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# Friday, July 31, 2009
Crimes of Your Great-Grandfathers
Posted by Diane

A couple of months ago, when I was editing an article criminal ancestors for the forthcoming November 2009 Family Tree Magazine, I asked Family Tree Magazine E-mail Update newsletter readers about murders and other crimes in their family history.

Dozens of you responded with stories—some are fascinating (in a can't-look-away kind of way), some are amusing (in a gallows-humor kind of way) and some are sad. Here's a sampling of them:
  • Carol Clemens' family legend was that her great-grandfather Martin Franchetti was accidentally shot and killed by a stray bullet from a saloon brawl in 1902.
After finding references to seven newspaper articles within a couple of months, she discovered her ancestor was shot during an argument with a former boarder who’d developed a crush on Franchetti’s wife. Clemens says help from the Schenectady County Clerk’s office was invaluable in locating the perpetrator's criminal trial records.
  • Cheri Adams couldn’t find anything about her the family of her great-great-grandmother’s second husband. A Google search brought up a New York Times article stating that the husband, Elijah Godfrey, was killed while handling dynamite in his cabin. Another article revealed that the medical examiner thought it was murder. “It seems Elijah had been speaking with authorities regarding stills in the area," writes Adams, "and undoubtedly due to his loose lips, the owners of the stills took revenge.”
  • Tom Neel of the Ohio Genealogical Society found an account in a 1915 county history about John Gately, his fourth-great-grandfather from North Carolina. “Sometime after the year 1793,” Gately’s father-in-law, thinking the younger man had stolen his money, killed him.
Neel found corroboration in court records while at this year’s National Genealogical Society conference in Raleigh, NC. Turns out the aging father-in-law had misplaced his stash.
  • Domenic Parenty, great-grandfather to Janice Gianotti-Zakis, was "gunned down in the street, defending a woman" in Chicago in 1894. In 2002, she confirmed the story in police records from microfiche at Northeastern Illinois University. Now, her ancestor’s case is chronicled on the site Homicide in Chicago: 1870-1930.
  • Kathleen Anders wasn’t interested in genealogy when she found a tombstone in a Nebraska cemetery with the names of two young people who died on the same day. On a return trip, the caretaker furnished a file of newspaper clippings: Anders' great-grandfather had taken the lives of his brother and sister-in-law in 1903. Over the next two years, she found the trial transcript and interviewed people who remembered her family.
With the mystery solved, she’s turned to ancestors whose less sensational lives still deserve to be known. “I now focus on the other lines of the family that have, in their own right, great stories to be researched and written about.”
  • Carol Heap’s grandfather Frederick Hirsch, a Nassau County, NY, police officer, was killed in the line of duty May 6, 1931, by a 19-year-old nicknamed "Two Gun Crowley." Crowley was convicted and sent to Sing Sing prison in New York, where he was executed in the electric chair in 1932. Hirsch's wife raised four young children alone; Heap remembers her father saying he really missed having a Dad.
  • Connie Parott received a copy of a relative's 1970s school essay detailing her third-great grandfather's efforts to track down the murderer of his brother Thomas at a Sylamore, Ark., Christmas Eve dance in 1877.

    She found several news articles, “but to my amazement,” she writes, “the stories favored excessive details about the murderer, but nothing about the victim. The murderer had accidentally shot himself in the leg while hiding in the woods. His leg was amputated, so the newspapers had a field day describing a one-legged man hanging from the gallows.”
Forum members also posted stories and tips for researching ancestral crimes here. You'll also find advice in the previously mentioned November 2009 Family Tree Magazine, on newsstands Sept. 8.


court records | Family Tree Magazine articles | Newspapers | Social History
Friday, July 31, 2009 3:47:24 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Genealogy News Corral: July 27-31
Posted by Diane

These are some of the news bits that wandered across our desks this week:
  • First, a reminder that if you plan to subscribe to Footnote or renew your subscription, stop procrastinating. The $59.95 annual subscription sale ends at midnight tonight (July 31). Also tomorrow, the membership rate goes from $69.95 to $79.95 per year.
  • Another reminder for those who’ve been meaning to search the Caribbean slave records on Ancestry.com—the free period ends tonight. More on this collection here.
  • Speaking of Ancestry.com, the new Member Connect features—which let you comment on and correct records, as well as get in touch with other members—went live this week. Click here for more on Member Connect.
  • The FGS 09 conference is just a month away, Sept. 2-5 in Little Rock, Ark. Get news updates and registration information from the conference blog, and when you’re there, stop by to see us at the Family Tree Magazine booth (#407).
  • This from Dick Eastman’s blog: The British national archives and UK-based family history site Findmypast.com are giving seven repositories in England and Wales free online access to the recently completed 1911 census records. See Dick's post for the list of archives.

African-American roots | Ancestry.com | Footnote | Genealogy Events | UK and Irish roots
Friday, July 31, 2009 2:19:19 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Burr Oak Cemetery Tombstone Images Posted Online
Posted by Diane

The Cook County (Ill.) sherrif’s office has set up a public database to help families affected by the shocking crimes at Burr Oak Cemetery.

In July, authorities announced that about 300 graves in the historically African-American cemetery near Chicago had been dug up, the bodies dumped, and the plots resold. Four cemetery workers are accused of the crime.

Those looking for relatives’ grave sites at the cemetery can search an online database of tombstone images. So far, it has 9,500 names from the roughly 100,000 grave sites.

Searchers can type in a name or browse by year. There’s also a link to view photos of markers with unknown burial years.

Read more about this tragedy in the articles linked here.

Examiner.com's African-American genealogy writer, Michael Hait, takes a close look at the database here.


African-American roots | Cemeteries | Free Databases
Friday, July 31, 2009 2:04:29 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
Did Your Immigrant Ancestors Sail the Red Star Line?
Posted by Diane

The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation folks sent us a note on behalf of a future museum in Antwerp, Belgium, about the history of the Red Star Line.

The Red Star Line was a steamship company that transported thousands of European immigrants across the Atlantic between 1873 and 1935. Museum organizers are looking for individual stories and original photos that'll bring personal history to the museum.

If you know or are a descendant from a person who sailed the Red Star Line from Antwerp to settle in the United States, please e-mail museum staff

The museum is slated to open in 2012, but the Web site is already up and running.

Read more about the Red Star Line, get a list of ships and see photos on RedStarLine.eu. You can view postcards of ships and 1908 menu cards here.

The Belgian Roots Project explains how Red Star Line was a trade name, not a corporation. Scroll down the linked page for a fleet list, then click a ship name for a list of voyages and links to free passenger lists, when available.


immigration records | International Genealogy | Museums
Friday, July 31, 2009 8:53:03 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, July 30, 2009
The Useful Genealogy Tool With the Funny Name
Posted by Diane

It’s a special year for NUCMC (“nuk-muk”), as FamilyTreeMagazine.com Forum member Happy Dae announced in a post.

NUCMC, blessedly short for National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections, turns 50 this year.

In this free Library of Congress program, staff members enter information about the manuscript collections of participating US libraries into the WorldCat library catalog search engine—making those entries searchable by you.

See a timeline of NUCMC’s history here.

Manuscripts might be old papers, letters, diaries and more from local individuals and businesses. But these unique collections at individual libraries can be hard to locate without a program like NUCMC. 

The NUCMC Web site also gives you an interface to search the nearly 1.5 million manuscript catalog entries logged in WorldCat. Since 2006, you can search these and other types of library holdings on the WorldCat site itself—before then, only member libraries had access.

From 1959 to 1985, the NUCMC catalog was produced only as printed volumes—these entries aren’t searchable online. (Your library may have the volumes on paper or microfilm, or through a data service. See this page for more information.)

From 1986 to 1993, NUCMC records are available both online and in print. After 1993, they’re only online.

The NUCMC search is a little complex, so read the search instructions before you start.

WorldCat is more user-friendly to search, and you’ll turn up all types of materials: manuscripts as well as books, journals and more. You also can sign up for a free registration to save your searches, bookmark items and contribute reviews.

You can search both NUCMC and WorldCat on ancestors’ names, but this might not be productive because most names mentioned in a manuscript aren’t included in library catalogs. So try entering counties and towns where your ancestors lived; Civil War units; military battles or other historical events they participated in; an ethnicity, religion or country of origin; an occupation; and an employer or school.

Once you find a promising manuscript or other item, look for the subject heading assigned to the item, and click on the subject to see related materials.

It’s hard to do a comparison NUCMC/WorldCat search because the search forms are different. I got more results in NUCMC than WorldCat when I searched for archival materials with the subject Syrians—United States. So you might want to try both sites.

On WorldCat, click on a search result and then scroll down to see names of libraries that hold the item. On NUCMC, use the directions on this page to learn the name of the institution.


Libraries and Archives | Research Tips
Thursday, July 30, 2009 10:26:00 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Search Hundred Years' War Soldiers
Posted by Diane

If you’ve gotten back quite a ways in your English genealogy research—we're talking Middle Ages here—you might be interested in the Soldier in Later Medieval England project database of nearly 90,000 soldiers in the Hundred Years' War from 1369 to 1453.

The names come from muster rolls in the British national archives.  According to the project Web site, the documents “would probably have been drawn up in advance of a campaign, and then annotated at least once, during a formal muster at the port of embarkation.”

See the project Web site for more information on the muster rolls.

You can search on a first or last name, rank or several other parameters. Read the search tips before beginning.

Results show the soldier’s name, status (his title, such as esquire or baron), rank (archer, man-at-arms, etc.), captain’s and commander’s names, years served, nature of activity (“keeping of the sea,” “standing force,” etc.), a reference number for the source of the information, and a membrane (page) number.

There’s also a Protection Database of 20,000 names from letters of protection and powers of attorney between 1369 and 1453. These documents would, respectively, protect a soldier from prosecution during his absence or authorize a legal representative to act on his behalf.

Click here for information on ordering records from the British national archives.

If you should discover a Hundred Years’ War ancestor, check out the list of publications from Soldier of Later Medieval England project scholars at the University of Reading and University of Southampton.

Thanks to Tara Calishain of ResearchBuzz for this tip.


Military records | UK and Irish roots
Wednesday, July 29, 2009 9:49:37 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Jamie's family sticks together
Posted by Jamie

FTM_internlogo.jpg

I have never been happier about Uncle Sam keeping tabs on people. Due to the thorough census taking of the past, I have discovered some very peculiar attributes of my family.

In the 1930 census, my paternal grandfather was 5-years-old and living with his mother, two aunts, his grandmother Elizabeth and his grandmother’s brother Patrick. I thought this was odd, so I looked at the 1920 census and saw that Elizabeth and Patrick lived together then as well with their other sibling Mary, and Elizabeth’s spouse and children.

Elizabeth lived with her siblings her entire life. Starting with the 1870 census as Lizzie living with five other siblings, her parents and a seemingly random person named Demus who is 81. (I took a look at the original document, and saw that Demus looks more like Dennis and the age is 5/12 written over something else that I cannot make out. I then scanned the line to column 13, indicating that Denis was born the year the census was taken. This person is much more likely a baby sibling than an older relative.)

While scanning that same document I came across the right surname, Lehan, but saw Elizabeth wasn’t listed. I went down farther and saw Lehan again. Turns out four Lehan households were on that street, one right after another.

At the bottom of the census page, a Kennedy family is listed. While I was continuing research on the Lehan family, a Mary Kennedy popped up with the maiden name of Lehan. I am not quite sure which Mary Lehan married her neighbor because there were three of them that lived on that street. With an age range of 15-19, all of those Marys are close enough to the age listed for Mary Kennedy.

And that is another difficulty in my Lehan research: They all have the same name and live on the same street. On that one page of the 1870 census there are three Mary Lehans, two Cornelius Lehans, two Margaret Lehans, two Timothy Lehans, two John Lehans, two Hannah Lehans, an Eliza Lehan and an Elizabeth Lehan. This makes it difficult to keep everyone straight.

Also, in the 1880 and 1860 censuses, two Lehan families still lived on that same street. The heads of households were born in Ireland and do not appear in the 1850 census. That leads me to believe this branch of the Lehan family began immigrating after 1850 and before 1860, deciding to stick together as they began arriving in America.

The funniest part of this is that their descendants – my father and his brothers – have lived similarly to their ancestors without even knowing it. My father and uncle lived together on their own for years about 1.5 miles from their other brother, whose street adjoined theirs. When my father moved out, my two uncles continued to live that close up until about a year ago when one moved due to a fire. My uncles even went into business together. Talk about families sticking together.



Tuesday, July 28, 2009 12:28:55 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, July 27, 2009
Aug. 5 Rally Planned to Support Library of Michigan
Posted by Diane

The Michigan Genealogical Council (MGC) is organizing a public assembly in Lansing to show support for the state library and archives.

Those institutions are part of the Michigan Department of History, Arts and Libraries, which will be eliminated Oct. 1 in accordance with the governor’s July 13 executive order. Its agencies will be divvied up among other departments and may face severe cuts.

The assembly is scheduled for Wed., Aug. 5 at 9:45 a.m. on north and south lawns of the state capitol in Lansing. The state senate session begins that day at 10 a.m.

Participants will process to the Michigan Historical Center and join hands around the library (the building is about 1,800 feet around). After that, they'll meet with legislators, do genealogy research or visit the museum.

For more information on the assembly, see the press release on MGC’s Web site.

MGC also shared some facts about the Library of Michigan:
  • It has the largest collection of Michigan newspaper microfilm in the country, with more than 1,700 titles covering all 83 counties and 400 cities, townships and villages.

  • It has the state's largest collection of Michigan city directories.

  • The Michigan Collection has copies of resources for lending through interlibrary loan.

  • The Gorski collection, of resources for Michigan’s Polish heritage, isn’t available elsewhere.

  • The library funds the Michigan Electronic Library, which includes databases Michigan residents can use from home.

  • The library's collection also focuses on the Great Lakes region, New England, the Mid-Atlantic, and the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Ontario.

Libraries and Archives
Monday, July 27, 2009 9:38:14 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Friday, July 24, 2009
Genealogy News Corral: July 20-24
Posted by Diane

This week sure flew by, didn’t it? Here’s our news news roundup:
  • New records this week on the free FamilySearch Record Search Pilot  include an index to Cheshire, England, Non-conformist records (1671 to 1900), and index to the 1895 Minnesota state census, and images for the 1905 New York state census (the index is still in progress).
New indexing projects are underway for Italy, New Zealand, Perú and the United States; volunteers who can help with foreign language projects are needed. Go to the FamilySearch Indexing site for more information.
  • The International Association of Jewish Genealogists conference is coming right up Aug. 2-7 in Philadelphia. Besides genealogy classes and an exhibit hall, you can use a Resource Room stocked with research materials and computers. Extracurriculars include walking tours, bus tours and cemetery research trips. Visit the conference Web site for registration information.
  • Ancestry.com has upgraded its “hinting engine” for FamilyTreeMaker. Now a faster, higher-capacity engine will automatically search Ancestry.com and display a leaf next to a name in FamilyTreeMaker's pedigree and detail views if there's a potential match. The new engine also searches Ancestry Member Trees instead of One World Tree data.


Ancestry.com | Canadian roots | FamilySearch | Free Databases | Genealogy Events | International Genealogy | Jewish roots
Friday, July 24, 2009 2:25:54 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Thursday, July 23, 2009
Finding Family History in Digital Memory Projects
Posted by Diane

State archives, county historical societies, libraries and other organizations across the country are preserving the history of ordinary people in free online collections of photos, letters, stories and historical documents.

You might find something about a relative in one of these collections. You’ll almost certainly get a good picture of your ancestor's life. Here's a sampling of digital memory sites (I had to stop myself from spending all day surfing for more!) followed by tips on finding a collection relevant to your family:
  • Allen County Community Album: Images at this Allen County Public Library-hosted site portray people and places in Northeastern Indiana. The library’s well-known Genealogy Center also has an Our Military Heritage site with records and photos from researchers across the country.
  • Arizona Memory Project: Collections come from the Catholic Diocese of Tucson, Arizona Jewish Historical Society, state archives, City of Glendale, Gila County and others.
  • Documenting Arkansas: This site's content relates to the Civil War, 1927 Mississippi River flood and other events.
  • Maine Memory Network: More than 200 organizations have contributed materials to this site, which also supports similar projects for Maine communities such as Bath and Isleboro.
  • Montana Memory Project: Cattle brand books, the Fergus County Heritage Book and Rocky Mountain College yearbooks are a few of the resources you'll find here.

  • Terrace Park, Ohio, Building Survey: A local genealogist maintains this site on the history of buildings in an Ohio neighborhood. It has photos, deeds, census and land records, residents' names and more.
  • The Valley of the Shadow: Censuses, church records, letters, diaries and newspaper articles detail life in two communities—Franklin County, Pa., in the North and Augusta County, Va., in the South—before, during and after the Civil War.
Also explore the digital collections on our 101 Best Web sites list, including Seeking Michigan, the Florida Memory Project, Missouri Digital Heritage and the Library of Congress' American Memory.

To find collections related to your ancestors’ lives, look for links to a memory project or digital archive on Web sites for the state archives, local libraries or local historical society. Many projects are listed on Cyndi's List country, state and local pages; as well as USGenWeb state and county pages.

Also try running a Google search on digital history or memory project plus the town, county or state name, or a topic such as Civil War or pioneer.

Click Comments below to share a link to your favorite digital memory project.


Genealogy Web Sites | Libraries and Archives | Research Tips | Social History
Thursday, July 23, 2009 8:57:45 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [6]