One of these names is not like the others. Can you tell which one? If you guessed Van Horn, guess again. It’s Ahern. Huh? Yeah… Ahern.
For a long time (far too long!) I assumed when I typed the surname, AHERN, into the search boxes on FamilySearch.org that it would pick up not just AHERN, but also some of the common variants such as AHEARN and AHERNE. But recently I discovered that for some inexplicable reason AHERN garners its own set of results.
I did some searches in two New Jersey record sets – “New Jersey Births and Christenings, 1660-1980” and “New Jersey, Births, 1670-1980,” limiting the results to a birthplace of Somerset County, New Jersey and birth years between 1847 and 1900. I was looking for birth records of the children and grandchildren of my great-great grandfather, James AHERN, and his three brothers, all immigrants from Ireland.
With the search for AHERN I received 13 results. In each of the results the surname of the child and the father was indexed with the identical spelling, AHERN. Closer examination of these results, looking at birth and/or christening dates and parents’ names revealed some of them were duplicates of others in the batch of 13 records. Eliminating the duplicates, I discovered six unique children.
When I typed in AHEARN in the search box, I received 67 results. Eliminating the duplicates, I narrowed it to 45 unique children. Not one of those results duplicated any of the results in the AHERN search. But if I searched for AHERNE, HEARN or HERN, I received the exact same list of 67 results. The 67 results included surnames HORN, HERN, VAN HORN, VANHORN, HOHN, HORNE, and O’HEARN. With each of these alternate searches, the resulting names appeared in a slightly different order, but they were the same results and none of them included any from the original AHERN search.
I don’t know what comprises the search algorithm used by FamilySearch.org, and I have not found any guidance on their website explaining it. But my takeaway from this exercise is that I should not make any assumptions about what alternate spellings FamilySearch searches for. Read the results list. If you don’t see at least one example of each alternate spelling you know could be there, experiment with all known surname variants.
Family legends abound, passed down from one generation to the next, morphing, changing, just like the DNA that is also passed down. Often the gist of the story is correct, but perhaps the names or locations are a bit off. Such is the case with a recent bit of research I did.
I presented “Bagging a Live One: Connecting with Cousins You Never Knew You Had” recently to the Bothell branch of the King County Library. One of my attendees, “Fred”[1, had several questions during the presentation as well as during the Q&A, and even as I packed up my computer at the end, he came up to ask a few more. He’s struggling a bit on both sides of his family, with a father who was adopted from an orphanage and a Cohen family on the other side, a relatively common Jewish surname that he felt would be daunting to trace. One bit he told me about particularly intrigued me. It seems his grandfather, George Cohen, was an artist who painted some of the gubernatorial portraits hanging in the Texas state capitol in Austin. Apparently George was also “disowned” by his family for marrying outside the Jewish faith. As I was heading to Austin the following week I thought it might be fun to see what I could dig up. Fred emailed later with a few more details including his mother’s name and birth date and her sisters’ names. I was off and running!
Right away I found a Texas birth index record for Fred’s mom, Dorothy Savanna Cohen, correct birth date, and a complete father’s name, George Powell Cohen. Gotta love a unique middle name! Mom was Evelyn Pauline Wright. I struggled a bit searching the 1920 census. But then I found Fred’s aunt’s 1919 birth index record, Marybell, daughter of George P. Cohen and Evelia Pauline Connelly. Dad’s details match with a birthplace of Waco on both, and though Mom’s name is not exactly spot on, her birthplace of Atlanta, Georgia matched on both records. Connelly definitely points to an Irish background, likely a Christian one, lending credence to the part of the story that religion might have been a divisive issue between George and his parents. But with this new information, I was able to zero in on a 1920 census record for George P and Pauline with a daughter Mary. The reason it was so hard to find? It was indexed as Cohers, but I blame sloppy penmanship and an unfamiliar indexer. Birth places match. However George is a furniture salesman, not an artist. OK, maybe a starving artist needs to make a living to support his wife and growing family, so the art could have been a part time gig. The World War I draft registration card dated three years earlier for George Powell Cohn also shows him as a furniture salesman in Port Arthur, Texas, born in Waco on 28 July 1887. I can’t really explain, the Cohn/Cohen connection – the signature even says “Geo. P. Cohn,” quite clearly no “e,” but the middle name, occupation and birth location all match so I believe this is the same man.
There aren’t a lot of George Cohen’s in Texas on the 1900 census, and even fewer born in July 1887, but in Houston, Texas, I found George, son of Lawrence L. Cohen and his wife, Savannah. (Another question answered – where did Dorothy’s middle name come from?) Lawrence’s occupation? You guessed it, portrait painter. Houston and Galveston newspapers reported extensively on Lawrence’s artistic endeavors. In 1874 he was commissioned to renovate three paintings from the State Capital – a portrait of Stephen F. Austin, another of General Sam Houston, and a third of George Washington. In 1898 he “received orders from Austin for large oil portraits of Generals R. E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Albert Sydney Johnston, also an order for a portrait of Governor Frank Lubbock.” The portrait of Governor Lubbock hanging in the gubernatorial gallery at the Capitol in Austin is an 1888 portrait by Hubble, so perhaps Cohen’s portrait of Lubbock was commissioned by someone else in Austin. My trip to the visitor’s center at the Capitol could not turn up any evidence of Cohen works in the building.
As for the story of religious dissention in the Cohen marriage, Lawrence and Savannah’s eldest son, Lawrence L Cohen, Jr. became a Methodist minister, so it’s unlikely that Christianity would have been unfavorably regarded in the Cohen household. A 1913 newspaper article about Rev. Cohen says, “His name, distinctively Hebraic, is a heritage from his paternal forebears, where a mild strain of the Hebrew race has existed for many generations. On his mother’s side of the house, Rev. Mr. Cohen is of pure Scotch-Irish descent.” Maybe a rift occurred a generation or two prior with an earlier marriage.
Yes, there are kernels of truth in most family stories. The task for a genealogist is to pick apart the tales and match the right details to the right people.
 In the interest of privacy, I have changed the name of the living person.
 US Federal census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Beaumont Ward 2, Jefferson, Texas; Roll: T625_1823; Page: 8B; Enumeration District: 91; Image: 427
 "United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KZXJ-NBB : accessed 29 May 2016), George Powell Cohn, 1917-1918; citing Jefferson County no 2, Texas, United States, NARA microfilm publication M1509 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,953,881.
 US Federal Census, Year: 1900; Census Place: Houston Ward 4, Harris, Texas; Roll: 1642; Page: 15A; Enumeration District: 0068; FHL microfilm: 1241642
 Galveston Daily News, 18 July 1874, page 5
 The Houston Post, 2 October 1898, page 10
 Dallas Morning News, 14 December 1913, section one, page 13
Have you experimented with importing data directly from Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org as I explained in my blog posts, “Spreadsheet Magic - Importing Data From Ancestry.com” and “More Spreadsheet Magic – The Importance of Exportance”? Great tricks, huh?
But there’s one thing I really don’t like about the imports and exports – the pieces of data, such as First-and-Last-Name or Date-Month-Year appear in one field. That makes sorting the data difficult. But there’s a trick for that. Let me show you how.
Here are the first 20 or so results from my FamilySearch.org search for Roddys born in Ohio. I’d like to be able to split the data from Column D into multiple columns for day, month and year. (I’d also probably like to sort the names in columns B, I and J into separate columns, but I’ll show how to divide the dates as an example.)
Now it looks like this:
Click on the Data tab at the top to expose the Data tools ribbon. Highlight the column of text you want to split. You can have as many rows as you want, but only one column. Then click on the Text to Columns icon and it will bring up the first of 3 “Convert Text to Column Wizard” screens as shown below.
Excel is pretty good at figuring out what I want to do. You can see 2 radio buttons – “Delimited” and “Fixed Width.” Excel has looked at the data and seen that it is all divided into fixed widths – 2 units for the day, a space, 3 units for the month, a space and then 4 units for the year. It is even all the way down. (But if we wanted to split the Father’s Name column, we would likely want to use the delimited radio button because the words are of varying length but delimited by a space in between them.) Excel even shows me a preview of what the data will look like.
Excel has guessed correctly what we want to do, so click “Next.”
This brings up Wizard box 2. I could futz with this, but generally what Excel thinks I want to do is what I do want to do so I just click “Next.” Now we are on the 3rd Wizard box.
I like to keep my original column of data as it came out of the database, and then create new columns for the “divided” data. In other words I will keep the column that has birthdate shown as 05 Oct 1875 in Column D, and then have 3 new columns for Day, Month and Year, showing “05” in column E, “Oct” in Column F and “1875” in column G. This is my personal preference. You might chose just to overwrite the original data. In order to set up the new columns, I click on icon to the right of the destination box and then point to where I want the new data to begin, in this case $E$7 and then click Finish.
Here’s what my data looks like after the Text-to-Columns exercise is complete. I can now sort the data by year, month and day to put these births in chronological order.
I hope these instructions help you to get more use out of your spreadsheets. Text to Columns is a powerful tool, making your spreadsheets more usable with less typing. Try it!
If you want to see more spreadsheet tools and tricks, you can check out my LegacyFamilyTree webinars at http://familytreewebinars.com/maryroddy
Last week in my blog I wrote about Capt. James Black from County Antrim, a decorated World War I veteran and member of the Irish Guards. This week I’d like to take the opportunity to write about his son.
Did you look closely at the picture last week? Here it is again. Do you notice anything about the younger man on the left, James Alexander Walton-Black? If you look at both of his sleeves, you can see there is no hand coming out of his left sleeve. I wish I knew why.
This picture appears to have been taken as a Christmas portrait to send to Capt. Black’s sister back in Ireland, given the writing at the top of the photograph, “To my dear sister, Mary, with every good wish and my love always. Jim. Christmas 1945.” It would have been easy enough to take a head-and-shoulders portrait, but it seems quite clear that whoever arranged for the portrait was telling a story, showing the full cost of the service to his country by this young man.
James Alexander Walton-Black was the co-pilot of a B-17 bomber. His crew flew seven missions from their base at Rattlesden, England. There is no chance that he would have been qualified for this role with only one hand. But could he have lost it during the mission?
It seems unlikely. Because the plane was shot down and crew members were killed and injured on the mission, a Missing Air Crew Report (MACR) was generated. The National Archives website describes why these documents were created. “…in May 1943 the adoption of a special form, the Missing Air Crew Report (MACR), devised primarily to record the salient facts of the last known circumstances regarding missing air crews. The MACR would also provide a means of integrating current data with information obtained later from other sources in an effort to conclusively determine the fate of the missing personnel.”
MACR 43-37714 contains several pages of Casualty Questionnaires. Crew members including James Walton-Black and others report on the injured crew members - radio-operator John Kaufman who was hit by flack while still in the aircraft, and gunner Guido Valentine who broke his leg when he parachuted to the ground. These reports also detail what crew members knew about the fate of pilot, Mark Golden, the one man killed on the mission. None of these reports, however, mention any injuries to James Walton-Black. If he had sustained injuries during the June 18 mission, the MACR would have undoubtedly contained more information about it. This leads me to believe any injuries sustained by Walton-Black were incurred sometime after June 18, 1944.
The most likely explanation is that he lost his hand as a result of his prisoner of war experience. It makes what he wrote to William P. Golden, father of pilot, Mark Golden, especially poignant, “The details of my own capture would not interest you.“  Walton-Black was interred first in Stalag Luft III from the time of his capture until late January 1945. At that time Hitler ordered the execution of all American and British airmen, but his officer corps refused to carry out the orders. However, with the approach of the Russian Army, the German captors were afraid that their prisoners would be liberated and so ordered their transfer to Stalag Luft VII. The captives marched in cold and icy conditions on meager rations from 27 January to 4 February where they boarded over-crowded trains for the remainder of their journey. They spent the remainder of the war in this POW camp, designed to hold 10,000, but by the time they were liberated on 29 April, there were 70,000.
The conditions on the march and at Stalag Luft VII were horrendous – lice, bedbugs, latrines built for 40 men used by over a thousand. Disease was rampant, nutrition poor. If a prisoner was frostbitten or injured, there was little treatment to stave off the inevitable infection and amputation was the most common recourse. I don’t have any direct evidence that this is where Walton-Black lost his hand, but I think this is the likely explanation. The photograph speaks for itself.
I have found spotty information on Walton-Black after the war. He indicated to Mr. Golden that he would return to Yale University in the Fall of 1945 and took part in the December 1945 production of Volpone, but I don’t know if he ever graduated from Yale. He was president of Capital Goods and Commodities Corporation in Bogota, NJ in the early 1960s. In the late 1960s and early 1970s he pursued a career in aviation, working toward Commercial Pilot and Flight Instructor certifications in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
He married at some point Mary Jane Ede. When he wrote to the military in February of 1974 requesting his WWII flight records, his return address was 309 North Robinson Avenue, a home in Pen Argyl, Pennsylvania “where I live with my wife.” Apparently he had been mugged in Louisville and his suitcases and flight cases containing his flight records and credentials as well as his military medals were stolen. He wrote to request the army supply replacements.
Less than a year later, just six days before his 53rd birthday, James Walton-Black died of bilateral bronchopneumonia at Easton hospital in Easton, Pennsylvania. Curiously, Mary Jane Ede, the informant on the death certificate, responded “Unknown” to the question of James’ marital status. The death certificate shows an autopsy was performed but when I contacted the hospital they indicated that all autopsy reports from that era have been destroyed unless they involved criminal or otherwise suspicious deaths.
As far as I know James never had children. He was the only child of Louise and James Black, Sr. I’m working quite hard to find someone who knew him, someone who can perhaps tell me more about him and his life after World War II. I’ve reached a few dead ends, including his wife’s brother who didn’t want to talk and a flight instructor who signed some of his FAA licensing paperwork 40+years ago but didn’t remember him today. My latest attempt has been to contact the American Legion Post in Pen Argyl to see if perhaps someone there remembers him. It seems to me that a one-handed pilot would be pretty memorable, but so far, no luck.
Now I leave this post out here in the ether, hoping someone somewhere will stumble upon it and be able to share a story or two about this hero who lost so much serving his country.
 Fold3.com, Missing Air Crew Reports, WWII 1944, 43-37714
 Letter from James Alexander Walton-Black to William P. Golden, 12 August 1945. Original letter in possession of Violet Golden, sister-in-law of Mark Golden. Copy provided to Mary Roddy.
 http://www.moosburg.org/info/stalag/chaf4eng.html, John H. Chaffin memories of World War II
 Letter from James Alexander Walton-Black to William P. Golden, 12 August 1945
 Yale News Digest no. 19 November 30 1945
 May 1961 Archon - http://archive.org/stream/archon19612dumm/archon19612dumm_djvu.txt
 Copy of Airman Certification Records of James Alexander Walton-Black sent under Freedom of Information request FOIA#2014-000080F7 to Mary Roddy on 31 October 2013
 Copy of letter from James A. Walton-Black, 309 N Robinson Ave., Pen Argyl. PA 18072 to Federal Aviation Administration, Department of Transportation, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Attention: Personnel Records, dated February 19, 1974
 Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Health Vital Statistics, Certificate of Death of James A. Black, Date of Death 26 January 1975, Certificate number 742875. Note that the name on the death certificate is Black, not Walton-Black, but the certificate indicates that he was a veteran of WWII and that his serial number is A0807801 which is the same serial number of James A Walton-Black on Missing Air Crew Report 43-37714
OK, I just made that up - “Exportance” isn’t a real word. But exporting is a real concept, and a very important one at that. Last week on the Tuesday Technique Tips I demonstrated how to import search results from Ancestry.com into an Excel spreadsheet. This week, I’d like to show how to export a batch of results from FamilySearch.org into a spreadsheet. Once that data is in a spreadsheet format you can manipulate and sort and annotate it to your heart’s content. Here’s how…
My example below shows a search for surname RODDY with a birthplace of Ohio, and a year range of 1850-1900. I have limited the search to two specific collections – “Ohio Births and Christenings, 1821-1962” and “Ohio, County Births, 1841-2003.”
Here is a screenshot of the first few results. FamilySearch allows me to set the number of results to show, either 20, 50 or 75. I always set it at 75 – after all, more results in the bucket means fewer trips back to the well to gather additional data.
Now I have some results which I could begin to type into a spreadsheet - a lot of results, and that means a lot of typing. But watch what happens if I click on the “Sign In” button in the upper right-hand corner of the screen.
Once I am signed in with my FamilySearch account, the “Export Results 1-75” button magically appears. When I click on that, my results are automatically exported to an Excel spreadsheet that looks pretty much like this:
Note that I have widened a few of the columns, and eliminated ones from the export which contained no data. Now I can sort or filter or otherwise manipulate the data to help me in my research on the Roddy family. If I have more than 75 results in my search, at the bottom of the page I can get to the second or later page of results, and import the second batch of 75 into a spreadsheet. It will create a new spreadsheet, but I just copy and paste the results to the bottom of my original spreadsheet. Look at all that data, and hardly any typing involved!
I hope this technique helps you speed up your research with spreadsheets.
I research a lot of people, including many who are not related to me. I become captivated by a story, and just can’t put it down. Such is the case with James A. Walton-Black.
After my dad passed away, I found some letters in boxes that had come from Dad’s house, letters written by a college friend of Dad, Mark Golden. Mark was a B-17 pilot, whose plane was shot down 18 June 1944. You can read more of the story of Mark and his crew in my article, “Lt. Mark L. Golden: A Case Study in WWII Research” here.
In my research into Mark’s story I was sent a letter written by Mark’s co-pilot, James A. Walton-Black, to Mark’s father, a letter which sent chasing after another man, another story, and research on a family with ties to war heroes and society families in Ireland and the United States.
James Walton-Black was a “honeymoon baby” and only child of Louise Mitchell Walton, a Louisville, Kentucky debutante and the dashing Capt. James Black of County Antrim, who served with His Majesty’s Irish Regiment of Foot Guards and was decorated with the British Military Cross and the French Croix de Guerre.[i] But it seems Capt. Black showed limited interest in marriage and family, leaving his wife and son for a two-month trip to England and Scotland just a few months after James’ birth.[ii]
Capt. Black is an interesting character. As I dug for information on James, Jr. I expanded my search to include both his parents, hopeful that I could locate family or friend who had known any of them. It seems Capt. Black ran in some pretty heady circles. He was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry, and is mentioned in Rudyard Kipling’s The Irish Guards in the Great War, Vol. 2 in Appendix A, Extracts from the London Gazette, “6th April 1918. M.C. to Lieutenant James Black, Irish Guards, Special Reserve: “For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty as Adjutant during three days’ operations. When the trenches of one of the support companies were being blown to pieces he went from Battalion Headquarters and led the company forward into a new position.”
But I don’t find many mentions of Capt. Black and Louise together. On June 21, 1921, Louise’s mother returns to Louisville “from a stay of two weeks in New York where she was the guest of her daughter, Mrs. James Black and Captain Black,”[iii] and a few weeks later Louise’s parents again join the newlyweds.[iv] James Jr. is born in Louisville while Louse and Captain Black are guest of her parents in early 1922,[v] but by August 1922, “Mr. and Mrs. Druid Walton, Mrs. James Black and Master James Black will move tomorrow into their apartment in the Seelbach.”[vi] Capt. James Black is apparently not with them. Just over two months later, Druid Walton, president of C.J. Walton & Son, boiler manufacturers, hangs himself in a storeroom over his office, despondent over business declines.[vii] In the Louisville city directory of 1922, James Black is listed as the secretary and treasurer of C J Walton & Son, and is shown as boarding at Druid Walton’s home.[viii] Was James involved in the financial difficulties? Or perhaps did the Walton family, who had spent the previous several years traveling to Boston, Florida, New York and other places on trips that appear to be “shopping Louise out” for a suitable marriage, think they had found a deep-pocketed son-in-law who could rescue the family? I’m not sure I’ll ever find a firm answer to the questions, but there are a number of possible scenarios. In any event, after probably fewer than two years together, Louise and James began to lead separate lives.
By April 1930, a "divorced" James lodges in Manhattan[ix] while the “widowed” Louise is works as a buyer for a dry goods firm and maintains a house for her mother and son, Alexander.[x] A few months later, James is mentioned in the social pages -“O’Neill-Black: Mrs. Mary E O’Neill of 825 Fifth Avenue has announced the engagement of her daughter, Miss Mildred O’Neill, to Captain James Black of this city and London, England…Captain Black served with the Irish Guards during the World War and is a member of the Guards Club in London. His is with the Stock Exchange firm of C.D. Halsey & Co. of this city. The wedding will take place in the Autumn.”[xi] Celebrations for the affianced pair continued with an engagement tea for Mildred at the home of Miss Dorothy L. Burkett and guest included, Mrs. J.C. Penney, Jr.[xii]
But for some reason, Mildred and James never married, and on 4 January 1931, the single James Black arrives in New York aboard the SS Veendam sailing from Hamilton, Bermuda two days earlier. [xiii] It appears Capt. Black took his Caribbean honeymoon without a wife.
For years I’ve wondered about Capt. James Black and Louise. In the 1930 census he’s listed as divorced and she’s a widow, but they must have remained cordial. She’s listed on his 1942 WWII Draft card as the “person who will always know your address”[xiv] When James dies in 1956, his obituary refers to him as the husband of Louise W. Black.[xv] Did they never divorce? Is that why he didn’t end up marrying Mildred O’Neill?
Well, I can’t say why he and Mildred failed to tie the knot, but just this week, after years and years of wondering and searching, I found a somewhat sad answer to my question – “Mrs. Louisa Walton Black was granted a divorce from James Black, New York, on the grounds of non-support and abandonment.”[xvi] Louise raised her son, and kept up enough of a relationship with his father that he could have one, too. Not ideal, but more than a lot of families manage. Keep looking for those records. They’re out there waiting to be found.
[i] “Walton-Black, ”The Courier Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), 6 March 1921, page 17 (engagement announcement) and “The Personal Side” ”The Courier Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), 3 February 1922, page 7 (birth announcement)
[ii] “The Personal Side” ”The Courier Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), 1 June 1922, page 7
[iii] “Personals” ”The Courier Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), 19 June 1921, page 17
[iv] “Personals” ”The Courier Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), 10 July 1921, page 17 and “Personals” ”The Courier Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), 11 Sep 1921, page 19
[v] “The Personal Side” ”The Courier Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), 3 February 1922, page 7
[vi] “Personals” ”The Courier Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), 27 August 1922, page 17
[vii] “Boiler manufacturer hangs self in offices as business decreases” ”The Courier Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), 31 October 1922, page 8
[viii] Ancestry.com, U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 for Jas Black, Kentucky Louisville 1922 Louisville, Kentucky, City Directory, 1922
[ix] Ancestry.com, US Federal Census, Year: 1930; Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Roll: 1559; Page: 16B; Enumeration District: 1199; Image: 325.0; FHL microfilm: 2341294
[x] Ancestry.com, US Federal Census, Year: 1930; Census Place: Bronxville, Westchester, New York; Roll: 1659; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 0116; Image: 589.0; FHL microfilm: 2341393
[xi] “Marriage Announcement” New York Times 21 Aug 1930, page 17
[xii] “Miss O'Neill Honor Guest at Tea” New York Times 05 Sep 1930: 23.
[xiii] Ancestry.com New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957, Year: 1931, Arrival; Microfilm Serial: T715, Microfilm Roll: T715_4894, Line: 28, Page Number: 101
[xiv] "United States World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XR6R-WM2 : accessed 15 May 2016), James Black, 1942; citing NARA microfilm publication M1936, M1937, M1939, M1951, M1962, M1964, M1986, M2090, and M2097 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
[xv] “Obituary” New York Times 12 Jun 1956, page 35
[xvi] The Courier Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), 8 August 1924, page 18
Did you know you can import results from an Ancestry.com search directly into an Excel spreadsheet? Think of the many ways you could use this technique to create a data set and then manipulate it to see patterns in the data. A spreadsheet could be a great tool to study and correlate you ancestor's FAN club - their Friends, Associates and Neighbors.
As an example, perhaps you only know only that you ancestors came from "Ireland." Wouldn't it be nice to be able to narrow that down a bit? Wherever they decided to settle, they didn't do it in a vacuum. They settled there because they knew someone there. If you can figure who the other Irish immigrants were and where they were from, you just might find some clues as to where you ancestor hailed from.
Creating a database of people sharing a common place of origin with your ancestor, and then manipulating that database by adding other information to it might just help you to solve your location-of-origin problem. But typing in the names, birth years and other information for every individual with this kind of a common characteristic can be a slow and tedious process. Imagine if there were a quicker way...
There is! You can import data from a web search, Here's a step-by-step example showing how to import from a Ancestry.com into an Excel spreadsheet.
Step 1 – Do a search on Ancestry.com, for example a search of all the people born in Ireland living in Hillsborough, Somerset County, New Jersey in the 1860 census. Copy the URL from your search. (Note: it is best to get the maximum number of results per page, so set it to display 50) Ctrl+C to copy.
Step 2 – If it is a long URL, convert to tinyurl at http://tinyurl.com/ Click on “copy to clipboard” (just beneath the tiny URL that was created). You need to do this step because the URLs for Ancestry searches are really long
Step 3 – In the spreadsheet where you want to place your data, go to the Data tab and click on the “From Web” icon. A New Web Query window will open up.
Step 4 - Put your cursor in the Address box at the very top of this window and do Ctrl+V to paste the tinyURL in the box. Click the “Go” button to the right of the Address bar. The first page of your Ancestry results will appear.
Note – if this doesn’t work, you may need to sign in again to Ancestry within the Ancestry window in Excel (confusing, I know, but I think you’ll get it when you’re working through doing this. And if you're not signed in to Ancestry in Excel, sometimes all the date (like "city" and "gender" won't transfer)
Step 5 – At the top left of the search page image (just above and to the left of the i in the picture above), there is a yellow arrow. Click that and it will turn to a green check. Then click “Import” in the lower right corner of the window.
Step 6 – A pop-up will appear asking you where you want the data. $A$1 is the default and usually that is what you want Click OK.
It will paste a bunch of extra stuff on your worksheet, including rows that you will probably eventually want to delete, but your data will be in a columnar format that you can deal with. To delete the rows above your data range, click on the row immediately above your data range, Shift+Ctrl+Home and it will highlight all the rows above your data range. Then on the home tab, click the Delete triangle, then DeleteSheetRows and it will eliminate all those rows.
For subsequent pages of data from Ancestry, on your Ancestry query go to the subsequent page of results, create a new tinyURL for that page of results per Step 2 above, and follow the same process. (You might need to have your cursor in a column to the right of your data area to start the process, but you can specify that you want to paste the data into $A$55 (or whatever cell where it won’t paste over your last import).
This technique is great for using with Ancestry.com but will also work with other websites. You might find a database somewhere of all the probates or marriages in a county. Wouldn't it be great to be able to pull the data for the surnames you're studying? The process outlined above might be just the way to do that.
FamilySearch.org will also allow you to import data directly into a spreadsheet. I'll cover that process in my Tuesday Tips post next week. See you then!
dIn honor of Mother’s Day, I’d like to share some stories written by my husband’s grandmother, Nellie Kathleen Aldrich Roddy. These stories are excerpted from a handwritten manuscript which starts “My grandson, Mark Robert Roddy, asked me to write about my early childhood days, so I’ve tried to go back and remember my time from 1907 thru about 1930.”
“I was born 9 Dec 1907 in our home on East High St. in Springfield, Ohio. I already had a sister, Mildred born on Maiden Lane, Springfield, Ohio on 14 Oct 1906. My brother, Harry P. Aldrich was born 18 Mar 1909 on Lagonda Ave, two months after our father Harry P. Aldrich died, 4 Jan 1909.
“My mother, Hannah e Allender Aldrich was born 4 Nov 1883 near Romney, W. Va. and was left with three small children to care for alone. She could have placed us in a Home operated by the Junior Order of American Mechanics Lodge, that my father belonged to, but she never did. She told me later, years later, that if she had had to, she would have placed us in the Home, which was located in Marion, Ohio, and got work close by, as parents were not permitted to work in the Home with their children there. However, instead she rented a large house near the shop area where there were many working men and operated a Hotel, on a small scale. Her brother Riley and some of his friends rented rooms and slept and ate there, and during dinner time, many other workers ate meals there during their work days.
“With three small children to care for, all under three years of age, feed us, make our clothes and do all that was necessary to grow us up, she was a busy young woman about 26 years of age. She had hired girls to help her but she said some of them were “tired” girls…
“She was very frugal and could “make out” on what little income women were able to earn in those times. City life was not to her liking, the only real and decent way of life was farming. She rented a farm in the area of Enon, Ohio and with the help of her brother Riley, took up farming with her little family….
“My mother was an exacting and honorable taskmaster and would not tolerate slipshod farming nor mistreatment of the animals, mostly horses, all all farming then depended on “horse power.” My mother then gave up farming, her love of a way of life, due to lack of help and moved back to Springfield with her little family.
“There in town she bought a large double house (an almost unheard of event for a widow with three children) on W. High St., and rented one half of the house and we all lived in the other half. This must have been in 1911 or 1912 because I went to Grayhill School a few months and I would have been 6 in Dec. 1913.”
I love to have these stories of Hannah written by her daughter. In them you can hear a daughter’s pride and admiration for her mother and see the strength and fortitude of a young woman, dealt a pretty tough hand, who got up every morning, put one foot in front of the other, and did what needed to get done. Hats off to you, Grammy Hannah and Grandma Nellie.
In anticipation of my trip to the Ohio Genealogical Society Conference, I arrived a few days early to get in some research. I had dinner with my husband’s distant cousin, Rita, and she drew me a little map of St. Brigid Cemetery in Xenia on a napkin to show me where to find some family graves, including Mark’s great-great grandparents, John Thomas Corrigan and Mary Sexton Corrigan, as well as JT’s mother, Mary Blake Corrigan Taylor.
I stopped in there on Wednesday morning and immediately found the stone marking the graves of some of JT and Mary Corrigan’s children, Grace, Margaret and Sara. I also saw the grave of Rita’s parents and her husband.
But for the life of me I could not find John Thomas and Mary. Up and down the rows I searched. No luck. I called back to the church office, but they didn’t have information and suggested I call the caretaker. No answer. I called Rita, several times, and each time my call was dropped. As I dialed (do you “dial” a cell phone?...) I continued to wander among the markers, looking down, reading, hoping. Just about ready to call it a day, and head back to the car, I looked up, and there they were! And where was that? On the back side of the maker for their daughters. The reminder? Whether document or gravestone, always check both sides. Always.
visited Ohio a few days in advance of the Ohio Genealogical Society conference and was lovingly welcomed. One branch of my husband’s ancestors first settled in London, Ohio. Hoping to do some research, I contacted the Madison County Genealogical Society (http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~ohmadiso/), and even though they’re closed on Mondays, Grace Yerian was kind enough to meet me there, and spend half a day with me! She pulled out all sorts of resources – city directories, county histories, newspaper indexes and more. I was in hog heaven!
I had a chance to read the two local newspapers on microfilm and finally learn the fate of Patrick Roddy. Seven years ago in a digitized paper I spied “Fatally Carved,” (dateline South Charleston, O., Aug 25, 1896) an article in the Xenia Daily Gazette and Torchlight. Seems “Patrick Roddy, a noted tough of this place, and Harry Crampton a tough character of Selma, quarreled in front of James Mooney’s saloon… Hot words were passed between the two, when Roddy struck Crampton with his fist, whereupon Crampton drew a large knife and slashed Roddy three times, one cut nearly severing the jugular vein, another nearly disemblweling him, and the third making a terrible gash in his arm. Roddy lies in a very precarious condition.” But I couldn’t find the next edition of the paper on line. Seven years of wondering, did Roddy die?!!!! And yesterday I got my answer in the,,, not online, not digitized!... Madison County Democrat – “Paddy Roddy who was so badly carved up by Crampton of Selma, a few nights ago, and who was believed to be fatally hurt at the time, is, we are glad to say, in a fair way to recover. May this prove a lasting lesson to Paddy.”  I’m glad for Paddy, but my job as a genealogist might be a bit easier if he had died, however, because nothing I have yet seen tells me who this Paddy is. I’ve got a suspicion but it will take a bit more digging to confirm. I’ll keep you posted.
The best part of my visit with Grace Yerian, however, was discovering that her husband (God rest his soul) and I are cousins! His 3rd great grandfather and my 4th great grandmother were siblings! I haven’t researched that line enough before to find that my Anna Dorthea had any siblings. I didn’t come to Ohio to research the Yearyan clan, but I’m leaving with some “bonus” research! Score!
I left the genealogy society and headed for St. Patrick’s church in London where Mark’s great-great grandparents, Bartley Roddy and Alice Barrett were married in 1869. They’ve got a nice little historical museum in a loft above the sacristy. I made it to the parish office just before they were ready to close the doors and the administrative assistant there gave me directions to the cemetery but they had no take-away map, only some cut-out pieces of paper in a case. I took a picture of one section of it with my phone, but geographic orientation was sorely lacking and I was pretty lost once I got in the cemetery. I did know I was looking for old stones, so at least that helped. I looked for the stone for Patrick Roddy, who I believe might be Bartley’s cousin, but it was so worn as to be unreadable. Luckily, I stumbled upon one important stone, not on my sketchy cell-phone picture and it was in great shape. I found the gravestone of Cornelius and Mary Londergan Sexton, Mark’s 3rd great grandparents. Many years ago when we lived in Ireland, I dragged my kids to the cemetery in Powerstown in County Tipperary on an ultimately unsuccessful search for the grave of Cornelius’ father.
If one cemetery’s good, two must be better and I got a chance to stop at St. Charles Borromeo cemetery in South Charleston to pick up a few more ancestral graves of Bartley and Alice as well as Edward Patrick Roddy and Josephine Corrigan Roddy, Mark’s great grandparents.
I rounded out the day with a lovely dinner with Rita Tobias, a first cousin to Mark’s grandfather, Jack Roddy. Though Rita’s dad, Frank Corrigan, and Jack’s mom, Josephine Corrigan Roddy were siblings, Rita is only six months older than Jack’s son, David (Mark’s dad.) Talk about a looong generation there. Rita told me some interesting bits about Jack. David’s parents were married for about two seconds and he never knew any of his Roddy relatives. It’s really tragic to think of the relationships that were missed in that family. But I’m glad to be able to make some connections and bag some live ones on that branch of the family tree.
 Xenia Daily Gazette and Torchlight, 26 Aug 1891, page 1
 Madison County Democrat, 2 Sep 1891, page 8
 "Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XDLG-Q6D : accessed 27 April 2016), Bartley Roddy and Alice Barrett, 23 Jan 1869; citing Madison, Ohio, United States, reference p 9; county courthouses, Ohio; FHL microfilm 545,133.
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.