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<2007 July>

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# Monday, 30 July 2007
Search Lower Canada Land Petitions Free Online
Posted by Diane

A new Library and Archives Canada land petition database can help you find ancestors who lived in Lower Canada (where present-day Quebec is) between 1764 and 1841.

When New France became a British colony in 1763, the land-distribution system changed. New lands were now granted as part of townships instead of as seigneuries (the term for land the Crown granted to landlords, who in turn leased it to settlers).

With the change, many settlers submitted land petitions to the governor. The Lower Canada Land Petitions database indexes their petitions for grants or leases of land, as well as other administrative records. The site contains more than 95,000 references to individuals.

Search it by surname and given name. Try spelling variations and surname-only searches, since there’s no Soundex searching.

Some records are linked to digitized images, but in most cases, matches show a year, volume and page number of the original record, and a microfilm number. Use the information to request microfilm copies from the Bibliothèque et Archives Nationales du Québec (Quebec national archives).

You can access the Canadian national archives' Lower Canada Land Petitions and other databases from the Canadian Genealogy Centre Web site.

Canadian roots | Genealogy Web Sites | Research Tips
Monday, 30 July 2007 08:34:59 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 27 July 2007
Funny Census Entries From Readers
Posted by Diane

We got a kick out of the funny census listings Family Tree Magazine readers submitted for the September 2007 All in the Family column. I wish we had enough space to print them all in the magazine.

But there's plenty of space here, so I offer these additional humorous census entries to brighten up your Friday (to submit ancestral look-alikes to the current All in the Family contest, see the Talk to Us Forum): 

Madison P. Glenn was born in February 1869, in Van Wert County, Ohio. Madison was 4 months old when the census enumerator visited and marked column 5 (for sex) as F/M.

Madison’s gender must have been a mystery to the parents Clark and Elizabeth Glenn, to my fourth-great-uncle and -aunt, or to the neighbor who might’ve helped complete the form. Since Madison isn’t listed in any later censuses, we never did find out how things developed.
Cherie P. Bowers
Byron, Mich.

My favorite census entry exhibits the creativity enumerators used when families weren't at home. I can't help but wonder, what if this family had had 10 children? What if they’d been Irish or Italian? What would the enumerator have come up with instead? From the 1889 Washington Territorial census:

Name of Persons          Nativity
Dutchman, Mr.            Germany
------- , Mrs.                   "
------- , Little                  "
------- , Small                 "
------- , Smaller              "
------- , Smallest             "
Lisa Oberg
Shoreline, Wash.

Another gender-bender
My grandmother's family of nine siblings was known for playing jokes on each other. Once, my great-uncle Llewellyn Brown (born 1882) was lampooned in a formal manner. In the 1901 Canadian census, I found Loouella instead of Llewellyn. I thought it might've been a spelling error, but he was also listed as dtr. My guess is Llewellyn’s sisters were less interested in the accuracy of the official census than in perpetuating another round of family humor.
Marie Tovell Walker
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Was her mother named Goose?
The funniest name I've come across in the census is a woman named Bo Peep, listed in the 1910 census of Harrison County, WV, with her husband Lee Maxwell. I did a little further research and sure enough, there she was in a West Virginia marriage index: Bo Peep K. Smith. Her husband was a farmer; I wonder if he raised sheep?
Maggie DeFazio
Pittsburgh, Pa.

Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy fun
Friday, 27 July 2007 10:44:39 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, 24 July 2007
Search Online Mortality Schedules for Free
Posted by Diane

Bill Cribbs, the man behind the free genealogy search engine site, has gathered hundreds of counties’ online transcribed mortality schedules and made them searchable at

For the 1850 through 1880 US censuses, enumerators recorded names of and other details about people who’d died within the past year. These mortality schedules may be the only death record for some people, especially in states that didn’t require recording of deaths until later.

You can browse by state or search on one or more keywords, such as a name or place. (If you want matches to contain more than one keyword, select “Find all words” from the dropdown menu.)

When you click on a match, you'll be taken to the Web site that stores the transcribed records. What you see varies depending how the data was transcribed and digitized.

You may get a chart or a text file listing a few details of deaths in that enumeration district, or you may get the whole shebang: the deceased’s age and marital status at death; death date, place and cause; birth date and place; physician’s name; parents’ birthplaces and more.

This 1880 schedule is on one of the chock-full-of-data library Web sites recommended in the September 2007 Family Tree Magazine Indiana State Research Guide:

Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy Web Sites | Research Tips
Tuesday, 24 July 2007 14:49:08 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, 23 July 2007
NYG&B Update: Member Voting Eliminated
Posted by Diane

At the New York Genealogical & Biographical Society’s (NYG&B) July 19 meeting, a proposal to change the bylaws to eliminate member voting passed. The tally was 1,401 in favor to 227 opposed.

Decision-making authority now rests with the nonprofit’s 15-member board of trustees. Read our coverage of the controversial proposal and NYG&B chairman Waddell Stillman’s comments.

We’ve heard (but haven’t confirmed) that several members may file a class action lawsuit and/or ask the New York attorney general to investigate the vote, based on member assertions they didn’t receive proxy ballots in the mail.

The contentious meeting (read an eyewitness account from attendee and proposal opponent Dick Hillenbrand) shed no light on the board’s plans for the society’s library and other assets. A synogogue recently purchased the NYG&B headquarters and will lease space to the society for two years.

Genealogy societies
Monday, 23 July 2007 09:31:24 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 20 July 2007
Traditional Recipes: Burgoo, Anyone?
Posted by Diane

Our Family Tree Magazine coworker Kathy, who has deep roots across the Ohio River in Kentucky, is yawning from a weekend preparing burgoo for the family reunion cookoff she dreamed up.

Burgoo is a big thing around here, but somehow I hadn’t heard of it. It’s a thick stew that's traditional in Kentucky, especially at church festivals. (This 1900 postcard shows group burgoo preparation.) It's even served at the Kentucky Derby alongside mint juleps.

The ingredients list spans the barnyard, with beef, chicken and pork. Vegetables include potatoes, corn and five kinds of beans; pickling spices and hot sauce are among the seasonings. The chef can substitute freely and toss in pretty much anything on hand, though, then cook it for a day or so.

Kathy’s recipe originally made 75 gallons. She cut it down but still ended up with enough for most of the tri-state area (and several lucky coworkers).

She had to do some research to adapt measures and cooking methods to modern times. For example, the recipe called for a “number 10 can” each of ketchup and tomatoes. A Google search gave the equivalent: 6 lbs, 6oz (that’s a lot of Heinz).

Apparently Kathy’s relatives got really excited about the cookoff. One family spent all Saturday together, some out back roasting meat and others inside peeling potatoes. (That clan won a ladle and bragging rights.)

A little good-natured cooking competition can spice up a ho-hum family reunion and beef up the family history element. Need help gathering and preparing old recipes? The December 2004 Family Tree Magazine features an article all about that, and offers an excerpt plus a handy old-fashioned-to-new-fashioned measurement conversion guide.

And if you just have to make burgoo right now, here are some recipes.

Family Reunions | Family Tree Magazine articles
Friday, 20 July 2007 15:01:53 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Thursday, 19 July 2007
FamilySearch Adds Jewish Genealogy Resource Page
Posted by Diane

FamilySearch has created a new page especially for people researching Jewish ancestors.

The page links to the new Knowles Collection, information genealogical author Isobel Mordy compiled on thousands of Jews from the British Isles. You can download the database as a GEDCOM to open and view in your genealogy software. FamilySearch staffers are adding to the database regularly.

Other resources include an updated Jewish genealogy research outline, a Jewish records guide and links to other Jewish research Web sites.

Genealogy Web Sites
Thursday, 19 July 2007 08:31:32 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 18 July 2007
New Group Aims to Keep Public Records Open
Posted by Diane

Five genealogists have started the Keep Genealogical Records Open Workgroup (KGROW). Their goal is to educate government officials and the public about the truth behind identity theft- and terror-related efforts to close public records.

“We find there’s no evidence that open public records contribute to identity theft or terrorism to any measurable degree," says KGROW co-chair Jean Foster Kelley.

Her statement echoes the December 2006 Family Tree Magazine special report on public records (available as a PDF file at Our research indicates public records pose little identity theft risk; the major culprits are stolen financial documents and corporate data breaches.

States have passed 616 record closure laws since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. Now state public records laws must comply with the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, which could negatively impact your attempts to find relatives’ birth and death records. States can—but aren’t required to—make concessions for genealogical research.

KGROW, a project of the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) Florida chapter, will prepare a position paper and solicit support from the APG, news media and other organizations.

For more on public records access, see Family Tree Magazine's December 2006 special report. If you know of a threat to records access in your state (such as excessive fee hikes or record restrictions and closures), inform your fellow researchers on the new Public Records Alert Forum.

Public Records
Wednesday, 18 July 2007 13:54:25 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, 16 July 2007
NYG&B Chairman Comments on Controversy
Posted by Diane

After speaking with New York Genealogical & Biographical Society (NYG&B) board chairman Waddell Stillman, I’m updating Friday’s coverage of the controversial proposal to eliminate member voting.

The proposal is a response to members’ attempts to stop the sale of the society’s headquarters building (finalized in March), but Stillman says it’s not retaliation. “We’re updating our form of governance so the society isn’t exposed to a repeat of the loss of funds. If we stood by and ignored the six-figure loss we incurred, we’d be shirking our duties as fiduciaries.”

NYG&B trustees say “a handful” of members delayed the sale, causing a loss of investment income based on the $24 million sale price.

If passed, the proposal will do away with proxy voting system, which Stillman says New York State laws require. (The society must mail ballots to members, who can send back their votes, cast votes at a meeting, or designate meeting attendees to vote on their behalf.) If the proposal passes, the board would appoint new officers rather than hold elections.

Before issuing the proposal, NYGB’s board surveyed other non-profit organizations and consulted with the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS), whose members passed a similar measure—after a similar debate—several years ago. NEHGS has an advisory board in addition to its board of directors. “I wouldn’t know what our board would say about adopting that structure, because we didn’t fully consider it,” says Stillman.

He says NYG&B members will still have access to the group’s services and online resources, though he doesn’t yet know what the society will do with its research collections and financial assets. (The board has two years from the building sale date to move.) “After we take care of housekeeping matters and governance … we will face those huge questions and we’ll benefit from all the debate.”

That debate won’t lead to reduced membership, he predicts. “I think people will act in their self-interest and then continue to enjoy the benefits of membership.”

Stillman also posted to Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter blog—visit to read his and others' comments.

Genealogy Industry | Genealogy societies
Monday, 16 July 2007 16:09:11 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 13 July 2007
NYG&B Controversy: Members Decry Voting Proposal
Posted by Diane

A simmering dispute within the New York Genealogical & Biographical Society (NYG&B) has risen to a boil as the society’s 5,000 members consider a proposal from the Board of Directors to divest themselves of voting privileges.
The dispute began in September 2006, when the board voted to sell the society’s 58th Street headquarters in New York City. In a letter to members, chairman Henry C.B. Lindh cited a shortage of funds for crucial building upgrades, and said that a sale would let the organization focus on the "research and education that are the core of [its] mission."

Members voted to approve the sale at an Oct. 12 meeting, and beforehand by proxy. The society hasn’t announced its new home, but is permitted to remain in the building for two years
In January, at least one member suggested, in a note on Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter blog, that a mail merge glitch may have prevented some members from receiving proxy vote letters. President William C. Johns sent a response denying a problem occurred and calling the e-mail “a fishing expedition attempting to identify any reason to delay or thwart the approved transaction.” (Johns hasn’t yet responded to voice mail messages left today.)
Members launched an e-mail campaign to protest the sale before the New York Supreme Court approval hearing, but the Hampton Synagogue's $24 million purchase of the building was finalized.
In June, the NYG&B sent members and proxy voting materials and a letter about the proposal to remove their voting privileges and leave decision-making power with the 15-member board of directors. (The New England Historic Genealogical Society operates in a similar way, but it has both a board of directors and a larger advisory board.)

In the letter, board chairman Waddell W. Stillman said passing the proposal would streamline the society’s operations and allow faster response to challenges and opportunities. About the NYG&B building sale, he added, “A handful of members, acting to thwart the unanimous vote of the board of trustees and overwhelming vote of the membership, delayed the sale for months. The NY State Supreme Court felt obligated to hear these few dissenters out, long after the NY State Attorney General had endorsed the sale, because our governance system gives each individual member legal standing to object to a proposed action.”

The full proposal was available by request and on the NYG&B Web site members-only section.
That’s when members’ e-mails and message board postings really began to fly, all encouraging members to vote down the proposal. (Supporters of the measure have been quiet.) Some examples we found:  
Their messages express concern over the directors’ intentions for the society’s assets, which now include $24 million in addition to the library, online resources, and publications and education programs.
In-person voting on the proposal will take place at a July 19 meeting at the NYG&B headquarters. We’ll keep you updated.

Genealogy Industry | Genealogy societies
Friday, 13 July 2007 16:46:12 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Hamburg Museum Details Emigrants' Experience
Posted by Diane

Between 1850 and 1939, more than 5 million Europeans left for the New World via Hamburg, Germany. They're honored in that city’s BallinStadt Port of Dreams museum, which opened July 4.

The museum is in a reconstruction of BallinStadt, an emigration facility—amenities included living quarters, churches, a synagogue and a kosher dining hall—that served 2 million emigrants. (The original building was destroyed during World War II.) Most of those outbound passengers were Eastern Europeans.

Exhibits relate the journeys of specific emigrants. Walk up to life-size models of the passengers, and they’ll “speak” about their migration experiences.

Similar to the Ellis Island museum we enjoy stateside, BallinStadt’s main entrance hall boasts a family history center. Visitors can search genealogical databases including Hamburg emigrants. Unlike Ellis Island, though, the Hamburg emigration lists aren’t free on BallinStadt's Web site. Instead, the site directs you to, where the records are part of the $155.40-per-year US Deluxe records collection.

The Family History Library in Salt Lake City has microfilm of the lists, called Auswandererlisten 1850-1934. You can borrow the film through your local Family History Center.

Read more about Hamburg and other ports' emigration records in the February 2006 Family Tree Magazine.

Read these articles for more information on the BallinStadt museum:

Research Tips | Social History
Friday, 13 July 2007 09:03:28 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]