Signed the Reverse of the Revolutionary War Land Warrant

Revolutionary widow Eleanor Fugate of Scott County, Kentucky, received a military land warrant for 160 acres in 1856 based upon the military service of her late her husband, Randall Fugate. We’ve mentioned Eleanor in earlier posts because she was significantly younger than her husband–approximately twenty years–and not of an age where one automatically assumes the woman could be a Revolutionary widow.

Such assumptions are bad ones to make as widow’s applications can contain significant genealogical details.


The reverse of Eleanor’s warrant contains her signature when she assigns the warrant. Assigned warrants such as this one are excellent places to potentially obtain actual signatures for women during this time period. Fortunately Eleanor actually signed her name instead of just making her mark. There’s even a caveat here about transcribing documents as well.


Given a quick look, the date of Elleanor’s assignment and the Justice of the Peace’s certification of her signature appears to be 4 June 1836. Obviously it is not. Just because a number looks like a “3” does not mean that it is a “3.” The warrant (looking at the reverse side) was issued on 24 May 1856 under authority of an 1855 act. It did not take too long for the warrant to make it’s way to Eleanor in Scott County, Kentucky, and for her to sell it and assign it. Documents must always be transcribed in context.

Eleanor did not receive any land herself based upon the warrant. The assignee, Samuel Downing, was the person who actually patented property based upon the warrant. At this point, it is believed that he had no familial connection to Eleanor. Research into Eleanor’s husband Randall Fugute is incomplete and it is possible that the connection was to her husband and not to her.

Assignees did not necessarily have any relationship to the warrantee and such relationships should not be inferred unless there is some evidence that suggests a relationship.

Eleanor (Newman) Harding Fugate was a sister to Augusta Newman (born in Maryland in the 1790s and died in White County, Indiana, in 1864).



Accuracy Versus Consistency

It is unrealistic to expect records obtained in genealogy research to be completely consistent. Names will be spelled a variety of ways, places of birth will vary as to location, ages or dates of birth may suggest a decades-long birth date. It’s human nature to occasionally be inconsistent when providing information, especially as one ages and if the same information is given repeatedly in a variety of documents over a series of decades. Sometimes the variation is intentional because the person was lying and sometimes it is unintentional because the person did not know or did not care. The problem is compounded when informants are providing information about people they never met or events that took place before they were born.

And most of the time these people never dreamed that in 100 years someone would be fretting over an age they provided in a census enumeration.

Anyone who expects complete consistency in records used for genealogy research is going to be disappointed and frustrated. They may even wish to pursue a new interest.

A more realistic expectation is for records to be relatively consistent. The difficulty is that “relatively consistent” is difficult to precisely define. Sometimes it is contextual. But a few general guidelines:

  • A person’s last name, no matter how it is spelled, should have the same general sound from one record to another. Knowing how the name was likely pronounced is key to this process.  Having a step-father, being adopted, getting married, etc. all can change that last name.
  • A person’s age should generally generate a ten year range of birth dates and usually one that is more narrow than that. Children’s ages tend to be more accurate than those of older adults. If the majority of records suggest a smaller range of years of birth, it could very well be that the one record suggestive of a significantly different date is simply an error.
  • A person’s place of birth should be geographically consistent and should also take into account changing borders and changing political alliances in the area where the birth took place. The probability the informant actually knew the information coupled with the fact that some people occasionally confuse “where born” with “where from” should also be taken into account.

Other identifying factors in the records should paint a consistent picture as well:

  • names of parents
  • name(s) of spouse(s)
  • names of children



Lessons From Barbara


Tombstone of Barbara Haase, Lutheran Cemetery, Warsaw, Hancock County, Illinois.

Barbara (Siefert) Bieger Fennan Haase Haase (about 1825-1903) lived a life that generated many records. She also lived a life that was atypical for her era. She:

  • was widowed in her late twenties with two small children in a town where she had no relatives besides her children
  • ran a tavern in a Mississippi River town for a few years that was referred to as a “house of ill repute.”
  • apparently was not legally married to her second “husband”
  • divorced her third husband in the 1870s
  • married her third husband a second time in the 1880s, left him after a few weeks, and was divorced by him
  • was, according to her son, “difficult to get along with”
  • was indirectly involved in a 1850-era murder

Years ago when my two daughters were small, a genealogical friend asked me what I was going to tell them about Barbara. I think she thought that I’d tell them nothing about this specific ancestor. Nothing could have been further from the truth for two reasons:

  • genealogists love to tell stories
  • I had no intention of raising daughters who were naive and unaware of how life worked

I don’t think I ever told them every detail of Barbara’s life–at least not all in one sitting as most children have little patience for listening to genealogy stories told by their parents.

But there were things in her life that were important lessons. Most of those were told to my children–often indirectly and usually not as part of a genealogical story. These lessons are viewed through a twenty-first century lens and intended to be non-judgmental towards Barbara. She was the product of a different time.

The death of a husband when you are relatively young can be devastating. 

Barbara was left with two small children to raise when her first husband died suddenly in 1855. Times were different for her in the 1850s, but there was still something to take from her experience. Barbara did not have options in the 1850s to support herself and her children that are available today.

Don’t take the first man that comes along.

Alone with two small children and no husband, Barbara apparently entered into a relationship that barely lasted a few months. This man was even appointed guardian for her children only to leave the county a few weeks later. He was never heard from again.

Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself.

Barbara ran her first husband’s tavern after his death and after her second husband left. She apparently kept a pistol behind the bar and, on at least one occasion, used it to force an unruly patron from the establishment.

Sometimes you have to do it yourself.

After her second “husband” left, Barbara was appointed guardian of her children’s estate in her place. While not unheard of, it was not common in 1855 for a woman to be appointed guardian. Sometimes one simply has to do things for themeslves.

Have a back-up plan.

Despite marrying several times and living in several other places in Hancock County, Illinois, Barbara retained the property her first husband purchased in 1850. She never sold it and still owned it upon her death in 1903. It was not a part of any property settlement in either divorce. That’s where she landed both times she separated from her third and fourth husband.

Try and avoid repeating the same mistake.

Barbara’s second marriage to her third husband lasted only a few weeks.

Don’t judge the dead.

One may be tempted to judge the dead by modern standards. That’s a mistake. While morals in the broadest sense are pretty much still the same, life was different. Barbara’s level of education was different. She was an immigrant living in a country where she was not raised. Her first husband’s death may have impacted her in ways beyond the financial. Life for women and the expectations on them were different in the second half of the 19th century than they are today. It is one thing to look back on an ancestor’s life and try to gather lessons from it. It is another matter to judge and that’s not really the place of the genealogist.

Sometimes the biggest lessons the dead can teach us are not the black and white statements we find in the records. They are in the stories the records suggest if we just take the time to listen.

Rest in Peace, Barbara.

You had quite a life.





Negative Evidence of Sophia’s Living

Negative evidence is not bad.

Negative evidence does not mean something bad has happened.

Negative evidence is when something you would expect to appear does not appear.

It takes a familiarity with the records being used and the context in which they were created in order to determine if negative evidence exists.

In earlier posts about Sophia Elisabeth (Derle) Trautvetter’s date of birth, I realized that there was some negative evidence and I had overlooked it. That sometimes happens with negative evidence: because it’s not written in the document.

The reasonable question was posted of whether or not the child born in 1807 had died as a child. In reviewing the records, I realized I had negative evidence that she did not. I knew the family had continued to live in the Helmershausen area from the 1807 birth through the marriage of Sophia Elisabeth Derle to Johann George Trautvetter in Helmershause in 1832.

In reviewing other baptismal entries from this same village, I realized that the pastor would make a notation on the baptismal entry for those who died as children. There was no such notation on the 1807 Sophia Elisabeth Derle baptism. The absence of a death notation on the baptismal record is negative evidence that she probably survived childhood.

Negative evidence can exist about a positive event.

It is negative evidence because I am basing my conclusion on something that does not appear–when if the child died young, there would be a notation.

The determination of negative evidence requires a good working knowledge of the records being utilized and what those records contain. That’s why it’s imperative for researchers to look at records for families besides their own.

Perspective matters and that’s hard to develop if one only researchers a very small number of families.

Thoughts on Sophia (Derle) Trautvetter’s 1807 Birth

In “Was Sophia Derle Born in 1807 or 1808?” three sources providing her date of birth were analyzed because they varied. To summarize the discussion, it was concluded that her tombstone and death entry in the church records were not as reliable for her date of birth as was her baptismal entry in the records of Helmershausen, Germany. The baptismal entry was contemporary to the birth and the information it contained was probably provided by those who had first hand knowledge of the event.


There’s always a but.

A reader raised the possibility that Sophia’s parents had two children with the same name and that the first one could have died. That’s a distinct possibility as in some cultures names of deceased children were frequently reused. For those who say that the 1807 and 1808 births are too close together, well that’s a possibility as well. And, it’s always possible that if the 1808 dates of birth are incorrect that they are incorrect in the sense that they are too early instead of being a year too late. That would make the gap between children even more plausible.

The church records make it pretty clear.

When Sophia Derle married Johann George Trautvetter in Helmershausen in 1832, the marriage record from church indicated that she is the oldest daughter of Heinrich Derle and Regine Dreißgacker of Helmershausen. The Helmershausen church records indicated that they married on 15 July 1806.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that there weren’t other Sophias born to Heinrich and Regine after the 1807 one. However, the listing of their children from the church family register indicated that they had six other children, none of whom were named Sophia Elisabeth.

Perhaps the best indicator that Sophia born 1807 did not die young was that there was no notation of her death in her baptismal entry. A reading of several other baptisms from the Helmershausen church during the time period in question revealed that the pastor would make a notation on the baptismal entry if the child died young.

It’s always good to think outside the box and contemplate all options. In this case it was also advised to look at records that had nothing to do with the family in question to get a broader perspective on the records.





Was Sophia Derle Born in 1807 or 1808?


The entry from the church records of the Bethany United Church of Christ in Tioga, Hancock County, Illinois, are pretty clear: Sophia Elisabeth Trautfetter[sic] was born on 29 September 1808 in “Helmashausen Sachsen Wesmar.” Of course the information was made as a part of the church register for her death in 1888. Where the information was obtained for the death register is impossible to say. The information was likely provided by one of her surviving children and could have been taken from a family bible or other family records.

The information on Sophia’s stone in the adjacent church cemetery appears to agree in part with the information in the church register, although the stone was weathered when this picture was taken in 2010.

It really looks like the stone says she was born on 21 September 1808.


The stone does not include the place of birth, but it’s agreement with the information in the register (at least as far as the month and year are concerned) does not make the information any more likely to be correct. It simply agrees (for the most part) and that’s probably because the same informant provided the information. That really does not explain why the month and year are the same and the precise date is different.

The record of Sophia’s birth appears on page 92 of the baptisms in the church in Helmershausen–the intention when Helmashausen was written in the church register at the Tioga church. That entry (number 14 from 1807) indicated that Sophie Elisabethe Derlin, daughter of Johann Heinrich Derle and Regine Dreißgackerin, was born at 4 o’clock in the afternoon of 21 September 1807.

Given that the birth and baptismal entry for Sophia in Helmershausen was written relatively close to her birth, that’s the date I’m sticking with as the actual date. The other records will be transcribed in my database as they are written. My analysis of all three records will indicate that I’m inclined to use the Helmershausen record as it was recorded relatively close to Sophia’s actual birth.

In the large scheme of things the differences are not significant. What really matters is that I have the correct person. I am as sure as I can be that I do as this same Sophia is listed as marrying Johann George Trautvetter in later records, has six children with him, including five who survive to immigrate with the Trautvetter family to the United States in 1853.

Dates do not always agree. They should be relatively consistent. It is the other identifying details that have to match up to confirm identity. In this case they do.

Was the Michael Trautvetter Probate of 1869 Incomplete?

One record or even a series of records can be entirely correct, entirely wrong, or somewhere in between. When one only has one record of set of records to use, it can be difficult to tell which is the case.

The 1869-1870 era probate of Michael Trautvetter in Hancock County, Illinois, indicated he had the following siblings who either survived him or left heirs of their own:

  • George Trautvetter
  • Hinrich Trautvetter
  • Wilhelmina Kraft
  • Ernestine Hess

The will of Adam Trautvetter, filed a few years earlier in Hancock County, indicated he was a member of this family as well by his mentioning of his brother George Trautvetter and George Trautvetter’s known son-in-law, John Herbert.

Records in the United States indicated that these siblings were born in the 1790s-1800s. As mentioned in other blog posts on this family, baptismal records in Bad Salzungen, Thuringen, Germany, were located for George (actually John George), Adam, and Michael. These men were sons of Erasumus and Anna Catharine (Gross) Trautvetter. Records for the other siblings could not be located and this was attributed to records that were difficult to read or the family not living in Bad Salzungen when they were born.

The probate made the relationships pretty clear.

When reviewing the materials from Wohlmuthausen, Thuringen, Germany, where the Trautvetter family lived during at least the approximate 1830-1855 time frame, it appeared that there were other siblings. The family book from the church in Wohlmuthausen suggests that there were two other children of Erasmus and Anna Catharine (Gross) Trautvetter: Elisabeth Margaretha and Elisabetha Magdalena. These two women appear to have been married and had several children of their own.

The question is “why are these women or their descendants not listed in the Michael Trautvetter probate?” Michael died intestate and his siblings became his heirs. If these sisters left issue (or were alive themselves) there should have been a reference to them in his probate?

At this point I don’t have an answer. I had always assumed the probate of Michael Trautvetter was complete. And it may still be. But I have more work to do.

I assumed the intestate probate of Michael included all his heirs.

Now I’m wondering.

Stay tuned.

Feathers Tickling My Nose: the Snoutfeathers

Sometimes a person thinks that they have seen just about every spelling variation for a name that there is.

And then something else comes along.

The clerk (or someone) thought the maiden name of the mother on a 1904 Cuyahoga County, Ohio, birth certificate said “Snoutfeather.” That actually seems to be a misreading of the original clerk’s intention (what they are thinking is an “Sn” looks like a “Tr,” but there was still this order recorded on the back of the birth certificate for Edward Reif in 1904.

There’s even a notation to see the other side of the certificate and the correctiontrautvetter-wong3s have been made on the original document with a typewriter. There is no indication of when the correction was made due to the order being issued. My suspicion is that it was when the individual applied for a Social Security number.

As a note, I know nothing about this Trautvetter family. I just came across this while working on something else.

But I’m always happy to get a new spelling variation.

I think.


Now My Blood Is Boiling Over My Inadequate Citation

I was searching the issues of the Prairie Farmer that are online in the “Farm, Field, and Fireside” collection at the University of Illinois. I was not looking for anyone in particular. I searched for “ufkes” as I often do and failed to locate an item that I know I had found before involving my great-grandfather.

knew it was from the Prairie Farmer and I knew it was my great-grandfather. I was positive. A search of my old blog posts located the reference from 1944 where my grcite-prairie-farmer2eat-grandfather has written a letter in reference to a telephone strike. I was correct about the fact he had written a letter. I was just certain that I had found it on the University of Illinois website.

Turns out that I did not.

The initial screen inventory of the digital issues of the Prairie Farmer indicated that the time frame covered was 1841 to 1941. That’s technically correct, but a more detailed look at the inventory indicates that images for the years 1924-1940 are not available digitally on the site. There may be specific issues in other years that are missing as well. My search of the inventory did not continue further once I realized that 1944 was not included.

I went back tocite-prairie-farmer1 search my old blog posts and found another one about the clipping, “Great-Granddad Ufkes Writes a Letter to the Prairie Farmer in 1944.” This post explained how I had located the article and as soon as I read it I remembered more about my process. It was not by using the digital images of Prairie Farmer at the University of Illinois that the item was located. The reference was discovered by searching GoogleBooks and GoogleBooks did not have the entire image online. Memory cannot always be trusted.

GoogleBooks probably did not have the entire image online due to copyright concerns. It was at that point that I remembered how I had obtained the actual image used for the blog post. It had been sent to me as a digital image by a reader who had actual access to paper copies of the magazine.

My citation for the 1944 newspaper clipping, while not quite formatted correctly does include the essential details. The image was made from an actual copy of the magazine. But there are two things that helped me get that image that are not included in the image:

  • the fact that I received the image via email from someone with access to the actual magazine
  • the fact that I discovered the reference in the first place via a search of GoogleBooks. 

I realize there are some who think that search process is not a key element of a citation. I’m starting to think that sometimes it is and it really depends upon how the item was located. If I just include the publication information is that sufficient? Yes, it is sufficient to find that same letter in an issue of the Prairie Farmer from 1944.

But it does not address how I knew to look in that issue.

Or does that even matter?