Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Mystery of the Missing Pagano Child

I have been tracking the Pagano family for several years now. The family line originates in Ventimiglia, Sicily and the patriarch, Salvatore, immigrated to the United States around 1892. It is believed that, like many Sicilians, Salvatore Pagano immigrated to the port at New Orleans and then headed north to New York City. The only American document I have for Salvatore is his death certificate, stating he passed on December 3, 1899 in a tenament at 224 Chrystie Street in New York City. I have found a ship manifest for a Salvatore Pagano, age 42, and Filippo Pagano, age 12, for a ship landing in New Orleans in 1892. The ages fit and the location fits with the family story, but I am not positive that this is my Salvatore.
Salvatore and Filippo Pagano's possible arrival, 7 November 1892, Ship name: Trinacria, Port of Departure: Palermo, Italy, Port of Arrival: New Orleans
While Salvatore has been the bane of my existence, his wife Maria Rosa, has been a little more easy to track. I have found her on the 1910 and 1920 census and I have her death certificate, dated 1928. She was born in Ventimiglia, married Salvatore there in 1878 and sometime prior to 1900 immigrated to New York City. According to the 1910 census, Mary (as she was called in America) had six children, five were living at the time. Six? I only know of four...where and who are the other two children?

Through the Family History Library I was able to view civil registration films from Ventimiglia. I found birth records for four Pagano children: Filippo, Giovanni, Guiseppe and Guiseppa. Guiseppe was new to me. He was born in 1886, which means I should have seen him with his family on the 1910 census. On a whim I decided to look at the death records for 1886 and 1887. There was Guiseppe, dead at just one-year-old. On the 1910 census, there is a Mary, born 1899 in New York City. I have found no birth record for her, but the census makes it look like Salvatore and Maria Rosa are her parents. So that is the fifth child. What of baby number 6?
Pagano Family on 1910 census. Living at 422 West 35th Street in Manhattan.
I was unable to find any other children for Salvatore and Maria Rosa in the records from Ventimiglia. My next step was to try to track when Mary and the other children came to America. Her eldest son, Filippo, came around 1892. The above census states that Giovanni, or John, arrived in 1896. It also states that Maria Rosa and daughter Josephine arrived in the United States in 1897. I'm not positive that the dates are correct, but I have found a ship manifest for Maria and Josephine that may fit. The date was 1896.
Possible Maria and Josephine Pagano arrival, dated: 24 August 1896, arriving to the port of New York on the ship Bolivia
This manifest lists Salvatore Pagano, age 46; Coucetta, age 7; Guiseppa, age 5. Below this family on the manifest is a Maria R. Cassata, age 41. Women were often listed by their maiden names on ship manifests and low and behold Maria's maiden name is Cassata. It is very possible that Salvatore returned to Italy to get his "girls" and come back to America. But who is Coucetta? If this is indeed the line I am searching for, this is the first time I have seen her. But I do know that Salvatore's mother's name was also Coucetta. Coincidence or fantastic research? It is hard to say. Coucetta could be the missing child. She is not listed on the 1910 census with the family, but it is very possible that she would have been married and out of the house by then. Or she could have died. Now begins the work of try to locate Coucetta, the only possible lead I have for the missing Pagano child.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Mildred and Ruth Burnett - Wordless Wednesday

"5 weeks old (July 1917); 3610 Prospect, Kansas City, Missouri"

This photo is of Ruth Butler Burnett and her first child Mildred Burnett. I love the "newness" of this photo. The new family, new baby, new neighborhood. Unfortunately, the beautiful houses are now run down and dilapidated; I love that this photo shows their glory days.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Inserting Spreadsheet Screen Shots in your Blog - Tuesday's Tip

I wrote here about an ancestor county tracking log I created to provide a quick sheet for determining which of my ancestors was from each county in Virginia. The document was invaluable to my research at The Virginia Room at the Roanoke City, Virginia library. A reader asked how I was able to provide a view of my Excel spreadsheet, so I will provide it here. I will first state that I am not an IT wizard...I am more a "Wizard of Doing Something with the Stuff You Have." I am positive there is a better way, but I have found this to work just fine.

These steps are for Blogger users on a PC, but I imagine that the process on a MAC would be similar.

The first step is to open the Excel document you want to feature. Once you have your spreadsheet completed and to the point you want to display it on your blog, navigate to the Print Preview and click on it.
Finding the Print Preview option in Excel. Click to enlarge.
Opening the document in Print Preview allows you an unobstructed view of the document, minus the grid pattern in normal view, and shows any headers or footers you might have added. Ensure that your Excel document looks the way that you want it to look in your blog and make sure that you do not have the "show margins" box checked as this will show the margin lines on your final product. When you have the print preview showing what you want to highlight from your spreadsheet, hit the Print Screen button, shown as the "PrtScn" key on your keyboard, found in the upper right hand corner.

This key will take a "capture" of whatever is on your computer screen at the time. You are essentially "copying" your screen to "paste" it in another program from your Clipboard. Now, open any program on your computer that allows you to save documents in an image format. PC computers come loaded with the Paint program, found in the Accessories folder on your computer. Paint is a very, very basic image editing program, but works great for this purpose. You can also use Microsoft PowerPoint, as you can save a slide as a JPG file. Open your program of choice and use the "paste" command.

Spreadsheet "PrtScn" image as "pasted" in to the Paint program. Click to enlarge.
You'll note that your pasted image contains everything that was on your screen at the time. Crop the image to the area you want to show on your blog and save the file as a JPG file. You can choose other image file formats, GIF works particularly well on the Internet because of its small file size, but we want a semi-large format image so that viewers will be able to see our details, so JPG it is.

Next, insert the image where desired on your Blogger page. After you insert the image, you can highlight the image by clicking on it. It will show size options for the image. You can choose small, medium, large, x-large or original size. 
Blogger image size, placement and caption options. Click to enlarge.

Your choice for image size will correspond to the layout of your Blogger template. For my blog, the main text area is fairly narrow, so image size must be fairly small. I originally chose x-large as my image size for this post, but the right-hand side was cut off and the image border inherent to my template is lost as well. So I downsized to large. This does make the details a little harder to see, but no fear! Blogger "downsized" the view of the image for placement within the blog template, but it is still the same size as the original file you saved. When a viewer clicks on the image, it will open at the original file size, so that viewers will be able to see the details of your spreadsheet. I also added a caption to my Blogger image insert to indicate that viewers should "click to enlarge."

Next week I will cover how to edit the HTML code of your blog so images and links open in a new browser window.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Value of military records - Military Monday

A few days ago I was browsing through some genealogy blogs and came across a comment that I found interesting. I can't remember now where I read it, as I follow quite a few blogs, but the comment really stuck in my mind. A researcher had noted that they did not research military files; they were not a big fan of today's military. I can't say whether they were just inexperienced in researching military records or chose not to utilize them based on their feelings toward today's military. I am a big fan of today's military, it's service members and all the veterans that have come before us, but that is not really what made the comment stick in my mind. I kept returning to my disbelief that this researcher was missing the wealth of information that comes with military records.

Being in the military myself, I can perfectly understand the long standing military tradition of paperwork. Lots and lots of paperwork. If it is not in writing it cannot possibly be true. I have written a plethora of genealogy narratives just by filling out standard military forms. And this is not a new process. The military has always been adept at tracking genealogical details. Most often it is so there is a record of next of kin. As gruesome as that thought is, it leaves a veritable gold mine for descendants.

Case in point #1: Last week I received a copy of the bounty land warrant for the widow of David Reed, Mary Reed. I had found many websites that had given her maiden name as Bryan, but I had no source documentation for that information. I was able to determine that she had applied for a widow's land warrant as her husband was a veteran of the War of 1812. As I flipped through the packet I came across sworn affidavits attesting to Mary's marriage to David written by her mother, Elizabeth Bryan, and sister, Esther Morris. On one page I learned her maiden name, the county and date of her marriage, her mother's name and a sibling with married name. In one fell swoop I had obtained the source documentation I needed and I knew it to be fact as it was legally attested to (of course someone could have fibbed, but in this case I doubt it). There are not many records that provide this kind of information on women and I was very pleased with my find.

Case in point #2: I wrote here about finding the casualty file for a distant cousin, James S. Trabue. I had been able to find some information on his family through census records, but after his death I was not aware of what happened to his family. A document in his casualty file lists his wife and son, parents and siblings and each of their addresses at the time. The purpose of the document was to provide contact information for the disposition of his remains. A list of six to eight family members with their addresses? Seriously, that is genealogical money.

It is not for me to discuss political or military stances or views. A major purpose of our military is to help provide opportunities for individuals to carry and express their own views. But to overlook a type of document because of a political stance seems to be a missed opportunity. I appreciate values, but I would highly suggest doing research on the ultimate value of military records before dismissing them.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Ancestor county tracking - Sorting Saturday

My family's roots are very deeply seeded in the state of Virginia. I have always been drawn there and our family took numerous vacations to the area when I was younger. Two years ago I had the opportunity to visit the Virginia Room, a collection of genealogy resources for the state of Virginia and the Roanoke Valley. Located in the Roanoke City Library, the Virginia Room is smack in the middle of where many of my ancestors came from.

I currently live three states away from Virginia and I was only afforded several hours to research, so my visit needed to be organized. I was also aware of the limitations my genealogy ADD would set for me; my visit would be akin to a kid in a candy many great resources, so little time. And to top it all off I have numerous random family lines throughout the state. In order to get prepared I created a spreadsheet of all of my Virginia lines to take with me. That way, if I found a great resource that may pertain to one or more lines, I had a quick sheet that would help me remember which families lived where.
Click to enlarge
The spreadsheet includes a column for the county name, surname, dates of residence in said county, notes, the surname chain and notes on the county itself. The surname chain is a way for me to remember the links between myself and the particular surname.

I still had a massive research high while at the Virginia Room, but once I was able to come down I found this sheet very helpful. I started researching my particularly difficult line, the Whites, but when I could find so solid leads I moved on to other lines. This has also been helpful when digging through GenWeb or historical/genealogical society web sites.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Remembering the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire

Around closing time on March 25, 1911, a fire started at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory on 23-29 Washington Street in Manhattan. Eighteen minutes later 146 people were dead. It was soon discovered that one of the exit doors in the factory was locked and that the fire escape was more for looks than use.

The victims of the fire were mostly women immigrants working under ridiculously strenuous conditions, and more often than not, the sole providers for their families in the old country and here in their new homeland.

Recently, historian and amateur genealogist, Michael Hirsch, tracked down the names of six previously unknown victims through historical and genealogical research. Hirsch also produced the HBO documentary "Triangle: Remembering the Fire."

There were many contributing factors to the fire, most of which could have been prevented. The tragedy sparked massive reforms in both labor and safety laws at the time. The Triangle fire is an interesting insight into factory conditions at the turn of the century, not just of the clothing industry, but industry in general.

Below are some resources to learn more about this pivotal moment in labor and workplace safety history:

100 Years Later, the Roll of the Dead in a Factory Fire is Complete, New York Times

Remembering the Triangle Factory Fire, a website presented by the Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives at Cornell University

Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition

Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Memorial

Uncovering the History of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, Smithsonian Magazine, by David Von Drehle author of "Triangle: The Fire That Changed America."

The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire Trial, detailed site explaining the trial that followed the fire

Triangle Fire, American Experience documentary on PBS
A pattern for shirtwaist embroidery from the Iowa State Register and Farmer, 1909

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Cure for genealogy ADD?

I am writing today to admit that I have a full-blown case of genealogy attention deficit disorder. I do not mean to make fun of the actual disorder, but I can come up with no other way to accurately describe my research methods other than to say: Look, a squirrel!

Here is a typical day in the land of genealogy ADD:

Today I think I will conduct a search on the civil war service record of Philip Kuhn. Hmm, nothing on Why doesn't Ohio have civil war service records on Footnote? While I'm here I better look for Isaac Riffe's service record. What unit was he in? (opens family tree to check) That's right 4th Missouri Infantry. Oh look (distracting ad catches eye)! New Revolutionary War records! I wonder if they have anything on James McGuire (opens family tree to check service dates). Maybe I should write a blog post on Ohio civil war records. Oh, but today isn't military Monday...

As you can see I have a lot of sweet ideas on any given day, but don't really get much accomplished. I could blame Sesame Street. I mean, I did grow up watching that show every day. A show which is designed to entertain short attention spans, but I believe that it helped me to keep the attention span of a four-year-old. Of course, it isn't fair to blame a TV show. I think it comes down to loving the hunt. I am on the constant hunt not for more ancestors to add to my tree, but more "meat." Meaning, I am always looking for stories, photos, etc. that will better highlight who these people were in their lifetimes. I am more interested in ensuring that the history of each individual is well-rounded, than finding a link to the Queen. Although, that would add some terrific history. It is this craving to fill in the blanks that drives me to genealogy ADD.

I'm not sure there is a cure. I have a research model in place, I even created a checklist to follow when researching someone, but I don't use it. The tools are only as good as the artist and this artist sees another squirrel.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Matthew and Elizabeth Hammond - Wedding Wednesday

I just came across this photo today on on the tree of a fellow researcher. The photo was published in a calendar printed in Cortez, Colorado. It features Matthew and Elizabeth (Simon) Hammond on their wedding day, December 27, 1885. They were the first couple married in the newly formed Montezuma County.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tuesday's Tip - Ancestor Military service chart

I have many military veterans in my family. In order to keep them straight, and to have a "quick view" of which ancestor participated in what conflict and battles, I created a chart to track their military service.
The columns include Soldier name, relation, conflict, branch of service, unit, rank, enlistment date, separation date, known battles, references and a column for notes. I currently have the individuals arranged by family group, but they could just as easily be arranged by conflict. I have referenced this document often when I come across a new source or database that may contain information for more than one ancestor. It is so much easier to glance at this spreadsheet than to flip through my computer or binders...or worse yet my memory.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Attack of the City Belle - Military Monday

The 120th Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry had been in Louisiana for ten months before they received orders in May 1864 to join Major General Nathaniel Banks in Alexandria, Louisiana. The regiment boarded the transport City Belle in Baton Rouge in May 1864 to begin the journey towards Alexandria to take part in the Red River Campaign.

On May 8th, 1864 the City Belle came upon a surprise attack at Snaggy Point, Louisiana by Confederate cannons hidden behind the levee along the river. The first shells were directed at the wheel house and the boiler, the steam of which killing many of the animals on board.  Muskets balls tore through the ship "as if it were paper." The 120th O.V.I. had 425 men on board the vessel, 200 escaped and the rest were either killed or captured. The following is an account of the attack by Philip Reymer Kuhn written in a letter from Camp Ford Confederate prison near Tyler, Texas to his wife, Bertha. Spelling and syntax errors are the author's own.
"Well I will try and tell you this time how we liv and how we where captured. We had orders to go to Alexandra and our Colonel would obey orders no difference what came in the way so we went up Red River till we got captured and lost our Colonel and everything we had and the 120st to. We had warning by some of the citizens along the river to not go any further or we would be fired in to and shure enough we was in less than an hour. The second shot from the rebs killed the pilot and the boat swung around and the bow of the boat struck the shore and the boys commenced jumping off but the boat floted toward the middle of the river and they still kep jumping in the river throughing there arms in with them and I thought it was the best thing could do to for the rebs was firing the shell and canister into us as fast as they could so I jumped over bord and swam ashore and was soone a prisoner. The where too other colonels killed besides our. They where seven killed out of our regiment besides several that belonged to the other regt and some wouned. I lost everything I had and my likenessess too for I had them in my knapsack and it was burnt with the boat. The rebs did not take much of the boat after it surrendered for they were afraid of the gunboats coming so they mad short work of it."

Dr. John C. Gill, assistant surgeon for the 120th O.V.I. wrote the following in a letter to his friend Dr. Capener, as printed in the June 30, 1864 Ohio Plain-Dealer:

"They [Confederates] allowed us to pass one battery and to approach to about 100 yards of another one that was planted nearly half a mile above, when it opened on us with shell, and at the same time, volley after volley of musketry was poured upon us like hail. The first shell was directed at the wheel house. It carried away a portion of the roof. The second shot was at the boiler. This shot was effectual, having struck the boiler and allowing the steam to escape, killing many horses, mules, and I have no doubt, several men, as many jumped into the river at that time. Now both batteries opened on us, and a constant fire of musketry. The scene on the boat was terrible, the balls passing through the boat as if it were paper. The wheel was shattered to pieces while the pilot was at it. He, poor man, was shot three times, once with shell and twice with minnie balls, which caused mortal wounds. I was standing by my state-room door when we were first fired into; a shell came through the cabin and passed through my state-room about a foot over my head, completely covering me with feathers and bedding; the only injury it did me was a slight scare."

Captured soldiers from the City Belle attack were marched to Camp Ford near Tyler, Texas, where most remained until the close of the war. General William Tecumseh Sherman would later call the Red River Campaign "one damn blunder from beginning to end." Philip Kuhn was a principal musician for the 120th and my 3rd great-grandfather.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

52 Week of Personal Genealogy & History Challenge – Week #12

Week 12: Movies. Did (or do you still) see many movies? Describe your favorites. Where did you see these films? Is the theater still there, or is there something else in its place?

I remember fondly times at our small local theater. Every summer they would run specials where you could buy X number of weeks worth of movies for one low price. The movie theater was on the corner of Antioch and Englewood in Kansas City, Missouri. My brother and I were lucky because our house was situated under a mile from the theater. To get there we only had to traipse through a grassy lot and an apartment complex. At the time, our house did not have central air so a visit to the movies was always welcome.

One particular memory includes my best childhood friends: Kim and Natalie. The three of us were inseparable during the summer. I was a softy for animals so when I heard that Oliver & Company was playing at our theater I cajoled Kim and Natalie to go with me. We met at my house and then walked to the movie. If you remember, the movie starts with a young kitten in a give-away one wants him. I cried and cried for the poor kitten and Kim and Natalie laughed and laughed at my emotional outburst.

On the way home from the movie we decided to walk through The Woods. The Woods were a small wooded area right next to our elementary school. Our parents had repeatedly told us to not go in The Woods. But my brother and I had explored them up and down and I knew every path by heart. After all, it was between school and our house, who could blame us? On this particular adventure we entered The Woods on the east side and headed west toward our school and my friend Natalie's house. One of us, maybe Kim, had ribbon shoelaces and just as we were entering The Woods she noticed that her ribbon shoelace had been unravelling...probably all the way from the movie theater. This hilarity, along with still mocking me for my Oliver & Company tears, kept me laughing so hard that I couldn't assure the girls that I knew where we were in the woods. They kept insisting we were lost and I was laughing so hard I could not convince them that we were not. Finally, it was too much for my bladder. You can imagine what happened next. I have still not lived down that day. But I did get them through The Woods.

Movies were such a big part of our lives. Our first adventures without parents, first air conditioning, first kisses...all in a movie theater. We all had Stand By Me memorized. I bet we still do.

"I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?"

Sorting Saturday - Document & Record log

As I wrote in a post here, I am in the mood to spring clean and address some of the organizational issues within my family tree. One issue I wanted to fix was the tracking of documents I have for each family. I have both digital and hard copy source documents that I have no way of tracking. Each time I wanted to review my progress on an ancestor I had to pull out that family's three-ring binder and flip through the hard copy documents, then open the family's file folder on the computer and browse what I had digitally. So I decided to design a tracking document that would help me to iron some of it out.
I created this spreadsheet in Excel 2007. Because I sometimes forget the sequence of ancestors, I inserted a graphic at the top showing the order of ancestors in this particular line using the Smart Art function. It provides many different graphic options; I chose the Basic Chevron Process graphic. For the headers I list the title or object, author and publisher, repository, format, where I have it stored, and the information (summary) I gleaned from the object. I'm not sure that I am totally in love with the document yet, but at least I'm moving forward. I might add a column indicating how I came across the document, like whether I found it at a library, from a cousin, or had it in my personal collection.

How do you track your documents? What suggestions do you have to make this more functional?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Follow Friday - Shorpy

Shorpy is an historic photography blog that posts high resolution historic photographs, many of which are from the files of the Library of Congress. The site is named after a young coal miner named Shorpy Higginbotham. Shorpy users can also upload their own historic photographs. I enjoy old photography, but more importantly I enjoy seeing familiar places as they once were. I was able to find many photographs of my home town, Kansas City, and enjoyed seeing well-known streets as they were well before my time.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patrick's Day - Our Irish ancestors came here, I want to go back

St. Patrick's Day is one of my favorite holidays. What can be better than celebrating my heritage while sipping on a cold beer, I ask you? My Irish ancestor, James McGuire, was born in 1747 in Fermanagh County, Ireland, and came to America just prior to the start of the Revolutionary War, which he fought in.

Being a military family, we have been given many wonderful opportunities to travel. A few years ago were were stationed overseas and were able to travel to Ireland for a week long visit. We started in Dublin and then headed to Northern Ireland, which is where my lines emigrated from. It was wonderful to walk in the footsteps of James McGuire and realize what a difficult decision it must have been to leave such a beautiful place.

So today I will eat my cottage pie and soda bread and wash it down with a Harp. All the while drinking to James McGuire. He came here to America, but I want to go back.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Awards for a blushing blogger

Yesterday I was surprised to see that Yvonne from The Mashburn Collection had nominated me for the "One Lovely Blog" award. I really enjoy reading Yvonne's blog, so receiving a nomination from her was very special. I am also honored to be nominated for the Ancestor Approved award by Angler's Rest and Judy at Genealogy Leftovers. I must admit that I received this award quite a while ago and I am just now posting my response. But I was new to genealogy blogging and wanted to take my time to answer the questions fully. The One Lovely Blog award was created by Sara at Works of Art by Sara. The Ancestor Approved award was created by Leslie Ann at Ancestors Live Here as a way to show her appreciation of her fellow genealogy bloggers. Recipients of the award are asked to list items that they have learned about any of their ancestors that has surprised, humbled, or enlightened them.

Here are some of my enlightenments:

1. This applies to all my ancestors. The more I learn about not just their facts (dates, place of burial, etc.) but about their lives I am reminded of how lucky we are in the modern world. We have access to so much more information, better tools to do about anything, even indoor plumbing! But our ancestors didn't care about what they had to deal was just life. And because of them and their advances we are better off today.

2. One of my biggest surprises was learning that two of my Civil War era ancestors were captured and held at the same Union Prisoner of War camp: Fort Delaware. One, Marcellus White, was assigned to the Salem Flying Artillery, a unit from Virginia. Samuel McGuire was assigned to the 1st Missouri Cavalry. Following the war they both ended up in Ray County, Missouri where their grandchildren later married.

3. In genealogy research I have been enlightened by how much assistance I have gotten from local historical societies. I have received countless copies and leads from my queries to historical societies and my visits to these organizations have always been met with kindness, bar none. These are the best places to find information on relatives that is outside the simple facts of their lives.

4. I have also been amazed by how much the Internet can offer genealogists. My great-grandmother was a genealogist and I have seen all the letters she had to write in order to find information. I still have to write letters for various requests, but nothing like she would have had to do. Although I must admit that I do enjoy that wait for snail mail...such anticipation!

5. I am amazed by the grit shown by all of my ancestors that were farmers or ranchers. Most of my family were tied to this lifestyle and as I know what a tough existence it is I am proud to say they are mine.

6. I am also amazed by how open people are to sharing their hard-earned research. It seems that genealogists are a very caring group of individuals. We could easily hide our research behind our backs, but instead we do whatever we can to share with each other. It is amazing and I am very proud of our sharing demeanor.
I am relatively new to blogging, so my list of blogs that deserve these awards may seem a little scant. I have listed the blogs that I follow regularly through Google Reader.
1. Finding Ellen (written by one of my cousins)
2. Shaking Family Trees
3. More Than Names
4. Mine, Yours', and the Other Guy's Genealogy
5. Generations of Germans
6. Frustrated Genealogist
7. Threading needles in a haystack: the genealogy journey
8. Climbing The Genealogy Tree
9. The Family Shrubbery
10. Shaking Leaves: My Adventures in Genealogy

Monday, March 14, 2011

Spring tree do you do it?

I have been out of town for a week and have just now caught up on my blog reading. I noticed several fellow bloggers discussing how they needed to prune their tree a little bit. My initial thought was "my tree is just fine how it is." But I also received several emails from cousins over the past week asking for the information I had on this ancestor or that ancestor. Every time I get one of these requests I have to start over by reminding myself who that person was. What documents have I requested for them? What are my brick walls? While I do not add any ancestors to my tree willy-nilly, I still have a lot of room for improvement on tracking the people I do have.

I have many documents for each ancestor that I have added as sources to my tree, but a source citation doesn't really address the "meat" of the document. I have created an Excel spreadsheet that documents all my requests for each family line, but that document does not afford me a way to describe that ancestor. I utilize FamilyTree Maker, but I don't really like the reports it generates. I suppose I need to create a Word document that meets my needs. How do you document your ancestors? How do you share information with cousins? Inquiring minds want to know...

Saturday, March 12, 2011

I was hoping for terrific-ness...

About a month ago I wrote about William M. Butler and court case he was involved in against his daughters here. I wrote to the Cook County Circuit Court and requested a search of their archives for the case between Willa Mina Butler and Celia S. Butler against their father, William M. Butler. A few days ago I received a response and copies of the documents related to the case. I was hoping for terrific-ness.

I am not sure that I found it. The documents I received were few and not very robust with information. In fact, it is not even very clear what the case was about. The outcome was that William M. Butler agreed to pay $55,000 to Willa Mena and Celia in order for them to drop any further claims against him. I found one inflation calculator that estimated $55,000 in 1877 being equivalent to around $1 million dollars in today's money. I have to wonder where William Butler got the money. The court documents do not explain why the daughters sued their father, but it does mention a tract of land. I know that their birth mother, Celia Temperance Bliss, was from a wealthy family. I can only conjecture that when she died (the date of which is yet to be discovered) she provided for her children and her husband misappropriated the funds. Perhaps the daughters only wanted their fair share.

At first it seemed that the only information I would be able to squeeze from the file was that William M. Butler owed the girls $55,000. But iinterestingly, he is mentioned as their guardian and they his wards...not a father and child relationship. If they were his blood children, why would they be listed as "wards" in court documents? That could just be a clerical error.

Alas, I was hoping to find out what happened to Celia Bliss Butler and determine why her children would have sued their father. This all is a backdoor method of determining information about the death of Celia and whether or not she is my ancestor's mother. But I only walked away with more questions.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Follow Friday - Civil War research websites

The May 2011 issue of Family Tree Magazine is a special edition dedicated to the civil war. One of the articles lists the magazine's picks for the 10 best websites for Civil War research. This inspired me to share some of my go-to websites, or interesting options, for Civil War research. I won't rehash those they listed, except for a couple that I just couldn't research without.
Soldier Group, between 1861 and 1869, Civil War Photographs Collection,
Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA
The 150 anniversary of the start of the Civil War starts in April this year. Here are some sites I am following to see what celebrations and events are taking place and where:
  • Civil War Trust. this link offers a wealth of information about Sesquicentennial activities across the country.
  • National Park Service Civil War. This site will be new in April, but still offers numerous links about civil war sites and celebrations across the country.
  • Share Your Story about the Civil War in Appalachia. This is a site put together by the Appalachian Regional Commission as an effort to gather Civil War stories from across the Appalachian region. If you have an civil war veteran or family from this area, which stretches from New York south to Mississippi, this is a great opportunity to share your story.

State Sesquicentennial websites:
Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission
Connecticut commemorates the Civil War
The Civil War in Georgia: Commemorating 150 years
Illinois Civil War Sesquicentennial
Indiana’s Civil War Sesquicentennial Commemoration
Kentucky Civil War Sesquicentennial
Maine's Civil War Sesquicentennial
Michigan and the Civil War
Mississippi Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission
Missouri Civil War Sesquicentennial
New Jersey Civil War 150th Anniversary Committee
New York State Civil War Sesquicentennial
North Carolina Civil War Sesquicentennial
Ohio Civil War 150
Oklahoma Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission
Pennsylvania Civil War 150
South Carolina Civil War Sesquicentennial
Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial
Virginia Sesquicentennial Commemoration of the American Civil War
West Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission
Wisconsin Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission

Updates and new web site releases happen often, so if your state doesn't yet have a page check back often. Guess what else? After typing it so many times I now know how to spell SESQUICENTENNIAL.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Who is "my" Marcellus?

My search for the White family of Salem, Roanoke County, Virginia has come to a grinding halt. This is a family line where I have found next to nothing in print regarding anyone in the family. I have only several censuses to guide me in my search. And I am not even sure that some of those are for the right "Whites." It is just one of those common surnames.

There is a line of Whites that are well known in Roanoke County and the patriarch was Samuel White. He either built, or owned, a mansion and several houses called Fort Lewis. He was clearly a very wealthy man. In his will he gave the mansion house to his youngest son, Alexander. His second son, Edmund Penn White, was named executor and was given a tract of land known as the "Ned Taylor Tract" in Bedford County, Virginia, just north of New London.

Edmund P. White married Sarah (Sallie) McClanahan October 14, 1820 in Botetourt County, Virginia. They are listed on the 1850 census in Roanoke County with five children: Gay, Marcellus, Ann, Lee and Mary.
Page 2 of the 1850 Census listing for Edmund P. White, showing his son, Marcellus.

Fast forward to Ray County, Missouri. I have traced my White line from my grandmother to Hugh C. White, born March 16, 1876. According to his death certificate his parents were Marcellus F. White and Mary J. (Tosh) White, both born in Virginia. I am able to trace Marcellus and Mary back to 1870 in Ray County, Missouri. Other than his headstone and several censuses, I do not have many conclusive sources for Marcellus. A biography in a Ray County, Missouri history states that he fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War. There is only one Marcellus F. White that fought for the confederates in Virginia. He was a Quartermaster sergeant and was captured by the Union army following Gettysburg and spent time in the Union prison at Fort Delaware. He enlisted in 1861 at Salem, Roanoke County, Virginia.

I have found several trees that link the Marcellus I know in Missouri to Edmund Penn White. The 1850 census I mention above does list a Marcellus, age 18, which would be the appropriate age for "my" I have come to call him. But I have no conclusive link between the two. There is no death record on file for Marcellus. I cannot find an obituary for him in any of the Ray County, Missouri newspapers. There are also no probate records for him. I also have no information about Edmund Penn White's death. Roanoke County, Virginia has no record of any probate documents for him. I do know that Mary J. Tosh, "my" Marcellus' wife, was born in Roanoke County, Virginia through various documents. But I was unable to locate a marriage for Marcellus and Mary in Roanoke County. Their first child, Thomas, was born in Virginia in 1860, but there is no marriage record for his parents around that time.

I have contacted so many sources in Virginia I could not even begin to list them here. I even had a chance to visit the great Virginia Room at the Roanoke City Library, but I came up with very little. Now I must wait for all of my emails to bear fruit. Oh, where can "my" Marcellus be?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Dear 1890 census enumerators...

Dear 1890 census enumerators,

I must apologize to you. I had started a nasty little note to share with you my displeasure of your work. Or rather, I should say my displeasure with your tracing of veterans, specifically in Ray County, Missouri. But I just learned that my anger over the 1890 veteran's schedule should not be placed with you, but rather the U.S. Census Bureau. You see, I have been tracing an elusive ancestor for coming on five years now: Marcellus F. White. He seems to be nowhere in print...except for listings on the census. Unfortunately, all of your hard work to enumerate the 1890 census was lost in a fire in 1921 (there was 1% that survived, but Missouri was not one of the lucky states). But the Veteran's Schedules you provided did survive. I thought to myself, Eureka! a chance to find my relative in print...several relatives. Imagine my surprise when I look through the 1890 Veteran's Schedule for Ray County, Missouri, and find not a single relative. I know at least five or six that were veterans, how could you have missed every one of them?

Alas, I was frustrated and I wrote a nasty note to you to point out your inability to complete a simple task. I mean, you only worked for, at most, thirty days. I realize that you probably only made $4 a day (about $100 in today's money), possibly a little more for travel expenses, but does that mean you could shirk your Enumerator's Oath? I think not.

But now I must eat humble pie. I did not realize the instructions you were given by the U.S. Census Bureau. You were told to only account for Union veterans of the Civil War, not Confederate veterans from the "Recent Unpleasantness." Therefore, my veteran ancestors were not counted. I am sorry for being angry and calling you hateful things I dare not include in this apology. I will instead turn my anger to the census bureau...those silly gnats. They were more worried about counting quadroons and octoroons (which are stupid, hateful terms) than confederate Soldiers. Don't get me wrong, the census bureau has done great by me in every other decade (except for 2010 which will serve to anger my descendants). I love their work, but the 1890 census and its special enumerations are now a frustrating blip in my research.

With sincere apology,