22 September 2010

What Do You Do?

The probate file of Alexander Cole.

This slip of paper informs me that the probate packet for Alex Cole was pulled on 6 December 1917 by a lawyer named Osborn for 10 days.  However, it seems the packet was never returned. I know that Alex's wife, Hester Hall Cole, died 26 October 1917. What do you do when a record is gone or missing? Monday I will post how I reconstructed this probate, but first I'm curious to know what ideas you have about where to turn when a record is absent.
   Scioto County, Ohio, Alex Cole probate file 8893; Probate Court, Portsmouth. The file was pulled in 1917, leaving this card in its place, and never refilled.

02 September 2010

The Jack Pot

I'm so excited I can't wait to share this. In the probate packet of Charles Shaw was a list of all of his children, separated by wife. I've written about him before as my prolific father.
This is a list of the known children living and the children whose whereabouts are unknown. It clears up the part of the mystery of children by his first wife (who's not named) and children by his second wife, who are not all named Ann according to family lore. The notice placed in the newspaper lists his daughter Julia by her married name and names her husband (Jacob Albaugh), allowing me to find them in the 1850 & 1860 US censuses and a possible marriage record. Unfortunately for me there is a five year difference between her age from census to census.

Another piece of paper lists his children who whereabouts are know and their residences. This is helpful since I lost the same people and now I know where to look!

01 September 2010


I was playing around on Ancestry.com today in the database "U.S. Naturalization Record Indexes, 1791-1992" and found the card for my great-great(-great)-grandmother Leonarda "Eleanor" (Bugica) Spedale. She was naturalized at the age of 92.
Everyone called her Nana. My mom has a few pictures with her. She was a tiny woman (my mom at age 5 was taller). On the card her birth year is listed as 1864, but other records list it as 1863. She immigrated to American from Sicily in 1910 along with her youngest children and her eldest daughter, Irene "Rose" Geraci, and her family. They were met by her husband, son, Luciano, and son-in-law Cologero "Charles" Geraci. Imagine the stories she could tell!

19 August 2010

FGS - Wednesday & Thursday

On Wednesday I got into Knoxville about noon. The drive from North Carolina was pretty (yay for the I-40 being open). I was able to attend the last session of the day. The evening's dinner was entitled "Come and Sit a Spell," featuring country fare and traditional ballads.

It was a wonderful and enjoyable evening.

Today I got up early to go to the keynote. Colors were presented by an 1812-era honor guard.

Lots of interesting sessions today. I especially liked the lecture on Kentucky Land Patents. The state land office is putting color scans online with searchable databases of warrentees and patentees. The Genealogy Guys recorded a live podcast this afternoon (complete with Fletcher cat sounds).

After the podcast it was off to the banquet, or rather, the buses. The banquet was at the Museum of Appalachia, a living history museum. The food was good (more country fare), the walking tour was informative, and the entertainment a hoot.

14 August 2010

What I've Been Up To

I know I haven't posted anything in a while. Why? August 1st my sister and I left the LA area and drove to Colorado Springs, where we spent a week at the Job's Daughters (a masonic youth group) Supreme Session. We then drove to Portsmouth, Ohio, where we spent a week doing genealogy. Now we're in North Carolina moving her into school. I'm looking forward to seeing many of my fellow bloggers at FGS next week (already?!). I've got a free week after FGS (when I'll hopefully get caught up telling you about my road trip and research adventures), then off to Boston and grad school I go.

09 July 2010

What I Do (With Tech)

* Hardware: Dell 15 Studio laptop with 3 GB DDR3 ram, 500 GB hard drive, Intel i3 processor, Windows 7
* External storage: 1 TB external hard drive, 16 GB flash drive
* Online storage: my website (behind the curtain)
* Backup: to external & CD
* Virus protection: Symantec
* Spyware: Malwarebytes
* Printer: hp c4200 all-in-one
* Phone: Pantech Duo
* Mobile media: cell phone
* Music player: Zune
* Car audio: CD player & my Zune with one of those old school tapes with a cord
* eBook Reader: Adobe Digital Editions
* Browser: Modzilla Firefox
* Blog: Blogger
* RSS: Google reader
* FTP: Filezilla
* Text editor: Word 2003, Notepad
* Graphics: Adobe Photoshop
* Screen capture: Prnt Scrn button & the Snipping Tool
* Social media: Facebook & LiveJournal
* Office suite: Microsoft Office 2003
* E-mail: Gmail
* Calendar: on cell phone & Google calendar
* PDF generator: Adobe Acrobat
* Genealogy database: RootsMagic 4
* Other tech stuff: Zotero (an online source, citation, notes, etc. collector). CanoScan LiDE 200 (travel scanner). My lovely Olympus Stylus 1010 digital camera.

06 July 2010

Greetings from Boston!

It's my first time visiting the city that I will call home for the next few years. Tomorrow I have orientation at school, Simmons College. Yesterday and today I wondered around the city. Most of the today was spend in NEHGS. I spent some time going through a county history for Scioto Co., Ohio and the probate indexes for Worcester Co., Mass. Since tomorrow they have extended hours, I plan on going back after orientation to look at the actual probate books (well, the microfilms of them). 

This is the first grave stone I've seen that uses the double date. In the Grannay Burial Ground.

The difference between the history in Los Angeles and Boston is dramatic. In LA there's a few buildings that date to the 18th century, all of which are adobe. Here in Boston, I love the old stone and brick buildings among the modern steel and glass ones. I think I took 100 pictures of just the architecture.
Trinity Church

03 July 2010

Happy 4th

 Mental Floss has a good article today. One of their writers collects photos from flea markets. He shares some of his wartime photos.

19 June 2010

SNGF: A Prolific Dad

From Randy Seaver over at Genea-Musings:

Your mission for Father's Day, if you decide to accept it, is to:

1) Determine who is one of the most prolific fathers in your genealogy database or in your ancestry. By prolific, I mean the one who fathered the most children.

This is easy. My prolific father is Charles Wesley Shaw, my gr-gr-gr-gr-grandfather. The story even includes some skeletons!

Charles W. Shaw
b. 17 Aug 1794 in [West] Virginia.
d. 31 December 1872 in Nile township, Scioto County, Ohio
-m. 1 - Ann Coon Bishop
--Alexander Shaw
b. abt 1817 in Ohio
m. Mary Cathan or Mary Nichols
--John Marion Shaw
b. 2 March 1823 in Muskingum County, Ohio
m. Jerusha Adaline Mershon 2 Jul 1853 in Scioto County, Ohio
d. 26 Oct 1908 in Kentucky
--Jonathan Shaw
b. 15 Jun 1827 in Ohio
m. Nancy Elizabeth (Hall) Royse 25 Dec 1858 in Scioto County, Ohio
d. 2 Nov 1878 in Scioto County, Ohio
--Charles Shaw
--Reese Shaw
--Osborne Shaw
--Julia Shaw
-m. 2 Anna Wood 12 Nov 1827 in Scioto County, Ohio
---Mary Ann Shaw
b. 11 Nov 1830 in Scioto County, Ohio
m. George B. Mershon 3 Mar 1847 in Scioto County, Ohio
d. 18 Sep 1897
---Ella Ann Shaw
b. 15 Jan 1835 in Scioto County, Ohio
m. James McGraw 21 Jun 1855 in Scioto County, Ohio
d. 4 Aug 1816 in Washington township, Scioto County, Ohio
---Little Ann Shaw
Died with her mother in childbirth
-m. 3 Elmira Herbert 25 Sep 1841 in Brown County, Ohio
----Hester Ann Shaw
b. 3 May 1844 in Nile township, Scioto County, Ohio
m. George H. Freeman 10 Dec 1863 in Scioto County, Ohio
d. 30 Jan 1931 in Portsmouth, Scioto County, Ohio
----Jasper Newton Shaw
b. 30 Aug 1846 in Nile township, Scioto County, Ohio
m. Harriet M. Hazelbaker 14 Jan 1869 in Scioto County, Ohio
d. 2 Nov 1913 in Nile township, Scioto County, Ohio
----Melissa Shaw
b. 9 Jul 1847 in Scioto County, Ohio
m. James Nelson Odle
d. 17 Nov 1922 in Buena Vista, Nile township, Scioto County, Ohio
----Margaret R. Shaw
b. abt. 1852 in Ohio
----Mahaley Catherine Shaw
b. 9 Feb 1856 in Scioto County, Ohio
m. Andrew Jackson Mershon 21 Oct 1881 in Scioto County, Ohio
d. 5 Oct 1938 in Union township, Scioto County, Ohio
----Bella Ann Shaw
b. abt 1858 in Ohio
m. Clay Mershon
----Ursa B. Shaw
b. abt 1859 in Ohio
m. Henry Mershon
d. 19 Nov 1918 in Scioto County, Ohio
----Francis M. Shaw
b. 16 Sep 1861 in Scioto County, Ohio
m. Sarah Piatt 8 Nov 1855 in Scioto County, Ohio
d. 24 Nov 1943 in Fayette County, Indiana
----Samuel R. Shaw
b. abt 1865 in Ohio

So now for the dancing skeletons:

Courtesy of Ruth Shaw Book, this family story was written by a daughter of Charles in the late 19th century:
    "Charles Shaw was from the Shenandoah Valley of VA. He and his first wife had a farm and he also drove livestock west, which kept him away from home a lot. He had been told that his wife was stepping out while he was away on drives. One trip a storm came up and he returned after only a short time. There he found his wife and the local preacher. The next morning he left with only some money and his clothes. (He wanted to protect her and their children's standing in the community.)
    "He traveled to the Tennessee hills, stopping at an inn where he met a waitress named Ann. He had to make another drive and told her to wait and that he would come back for her. In Nile Twp he purchased a farm (now the Yeager farm) on Route 125 near the Boy Scout camp. Then he returned for Ann and left her with the local dressmaker (known to Stella Shaw) until they could be married. They had 3 children, Malinda Ann, Elllie Ann, and a third daughter who along with Ann died in childbirth. These daughters all were named Ann after the wife he so loved. He buried them in a grove on the Yeager farm.
    "After some time he began dating Elmira Harbert, daughter of his neighbor. She was very young and he was in his 40's so her father was very opposed to their relationship. Before one date, he tied her by the hands to the rafters of a shed so she couldn't meet Charles. Her brother Reese found her, untied her, and told her to keep her date and marry Charles. After this incident her brother was never seen again. It is believed by local people that her father killed him, as the next day his well was filled in and a new one dug!
   " They were married and had 8 children."

Charles Wesley Shaw had a total of 19 children by 3 different wives.

10 June 2010

Jamboree - Thursday

After a minor setback (it's LA, blame the freeways), we got registration started about 6:45. I think the final count was roughly 350 people who picked up their envelopes and bags tonight. It was fun getting to check familiar faces (personas?) in. Tomorrow registration opens at noon. However, I have the Kids Family History Camp starting at 9am. So now I am off to sleep so I can be functional.

03 June 2010

Almost Time

 Jamboree is a week away!

I'm busy putting the last things together for the Kids Family History Camp, which will be Friday morning (and it's free!). If you have/know of someone 8-16 years old, then please drag, uh, bring, them with you.

Things have been hectic (in a good way) around SCGS. Lots of exciting things are planned for the weekend. I am looking forward to seeing a lot of the friends I have made online in person. This has been and will be a great year for me: in April I was able to attend NGS, there's no way I'm missing Jamboree, and I registered a few days ago for FGS. The big 3, all in one year, and the first time for two. Plus Iecturing at two.

Don't forget to pack your Hawaiian shirt for Sunday.

19 May 2010

Quick Update to Prove That I Still Exisit

I am in fact still alive.

NGS was amazing. Got a lot of research done at the Family History Library. Picked up a virus some time during the weekend that ate my network card.

It snowed! 

I got to meet the Archivist of the US, David

26 April 2010

NGS/Salt Lake City - Days 0-1

Day 0
Yesterday I drove from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City with a stop in Las Vegas. My cousin located the rest of his mom's photos so I stopped for a short visit and to get the pictures. Imagine my surprise when it wasn't just a few photos, but instead five albums full! One of which is my grandaunt and uncle's wedding album. I resisted looking through. But you know the first thing I did when I got into my hotel room? The oldest photograph is a cabinet card from ca. 1897 and the most recent is the 1970s. Most of the photos I have never seen before. They are in the old black paper albums and the paper is brittle. The glue holding the pictures on the pages is no longer sticky and a lot of pictures are no longer attached. Those that are come off every easily. Which might be a good thing. Before whoever glued them in, wrote a description on the back of most photos telling when it was taken and who's in the picture. Now the bag is sitting on the hotel desk with a sign saying "fragile! please don't touch." I don't want to let them out of my sight! But oh, the FHL, the conference...

Day 1
Today was a full day planned at the Family History Library. Went strait to the 3rd floor and the books. My big breakthrough of the day was Aaron Hall, my gr-gr-gr-gr-grandfather. I found a death date for him and another wife and some more kids.[1] His widow, my gr-gr-gr-gr-grandmother Harriet (McKinney) Hall, sued James E. Hall, son of Aaron hall for her dower. It lists all 10 of his children by name and the eldest two daughters with their husband's names. Did I say ten children? Aaron married Harriet in 1835 and they had five children before Aaron's death in 1845. According to the record, only the youngest 6 children were minors (these are the ones I knew of). So where did Aaron get four more children? The lovely Scioto County Marriage Records has two entries for Aaron Hall: the one with Harriet McKinney and a second entry where an Aaron Hall m. Margaret Edison 15 Feb 1815.[2] In those years before full census enumeration it seems I had missed an entire family. Tomorrow after the BCG Education Fund I'm going back to the FHL to look at the microfilm of the Chancery Book for the full record. Most of the rest of today was spent with microfilms, digitalizing different pages from different places. Most of these records I've looked at before or knew what the record would say. Tomorrow I think I'll tackle land records or perhaps all those marriage records.

[1] Caryn R. Shoemaker, comp., Selected Abstracts from Common Pleas and Chancery Complete Records, Scioto County, Ohio (1810-1875) (Minford, OH: n.p., 1985), 199.
[2] Caryn R. Fuller Shoemaker & Betty J. Sisler Rudity, Marriage Records of Scioto County, Ohio, 1803-1860 (Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Pub. Co., Inc., 2003), 54.

22 April 2010

News and Notes

I got accepted to grad school! In the fall I will be starting the history and archives management programs at Simmons College in Boston, MA. Now I need to learn how to deal with cold since I've only lived in Los Angeles and Phoenix. I hear layers are a must.

Sunday I leave for the NGS Conference in Salt Lake City. I'm attending the BCG Education Fund Workshop on Tuesday. Saturday I will be teaching part of the Kids Family History Camp. All of my free time will be spent at the Family History Library. I look forward to meeting y'all face-to-face.

My goal of having my BGC portfolio completed by the NGS conference did not happen. I still have reports that need to be written up. New goal is by the FGS conference, which I am almost sure that I will be attending, since I will be in the area at that time. I have my first (paying) client and that has been quite a learning experience.

Ancestry.com has digitalized more 1850-1880 non-population schedules, including agricultural, Industry, Manufacturing, and Social Statistics, added to the mortality schedule.
Read the press release here.
They have schedule for the following states:
New York
North Carolina
South Carolina

13 April 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - A Sad Story

I was visiting a friend this weekend in Lemoore, California. She has a cemetery a few blocks from her apartment, so of course we visited it. Lemoore Cemetery is very well kept. One particular stone caught our attention.

We wanted to know what happened to this family, so we went to the Hanford Library, which has the local newspapers on microfilm.

A sad story that makes you hold dear your loved ones.

    Lemoore Cemetery (1441 N. Lemoore Ave., Lemoore, Calif.), grave marker, Camara, photographed by author, 9 April 2010.
    Ruth Gomes, "Four Killed in Collision," The Hanford (California)Sentinel, 26 July 1966, p. 1.
    "Funeral: Paula Camara, Joseph Camara, Jefferey Camara, James Camara," The Hanford (California) Sentinel, 28 July 1966.

COG 93: The Genealogical Proof Standard

The Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) is a five-step process to creating and maintain a professional level genealogy by the Board for Certification of Genealogist (BCG).The GPS is not just for professional genealogist! Rather, everyone should be following its' steps to create a quality genealogy.

Genealogical Proof Standard:
  • A reasonably exhaustive search;
  • complete and accurate source citations;
  • analysis and correlation of the collected information;
  • resolution of any conflicting evidence; and
  • a soundly reasoned, coherently written conclusion.
The GPS is explained more on the BGS's website.

I wrote a series of posts as I prepared a lecture on the GPS. Each post looks at a step, breaking it down, explaining what it means and how to follow it. 

Links to the articles: into, step 1, step 2, step 3, step 4, step 5, and an example

The Genealogical Proof Standard, part 7

 Let's use the Genealogical Proof Standard to solve a research problem:

I was given information from a cousin that Nina Estelle Rutter was born 16 May 1866 in Hopkinton, South Fork Township, Delaware County, Iowa to Alonzo John and Mary Emily (Finch) Rutter. I want to check the validity of this information.

1. A reasonable exhaustive search
I have my research statement. What records might contain this information?
  • birth record
  • death record
  • marriage record
  • censuses
  • birth announcement
  • obituary
  • family Bible
  • grave marker
  • other family members' records
Let's start with online databases, since I don't have to go anywhere to access them. Since Nina was reportedly born in 1866, let's check the 1870 census:
The Rutter family was enumerated in Delaware Township, Delaware County, Iowa.[1]

Nina E. Rutter listed as 4 years old, born in Iowa. This would make her date of birth abt. 1866. [3rd generation-Original, Secondary, Indirect]

In 1880 the Rutter family was living in Elgin Township, Lyon County, Iowa.[2]
Nina Rutter is now 14 years old, born in Iowa. [3rd generation-Original, Secondary, Indirect]

I know that the family moved again in July 1883,[3] to Pipestone, Pipestone County, Minnesota. On 8 November 1883 Nina E. Rutter's obituary was published in the Pipestone County Star.[4] [2nd generation-Original, Primary, Indirect]

If she was 17 years, 5 months, and 17 days old upon her death on 4 November 1883, then she would have been born 18 May 1866.

Nina was born before Delaware County, Iowa started recording birth. Her birth was not recorded in the county, nor are any of her siblings' births recorded. Her death is not recorded in Pipestone County, Minnesota. If her grave was marked, the has not marker survived. The cemetery has no record of her burial (see this post). Nina never married, so there is no marriage record. She died before her father, Alonzo John Rutter, applied for a Civil War pension and thus she is not listed among his surviving children in the application.

2. Complete and accurate citation of sources
I used endnotes. To see my citations, please scroll to the end of this post.

3. Analysis and correlation of the collected information
   Original information: secondary, direct.
I do not know what the origin of the information is.
   1870 census: 3rd generation-original, secondary, indirect.
Third generation original explains that it is a (3) digital image of a (2) microfilmed (1) original. It is secondary because I do not know who provided the information (when in doubt, always refer to information as secondary). It is indirect because it does not tell me the exact information.
   1880 census: 3rd generation-original, secondary, indirect. (see above explanation)
   Obituary: 2nd generation-original, primary, indirect. It is a (2) microfilm of the (1) original newspaper. One of her family members, most likely a parent, provided the information. However, it does not tell me exactly when she was born, rather I need to do some math to come up with a date.

4. Resolution of conflicting information
All of the sources agree that Nina was born abt. 1866 in Iowa.

5. A soundly reasoned, and coherently written conclusion
Family lore has Nina E[stelle?] Rutter’s birth as 16 May 1866 in Hopkinton, South Fork Township, Delaware County, Iowa. The 1870[1] and 1880 US censuses[2] agree that Nina was born ca. 1866 in Iowa. The family had been living in Delaware County, Iowa since her parents, Alonzo John and Mary Emily (Finch) Rutter were married in 1856.[5] Births were not required to be registered in the county when she was born and there is no record of her birth. The Rutter family had recently moved to Pipestone, Pipestone County, Minnesota when Nina died there on 4 November 1883.[4] Her obituary appeared in the Pipestone County Star, stating that she was 17 years, 5 months, and 7 days old upon her death. This would make her date of birth 18 May 1866. Nina’s death was not recorded in Pipestone County. All of the sources agree that she was born in (May) 1866 in (Delaware County,) Iowa, most likely on the 16th or 18th day.
Sources [Endnotes]

[1] 1870 U.S. census, Delaware County, Iowa, population schedule, Manchester post office, Delaware Township, p. 24, dwelling 196, family 191, Alonzo J. Rutter; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : downloaded 16 October 2005); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm publication M593, roll 387.
[2] 1880 U.S. census, Lyon County, Iowa, population schedule, Elgin Township, enumeration district (ED) 146, p. 12D, dwelling 74, family 76, Alonzo Rutter; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : downloaded 15 October 2005); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm publication T9, roll 352; FHL microfilm 1254352.
[3]  "Fifty Years Ago," Pipestone County (Minnesota) Star, 26 July 1933; "A.J. Rutter, a gentleman from Rock Rapids, Ia., arrived in town...;" microfilm held by the Pipestone County Historical Society and Museum.
[4] "Died," Nina E. Rutter obituary, Pipestone County (Minnesota) Star, 8 November 1883, p. 3; microfilm held by the Pipestone County Historical Society and Museum.
[5] Delaware County, Iowa, "Marriage Record, 1851-1861," p. 189, Alonzo J. Rutter-Mary E. Finch marriage license and return, December 1856; Delaware County Recorder's Office, Manchester.
For detailed posts on each part of the Genealogical Proof Standard, see step 1, step 2, step 3, step 4, and step 5.

05 April 2010

Archivist of the United States at the NGS Conference

From the NGS Conference blog:

Come join us in welcoming the 10th Archivist of the United States, David S. Ferriero.

The Meet and Greet event will take place in Room 355B of the Salt Palace Convention Center from 4:30 to 5:30 PM on Thursday, 29 April.

Mr. Ferriero was sworn into office on 13 November 2009 and is the first librarian to serve in the post. He has worked at Massachusetts Institute of Technology Library in Cambridge, Massachusetts and was the University Librarian and Vice Provost for Library Affairs at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. In 2004, he became the Director of the New York Public Libraries. Mr. Ferriero also served in the Navy during the Vietnam War.

The Meet and Greet will immediately follow the Records Preservation and Access Meeting. Both events are open to all conference attendees.

16 March 2010

Women Under English Common Law in America

This is not a COG submission, but rather a history lesson. The poster for this month's COG is what prompted me to post this.
This past Saturday was Lunch & Learn at SCGS. The first lecture was on Catholic Records. Afterward several of us were talking about what records would historically be available to trace women. And from there it morphed into what records were available outside of the Catholic church and in the civil sphere. From there it went to English Common Law and coverture. Coverture? Ah, now the history lesson (this applies to coverture laws in America):

Under English Common Law a women does not have her own legal standing. Rather, she draws it from from her father and then from her husband. Think of it as the husband "covering" his wife with his legal status.
She has the legal standing of feme covert. Since a woman has no "body" of her own, she cannot do things like own land, bring a suit in court, earn her own salary, etc. Upon her marriage, everything she owned is now her husband's. However, if her husband wanted to sell land that she brought to the marriage, the wife had to sign off on it, some times being questioned outside of her husband's presence to make sure that she was not coerced into the sale. Prenuptial agreements did exist, however the property was generally set aside in a trust for the children (once again, a married woman cannot own land). The law where a woman cannot testify against her husband stems from coveture (after all, you can't testify against yourself).

A spinster, or woman who never marries has the legal status of feme sole. She is her own legal body. This status also applies to widows of wealth who chose to never remarry. A feme sole is allowed to own property, enter into contracts, run a business and keep the profits, etc. She is still a woman and subject to all the laws that apply to or exclude her as well as social and cultural conventions.

Divorce. It was possible for a woman to sue for divorce on (a) abandonment, (b) adultery, or (c) extreme cruelty (it was legal to beat your wife, however, it was not legal to repeatedly beat her to within an inch of her life). Divorces were not often granted. Legal separations were recognized, where the woman, although still married, took on a feme sole like status. Children remained under the guardianship of their father.

Guardianship. If the husband died, leaving minor children, a male guardian had to be appointed. Children 14 years of age or older generally chose a guardian. If you have any ancestors were this was the case, then check for guardianship papers. They may or may not be with the probate or estate papers. Guardianship papers will list the children by name and usually their age(s) and who their guardian(s) are.

Dower Rights. A wife had a legal right to one-third (1/3) of her husband's estate upon his death. You will see in a will: "I leave my wife, [name], her dower..." It could be in the form of property (which she could not sell without permission from the eldest son or will administrator) or most commonly the income generated from a property during her lifetime. A husband might even dictate where the dower will be transferred to upon his wife's death. He might also "give" her the house to live in during the remainder of her life. I had one ancestor leave his wife the cow, with the express permission that she could sell the milk. The animal was to go to a daughter upon the wife's death. A famous example is George Washington - in his will he freed his slaves, an action to take place upon the future death of his wife. A wife could contest a will if she was left out or received left less than her right.

Some interesting tidbits:

The state of New Jersey's original constitution allowed anyone who met the requirement of wealth, in pounds or property, to vote. The constitution was amended in 1844, limiting voting rights to white males.

Abigail Adam's famous Remember the Ladies letter is not about equal rights for women, but rather unequal rights in marriage: "Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power onto the hands of the Husbands."

Keep all of this in mind when you are researching your ancestors in the colonial and early Republic eras.

   Abigail Adams to John Adams, 31 March 1776, in The Book of Abigail and John: Selected Letters of the Adams Family, 1762-1784, ed. L.H. Butterfield, Marc Friedlaender and Mary-Jo Kline (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1975), 121.
   Wikipedia has a good article on coverture.
   About.com has a good article on dower rights in America.
For more detailed information look in legal books, journals, and articles.

04 March 2010

Saving Save America's Treasures

I'm not usually political, but this is something I feel strongly about. The preservation program, Save America's Treasures, was cut from next year's proposed federal budget. The program provides matching grants to preservation projects. Please watch the video. There's a link at the end if you would like more information. As always, for your voice to be heard in our government, you need to contact your congressmen.

The link at the end: http://www.preservationnation.org/treasures

03 March 2010

Fearless Females Blog Post: March 3 — Names and Naming Patterns

March 3 — Do you share a first name with one of your female ancestors?  Perhaps you were named for your great-grandmother, or your name follows a particular naming pattern. If not, then list the most unique or unusual female first name you’ve come across in your family tree.

My name is Jennifer. I think I am the only Jennifer in my tree. My mom named me after a cover girl. My middle name, Eileen, is from a childhood friend of my mom's.

My sister got the family names, or at least my Dad tried (he got a bit mixed up). She is Beth Anne, after her great-grandmother, Vasiliki (called Bess), and grandmother, Anastasia. Needless to say Beth is glad she is not a Bess.

My favorite "unique" name is Lucretia. My brickwall ancestor for a long time was Lucretia Putnam. Every time I hear her name I think of the song "Lucretia MacEvil" by Blood, Sweat & Tears. It's especially ironic since I've linked her to the Putnam family of Salem fame.

02 March 2010

10 Ways to Identify a Witch

In honor of my Putnam family (yes, that Putnam family), article from Mental Floss:

Today is a rather painful day in American history – the day the first three accused women were brought before the court in the Salem Witch Trials. As we know today, some of the measures taken to “prove” a person’s guilt or innocence were absolutely ludicrous. But in case you’d like to employ some of them for yourself, here are 10 ways to identify a witch according to those running the Salem Witch Trials.
witch cake1. Make a witch cake. What’s a witch cake, you ask? Unlike the gorgeous cake in the picture, it’s definitely something you don’t want to eat. You take the urine of the people who are thought to be under the spell of the witch in question, mix it with rye meal and make a little patty. Then you feed the patty to a dog. Because some of the powers the witch used to cast a spell on the afflicted people were in their urine, when the dog eats the cake, it will hurt the witch and she’ll cry out in agony.
2. Weigh them against a stack of Bibles. If the suspected witch is heavier or lighter than the stack of Bibles, then clearly she’s guilty of evil-doing. If the scales balance out, she’s in the clear. You can imagine that a perfect balance doesn’t happen often.
3. Check for moles, birthmarks, scars, or extra nipples – they’re marks of the Devil. That’s a sure sign right there, but if you need even more proof, try pricking the Devil’s Mark with a blade. If it doesn’t bleed or hurt when it’s pricked, you’ve definitely got a witch on your hands. During the Salem Witch Trials, some unscrupulous witch-hunters actually used knives with retractable blades, so of course when they appeared to puncture the Mark, nothing happened.
4. Observe them talking to themselves. During the Witch Trials, one accused woman, Sarah Good, was partially damned based on the fact that she was sometimes seen muttering to herself, and sometimes this even happened when she was leaving people’s houses. Her accusers knew she was casting spells on people, even though Sarah claimed she was just reciting the commandments or a particular psalm. Her claims weren’t enough to save her, because she was hanged on July 19, 1692.
5. See if they can say the Lord’s Prayer. If they don’t, they’re guilty. If they do, they’re guilty too. George Burroughs, the only minister to be executed during the Trials, ran across this problem. He was standing at the gallows to be executed when he recited the Lord’s Prayer to prove his innocence – it was believed that a witch (or warlock, in this case) would be unable to utter the holy words. People were momentarily convinced that the jury had wronged him until a minister named Cotton Mather told the crowd that the Devil allowed George Burroughs to say that prayer to make it seem as if he was innocent. Ahhh, of course. With Satan himself apparently working right through him, Burroughs’ fate was sealed and he was hanged moments later.
hanging6. Ask a hard-of-hearing elderly woman if she’s guilty while her good ear is turned the other way. If she doesn’t respond, she’s definitely a witch. This happened to 71-year-old Rebecca Nurse. She was known to be a very pious woman and most people in the community were hesitant to accuse her or believe the pointing fingers that were. In fact, she was found not guilty during her first trial. But when there were more outbursts from young girls who said they were being tormented by a witch, Nurse was reconsidered. When another prisoner claimed that “she was one of us” during the trial and Nurse failed to respond, she was immediately assumed guilty and hanged.
7. Observe the number of pets she has. A woman who has pets – or says hello to the neighbor’s cat – is surely using that animal as a familiar. In fact, if a fly or a rat entered a woman’s cell while she was awaiting trial, it was assumed that the witch had used her powers to summon a familiar to do her bidding.
8. Take their sarcastic comments seriously. John Willard was the constable in Salem responsible for bring the accused to court. After bringing in so many people, including those who were known for their church-going ways and elderly woman who barely understood what they were being accused of, Willard began to doubt how real these accusations really were. In May 1692, he finally put his foot down and declared that he would no longer take part in any arrests, sarcastically saying, “Hang them all, they’re all witches.” Wouldn’t you know, Willard was immediately accused of witchcraft himself, stood trial, was found guilty, and was executed just three months after his sarcastic comment.
WITCHES9. Ask if they’ve had dreams about Native Americans. Sarah Osborne, one of the original three to be accused on March 1, denied all witchcraft accusations that were thrown her way. Her downfall was when she admitted she had recurring dreams that an Indian would seize her by the hair and drag her out of her house. Apparently that was enough to convince the village she was likely casting spells on them. However, Osborne ended up dying while being held captive and never stood trial for her “crimes.”
10. Check to see how many times they’ve been married. At least a couple of the women tried for witchcraft were married two or more times and were accused of killing their former husbands (“bewitching” them to death) or evilly seducing them.

20 February 2010

52 Weeks, #8 - Online Map Collections

I love maps. I have a county maps for every state I do research in. I have county maps. I have township maps. I have city maps. I have historic maps. They are amazing research tools. Some websites that I use regularly:

Historic Map Works
Library of Congress - American Memory
David Ramsey Collection

Try googling the location you want a map of-you might be surprised at what you find. Google maps is great for make custom maps. This summer I visited Minneapolis and created a map with pin points for every house my ancestors lived in. You can attach notes as well to those points, saying, for example, when the family resided in each location.

My favorite map is a map of landowners in Scioto County, Ohio in 1875 from the Library of Congress.

SNGF - Genea-gasms

It's Saturday night and time for some fun... 
From Randy Seaver over at Genea-Musings:
Think of any number of genealogy events or moments that make you have a genealogy happy dance, an ah-ha moment, or a genea-gasm. 

1)I e-mailed someone about a record on Ancestry.com. Turns out he's a cousin. Who directed us to another cousin, who happens to live in the same city as my family. Who's daughter lives a block away from my parents. Read the whole story here.

2) This past summer I went on a research road-trip. I found a lot of information, quite a few gasms, and attended the Linner family reunion. I love small towns. Everyone is super friendly and helpful. For example, while in Pipestone, Minnesota I was at the Pipestone County Historical Society and Museum. The old family house in town is still standing. The librarian looked at the address, told me the owner is a member, and called her up to see if she would let us look at the house. The owner was more than willing, giving up a tour. The house has been remodeled a few times, but the basement was still original, built by my ancestor.

3) I was contacted by a cousin who had pictures and records that I'd never seen, including a picture of my great-grandfather and his sister as children and their mother's wedding picture with her second husband. He was able to fill in a lot of blanks for me.

4) A few days ago I found That family, the one who liked to avoid census takers. Well, they're enumerated on the 1855 New York state census.

4) Someone had posted a picture on Findagrave for my Linderman family. It's a family stone that lists the parents, the paternal-grandfather, and all but two of the children, with their birth and death dates. Using that information I was able to find the family in the censuses and learned that my ancestor was a Civil War veteran (with a pension file).

18 February 2010

Finding That Family

Things have been pretty quiet here lately, which I apologize for. Life has a habit of happening, not to mention those shiny and distracting Olympics.

Two films I had orders through the local family history center (otherwise known as SCGS) came in. The first is the 1825, 1835, 1845 Steuben County, New York state censuses and the seconds is the 1855 Allegany County, New York state census. For Steuben County, a few towns seem to be missing. I need to do some research and double check when they were created and what the closest towns are, just in case. The second film got me excited. Most of us have that one family that managed to avoid census enumerators time after time. For me, it's the family of Emerson and Mary (Nichols) Rutter. They were married in August 1832 in Worcester County, Massachusetts.[1] Their eldest surviving son was born in June 1837 in Smithfield, Providence Co., Rhode Island.[2] By 1842 they were living in Cuba, Allegany County, New York (along with several of Mary's siblings).[3] However, they are not in the 1840 and 1850 censuses. I've search every way I can think of, even going page-by-page. Mary's siblings are there, but not the Rutter family. The first census I have them on is the 1856 Iowa state census.[4] According to it, the family has resided in the state 0 years (they don't appear in another census until 1870). The 1856 Iowa state census gave me the hope that the family might have still been in Allegany County, New York for its 1855 state census enumeration. Going line-by-line I went through the town of Cuba. First I found Rufus Nichols and Aaron and Caroline (Nichols) Stone, enumerated one right after the other. Then I literally let out a shriek when I found the Rutter's.[5]

Emerson and Mary are listed with their four sons. According to the census, the family has resided in the town for 17 years and Emerson is a land owner. Someday I'll get to that courthouse to look up records...

[1] Affidavit of Marriage for Emerson Rutter & Mary Nichols in Mary E. Rutter, mother's pension application no. 223,150, certificate no. M.O.C. 193,691, for service of Philip H. Rutter (Pvt., Co. K, 12th Iowa Inf., Civil War); Case Files of Approved Pension Applications..., 1861-1934; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C.
[2] Alonzo John Rutter (Pvt., Co. K, 21st Iowa Vol. Inf., Civil War), pension no. Inv. 242-406, Case Files of Approved Pension Applications..., 1861-1934; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Department of Veteran's Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C.
[3] Son Hollis E. Rutter was born 15 Apr 1842 in Allegany Co., NY.
[4] 1856 Iowa state census, Delaware County, Delaware, population schedule, p. 700-701 (stamped), dwelling/family 28, for E. Rutter; digital images, "Iowa State Census Collection, 1836-1925," Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : downloaded 25 March 2007); citing microfilm of Iowa State Censuses obtained from the State Historical Society of Iowa via Heritage Quest, roll IA_52.
[5] 1855 New York state census, Allegany County, population schedule, Cuba, p. 25 (penned), dwelling 196, family 206, Rufus Nichols; FHL microfilm 501952.
     1855 New York state census, Allegany County, population schedule, Cuba, p. 26 (penned), dwelling 197, family 207, Aaron Stone; FHL microfilm 501952.
     1855 New York state census, Allegany County, population schedule, Cuba, p. 36 (penned), dwelling 257, family 304, Emerson Rutter; FHL microfilm 501952.

03 February 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Norman Rockwell's Four Freedoms

Today is Norman Rockwell's birthday.

Is this poster still relevant today?

Image from the Library of Congress' American Memory.

29 January 2010

Website Update

I redesigned my website, www.shawgenealogy.org

Still working on the family tree portion. It's there, but the information has not been updated--I'm waiting until I've finished updating my sources and citations.

22 January 2010

January 22

Jan ^the 22 1882
Dear Sister Flora
      I take my pen in hand to let you know that we are all well and hope you are the same we got a letter from Alice last week She said that they were all well except that Grandpa was sick too or three days. Alice goes to writeing school and singing School so I think that she goes quite often I expect that Orlo will walk by the time he is a year old it seems to do him good to live in Dakota I think that I will go up there to live with you Pa thinks that we will go up to Maders [sp?] to keep a furniture store he says that we will have to live up stairs and I dont like that very mutch. Jan the 23 I guess that I will try and finiche my letter Pa, Ma, Dora, and Louisa has gon to a Temprence Lecture to-night I supose that they think that they will have to go to keep from being Intemprent. well enough of that. Pa went down to Mr Birgets and freaimed [sp?] his and Dories pictures and the Mottoes to day they look real nice, he has got the fed room don and has conimenced the kitchen it has bin snoweng some today so he could not work out of-dors. Ma has got about half enough rags sowed for a carpet Eugene and Earle is sowing now they have each a lases [sp?] ball sowed Ma thinks that she will have enough for a carpet by spring Old Mrs Callah was down here to dinner last saterday wee had quite a visit she says that she is going to write to you now she has got some new glasses. Well tell Brittic that he will have to commence to save lots of beef for I am comming up there in the fall. Leona and I am going on the cars. will. I must stop for I have to baste Dories dress to stich she has too to make. I made Leona too dresses Elmy one Julia one Louisa and myself an apron a pese last week dont you think I done pritty well. I guess that I will have to say good by give my love to all-and keep a share for youer self kiss Orlo for me
from your ever loveing sister
Nina E Rutter

PS excuse my poor wrighting and bad spelling
    Nina E. Rutter, (prob. Lyon Co., Iowa) to "Dear Sister Flora" [Flora (Rutter) Dixon], letter, 22 January 1882; photocopy privately held by Jennifer Shaw. [address for private use], Canyon Country, Calif, 2005. Photocopy from Renee (Rutter) Rossa, who received a copy from Patricia (McLean) Clark.

19 January 2010

Mesa Family History Expo

I'm off to Arizona today to attend the Mesa Family History Expo. I look forward to meeting the some of people I've gotten to know online. See you there!

08 January 2010

Come and Learn - GPS Lecute at SCGS Lunch & Learn

Tomorrow I am giving my lecture on the Genealogical Proof Standard at the Southern California Genealogical Society library in Burbank, CA as part of their monthly Lunch & Learn series. Lunch is at noon with the first lecture beginning at 1 pm. Charlotte Bocage will speak on "So You Thought You Were Organized." I will go on about 2:45 pm. 
Come and learn!

The Genealogical Proof Standard, step 5

The last step in the Genealogical Proof Standard is the written conclusion:

5.  We arrive at a soundly reasoned, and coherently written conclusion.[1]

There are many formal written conclusions. Among these, include:
  • Proof arguments and case studies
  • Research reports
  • Lineages, Pedigrees, and Genealogies
  • Hereditary-Society Applications
The most common formal written conclusions are proof arguments and case studies, which follow this format:
  • Explain the research goal (or problem)
  • Present the evidence, with analysis, including full and complete source citations
  • Discuss any conflicting evidence
  • State your conclusion
You don't always need to write out a formal report. It always held to write out what you (do or don't) know. Trying to keep track of all of all of that information in your head doesn't work. By the time you're done writing everything out, you might have a book completed!
[1] The Board for Certification of Genealogist, The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual (Orem, UT: Ancestry Publishing, 2000), 1.

07 January 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday - The Only Surviving Copy

One of the first things my grandfather gave me was his father's Army discharge. It was folded up in an envelope.

Earl Bruce Shaw served in the Army Air Corp from 1917 to 1919 as a mechanic. He was discharged as a private first class (PFC) from Post Field, Fort Sill on 19 January 1919.

I contacted the National Personal Records Center for more information on his service. Unfortunately his records were destroyed in the 1973 fire. All they had were his name, military service number, and date of separation. When they learned that I had his original discharge, the NPRC asked me for a copy, which I sent them.

    Earl B. Shaw, "Honorable Discharge from the Army of the United States," 1919; privately held by Jennifer Shaw, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], Canyon Country, CA, 2005. Passed from Earl to his son James, who gave it to his granddaughter.

06 January 2010

The Genealogical Proof Standard, step 4

    Sources don't always agree. Sometimes someone didn't really know the information they provided, other times someone out-right lied. Which source do you believe when they contain conflicting information?
    From the Genealogical Proof Standard:

    4. We resolve any conflicts caused by items of evidence that contradict each other or are contrary to a proposed (hypothetical) solution to the question [1]

    Compare the conflicting information. You need to decide which source is more reliable. First, what are you trying to prove with your information? A date of birth? The maiden name of a mother? Military service?

    Look at the analysis you did in step 3:
    • An original source has more weight than a derivative source
    • Primary information is more creditable than secondary information
    Try creating a chart comparing the information you have and the sources it came from. Also consider:
    • Who gave the information?
      • Does the grandson-in-law really know the birth information for a death certificate?
    • What is the record?
      • Are you looking at the marriage affidavit, license, certificate or return?
    • Why was the record created?
      • E.g. on a marriage affidavit someone has sworn that both parties are of legal age.
    • When was the record created?
      • A delayed birth return might be less creditable than a return made a day or two after the birth.
    Always keep in mind... 
    Sources can lie! 
    [1] The Board for Certification of Genealogist, The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual (Orem, UT: Ancestry Publishing, 2000), 1.

    02 January 2010

    The Genealogical Proof Standard, step 3

    We collect many pieces of information as we search for our ancestors. How we look at and weigh that information determines what we learn.
    The third step in the Genealogical Proof Standard:

    3.  We analyze and correlate the collected information to assess its quality as evidence.[1]

    Source - the record
    Original—first oral or recorded form; the original document, artifact, photograph, etc.
    Derivative—derived from the original, either by copying or manipulating the information (transcript, abstract, compilation, database, etc.)

    Information - content of the source
    Primary—first-hand account/knowledge of event (someone who was there). Created at or about the time the event occurred.
    Secondary—account/knowledge of someone who was not there. Someone who heard about it or was told about it later. Or someone recalling an event long after it happened.

    Evidence - our interpretation of the information; the weight we give it
    Direct—information that answers the question or solves the problem by itself; self-contained
    Indirect—information that, compiled with others, answers the question or solves the problem
    Negative—“an inference we can draw from the absence of information that should exist under particular circumstances”[2]

    Sources provide information from which we select evidence for analysis.
    - Elizabeth Shown Mills

    Other things to ponder:
    Who created the document and/or provided the information?
    What is it?
    Why was it created?
    When was the record created and/or manipulated?
    Where was it created and where is it kept?
    How was it create/reproduced/derived?

    Look at each piece of information a source provides and weigh it as evidence:

    This is the death certificate for Chloe (Nichols) Fitts. The image above is a third-generation original source (it is a digital image of a microfilm picture of the original). The informant is Chloe Taft, her daughter, and a resident of Oxford, Mass. Mrs. Fitts died 14 August 1911 in Oxford, Worcester County, Massachusetts. This information is primary, as it was recorded at the time of death by someone who was there. Her cause of death is "old age," and at "99 years, 6 months, and 6 days," it is valid, although I would list it as indirect evidence since I do not know what, exactly, she died of. The date of birth listed is 8 February 1812, which agrees with the age at death. She was born in Oxford, Mass. The birth information is secondary - her daughter was not there when she was born. The evidence is direct since it tells us exactly when and where she was born. The same analysis for her parents, John P. Nichols and Sophia Shumway: secondary and direct. Mrs. Fiits is the widow of David Fitts, who preceded her in death (primary and direct, as her daughter would have known first-hand who her father is and when he died). Chloe (Nichols) Fitts was buried 17 August 1911 at Gore Cemetery in Oxford (primary and direct). The death certificate was filed 16 August 1911.
    [1] The Board for Certification of Genealogist, The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual (Orem, UT: Ancestry Publishing, 2000), 1.
    [2] Elizabeth Shown Mills, Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace (Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Pub. Co., 2007), 25.
    [image] "Massachusetts, Death Records, 1841-1915," digital image, FamilySearch (http://pilot.familysearch.org/ : downloaded 24 September 2009), Chloe (Nichols) Fitts, death certificate no. 46, 14 August 1911, Oxford, Massachusetts; citing FHL film no. 2396049.