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More Links

# Friday, 27 February 2015
Genealogy News Corral: Feb. 23-27
Posted by Diane

  • Subscription site Findmypast added several new UK, Irish and Australian record collections for Findmypast Friday, including 1832 cholera victims, British Trade Union membership registers,  Irish newspapers, New South Wales cemetery transcriptions and more. Read more about the updated databases on the Findmypast Fridays home page.

FamilySearch | findmypast | Genealogy Events | Genealogy TV | UK and Irish roots
Friday, 27 February 2015 15:41:26 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 24 February 2015
Group Genealogy Effort Underway to ID Mystery Photo of Buffalo Soldiers
Posted by Diane

Genealogist Luckie Daniels, a blogger at Our Georgia Roots, is leading an effort to identify a recently discovered mystery photo of African-American Buffalo Soldiers.

(Here's a larger version of the image.)

A Taos, NM, woman discovered the old photo sandwiched behind an illustration in a cheap frame she'd purchased years ago at an estate sale in Los Angeles. (A good reminder to look inside old framed images you might be planning to get rid of.) An auction house appraiser told her the 10 men in military uniforms were members of the US Cavalry, 9th Regiment, Company G.

The Buffalo Soldiers were the first peacetime all-black regiments of the regular US Army. They originally were members of the 10th Cavalry Regiment, raised in 1866, but eventually included the 9th Cavalry, 24th Infantry and 25th Infantry regiments.

Historians disagree on exactly how they came to be called "Buffalo Soldiers," a name that likely originated from the Indians these soldiers were known for fighting. 

When the owner of the photo recently visited the Taos News for an interview about the image, Daniels, a staff member there, happened to be nearby. She started the blog Where Honor Is Due to centralize the efforts of interested researchers across the country. "All insights and leads are welcome," she says.

The blog's most recent post shares an image of 9th Cavalry Troop L wearing baseball uniforms, spotted in a video produced by the New Mexico History Museum and PBS, which might help narrow a time frame and location for the mystery photo. Buffalo Soldiers began playing competitive baseball around the 1890s.

You'll find a good introduction to this story on the Taos News website, and you can keep up with the ongoing research at Where Honor Is Due (here's the first post).

African-American roots | Military records | Photos
Tuesday, 24 February 2015 10:37:56 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Friday, 20 February 2015
Genealogy News Corral: Feb. 16-20
Posted by Diane

  • MyHeritage is adding millions of Scandinavian genealogy records to its collections, most of which aren't available anywhere else online. The entire 1930 Danish census (which includes Greenland and the Faroe Islands) is now on the site. All other available Danish censuses from 1787 to 1930 will be added over the next two years, as well as parish records from 1646 to 1915.
Also being added are Swedish household examination rolls from 1880 to 1920. About 22 million of the 54 million records are already on MyHeritage, with the remaining records scheduled to go online before the end of June 2015. Read more details on the MyHeritage blog

The Irish Genealogical Research Society (IGRS) has added an Early Irish Birth Index to its website. The index contains more than 5,000 records of alternative sources for birth information in Ireland—censuses, newspapers, diaries and more. The birth  index is available only to IGRS members, however, its free to search for just a surname and view the number of matches. IGRS also has a marriage database that anyone can search for free.

Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | MyHeritage | UK and Irish roots
Friday, 20 February 2015 12:26:03 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 19 February 2015
FamilySearch, NEHGS Form Resource-Sharing Partnership
Posted by Diane

FamilySearch and the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) have announced a new resource-sharing partnership, and at the same time NEHGS revealed changes coming to its website.

Under the multi-year agreement, FamilySearch will provide NEHGS with more than 2 billion records from its global collections at and its online Family Tree. These records will be added to the newly upgraded, as well as an online family tree experience NEHGS is planning for the site.

The FamilySearch records NEHGS will add to its website include US census transcriptions (1790–1930); civil registrations for Italy, Germany, Scotland, and the Netherlands; English birth, christening, marriage, and death record transcriptions dating from the 15th century through 20th centuries; and census and vital records for states across the United States.

In return, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints members will get free access to the genealogy databases at LDS church members can register for this access on the website (where they also can get free access to, Findmypast and MyHeritage).

Additionally, NEHGS will provide millions of its records to FamilySearch, including US and Canadian cemetery records, old tax records, early American military records, early New England marriage records, historical newspapers, and more.

FamilySearch | Genealogy societies
Thursday, 19 February 2015 13:49:44 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 18 February 2015
"Genealogy Roadshow" Episode 6 Investigates Family Mysteries in Philadelphia
Posted by Diane

Last night's "Genealogy Roadshow" visited the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. This was the last regular episode this season, but it looks like next week, we'll see a "Best of Genealogy Roadshow" season finale with highlights from both seasons.

The stories, along with genealogy tips and resources gleaned from them, included:
  • A Methodist minister had heard that her ancestor was a horse thief and counterfeiter who'd given his spoils away, Robin Hood-style. Kenyatta Berry revealed that the great-grandfather, Ed Harmon, was indeed part of "Boss" Buck's gang of horse thieves in an area known as the Pennsylvania Wilds. Newspapers and court records recounted how gang members were arrested for trying to sell counterfeit money. There was no evidence, though, that the gang gave away their money, but Berry said later records did indicate that Harmon managed to become a law-abiding citizen.
  • Mary Tedesco helped a family get to the bottom of the story about a great-grandfather, Charley Flynn, who'd gone missing. Tedesco noted that the show's researchers were suspicious when they discovered the July 18, 1929, date of birth for Flynn's younger son was the same date Flynn's wife gave as her husband's death date. They found no evidence he died that day or even that year—but they did find a 1989 obituary with a matching name and other details. Charley appears to have simply left his wife in 1929, and later married another woman.
  • A young lady with her aunt and uncle brought a family story that their relative had started the world's longest-burning fire. It turned out that her great-great-grandfather, a miner, had been involved in a long, contentious strike in Ohio. A small group miners set the New Straitsville mine on fire, not expecting it to be burning more than 100 years later. The only person to admit his involvement never named his accomplices.
  • A woman with a family story about a seafaring ancestor found out her third-great-grandfather John Griffis was indeed the captain of a merchant ship, who was authorized by Congress to act as a privateer during the Quasi-war with France from 1798 to 1800. His ship's arrivals and departures were reported in newspapers, helping Roadshow researchers trace his whereabouts.
  • An African-American family had a story that a formerly enslaved ancestor, Orin Fulp, was fathered by a slaveowner. Berry traced him back in census records, comparing his 1910 listing as "mulatto" to his 1880 listing as "black." She pointed out that former slaves didn't always take the last name of their owner, but in this case, post-slavery census records show Orin farming on land he'd purchased near other Fulp families, white and black. (Use our guide in the January/February 2015 Family Tree Magazine to trace enslaved African-American ancestors.) No paper records provide a conclusive link, but a DNA test showed a match between the guest and a white family, suggesting her family story is true.

You can watch the Feb. 17 episode of "Genealogy Roadshow" on the PBS website.

I almost forgot: You can apply online to have your family mystery investigated on next season's "Genealogy Roadshow."

African-American roots | Genealogy TV | Jewish roots
Wednesday, 18 February 2015 12:39:24 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 17 February 2015
Exploring Your Family Tree in FamilySearch's New Family Discovery Center
Posted by Diane

Something cool I got to try during last week's RootsTech/FGS conference in Salt Lake City is the new FamilySearch Discovery Center, which I can best describe as an interactive museum about your family history.

The Discovery Center I visited is the pilot, located inside the FamilySearch Center in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. Another one will be in Seattle, and a third will be in the Museum of the American Revolution, to open in 2017 in Philadelphia. Each center's exhibits can be customized to its location.

You'll get the most out of a visit if you have a FamilySearch family tree, but you can get a taste of the experience even without a tree. Either way, you'll receive images from your visit via email.

When you arrive, sign in on an iPad, either with your FamilySearch login, or as a guest by entering your name, birthdate, and sex, and taking a selfie. Then you carry the iPad with you from station to station, docking it at each one. Stations use your name, ancestor information (if you have a FamilySearch family tree), and uploaded images and stories to help you experience your family history.

For example, the first station showed me the meaning of my first name, stats on my first and last name, and events from my birth year (you can customize this to show highlights from any year during your life).

Another station used an Xbox Kinect-like device to let you pose in the ethnic dress of your ancestors (depending where they're from) and take a snapshot. If you have a FamilySearch family tree, the ethnicities are chosen for you based on birthplaces in your tree. Otherwise, you can choose from about two dozen.

Here I am as a (somewhat idealized) German fräulein.

The station below maps your ancestors' origins and places of residence as recorded in your FamilySearch family tree. On the touchscreen, you can pan around the map, select profiles from your family tree, and view photos and stories for those people. 

This one is really best if you have a FamilySearch tree. Otherwise, you'll see a map with statistics on immigration over time.

The next station takes you inside a room that evokes a time machine, with a large curved screen showing a living room in a home, and a large touchscreen that displays your FamilySearch family tree. The living room changes to reflect the time period of the person you select in your tree, and you see stories (not from your tree) about objects on the screen.

Although this station has an impressive setup, it was less personal than the others. My tour guide told me this exhibit is being tweaked because visitors aren't spending much time here.

Two story recording rooms—one for individuals (on the left in the photo below) and one that also can accommodate groups—let you record your answers to a personal interview conducted by a man on a screen.

You can choose a group of questions based on your age, and some of them are pretty deep (for example, what do I consider my greatest accomplishment and my worst failure, and what have I learned from each). In the future, people might be able to get their questions ahead of time, so they can think about the answers. You can bring photos on a flash drive to view and talk about, and your interview will be emailed to you.

The final station is a review, showing you the screenshots of your experience that you'll also receive later by email (that's me below in Armenian dress, the closest option to my Haddad ancestors' origin in Syria).

I found the Discovery Center a fascinating experience, one with the potential to get visitors excited about their family stories and help them leave a legacy of their own.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015 13:29:05 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 13 February 2015
News From FamilySearch's RootsTech Conference in Salt Lake City
Posted by Diane

FamilySearch held a dinner Wednesday for members of the media attending the RootsTech conference, happening in Salt Lake City through Saturday. Outreach director and chief marketing officer Shipley Munson shared an overview of the upcoming conference, news, and background on RootsTech's "Who Inspires You?" theme.

Munson gave an estimate of 20,000 registered attendees here, and said that's a conservative number. Every US state except West Virginia is represented, and attendees have come from 35 countries. Saturday will be Family Discovery Day, when members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints attend special classes with their children.

RootsTech's selection of some keynote speakers and themes focused on topics such as storytelling and family togetherness has drawn criticism for the departure from the event's original purpose to unite genealogy and technology. Munson seemed to acknowledge this by referring to the "lifestyle" and the "genealogy" audience members at the media dinner.

He explained the conference's "Who Inspires You?" theme by talking about a book called The Secrets of Happy Families by Bruce Feiler, a psychology professor at Emory University. His research team found that family history knowledge is an important component to family health and confident children.

"Family history is more than genealogy. It's about the collection of stories and photos that give meaning to families," Munson said. "The highest form of family history is the story, and you are the storytellers."

The FamilySearch Family Tree has about 1.1 billion people. The hints that match records to people in the trees is 98 percent accurate. FamilySearch is testing a new indexing system using character recognition software to create the "A-run" index for printed records, with a second pass by human indexers.

Next, FamilySearch's David Pugmire gave an overview of the FamilySearch Innovator Showdown, a competition among those who've introduced new genealogy technology tools and apps. Four finalists, chosen at Tuesday's Innovator Summit, will compete for $25,000 in prize money:

  • ArgusSearch: A Google-like search engine that allows any user to search within any documetn, even most handwritten ones
  • GenMarketplace: A place where you can post a genealogy lookup or other job, and the price goes up (to a maximum price you choose) until someone claims it and does it for you.
  • Lucidpress: An app that lets you create publications for print, digital presentations and video
  • Storyworth: A tool that lets you record family stories a bit at a time, via your responses to regular emailed prompts
A live audience and judges will choose the winner after Friday morning's keynote presentation by former First Lady Laura Bush and her daughter Jenna Bush Hager.

FamilySearch | Genealogy Events

Friday, 13 February 2015 10:41:09 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Tuesday, 10 February 2015
New Site Combines Social Networking and Genealogy
Posted by Diane

One website celebrating its debut at the RootsTech/FGS conference is This private social network for families combines the real-time sharing capabilities of social networking with genealogy tools.

And if you're among the first 10,000 users to sign up, you'll receive a free account for life, says spokesperson Jackie Enterline. She adds that the site might consider ways to "monetize" in the future, such as premium subscriptions. features include:
  • A family tree builder where you can add names, relationships and other details
  • Invite family members by email or through a social network importer
  • Memory sharing through stories and uploaded media
  • Record search: is working with FamilySearch to make the digitized records on available to users, and tools will be available to FamilySearch members.
  • A "mobile-first" design for using the site's tools on the go is a "game-like," mobile-friendly way for family members to share memories, says chief executive officer Harrison Tang. "Rather than one family member doing all of the genealogy work, parents, children, cousins, siblings, aunts and grandparents alike can piece together their information, such as looking up historical records, adding recent photos or documenting precious memories on the timeline.”

Here's what the family tree area looks like:

And a record uploaded to the tree:

Genealogy Web Sites
Tuesday, 10 February 2015 14:17:14 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [5]
RootsTech 2015 Sessions You Can Watch Online for Free
Posted by Diane

Feeling left out because you can't go to this week's RootsTech conference in Salt Lake City? You can get in on some of the action by going online to watch the sessions RootsTech livestreams for free.

Although I haven't seen an official RootsTech announcement about the livestreamed sessions, the FamilySearch blog did post a list of 20 "can't-miss" sessions and indicates which ones you'll be able to watch on the website. Just visit the home page at the time listed (be sure to translate it from Mountain Time into your local time zone). 

Sessions expected to be available for online viewing, and the times you can watch them, are:
  • 30 Pieces of Tech I Can't Live Without by D. Joshua Taylor, Feb. 12 at 11 a.m. MT

  • Building a Genealogy Research Toolbox by Thomas MacEntee, Feb. 13 at 1 p.m. MT

  • The Write Stuff: Leaving a Recorded Legacy; Personal Histories, Journals, Diaries and Letters by Valerie Elkins, Feb. 13 at 4 p.m. MT

  • The Global Family Reunion: How You Can Join the Biggest Family Ever by A.J. Jacobs, Feb. 14 at 8:30 a.m. MT

  • Finding the Living among the Dead: Using the Internet to Find Your Living Cousins by Amy Archibald, Feb. 14 at 10:30 a.m. MT

The list of RootsTech sessions you can watch online may grow over the next couple of days, so keep an eye here and on Last year's livestreamed sessions also were available online after the conference, which may again be the case this year. 

FamilySearch | Genealogy Events
Tuesday, 10 February 2015 11:04:54 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 06 February 2015
Free Access to's British Genealogy Records This Weekend
Posted by Diane

Do you have ancestors from Britain? is offering free access this weekend to its entire UK collection (these records are normally part of's World Explorer subscription).

The hundreds of UK records databases in this offer include
  • censuses of England, Scotland and Wales
  • digitized local and family histories
  • court records
  • parish records
  • civil registrations (government registers of births, marriages and deaths)
  • military records
  • passenger lists (incoming and outbound)
You can see a list of all databases included in the free offer by scrolling down on this page.

The free access ends Sunday, Feb. 8, at 11:59 p.m. ET.

You'll need to set up a free registration with the site (or log into your account if you have one) to view records that match your search. Start searching's UK collections here. | UK and Irish roots
Friday, 06 February 2015 10:00:35 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Wednesday, 04 February 2015
"Who Do You Think You Are?" Celebrity Guests Announced for Spring 2015
Posted by Diane

TLC has announced the celebrity guests for the Spring 2015 season of "Who Do You Think You Are?", the series that explores the family histories of famous folks.

Here they are, in order of expected appearance on the series:
  • TV personality Julie Chen takes the series to China
  • Singer Josh Groban learns about an astronomer ancestorrch 15:
  • Actor Angie Harmon learns a family member might have fought under George Washington
  • Actor Sean Hayes discovers his father's side of the family in Ireland
  • Actor and director Tony Goldwyn explores the maternal side of his family
  • Actor America Ferrara traces roots in Honduras
  • Actor Bill Paxton learns about his family history in the American Revolution
  • Singer Melissa Etheridge searches for paternal ancestors in Quebec
The series will premiere Sunday, March 8 (a different date from TLC's previously announced Feb. 24). Watch a video sneak peek on the show's website.

"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots
Wednesday, 04 February 2015 16:17:58 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Insider Look at New Features Coming to Member Trees
Posted by Diane is beta testing a new website "experience" to make it easier for members to discover and tell the stories of their family history. The changes are based on research over the past year to gather user feedback.

I've been taking part in the beta test, and those going to next week's RootsTech/FGS joint conference can, too, if they stop by the booth to sign up. If you're not going to RootsTech, you can join a wait list to be added by clicking here. You can go back and forth between the current version and beta version.

The whole site looks different in the beta test, cleaner and much more modern, but the most substantial updates as yet are in the Ancestry Member Trees. The major changes include:
  • A LifeStory view that adds a narrative to your ancestors’ facts and events, turning it into more of a story. You can edit the narratives for individual events to flesh out the story and make it sound less automated.

    One thing I very much like about this updated is that you can opt to see "family events" in a person's Lifestory and the Facts view. That automatically adds the births and deaths of the person's children, and deaths of his or her spouse and parents, when you add these events to the family members' profiles.

  • "Historical Insights," or information about historical events that your ancestors may have experienced, are added to his Lifestory and Facts. You can opt into or out of seeing these, and edit or delete individual events.

  • A new Facts view makes it "easier to validate facts with sources, and edit and review facts." When you click on a fact, you can see the source it's linked to, and vice versa.

  • A new Media Gallery. It looks like you'll eventually be able to drag a digital image into the gallery, but right now this is very much like the current Media Gallery.
Here's a beta Tree view of one part of my tree (you also can use the Pedigree view to see just ancestors):

The Lifestory page turns the events you've entered as a relative's Facts into a narrative, and displays them on a timeline along with any attached images, a mini-tree and map. Clicking on the map lets you zoom in to see pins for places of birth, marriage, residence, death,  and other facts you've added to your tree. Pins are for towns or cities, not addresses, so you can't (yet?) map a family's moves within the same city.

My second-great-grandfather's Lifestory is long, because I've attached a lot of records to his life events. Here's the top of the page: 

To give you an idea of the length, here's a screen capture of a part of H.A. Seeger's Lifestory. Scrolling through all of it might bug some (if you don't attach images to a person's events, the Lifestory would be shorter):

I don't have many pictures of this family, but the Lifestory would look really cool with photos among the record images

On the Facts page, you'll see the facts you've added, plus any sources. You can click on a Source and see which facts it's attached to:

The Source features in beta aren't yet functional (you can leave beta to use them). I'm not sure how or whether they'll change, but I hope they do. I've found the system for creating Sources in Ancestry trees cumbersome and confusing, so I usually bypass it and instead include a citation in an event description, or in the image description for an uploaded record.  

I also tend to add notes using the Comments tab that's in individual profiles in the current version of site. The beta tree doesn't have a Comments view, but comments will be incorporated somehow.

To give you a peek at the rest of the site, here's the beta site's advanced search form. It looks similar to the current search form, and contains the same options:

( is separately testing a new advanced search form, which has the same filters and fields, but looks different. Anyone can opt into and out of the new advanced search form using a link at the bottom of the form.)

Here's the Card Catalog page on the beta site. It works like the current Card Catalog; it's just a little polished up:

It's not clear when these features would roll out on the main site, and keep in mind they're being refined as beta testing continues.

Learn how you can use to find your ancestors with our Unofficial Guide to book. | Genealogy Web Sites
Wednesday, 04 February 2015 11:18:50 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Monday, 02 February 2015
Fold3 Makes Its Black History Collection Free in February
Posted by Diane

To commemorate African-American History Month, genealogy website Fold3 is opening up its Black History Collection for free access during the month of February.

That includes collections from the slavery era, Civil War, Reconstruction, World Wars and Civil Rights Movement. Here's just a small sampling of records you can search for free:
  • Danish West Indies Slave Records
  • South Carolina Estate Inventories and Bills of Sale, 1732–1872
  • Secretary of the Interior: Suppression of Slave Trade and Colonization records
  • Civil War Union and Confederate records
  • FBI Case Files
  • The Atlanta Constitution Newspaper
You'll need to sign up for a free Fold3 account (or log in if you already have an account) to access the records for free. Start searching Fold3's Black History Collection here.

Monday, 02 February 2015 15:58:07 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
An Interview With Pam Beveridge of Heirlooms Reunited
Posted by Diane

Meet Pam Beveridge, a genealogist who reunites old artifacts she’s found in New England with the descendants of those who originally owned them. She kindly answered Family Tree Magazine contributor Sunny Jane Morton's questions in the magazine's January/February 2015 "Genealogy Insider" column about heirloom rescue, plus a few more especially for our blog. 

Find Beveridge—and even take part in her mission—on her Heirlooms Reunited Facebook page or Google+ Community.

FTM: How did you get into this?
PB: I’ve been collecting old photos and manuscript items for about 40 years. I used to stop at antique shops in Maine and New Hampshire. Finding things online starting about 15 years ago really bumped up my collecting. Now I’m starting to let these things go. You go through life in your acquisitive stage and then you get to your inquisitive stage and I like to think that’s where I’m at now.

FTM: What’s with all the autograph albums on your site?
PB: They’re wonderful. They were the social media of their day. Some of the older ones have hand-colored engravings in them and must have been a prized possession. Many hand-drawn designs by the owner’s friends and relatives reflect an amazing commitment of time and talent. The words that people wrote in them came from the heart and soul.

FTM: Any other preferences or themes in your collection?
PB: I’m more interested in hardscrabble people than famous people. Famous people have a huge record. But this might be the only remaining artifact or record of this everyday person. With artifacts, I limit myself to items from no later than the early 1900s for the privacy of living people. And if an item doesn’t put someone in a very good light, I shy away from it.

FTM: What do you get out of this hobby?
PB: I get to time-travel with these artifacts. They have expanded my knowledge of the world and history. The contacts are a lot of fun. People I’ve met through Facebook, Google+ and my blog help me with translations and research. But hearing from families is the best. I’ve had people tell me they’ve cried when they saw their great-grandfather on my site.

FTM: Is your experience always that good?
PB: No. Once I connected with a young man whose ancestors were in a Bible I had. When he saw it, he offered me only $10 for it because it smelled bad. In that case, the Bible will be safer waiting for a descendant who appreciates it more.

FTM: What’s a great heirloom that’s come back to you?
PB: I found my great-grandmother’s Bible on eBay by making alerts out of the surnames I’m researching.

FTM: What you do is kind of heroic, don’t you think?
PB: The people I know who volunteer [in the genealogy world] don’t think of themselves as heroes. More like we’re stewards and we’re on a mission, and we couldn’t be any other way. If there’s a snake hiding under that stack of old books, you’ll find out how heroic I am.

5 Questions Plus | Family Heirlooms
Monday, 02 February 2015 11:33:10 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Genealogy Assumptions Part II: The Sisters Theory
Posted by Diane

Last week I posted about nearly blending my third-great-uncle Henry Thoss' consecutive spouses into one person, based on an assumption about his household's 1940 census listing.

In 1940, Henry was listed with wife Eleanor, 50, and mother-in-law Mary Dietrich, suggesting that Mary was Eleanor's mother, and Dietrich was her maiden name. But in the 1930 census, Henry lived with his a 34-year-old wife named Alma, plus Mary. So Mary was Alma's mother, and she continued living with Henry and his new wife, Eleanor, after Alma died in 1932.

It turns out my initial assumption was closer to the truth than I realized—although it still wasn't a complete picture. You might say I made a wrong assumption about my assumption.

That discovery is thanks to Family Tree Magazine Facebook fans who wondered if Alma and Eleanor could be sisters. Another person suggested this in a blog comment, and I got an email about it. Clearly this is a scenario I overlooked. (That's genealogy crowdsourcing at work!)

If Eleanor and Alma were sisters, it would've been natural for their mother to continue living with her son-in-law after he married Eleanor.

In the interest of keeping it real, I'll admit: What I should have done next is not what I actually did next.

I searched death records, marriage and birth collections, and earlier census records looking for Eleanor's maiden name. I learned new information and found her with her previous spouse, but I didn't find a maiden name. I also searched for an Eleanor Dietrich born about 1890, but I wasn't sure whether matches were the right person.

Finally came the "DUH!" moment: I should look for an Eleanor Dietrich with a mother Mary and sister Alma. Most genealogy website search forms let you enter family members' names, either in "add family members" fields or in a keyword field.  Here's the search I ran on

And here's the first match, from the 1900 census:

The ages are on target:

Mary is 39 (my Mary Dietrich is 80 in the 1940 census), "Nora" is 10 (Eleanor was 50 in 1940), and Alma is 4 (she was 34 in the 1930 census).

Mary is a widow in 1900. The oldest son is Jacob, also the name of Alma's father on her burial card, a bit of circumstantial evidence that this is the right family. (If I could, I would search the 1890 census for this family with a father Jacob.)

I also searched for a Jacob Dietrich who died between 1898 (when the youngest Dietrich child was born) and 1900. This is from the Cincinnati Birth and Death Records, 1865-1912, database:

Jacob, a tailor, died Sept. 10, 1899. (Mamie Dietrich, age 18 in 1900, was a "tailoress," another bit of circumstantial evidence.) The corresponding cemetery burial card states that Mary Dietrich ordered the plot. In the same search, I found a burial card for Jacob junior, giving the right age and parents' names.

And Mary Mieschke and Jacob Dietrich's 1881 marriage record is on  (Mary's maiden name, Mieske, is on her 1942 death certificate).

Another commenter on last week's post even discovered Eleanor had an earlier marriage (aren't genealogists great?!), which helped me find that 1907 marriage record.

Still others pointed out that if Mary had remarried before 1930, Dietrich wouldn't be Alma's maiden name after all. That turned out to not be the case, but all of this underscores the uncertainty of genealogical research: It can be hard to know when it's safe to declare a name or a date or a relationship a "fact."

That's why it's important to find all possible records for a person, which the Board for Certification of Genealogists calls a "reasonably exhaustive search" in its Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS). Our Genealogy GPS guide (available in helps everyday genealogists use the GPS to make sure they're getting as close as they can to the truth about their family history.

I just want to add that it's been helpful and a lot of fun to work through this family history question with you all!

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Monday, 02 February 2015 11:04:44 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [4]