistics and lists of relatives do not make the most scintillating reading. They also don’t make the most scintillating presentation. It is a surefire way to bore the presenter and the people who are sitting and wondering how long it will be before the presentation is over.

So I’m going to do something different. One year I showed translations of letters our immigrant ancestor had written to relatives in Nebraska in the 1880s and talked about some of the details mentioned in the letters. Another year I talked about the “old men’s draft card registrations” for family members who were alive at that time and of the right age.

I’m not certain what I’m going to present this year, but we’ll have an update after it is over.

But there will not be lists of name after name.




Ancestral Clues and Lessons: Augusta Newman

Augusta Newman was born in Maryland in the late 1790s and died in White County, Indiana, in 1861. Some things I’ve learned about research from Augusta:

  • the importance of “heirship” deeds. Augusta’s estate settlement in White County, Indiana, does not mention real property at all. There was a series of deeds wherein his widow and all his children (spread across three states) sell their interest in his farm to a neighbor.
  • always look for military service. I had researched Augusta for nearly twenty years before I decided to see if he received a military land warrant for military service. It turned out he served the War of 1812.
  • sometimes men’s names may “look female.”¬†I have had numerous researchers and relatives tell me that Augusta’s name was really August. He’s listed as Augusta on virtually every record on which he appears–from his marriage, land records, military records, bounty land warrant application, probate, etc.
  • everyone may leave after you die. After Augusta’s death in 1861, his widow and few remaining children left White County, Indiana. Despite having lived in Indiana for thirty years, none of his children remained in the state and his widow Melinda is buried in Iowa in a cemetery with several of their children.

Augusta Newman is my fourth great-grandfather. You can view my ancestor list on my website.

Our Purpose

Our goals here are simple:

  • share research frustrations
  • discuss methods and sources
  • discuss pitfalls and ways to get confused
  • analyze what we find
  • occasionally insert some humor
  • write about what interests me–and what may interest the reader

That said, I don’t write about:

  • genealogy “news”
  • stuff I don’t use
  • books I don’t read
  • things that don’t interest me

And that’s the way it is.

Thanks for reading!

Back to work…somewhere there is a missing Trautvetter or Rampley ūüėČ


My First Foray Into Indirect Proof–Proving pre-1820 Settlement in Ohio

I was in high school and I wanted to join First Families of Ohio.

The reason was simple: I wanted to prove something well enough for someone else to believe it, not because I really wanted to join anything. And it was the only lineage society I knew I was eligible for at the time. There was just one problem: Thomas Rampley was not in the 1820 census and did not appear on any tax lists in time to show his residence in Ohio before the end of 1820.

Minor problem.

Hill, N. N., History of Coshocton County, Ohio–It’s Past and Present, 1740-1881, 1881, Newark, Ohio, A. A. Graham & Company Publishers, page 502.

But the county history said that Thomas J. Rampley and his family had arrived in Coshocton County, Ohio, in the fall of 1817–coming in wagons. Certainly that reference would be sufficient. County histories could not contain errors.

It was not to be. The reference was not sufficient to document residence as proof for First Families of Ohio. The printed word would not do.

I needed a workaround.

Years ago, I actually obtained copies of a few selected pages from the Thomas J. Rampley equity case involving Joseph McClung in Harford County, Maryland, that was referenced in an earlier post. The file was large and my budget was small. Consequently I only obtained a copy of the initial petition filed by the attorney on Thomas’ behalf. In that petition it stated that Thomas had moved before the death of his father to Coshocton County, Ohio, with his family where he set up residence and that he returned to Maryland to settle up some business after his father, James Rampley, died.

There it was.

Of course I didn’t know exactly when James Rampley died either.

But I did know that James Rampley’s will was admitted to probate by a Harford County, Maryland, court in September of 1817.

So James was dead by September of 1817. Which meant that Thomas moved to Ohio before September of 1817.

Which meant he was in Ohio by the end of 1820.

My first indirect proof–after all, there was not one document that explicitly stated what I was trying to prove. It wasn’t the most elegant or sophisticated proof, but it served the purpose and my membership in First Families of Ohio was approved.

But did they arrive in the fall of 1817? Stay tuned…

Shared Hints on AncestryDNA

To facilitate my own use of my results on AncestryDNA, I posted my tree which I had not done before. This was done to allow me to more effectively utilize my results. My personal opinion is that¬†on AncestryDNA¬†displays results and connections in such a way that using the online tree is more effective, especially if one is using the results for more than “ethnic percentage entertainment” purposes. Others may choose not to post their tree–that’s entirely up to each user.

AncestryDNA¬†allows users to see “shared hints” from the trees of other submitters who share DNA matches (AncestryDNA¬†users are not required to submit a tree). ¬†Ancestry.com¬†does display¬†potential tree matches (not just hints) for those DNA submitters with whom I shared DNA.

I just wish when it showed the “hint,” it showed both parents and not just the “hint. ”¬†The hint is usually just the father and I potentially share DNA with the mother as well. It’s worth remembering that the “shared hints” are only being pulled from records and trees in¬†Ancestry.com‘s databases.

And we need to remember that the DNA does not just come from the father’s side. We’ll discuss that concept further in an upcoming post.

Chili, South America, is in Hancock County, Illinois?

I know where “Chili” is in Hancock County, Illinois, but apparently there’s a part of it that has been hidden from me for years and which has been discovered by¬†Ancestry.com.

I’ve been playing with¬†Ancestry.com‘s “U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947.”¬†Experimenting with a database is a great way to learn about it, understand it, and make discoveries.

But some Ancestry.com databases make me question my knowledge of geography. 

While searching for cards showing a place of birth in Hancock County, Illinois (as an “exact” search), two interesting results showed up:

  • Albert Callijas born in 1901 in Wythe
  • John Herbert born in St. Mary in 1901

Looking at the extractions from the cards I realized why these two items were returned. The Herbert card made some sense–the Callijas card did not.

Hancock County, Illinois, contains locations named Chili and St. Mary. Herbert’s card does not provide a state of birth, so it is understandable why his entry was returned for my Hancock County, Illinois, search. After all, it said he was born in St. Mary and it could have been referring to St. Mary in Hancock County–which actually is called St. Marys.

But the Chili entry?

Chili in South America? I’m not so certain why it was returned–there was a complete location given. The place of birth was entered in the database as “Chili, South America.”

It all goes back to¬†Ancestry.com standardizing place names in its databases in order to facilitate searching–particularly searches of nearby locations. With that standardization comes some tradeoffs. It is the nature of search.

Being aware of limitations and pitfalls allows us to make more efficient use of databases. They are, after all, finding aids. They are not perfect. They are tools that we should know how to use–even if they are imperfect.

Although I’m still wrapping my head around how Hancock County, Illinois, is in South America.


Ancestry.com Updates “U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947”

Ancestry.com is indicating that it’s “U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947” is updated as of today.

The card of my grandfather’s first cousin was one of my new discoveries. It’s a great card as it provides his place of birth (West Point, Illinois), father’s name and residence (Harry L. Sparks, Truman, Martin County, Minnesota), and his residence (1935 Sherman Street, Denver, Colorado).

The database of these cards is a work in progress. Unfortunately the state I really need (Illinois) has not been placed in the database as of yet.¬†Ancestry.com subscribers can search the database to see extractions from the cards, but a¬†Fold3.com membership is required to view the actual cards. Based on several cards I have seen it’s advisable to view the actual card as the index entries occasionally seem to have misinterpretations of the places of birth.

This database is a great one as these cards were not readily available before these indexes and images were made. It was possible to get the cards but this database greatly facilitates that process. I’ll have to wait to locate my uncles and numerous cousins until the database updates.¬†

From the Ancestry.com website description of this database:

This database contains images and indexes for registration cards filled out by men born between the years of 1898 and 1929 from Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, and North Carolina. The following states are also found in the index with a link to the images available on Fold3:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Maryland
  • New Mexico
  • Nevada
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Wyoming
  • District of Columbia
  • Virgin Islands

I’ve made some good discoveries searching this database by place of birth. As we will see in a future post, there are some issues with¬†“U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947” in terms of searching based on place of birth.