November 2012

10 posts

Surprise Connection through DNA

I wanted to let you know that I found my mother’s first cousin thanks to AncestryDNA. My great-grandfather, Joseph Bubadias/Jose Cott, was always something of a mystery. We had a few details about him, but he was hard to track. When my DNA results came in, I got a match with Terry, who was listed as possibly my 3rd-4th cousin. As it turns out, Terry’s father is my great-grandfather’s son from his first marriage—a marriage we were not aware of. 

Thanks to Terry, I now know much more about Joe. Today I was able to show my great-aunt some photos that Terry has sent me. I set out the photos and explained to her, “This is your half-brother Allen.” There is still a lot that Terry and I will be sharing with each other, and figuring out. Maybe someday Allen and my great-aunt will be able to talk on the phone.

I wouldn’t know about Allen, or Terry, or Joe’s siblings, without AncestryDNA. I cannot thank you enough for this service. This has been a surreal, wonderful experience.

Sandi Gammon

3 notes
#DNA #Your Stories ancestry genealogy #AncestryDNA
Ask Ancestry Anne: How Can I Find People in My Tree With a Burial Fact?


I have more than 750 people in my family tree and I want to link each one with a Find-A-Grave entry. I think it’s important to know where they are buried because it adds a visual record. When I can identify a gravesite, I add its Find-A-Grave Memorial number in the “Burial Fact” in Is there a way to search my tree for entries with specific facts? I’d like to find out which of my 750+ family tree entries have burial facts listed. I’m pretty sure I’d like to perform this type of search for other facts as well.

Thanks for your help,

Dr. Larry D. (Doug) Graves


Great question!  Your goal goes beyond the basics.  It’s not currently possible to perform this task in an online tree on, but desktop software like Family Tree Maker is a lot more flexible and is better equipped to handle this type of reporting need.  I consulted one of our resident Family Tree Maker experts, Tana L. Pederson, and asked her to show me the best way to accomplish this task.

When you open Family Tree Maker, click Publish and then choose Person Reports to create a Custom Report.


In the middle you will see Custom Report, click that report, then on the right hand-side select that and click Create Report.


Now you need to select the information or facts that you want in your report.  You will see on the right hand side, a little box with a green arrow:


Click on the green arrow icon to open the dialog box where you can select items to include in your Custom Report. Select Birth and you will see a red X appear.


When Birth is selected, click the red X and remove it.  Now you can do that for Marriage as well.


Next, add Burial by clicking on the blue + button. This brings up a list of all Facts. Choose Burial and click OK.   


You are back on the list of items to include. Under Notes, deselect Include Person Notes, and select Include Sources, and then click OK. (Always include your sources so you know where the information came from!)


Now you can select the people with burial facts associated with them.  On the right hand side, select Selected Individuals which will enable the Individuals to Include option.


Click the Filter In button in the center and select All Facts:


Select Burial from the drop-down menu Search where: in the center, then select Is not blank next to it:


Click OK, wait for your report to generate, and you will have a list of everyone in your tree with a burial fact, and because you included sources, you can see at the end how those facts are documented.


Are you one of those people who are hard to buy presents for? You might want to throw out a hint: ask for Beyond the Basics: A Guide for Advanced Users of Family Tree Maker 2012, by Tana L. Pedersen, which is available in the Store.  Not only does it cover these useful tips, but a lot of other ideas that will help you further your research.

Happy holidays and happy searching!

Ancestry Anne

6 notes
#ask ancestry anne #family tree maker #facts #burial facts #reports #custom reports
Maps: A Path to Your Ancestors

Today I presented a Livestream event, Maps: A Path to Your Ancestors, which you can now view below or on the YouTube page.

Map Resources on

Search page

Card Catalog

Maps, Atlases & Gazetteers

U.S. Enumeration District Maps and Descriptions, 1940

U.S., Indexed County Land Ownership Maps, 1860-1918

Historic Land Ownership and Reference Atlases, 1507-2000

A gazetteer of the states of Illinois and Missouri

Cassell’s Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland

Meyers Gazetteer of the German Empire

Germany, Topographic Maps, 1860-1965

German Research Center 

Meyers Orts Abbreviations ( 

U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 (Beta)

This Cleveland of Ours

3 notes
#maps #livestream #julianas corner
3 notes
#ancestry #thanksgiving #thanksgiving day #genealogy #family tree #family search #interesting finds #interesting-finds
Mary Ginger story told by Kathy Great, Great, Great Grand Adventure: Listen to a story by Kathy who is telling us about her search for Mary Ginger, her great, great grandmother while hunting among headstones.

Go see more of the Brown family and their adventures at

#ancestry #mary ginger #great great great grand adventure #ancestor #interesting finds #interesting-finds
Kathy telling the story of her two great great grandfathers being neighbors in Nauvoo Great, Great, Great Grand Adventure: Listen to a story by Kathy who is telling us about her two great great grandfathers being neighbors in Nauvoo, a place they recently visited on their trip. 

Go see more of the Brown family and their adventures at

#ancestry #great adventure #ancestry adventure #genealogy #interesting-finds #interesting finds
2 notes #interesting finds #interesting-finds #ancestry #ancestor #1000memories #shoebox app
1 note
#ancestryadventure #interesting finds #interesting-finds
Your Story: Answers from My Dad's Shipmate

My father, Simon Mostofsky, was killed in action shortly after D-Day. He was a pharmacist mate caring for the wounded on an LST on its way back to Britain. I never knew the name (actually it’s a number) of the ship he was on, but for some reason I did know it had not been sunk. 

In 2010, sent me a hint for a record that led me to the National Personnel Record Center, Military Personnel Records in St. Louis. They directed me to the Library of Congress, and I was sent the records identifying the ship as LST 280. When I received the information I did an online search for the LST 280, and found a blog with two email addresses. One responded, amazingly by a gentleman, H. R. Shawhan,  who was not only a shipmate, but knew my father well, credited my father with having saved his life during a serious illness,  and actually spoke to him just minutes before the fatal torpedo hit. 

I was less than a year old when this happened, but receiving this information was very emotional.  I did try to arrange a visit with him, but could never get a date. I believe the incident itself was too emotional for him to handle. I am attaching the letter he sent me which is attached to my father’s profile on

Steve Mostofsky
Greensboro, NC



5 notes
#your story #Your Stories #military #veterans day
Ask Ancestry Anne: My Father Was in the Navy, But Where?

Question: My father, Matthew Gene Wietecha, served in the Navy in World War II. I have been unable to find out about his service because of the fire in the National Personnel Records Center in  which military files were destroyed. I do know that he served on the USS Evangeline. How can I find out information on his service for our country and about the attack of his ship??

— Doris

Answer:  This case is interesting, because it illustrates that even though the answer isn’t where you would expect to find it, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t out there.

I started my search in the U.S. Military Records collection and chose World War II.  I entered Matthew’s name.  Usually you would want to also include a birth date, but I suspect that Wietecha is not the most common of names.


I found Matthew’s death record, which is helpful because now I have a birth and death date. And I know he was in the Navy and he served from April 24, 1942 to November 10, 1945.


I could not find him in the Navy muster rolls or in the enlistment rolls, so I decided on a different tack. Rather than searching, I went directly to U.S. World War II Navy Muster Rolls, 1938-1949  to see if I could browse the list for the Evangeline


But it wasn’t there.  Nor was it in the U.S. Navy Cruise Books, 1918-2009


Since searching and browsing these collections had both failed, I decided to expand my search to see if I could find a nickname in the census records or a clue in some other record. I found him the 1940 census, living with his parents and brothers and sisters. I noticed in the suggested records on the right hand side of the record page that he is also on five different passenger lists.


I clicked on the first link, and learned that Matthew was on the Esso Baltimore in the Naval Armed Guard Crew.


This list is from May 14, 1943 – right in the middle of World War II.  The other four links are also from the Esso Baltimore.

In search of more information, I found a page on the Naval Armed Guard Service in World War II in the Navy Department Library’s site.  Their job was to protect the ships moving material and men across the “submarine infested” waters both in the Atlantic and the Pacific.

“The Armed Guards played an important part in defending ships which cost $22,500,000,000 to build and operate. The value of the cargo which they defended cannot be estimated in dollars.”

You are correct that there was a fire at the National Personnel Records Center in 1973, but the bulk of the records that were lost were for Army personnel discharged between November 1912 and January 1960 (80 percent lost) and Air Force personnel discharged late September 1947 and January 1964. You can read more about the fire on the National Archives website

Digging deeper into the Navy Library’s website, on the Official Service and Medical Records page, ( I found that the records for men in the Navy Armed Guard are held at the National Personnel Records Center. You’ll find more information on the Start Your Military Service Record (DD Form 214) page.

Your father played a fascinating part in World War II.  I’m hoping if you order his records, you will learn even more. It’s always good to remember that if you don’t find what you are looking for where you expect it, keep expanding your search.  You never know what you might stumble across.

Happy searching!

— Ancestry Anne

4 notes
#ask ancestry anne #genealogy #navy #navy cruise books #national archives #world war II #naval armed guard #esso baltimore #world war II muster rolls

October 2012

9 posts

Descending from Evil: The Story of Herman Webster Mudgett

On the surface Herman Webster Mudgett seemed to be a productive member of society. Born and raised in the small state of New Hampshire, Herman turned his fascination with the human body into a career when he graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School in 1884. Wealthy, well-educated and refined, the young doctor moved to Chicago where he became the owner of a drugstore, and eventually opened a hotel. Women were drawn to the handsome, finely-dressed and charismatic businessman.

He was a total lady-killer.

The 60-room hotel loomed over the Englewood suburb of Chicago, opening its doors shortly before the 1893 World’s Fair. Beneath the cover of a successful entrepreneur, Herman Webster Mudgett - better known as H.H. Holmes - designed the hotel with one thing in mind: murder. During construction, Holmes used several different contractors so that none of them would catch on to his monstrous plans. The hotel, or “Murder Castle,” came complete with stairways to nowhere, windowless rooms fitted with gas lines and body chutes used to drop his sedated victims down to the basement level.

Once in the underbelly of the castle, victims were subjected to real-life horrors that would make Dexter’s “Dark Passenger” sit up and take notice. The basement came complete with vats of acid, lime pits, an oven and a surgical table. It was here that Dr. H.H. Holmes, the living-breathing monster - worse than anything Hollywood could ever imagine - dissected his victims, selling their organs and skeletons to medical schools across the country.

Located just two miles away from the World’s Fair, H.H. Holmes had a steady flow of female victims to choose from and many times he profited off of more than just their bodies. It was while studying at the University of Michigan Medical School that he also became proficient in the art of insurance fraud. Holmes would regularly steal cadavers from the school, taking insurance policies out on the deceased. He would then disfigure the bodies to claim they had been killed in an accident so he could collect on the insurance. Later, with his living victims, Holmes would befriend and manipulate them into signing over power of attorney. Shortly after, the trusting victims would wake to find themselves in the basement of Holmes’ castle.

Dr. Henry Howard Holmes, America’s first serial killer, was eventually caught and hanged for his crimes on May 7, 1896, at Moyamensing prison in Philadelphia. Convicted of murder, he admitted to killing 27 people, but was believed to be guilty of up to 200 murders. Holmes was laid to rest in an unmarked grave, encased in 10 feet of cement at nearby Holy Cross Cemetery. After months of dominating newspaper headlines and redefining the nightmares of their readers, Herman Webster Mudgett was left to be forgotten.

Although H.H. Holmes has been dead and buried for over a century, his genes live on. At the end of his life, he was married to three different women and had an unknown number of mistresses and children.

When we set out looking to uncover the history of our families, most are excited and motivated by the thought of finding connections to war heroes, presidents, the Mayflower or even royalty. However, what we don’t consider is the fact we may unearth skeletons our family has been trying to keep hidden for generations.

This was the reality for Jeff Mudgett, author of “Bloodstains” and second great grandson of Herman Webster Mudgett. At the age of 40, Jeff learned of the monster he descends from, and it left him questioning everything he thought he knew about himself and his family. The new information forever changed him, propelling him down a new path in search of the truth.

However, diving into Holmes’ life only led him down a darker path; a path that could potentially solve the mystery of Jack the Ripper. In 2006, using 13 eyewitness accounts from 1888, Scotland Yard and the BBC had a computer composite made of the Ripper, and the similarities to Holmes are shocking. Along with the composite, Jeff had H.H. Holmes’ handwriting compared to the infamous Jack the Ripper letter. One expert, recommended by the British Library, concluded both were written by the “same hand,” while a computer program used by the Postal Service and Department of Justice stated it was a 97.95% match.

Jeff is currently investigating whether Holmes was in London during the Ripper, but in the mean time, the composite and handwriting samples can be viewed on his site at Could these two men be the same monster? Judge for yourself.

If you were faced with the reality of descending from a man like Holmes, how would you handle the information? Would you share it with your family or throw the skeleton back into the closet you found it in? History holds just as many villains as it does heroes, so would you have the guts to claim yours as publicly as Jeff has in his book?

If you want to learn more about H.H. Holmes, and hear how his descendants have coped with this, check out my new video blog “Claiming Your Villain” where Jeff Mudgett helps me tackle a question I often receive: “Are some family secrets better off forgotten?” He will also share how he’s grown from this experience, and gives others advice on how to handle their own dark discoveries.

Watch the interview with Jeff here:

By Kris Williams Twitter: KrisWilliams81

3 notes
#herman webster mudgett #ancestry #genealogy #family tree #family history #family past #evil #serial killer #interesting-finds #interestingfinds
AncestryDNA: Now Available to Order Online

Great news, the new AncestryDNA test is available to order right now! Over the past several months, AncestryDNA was available by invitation only. We’ve sent out all of our invitations, and now the test is available to everyone—you’re all invited! All you have to do is go to the AncestryDNA site, click the orange “Get AncestryDNA” button, and order your test.

As a perk to our subscribers, you can order AncestryDNA for a special price, so be sure to log in to your account when you get to the site. If you’re not a subscriber, you can choose to include a membership with your DNA test and save. The AncestryDNA test alone is amazing, but adding a subscription gives you access to the world’s largest online family history resource to take your DNA discoveries even further.

So, what is AncestryDNA? It’s the newest DNA test on that uses some of the latest DNA testing technology out there. Now you can discover if you really do have Viking blood or if your ancestors hailed from Southern Europe. Along with getting a full breakdown of your genetic ethnicity, the new DNA test also connects you to distant cousins—relatives who you probably would have never met otherwise. It’s the easiest and fastest way to learn even more about your family story. Order yours today at

2 notes
#ancestry #dna #dna test #dna testing #genealogy #family tree #family search #interesting finds #interesting-finds #ancestrydna
2 notes
#death records #interesting-finds #interesting finds #ancestry #genealogy #family tree #family search
#ancestor #ancestry #celebrity #celebrity yearbooks #don johnson #family search #family tree #genealogy #interesting-finds #interestingfinds #kevin costner #lucy liu #snoop dogg #yearbooks #interesting finds
3 notes
#death records #ancestry #genealogy #family tree #family search #kris williams #paranormal #ghosts #halloween #ghost stories #interesting-finds #interesting finds
7 notes
#ancestry #avril lavigne #celine dion #family search #family tree #genealogy #justin bieber #ryan gosling #interesting finds #interesting-finds
Win Screening Passes for NEW Steven Spielberg film, 'Lincoln'

Attention fans! We are collaborating with DreamWorks Pictures and Twentieth Century Fox’s Lincoln, in theaters November 16, 2012. We will soon be announcing some exciting news in a few weeks, so sit tight.


LINCOLN is in theaters November 9th, 2012 (Limited) and
Nationwide November 16th, 2012.

One Day - Advance Screening Pass Giveaway - Tuesday, October 9

In the meantime, we have a special giveaway for you to act on NOW! Be among the first to attend a special advance screening of DreamWorks and Twentieth Century Fox’s Lincoln in Seattle and Los Angeles. The date is October 10 at 4pm PT. And afterwards stay for a very rare Q&A live satellite with Steven Spielberg and Daniel Day-Lewis. You could be chosen to ask a question! 

We have a limited amount of tickets for Seattle and Los Angeles. Be one of the first 10 people who answer the question, “What makes you so excited to see the new Lincoln movie?” by emailing your answer using any unique username you chose in answering the question in the comments section, and include your name and phone number. Winners will be chosen on a first come, first serve basis so act quickly as tickets will go fast. Giveaway is one ticket per person. We will confirm you have won the advance screening ticket and provide details.

Remember, there is no wrong answer. Just be one of the first 10 in Seattle or Los Angeles area to answer the question. We ask that you be sure you can attend the Wednesday, October 10 advance screening and Q&A. We would be disappointed if you had a ticket and couldn’t attend. If you are looking for a friend or two to join you, share the blog post with your friends so they can also have a chance to win.

Watch the movie preview here:


Movie Synopsis

Spielberg directs two-time Academy Award® winner Daniel Day-Lewis in “Lincoln,” a revealing drama that focuses on the 16th President’s tumultuous final months in office. In a nation divided by war and the strong winds of change, Lincoln pursues a course of action designed to end the war, unite the country and abolish slavery. With the moral courage and fierce determination to succeed, his choices during this critical moment will change the fate of generations to come. 

Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader, Hal Holbrook and Tommy Lee Jones, “Lincoln” is produced by Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, with a screenplay by Tony Kushner, based in part on the book “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln” by Doris Kearns Goodwin. The DreamWorks Pictures/Twentieth Century Fox film, in association with Participant Media, releases in U.S. theaters exclusive on November 9, 2012, with expansion on November 16, 2012.

1 note
#steven spielberg #lincoln #daniel day lewis #abraham lincoln #ancestry #genealogy #interesting-finds #interestingfinds
Searching for Cave's Parents

I have searched for months for the parents of my great-great grandfather, Cave Johnson Bearden. He was born 26 December  1870, in Tennessee, and died 15 January 1952 in Montgomery County, Tennessee.

From what I’ve found in census records, it appears he has always resided in middle Tennessee. Through other member stories, his parents died when he was a little child and he was raised by Benjamin William and Betty Turner. I have traced their lineage, thinking they must be related in some way to Cave’s parents, but I was unable to link them. I have his death certificate, but his parents are not listed. Birth records were not required in Tennessee until the 1900s, so I have no birth record.

I contacted the Social Security administration to see if he applied, but they found nothing. Also, he has no delayed birth record or military draft card after searching both Ancestry and Fold3. I am at a total loss on what to do. I have dug through the census records to see if the Turners were living in the same area as his parents, but no hope there either. Please help give me some more ideas to find his parents! I’d be so appreciative!

Taylor Burich

Oh, this is a tough one.  You’ve done a good job of tracking down leads that you have found.

You state that he was born in December of 1870, which means he is not in the 1870 census as it was taken earlier that year. We do find him in the 1880 census, living with the Turners and two other laborers in Dickson County, Tennessee.  I do find it interesting that a 9 year old is listed as having an occupation.  Does this mean that his parents have died and he had nowhere else to go?

Also, the 1880 census tells us that his parents were born in Tennessee.  This may or may not be true, but let’s go with that for now.


We also discover that in 1880, Cave is the only Bearden (checking multiple spellings), living in Dickson County which has 12,462 inhabitants. 

Next, you would want to find possible candidates in Tennessee in the 1870 census.  We discover in Dickson County, that there are 0 Beardens. There are 391 Bearden’s in Tennessee in the 1870s.  Now you can take each family you find and try and determine if they are Cave’s parents, but how?  It is possible that his parents died between 1870 and 1880 and that he is listed in a probate settlement somewhere.  That is going to take a lot of digging on your part and sounds like a very haphazard approach.

If there was any property or anything of value, and Cave’s parents did die, maybe there is a guardianship document.
It is also possible that Cave’s father died, his mother remarried, and for some reason Cave decided not to live with the family or maybe his new family choose to place him elsewhere.

I think you have reached the end of your online search.  Not all of our ancestors leave an easy paper trail.  Cave and his parents have not left much of one at all. I believe that what you really need here, is a Tennessee genealogy expert; someone who knows the area and time and understands where to look.  So how would you go about finding someone to help?  I would first contact the Dickson County Historical and Genealogical Society ( and see if they have recommendations.  You can also check Association of Professional Genealogist (  Also, Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) has a listing of Certified Genealogists ( and you can check for genealogists who specialize in Tennessee.

So how do you know if someone can help you? 

  1. Tell them everything you know.  You don’t want to pay someone to redo the work you’ve already done.
  2. Ask for research proposal.  Find out exactly what they plan on doing, where they are going to look and why, how long it will take, and how much it will cost.  This is your money, get the details up front!
  3. Ask for referrals and/or examples of their work. 
  4. You might limit the first research to a certain number of hours so you can assess the work that is being done on your behalf and if you feel comfortable with it.

This one is hard.  Sometimes the trick is to know that you’ve gone as far as you can go and it’s time to raise your hand for help.

Good luck!

1 note
Your Story: Twisted Branches

When I first got Family Tree Maker, I was just checking to make sure the “How is this person related to me?” button would actually work. To test it out, I clicked on my mother’s name in my tree. As expected it said she was my mother, but I was flabbergasted to learn she was also my fifth cousin. That sent me scrambling up all branches of my tree to see where they crossed. Low and behold, on my mother’s paternal side, my great-great-grandparents William King Laughlin (1805-1861) and his wife Margaret King (1808-1870) are related on two sides. His maternal great grandfather Edward King (1720-1790) is her paternal grandfather. Her maternal great-grandparents John Laughlin and Jane Mathews are his paternal great grandparents. 

The intrigue doesn’t stop there. My maternal grandmother, Carrie Harper in order to escape the confines of her home in West Virginia became a mail order bride.  She wrote to a man far away in Illinois. He came and whisked her away to the surprise of her father and step-mother. While tracing both branches of my grandparent’s trees, I discovered their families had already met 177 years prior. On I found court records of my grandfather’s ancestors suing my grandmother’s ancestors for false advertising. In 1740 they purchased land in the Shenandoah River Valley.  Thinking they were settling into an established community, they felt defrauded when discovering it was inhabited by “wild savages.” The judge dismissed the case under “caveat emptor” - buyer beware.

Molly Burke

1 note
#Your Story #twisted branches

September 2012

3 posts

Ask Ancestry Anne: Updated List of Livestream Presentations

I’ve updated my list of Livestream Presentations.  I’ve also have links to PDF of my sourcing presentations on this page.

Happy Searching!

— Ancestry Anne

1 note
#ask ancestry anne #how to videos #sourcing
Your Story: Siblings Reunited


As children, my sister and I (now in our 60s) were told that our father had come to this country through a marriage with an American woman. They lived in New York and had a son. That’s all we knew. Our parents divorced when I was six and my sister was four and somewhere along the way I was told that our brother had been adopted by his new father and his last name was no longer Fischel. End of story…or so I thought.

I’ve always been interested in family history. When I began delving into my family’s history, though, I concentrated on my maternal side as I grew up with little interest in my father or his side of my story. After all, I didn’t know my older brother’s first or last name, his mother’s name, his adopted name, etc., so why even bother searching?

I created my tree on under my husband’s account (Thomas Redfern) and dabbled in adding information until I retired a year ago. Then, I seriously began entering information and photographs.

Last November, my husband received an email through from David Zubatsky, a genealogist in Pennsylvania who believed his friend, Jack Fischel, could be related to me. David provided Jack’s contact information as well as a detailed history. I was quite impressed with what I read and at 7:30 in the morning I called my sister to read her the email.

Her reaction - “What do you think this means?” was how I felt, too. I called Jack and left a voice mail. He called me back and asked if we could talk that evening. In the meantime, I emailed him a photo of my father with a very beautiful woman asking if he knew who she was.

When I answered the phone that evening Jack said, “Well, Sis, the photo clinches it. That woman is my mother and that picture is on my living room shelf.”  Wow! My brother had found me at last.

Jack and my sister Marsha and I chatted over the phone for a few days. We “met” Jack and our new sister-in-law, Julie, for the first time via Skype the following Sunday.

Thanksgiving was close at hand and on Thanksgiving eve my children and grandchildren met their new Uncle and Aunt via Skype, and I met my new niece, her husband and my new grandniece and nephew.

On June 19, 2012 my sister and I flew to Landisville, Pennsylvania to meet our brother and his family in person. We spent three glorious days with Jack and Julie, met our nephew Josh, our niece Corrie and her family, and our new hero—David Zubatsky. 

Thank you for helping us find each other. This meeting would never have happened without this site. Now, we talk weekly, visit via Skype, and email on a regular basis. We plan to see each other again as soon as possible.

I am attaching a few photos of us at our meeting. I am the one Jack is pointing to in the photo Jack and Me.

Most sincerely,

Rebecca Elliot

Enjoy this story? Submit your story to We may run yours next month. 



4 notes
#Your Stories #siblings reunited
Ask Ancestry Anne: Is Wilson really George's Father?

Question:  I have found a possible connection to my great-grandfather, George W. Coulter (1857-1926) who died in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  I have a lot of information that seems to link him to a man named Wilson George Coulter (1827-1881), who I believe, is his father.

I don’t have specific linking documentation, just a LOT of situations where they are found in the same locations at the same time. The suspected father of my ancestor traveled due to his being a preacher, and my great-grandfather is found in many of the same areas. For example, according to his death certificate, George was born in an obscure town, which is where the preacher was stationed at that time. My George had a child born in Lancaster, which is where the preacher died. Plus, a George Coulter with same occupation as mine is in the city directory for Lancaster on same street as preacher’s son, Peter Henry Coulter.  It seems extremely unlikely that this is a mere coincidence. Should I add this to my tree even though I don’t have them living together. I am 99.9% sure they are family.

— Cynthia Coulter Marcinik

Answer: Short answer: No. 

Let me first commend you for digging deep to find everything you can and then recognizing that you still don’t have anything that states outright that George W. is the son of Wilson George Coulter.

But what you are doing is using an excellent tactic for making that connection when you can’t find document proof — you’re looking for friends, neighbors and other relatives, all of whom could help you make a strong case that you’ve found the right person.

Let’s look at what we know.

In 1880, George Coulter is living in Allegheny, Blair County, Pennsylvania.


Wilson George Coulter is living in Newport, Perry County, Pennsylvania in that same census.


In 1870, the same Wilson Coulter is living in Medford, Burlington County, New Jersey, and you’ll notice in 1870, there is a George living in the household. But unfortunately, in the 1850, 1860, and 1870 census the relationship is not stated.


In 1860, the same Wilson Coulter is living North Newton, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, and again there is a George of the right age living with him. (This one is hard to read)


So where do you go next?

In the 1900 census, we are told that George Coulter and Minnie were married ca. 1878; it also tells us that he was born in April 1855.

Possible documents that might state the parent/child relationship:

  1. George’s marriage certificate, but you will need a location
  2. George’s birth certificate, again a location
  3. You state that Wilson dies in 1881.  It is likely there was a will or an estate settlement which would possibly include his children.
  4. When does Wilson’s wife, Mary die?  If it was after Wilson, she is likely to have a will or estate settlement.
  5. What churches did Wilson work for?  They may have directories that include George or state something about him.
  6. Do you have an obituary for George?  Maybe it names his mother or father or both.
  7. Another route would be research the other children of Wilson and Mary and see if a direct connection can be made.  Then you can possibly draw a connection between George and the sibling.

 I agree with that it is highly likely that Wilson is George’s father.  But likely is not proof, is it?  Keep searching, the answer is out there.

 — Ancestry Anne

9 notes
#ask ancestry anne #genealogy #family history #Census

August 2012

8 posts

1 note
#1940 Census #U.S. Census #Time Machine #1940 U.S. Census #Ancestry #Genealogy #Family Tree #interesting finds #interesting-finds
Phyllis Diller: The Consummate Performer

Yesterday we lost a comedic legend when Phyllis Diller died at the age of 95. I remember watching her on Bob Hope specials and on so many variety shows when I was growing up. The sight of that crazy hair and wardrobe never failed to bring a smile. And that awesome laugh. If you didn’t laugh at the joke she was telling (and that was rare), you laughed when she laughed. It was contagious.

She was born Phyllis Driver in Lima, Ohio to Perry and Ada Driver in 1917. Perry is listed as an insurance salesman in the 1920 census.

By the time she was almost seven, Phyllis Driver was already a rising star in Lima. Her mentions in the Lima News are numerous, for her musical talents playing the piano and saxophone.


Lima News, 4 May 1924

The social pages chronicle her visits home to see her parents when she went off to the Sherwood School of Music in Chicago, as well as her recitals in Chicago.


Lima News, 24 May 1936

When she returned to Allen Co., Ohio, to attend Bluffton College as a music major, the Bluffton College yearbook notes her contribution to the school newspaper, the debate club, and the drama club.


After she married Sherwood Diller in 1939, the birth of her first child landed the proud mother back in the social pages of the Lima News in September 1940.


Phyllis went on to give birth to five more children, one of whom died just shy of two-weeks old.  She and her family moved to California where she would begin her career in a San Francisco nightclub called the Purple Onion. This article tells of her double-life as a mother and comedienne.

From her nightclub days, she went on to become a star in movies, on Broadway, and even on two of her own television shows, all whilst appearing as a guest on many others. She periodically returned to her hometown of Lima to perform, including a 1973 musical performance with the Lima Symphony Orchestra that raised money for music scholarships at her alma mater. In return, Lima pulled out all the stops. Saturday and Sunday were declared Phyllis Diller days, and the Lima News ran a full-page story titled “This Was Your Life,” filled with reminiscences from local friends, former teachers, and even the doctor who delivered two of her children.


Phyllis Diller once said, “A smile is a curve that sets everything straight.”  As I pored over the clippings and various records Phyllis left behind in Ohio, it became very clear that she spent a good portion of her life passing out those smiles that set everything straight. Thanks Phyllis.

If you want to take a trip down memory lane and see Phyllis combine her musical and comedic talents, I found this clip on YouTube from The Muppet Show. Enjoy!

4 notes
#julianas corner #phyllis diller
A Father Finds His Long Lost Daughter

For the past decade I have been researching my father’s side of the family, and knew particularly little about my 4th great-grandfather, Timothy Stokin, and his family. 

The first break-through in our research came with finding Timothy and his family in Greenfield, Pennsylvania, in 1850. By 1860, they had moved to Merton, Wisconsin. Through those censuses we learned about Timothy and Adelia’s children who are not direct relatives of ours. We also learned that by 1880, the Stokins had settled in Pepin, Wisconsin.

The story of the Stokins gets more interesting at this point. In 1875, The New York Times ran a story about how Timothy and his wife were reunited with a daughter who was abducted as an infant while the family was living in Waukesha. Taken by a previous suitor, the daughter, Fannie, was taken to St. Louis where she was raised. Thanks to a ship captain on the Mississippi River, she ultimately ended up in the Durand and Menominee area in Wisconsin where a neighbor thought she bore an uncanny resemblance to the Stokins. In August 1875, the family was reunited after nearly 20 years. 

Since finding this story through, we have been able to learn more about Timothy’s service in the Civil War, and the death of one of their sons early in the war.

More importantly, we have reconnected with a number of relatives through who have been able to share stories of what life was like for the Stokins in the late 1800s—including the fact that they worked the docks in Durand and Pepin Wisconsin and often took in new immigrants into their home because of their ability to speak German. We have a number of handwritten family histories about the Stokins, as a result. 

Thanks to a more recent connection, we also now have the portrait below. According to another article found on we were able to determine that this photo is a style called crayon portraits. In this case, we have an original photo, so know that this was created in a studio based on that original. It is a similar style to about a half a dozen other portraits of relatives who lived in Wisconsin around the same time. 

Tim Krause

4 notes
#Your Stories #submission
Your Story: 50 Year Old Mystery Solved


In 1962 when I was twelve years old I found an old photo album in an antique shop while traveling with my mother and father from Ohio to New Hampshire during a summer vacation. As my parents had always instilled the love of photography and history, I was drawn to and fell in love with this leather-bound treasure.  I am grateful that my parents admired my interest and allowed me to purchase this antique family album, so long ago. The original archivist, Sarah Bugbee Yates, had labeled the photos very well (an act that I appreciate even more today than I did when I was twelve). There are thirty individuals, photographed between the years of 1861 -1878 within in this gem.  

Entrusted with this one of a kind cache, I used to daydream that someday I would be able to present these photographs to a descendant, who would hold them dear, but I was never quite sure as a child how I would go about doing this. So I kept the leather album safe from harm and would peruse it every now and then wondering about the stories behind the pictures.  I always decided when moving or going through my possessions not to let it go—not just yet. 

Over the past year and half I have been using to document my own families’ genealogies and have been impressed with the opportunities to share photos and information with others. This week while on vacation, I took a break and began scanning and entering the photos from this album.  

I created a tree on with the information in the album and in records I found. I found it fascinating to follow this family back in time as they had moved across the country from Connecticut to New York, Ohio, California, Alaska, and even South America.  Their ancestors arrived prior to the Revolutionary War and their migration across the country is an amazing tribute to the American spirit.  It is no wonder with all of the mobility that this album was “lost” from the family. 

It appears that the photo album was created and kept by Sarah Bugbee (Mrs. Lucia H. Yates), who was born in 1804 and died in 1884.  Her photo is on page three of the album next to a photo labeled: Lucia Halen Yates, who I discovered on was born in 1804 and died in 1862. Sarah is pictured all in black and interestingly is holding a frame that contains perhaps the photo of her husband who passed during the time period of the Civil War on 13 March 1862.  I am still curious as to the circumstances of his death—a story that perhaps can unfold through further research.   Sarah, who lived twenty years after the death of her husband, must have treasured his memory and those of her loved ones.  She undoubtedly was able to hold them close to her heart in this small, leather-bound, clasped album.  

It was my wish as a twelve year old and remains so now, after saving this album for fifty years, to find the families of those pictured so they might be cherished by their descendants, near and far. I remembering being in a quandary when I was young, as to how I would choose who would be given the album, if I was ever able to locate the families, a task that was also beyond my comprehension.  

With the wonders of the internet and the technology provided by, I realized that my childhood wish could come true.  I, thanks to your service, do not have to decide who amongst the extensive list of relatives would receive the album.  It is now dispersed for members to view.  They will be able to so easily add these 150 year old photos to their own family archives.

I have waited fifty years to see if the family members who use are able to locate the photos I posted and in turn be grateful to Sarah Yates for her superb documentation and love of family. Tonight it finally happened thanks to your “Recent Member Connect” service.  A member from Fort Worth, wrote a message to me that reads as follows:  

"Thank you for the photographs you uploaded. There are several members of my family that you located in the book. What a great find, and again I appreciate your efforts to place them on Ancestry so that history may be passed down!"  

My Childhood wish has come true! Thank you for giving us the technology to virtually take this album to the rightful descendants. From the information from the tree I created, I hope to travel to Darien Center, N.Y. in the near future to donate the album to their historical society or special collections library.  As an educator, I believe that knowledge is of great value, but the willingness and ability to share it with others is priceless.   


Jennifer Cauffield

4 notes
#Your Stories
Ask Ancestry Anne: Three Andrew Blankinships. How Do I Choose?

Hi Anne,
I’ve run into a brick wall on researching my great grandfather, Andrew Blankinship.  We have very little information about him…parents and siblings are unknown.  Here is the information we do have: 

1) Born in Ohio, believed to be around Cleveland.   I had entered parents I found on my tree, but later deleted them as I found 3 sets of parents who had a child named Andrew around 1845 in Ohio.  All were born in/around Aid, Lawrence, Ohio.  Parents I found were: Madison & Delila; Beverly & Malvna; & Wesley & Hanna.  Also, my father always told us we have Native Americans in our ancestry & I’m wondering it could have been the Blankinships as they are such a mystery.  We have searched census records.
2) Andrew fought in the Civil War, believed for the Confederate Army.  He was wounded during his active duty.  Selia drew a pension after the death of Andrew. A record was found in “1890 Civil War Veterans” as follows: ”Blankingship, Andrew; Ho-95-1; Pvt H Co, 1st US Inf;  Sep 27 62 to Jun 29 65; McKinnon PO.”
3) Andrew Blankinship and Selia Caroline Cathey were married 08/03/1871 in Stewart Co, TN by J.B. Lune, J.P. & had 11 children.  Selia belonged to the Methodist Church & Andrew belonged to none.
4) Andrew & Selia moved to Napier, TN around 1889, when my grandmother, Fannie, was 5 years old.  Andrew worked at the coal pits in McKinnon TN & also Napier, Tn.  Andrew died of a heart attack at Napier, TN and Selia died of pneumonia.  They are buried at Napier Lake Cemetery in Tenn.
5) Andrew & Selia owned a home in McKinnon, TN, but rented when they moved to Napier, Tn.

— Carol

Dear Carol,

Let’s start with a review of some of what you have told me. 

According to Find-a-Grave, Andrew Blankinship was born February 23, 1845 and died on January 22, 1895.  Selia Carolyn Blankinship nee Cathey was born April 18, 1834 and died on July 17, 1901.

In the Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861 – 1934, we find Andrew Blankinship with his widow Selia Blankinship listed:


Andrew fought with the West Virginia Ninth Infantry and the West Virginia First Veterans Infantry.  He was a Union soldier, not a Confederate soldier.   You may want to consider the applications from NARA (both the Invalid and the Widow application) may hold some clues to his parents or other relatives.

You’ll notice that Selia filed for a widow’s application on February 25, 1895.  Given that we believe Andrew died on January 22, 1895, this fits.

You found 3 Andrew Blankinship’s in Ohio (all in Lawrence County, Ohio) in the 1860 census.  This is a reasonable guess that one of them is your Andrew.


 The Andrew who enlisted in 1862 did so in Pt Pleasant, Virginia (now West Virginia):


Aid, Ohio is about 34 miles away from Point Pleasant.  This is a reasonable distant to travel to enlist.  I found no other likely candidates in Ohio in 1860 and 1850, so these seem to be a reasonable group to focus on.

Family one


Family Two


Family Three


I think we can rule out William and Hannah.  The Andrew living with them in 1860, is also living with Hannah in 1870 and 1880.


In 1870, we find 5 Andrew Blankinships in the US:


We ruled out The Andrew living in Ohio in 1870.  The Andrews who are both born in Virginia and are living in Virginia in 1870 do not seem likely candidates.

Montgomery County is adjacent to Stewart County, where your Andrew’s bride to be lives. Giles County is quite a distance away.  Also, if you look at that census image the Andrew in Giles County is stated to be born in Alabama.


Andrew and Selia were married in 1871 in Steward County.  I searched for Andrew in Stewart County in 1870, and could not find him there but I did find an Andrew in neighboring Montgomery County who may be your Andrew:


He is the correct age, he is a Collier which is someone who worked in a Coal Mine, which was Andrew’s occupation in later years and he was born in Ohio.  This is hardly definitive proof, but the best guess is the Andrew living in Montgomery County in 1870.

But is he the son of James and Margaret or Beverly and Lovina?

Here is what I recommend:

  • Check the names of Andrew and Selia’s children and compare to the names of James and Margaret’s children and then Beverly and Lovina’s.  Are there similarities?
  • Contact the Lawrence County, Ohio Historical Society and see if they have any information or suggestions on where you might look for Birth announcements and Obituaries that might have clues.
  • Order a copy of Andrew’s pension application.  Even if the parents are listed, there may be brothers and sisters listed that will help you identify the parents.
  •  Track the parents and brothers and sisters in the two families in successive census.  Do any move close to Andrew and Selia? 
  • If you can find death dates for the parents you might be able to find probate records or obituaries that lead you to the answer.

This one is not easy.  But that will make the answer that much sweeter when you find it.

Happy Searching!

— Ancestry Anne

3 notes
#ask-ancestry-anne #member-questions #genealogy #genealogy tips #ancestry #tennessee #blankinship #identity
1940 Census Update—All States and Territories Now Indexed and Searchable!

That does it. As we told you this morning, you can now search for your relatives from any state in the just-completed index to the 1940 census on We took the latest state indexes for a test drive and here’s who we found.

Christopher Lloyd
In the hit movie Back to the Future, we see “Doc Brown” as he was in 1955. Now we can travel back in time and catch a glimpse of actor Christopher Lloyd in 1940. A one-year-old, he was living in Stamford, Fairfield Co., Connecticut, with his parents, sister Adele, and several servants.

Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway was enumerated with his wife Pauline in 1940 at his famous home at 907 Whitehead on Key West, Monroe Co., Florida. It was not to be for long. That year he divorced Pauline, married the famous war correspondent, Martha Gellhorn, and moved to Cuba.

Charlton Heston
Although he was born John Charles Carter in 1923, by the time of the 1940 census, at age  16, John was already going by Charlton Heston—a combination of his mother’s maiden name and his step-father’s last name. 

Kim Novak
Model and actress, Kim Novak, was born Marilyn Pauline Novak in 1933, and in 1940, she’s living in Chicago at 1910 Springfield Avenue. Her dad worked as a clerk for a “steam railway,” earning $1,060 in 1939.

Quincy Delight Jones, Jr.
When Rashida Jones was featured on Who Do You Think You Are? this past season, we learned a bit about her mother’s side of the family. Now we can learn a little about her dad, music producer Quincy Jones. At age seven, he was living with his parents and brother on Chicago’s South Side, at 3548 Prairie Avenue. His father was employed in construction as a carpenter.

Antoine Dominique “Fats” Domino Jr.
R&B legend Antoine “Fats” Domino was only twelve in 1940. His family was living next door to Harrison Verrett, a relative who is credited with helping him learn to play.

Elvis Presley
“The King” was five years old and living in rural Lee County, Mississippi, where his father, Vernon, worked as a carpenter on a sanitary project and mom, Gladys, was a seamstress.

Morgan Freeman
Morgan Freeman’s family moved around quite a bit when he was young, but the 1940 census found him living at 3412 Vernon Avenue in Chicago, Cook Co., Illinois. His father’s relationship to the head of household is listed as “partner,” which is a common notation you’ll find on the 1940 census. The enumerators were instructed that, “if two or more persons who are not related by blood or marriage share a common dwelling unit as partners, write head for one and partner for the other or others.” Here on the heels of the Great Depression, it’s not surprising to find friends pooling resources and sharing a residence.  

Jack Nicholson
Jack Nicholson was raised by his grandparents as their own child. In 1940, his is living in Neptune, Monmouth Co., New Jersey with grandmother, Ethel, listed as the head of household. His mother, June and Jack list their relationship to her as daughter and son, respectively. Ethel worked as a beautician and June was working as an exhibition dancer for a theatrical agency.

Willie Hugh Nelson
In 1940, Willie Nelson and his sister Bobbie were living in Hill County, Texas, with their widowed grandmother. They are listed as “son” and “daughter.” Bobbie began playing piano in her brother’s band in the 1970s and continues to tour with him.

Andy Griffith
The late Andy Griffith is living with his parents in Mount Airy, Surry Co., North Carolina, a place that is reminiscent of the setting for his famous Andy Griffith Show.  The town embraces that link and is home to the Andy Griffith museum.  It is still home to the original “Snappy Lunch” diner, and the town hosts “Mayberry Days” every September. (Yes, there is also a Floyd’s Barber shop now.)

Don Knotts
Andy’s co-star Don Knotts, was living with his widowed mother, and brother in the town where he was born, Morgantown, Monongalia Co., West Virginia. His brother had earned $300 in the past year working as a laborer in school construction.

Charles Hardin “Buddy” Holley
April 8, 1940. “That’ll be the day” that the census taker came to call at the Holley household, where Ella P. gave the details (indicated with the x in a circle after her name) on her son Charles H., who would someday be known to the world as rock and roll legend, Buddy Holly.

John McCain
In 1940, Senator John McCain’s family was still living in the Panama Canal Zone where he had been born in 1936, and where his father was a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy.

Find your family now in the fully searchable 1940 U.S. Census.

4 notes
#our 1940 stories #1940 census
1940 U.S. Census: 50 States, 134 Million Names, 1 Index

Today is all about numbers. The first is 100, as in 100 percent of the 1940 U.S. Federal Census is now indexed. That means all 50 states are available to search to your heart’s content. Our indexing came up with 134,395,545 people counted. Most reports on the 1940 census give the U.S. population as 132 million and change, so you may be wondering where the extra 2 million people came from.

Two words: Puerto Rico. OK, and Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Panama Canal Zone. They were all included in the 1940 U.S. census and add another 2.1 million or so records to the final count.

  The Oldest American(s) We came up with a tie for the oldest person in the census: Mary Dilworth of Oxford, Mississippi,  

  and Cándido Vega Y Torres of Guayama, Puerto Rico, both listed their ages as 119.  

  We identified 35,646,274 heads of household, for an average household size of 3.7 people. The average age of the respondent who talked with the enumerator was 43.   Where Did They All Come From? It’s probably not difficult to guess the number one state reported as birthplace on the census, but a couple of the other nine might surprise you. Here they are in order:

  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
  • Illinois
  • Ohio
  • Texas
  • Missouri
  • Michigan
  • North Carolina
  • Georgia


Amongst foreign-born folks, the top five reported birth countries were

  • Italy
  • Germany
  • Russia
  • Poland
  • England  


So, What’s Your Name? We can also tell you the top 10 male and female names on the 1940 census: John William James Robert Joseph George Charles Frank Edward Richard   Mary Anna Helen Margaret Elizabeth Dorothy Ruth Marie Rose Alice   If you need proof, just stroll down this street in Butler, PA:  


The top five surnames in the 1940 census were

  • Smith
  • Johnson
  • Brown
  • Williams
  • Jones.  

Who Do You Want to Find? But the most important number in the 1940 U.S. Census might be 1. That one date you’ve been waiting to find. That one relative you hadn’t been able to locate until now. That one discovery that opens up a dozen more. One more question, one more record, one last look… So dig in and enjoy. After all, it’s 10 years before we get another one.

1 note
#genealogy #1940 census #1940 u.s. census #family search #family tree #1940 #interesting finds #interesting-finds
Citing Your Sources -- PDF's of the presentations

You can find the links to the pdfs for the sourcing presentation on my blog Finding Forgotten Stories.

Happy Searching!

1 note

July 2012

6 posts

1940 Census Indexing at Now 70% Complete

Last night posted images from twelve more states, bringing the total to 37 states and the District of Columbia. With 70% of the images now indexed, you’re chances are better than ever for finding family. Newly added is Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Utah. (Search all 37 states here.)

Take a look at some of the notable names we found in this release.

Chuck Norris
You don’t enumerate Chuck Norris; he enumerates you. OK, so that’s probably not true. Since Carlos Ray “Chuck” Norris was only 0/12 of a year old, he probably wasn’t wielding a pen, a sword, or any other weapon. But by 1950, we bet he was already kicking some butt and taking names.

Walter Cronkite
Walter Cronkite was already reporting the news in 1940, working as a newspaper writer for a news service in Kansas City, Missouri. And that’s the way it is April 2, 1940.

Tom Brokaw
Another award-winning newscaster was just getting his start in life. Thomas J. Brokaw is listed as a “permanent guest” in a hotel in Bristol, Day Co., South Dakota, age 1/12 of a year. We’re glad he decided to venture away from that hotel so that he could bring us the news in a career that has spanned five decades.

Johnny Cash
The “man in black” was just a boy age eight when the census taker came to call in 1940. His dad earned $140 a year as a laborer in a public school to support his wife and five children, and reported additional income, probably from the farm they lived on.

Jack Lemmon
Jack Lemmon (John Uhler Lemmon III) was no grumpy old man in 1940. He was only 15 and is enumerated with his parents. His father made more than $5,000 that year as a retail and wholesale salesman in the flower industry.

Leonard Nimoy
As Spock, Leonard Nimoy once said, “Insufficient facts always invite danger.” We can’t tell whether it was insufficient facts or just poor recording that led the enumerator to not only list Leonard’s last name as Mimony, but to also list him as female and the “granddaughter” of the head of household (his mother Dora’s father). While not exactly dangerous, it did make it harder to locate him.

Angie Dickinson
Angeline Brown, age eight, living in Edgeley, LaMoure Co., North Dakota, would not stay there for long. In 1942 the family would move to Burbank, California and Angeline would go on to become the movie and TV star that most of us know as Angie Dickinson.

Glen Campbell
The “Rhinestone Cowboy” was living on Bills Delight Road, in Saline, Pike County, Arkansas in 1940, the seventh son of Wesley and Carrie Campbell. His father, a farmer, reported working 60 hours during the week of March 24-30 of that year.

Harry S. Truman
The 33rd president of the United States was a senator in 1940, five years before being elected to the country’s highest office. He’s living in the house at 219 N. Delaware St. in Independence, Missouri—a house built by his wife Bess’ grandfather. This was the Truman family home when they weren’t living in Washington, D.C. His census record indicates that he had four years of high school. He is the only 20th century president that didn’t get a college degree.

Find your family in the 1940 U.S. Census.

10 notes
#our 1940 stories #1940 U.S. census #1940 stories
Templates from the Citing Your Sources presentation on facebook

You can find the presentation at:

1850 US Census

1850 U.S. Census, COUNTY_NAME County, STATE_NAME, population schedule, CITY_OR_DISTRICT, p. XXX (stamped/penned), dwelling DDD, family FFF, person or people; ( accessed : DATE);  digital images, citing NARA microfilm publication, M432, roll RRR.

1860 US Census

1860 U.S. Census, COUNTY_NAME County, STATE_NAME, population schedule, CITY_OR_DISTRICT, p. XXX (stamped/penned), dwelling DDD, family FFF, PERSON;  digital images, ( accessed : DATE);  digital images, citing NARA microfilm publication, M653, roll RRR.

1870 US Census

1870 U.S. Census, COUNTY_NAME County, STATE_NAME, population schedule, CITY_OR_DISTRICT, p. XXX (stamped/penned), dwelling DDD, family FFF, PERSON;  digital images, ( accessed : DATE);  digital images, citing NARA microfilm publication, M593, roll RRR.

1880 US Census

1880 U.S. Census, COUNTY_NAME County, STATE_NAME, population schedule, CITY_OR_DISTRICT, enumeration district ENUM_DISTRICT, p. XXX (stamped/penned), dwelling DDD, family FFF, PERSON;  digital images, ( accessed : DATE);  digital images, citing NARA microfilm publication, T9, roll RRR.

Private Holdings: Family Bible


Example: Gillespie Family Bible, The Holy Bible, (New York, American Bible Society, 1857), “Family Records, Births”, p840; privately held by Anne Gillespie Mitchell, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] California, 2012. The sons of Tarlton and Mahala Gillespie are listed with their birth dates; it appears that they were all written at one time and are date April 20 1860. Index/Database

DATABASENAME, database, ( : accessed DATE), entry for PERSON, EVENT DATE, EVENT LOCATION; citing SOURCE.

Example: “Virginia Marriages, 1740-1850,” database, ( : accessed 18 Jul 2012), entry for Jeremiah Gillespie and Mary E Gillespie, 21 Nov 1848, Amherst, Virginia; citing Dodd, Jordan R., et al.. Early American Marriages: Virginia to 1850. Bountiful, UT, USA: Precision Indexing Publishers.

6 notes #ask ancestry anne #sourcing #sources #Census #facebook Adds 1940 Census Indexes for 15 States

Last night released its largest batch of indexes to the 1940 census yet. The addition of fifteen new states puts the index at 55% complete. Indexes are now available for these twenty-six states:

Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Who will you find today? Here are some notable names that we found in the newly added states.

Wladziu Valentino Liberace is still using his first name in the 1940 census, though he’s Anglicized it to Walter. Later that year, he’ll head off to New York, but in April he was still living at home in Milwaukee with his family—including his mother, Francis. He made $300 the year before working as a musician. Bet that total has a few more digits on the 1950 census.  

William Sylvester Harley  and Arthur Davidson
It’s hog heaven for G.I.s when famed motorcycle company Harley-Davidson produces more than 60,000 motorcycles for the troops during WWII. (A third of those went to Russian soldiers—after they joined our side.)

Orville Redenbacher
According to the census, Orville Redenbacher and his wife, Corinne, have moved from Terra Haute, where they were living in 1935, to Patoka, Indiana. Orville developed his first hybrid popcorn strains in 4H, but it will be another 25 years before he and business partner Charles Bowman perfect the hybrid popcorn that will make him famous.

Hank Williams
Country music legend Hank (Hiram) Williams was living with his mother, sister, and two lodgers in Montgomery, Alabama, in April 1940. Lillian, Hank’s mother, ran a boarding house to help support the family while Hank’s father was hospitalized for years in Louisiana.

Martin Luther King Jr.
In 1940, Martin Luther King Jr. is sharing the house with a brother, a sister, a grandmother, an aunt, and a lodger. He hasn’t started skipping grades yet in school, but he has already changed his name from Michael to Martin. His father, a pastor, made $2,500 the previous year.

Clark Gable and Carole Lombard
“Ma” and “Pa” (as they called each other) Gable settled down on their ranch in Encino, California, after their 1939 wedding.

Dorothy Marie Hofert (David Letterman’s mom)
Dorothy is two years away from marrying Harry Joseph Letterman, seven from becoming mother to her famous son, David, and fifty-four from her first gig as correspondent at the 1994 Winter Olympics

Nelle Harper Lee
Did you ever wonder where Nelle Harper Lee got her ideas for To Kill a Mockingbird? The 1940 census lists her as the daughter of Francis [Finch] and Amasa Lee, who in 1940 was working as a lawyer in private practice. At 13, a precocious Nelle is already in high school.

Henry Louis “Hank” Aaron
Hammerin’ Hank is six years old in the 1940 census, and his little brother Tommie is seven months. Tommie and Hank share the record for most home runs by a pair of siblings in the Majors—though they didn’t exactly share and share alike: Hank had 755, Tommie 13.

Margaret Munnerlyn Mitchell Marsh
Margaret Mitchell Marsh lists her occupation as a writer doing “private work,” though she claims no salary or wages for the previous year. On her way to selling two million copies of Gone with the Wind, after the movie came out in 1939, she and husband John R. Marsh probably got on just fine on the $5,000+ wages he reported from his work as advertising manager for a power company.

Henry Ford and John DeLorean
Back to the future. In 1940, Michigan was home to both auto industry founding father Henry Ford and futuristic innovator John DeLorean in 1940. 

Dorothy Lamour
Dorothy Lamour was lighting up screens with the recent release of The Road to Singapore with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. On the home front, she apparently had moved in with her mother and stepfather after her 1939 divorce. (Five lines down on the census page you’ll find her neighbor Boris Karloff.)

Bob Hope
Was Bob trying to go incognito by using his real given name Leslie (misspelled as Lesley) Hope on the 1940 census?

Harry Lillis “Bing” Crosby
And apparently “Bing” was good enough for the rest of the world, but nor for Uncle Sam, who recorded Harry L. Crosby and family at 10500 Camarillo Street.

Warren Buffet
Apparently the apple doesn’t fall very far from the tree. Nine-year-old Warren Buffet’s father lists his occupation as the proprietor of a bond investment business on the 1940 census.

Bob Gibson
Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson, the last of seven children, is living with his mother and brothers and sisters in Omaha. Gibson would give up his spot with the legendary Harlem Globetrotters to play even more legendary baseball with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Johnny Carson
The Carsons moved from Iowa to Nebraska when Johnny was eight. About the time the census was taken, Johnny started working as an amateur magician—the Great Carsoni—but he records no income for 1939.

Dorothy Gale
She’s a little too young, and not an orphan, but the 1940 census for Kansas does include a Dorothy Gale.

Salvatore “Sonny” Bono
Before his family made the move to sunny California, Salvatore “Sonny” Bono lived in Detroit, where his father working on the assembly line in an auto plant and his mother owned a beauty parlor.

Francis Ford Coppola
Census as prophet? Francis Ford Coppola’s biography says he was born in Detroit—which is where he is living in 1940. But the census says the one-year-old was born in New York—which is where he would grow up.

Hunter S. Thompson
Godfather of Gonzo journalism Hunter S. Thompson was living in Kentucky with his father, a veteran of the World War according to the supplemental details provided at the bottom of the page. There was no “1” at the end of World War yet. Too bad some things change.

Dennis Lee Hopper
Easy riding Dennis Hopper is living with his parents in the home of his maternal grandparents, William L. and Nellie Davis, where they were apparently living in 1935 as well. Grandpa is a farmer, while Dennis’s father manages a grocery store.

Carl Hilding “Doc” Serverinsen
Doc got the nickname “Little Doc” after his father, who was a dentist in private practice in Oregon according to the 1940 census.

Alan B. Shepard
The 1940 census didn’t report on sports or hobbies, so there is no indication of whether the moon’s most famous golfer had started working on his swing yet.

William West Anderson
Apparently tired of Gotham, Batman was hanging out in Walla Walla during the 1940 census. Or at least that’s where you’ll find his alter ego Adam West (living incognito as 11-year-old Billy West Anderson).

Marty Robbins
Martin David Robinson hasn’t shortened his name to Marty Robbins and started singing gunfighter ballads quite yet. In a couple of years, he’ll join the Navy; in 1953, he’ll join the Grand Ole Opry.

Barry Goldwater
Before Barry M. Goldwater became a senator and then a presidential candidate, he was president and manager of the family’s retail department store. The business is apparently doing well enough to allow for three live-in servants: a cook, a house man, and a nurse.

Florence Henderson
Judging from Florence Henderson’s 1940 census record, the role of Carol Brady wasn’t much of a stretch. She’s the youngest of nine children still living at home.

James Earl “Jimmy” Carter
Brother William (Billy) is only three. Father is a farmer—possibly also a manager. H-2 for Jimmy’s highest grade at the time.

Rosalynn Smith [Carter]
And here’s his future wife, Rosalynn Smith. Her father, a mechanic at an auto garage, died later that year.

Jimmy Hoffa
We found Jimmy Hoffa—in 1940. He’s at home in Detroit with wife, Josephine, and daughter, Barbara.

7 notes
#1940 stories #our 1940 stories
Ask Ancestry Anne: Finding Easton Page

Question: My father died when I was 9 years old and I never knew my father’s father. My father’s birth name was EASTON ROLLY PAGE. I have no idea what my grandfather’s name is. I have two different dates my father was born and he died on February 10, 1948 in San Francisco, CA and is buried in a military cemetery, I believe, in San Bruno, CA. I was told he was born on August 30, 1901 or 1904. So I’m confused and would very much like to trace my ancestors, but don’t have a clue. He was married before he married my mother and his 1st wife had, i believe 4 children. He had 2 or 3 girls and one son named Donald Page who was born around 1920-1924.So if you could possibly track some of my family, I’d be ecstatic just knowing they are still alive. Thank you so much.

Daniel Rolly Page

Answer: I’m sorry for your loss at such a young age. I have been able to find some information on your family.

I started with your father’s death date, and I found him in the California Death Index

It tells us that he was born on August 31, 1903 in Kansas and that his father’s surname was Page and his mother’s maiden name was Singleton.

I also found him in the U.S. Veterans Gravesites, ca. 1776-2006 data collection.which reports his birth date as August 31, 1901.  It tells us his Service start date was June 5, 1920, that he was a Corporal in the Army during WWII and that he is buried in Golden Gate National Cemetery which is in San Bruno, California.

Birth years often vary from document to document, and if the 1903 date from the death index is correct, it may be that he lied about his age to get into the military. He would have only been 17 in 1920.

With this information, I start working backwards through the census records. In 1930, Easton was living with his wife Lucille, who he married around 1923, and their four children, Eileen, Norma, Donald, and Anita.  They were living in Los Angeles, California with Lucille’s parents, Henry and Emma Ahlers.  Easton was working as a Spring Coiler in a Furniture Factory.



In 1920, Easton is living with his parents, James and Hettie Page in Newbury, Wabaunsee County, Kansas.  His father is a Carpenter in the Locomotive industry and they owned their own farm. 


In 1915, Easton is living with his parents, J. W. and Hettie and his older sister Orpha who is school teacher.  Orpha was born in Arkansas eight years before Easton; so the family moved to Kansas sometime before Easton’s birth. (Note: on the Kansas State Census, make sure you look at the page after the name page for all the information.)


In 1910, Easton was living in McFarland in the Newberry Township, Wabaunsee County, Kansas.  He is living with his parents James W. and Hettie D. Page and his sister Orpha M.  Hettie had six children, but only two, Orpha and Easton were living in 1910. James was a Carpenter working for a Railroad Car Repair company.  James and Hettie married about 1894.


In 1900, living in Lincoln, Madison County, Arkansas, James and Hettie had been married for six years. They had had 4 children, but only Arthur was living. They were also living with Hettie’s younger sister, Viola Singleton.


So to recap, we know that Easton married Lucille Ahlers, sometime between 1920 and 1930.  Given that Eileen, the oldest child,  was born in 1924; they were most likely married around 1922 or 1923.  They had four children by 1930.  Finding Easton in 1940 would be the next logical step in determining how many children.  It appears that Donald Ralph Page died on February 26, 1998 in Riverside, California, according the Social Security Death Index (SSDI).  I could not find marriage records or death records for any of the three girls.

Easton’s parents were most likely James Page and Hettie Singleton.  They were married around 1894, probably in Arkansas.  They had at least six children of whom two, Orpha and Easton, lived to adulthood. Arthur is the only name we’ve seen as one of the four who died early.

There is still a lot of searching left to do; hopefully this gets you started.

Happy Searching!

Ancestry Anne

3 notes
#ask ancestry anne #member questions #US Census #California #Kansas State Census #Birth Years
Your Story: Mystery, Intrigue and Our 2 Millionth Subscriber

First thing Yvonne Ochletree did with her subscription to was search for her father. Then she turned to the real family mystery – and discovered a record of her grandmother’s never-discussed childhood.

“I was lying awake one night and put on a show called Coast to Coast and they had a commercial on for I heard I could go on for two weeks to try it,” says Yvonne. “There had always been this mystery as to who my grandmother’s father was. And I thought maybe I should find out.” 

So between the commercial and a nudge from her daughter, Yvonne figured she had nothing to lose. She gave the site a whirl.

That move gave Yvonne her own mark in the family history world, too – it made her the 2 millionth subscriber to And she quickly started finding answers.

“I’m very lucky,” Yvonne says. But it’s more than luck – Yvonne adds to her success with research savvy and a curiosity that dates back to when she was 17 and paid a visit to her grandmother in England. 

“I said, ‘Look, Granny, I never really knew who your dad was. You mentioned your mom but you never really talked about your dad.’” But Yvonne’s grandmother offered up no secrets. She kept mum.

That silence just fueled the fire. “I had to keep pursuing it,” says Yvonne, who knew that her grandmother was born out of wedlock. So years later, she finally dug in on “Long story short, I started finding out things. I have not found out who [my great-grandfather] is, but I’m coming pretty close to it.”

So far, Yvonne has uncovered an impressive record trail for her grandmother – she has names, places and dates and is using them all to discover more. Plus, there’s an intriguing side note: Yvonne learned in a census record that her great-grandmother was working as a servant in the home of a wealthy couple. Could her grandmother’s father be a fellow servant? Or maybe the homeowner himself?

Yvonne has also connected with other members, sending notes and receiving information in return. She searches the site and uses Hints, which she likens to the yellow brick road, to help build her tree. “I tap on all of them and they open up,” she says. 

And she’s made a personal connection between her own life today and her grandmother’s: “[My grandmother] was a teacher and an artist, just like me.” Which, of course, leads Yvonne to another question: “Where did the money come so that my grandmother could go to a very nice school?” 

Suffice it to say, Yvonne isn’t stopping anytime soon. “I’m nosy and I’m relentless. I am going to find more. And I will get to the bottom of this.”

#Your Stories #2 million members
Andy Griffith's Legacy

My heart fell this morning when I heard the news that the beloved actor, Andy Griffith, had passed. Through the cold Chicago winters, and hot summers as well, my sisters and I would park in front of the TV when the The Andy Griffith Show would come on. Decades later, I remember telling my daughter to turn off the TV to get to sleep for school as she begged for one more half hour because Andy was on. I usually gave her that half hour.

The Andy Griffith Show had a kind of timeless humor. For a brief time we are transported to that little town in North Carolina, where the characters welcome us to a simpler time. We can be guaranteed a few laughs and the world rights itself in a half hour. Is it any wonder we’re still drawn to it? The series incorporated many of Andy Griffith’s memories of his home town of Mount Airy, North Carolina. That’s where we find Andy living with his parents, Carl and Geneva Griffith in the 1930 and 1940 U.S. federal censuses.

Like his character, he came from humble roots. His father worked in a furniture factory, as a laborer in 1930 and band saw operator in 1940. His salary of $850 per year was enough that the family owned their home at 197 Haymore Street in Mount Airy.

By 1940, Andy’s six years in school had already eclipsed the education levels of both of his parents, and he would go on to finish high school in Mount Airy. Five days before his eighteenth birthday, on 2 June 1944, he registered for the World War II draft.

Having just graduated from high school at the time of the draft, he doesn’t have a job at the time, but soon he was off to college where he was active in music and drama. His yearbook shows he was president of the Men’s Glee Club in 1947 at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

He was also a member of the musical fraternity, Phi Mu Alpha at UNC.

His education and talent in music, comedy and drama paid dividends that will benefit generations to come. Andy Griffith made us feel like he was our next door neighbor and we could sit down with him and forget about the troubles in the world. His legacy is the smile that comes to our lips we recall a more innocent time – a time when humor was less about shock value and more about uplifting our spirits.

4 notes
#Your Stories #julianas corner

June 2012

21 posts

1940 Census Indexes for Six More States—CO, OH, PA, TN, VT, and VA

This week launched 1940 census indexes for six more states—Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Vermont, and Virginia.  Who are you looking for and what stories will you discover? Here are some well-known names that we’ve run across.

Tina Turner
While the unincorporated town of Nutbush doesn’t really have “city limits” as the name of the famous Tina Turner song might imply, it’s nonetheless where we find her in 1940 listed as Anna Bullocks, age 5/12.  (You can find Nutbush in Civil District 11 on this enumeration map.) 

Jack Nicklaus
Only three months old in April of 1940, the “Golden Bear” was more likely to have been playing with Teddy bears than golf clubs, but we found the future golf pro, Jack Nicklaus living with his parents, Louis “Charlie” Nicklaus and Helen, in Columbus, Ohio. 

Arnold Palmer
Jack Nicklaus’ rival, Arnold Palmer, was probably already getting golf tips from his dad, Milfred “Deacon” Palmer, whose occupation is listed in 1940 as “pro green[s] keeper” in a country club.

Shirley MacLaine and Warren Beatty
The only roles  brother and sister Shirley [MacLaine] and [Henry] Warren Beaty were prepping for in 1940 were those of kindergartner and preschooler. They probably got a lot of help from dad, whose occupation was that of “principal-teacher” in a public school.

Bill Cosby
In 1940, Bill Cosby is living with his parents and younger brother, James, and lodgers Ernest and Bertha Fletcher. Ernest is probably his uncle, Ernie Fletcher, who he refers to in his book I Am what I Ate— and I’m Frightened!!! And Other Digressions from the Doctor of Comedy. The North Philadelphia neighborhood where he’s living would in later years become the backdrop for the stories that were featured on his hit series Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids.

Grace Kelly
In 1940, years before becoming an award-winning actress and Princess of Monaco, ten-year old Grace Kelly was living in Philadelphia with her father, John “Jack” Kelly, owner of a construction business, mother Margaret, two sisters and a brother. Florence Merkel, personal secretary, is living in the household as well. Princess Grace returned to Philadelphia in 1966 to attend Florence’s funeral. (Want to learn more about the Kelly’s? Grace’s dad was chosen to answer the supplemental questions at the bottom of the schedule.)

Doris Day
Although only sixteen at the time of the 1940 census, Doris Kappelhoff’s mother gave her age in the census as eighteen. By this time Doris had begun singing professionally on the radio and in local bands, although her occupation in the census is listed simply as “new worker.” She’s living in Cincinnati, Ohio with her mother, Alma and brother, Paul. 

Phil Donahue
The future talk show host and media mogul’s 1940 census record shows the five-year-old Phil Donahue living with his parents in Cleveland, Ohio, where his father, Phillip, is working as a furniture salesman, earning $2,200 per year.

Paul Newman
We found Paul L. Newman living with his brother and parents, Arthur and Theresa in Shaker Heights, Ohio (a suburb of Cleveland), where he was attending Shaker Heights High School at the time. A few years later he was serving in the Pacific theater of World War II and in 1945 was serving as an Aviation Radioman, Third Class aboard the USS Hollandia about 500 miles from Japan when the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.

Tim Conway
An avid horseracing fan, comedian Thomas [Tim] Conway may have come about his love of horses at an early age. In the 1940 census, his father’s occupation is listed as “horseman, country estate.”

See who you can find in the 1940 Census

#your stories #our 1940 stories
Kris Williams: Three Days by Horse


In the last five years I have seen more than half the states in our nation, plus 22 countries and counting. In that time, I have bounced from one hotel to the next with everything I own packed tightly inside two 25” pieces of luggage.

My downtime has been spent with family in New England, visiting good friends all over the United States and visiting my boyfriend in Australia. Even when I am not working, I somehow manage to stay on the road. Through all of this, there are times where I have taken the technology to travel and stay connected for granted, and there are other times where I’ve been completely amazed by how far we have come. With every generation’s advances in technology our planet continues to get smaller and more connected.

The first time I remember being completely blown away by our progress was while talking to my great-grandmother’s cousin. My great-grandmother passed away when I was only four years-old. Through my genealogy work I was able to track down her cousin, Albertine, about 10 years ago.

I remember her surprised look when I explained to her who I was, and I will never forget her response when I told her it only took me two hours to drive to Vermont from New Hampshire: “It only took you two hours?! It used to take us three days by horse!”

In those days you didn’t just hop in a car. There were no short visits, no phone calls, texts or emails. They would send out letters announcing their visit with the intention of staying a week or more after traveling for days by horse or foot.

Today, having to rely on a horse, and not having a car, is unimaginable. Then again, it was only six short years ago that traveling the world – never mind dating a man who lives in another country – also seemed unimaginable. It all seemed so impossible and, just a few generations ago, it would have been.

Now, as I write this, I’m waiting to board a plane in Australia to head home to the United States. I will have woken on one side of the planet, and will be climbing into bed on the other side – all on the same day!

All around me people talk, some complaining about the long flight ahead. I will admit, the idea of a 14-hour flight stuck in coach isn’t my idea of a good time.  But five generations ago, my second great-grandparents boarded boats in Europe that were headed for America. Following two weeks at sea in cramped quarters, they finally reached their destinations.

If Albertine was surprised by my two-hour drive, how would those great-grandparents respond to my 14-hour flight across the globe? Then again, how would my ancestors from the Mayflower react to my great-grandparents’ “short” two-weeks at sea?

Yes, I had relatives on the Mayflower! Setting sail from Plymouth, England, on Sept. 6, 1620, it took the ship a total of two months to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Two months! There were a total of 102 passengers packed into cramped, cold and damp living quarters. Most found themselves seasick and some passengers died due to illnesses. At least one man was lucky enough to be rescued after being thrown overboard by rough waters.

As a female, I am most amazed by the pregnant women who made the voyage, one of whom gave birth on the ship. Through all of this, the passengers of the Mayflower wondered if they would even make it to the shores of America due to damage that was done to the ship from storms.

They spent two months at sea, and here we are, in our coach seats being served food and drinks. We’re flying in a relatively safe, large metal object and we are complaining about a 14-hour trip from Australia to America.

Once I land Los Angeles, I will be spending the next three weeks looking for an apartment. For me, leaving everything I know in New England is both exciting and scary. In some ways it’s a fresh start; the first time in my whole life where I will be completely responsible for myself and I am excited about it.

However, I still can’t quite shake the fear of leaving what is familiar, and the guilt that hangs over me about leaving my family. What if this move turns out horribly? What if something happens back home and I’m not there? Can I handle being that far from my family? I am willing to bet these same fears and questions haunted my ancestors from the time they packed their bags until years after they settled in New England.

Taking into consideration the day-to-day challenges they continued to face as soon as they touched land, I feel a bit foolish. Once my ancestors made the voyage from Europe to America, that was it. Those who were lucky enough to make the trip alive found themselves in a foreign land having only the limited possessions they brought with them. Chances are they would never see the friends and family they left behind again, and their only communication would be through an occasional handwritten letter.

Today, people regularly move from state to state and I continue to meet many who have moved from country to country. Although we may experience the same fears, we have options. If we are missing home, we can jump in a car, catch a bus, hop on a train or book a flight. While missing our family and friends in-between trips, we have the luxury of making a phone call or sending out a text message.

Not enough? Then there’s always the convenience that comes with the Internet from emails, video chat and social networking sites that allow us to post and read regular status updates or share pictures.

From the days of uncharted lands to the days where you can look up any location on the globe by satellite, I have absolutely no idea where life is going to take me. I may decide to stay in California. I could eventually head back to the east coast or maybe even find myself living outside of the country.

Wherever I am, I hope to always be thankful for how far we have come, and make use of everything we have available to stay connected with my family and friends. As I now sit here on my flight, I also can’t help but wonder what stories I will someday share with my grandchildren that, to them, will seem unimaginable.

By Kris Williams

Twitter: @KrisWilliams81

3 notes
#kris williams #ghost hunters #genealogy #family tree #family search #ancestry #ancestor #interesting finds #interesting-finds
Ask Ancestry Anne: Did Amund Have Two Wives?

Question: Could you clarify what I am seeing below on the census from 1920 Federal Census? Under the Amund’s name there is another name bracketed: [ Armand Amundson]


First question - what do bracketted information refer to normally? Under Spouses’ name there are 2 names: Amelia Amundson and in brackets [Francis Vail]

Second question - Does the bracketted reference to Francis Vail mean he is married twice?

Third question - does he have children by 2 marriages? 

If I click into the children listed with the last name of Vail, they also reference Amund Amundson as the father. 

Is the typed record a misrepresentation of the census recording?  Please explain how we read this.

— Deborah Holmes

Answer:  Deborah, this is a great set of questions, as well as a great demonstration of why you must always look at the original record if you can.  Always.

Indexes are not meant to be accurate letter by letter transcriptions; they are meant to be finding aids to the image.  We strive to make them as accurate as possible, but with 10 billion records on the site, it’s not possible.

Now to the questions:

First Question: What do the bracketed names mean:


When you see a second name underneath the original name without a pencil next to it, as in the case of Armand Amundson, it means that we have upload two separate indices for the data collection, and the names differ.  Since either may be right, we put them both in.  And exact search for either Amund Amundson or Armand Amundson would uncover this record.

Second Question: Why are their two separate wives listed?  Now this is odd.  Polygamy was never legal in Iowa, so it would be strange to have this identified in the 1920 census.  Let’s look at the image.


There are some odd things going on here with the dwelling and household numbers.  It appears that when these records were indexed, the indexer decided that dwelling 6 household 6 and dwelling 6  household 7 had been crossed out and all the Vails were part of the 5 5 household of Amund Amundson.   Also note that  BL Vail is entered quite oddly for a census record.

Since everyone in this household is indexed as being part of dwelling 5, and household 5, and there is only one head of household listed, our algorithms attach both wives to the head of household. 

I suspect that there is something different going on here.  The marks through the sixes are not meant to mark them out, but for some other reason.  I think the Bryan family, who are listed as dwelling 6, household 8 are associated with the Vail family.  I do not have a theory on why there is not entry for dwelling 6, household 6.

But I do believe that the Amundsens and the Vails were living in separate households and that Francis Vail is most likely the wife of B L Vail.  I do not believe from reading this image that she is the wife of Amund Amundsen.

Third Question: Since there is only one marriage, then there are no children by the second marriage.

Bottom line: Always look at the image before you add information to your family tree. The index information is a finding guide.  The image holds the actual information as it is recorded.

Happy Searching!

— Ancestry Anne

3 notes
#ask ancestry anne #1920 US Census #multiple indexes #images #transcriptions
Thank you!

Thank you Ancestry! After 50+ years of knowing my siblings names, but not knowing where they lived or how to get in touch with them we finally connected. Someone was getting info from my tree. It happened several times so I looked at their tree and there I found my sister that I had never seen. After many conversations by e-mail and phone, we finally met for the first time on June 12, 2012. Everything was just GREAT.

Thank you again!


2 notes
#Your Stories #submission
Ask Ancestry Anne: How to Customize Your Google Searches

As you know, the 1940 US Census is free to anyone that registers to and this has allowed us to make this information more available through channels such as Google.  Everyone who appears in the 1940 census, all 132 million plus will have their own page that you can find through a Google search.

With a few tricks you can find these pages and other information that people have posted on various blogs and websites that might be interesting and help you further your research.

Let’s say you are looking for a George Smith that you knew had lived on East 6th Street in New York in the 1940’s.  You might try:


Notice that i typed in east 6th in double quotes.  This tells the search engine that I want the phrase “east 6th” on the web page.

This produces the results:


And clicking on the George Smith link, gives us:


Let’s say now you are curious who else lived on East 6th Street in 1940.  Who were George’s neighbors?

Let’s try looking for pages with the phrases:

  • 1940 census
  • east 6th street
  • new york new york

This gives us a list of people on the 1940 census that we can investigate. 


Now the 1940 census pages are convenient but these techniques can be used for other things in a Google search.

Let’s try looking for George Smith who was born in New York and on pages that have Genealogy theme. 

I want pages that have either “george smith” OR “smith george” and then add in the phrase “new york” and the word genealogy:


Check out Google’s Advanced Search Page to find out more tricks to help you narrow down your web searches.  Let me know if you find anything interesting or come up with a new technique.

Happy Searching!

Ancestry Anne

3 notes
#ask ancestry anne #search tips #google searching #1940 Census #new york
Kris Williams: Alcatraz - The Great Escape

This month marks the 50thanniversary of one of the most mysterious prison breaks in history. On June 11, 1962, four men - Frank Morris, brothers John and Clarence Anglin and Allen West - took part in what became known as The Great Escape from Alcatraz. Having had the chance to work at “The Rock,” I can’t help but remember my amazement at the lengths they went to escape, as well as remember the experiences I had there while roaming the halls, hunting for spirits of criminals who were believed to still haunt the grounds.

Originally, Alcatraz was built as a military fortification for the purpose of protecting the San Francisco Bay. During the Civil War it doubled as a military fort as well as a military prison where they jailed confederate soldiers and sympathizers. Following the Civil War, actions were taken to update Alcatraz’s outdated defenses until they decided to switch gears, turning the fort strictly into a military prison. Alcatraz was considered the perfect location for a prison due to the isolation created by the cold waters of the bay and its strong, hazardous currents.

My fascination with Alcatraz came with my personal interest in studying true crime, and from my love as a kid for the movie “Murder in the First.” Alcatraz served as a federal prison from 1933 to 1963, and was used to hold the worst of the worst. If you caused enough problems at other prisons, or repeatedly tried to escape, you would eventually find yourself at the inescapable jail. Mickey Cohen, Al Capone, Robert Franklin Stroud aka “The Birdman, George “Machine Gun” Kelly, and - a familiar face from Boston - James “Whitey” Bulger were just some of the notorious residents here.

In the years it served as a federal prison there were a total of 14 escape attempts made by 36 men. While I was on the island I was surprised to learn that of those 36, 23 were caught, six were shot and killed, and two drowned.

But there were five men listed as missing.

Since there was never any evidence found that any of these men made it to shore, they were assumed to have drowned and washed out to sea in the strong currents. Three of these five missing men took part in The Great Escape. Today, people still wonder if Frank, John and Clarence did indeed drown or if they were successful in their escape.

 Frank Morris had a record that included drug possession and armed robbery. However, what landed him in Alcatraz were the several attempts he had made to escape several other prisons. It was during Frank’s stay at an Atlanta prison that he met brothers John and Clarence Anglin. The Anglin brothers were bank robbers who, like Frank, were transferred there after several attempts to escape other prisons. The fourth man involved in The Great Escape was Allen West. Allen had met John at a Florida prison, and was in Alcatraz serving his second term.

Together these four men carried out their fairly hilarious and creative attempt at freedom. Using crudely made hand tools out of objects they secretly lifted from around the jail, they spent months making everything they needed for their escape. The men took turns digging through their individual cell’s ventilation system, made rafts and life preservers out of 50 raincoats and glue, while using soap and toilet paper to make paper machete dummies they painted to look lifelike (they even went so far as adding hair they got from the prison barbershop). It was basically one big arts-and-crafts party made up of hardened criminals.

Once the boys were done with their cutting, pasting and finger painting, Frank, John and Clarence squeezed through the hole in the wall of their cell. Allen was left behind since he failed to finish digging in time. Once inside the prison walls they climbed 30 feet of plumbing before reaching the roof. They then secretly made their way across the roof to climb another 50 feet down the outside wall of the prison. Once outside, they planned to use their handmade raft and life preservers to get to the mainland. By the time Allen finally broke through the wall of his cell and climbed to the roof, Frank, John and Clarence were gone leaving him no choice but to return to his cell.

Over the years there have been many books, movies and documentaries that revolved around The Great Escape. In the end they all had their own theories as to what may have happened to Frank, John and Clarence. But again, no bodies were ever found. However several items were recovered from the water and the shores of nearby Angel Island, which just added to the speculation.

My visit to Alcatraz was due to the paranormal claims that now surround the island. People reported experiences that included noises of crying, moaning and sounds of a banjo (that was believed to played by a ghostly Al Capone); cold spots and sightings of prisoner apparitions and military personnel were also reported. One of the craziest claims was of a prisoner who told a guard he was being killed by a creature with glowing red eyes in his cell. The following morning that same prisoner was found strangled to death in his cell.

While there, I did have a few strange experiences, however what unsettled me the most had nothing to do with the paranormal. In the early morning hours I stood in one of the cells that looked out over the bay. The whole prison was cold and dark - an experience shared by many of the prison’s former occupants. The only sounds in the prison were carried over the bay from the city. I could hear people laughing, cars beeping and live music playing. I could even see faint headlights pass in the distance. I remember thinking, “talk about a daily reminder that life is going on with out you …” It was actually a pretty horrible, lonely feeling.

These men that were locked up at Alcatraz probably deserved their punishment, but I can’t blame them for wanting to get out.

For anyone captivated by Alcatraz and their extreme efforts, the question will always remain: Were three of them successful?

By Kris WilliamsTwitter: @KrisWilliams81

4 notes
#alcatraz #allen west #clarence algin #the rock #great escape #kris williams #interesting finds #interesting-finds
Ask Ancestry Anne: Search Tip #20: Look for Family Members

Can’t find George Smith but his brother is Hezekiah Smith?  Well go look for Hezekiah.  Looking for the uncommon names in a family can be more fruitful than those pesky common names.

Who were your ancestor’s siblings and parents?

Maybe there are living with Grandparents, Cousins, or Aunts and Uncles.

And if that doesn’t work, try searching for Neighbors in the previous or successive census.  Maybe they are there, but the transcription is not matching your search.

Previous tip: Search Tip #19: Last or First Name

Happy Searching!

Ancestry Anne

2 notes
#ask ancestry anne #search tips #family members #ancestry #genealogy
Ask Ancestry Anne: Search Tip #19: First or Last Name Searches

This particular technique is most useful on a single data collection, and if it is a large one you might want to limit it to a specific place.

Let’s say you’ve looked for your ancestor Joshua Chamberlain and you just cannot find him.  Enter all of your data and then omit the first name and search.  This will help you find candidates that might be him but have really poorly transcribed first names.  Then you can enter the first name and enter the last name.  Same idea.

You can also try this if you are looking for a wife and you don’t know her maiden name.  This will give you a list of candidates that might possibly be here.

Next tip: Search Tip #20: Look for Family Members or review the previous tip: Search Tip #18: Review the Search Form

Happy Searching!

Ancestry Anne

#ask ancestry anne #search tips #first name searches #last name searches #ancestry
Ask Ancestry Anne: Search Tip #18 - Read the Search Form

Sometimes it is best to start searching form the search form for a specific data collection.  The form tells you what has been indexed which is critical in understanding what to enter.

 Take for example the US Federal Census 1850 search form:


Relationships are indexed, because they are explicitly stated, so you can’t use that as a search strategy.

On a census form, if you enter a county and stage from our type ahead for places and then choose exact, you will limit all of your searches to that county.  Or you can choose adjacent county if you are not finding who you are looking for.

Also, you can set other fields to exact to limit your searches as well.  By looking at the form, you understand what is actually indexed and this will help you choose what is appropriate to use as parameters in your search.

Next tip: Search Tip #19: First or Last Name Searches  or review the previous tip: Search Tip #17: Search from Your Tree

Happy Searching!

Ancestry Anne

2 notes
#ask ancestry anne #search tips #search forms #ancestry #genealogy
Ask Ancestry Anne: Search Tip #17 - Search from Your Trees

There are a lot of reasons to use online trees, especially now that you can sync between FTM 2012 and online, but one I particularly like is that using your tree you can pre-populate your search.

Let’s say you are on a page for Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. (I’m not related to this famous Union Soldier, I just use Civil War Generals as an example tree.)



Right underneath his icon, you’ll see the Search Records link:


Click on that link, and we do a search for you with everything you know about Joshua pre-populated in the search.


If you want to change the information, click on the Edit Search button.  And you can apply any of the tips and tricks we have discussed to this type of search.

Next tip: Search Tip #18: Read the Form or review the previous tip: Search Tip #16: Use Facets

Happy Searching!

Ancestry Anne

1 note
#ask ancestry anne #genealogy #search tips #ancestry #joshua chamberlain
Ask Ancestry Anne: Search Tip #16: Use Facets

Do you want a certain type of record?  Say Military?  Then you may want to try the Category and Sub Category facets down the side of your search results.

Let’s say I’m searching for Tarlton Gillespie:


But I suspect because of the year he was born, about 1787, that he may have served in the war of 1812, so I just want to see military records.

You’ll notice on the left hand side, the category Military:



Click on that and we will just show you military records:


Combine that with a “Summarized by Category” search and you’ll see a list of military collections we think he is in.

Next tip: Search Tip #17: Search From Trees or review the previous tip: Search Tip #15: Do a Category Search

Happy Searching!

Ancestry Anne

1 note
#ask ancestry anne #search tips #facets #genealogy #ancestry #military records
Ask Ancestry Anne: Search Tip #15 - Category Searches

Sure it’s nice to a long list of all the possible records we have for the person you are searching for.  But sometimes you want to know what data collections we think your person is in.  This is where you want to use Category Search.  Let’s say you are looking for my ancestor Tarlton Gillespie:


To flip this to category search, in the upper right hand corner, where it says “Sorted by relevance” change that to “Summarized by category”:


And then you will see the results list by category and data collection:


This is a sticky feature, so once you set it, it will stay this way.   This is a great way to find specific records and see possible collections.  Any of the other features I’ve talked about also apply.  Don’t want UK records? Set to US only.

Next tip: Search Tip #16: Use Facets or review the previous tip: Search Tip #14: Limit your scope

Happy Searching!

Ancestry Anne

2 notes
#ask ancestry anne #genealogy #ancestry #search tips #category search #relevance
Ask Ancestry Anne: Search Tip #14 – Limit Your Scope

We have records from many countries, but sometimes you just want one.  Or maybe you just want to see historical record or stories &publications.  Here is a quick fix for that.

Collection Priority

At the bottom of the advanced search form, you will see a box labeled Collection Priority:


Change “All Collections” to the country or record type you are after.  Then check the “Show only records from these collections” and then do your search.  And we will only show you records from that country.


Restrict to

Underneath Collection Priority you will see Restrict To

You have four categories to choose from:


  • Historical Records
  • Family Trees
  • Stories & publications
  • Photos & maps

Choose 1 or 4 or any combination, but you must choose at least one.

Beware of “sticky” options

These features are what we call “sticky” because they stick until you change them.  To make them stick, set whatever your options you want and then do a search.  Next search, these options will be the same, until you reset and search.

Just remember, if you are looking for Photos and none come up, check your options.  You may have set them and forgotten what you’ve set.

Next tip: Search Tip #15: Category Searches or review the previous tip: Search Tip #13: Wildcards

Happy Searching!

Ancestry Anne

#ask ancestry anne #genealogy #collection priority #record type #sticky features #search tips
See who we’ve found in 1940

Who can you find in the 1940 U.S. Federal Census? Here are just a handful of recognizable names we’ve already discovered in New York and Washington DC:

New York
Katherine Hepburn   “The Great Kate” was in New York acting in the stage version of The Philadelphia Story, which had closed its year-long run at the Shubert Theater just a few days before the census was taken. She wouldn’t be in New York for long though, as she needed to be back in Hollywood where the movie version of The Philadelphia Story began filming in July of that year.

John D. Rockefeller Jr.
  The philanthropist and iconic businessman had driven “The Last Rivet” in the final original building in Rockefeller Center  the previous year and was basking in the success of his now-thriving “city within a city.”

Billie [Elnora] Holiday Born Eleanora Harris, Billie lists her occupation as a singer in a night club, and is living with her mother, Sadie, and friend and fellow musician, Irene Wilson.

Al Jolson  Scroll down the page to find David Selznick, producer of the 1940 Academy Award winning movie, Gone with the Wind. Both are guests at the Sherry Netherland Hotel.

Bert Lahr  Probably enjoying some of the fruits of his recent success as “the Cowardly Lion” in The Wizard of Oz, actor Bert Lahr was enumerated staying the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.

Cole Porter  At home in his apartment at the Waldorf Astoria, Cole Porter’s lists his last residence as Paris, France. Following a fall from a horse that broke both of his legs in 1937, he was suffering from chronic pain that would plague him for the rest of his life, but he continued to work, writing several songs for the 1940 film Broadway Melody of 1940, including I’ve Got My Eyes on You and Begin the Beguine.

Washington DC
J. Edgar Hoover  Living alone at 413 Seward Square in Washington, D.C., Hoover, the FBI director, had been leading the bureau (formerly the Bureau of Investigation) since he was appointed director in 1924 by Calvin Coolidge, and he would continue in that role until his death in 1972.

Marvin Gaye  The census taker arrived at the Gay family residence on Marvin’s first birthday April 2, where Marvin was enumerated along with his father Marvin Sr., who was a preacher, his mom, Alberta, and one brother and one sister.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt FDR and Eleanor are in the White House, just where you’d expect them.

1 note
#1940 census #Our_1940_Stories #Your Stories #our 1940 stories #our-1940-stories