May 2013

4 posts

What You Might Have Missed: May 27th Edition

Here are some great blog posts and videos that you might have missed this past week. Enjoy!

Blog Posts Ancestry Reference Desk Fold3 Videos


5 notes
#Military Records #fold3
What You Might Have Missed: May 20th edition

Here are some great blog posts and videos that you might have missed this past week. Enjoy!

Blog Posts Ancestry Reference Desk Videos You Tube Channel You Tube Channel
1 note #german research #newspapers #search tips #Census #AncestryDNA #socal jamboree #searchresults
What You Might Have Missed: Week of May 13

Here are some great blog posts and videos that you might have missed this past week. Enjoy!

Blog Posts Ancestry Reference Desk Videos
1 note #AncestryDNA #AncestryReferenceDesk #search tips #location filters #maiden names #Family Tree Maker #mothersday
What You Might Have Missed: Week of May 6

Here are some great blog posts and videos that you might have missed this past week. Enjoy!

Blog Posts Ancestry Reference Desk Archives Fold3 Videos #fold3 #videos #yearbooks #Family Tree Maker

April 2013

4 posts

What You Might Have Missed: April 19

Here are some great articles and videos you might have missed this past week.  Enjoy!

Blog Posts Ancestry Reference Desk Archives Videos Archives



2 notes #videos #civil war #city directories #search
What You May Have Missed: April 15th edition

Over the last two weeks, there has been a lot of great articles and videos available from the world.

Here is what you might have missed.

Articles Blog Fold3 Expert Series Blog

Ancestry Reference Desk

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#u.s. census #ancestry day #declaration of independence #vital records #civil war #fold3
In Case You Missed It: Week ending March 31st

Interesting posts and videos you might have missed around the world this week: Blog Blog

Videos from the Barefoot Genealogist:

Video from Amy Johnson Crow

Ancestry Reference Desk Blog

Happy Searching!

1 note #AncestryDNA #AncestryReferenceDesk #church records #marriage records
Your Story: 1930 Census Helps Reunite Family with Photo Album

My father died in Orlando, Florida, in 2004 and was buried on his 89th birthday.  His widow, my stepmother, passed away eight years later.  As her four children began cleaning out our parents’ home, they discovered photos and an album they did not recognize.  They handed their finds off to me since I am the family historian and it was assumed that since none of them knew the people in the photos, they must be from our family.

The album was from the early 1900s and had several photos on each page, each carefully laid out and glued in place.  There were several picture postcards, some from a small town in Georgia and others from a town in Florida, and there was also a clipping of an obituary that listed both towns. But not a word or name written in it anywhere, and I didn’t recognize a single face. 

There was also a loose snapshot of a young couple with two small children. Only this time, the children’s names were on the back. I guessed at the age of the photo—probably from the 1930s.

I searched the 1930 census for the children and found them in St. Petersburg, Florida.  Now I had their parents’ names.  I searched for an online family tree that included at least one of the parents. Bingo! When I contacted the owner of the tree, I found out that she lived about two hours away, near Knoxville, Tennessee.  The little girl in the snapshot was her mother, who is still living in Florida.  I began scanning the album and emailing images for her to identify.  It turned out that the photos were all from my stepmother’s stepfather’s family.  I was delighted when I could finally bundle up the album and send it on to loving hands.  

Thank you 

#Your Stories #photo album

March 2013

8 posts

Ancestry Reference Desk: Grow Your Research Skills

Do you use or Fold3 in the library?

Are you looking for How To articles and videos to help restart or expand your research?

Would you like some pointers on how to get the most out of records and images you find in your research?

Check our new Ancestry Reference Desk.


You can also follow us on facebook: or twitter: @ancestryrefdesk

Ancestry Reference Desk is the place to learn everything you want to know about using at the library, other public places, as well as tips and tricks you can use at home.

We will show you what to do before you go to the library, what you can expect to find there, and how to organize what you find when you get home. #AncestryReferenceDesk #fold3 #libraries
Ask Ancestry Anne: Who were Silas Allington's parents?

Question: I have connected with several other members of to try and find more about my husband’s great great-grandfather, Silas Allington. We all have the date of his birth, January 26, 1850 (we think in New York), and the date of his death, March 15, 1897, in Chillicothe, Illinois. We all agree that he was married to Emeline Potter. This is all documented on his grave stone. The problem is that we all have differing or no information as to who his parents were and beyond. We have all hit a roadblock. Can you help us go further?

Answer: I think I have found a path that you can follow.

Let’s start with what you know and work back.  Silas’ tombstone, in Chillicothe City Cemetery in Peoria County, Illinois, states that he was born Jan 26, 1850 and he died March 15, 1897.  He has a wife, Emma that was born October 20, 1852 and who died May 10, 1923.

So where to begin?

  • Silas should be in the 1850–1880 censuses.
  • Emma is most likely in the 1880 through 1920 census with her married name.  Maybe 1870 census.
  • Given Emma’s death date, we can look her up in a death index for Illinois.

Let’s start with 1880, where we find them in Chillicothe, Peoria, Illinois:



  • Silas was born about 1851 in New York, and his parents were born in New Jersey.
  • Emma was born about 1853 in New York, her parents were born in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
  • Willie was born about 1875 in New York as were his parents.
  • Freddie was born about 1878 in New York as were his parents.
  • It is possible that Silas and Emma were married in New York about 1873 or 1874; we can make that guess because Willie was born in 1875.
  • They moved to Illinois sometime between 1878 and 1880.
  •  I found no other Allingtons are in Peoria or surrounding counties in 1880.

Next I look for the death record for Emma.                  

She is in the Illinois, Deaths and Stillbirths Index, 1916 -1947:


The birth and death information match the tombstone.  The index states her father’s name was Potter and her mother’s name was Amelia.  I suggest you find the actual record from Peoria County, Illinois.  There may be more clues on the actual death certificate.

Our best guess at the moment is they were married in New York, around 1873.  We are not likely to find them in the 1870 census living together.

I have yet to find a Silas in the 1870 census in New York, but I have found a really good candidate in 1850 and 1860.

According to his tombstone, Silas was born in January 1850 in New York, prior to the census in 1850, so he should be in there.  I found only one candidate, a 1 year old Silas in Elmira, Chemung, New York:


In 1850, Jonathan is listed as being born in New York; in 1860 he is listed as being born in New Jersey.  Is Jonathan the father of Silas?  Is this the right Silas?

Jonathan dies in 1869.  Here is a snippet of the will that I locate in a tree on that lists his next of kin:


In 1869, Jonathan leaves his estate to his one son, his five daughters whom he does name directly and his grandson Samuel Maxwell.  In the will he does not mention his wife.  In the paperwork, her name is left blank, so I suspect that Abigail has died sometime between 1860 and 1869.

The previous page on the will, lists Silas Allington, Caroline Davis, Samuel Maxwell all of Elmira, New York; Eliza Hill of Van Etten, New York; and Harriet Ving or King and James Bennett of Illinois.  The surrogate for the Will states that he doesn’t know where Harriet or James live in Illinois.  This doesn’t add up to 5 daughters, but there are enough names in here to associate it to what we see in the 1850 and 1860 census.


I’ve also found Emma Potter, very close to Elmira in 1860 in Horseheads, Chemung, New York.  She is living most likely her parents, Morris and Amelia Potter, which matches the Illinois death record:


I find an Emeline Potter in Horsehead in 1870 working for a Smith family:


Is this your Emmeline?  Possibly. I could not find Silas in 1870.  And I could not find any marriage records online for New York.  If he is still in Elmira, it is very close to Horseheads and so we have them possibly geographically close to each other.  They had to meet somewhere!

So I believe that Jonathan and Abigail Allington are excellent candidates for Silas’ parents.  I would try and find the following:

  • A marriage record for Silas and Emma/Emeline
  • Birth records for the children born in New York
  • Obituaries for any Allington you are researching here
  • A death record for Silas

I would also track the other children of Jonathan and Abigail as well as the people in Jonathan’s will.  They may have left you a clue which will prove or disprove this theory. 

Happy Searching!

— Ancestry Anne

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#ask ancestry anne #Census
Ask Ancestry Anne: It's Time for Wedding Bells!

Women’s History Month continues. Today’s prompt:

Do you have marriage records for your grandparents or great-grandparents? Write a post about where they were married and when. Any family stories about the wedding day? Post a photo too if you have one.

I’m pretty sure this is a photo taken about the time of my great grandparents wedding.  Wyatt Paul Gillespie and Laura Cecile Donald were married January 24, 1894 in Lexington, Virginia.


Tall men and short women seem to be a theme in my family. :-)

When I was researching this couple, I learned the value of looking for the marriage record and then looking to see if their names appeared elsewhere in the database.  Well, guess what.  Wyatt’s did.  I talk about in Returned not used: How I Almost Wasn’t

OK, now it’s your turn!  Post a URL to a blog post where you talk about a wedding in your tree or tell us a story in the comments.

Happy Searching!

— Ancestry Anne

#ask ancestry anne #women's history month #marriage
Ask Ancestry Anne: Some Inspirational Quotes to Get Your Week Started

Courtesy of

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Ask Ancestry Anne: Who Were You Named For? Or Use the Favorite Woman in Your Life!

Women’s history month continues.  Today’s prompt:

Do you share a first name with one of your female ancestors? Perhaps you were named for your great-grandmother, or your name follows a particular naming pattern. If not, then list the most unique or unusual female first name you’ve come across in your family tree.

I am Anne Elizabeth,  and I was named for both my grandmothers, Ann Irene Feazell and Jennie Elizabeth Payne. 

I have always been confused why my grandmother spelled her name Ann and mine is Anne, but that is what it is.  Oh, and she always went by Judy. 

My other grandmother, Jennie Elizabeth Payne, had a life that I knew nothing about until I it uncovered in census records and other documents.  I blogged about it in How Eight Children Ended Up Living Alone in 1930

And now it’s your turn.  Who were you or your wife, your mother, your sister named for?  Post a URL in the comments, or tell us your story.

Happy Searching!

— Ancestry Anne

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#ask ancestry anne #women's history month
Ask Ancestry Anne: How did they meet?

Women’s History Month continues. Today’s prompt:

How did they meet? You’ve documented marriages, now, go back a bit. Do you know the story of how your parents met? Your grandparents?

You know, I don’t. Sad to say.  

I do know the story, well maybe the myth, of how my Aunt Martha and Uncle David met.  According to family legend, she was a drum majorette, which is true, and he saw her and fell for her.  He arranged to meet her and the rest was history.

OK, help me out here.  Somebody give us a good boy meets girl story and they fell in love.  Bonus points for happily ever after!

Post your URL to a blog post in the comments or tell us the story.

Happy Searching!

— Ancestry Anne

Ask Ancestry Anne: Do You Have A Photo of A Female Ancestor?

Women’s History Month continues. Today’s prompt:

Post a photo of one of your female ancestors. Who is in the photo? When was it taken? Why did you select this photo?

For me that’s easy.  I have this great picture of my Great Grandmother Laura Cecile Gillespie Donald with her dog.  You can read about in Wisdom Wednesday — Granny’s Dog (OK, it’s not my snappiest title. :-) )

So now it’s your turn.  Post your blog links, or tell us about your favorite picture of a female ancestor.

Happy Searching!

— Ancestry Anne

2 notes
#ask ancestry anne #pictures #photos #women's history month
Ask Ancestry Anne: You Didn't Ask, But It's Women's History Month!

It’s Women’s History Month, and it’s time to explore the “fairer side” of our family tree.

Lisa Azlo, who writes the blog The Accidental Genealogist, has written a series of blogging prompts for the month, and maybe it will inspire us to dig a little deeper in our trees.   To play along, post a url to a blog post you’ve written, or reminiscence in the comments.

You can find the blogging prompts at: Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts to Celebrate Women’s History Month.

Today’s prompt:

Do you have a favorite female ancestor? One you are drawn to or want to learn more about? Write down some key facts you have already learned or what you would like to learn and outline your goals and potential sources you plan to check.

It’s really hard to pick one, isn’t it? I have many that inspire me and make wonder more about their lives.

Elizabeth Jane Wallace, my g-g-grandmother always pops to mind.  She was  born in 1844 in Rockbridge County, Virginia, the daughter of Charlton Wallace and Martha Jane Cash.  She married James Calvin Donald on March 20, 1860 in Rockbridge.

James, like many other Virginians, went off to fight in the Civil War, for the Confederacy.  From time to time, it appears that he was able to come home, most notably in March of 1864.  (His unit is documented as being in Lexington at this time.)  In June of 1864, he is captured and spends the rest of the War in Camp Chase, a Yankee prison camp, being released in March of 1865.

In Dec 1864, Elizabeth and James’ first child, James Henry Donald is born.  I can only imagine how 20 year old Elizabeth felt.  Her husband is in a prison camp; most of their married life he was away at war.  Was she scared?  How was she getting by?  Life in the south was grim at best in 1864 and even most ardent believer in the Confederate cause must have known the war was coming to the end.

Did she even know if her husband was alive at that point?

When we look at how the Civil War impacted our ancestors, it is often on the male side of our tree.  Who fought and what happened to them. 

But our female ancestors lived through the war as well. And the birth of Elizabeth’s first child gives me a glimpse of who she was and how her life was impacted on a very personal level by large historical events.

So who inspired you? Who do you want to learn more about? 

Happy Searching!

— Ancestry Anne



#ask ancestry anne #civil war #your civil war story #women's history month

February 2013

11 posts

Ask Ancestry Anne: How is Cousin Bait Working for You?

I did a Livestream,  Cousin Bait: Blogging to Find Your Family in January.  The video and slides are available if you are interested.

I was fortunate to make a connection, not with a cousin, but with a lovely lady, Martha, who went to high school with my father. She sent me relevant yearbook pages for both my father and my grandfather.  My grandfather is in the upper left corner: Most Dependable.


I talk about it on my blog in The Gift of Yearbook Pages.

I’m curious to hear if anyone else has had some success with blogging and finding new connections.

Happy Searching!

— Ancestry Anne

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#ask ancestry anne #cousin bait #yearbooks
Ask Ancestry Anne: Where is The Source Citation Information?

On a few of our census records, the source citation information was inadvertently turned on the “record page.”  We are in the process of getting those back on the record page.

In the meantime, you can find the information on the image page, on the source panel.  To see the source panel, first go to the image, and open the panel by click on the grey arrow on the right hand side.


Once the panel is open, you will see the information you see for the source citation.


We are currently updating all the UK and the US 1800 and 1790 census.  If you see something else, please feel free to leave me a comment.

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#ask ancestry anne #Census #u.s. census #UK census
Ask Ancestry Anne: I'm Bored! Give Me Something To Do!

It’s Friday. You are at work.  Your mind is wandering.  Work is not keeping you focused. (Don’t worry, I won’t tell.)

You can’t drag out your own genealogy.  Maybe you could sneak a peak at a few genealogy blogs and get inspired.

Thomas MacEntee who runs the ever popular Geneabloggers sponsors daily blogging prompts to inspire those who write blogs. For example, today is Friday, and the prompts are:


If you have that “foodie” obsession, check out Family Recipe Friday and you’ll find:


If you click on the Follow Friday link it will lead you to a list of people who use that blogging prompt:


I usually do a Follow Friday column so that I can give a quick shout out to those that have inspired me throughout the week.  Check out Ancestors From Outer Space and Constructive Criticism or Moonshine, Civil War, Newspapers and an Assassin to see what I’ve been reading.

Happy Searching!

— Ancestry Anne

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#ask ancestry anne #geneabloggers #blogging
Ask Ancestry Anne: Want to Learn Something New?

Looking to learn more about how to use  Check out our Tuesday and Thursday livestream presentations.  And if you can’t view them when we do the original presentation, catch the video later.  Here’s how.

Signing up for events

Go to the face book page:

Click on the arrow:


This will expand that area.  Now you can click on Events:


And you’ll see what we’ve got planned:


Click on one of the Events:


Then click on Join and Facebook will send you a reminder:


Missed a presentation?

Not a problem.  Go to our livestream channel: and you can see our past presentations.


Maybe you’ll learn that trick that will help you break down that brickwall!

Happy Searching!

— Ancestry Anne

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#ask ancestry anne #livestream #facebook #webinars
Ask Ancestry Anne: How Do I Rename a Tree on

Question: Cecile St. John sent in a question about syncing trees and changing trees names.  In short, she is wondering why if she changes the name on her Family Tree Maker 2012 tree and syncs it, why doesn’t it change on the site.  And how does she change it?

Answer: In short, I don’t know why it doesn’t update. :-) But I do know how to change it! 

One of my trees has the odd name, “gilberts new tree” which now that I look at it seems kind of strange. 


I click on Tree Pages and then on Tree Settings:


Now I see:


I type something more meaningful into the box labeled Tree Name:


The message “The tree information has been updated” tells me I was successful.


This is also where you can change your Privacy Settings.

You can choose from a Public Tree, a Private Tree, or a Private Tree that is not indexed.  A Private Tree means others can find it, but have to ask (hopefully politely!) to look. 


Choosing the check box “Also prevent your tree from being found in searches” means no one will know that it is there.


Happy Searching!

— Ancestry Anne

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#ask ancestry anne #Family Tree Maker #syncing #how-to
Ask Ancestry Anne: How Can I Remove the Country from Places in Family Tree Maker?

Question: How do you configure FTM 2012 so that it does not show “USA” in the place names?

— Livestream Viewer

Answer: When you are in Family Tree Maker 2012, you start by selecting Tools and then Options


In the bottom right hand corner, you will see the Place Options section:


Make sure that you have a check next to “Check place authority when entering place names” and then select the country your ancestors are from.  I assume that all of my ancestors are mostly from the USA, so I don’t need to see that in every place.


Now when I look at places, I will see, for example, Virginia instead of Virginia, USA.  It’s a little bit shorter and easier to read.


Happy Searching!

— Ancestry Anne

#ask ancestry anne #Family Tree Maker #places
Ask Ancestry Anne: What Should I Do With A Census Image?

Question: I found my family in the 1940 Census, but I’m not sure what to do now. Is there something else I should be looking for?

— Jo Anna Worthington

Answer:  Finding the record is only part of the game. The next step is to figure out how to use the information in it. I’ll use George J. Hickman’s family from the 1940 census as our example.


Step 1.  Learn everything you can from the record.

The 1940 census has a lot of information.  For now, we’ll look at

  1.   Names, ages, birthplaces, and relationships
  2. Residence in 1940 and 1935
  3. Occupation

Get started by selecting “View image.”


Names, ages, birthplaces and relationships.

The image shows that George is living with his wife, Edna; four daughters, Doris, Deloris, Frances, and Betty Joyce; his son, George; and his Uncle William.  Everyone was born in Virginia except Edna, who was born in West Virginia.

Doris and Deloris are both 8.  Twins?

Uncle William is listed as single. He was likely never married; otherwise, he would probably be listed as divorced or widowed.

Where they lived in 1940 and 1935.

The Hickmans lived on Road #685 in Natural Bridge, Rockbridge County, Virginia.


Street names and addresses, when available, are listed vertically in column 1.


If the family lived in the same house in 1935, you’ll see “Same House” in column 17, or if they lived in the same town but a different house, you’ll see “Same Place.” The Hickmans have an “R” in column 17.  This R means rural and tells us they lived in another town with a population under 2,500.


What they did for a living.

Columns 28 and 29 tell us George was a tinner in the building industry, and Uncle William was a section hand for the railroad.


Step 2.  Write down what you learn.

Don’t tell yourself, “Oh, I’ll remember this.”  You won’t.  Save the record to your family tree. If you don’t already have an family tree, you’ll have the option to create one using this record.


Also, take notes about what you find on a record – even consider creating a notebook with a page or tab for everyone in the family. That way you’ll know where you found that key birth date or maiden name and you won’t have to dig through all of the records you’ve discovered to find that information again.

Step 3. Ask new questions.

Every time you learn something new about your ancestors, chances are you’ll end up with a few more questions, too. Here are some things we don’t know about the Hickmans:

  1. Where exactly did they live in 1935?  Why did they move?
  2. When did George and Edna marry?
  3. When did Edna move to Virginia?
  4. Why was Uncle William living with the family
  5. Were Doris and Deloris twins?
  6. What is a tinner? What did a section hand do? 
  7. Who were their neighbors?  Did any other Hickmans live in the area?

Each of these questions are linked to another record collection.

Question 1 – where they lived in 1935 – may be answered by a city directory, which may also tell you George’s occupation. If it changed between 1935 and 1940, that may mean George took a new job with a new employer, which triggered the family’s move.

Question 2 could be answered by a marriage record.

Question 3 will require Edna’s maiden name, which can be found on that marriage record, which can then be used to find Edna with her parents in earlier census records, and so on.

Familiarizing yourself with all of the records available on and the type of details contained in each will make your search for more answers simpler.


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#ask ancestry anne #1940 Census #Census
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#ask ancestry anne #Census #children #birth years #birth places
Ask Ancestry Anne: How do I build a Family Census Table

OK, this wasn’t a specific question, but inspired by reading the comments of my previous article: Are These The Same People? In that post, I built what I call a Family Census Table that I used to determine who was in the family and when.

Maybe it will be useful to do a few examples of what you might include, and also talk about what you can do with the information once you’ve collected it.

Let’s do our first example with my great great grandparents Jeremiah and Mary Gillespie.

I’ll build a table in Excel, but you can do it in word, on a piece of paper, or whatever makes sense.  In this first, example I’m going to work through, I’m not going to include place, but we will in later examples:


Now let’s find the 1880 census and record what we see.



Harriet was listed as a daughter, and George and Paul as sons.  There are big gaps between the children, so there very well may be other children.

On to 1870.



OK, there are some serious discrepancies here!  But let’s collect all four and then think about them.

And now for 1860:



No George.  And this is the first we’ve seen of Sarah. One more, let’s look at 1850:



OK.  Now what do we do with this somewhat confusing information?  Let’s start with a list of questions that we might have by looking at this family.

  1. Are the Mary in 1880 and the Ann in 1870 the same person as the Mary E in 1860 and 1850?
  2. Why is George listed as a son of Jeremiah in 1880, but not in the household in 1860?  He should have been 4.
  3. What happened to Sarah?  She should have been about 10 in 1870, too young to be married.  Where is she?
  4. Where are James and William in 1880?
  5. Jeremiah and Mary are no where to be found in 1900, did they die between 1880 and 1900?
  6. Can we find Harriet, James, William, George and Paul in 1900?

In the next post, I’ll talk about where you might want to go next with this research and how to get there.

If you put every family you are working on in a table like this, I guarantee that you will look at it and start asking questions. And that is the best way to get answers. :-)

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#ask ancestry anne #Census #organizing #how-to
Overcoming Surname Changes

I have worked diligently searching my family’s history for over ten years.  I joined Ancestry in 2006 and began a more serious search.  On my father’s side of the family his roots were in Milledgeville, Georgia.  I knew that there was woman who had four children by William Steele.  There were stories of her being Native American, a mulatto, or a slave.  We thought her name was Mandy.  I took a DNA test and found out that I have no Native American blood, so the next question was—was she a slave or was she free? By finding the four children I found her real name Sarah or Sallie Keen on the 1870 and 1880 census. 

The next mystery to tackle was whether she was a slave or a free person of color.  There on the 1860 census, listed as free people of color, was a family of Brooks.  All of the family’s first names matched, and there was an additional child that I never knew existed.  Where the name Brooks came from I do not know, but I guess after the Civil War they took on their father’s last name of Steele. 

For many African Americans looking for their ancestors it should be noted that the first name and middle name of all family members are very important. This can be the key to identifying the family in situations where there was a surname change, as was the case with my family.  I even found out that Sarah’s mother changed her last name three times. Jane Mitchell, Brooks or Gilbert was a free person of color—a washer woman that lived to be 116 years of age.  She had two newspaper articles written about her as the oldest person in the county! 

Theresa Steele Page

3 notes
#Your Stories #african american #name changes
Ask Ancestry Anne: Are These The Same People?

Question: I have built my family tree on and figured out my great great grandfather’s father was John Logan. I found the family on censuses from 1850 through 1880, the last census surviving before John’s death in 1880. All of the censuses list John’s occupation as a farmer. However, I was recently going through my grandfather’s family heirlooms and found an original newspaper from 1895 with John’s obituary. In it, it says he was a judge. At first I thought maybe I had the wrong John Logan on the census as it’s not an uncommon name, nor with the same name, and ten children all who have the same name (the daughters’ married names mentioned in the obituary also match the 1860 census.) Did all of the census takers just get it wrong?

— Stacie

Answer: How lucky you are to find that obituary!  And nice job of knowing you should not ignore conflicting evidence.

(Note: I’ll attach the obituary at the end of the post.)

Let’s start with the family information and a quick timeline from information we can gather from the obituary.

  • 20 Mar 1822 John Logan was born in Connersville, Fayette County, Indiana.
  •  About 1839 he moved to Illinois with his father’s family.  (The obit says country, but I suspect county.)  They lived in Henderson and Warren counties
  • Abt 1842, he was given an 80 acre farm
  • 30 Jan 1844 he married Barbara Davis and the lived on the 80 acre farm for 50 years
  • 1863, he was elected county judge, serving two terms.
  • 1 May 1895 John Logan dies in Lomax, Henderson County, Illinois.

Barbara and John had 10 children: Susan, Alex, Taylor, Mary, Nancy D, Elmira, John W, Will, Annie, and E.L.  Susan and Alex were living with their parents when John died.

He served two terms as a county judge.

Given this information, we would assume we would find the family in Henderson County, Illinois in the 1850 – 1880 census.

General rule of thumb, work backwards. 

We find John and Anne Logan living in Honey Creek, Henderson County, Illinois in 1880 with six children: Ellicks (is this Alex?), Susan, Mira, John, William and Lincoln (E.L?)


John is 58, born abt 22 in Indiana. His occupation is a Farmer.  Is Anne Logan, his wife, actually Barbara Logan.

Before looking for the next census, I look for a marriage record. has an index of Illinois Marriages, 1790 – 1860 that has an entry for a John Logan and a Barbara Ann Davis, married 30 Jan 1844. This sounds like our couple, and explains why John is married to an Anne in 1880.  It also states that there were married in Hancock County.  Henderson and Hancock Counties border each other, so it is not inconceivable that they were married or that they registered their marriage in Hancock County.

I find the 1870 census for John and Ann Logan in Township 8, Range 6, Henderson County, Illinois.



The people in the household (we don’t know the relationships) are: Susan, Nancy, Almira, John, William, Anna, Lincoln, and Terrell.  Terrell is listed last and is not in chronological order.  This may signify that he is not a child, but a relative.  Or not.

In 1860, we find the family again in Township 8 N, 6 W, Henderson County, Illinois.  John and Barbara A are the correct age and both are born in Indiana.  John again is listed as a farmer. The people in the household are Susan, Albert, Taylor, Mary J, Nancy, Almira, John and William.


In 1850, they are living in the same place, they are the correct age, and John is a Farmer.  Others in the household are: Susan, Alexander, Taylor and Mary J.  Notice that Susan is 5, born about 1845.  We know her parents were married in 1844.  That fits nicely.


Let’s build a table of people in the household over the decades:


The family described in the obituary sure looks like the family we find in Henderson County, Illinois, doesn’t it? 

So why is John always listed as a farmer when the obituary lists him as a Judge?  I suspect that being a County Judge was not a full time job, and we know from his obituary that he served two terms, leading us to suspect that he most probably had another occupation. From A History of the Illinois Judicial System, we learn that the Constitution of 1848 and other legislation “established a county court in each county with one county court judge who had a four year term.”  This leads me to believe that he served from 1863 to 1871.

I suspect that being a farmer is how he supported his family over the decades.  However, once an elected official has served as a President, Governor, Judge, etc, they are usually known by that honorific.

The details in the obituary match up exactly with the information we see in the censuses from 1850 to 1880.  There are no other John Logan’s in Henderson County who are candidates.  We can construct a reasonable argument as to why he was listed as a Farmer in the census records and as a Judge in his obituary.

I do not believe either is wrong.  I believe the two John Logans are the same man, and that he was both a Farmer and a Judge.

Happy Searching!

 — Ancestry Anne

The obituary, in 3 parts:




#Census #illinois #indiana #ask ancestry anne #obituary #conflicting evidence

January 2013

5 posts and the Luck of the Irish


My name is Tom McNamara. My paternal grandparents passed away when I was young, and my father never talked about his ancestors other than they had emigrated from County Clare Ireland during the potato famine.

My wife and I were planning a trip to Ireland so I joined to find my roots. With the help of census records, passenger lists, and family trees, I was able to discover that my great-great-grandfather (also named Tom McNamara) was born in Kimaley, a little village in County Clare. A trip to that village was now on our itinerary.

When we arrived in County Clare our first stop was Bunratty Castle. On the castle grounds was a pub with the same surname as ours, so we checked it out. Armed with the knowledge from research and a lot of Irish, we chatted with the couple next to us. This gentleman’s best friend was also named Tom McNamara. The friend ‘Tom Mac’ lived on the ancestral lands in Kilmaley! They took another look at me and knew I was related.

They called their friend and we got to meet him the next day. And you know, he did look like me! Our great-great-grandfathers were brothers! On Tom Mac’s acreage was the original manor house built in the 1700s and the family cemetery. I got to see the house where my ancestors lived and the graveyard where they were buried. The tour was fabulous.

Thanks to and a newly discovered distant cousin, I had one of the most unforgettable experiences of my life.

6 notes
#Your Stories #Ireland #County Clare #submission
Ask Ancestry Anne: Cousin Bait Blogging to Find Your Family

It’s a New Year and I know you may have a genealogy resolution or two on your plate.

Maybe you should consider blogging?  Or restart a blog you’ve let lapse?

Check out my Livestream presentation Cousin Bait: Blogging to Find Your Family or the PDF of the presentation.

My sample blog from the presentation is at

I will also recommend a couple of blog posts by Amy Coffin on her blog The We Tree Genealogy Blog:

You should also check out the GeneaBloggers site which is run by Thomas MacEntee

The Genealogy Blog Roll might give you some ideas on what you want to name your blog, or blogs you might want to use as inspiration.

Once you’ve started your blog, you can sign up to have your blog listed on Suggest A Blog on GeneaBloggers.

Send me an email Ask Ancestry Anne and let me know what your blog is and I’ll take a look.

Don’t be shy!  If you don’t tell your ancestors stories, who will?

Happy Searching.

— Ancestry Anne

2 notes
#blogging #cousin bait #ask ancestry anne
Your Story: Tip Brings Long-lost Answers


Growing up in Illinois, my family’s origins were almost invisible. I knew the names of my grandparents and great-grandparents, but I still wondered how we got here. I heard we came from Ireland or Germany or England, but those places seemed far off. In truth, it was like my family had sprung out of the ground in America, grilling burgers and going bowling.

It was only after my grandma passed away that I began thinking about her maiden name: McDonald. I read through books and websites about Scottish clans, with their images of tartans and kilts and bagpipes. I was pretty certain we belonged to Clan Donald, one of the oldest and most powerful of the Highland clans. But I really wanted more than words – I wanted proof. And that became a problem because I could only trace my McDonald ancestors back to the 1890s to the exotic locale of Missouri.

This all changed the day my mom and Aunt Donna discovered a letter in a box of old family photos. The letter said that my great-great-great-great-grandparents were named Hiram and Nancy McDonald. I went to, and soon I found census and marriage records showing that my ancestors Hiram and Nancy lived in Lincoln County, Missouri, beginning in the 1830s.

Fantastic! I had found my family. But it wasn’t enough. If I were going to uncover a link to Clan Donald, I’d first need to find out who Hiram’s parents were, and where they lived before the 1830s — before Missouri. But how to do that?

I turned to the 1830 census – the census taken just before the earliest record I’d located for Hiram and Nancy. But there were no McDonald households in Lincoln County. The closest I got were two households headed by people named “McDanel.”

Now, my initial thought was to dismiss this find and try to figure out some other way to find Hiram and Nancy’s family. But then I looked more closely at the McDanel households. The first was headed by Cyrus McDanel, a young man with a wife and children. The second was headed by Elizabeth McDanel, a woman in her 40s with a household of 11 young adults and children.

What if. … What if my ancestor Hiram was one of them? And what if Cyrus was his brother? What if the census taker had just gotten the family name wrong?

I kept researching. I found coincidences that I couldn’t ignore: Cyrus and Elizabeth were listed only a page apart in the 1830 census. Samuel K. Tilford was Cyrus’s neighbor – and shared a last name with the woman Hiram would marry in the same county three years later. More details added up in online records and at courthouses, and an anonymous tip in an online tree led me to a county in Virginia. Eventually I followed the family all the way back to Scotland … but not quite as quickly as it now sounds.

Suffice it to say, I learned my lessons. Spelling isn’t everything, names change and it pays to have an open mind. If I hadn’t been desperate for clues, I may have never looked at those two McDanels in the 1830 census. If I hadn’t researched the McDanels, I may have never made my connection to the past. And I might still be here scratching my head, wondering exactly how we got here, where we were from and how I could learn more.

— Ryan Littrell

You can read more about Ryan Littrell’s journey in his new book Reunion: A Search for Ancestors. Learn more about his research in this interview with the Barefoot Genealogist, Crista Cowan.

3 notes
#Your Stories #your story #ryan littrell
Ask Ancestry Anne: How Do I Decipher Census Columns?

Question: What do the numbers in column 30 in the 1910 census mean?  I have many relatives with different numbers in this column

— Jackie

Answer: Column 30 specifies whether the person owns (O) or rents (R) a home.  But I suspect that you are referring to numbers such as the ones written in on the right hand side. They look as if they are written in a different handwriting than the census itself and they don’t appear in every column.



A little research led me to Census Tick Marks and Codes – Revisited Yet Again! by Elizabeth Shown Mills where she discusses similar numbers on the 1900 census.  Some analysis led her to the number there, so let’s try it here.

Given that the codes do not appear on lines with no occupations, I hypothesize that they are occupation codes. We can create a chart to compare them easily.


You’ll notice that both Cooks have the code: 14-0-7-X and that the last three nurses are 1-5-6-X.  However, the first nurse is 9-5-6-X.  Am I wrong or did someone write this down wrong?

If you check other pages and the same occupation/industry pair you see the same codes. 

Now this doesn’t add anything new to your knowledge of your ancestor, but it does give you a place to start if you can’t read the handwriting.  Look for the same code, and maybe you can decipher the occupation that way. And nice job of looking at the columns on the census and every little detail!

While we’re looking at details, you may have also noticed that we have indexed a few more columns on the 1940 census, including marital status, street, occupation, industry, whether the house was owned or rented, and highest grade completed.

If I enter “Lexington, Rockbridge, Virginia” for Lived In and “Houston Street” for Street and mark both exact, I can see everyone who lived on the same street as my great grandparents in 1940. This can help you locate other relatives and who lived around them.


I know my grandfather was a rug weaver in a carpet mill in 1940. If I put in the exact location and “Weaver” and mark it exact, I get a list of everyone in that town who was a Weaver.  I suspect these are the people he worked with and knew. 

The details are always important!

Happy Searching!

— Ancestry Anne

6 notes
#1940 U.S. census #ask ancestry anne #search forms #search tips #us census
Finding Patti Page

As I was washing dishes the other day, strains of How Much is That Doggie in the Window came drifting into the kitchen from the living room. My husband was watching the news and they were sadly reporting that Patti Page, who made that song famous, had died.

I must confess, I never really knew much about Patti Page. I didn’t have any of her records growing up, but in the early 60s, that 1953 novelty song, was still a hit in elementary schools across the country. I can remember our music teacher hammering it out on the piano that she wheeled from classroom to classroom at music time. I stepped out to the living room to find out more about Patti Page.

Whenever someone dies, I get the urge to find out more about them. I guess as a kind of homage. But the news piece was brief and unsatisfying. A few clips of her singing a few songs, and we were back to averting the fiscal cliff. So after the dishes were done, I found myself on the computer googling this woman, who prior to her death I hadn’t really thought much about. Some people might think it a bit strange, but I’m a genealogist. It’s what we do. We research dead people. 

I learned quickly that her name was actually Clara Ann Fowler and that she was from Oklahoma and was born in 1927. Parents’ names—B.A. and Margaret. OK, good enough for a start.  I hit and started with a basic search—name, birth date, and birth state.  Sure enough, the first hit was for her in the 1930 U.S. census. Parents B.A. and Margaret, and nine children—among them Clara, age two.


Her dad worked for the railroad and the family was living in Foraker, Osage County, Oklahoma. So what else could I find? The family should still be somewhere in Oklahoma in 1940, but where was that entry? I went back and scanned the list of results—nothing.
Curiosity piqued. I went directly to 1940. Tried Clara Fowler, and added in her parents’ names. Nothing. Added siblings. Again, nothing. 

OK, Universe, challenge accepted. I cracked my knuckles and went in for the kill. I pulled the “sans surname search technique” from my bag of tricks.  I entered just the first name of Clara (leaving off the surname),  born 1927 in Oklahoma. Added in father B.A., mother Margaret, and to beef up my chances, I added siblings Ruby and Virginia. Based on their ages in the 1930 census, Ruby and Virginia would have been around the ages of 17 and 14, so there was a good chance they were still living at home.

I scanned the list of results for a name that in some way resembled Fowler, but the first hit caught my attention. It was for Clara Adalphus, and the parents were Benjamin and Margaret.  Was the B. in B.A. an abbreviation for Benjamin? I took a closer look and sure enough, I had the right family. But why Adalphus, or Adolphus as it looked to be upon closer inspection? 


Immediately my mind started swirling with wild possibilities. Was the family on the lamb? Didn’t seem likely. Dad was still working on the railroad, and was now assistant foreman making $1,200 a year.  The answer turned out to be something a bit more mundane.  A search of for his father using the birth date and place I found in the censuses turned up more records, but the answer to the question came in a match in an online tree. His name was listed on that tree as Benjamin Adolphes [sic] Fowler—a.k.a., B.A.  Fowler.  The census taker probably just asked for the husband’s name. Margaret responded “Benjamin Adolphus” and he assumed Adolphus was the family surname. 

So it wasn’t some fantastic story I had unearthed, but now I have a little more to attach to that pretty face and voice. And I will most likely have How Much is That Doggie in the Window running through my head for the rest of the day. Oh well, there are worse things.

3 notes
#census #juliana's corner #patti page #julianas corner

December 2012

3 posts

Ask Ancestry Anne: Copyright Information You Might Find Useful

One issue that plagues those of us who do genealogy whether you started today or you are a seasoned professional, is copyright.  What can you use? How do you attribute it to the creator?  How do you protect your own information?  What can you have a copyright on?

I recently did a Livestream presentation Don’t Get Caught in the Genealogy Cookie Jar about this topic.

Today I read a blog post by Cath Madden Trindle on behalf of the California State Genealogical Alliance. 

She has been presenting on this very topic and has made her presentation, “But It’s My Family…,” available to be viewed and used as needed.


You can find the materials at the self named Educational Materials on csgacopyright and her blog post on the site as well.

She is making the material available so that others can use it to help others enhance their knowledge of copyright issues for the genealogical community.

Happy Searching!

#ask ancestry anne #copyright #california genealogical state alliance
“We see the Lady!”—Tales from the Immigrant Journey

The trip to America wasn’t an easy one for many of our ancestors. There was seasickness, less than appetizing food, crowded conditions, and the fear that when they arrived they would be turned away. But it was a life-changing journey for millions of immigrants who passed through Ellis Island and other U.S. ports. Sometimes stories of that journey were passed on to family members, but too often they were lost to time.

Beginning in 1973, the Ellis Island Oral History Program, created through the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, has been collecting first-hand recollections from immigrants who came to America during the years Ellis Island was in operation (1892-1954). Audio files of the 1,700 interviews can be found on  and they are full of rich stories and details about life in the old country, the journey to America, and their early experiences in their new home.

The Trip to America

Rose Milazzo emigrated from Naples in 1901 when she was seven.

We started at Naples and boarded the ship and… my last meal was in Naples and I got seasick and didn’t eat another meal until we got to Ellis Island… [My mother] had funny ideas that if they caught me seasick, they’d throw me overboard, so she hid me from the authorities or even from a doctor which maybe could have helped me a little bit… We used to be pushed on deck because they’d have to clean the steerage where we come from, so it was easy to hide me under a blanket… We spent Christmas on board. I was under the blanket but I could see that they gave out figs and they gave out delicacies that they wouldn’t give out ordinarily. So we landed at Ellis Island and got a delicious soup with white bread.

Estelle Schwartz Belford, a Jewish Romanian immigrant described her trip in 1905 when she was five years-old.

I remember riding in this wagon to a certain cousin in this large town and that was the first time that we saw houses almost that you could see across from one house to another, and everything was just wonderful… We stayed in a town by the name of Beltz for two days also. We stayed there for about two days also with somebody else that we knew and I had an uncle there who was a politician, and through him we were able to ride across the border because in those days you couldn’t get out of that town…and people had to really steal their way across, but we were able to ride across the border.

And then we got to the seaport…Antwerp. And we stayed there only for about a day or so and then that was the first time my mother saw a lot of people in one room, like in the waiting room and she was telling us this story that when she went into the ladies room and, there was a lot of sinks there from what she described, and mirrors and the toilets on the side and we children were standing by the mirrors. She came in and she saw us. She didn’t see herself, she saw us in the mirror, she never saw a mirror before. And she thought we were there and she started scolding us, “Come over here,” and then she realized, and she was very much embarrassed. My mother was a very, very sensitive person, and all the way through she would make one little mistake and people laughed and then she wouldn’t say another word.

About life on board the ship in steerage, Estelle tells us,

It was terrible, the whole trip… You didn’t change your clothing every day on board the ship… Once, a few people came down from upstairs and spoke to us children and gave us some candy, the first time that we ever saw any candy or sweets and we were so happy to get it….

The meals were brought to you very sparingly. The food was so bad that sometimes my mom would say, “Don’t eat it.” or “Eat very little.” She herself was very sick. She was confined to the bed the whole trip through, and we three kids would stand around her. We were allowed to go out on the deck. And people from first class would look down at us and they felt sorry for us. And many times they would throw down an orange, or apples or some food, and the children would all stand by, and I remember, this one would catch this, and this one would catch that, and you were lucky enough you’d get something, and being as my mother was sick, if it was an orange or so, we’d bring it to her…My mother [had never seen] a banana, none of us ever saw a banana.

Here’s Estelle’s description on their first sight of the Statue of Liberty.

And then all of a sudden we heard a big commotion and we came to America. And everybody started yelling they see the Lady, the Statue of Liberty. And we all ran upstairs and my mother got out of bed. We went upstairs and everybody started screaming and crying. You were kissing each other –people that you didn’t even know before that were alongside of you and you never paid any attention. Everybody was so excited that you see America and you see the Lady with her hand up, you know.

You can almost feel the joy through that passage. These stories and many more can be explored for free on For those of us who don’t hit the family history lotto and find an ancestor in this collection, you can still get a real feel for the conditions our ancestors experienced on their way to America. Try searching for interviews of people who share your ancestor’s ethnic heritage to learn more about life in the old country. Search for someone who traveled about the same time to get a feel for ship conditions. Whether or not you learn something new, you will enjoy the time spent listening to these interviews. They are precious pieces of history that will thankfully be preserved for posterity thanks to this project.

#julianas corner #juliana smith
George Brown Blacksmith Audio take 3

Nauvoo Blacksmith Shop - George Brown

We had a great experience in Nauvoo, Illinois. Not only did we make some amazing family history discoveries on Kathy’s side of the family, but we were able to experience so many different trades relevant to the life of a frontier pioneer in the mid 1800’s.

One in particular was of most interest to us because of how it related to my ancestor George Brown. George Brown was a blacksmith in the 1800’s and after making this discovery it made our experience at the blacksmith shop in old Nauvoo so much more interesting. I felt like I could see into the past and understand what it must have really been like for my Great Great Grandpa Brown as a blacksmith. As someone who has owned his own small business for the past 13 years, I could see that in a lot of ways things haven’t changed very much in the last 150 years. I am sure that my great great grandfather had a lot of the same challenges running his business that I have had running mine. Customers must have wanted things done yesterday. I am sure that some of his customers probably paid very well, while some probably didn’t pay  at al. I’m sure that he had employees that needed to be trained and retrained to get the job done just right.

 I couldn’t help but wonder, while we were watching the blacksmithing demonstrations, what kind of a person he must have been. I wanted to know how he decided to become a blacksmith, was there someone in his life who influenced him to pursue this trade or did he discover at some point early in his life that he was good at the trade and so he stayed with it throughout the remainder of his life. This is what is so amazing about this trip and what is so amazing about doing family history. We make these insightful discoveries on and then we can go out the next day and live a little in the life of that very ancestor. As I look back over the photos we have taken so far on this trip, I feel like a sponge that just wants to soak in as much as I possibly can. I am grateful for the example of George Brown and for the contribution he made to the lives of those in his community and family and now for the contribution he has made to my life. Thanks Grandpa George!

#interesting finds #interesting-finds #great adventure #family search #family tree #genealogy #genealogy adventure #george brown #blacksmith #ancestry #ancestor

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

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#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

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#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

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#ancestry #dna #dna test #dna testing #genealogy #family tree #family search #interesting finds #interesting-finds #ancestrydna
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#death records #ancestry #genealogy #family tree #family search #kris williams #paranormal #ghosts #halloween #ghost stories #interesting-finds #interesting finds