Genealogy Research


Would Little Orphan Annie's Records Be Saved?

Categories // Genealogy Research

Cincinnati House of Refuge Register

University of Cincinnati Libraries Digitized Historical Records

Thank goodness some orphanage and orphan asylum records have been saved and preserved and thank the University of Cincinnati for the accessiblity of those from the Cincinnati House of Refuge. The Little Orphan Annie and Oliver Twist stories strike cold in the heart of researchers, the dreaded deadend.

The Cincinnati House of Refuge Registers have been digitized by the University of Cincinnati Libraries in the Digital Resource Commons and are available for reading in the Historical Records section along with the Cincinnati Births and Deaths 1865-1911 and the Civil War Exemptions for Hamilton Co., Ohio. Like all pre-state collected birth records, these can be invaluable, but like all digitized records, you need to dig a little deeper, past the indexing, to get those most out of the records. Many cities as large as Cincinnati kept records before the state mandated county-wide collections, so there are Cincinnati records before the state required those records be kept in Hamilton Co.


Research or Retrieve

Categories // Genealogy Research

Jenney Butler Quiggins

Heritage Quest,, and various newspaper websites have made family history research rewarding so instantaneously, it has devolved into genealogical retrieval instead of research. The Soothsayer in Julius Caeser said "Beware the Ides of March." For genealogists, it is "Beware the perils of retrieval and reliance on indexing instead of researching." It is too easy to think you are finished, when in fact you have just begun, just barely scratched the surface of available sources. 


The Cool Table at Lunch

Categories // Genealogy Research

Births, Marriages and Deaths are the Dates We all Want

This week my niece and nephew-in-law joined the best club of all. They became parents. They can now sit at the cool table in the middle school lunch room, forever. Wow, the first great grandchild on this side of the family.

My best advice, watch everyone around you parenting and copy what works, avoid what doesn't work, even if it's inadvertant. For example, growing up we did not have a ton of extra disposible income, so we did not have soda in the house. It was a waste of money. As a bunch my siblings and I all have pretty good teeth. I copied that. Parenting is all about adjusting.

Genealogists deal with events all the time, births, marriages and deaths are the top three. Sometimes we forget each of those events is also a life changing event for someone. This week, I am remembering, relishing and celebrating that. Welcome to the world, my great-nephew, James!


Two Different Wedding Dates

Categories // Genealogy Research

Two Records or Two Weddings


A common conflicting date issue is when the wedding date found differs from another researcher's date by a day or two. Upon investigation the two dates are for different events surrounding and including the wedding, the application date, bond date, parental or guardian permission date, date of the banns, date of a newspaper article about the wedding, recorded date, or license return date, in addition to the actual date of the ceremony. Generally it is "operator" or "researcher" error, the marriage application date was recorded instead of the date of the ceremony. In cases where the license was not returned to the courthouse signed by the minister, the application date may be all that is available. It needs to be written as "were married on or after"or circa instead of "on" if the marriage indeed took place. It may have been the officiant's error of not returning the license. The courthouse clerk may have not recorded the return. A marriage can be inferred from the application and said to be "ca. 4 December 1814" or "on or after 4 December 1814" if the couple lived together as married for many years. Check the laws of the state at that time to see if there was a waiting period. Anticipate those date conflicts and watch for them.


Genealogical Date Issues

Categories // Genealogy Research

Errors and Omissions or When is the Date Not the Date?

Mistakes, Errors and Doubles Exist - Conflicts Abound



Genealogically, the most common conflicting date issue is transcribing March 4th to March 4, 1814 to 3/4/14 back to March 4th, 1814, then 4 March 1814, then 4/3/14 and back and forth again until someone switches the whole date around and it becomes mistakenly 3 April 1814. All the while thinking:

  • That date style day/month/year (dd/mm/yy) looks pretentious.
  • That date style day/month/year is only for serious or professional genealogists.
  • That date style implies publication later and I am just doing this for my family.
  • That date style looks European style, I'm American.

I thought all those things and kept using mm/dd/yy i.e. month/day/year right up to and including the day someone sent me a corrupted file with the dates backwards. Frustratingly some were early days in early months and I couldn't tell which date they should have been. Anybody can tell the 12th day of the 17th month isn't real and should be 17 December not the other way around. Now I use day -  month - year all the time. As the Y2K computer issue evolved, I added the year as a four digit number yyyy. My dates are either written out 4 March 1814 or 4 March 1914 or 4 March 2014 but very seldom as 3/4/14. It is a habit thirty years in the breaking. Who says people can't change! 


Two Men, Same Name, Same Age, Same Place, What Are the Odds?

Categories // Genealogy Research

Rodgers Lindsey or Roger B. Lindsay

Curiously, the odds are pretty good that there will be people of the same name in the same place at the same time. Think of all the little girls named Ashley, Brittany or Jessica born in the 1980s. Names go in and out of style and certain given names are popular in specific geographic regions and uncommon in others. For example, Benjamin Franklin was big in Pennsylvania and up and down the East Coast in colonial times while Jefferson Davis was a much bigger hit in the South in the 1860s. Some given names like Elizabeth, Mary, William and John are so common, there will always be duplicates. In addition to the scenario that could leave three related males with the same name in forty years, (Sr., Jr., III,) some names run in families, with every cousin clump including a Lavinia, Amanda, Daniel, or Thomas. What feels like an unusual name combination in a specific era and place may turn out to be two different men with roughly the same name.

In 1910 Rodgie Lindsey lived with his parents Charles and Annie Lindsey in Caroline Co., Virginia. He has not been easy to find, for instance, I have yet to identify him in the 1900 census. There were two contemporaneous black men born in Virginia ca. 1897 who lived in different parts of New Jersey when each of them registered for the draft.

The first card for Roger (Roga) Lindsey, 881 Chelton Ave., Camden N.J. born 29 May 1896 in King George Co., Virginia seems plausible as an older brother John Lindsey lived in Camden Co., New Jersey in 1930 and 1940.

World War I Draft Registration Roger Lindsey Camden NJ

The second card for Rogers Lindsey, 193 Clay St., Hackensack, Bergen Co., New Jersey born 8 April 1897 in Bowling Green, Caroline Co., Virginia has better matching birth information, but the name of the nearest relative, Maria Lindsey, gives pause, plus no one yet in the family was known to be in Hackensack.

World War I Draft Registration Rogers Lindsey Bergen NJ


Research the Neighbors

Categories // Genealogy Research

William Henry and Lazereth Crouch of Greene Co., Tennessee

Use the Neighbors to Find a Missing Family in the Census.

If you are going to search a census year for a specific place and time, what matters is the readability of the images, the handwriting is the same across all venues but the lighting and focus of the images change between Ancestry, Familysearch and Heritage Quest. If you rely on only one of the venues for indexing, then the differences become even more important. The odds that all three skipped the same family or person are pretty slim.

In Ancestry's index, William Henry shows up in Dist. 23 of Greene Co., Tennessee in the agriculture census schedule for 1860, but not in the index for the population schedule. Lazereth Crouch is listed next to him in 1860.


Hoaxes, Fakes and Mistakes

Categories // Genealogy Research

Last month I saw a rerun of a British Antiques Roadshow from Belfast in January 2009. The camera that captured the Cottingley Fairies was the subject of one of the appraisals. The idea that two girls fooled Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was amusing and amazing to say the least. For those in America who had never heard of the Cottingley Fairies, there is a Wikipedia article and an OpenCulture article. For entertainment value, it was funny. What probably started out as a joke on their families, turned into a hoax when others were brought in and then the strain of lying about this was apparently very hard on the two cousins, Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths. Some sixty years later they came clean and admitted to faking the photographs except their stories differed on the fifth photograph. Who knows what really happened and which girl's story was true? I imagine after the passage of that much time, both girls believed their story was the true one. If two girls could hold a story that long under the scrutiny of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in England, you can believe two cousins or sisters or friends in America could cover up the birth of an illegitimate child or an altered marriage date, the stories most confused in genealogical history.

Hoaxes aren't new and genealogical and historical hoaxes have been around for centuries. Forging papers to get an inheritance, preparing fake Bible records to qualify for a federal pension for Revolutionary War service, creating false emails trails to support an alibi, faking invoices to establish a painting's provenance, all have their impetus in fraud. In that light, The Historian as Detective: Essays on Evidence edited by Robin W. Winks published by Harper & Row in 1968 would be of interest to genealogists and historians alike.

The Historian as Detective: Essays on Evidence edited by Robin W. Winks

The Internet has also introduced widespread dissemination of photoshopped images, which is good and bad. If the work done on Adobe photoshop or GIMP was to darken faded ink to increase legibility, how wonderful. (Adobe Photoshop is expensive, I use GIMP, it's free.) In reality, people change photographs and documents to suit their own purposes.


Family Bibles

Categories // Genealogy Research

Keep, Gift or Donate?

When you are the lucky one, when you receive the physical book, the family Bible, you are probably thinking ahead to what will happen when it is no longer your responsibility. Recently there have been several Bible resurfacing stories, the Dunn Bible found in Mocksville, North Carolina, and the Sprik Bible from Virginia Beach come to mind. How to prevent that from happening to the treasures you hold is a worrisome thought.

  • If you have descendants, do they know or care that this is a family treasure?
  • Do you keep the Bible snug in an archival box with acid free tissue paper?
  • Do you handle it with kid gloves, though cotton would be better?
  • Do you read it only on special occasions?
  • Do you read it at all?
  • Have you photographed or photocopied the Bible, the front and back of the title page, all the insertions and the Family Notes pages?
  • Have you written out the provenance, chronology of ownership, when you got it and from whom, back to the original owner?
  • Have you shared the copies or digitized photographs?
  • Has the pertinent family genealogical data been transcribed and published?
  • Have you placed copies or photographs of those pages in an appropriate repository?

All of those questions need to be addressed but the bottom line is, keep it or give it away. Only you can make that decision. Genealogically speaking, whichever decision you make, save and share the family data.


Google Images - eBay - Research

Categories // Genealogy Research

Harriett Beatrice Henritze Wallace 1890-1975

Every so often I check Google Images to see what sort of new Henritze images are out there. Most of them are recent photographs labeled with some particular Henritze's name. This older style photograph was different and so it caught my eye. Several branches of the Henritze family were in Welch, West Virginia around the turn of the last century, including Harriett Beatrice Henritze born in 1890 in Virginia.



David or Daniel?

Categories // Genealogy Research

Are you Daniel Christopher or David Christopher?

Most styles of cursive handwriting leave the words David and Daniel looking way too similar. If you don't already know the given name, it can be very tough to tell which it might be. If you have trouble telling the difference, so has every other clerk and indexer who reads it. Search in both directions to get a clear shot of handwriting on original records showing David or Daniel. Census, marriage, and baptismal records would all work. Don't use the index as that clerk may have had the same hard time you did deciphering the name, unless the clerk was a relative and then you know he knew whether the man was Daniel or David.

  • Look for records printed in nice straight up and down drafting, mechanical drawing or engineer's block printing.
  • Find a middle name as suggestive as Webster.
  • Review children and grandchildren for given or middle names of David or Daniel.
  • Check future records for both names, even after you have determined which is which.

After the 1870 federal population census, I lost track of Catherine Lonesome born ca. 1852 in Virginia. This isn't unusual. Given her age 18, I was lucky she still lived with her parents, Moses and Rachel (Taylor) Lonesome in Caroline Co., Virginia in 1870. Many 18 year olds would have left home by then, married or independent. Usually I wouldn't start researching without a marriage record for a Catherine, seriously. Instead I threw up a search for CATH*, no surname, age 1852 + and - 1, born in Virginia and had only six hits in Caroline Co., Virginia. Three seemed plausible options, Catharine Chiles, Cathrine Cristopher and Catharine Fortune. Catharine Chiles, although in the same enumeration district (E.D.) as her presumed sister JudaRoy in 1880, appears in the 1870 census already married with a child. Cathrine Cristopher appears in the 1880 census in the same enumeration district, two pages from her presumed sister. Catharine Fortune appears in a different E.D. in 1880, so I start with Cathrine Cristopher aka Catherine Christopher, wife of David. Cathrine Cristopher had geography going for her, with seventeen dwellings between her household and that of her suspected mother, sisters and brothers and ... she had a son Moses.


Did They Move to Florida?

Categories // Genealogy Research

Retirement and Migration

Arizona, California, Florida, North Carolina and Texas all have huge callings as retirements spots.

When people retire, they want better weather, fewer chores and less restrictions. Newport, Rhode Island and various shoreline communities in Maine, Connecticut and Long Island worked well for the weathly East Coast industrialists in the peak of the Victorian era. Cuba became a popular vacation destination after the Spanish American War (1898) during Prohibition (1920-1933) until the Cuban Revolution (1952), fifty years of hedonistic island paradise. Lots of servants, great food, vivid music and ocean breezes, how could you ask for more. Going south to Florida on the train for a week or a month during the worst of the winter storms was a solution for the frugal middle class.


James Richards Evans of Jefferson Co., Pennsylvania

Categories // Genealogy Research

The Perfect Research Subject for Groundhog Day

Rev. James Richards Evans of Pennsylvania married Hannah Mary Barlet of Pennsylvania in 1941 in Florida. Hannah a distant cousin of mine, third cousin twice removed, was married three times. She and her first husband had two children that died very young. Hannah and her second and third husbands did not have any children. When I research a subject, I like to have her full name, her parents' full names, her children's full names, her spouses' full names and the parents' full names of any spouses, especially for those unions with children. Of course, I don't find all those names for everyone, that is just the goal.

In this case, this set of parents isn't all that important, Mame and J. R. married in their seventies. They had no children. It is a perfect research topic for Groundhog day since Punxsutawney lies within Jefferson Co., Pennsylvania as does Clayville.


Everyone knows Punxsutawney Phil lives in Pennsylvania, But in What County?

Categories // Genealogy Research

Maps Are the Answer

I have been reading about Punxsutawney Phil for fifty years including articles in my Weekly Reader, an important well known source of news. Wikipedia lists his surname as Sowerby but that is uncorroborated. I have never checked a map from Pennsylvania to see where it was that his hibernation spot existed. Yes, I have seen the movie Groundhog Day, but that doesn't get to the geography question. Genealogists know that in order to find the records, we need maps. Other than Atlases, researchers used to need a library to get the nitty gritty details available on maps. Now, the Internet has dozens of maps on any subject at your fingertips. No excuse not to have the political subdivision maps, topo maps, and landownership maps in your head and on the computer when you start researching in a new area.


Caroline County (Va.) Register of Colored Persons of Caroline County, State of Virginia, cohabiting together as Husband and Wife on 27th February 1866.

Categories // Genealogy Research

Cohabitation Registers

It is hard to set out families prior to the 1880 census with certainty. The 1850, 1860 and 1870 federal census list household members by name but do not include relationships. Inferences can be made when the male head of the household and the next named female are of reasonable ages to be parents of the younger named children. Sometimes it's true. Sometimes it's not. Some enumerators listed the nuclear family first, then other relatives and lastly unrelated lodgers, boarders or servants. Other enumerators listed everyone by age, and yet others listed all the males by age and then all the females. Some enumerators used initials instead of given names because it took less time. Mistakes were made, either asking the questions, telling the answers, writing the information and/or copying it all over again later.

In general, African-American families have the added hardship of being identifiable in only one census prior to the 1880 census, not three. The slave schedules of 1850 and 1860 generally did not include any names. Every once in while the enumerator used names, just like other enumerators included whole birth dates in the 1900 instead of month and year. That's a lucky mistake. Some enumerators kept family groups together, while others started with the males in descending order by age and then listed the females the same way. The 1870 census, the first one in which freed slaves are named, doesn't identify relationships, but it does list all household members.

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Ida Sherwood Bettis is my paternal grand mother. Aunt Clara is my great aunt. I can remember every nooks and crany of that house and yard...

Eric Bettis Eric Bettis 25. July, 2017 |

I would be happy to forward your name, connection, and email if you wish.

Barbara K. Henritze Barbara K. Henritze 06. November, 2016 |

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