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Tuesday, July 30, 2013
It's "Who Do You Think You Are?" Night!
Posted by Diane
Remember to sit yourself down in front of the TV or set your DVR
tonight for "Who
Do you Think You Are?" with actress Christina Applegate. It
airs at 9 p.m. (8 p.m. Central) on TLC (and it looks like each
episode will become available for viewing online).
I look forward to Tuesdays now not just because genealogy's on TV, but also because I get to pick what we watch. "It's for work" is a pretty good excuse.
In this preview video for the episode, Applegate is surprised to
learn her grandparents had a troubled relationship and separated
before her father was born.
"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots | Videos
Tuesday, July 30, 2013 9:29:59 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Monday, July 29, 2013
The Mystery Men in the Family Plot: Turning Genealogy Clues Into Answers
Posted by Diane
More than a year ago, I visited my great-great-grandparents'
family cemetery plot in Cincinnati. I knew who would be buried there: besides my great-grandparents
H. A. and Frances Seeger and six of their children, there were
Frances' parents, Joseph and A. Marie Ladenkotter.
But when I got there, I also found these two guys:
Who were Joseph and John Dierkes?
My search for their identities involved using online and offline clues,
as Lisa Alzo suggests in our Turn
Online Clues Into Ancestor Answers webinar.
Clue No. 1
Lisa advises formulating a theory to explain a genealogical
problem. After comparing the Dierkes boys' birth years to those of
the Ladenkotter girls, I theorized that the boys were A. Marie's sons from a previous marriage. But they also could've been her much younger brothers, or nephews to her or Joseph Ladenkotter, or even nonrelatives.
I noted that a Joseph and a John Dierkes lived
in the Ladenkotter household in the 1850 and 1860 census. Besides
my great-great-grandmother Frances Ladenkotter (really Francisca), born in
1852, there was an Elizabeth Ladenkotter, born in 1846.
My census searches for other Dierkes in Cincinnati turned up
lots of results. I gave up looking at them; there was no way to
tell if any of them were related to John and Joseph.
Clue No. 2
I put on my big-girl genealogist pants and
searched the 1840 census. That census is scary because it names
only heads of household. Everyone else was counted within age ranges, so it's hard to tell if you've found the right family. (We have a video
class about how to research in the 1840 and earlier censuses.)
I found a household for a Joseph Dierkes, containing a male
aged 30-39 (that's Joseph) and a female age 30-39. A. Marie
was born in May 1812, according to her gravestone, so she would be
28 when the 1840 census was taken June 1. That and the faded
census return made this not a slam dunk.
Clue No. 3
Haphazard web searches led me to the Hamilton County Genealogical
Society's (HCGS) online marriage
index, with information found in newspaper notices, church
records, probate court records and reconstructed court records
(there was an 1884
riot at the courthouse). An Anna Maria Dirkers and a Joseph
Ladenkotter married between 1840 and 1849, according to church
The printed book from which the online index came gave the exact marriage date, May 4, 1845. If the Dierkes boys were A. Marie's sons from a previous
marriage, this marriage date would fall nicely into a gap between
the children's birth years.
Clue No. 4
If Dierkes (or Dirkers) was Anna Maria's maiden name, the boys were probably her relatives, not sons.
I requested the marriage record from the church.
A volunteer sent me the information from the record
(the books are too old and fragile to copy)—the marriage place and
date, the priest's name, and the names of two witnesses, Herman
Henrik Meyer and Maria Hinken. No name other than Dirkers for the bride, although those
witnesses could be related.
Clue No. 5
I felt stuck. There was more haphazard
searching. Then I found an entry for Anna Maria Ladenkötter
in HCGS online death
indexes from newspapers. I noticed a name several blank
columns away: Weyer. I held my breath and scrolled all the way up
the page. Yes, this was a maiden name column. I hadn't thought about a
death notice giving a maiden name.
The notice was from microfilmed German-language
newspapers. Through the HCGS website, I found a researcher
familiar with German and hired him to get a copy. Eight death notices (I got other
relatives' notices while I was at it) ended up
costing about $50, worth it for something that would've taken me all day and maybe then some. He could have translated
them, too, but I wanted to try it.
I'm still working on that, but it's easy to tell the notice gives the name as "Anna Maria
Ladenkötter geb. Weyer." Geb. is an abbreviation of the German word for "born."
betting that male witness to her 1845 marriage is really Herman
John and Joseph Dierkes are very likely Anna Maria Weyer's
sons from her first marriage. What would really clinch this—here's
where my strategy for turning
these online clues into ancestor answers comes in—is to find
her marriage record to Joseph Dierkes, death notices for Joseph
Dierkes (naming his survivors) or the boys (I have scoured
the HCGS index for these, to no avail), and/or baptismal records
for the Dierkes boys.
... And More Questions
I also want to learn why the boys died (just a few years before
Cincinnati birth and death registers began). Civil War, I thought,
but I can't find them in the Soldiers
and Sailors Database or other Civil War records. That's
another genealogical problem to tackle.
The recording of our Turning
Online Clues into Ancestor Answers webinar will be available soon in ShopFamilyTree.com.
You'll also find online genealogy research strategies in the book Discover Your Family History Online by Nancy Hendrickson.
Cemeteries | Research Tips | Webinars
Monday, July 29, 2013 11:36:43 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Friday, July 26, 2013
Genealogy News Corral, July 22-26
Posted by Diane
- Royal genealogy has been a hot topic on the interwebs since
the birth of Prince George of Cambridge Monday bumped his Uncle
Prince Harry out of the No. 3 spot in the line
of successtion to the British throne. MyHeritage
has the Royal Family Tree here. I found the Modern View
easier to use; you can use the tabs at the bottom of the page to
toggle between this and the Classic View. Click on a person to
see details about him or her on the left.
- Ancestry.com has updated its free Shoebox Mobile App
(for Android and iPhone), acquired along with 1000memories in
2012. The photo "scanning" app lets you take high-quality photos
of your family photos and documents, map their location, and
edit, date, and tag them. If you have an Ancestry Member Tree,
you can then upload the images to the profile of someone in your
tree. Learn more about
the app here.
Ancestry.com | Celebrity Roots | findmypast | Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | Jewish roots | MyHeritage | Photos
Friday, July 26, 2013 11:10:33 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
How to Turn Online Genealogy Clues into Ancestor Answers
Posted by Diane
Doesn't it seem sometimes like everyone else gets lucky in their
online genealogy searches, producing family tree revelations with
a few taps on the keyboard? While your searches turn up only the
400 other Michael Smiths in your ancestor's neighborhood?
We're presenting a special edition webinar that'll help you work
through web searches and small clues to put together answers about
your ancestor's life.
Online Clues Into Ancestor Answers, veteran genealogist Lisa
A. Alzo will show you how to:
- formulate a step-by-step online research strategy
- set realistic expectations for what you might find online
- work around the shortcomings of internet research to follow
clues to your ancestor's identity
This 30-minute presentation is Tuesday, July 30, at 7 p.m. ET (6
p.m. CT, 5 p.m. MT, 4 p.m. PT). Your $29.99 registration includes
a PDF of the presentation slides and access to view the recorded
session as many times as you like (that goes even if you're
registered but you can't attend on Tuesday).
Find out more about the special-edition Turn
Online Clues Into Ancestor Answers in ShopFamilyTree.com.
Friday, July 26, 2013 11:09:17 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
A Short Quiz on Royal Roots
Posted by Diane
I'm not too cool to be excited about the royal baby. I'm not going to send a present or anything, but a healthy baby welcomed by the world is happy news for a change. And babies are
And I could be related to the son of the Duke and Duchess of
Cambridge. Well, OK, according to the genealogy research I've done so far, the odds I have royal roots are pretty slim.
might have better chances: More than 60 percent of Americans are
descended from royalty, according to Gary Boyd Roberts, author of The
Royal Descents of 500 Immigrants (Genealogical Publishing
Please note I'm not knocking plebian roots (that's what I have). I find all
types of family trees equally interesting, and very occasionally equally
So let's welcome His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge with
a short quiz about royal roots. Answers are below:
1. True or false: An ancestor with a title such as duke, earl or
baron means you come from royalty.
2. If you're American, your chances of finding a royal ancestor are
a. You come from German stock
3. The British royal family adopted a fixed surname
b. Your ancestors were potato famine immigrants
c. You go back to New England Puritans, Pennsylvania Quakers or
a. by about 1400, same as most others families in England
4. Good resources for researching royal roots include (choose all
b. in 1917
c. in 1952
d. last year
a. Burke's Peerage and Baronetage (two volumes) edited by
Roots of Certain American Colonists Who Came to America Before
1700 by Frederick Lewis Weis
c. Jones genealogy: a Welsh family with the ancestry, and some
of the descendants of Rev. Rowland Jones, first Pastor of Bruton
Parish, Virginia, connected by marriage with President George
Washington by Gustave Anjou
1. False. The term “royalty” applies to the rulers
(kings, queens, princes, princesses) and their immediate families.
Nobles are the families of high and hereditary rank, often
descendants of kings' younger sons, but not always related by blood
to royalty. Moreover, being noble didn't necessarily mean you got a
2. c. The immigrants who brought royal blood with them to the New
World were most likely Puritans settling in New England, Quakers
(often Welsh) in Pennsylvania, Scots in mid-Atlantic states, and
Anglican “cavaliers” to Tidewater Maryland, Virginia and South
Carolina. If you have a sizable number—50 to 100—of immigrant relatives in one or more of these areas, you “can expect to find a
royally descended forebear,” Boyd says.
3. b. 1917. Before then, members of the British royal family had no
surname, but only the name of the house or dynasty to which they
belonged. In 1917, WWI anti-German sentiment prompted George V, of
the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, to adopt Windsor as his surname. “Windsor” came from the castle of that name. In 1952,
Elizabeth II’s surname and that of her descendants was modified to
Mountbatten-Windsor, adding her husband Prince Philip’s surname.
4. a and b. Avoid genealogies by Gustav Anjou (1863-1942), known for
falsifying the family histories he wrote for clients.
Our guide to researching your genealogy connections to royalty is in
2011 Discover Your Roots, available in
Celebrity Roots | Genealogy fun
Wednesday, July 24, 2013 2:28:30 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
You Don't Have to Be Kelly Clarkson to Research Your Civil War Ancestor
Posted by Diane
Did you watch “Who Do You Think You Are?” last night?
In the season
premiere on TLC, singer Kelly Clarkson traced her
third-great-grandfather Isaiah Rose from Marietta,
Ohio, to his imprisonment at the notorious
Andersonville Civil War prison, and back home after his escape. There,
he served as county sheriff and a state senator.
story is common: Lots of
Americans have Civil War soldier ancestors, many of whom were held
at Andersonville and other prisons. The genealogy research is very doable—and
you don’t have to drive around the country like Clarkson did, or meet with a slew of
Civil War experts.
It’s neat for "WDYTYA?" viewers to see the original historical
records, but the same records Clarkson used are available online or
by ordering from repositories. For example:
- Civil War battle reports, such as the one from the 63rd
Ohio that a researcher showed Clarkson at the DeKalb (Ga.) History
Center, are part of the The War
of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of
the Union and Confederate Armies, also called the
OR. You can use the OR online, or just run a web search of the
battle name and "battle report."
- Civil War prison rolls and registers are at the
National Archives in Record Group 249, Records of the Commissary
General of Prisoners. Ancestry.com has a
database of Andersonville prisoners and another database
of records from several Civil War prisons.
FamilySearch.org has digitized
NARA microfilm M1303, Selected Records of the War
Department Commissary General of Prisoners Relating to Federal
Prisoners of War Confined at Andersonville, GA, 1864-65.
- On her second visit to the Ohio Historical Society, Clarkson
saw Isaiah Rose's Civil War pension application records.
Subscription site Fold3.com
has some digitized Civil War pension records, but for
need to order the records from the National Archives for a
Note that many public libraries and FamilySearch
Centers offer patrons the use of Fold3 and Ancestry Library
Edition for free.
These are just a few of the available resources for tracing
your Civil War ancestor. You'll find many more Civil War genealogy
resources, tools and how-to information in Family
Tree Magazine's Civil War Genealogy Value Pack, which
happens to be on sale now—click
here to learn more about it.
All that driving from place to place adds historical interest to the show, but it's not realistic for most of us. Thank goodness it's also not necessary for researching in Civil War records.
PS: TLC shared on Facebook where you can watch the whole episode online.
"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots | Civil War | Libraries and Archives | NARA
Wednesday, July 24, 2013 9:59:15 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Online Public Access Search Replaces NARA's Archival Research Catalog
Posted by Diane
The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is shutting down its 10-year-old Archival Research
Catalog (ARC) on Aug. 15. ARC catalogs the archives' holdings,
with links to holdings that are digitized online.
It's being replaced by NARA's Online Public
Access (OPA) search, which combines several searches from the website:
You can use OPA to identify holdings that relate to
your genealogical search and access digitized records. OPA also provides access to nearly a million electronic records
in the Electronic Records Archives, with more to be added. And it searches the websites of the National Archives and the
presidential libraries for web pages with terms related to your
Your OPA search results are grouped into categories based on the type of
search tips are here. NARA also plans to provide
tips for searching OPA on its NARAtions blog. Here's what the
Basic OPA search form looks like.
- Online Holdings: Search results including digital
copies of records.
- Description Only: Descriptions of records NARA holds
that are related to your search terms. To see the actual record, you would need to request
copies from NARA, go there yourself, or hire a local researcher
to search for the record you need.
- Archives.gov: Web pages on Archives.gov with matches to
your search terms.
- Presidential Libraries: Web pages on presidential
library websites with matches to your search terms.
- Authority Records: NARA's website describes these as
"Organization and Person authority records from the Organization
Authority File and Person Authority File in ARC. These contain
organizational histories and personal biographies." From what I
gather, authority sources are sources
The Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names) that were used
to index descriptions in ARC. The "organizational histories and
personal biographies" are in the sources themselves, not part of
search for a name, a research topic such as Civilian
Conservation Corps (maybe if your grandfather was a CCC worker) or a
record type you want to find out more about, such as War of 1812
I ran a search on a surname I'm searching, Seeger. My results included nine Online Holdings. One is a recent photo
including a person named Seeger, and two are digitized 1918 Alien
Application Permits for men named Seeger. Not my relatives, as far
as I can tell, but in case they could be yours: They lived in
Atchison, Kan., and it looks like they were born in Düsseldorf, Germany.
I also received 84 Description Only results, 13 results from
the Archives.gov website, 20 results from presidential library sites and five
Go here to try your own OPA search.
From the Social Security Administration to the FBI, what US federal agencies might have genealogical records of your ancestors? And how do you find them? Check out our guide to researching your genealogy in US government records.
NARA | Research Tips
Tuesday, July 23, 2013 8:58:14 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Friday, July 19, 2013
Genealogy News Corral, July 15-19
Posted by Diane
- Thomas MacEntee of GeneaBloggers
and High-Definition Genealogy
has launched a new website, Hack
Genealogy. With the tagline, "Repurposing today's
technology for tomorrow's genealogy," it'll focus on emerging
technology inside and outside the genealogy industry, and how it
applied to your family history research.
- The Civil War Trust has released a Civil War In4
video series to answer frequently asked questions about
the American Civil War in a modern, digestible format, and in
four minutes. So far, the series has 13 videos; watch them at civilwar.org/in4.
- The General
Society of Mayflower Descendants has named its first ever
executive director, Walter Louis Powell. The appointment comes
after a yearlong search, and is part of a program to modernize
the 116-year-old organization. Powell has worked as an historic
preservation consultant, and as a visiting history instructor
and interim director of the George Tyler Moore Center for the
Study of the Civil War at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown,
Civil War | FamilySearch | Genealogy societies | Genealogy Web Sites
Friday, July 19, 2013 9:11:01 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Thursday, July 18, 2013
Genealogy Tools for Tracing Ancestors Across the USA|
Posted by Diane
Hey, fellow US family history sleuths! This Family Tree Magazine
July genealogy value pack celebrates your American heritage with
resources to trace your ancestors all across the USA.
Genealogy Value Pack includes:
You'll get place-based research guidance, resource listings and maps
for every US state, detailed county-level source information, help
with municipal records, and demos of strategies for finding Patriot
- our popular CD of State Research Guides for every US
state, newly revised and updated with the latest information and
- the Family Tree Sourcebook: Your Essential Directory of
American County and Town Resources
- our City Genealogy Guides e-book, with essential
research advice for 31 cities across the United States
- our Researching Revolutionary Ancestors video class
with D. Joshua Taylor (yes, the Josh Taylor you've seen revealing
ancestral information to Sarah Jessica Parker, Kelly
Clarkson and other "Who Do You Think You Are?" guests)
Genealogy Value Pack is on sale in July for $49.99—that's 66%
it out in ShopFamilyTree.com.