Checking Original Documents

It is easy to take the answers presented in online databases and add the information to our trees. But, it is important to check the original documents, when they are available.

Recently, I came across a database entry in a marriage collection on Ancestry that listed a marriage date. I used the source citation to get back to the digital image in FamilySearch and checked the information provided.

The date listed in the database was the date the marriage license was filed for, NOT the date the couple was married.

Additional research for the marriage date was needed, but I at least knew the county to target.

2019 Goal Achieved

For the past 3 years, I’ve been using my version of 52 Ancestors to keep my from being overwhelmed and to make noticable progress. After 12 years of genealogy research, converting gedcoms from different platforms, and early indiscriminate adding of hints, my source citations had been a mess.

Previously when I had a free moment, I would use to generate a number that I could match to an ancestor’s ahnentafel  number.

Continue reading 2019 Goal Achieved

Genealogy Lessons: Using FamilySearch to Effectively Search for Family

Many people are not using FamilySearch at all or only doing simple searches. But, there is so much more. These Genealogy Lessons include case studies to demonstrate the instructions and steps for Putting Lessons into Practice.

Three videos are posted to YouTube: Getting Started, Search by Name, and Catalog Search. Three other videos will be posted soon.

Continue reading Genealogy Lessons: Using FamilySearch to Effectively Search for Family

2018 Goal Achieved

It was a productive year. My favorite goal this year was my version of 52 Ancestors. I was inspired by Amy Johnson Crow’s “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.”

I needed a systematic way to work through my gedcom file. I have been working from the same file since I started building the tree in 2003. After moving between several genealogy file management systems, my sources were junky, incomplete, or non-existent on earlier added profiles. Locations were not uniform. And, somehow the notes had duplicated multiple times. I didn’t know where to start. When I looked at the full file, I was overwhelmed. Continue reading 2018 Goal Achieved

WWI Research Ideas

Last week, I had the pleasure of listening to Janis Minor Forte discuss records generated by the WWI selective service registration process. The DuPage County Genealogical Society hosted her talk, “Even Gangsters Had To Register: WWI Draft Cards and the Selective Service Records They Produced.”

I never knew that so many documents were created beyond the draft registration cards. The big questions is whether they were kept by an ancestor’s home county. Continue reading WWI Research Ideas

Digitization Highs and Lows

When reading about the “Family History Microfilm Discontinuation,” I had mixed thoughts. I loved the progress LDS has made on digitizing the microfilm in its collection, but I was concerned that the Polish records that I was concerned that these records may not be a priority.

Today, I took a moment to review the films for Pilzno and Konin Poland. The good news is that these films are 89% and 79% digitized, respectively. I was surprised and thrilled. I was already putting a research plan together in my head.

But, then I opened a link to the digitized images for one of the films, and was greeted with:

“To view these images you must do one of the following:
Access the site at a family history center.
Access the site at a Family Search affiliate library.”

I went through all the films and saw the same or similar messages. So while the images are available, they are not yet available on my home computer.

One group of records, Poland, Tarnow Roman Catholic Diocese Church Books, is available as an index of over 1 million records. So for a few of the Pilzno records, I can use the index as a starting point, but I will want to view the images to see what was indexed.

I am fortunate in that I have two locations near me where I should be able to view these images.

Serving on the Home Front

Recently, when I was browsing through WW1 draft registration cards, I started thinking about the individuals who didn’t serve.

What was the role of the citizens who stayed home? How did they serve their country? What were the different roles in the community?

As examples, I’ve started pinning posters for farming, victory gardens, and rationing.

Besides the roles people fulfilled, I’m also curious of the psychological impact on those that stayed home. Was there guilt, anger, shame, or pride?

I would be interested in talking to anyone else who has these same questions.

#WW1_HomeFront #Genealogy

Header Image: “An opportunity to show patriotism, 13 Jul 1917” ( : 13 Jul 2017), clipped by “jlbartimus.” Originally appeared in The Daily Chronicle (De Kalb, Illinois), 13 Jul 1917, Page 3.

Where’s Bessie?

Today I’m focusing on Bessie P Greenwell, my great grandmother. In the 1920 Census, we find her, together with her husband, Bryant Hays/Hayes. (1)

1920 Census: Bryant Hayes (head, 31), Bessie Hayes (wife, 31), and Evelyn Hayes (daughter, 2 4/12)

I believe they were married before 19920, because in 1910, Bryant is with his father (2). However, Bessie is not in her father’s household (3).

1910 Census: Charles W Hays (head, 50), Emma Hays (wife, 45), Bryant Hays (son, 22), Harrold Hays (son, 19), Edgar Hays (son, 17), Max Hays (son, 3), and Ruby Dockery (servant, 16)

1910 Census: Martin Greenwell (head, 58), Rebecca L Greenwell (wife, 58), Tim Greenwell (son, 28), William E Greenwell (son, 23), Robert T Greenwell (son, 19), and Clay Greenwell (son, 15).

In addition, there are no other Greenwell’s in Civil District 2, Washington County, Tennessee.

So, where is Bessie in 1910?

  • Is she living with a sibling, aunt, or uncle? The 1910 census indicates that Bessie’s mother, Rebecca Greenwell, has 10 living children, only four of whom live with them.
  • Is Bessie living with a relative of Bryant?
  • Does a Bessie P Greenwell exist elsewhere is the 1910 census or in a state census between 1900 and 1920?

I didn’t find Bessie with any known Greenwell siblings, aunts, or uncles nor any known Hays siblings, aunts, or uncles.

A Bessie Greenwell does appear in the 1905 Iowa State Census in Mason City, Cerro Gordo County. She is located at “Convent E Drummond” with 8 Sisters of the order and a “Veta Greenwell.” (4)

I have not found any other information about Veta, so I don’t yet know whether there is any relationship the two Greenwell girls. There is also no additional information in the 1905 digital image, except a reference to Card #622. Most likely the digital images are an index of 1905 census cards that had details of each individual.

I did not find the Convent in the 1910 census for Mason City, Iowa.

In trying to find where Bessie and Bryant came together, I found their marriage information (5) for 3 Jun 1916 in Clinton, Iowa. Their parents are included in the database, increasing my confidence in snatching up the right marriage record.

But, what took them both to Iowa and where is Bessie in 1910?

The only relation in Iowa is Bryant’s great aunt who is living in Lafayette, around 83 miles from Mason City. But, Bessie is not in her household in 1910.

Possible next steps include,

  • Find the cards for the 1905 Iowa State Census and see whether they offer more details about Bessie and Veta.
  • Find any archives or manuscripts for the Convent on E Drummond in Mason City.
  • Review newspapers in Mason City, Iowa, Washington County, Tennessee, and Ogle County, Illinois that mention the convent or Bessie.
  • Discover more about Veta Greenwell to see how or if Bessie and Veta are related.

Where else should I look?


(1) 1920 U.S. census, Ogle County, Illinois, population schedule, Pine Creek Township, enumeration district (ED) 104, Sheet. 7A-B (penned), line 50-52, dwelling #157, family #157, Bryant Hayes household; digital images, ( : accessed 30 Mar 2017); citing National Archives microfilm publication T625, roll 398.

(2) 1910 U.S. census, Ogle County, Illinois, population schedule, Buffalo Township, enumeration district (ED) 65, Sheet. 3A (penned), line 31-37, dwelling #53, family #53, Charles W Hays household; digital images, ( : accessed 30 Mar 2017); citing National Archives microfilm publication T624, roll 314.

(3) 1910 U.S. census, Washington County, Tennessee, population schedule, Civil District 2, enumeration district (ED) 190, Sheet. 7A (penned), line 1-6, dwelling #107, family #107, Martin Greenwell household; digital images, ( : accessed 30 Mar 2017); citing National Archives microfilm publication T624, roll 1524.

(4) “Iowa, State Census Collection, 1836-1925,” digital images, ( : accessed 30 Mar 2017) Entry for Bessie Greenwell, Cerro Gordo County, Mason City, 1905

(5) “Iowa, Select Marriages Index,” database, ( : accessed 30 Mar 2017) Entry for Bryant Hays and Bessie Greenwell, 4 Jun 1916. Citing FHL Film #1840000.

Book Review

I had a wonderful surprise when I visited my local library and checked out the non-fiction new releases. There were several new genealogy books.

W. Daniel Quillen’s Troubleshooter’s Guide To Do-It-Yourself Genealogy (1) was released late summer of 2016 as a 4th edition. Quillen wrote this book for intermediate level genealogists and focusedf other books beginner-level information or specialized areas.

The different chapters offer close looks at collection types with brief overviews and quick actionable tips for how to use online and onsite collections. For researcher’s who understand the basics, the tips provide next steps. More experienced researchers can review what they’ve already found and consider where to look further.

General themes that are woven through the chapters and demonstrated by the author’s own research stories, include:
* Extract information exactly, even names with different spellings
* Move from indexes and summaries to the original records to verify accuracy and identify additional information
* Use the hints to pursue additional leads
* Check out the local libraries near you and near where you are researching
* List items of “genealogical value,” and develop further research items

Chapter 7 on Land Records offers a great example of the analysis of a land deed, a list of items of genealogical value, and the research action steps that were developed. (2)

The book doesn’t have to be read cover to cover, but can be consulted when developing research plans or encountering a specific research challenge. Quillen also curated additional books and websites that supplement his advice related to the different collection types.

#WorldBookDay #ThursdayThoughts #ReadingMakesMe #Genealogy

(1) W. Daniel Quillen, The Troubleshooter’s Guide To Do-It-Yourself Genealogy, 4th Edition (New York: Cold Spring Press).

(2) Ibid., 116-119.