I have bits and pieces on one branch of my family gathered by my father’s first cousin, Thelma. She sent Dad a packet of information including copies of letters and other random documents. Few of them have any sources attached. With some, a little research may lead me to the source. With others, all I have is a (poor) photocopy of a clipping, maybe from a newspaper, or perhaps from some other source. Some items are translations from German-language documents, with no indication the translator’s identity.
The genealogy professional in me cringes at the lack of sources for these documents, but the great-great granddaughter in me needs to share with my siblings and cousins the tiny bits of information I have about our intrepid ancestors who braved an ocean voyage to settle in a land where they didn’t speak the language and came with only a few resources. They bought land and started businesses. They raised families, and educated their children. Because of their courage and tenacity I am where I am and who I am today.
I only recall meeting Thelma once. She was a sweet and kind lady. The summer after I finished graduate school, my husband and I set off from San Rafael, California on an epic 10,000 mile trip across the country, and one of our stops was in Webster, New York, Thelma’s home and my paternal grandfather’s birthplace. I didn’t want to impose so Mark and I headed to Thelma’s for dinner only after setting up our tent in the local campground, knowing she couldn’t insist too hard that we stay the night with her if it would mean leaving our belongings unattended overnight. As we drove into the campground after a lovely dinner and a skunk crossed our path, I had a twinge of rethinking our strategy. What were we in for?!!!
Alas, I was young and foolish and not the least bit interested in genealogy. Oh, if only we’d agreed to stay the night and I’d had the chance to hear all the family stories Thelma had to share…
Below is one document from Thelma’s packet to my dad. A 17-line faded clipping written in German, printed in gothic type accompanies the translation. It appears to be the obituary of my great-great grandfather, Johannes Springer.
“Brother Johannes Springer of Kappeln, state of Bavaria, died in Liverpool, New York on October 3 in his 42nd year. The one who passed away looked for and found about 14 years ago the forgiveness of his sins by the blood of the Lamb. Also, since then he has been a devout member of our church, beloved and respected by everyone in the community. Sickness over the years had a few times before brought him close to death. This time nerve fever caused his death. He lived as a Christian and endured his burden as it is expected of a believer. He passed away peacefully and blessed in Christ Jesus. His widow, three minor children, four brothers and sisters, and many relatives mourn his death. May the Lord comfort all with his healing grace.
A note on the page beneath the translation says “Above is the translation of the German account of Great Grandpa Springer’s death. Louise Sutter has the original clipping.”
What I know and what I have discovered so far:
I will continue to research this family and share what I discover with my family and friends I welcome input from any cousins who want to join in on the fun!.
 Cemetery listing for Liverpool Cemetery, Liverpool, Onondaga, New York found at http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~nyononda/CEMETERY/Liverpool_Cemetery.html Note, the FindAGrave memorial 23987756 for him lists a death date of 3 October 1864, but he appears with his wife and three children in the 1865 New York Census in Salina.
 1865 New York State census, Onondaga County, New York, Salina, p. 36, dwelling 281, family 284, John and Margaret Connell; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 14 August 2016); citing Census of the state of New York, for 1865. Microfilm. New York State Archives, Albany, New York. Note, although “Frank” is identified as a male, she is actually a female, my great-grandmother Frances who later married Charles Conrad Kircher of Webster, Monroe, New York.
 1870 U.S. census, Onondaga County, New York, population schedule, Salina, p. 13 [penned], dwelling 110, family 110, Louisa Springer; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 30 April 2017); citing NARA microfilm publication M593, roll 1061.
 Cemetery listing for Liverpool Cemetery, Liverpool, Onondaga, New York found at http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~nyononda/CEMETERY/Liverpool_Cemetery.html
 "United States Census, 1880," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MZXK-96L : 14 July 2016), Nicholas Springer, Liverpool, Onondaga, New York, United States; citing enumeration district ED 193, sheet 235B, NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 0906; FHL microfilm 1,254,906.
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
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.