I am kicking around the possibility of becoming a certified genealogist. I’m not certain I will take this step, but regardless of whether I do or not, I know that I can train myself to be a better genealogist by creating some of the documents necessary for a portfolio.
One of those documents is a Kinship-Determination Project, or KDP. According to the Board for Certification (BCG) Application Guide the KDP is a “narrative genealogy, narrative lineage, or narrative pedigree that documents and explains linkages among individuals through three ancestral generations.” The KDP should include “names and known vital data of the children of each couple in the genealogy, lineage, or pedigree,” and should include “documentation of every statement of fact that is not common knowledge.”
As I work to create a KDP, I’ve come up with a spreadsheet that is helping me to gather some of the data necessary for the report. In it I list all the children of the three generations with columns for their birth, marriage and death information. I want to gather as much of this information before I start writing, and have it all in one place. I think this will make my writing process easier and more efficient.
Disclaimer: Because my actual spreadsheet is “under wraps” since it would be unethical of me to get help or input from other genealogists with my research on the family I’m using for the KDP, I’ve filled-in my spreadsheet with fictional characters and random documents that don’t belong to my own ancestors or the fictional ones in the sample spreadsheet below. The links probably don’t support the names and dates for the events shown. But I hope this might be a tool for genealogists to use to organize their data, either for writing a KDP for BCG or a report to share with their family.
I have included a link to the spreadsheet here. You are free to download it for your own use and modify it to suit your particular family. Below are a few features I have included.
In addition to the event date columns, I have columns for “Source.” It is important for me to be able to tell at a glance what my source for an event is. Am I using her death certificate to determine her birth date or do I have a birth certificate? Is it an actual certificate or am I using a derivative source such as an index? I created a key at the top of the sheet “MC” for Marriage Certificate, “F” for FindaGrave, “I” for Index, etc.
In my spreadsheet, I inserted hyperlinks on the letters I typed in the “Source” column. These hyperlinks can take me to a website such as FamilySearch, or they can link to a scanned image or other document I have saved on my computer. To create these links, I simply right click on the cell where I have typed my source abbreviation. A dropdown menu appears. I click on “Hyperlink” and paste or type in a web address or browse through the documents on my computer to find the certificate image I have saved.
Many of the documents I have used here were ones I found online on FamilySearch. With these, there is often a “record details” page which gives an abstract or transcription of the document, and then a link to the actual image of the record. Where possible, I linked to the “record details” page for a couple of reasons. First, while the transcriptions are not perfect, they are helpful. Second, FamilySearch usually provides a “Citing this Record” section at the bottom. I know that FamilySearch citations are not perfect, but I have a place to start with my own citation.
When my worksheet is “complete” with vital information for each family member, I am ready to start writing. With the hyperlinks embedded in the worksheet, I can click on any of the links and immediately see my documentation for that event. Everything is handy in one place.
One more feature I have used in this worksheet is “comments.” You can insert these as easily as you insert a hyperlink. Just right click on the cell, and when the dropdown menu appears, click “Insert Comment.” You can type anything in the box. When you are finished with your comment, click somewhere else in the worksheet, the comment box will close, and you will see a little red triangle appear in the top right corner of the cell with the comment. Just hover your mouse our cursor over the cell and the comment will appear. Right clicking on the cells will also allow you to edit or completely delete a comment. I use these for notes to myself, maybe thinking about other research ideas. In the case of my KDP spreadsheet, I’ve used them for information of people who have married into my KDP line.
Even if you aren’t thinking of creating a KDP for submission to the Board for Certification of Genealogists, you could create one of these spreadsheets to share with your family. When you’re using images from free websites such as FamilySearch for your links, your relatives will be able to click on the links and see the source documents. If you are using a subscription site such as Ancestry for your documents they would also need to have a subscription to see the documents on the website. However, you could save the document images to your computer and send relatives a folder which would include your spreadsheet plus the document images.
I hope you find this spreadsheet helpful. Please leave a comment below about ways you have or will use it, or ideas to make it even more useful.
 BCG Application Guide 2017. Board for Certification of Genealogists, Washington, DC. http://www.bcgcertification.org/brochures/BCGAppGuide2017.pdf
Occasionally I am asked to review various books and other genealogy products. Recently I was invited to review a brand new research guide for Pennsylvania genealogy published by The In-Depth Genealogist
Pennsylvania Genealogy by Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL. Published by The In-Depth Genealogist, http://theindepthgenealogist.com; 2017. 4 pp.
Elissa Scalise Powell has created a new Pennsylvania research guide for The In-Depth Genealogist’s “In Brief With IDG” series. It includes a brief timeline of Pennsylvania history and followed by some research strategies. The sections on “Brick-wall Buster Records” and “Migration Routes & Motivations” provide some helpful information on what other kinds of records besides the basics of vitals and census might be available. The specific motivations of migration for Pennsylvania residents helped me to think about my ancestors in a different way using historical context.
The value of the guide comes from the healthy list of links from general ones including“State History” and “Basic Resources” to more specific topics including “Cemeteries,” “Military Records” and “Directories.” The lists were helpful and I discovered many new resources. So many in fact, that I had difficulty staying on task to review the whole guide – I found myself clicking on links and diving down rabbit-holes of research on my own 18th and 19th ancestors.
Pennsylvania Genealogy is also helpful as general list of links for many states. For instance in the “Geography and Maps” section there are links to Pennsylvania specific resources, but by following the links up a level or two, one can find similar resources for all the states.
A few of my favorite links were omitted but the new content I learned about more than made up for it. Since Pennsylvania was one of those critical states in which so many of our ancestors either spent generations in or passed through on their way westward, Pennsylvania Genealogy will prove a valuable resource in the libraries of many genealogists.
For more information about this guide see The In-Depth Genealogist.
When you can’t find your ancestor on a census, you might need to be a little creative. Think of how your ancestor might have pronounced his name, and with those sounds in your head, think of what letter combinations might be used to spell that word.
At a recent presentation I gave, one of my attendees related that he looked for his ancestor “Oscar” and finally found him under the name “Auskar.” Totally makes sense – Aukland, New Zealand begins with the exact same sound as Oscar. “Aw” makes the same sound as well.
When your ancestor is an immigrant, their pronunciation of a word may look far different from the way it looks on paper. I’ve found myself channeling The Terminator, Arnold “Ah-nuld” Schwarzenegger recently as I research some of my German immigrant ancestors.
My great-great grandmother had a brother named Herman. His baptismal record shows Johann Hermann,[i] but his obituary[ii] and gravestone[iii] show him as Herman so I think that must be what he was “called.” Herman. HER-man. I mean how hard can that name be to pronounce?
But when I first found the family on a census in the US, I thought there was another son I didn’t know about. I even went back and looked for a baptismal record for this mysterious son. No luck. And then I channeled The Terminator. How might he have said “Herman”? Er-mun? Maybe Ahr-mun?
And I realized that mysterious “nutty” son “Almond” on the 1850 census, was indeed Herman.
"United States Census, 1850," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M85Q-HVT : 9 November 2014), Castian Frethoff, Tazewell county, part of, Tazewell, Illinois, United States; citing family 176, NARA microfilm publication M432 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.)
Next time you can’t find your ancestor on the census, say their name aloud, as they might have spoken it. Maybe you’ll “Terminate” your own census struggles.
[i] "Deutschland Geburten und Taufen, 1558-1898," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:N6F5-H3G : 28 November 2014), Johann Hermann Fruehauf, 02 Jan 1831; citing ; FHL microfilm 70,015, 70,016, 70,017, 70,018, 70,019, 70,020.
[ii] “Suddenly Called,” The Pantagraph, Bloomington, IL, 30 May 1891, page 3
[iii] Herman Fruhauf, Find A Grave Memorial# 112171351, www.findagrave.com : accessed 11 April 2017
I was recently looking for Van Wert County, Ohio records. On Linkependium in the Estate Records category there was a link to Ancestry.com’s “Ohio Wills and Probate Records, 1786-1998.” I reasoned Linkpendium wouldn’t have sent me to Ancestry if it didn’t have any records for Van Wert. But when I searched for some surnames that I knew had probates in Van Wert County, those didn’t show up in Ancestry’s list of results.
Finally I just searched with NO surname and "Van Wert County and I got 2509 results! And I’m afraid none of the results were terribly useful. You can see below that on page 1 of results, not one of them has a name and only 2 even have dates:
It’s not until page 25 of the results that any additional entries with dates show up, and still they don't show names. In fact in the entire list of results, all 51 pages, no names are listed. None.
I clicked on a random item on Page 37 of the results, an 11 Jun 1888 probate. The abstract entry gives me the date and place but no name. When I click on the image, I can see quite clearly a probate record for Anthony McQueen, deceased.
If you try to use the search boxes to find Anthony McQueen, you will come up empty, not because there is no record, but because Ancestry has not indexed this particular set of records by name for this place and time. On the search page for “Ohio Wills and Probate Records, 1786-1998” Ancestry describes the collection, saying:
"The records come from a collection of microfilm that took years to compile. They have been brought together from multiple courthouses over time to give you a single source to search. Some localities and time periods may not be included because they were not available to be acquired as part of this collection, or the records may have been lost or destroyed before the effort to collect them all began… For details on which counties and records are included in this collection, please explore the browse menu.”
If you “Browse,” you see Van Wert is one of the counties with records. Ancestry’s search page has boxes, but because they have not indexed the Van Wert records by name, the search boxes are worthless. That doesn’t mean the records aren’t there. It only means the records are not searchable, they are only browsable. But Ancestry doesn’t give you any clues that this is the case. To me, the mere presences of the search boxes on the screen below should indicate these records are searchable.
The takeaway here… On any search on Ancestry, if you don’t get a hit, don’t immediately walk away. First, search for a very common name, something like Smith or Brown, which ought to be found at least once in the records. If you still come up with no result, try searching just by place with no name in the search boxes. If you come up with no result, this probably means Ancestry doesn’t have records of that type for that location. But if you get some "hits" on you no-name search, Ancestry probably has some records and you'll have to figure out how to browse through them. Browsing isn't always the speediest process. But by being willing to try a No-Name search you might discover that there are records.
One more thing about these records -- to me they look a lot like the digitized films from FamilySearch. You may have an easier time going directly to FamilySearch and browsing there. I find the interface on FamilySearch provides a clearer way to recognize which records are Browse-only and an easier method to see all the browsable items in the particular collection.
For another post about browsing on FamilySearch see "Understanding Indexes in County Records - Graves Tabular Initial Index" which talks about just one of the many kinds of indexes that make browsing easier.
My Hardy and Gee ancestors in Lunenburg County, Virginia counted among their property those people they enslaved. Thanks to Schalene Jennings Dagutis and her “Slave Name Roll Project,” genealogists are “releasing” the names of those enslaved by our ancestors who were mentioned in their probate records and other documents. As I come across these records from searches into my family history, I will make those names public.
Why? The federal census records listed only heads of households up through 1840 with tickmarks indicating other household members, free and enslaved, by age and gender. The 1850 and 1860 censuses listed names of all the free people, regardless of age, but the slaves were listed on separate schedules under their enslavers name, and these lists showed only their gender and age of the slaves. By 1870 after the Emancipation Proclamation, those newly freed people were listed by name. Often they used the surname of their previous “owners.” In order to help the descendants of those formerly enslaved, it is incumbent on genealogists to make available the names of those people enslaved by our ancestors.
Today I list the names mentioned in the will of my 3rd Great Grandfather, Charles Hardy, born 7 April 1772 at Whitehall Plantation, Lunenburg, Virginia. Charles was married first to Dorothy Bruce on 27 December 1792. They had four children: William Buford, John Covington, Elizabeth Catherine, and Amelia Hardy. After Dorothy’s death, Charles married Sally Jordan Green, and together they had 13 children, including my great-great grandfather, Henry Green Hardy, who was executor of the will of Charles Hardy after his death 25 January 1830.
Below is the list of names of the enslaved persons mentioned in the will of Charles Hardy, dated 14 May 1827::
“…I also lend unto my aforesaid wife Sally J Hardy during her natural life the following Seven negroes, to wit: Tom, Brister, Scippio, Ellick, Jenny, Matildy and Fanny.”
“Thirdly, I give & bequeath to my son William B Hardy, the sum of forty dollars, and to my son John C Hardy the sum of forty dollars, and to my daughter Elizabeth C Hardy one negro boy named Peter & thirty dollars, and to my daughter Amelia Hardy one negro boy named Bob and thirty dollars, to them and their heirs forever.”
“ Fourthly, I also lend unto my wife Sally J Hardy until my son Madison Hardy arrives to the age of twenty one years, the remaining part of my negroes, to wit Archer, Edmund, Patience, Jordan, Harrison, Andrew, Nancy, Daniel, Spencer, Jane and Abram, which said negroes as soon as convenient thereafter. I wish to be publickly sold on the usual credit…”
I have listed the names as they were written.
My cousins visited Lunenburg County in the summer of 2016 and copied some probate papers. I don’t have a precise citation on them, but it appears to come from probate file 3746 for Charles Hardy and is headed:
“A list of property sold this 22d of December 1831. By Henry G. Hardy Exr. Of Charles Hardy.”
Daniel Petty 1 Bay Colt $ 10.50
Henry G. Hardy Spencer 250.00
Elisha Hardy Edmund 426.00
Ditto Ditto Jordan 375.00
Ditto Ditto Harrison 436.50
Ditto Ditto Isaac 195.00
Coleman G. Goodwaint Patience 371.00
Elisha Hardy Daniel 290.00
Ann Hardy Nancy 221.00
Elisha Hardy Andrew 5.00
John M Pollock 1 Bay Mare 26.50
H G Hardy 1 Cow White 5.00
ditto ditto 1 Red cow 5.00 
One name sticks out to me, Andrew. Who was Andrew? Why was his value so much less than any of the others? Was he old? Was he disabled?
And what became of the names from the will not shown on the list of sold property - Archer, Daniel, Jane and Abram? Did they pass away between the time Charles Hardy signed his will and this list was created? There may be more documents worth looking at in the probate file of Charles Hardy.
Additional notes for other researchers:
Elizabeth C. Hardy, daughter of Charles Hardy and Dorothy Bruce, married John Barrow of Brunswick County, Virginia.
Elisha Hardy, mentioned in several of the property sales, may be the son of Charles Hardy’s brother, John Covington Hardy. Elisha was born 24 Sep 1803, and in 1831 may have been acquiring slaves to work on his own plantation.
I hope that my research into the Hardy family may help the descendants of those enslaved by my ancestors find more information on their ancestors.
For another blog post I wrote about people enslaved by my ancestors, see “Who Was Rilla?”
 Bell, Landon C. The Old Free State Vol. II (Richmond, Virginia: The William Byrd Press Inc., 1927), 224-224.
 Lunenburg, Virginia, “Mixed Records, Vols. 9-11, 1826-1841,” vol 10: p. 40-41, Charles Hardy will, probated 8 March 1831; Virginia Circuit Court, Lunenburg. FHL microfilm 32383, item 3.
 Papers from probate file #3746 for Charles Hardy found in the Lunenburg County Courthouse, Lunenburg, Virginia
 Bell, “The Old Free State Vol II,” 223
 Wikitree - https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Betts-84 accessed 2 April 2017
Do you ever search for records on FamilySearch using Batch numbers? It can sure come in handy!
I’ve been researching a McGill family – Thomas and his wife, Kate Ahern. They had eight children. I searched on FamilySearch for children of this couple, born between 1870 and 1890 in New Jersey. The left side of the image shows the terms I input on FamilySearch to look for this family. Here are the first few results of my search:
As you can see, there are two similar records for Catherine, born 2 June 1884 and one each for three brothers, James, born 1880, William, born 1882, and Thomas born 1878. For most of these, it indicates the child was baptized in St. Patrick’s Church in Elizabeth, Union County, New Jersey.
But my search for McGill/Ahern children on FamilySearch only gave me birth or baptismal records for four children. What about the others? I knew there had to be baptismal records for more children but how could I find them?
Let’s look at the index entry for James.
This record, along with the two for Catherine and the one for William are all baptismal records. If you look on the right of the screen you see “GS Film Number 1398788” and “Indexing Project (Batch) Number C01849-9.” Catherine’s and Williams’s have the same numbers. (Thomas’ record is a birth record, not a baptismal record, and so comes from a different film.)
Not every record entry you find will show a batch number. The batch number relates to the indexing project, and so covers a group of related records, perhaps a set of records from a particular church, or a collection of marriage records from a county.
I clicked on the batch number in the record of James McGill to find all the records in that batch. FamilySearch then automatically sets up a search with everything blank except the batch number. I got over 28,000 results, a few more than I wanted to browse through, so I also filled in a couple of the “Search with a relationship” boxes to narrow my search to those records with parents named “Thomas and Catherine.”
It’s been my experience that surnames are pretty easy to “butcher” but indexers seem sufficiently familiar with given names that they’re able to pick out a T, a tall letter, a letter in the middle with some humps, followed by a couple more letters and recognize that spells “Thomas.” Alsp the FamilySearch algorithm is pretty good at recognizing given name variants, for example that "Kate," "Catherine" and "Katherine" are all the same name.
With that modified search I got 82 results. I passed by the ones with surnames Bacon and Bransfield and worked my way down to the M’s. And there I found a few more kids!
Edward Mcgiel, born 1874, son of Thomas Mcgiel and Kate Hanan and Mary Mcgill, daughter of Thomas Mcgill and Kate Ohara. I also found a baptismal record for Thomas that didn’t show up on my first search because his parents are listed as Thomas Mcgill and Kate Shearne. It’s pretty easy one you see it to think about making the leaps from McGill to McGiel and Ahern to Hanan, O’Hara or Shearne, particularly when you realize those baptismal registers used to create the index were likely handwritten in cursive.
I haven’t looked at the record images. FamilySearch won’t let me see them unless I’m at a Family History Center, so that’s on my to-do list. I never want to rely on just an index when there is an original record to look at. And I’m still missing records for two more McGill children, Charles and John, but hopefully I can turn them up. Charles may have been born before the family moved to Elizabeth, and I’m not entirely certain John existed – he may be one of those phantom names that pops up.
How can Batch Numbers help you in your search? Depending on how many records are in the batch you’re interested in, you might search for the surnames of your ancestors and their in-laws and associates who lived in the same community. You may stumble upon some family you didn’t know about.
But you can see how searching by batch number, with or without a name, might tease a few more records out of the great bounty on FamilySearch.
If you have found a record by searching by a Batch Number, please let me know in the comments section below.
 "New Jersey Births and Christenings, 1660-1980," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FCVY-13X : 12 December 2014), Catherine Mcgill, 02 Jun 1884; citing , reference item 2 p 409; FHL microfilm 1,398,788.
2i] "New Jersey Births and Christenings, 1660-1980," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FCVY-L31 : 12 December 2014), James Mcgill, 01 Dec 1880; citing , reference item 2 p 343; FHL microfilm 1,398,788.
 "New Jersey Births and Christenings, 1660-1980," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FCVY-P4D : 12 December 2014), William Mcgill, 07 May 1882; citing , reference item 2 p 374; FHL microfilm 1,398,788.
 "New Jersey, Births, 1670-1980," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FCY1-6LN : 8 April 2016), Thomas McGill, 02 Apr 1878; citing Elizabeth, Union, New Jersey, United States, Division of Archives and Record Management, New Jersey Department of State, Trenton.; FHL microfilm 494,184.
 "New Jersey Births and Christenings, 1660-1980," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FCVY-L31 : 12 December 2014), James Mcgill, 01 Dec 1880; citing , reference item 2 p 343; FHL microfilm 1,398,788
 "New Jersey Births and Christenings, 1660-1980," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FCVY-632 : 12 December 2014), Edward Mcgiel, 22 Apr 1874; citing , reference item 1 p 218; FHL microfilm 1,398,788.
 "New Jersey Births and Christenings, 1660-1980," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FCVY-NYF : 12 December 2014), Mary Mcgill, 20 Nov 1875; citing , reference item 1 p 251; FHL microfilm 1,398,788.
 "New Jersey Births and Christenings, 1660-1980," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FCVY-WFH : 12 December 2014), Thomas Mcgill, 15 Jan 1878; citing , reference item 1 p 292; FHL microfilm 1,398,788.
I’ve presented my FamilyBrowse presentation as a webinar four times already this year. It is so important to know how to find and use the unindexed records on FamilySearch. In the talk I lead people through how to find various documents and one of my samples is the probate file of Michael A’hern, my 3rd Great Uncle.
His will and inventory are mentioned in the digitized proceeding index for Somerset County, New Jersey, which is found on FamilySearch. Unfortunately the actual will and inventory were not filmed by FamilySearch. But just knowing that a will exists, makes it worthwhile to contact the court for copies of the documents.
After I presented the talk as part of the Florida Genealogical Society’s 2017 Spring Virtual Conference, (http://flsgs.org/cpage.php?pt=268) I had someone email and ask if I’d ever sent for the will and inventory. As a matter of fact, I did. And they are among my favorite documents for the picture they paint of this gentleman.
At the time Michael A’hern made his will, he had a wife, a niece, Katie McGill, who lived with him and a daughter and son, Mary T and John Edward A’Hern. He bequeathed a life estate in his property to his wife, and upon her death provided for one specific bequest - $100 to Katie. The remainder of the property was to be split between Mary and John, giving Mary three-fourths and John one-fourth.
I trust it didn’t bother John inherit the smaller portion. I imagine he would have had a far greater earning capacity than his spinster sister and she was the one who continued to live in the family home and care for their aging parents.
Michael’s typed will fills one page, and spills a few lines onto the next, upon which he set his hand “this nineteenth day of October, Nineteen Hundred and Three.” The copy I received from the court clerk was a photocopy of this original will, complete with his signature in his shaky, 70-year-old hand.
But it is Michael’s Inventory and Appraisement that brings this man and his life into focus. Among his possessions were a 2-seat surrey, a carryall wagon, two buggy wagons – a new one valued at $25 and an old one worth $8. He had a cutter sleigh and an old fashioned sleigh – clearly did not live near his brother in sunny California! He had a harrow, a plow, a 1-horse cultivator and a mowing machine. Nice, this inventory tells me about what he did for a living, and the tools he employed to do that work. On his farm he had four young pigs, a tom turkey and 20 fowls.
My favorite part of the inventory, however, involves a few other animals. While the pigs, turkey and fowl are nameless (wonder why…?), the first items on the list must have been his favorites – three black and white Holsteins named Nellie, Spot and Fannie and a brown Jersey cow named Ida. Joining them in the barn were a Charley, a black horse and a grey colt, Dan “coming 4 years.” Can’t you just picture Michael talking to Ida as he milks her?
I just love the images these documents conjure in my mind as I read them. What kind of genealogy documents send your imagination soaring?
If you have enjoyed this post about using FamilySearch, check out my recent blog post, “No Image Available? Maybe There Is One!”
 “Last Will and Testament of Michael A’Hern, of Franklin Township, Somerset County, N.J,” Will Book R, page 220 and following. The will in the possession of author is copy of original will of Michael A’Hern received from Surrogate’s Court, Somerset County, New Jersey, probate file R 675
 “Inventory and Appraisement of the Estate of Michael A’Hern, of Franklin Township, Somerset County, N.J,” Inventory Book S, page 497 and following. The inventory in the possession of author is copy of original inventory of the estate of Michael A’Hern received from Surrogate’s Court, Somerset County, New Jersey probate file R 675
Both. No question. Both. Why? Because sometimes one way into the records will have a hint or a clue, or maybe even an index that’s not available when approaching the records from another direction.
Take for example the Saskatchewan Provincial Records. If you go into FamilySearch through the Search page, click on the map for Canada and select “Saskatchewan” you can scroll to the bottom of the page to see the “Unindexed Records.” These are browseable records. There are thousands of images of records, maybe even the homestead record of your ancestor, but unless you have the date the homestead claim was recorded, or better yet the claim number, good luck. You will find yourself searching through file after file looking for a needle in an entire province of haystacks if you start your search using the map.
But if you click on FamilySearch.org/Catalog/Search, type “Saskatchewan, Canada” into the search box, and scroll down to “Land and property,” you’ll find “Saskatchewan homestead records, 1870-1930, and index.” An index! Yes, it’s an external index that will take you out to http://www.saskhomesteads.com/search.asp. But that index will lead you to the file number for your ancestor’s homestead record. The Saskhomesteads website provides a link where you can purchase a copy of the file, but once you know the file number, just go back into the “Land and property” in the Saskatchewan page in the FamilySearch catalog and browse through the records for that file number.
Here's a partial list of results from my search. The numbers to the left of the names refer to the homestead file numbers. I can go back to that list of Saskatchewan Provincial Records we saw earlier and see if FamilySearch has the file I'm looking for. If not, I can order it from the Saskatchewan Homestead Records site.
The map search is quick and easy to get into, just “point and shoot,” but sometimes it doesn’t have all the tools. Be willing to explore the catalog and its PlaceName search to see if that might offer a more helpful way into the millions of unindexed records on FamilySearch.
Last week saw the “final” blog post on the always-fascinating Julia Achard. (Final???!!! Don’t you believe it! I doubt I’ll ever be done with my obsession with her exploits.)
But...as I search for more stories of my ancestors, their families, friends, associates, neighbors, and those random people I find mention of in old newspapers to share on the blog, let me report on a picturesque incident – a cautionary tale for beachcombers and fisherfolk even today.
Before I wrapped up my Julia saga, I just had to do one more newspaper search and I found a brief mention of her in the Berkeley Daily Gazette of July 26, 1909. “Miss D. Wright and Mrs. J. A. Achard will open a dancing academy, Native Sons’ hall, Saturday evening, July 31st at 8:30. Juvenile class Wednesday, August 4th, at 2:30. Ballroom, fancy and stage dancing, physical and grace culture. Songs with gestures taught by the quickest methods.”[i] Gotta hand it to Julia, at nearly 70 years old, she’s opening a dancing academy. Quite a go-getter.
I need to see if I can find out a bit more about Miss D. Wright, but newspaper-rubbernecker that I am, I was captivated by many stories on that page, (a bigamist!, an embezzler! a leather dog-valise!), none so much as the tale of poor little Millicent Leary. “Timidly knocking at the door of the emergency hospital, two little girls appealed to the matron for aid. One of the youngsters was holding a blood-soaked handkerchief to her nose. ‘The crab did it – the nasty thing,’ sobbed the poor sufferer. ‘I’m not going to fish any more. It hurts my nose.’”[ii] It seems Millicent and her friend caught two small crabs and put them in a box. Curious Millicent insisted on peeking in the box at the angry crustaceans, one of whom showed his displeasure by pinching her on the nose. The doctor and nurses fixed her up and she was able to go home, a bit wiser for the experience.
Next time you go beachcombing, picture Millicent and remember to keep your schnozzle a safe distance from the crabs!
[i] Berkeley Daily Gazette, 26 July 1909, page 5, col 2 untitled article, from California Digital Newspaper Collection, cndc.ucr.edu : accessed 12 March 2017.
[ii] Berkeley Daily Gazette, 26 July 1909, page 5, col 3 “Crab Bites Little Girl on the Nose,” from California Digital Newspaper Collection, c
Sometimes when you look at a census you get lucky. The census enumerator wrote the street names down the left side of the census page and filled in the house numbers so 100 years later, you can see exactly where your ancestor lived. But other times you get pages like the ones W. G. Campbell wrote for the Gardenspot Precinct of Stevens County, Washington in 1910 – no street names and no numbers to pinpoint the position of any of the 30-some households he enumerated. With no street names or numbers, is there any way to zero in on the location?
Yes! Land records may be the key. Look at the census to find which households owned property. Track down the locations of the property using the grantee index to find when those owners bought their properties and the book and page where the deed can be found. Using the property descriptions, map the property location. Though some people may have rented and not owned, if you have enough owners, you can probably determine the enumerator’s route and extrapolate where the renters’ homes were located.
Start by looking in the FamilySearch catalog for your county and state of interest and selecting land records. If you’re lucky, FamilySearch will have digitized images of the indexes and deed. If not, you may need to either request the microfilms of the indexes and deeds be sent to your local Family History Center or contact the county in question to get copies of the deeds.
For some locations and time frames, you may find information on the Bureau of Land Management General Land Office Records website (https://glorecords.blm.gov/search/). Search for your ancestor and his neighbors. If they received their land directly from the federal government, perhaps by a homestead application or a cash sale, they will be listed on this site. Look for all the neighbors, and find their Township, Range and Section numbers. People near one another on the census are likely to be in the same Township and Range, and if they are not in the same section, they will be in adjacent sections. There are 36 sections in each Township and Range combination, in a six-by-six grid. (Jacksonville State University has a webpage illustrating and explaining the Township and Range system at http://www.jsu.edu/dept/geography/mhill/phygeogone/trprac.html).
A researcher recently posted a query on a facebook group about one of W. G. Campbell’s Stevens County no-address-listed 1910 census pages. She wanted to know how to find where her ancestor lived. I couldn’t find Stevens county deeds on FamilySearch, but I looked at the BLM-GLO site and started searching for names. On the 1910 census I found household visitation numbers for various households, including neighbors Abbott (151), Tinnell (153), Fowell (154), and Belton (155)..[i]
The table below identifies a property location for each household:
Visit # Surname Township Range Sect Description
151 Abbott 030N 042E 32 NW ¼ NE ¼[ii]
153 Tinnell 030N 042E 32 NW ¼ SE ¼ and S ½ SE ¼[iii]
154 Fowell (Bailey) 030N 042E 34 NW ¼[iv]
155 Belton 030N 042E 28 SE ¼[v]
The facebook researcher’s family of interest was Neafus, visitation number 157. Though Neafus is shown on the 1910 census as owning property, he is not listed on the BLM site. It is likely that Neafus purchased the property from the original government grantee. In order to find Neafus’ deed, one would need to look in the deed books for Stevens County to get the exact property description, but it is likely to be in Section 28 or an adjacent section.
A couple of map sites will help. The BLM-GLO website has maps of the properties. Once you identify the property you are researching, you can click on the Map box in the center of the page, and a map will appear showing the township and range, the various sections, highlighting the location of the property of interest. You can continue to zoom in and see the roads. This will enable you to map the properties and look at the roads to see the path the enumerator took to reach his or her assigned households.
In the case of the facebook question, I’ve mapped out that the enumerator traveled southeast on Garden Spot Road to interview Abbott and Tinnell and then took a left on Keenan Road, heading north, first meeting Fowell and then Belton. Neafus is two households after Belton, and is likely in an adjacent parcel. Securing of copy of Neafus’ deed will identify exactly which parcel is his, but even with what I’ve researched here, I’ve identified pretty good idea of where Neafus lived, even without an address listed on the census.
Try using maps along with the census. They can be helpful to learn more about your ancestors and their world. And they might even pinpoint just where your ancestor lived.
[i] "United States Census, 1910," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MGVH-9JQ : accessed 14 March 2017), Arvilla Fowell in household of James Fowell, Gardensport, Stevens, Washington, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 230, sheet 9A, family 154, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1982), roll 1672; FHL microfilm 1,375,685.
[ii] Bureau of Land Management, “Land Patent Search,” digital images, General Land Office Records (http://www.glorecords.blm.gov/PatentSearch : accessed 14 March 2017), Abbott, Andrew P. (Stevens County, Washington), document number WASP 0003009.
[iii] Bureau of Land Management, “Land Patent Search,” digital images, General Land Office Records (http://www.glorecords.blm.gov/PatentSearch : accessed 14 March 2017), Tinnell, James G (Stevens County, Washington), document number WASP 0001270.
[iv] Bureau of Land Management, “Land Patent Search,” digital images, General Land Office Records (http://www.glorecords.blm.gov/PatentSearch : accessed 14 March 2017), Fowell, Arvilla – Bailey, Arvilla (Stevens County, Washington), document number WASPAA 009268. Arvilla Bailey, a widow, married James Fowell. The property on which they are enumerated in the census is recorded under Arvilla's name. James Fowell does appear to own property elsewhere in Stevens County acording to the land records.
[v] Bureau of Land Management, “Land Patent Search,” digital images, General Land Office Records (http://www.glorecords.blm.gov/PatentSearch : accessed 14 March 2017), Belton, James (Stevens County, Washington), document number WASPAA 009324.
Mary Kircher Roddy is a genealogist, writer and lecturer, always looking for the story. Her blog is a combination of the stories she has found and the tools she used to find them.