Finding a Trutwettcevette

A researcher is never finished encountering incorrect transcriptions for a last name. But this one exceeded my expectations:

Trutwettcevette for Troutvetter

While transcription errors are frustrating, I can usually see how someone read the name incorrectly. I’m not even trying in this case as it’s not worth my time. I’m not even certain how they arrived as “Hads” for Haas. If they’d been transcribing this handwriting for sometime (and the records are in the same handwriting), they would have seen other “d”s on the page and they are clearly made differently than the letters that are used to spell “Haas.”

This entry could have been located by searching for the name of the bride as Effie Tripp is transcribed correctly and spelled correctly in the record. But that’s not how I found this entry.

The place of birth is transcribed in the index entry, but they are not tagged to complete locations as some locations in indexes are. This entry was located by searching for “tioga” as a keyword in the database. The reason for conducting the search in this fashion was that I have numerous relatives born in Tioga, Hancock County, Illinois, and that I knew many Hancock County residents crossed into Iowa to get married. Fortunately, Tioga, Iowa, is not a town of any significance and my search results were not full of references to that location.

There probably were a few references to Tioga, New York, or Tioga, Pennsylvania, but that’s far enough away from Iowa to not significantly impact my results.

But Trutwettcevette for Trautvetter? That’s a new one and clever searching based on the name probably would not have located it.

I also located a few of my Myers relatives from the same location by using that location as a keyword. Easier than sifting through all the Myers (and alternate spellings) entries.


Statements, Genealogical Statements, and Definitions

I struggle with terms and definitions. In this blog post, I muse on “statements.” This is not meant to be an edict, but rather an attempt on my part to work through terminology and definitions in order to make my work as accurate, clear, and consistent, as possible. I’ve only reviewed this blog post twice–so there’s a chance I’ve written something that is inconsistent.

Creating definitions is never easy. And there are situations when spending more than a certain amount of time on definitions becomes an exercise in herding cats.

The problem is that some words get clearly defined, discussed, and debated and certain others get bantered around and used with nary a whit of virtual ink spilled in an attempt to define them. My present personal frustration is with “sources” and “information.” We will start with a general definition and work from there.

I’ve borrowed the definition of “statement” from one used in other disciplines This is how one usually defines statement in a logic course or setting.

Statement: Something which is true or false. Statements do not contain opinion.

“Grandma was too fat to raise all those kids,” “Grandpa should never have had children.” “Aunt Martha should have been institutionalized.” These items are not statements as they contain opinion.

“Kevin Sanders was born in Ohio in 1900.” “Thomas Rampley married Christianna DeMoss in 1920.” “Susan Hendersondotter was the mother of Henrick Svenson.” “Ronald Reagan was on the Mayflower.” These items are statements–because they are true or not true.  

“Ronald Reagan should have been on the Mayflower” is not a statement. 

In math and the sciences statements are “easier.” Either 2+3=5 or it does not. Either an item weighs four ounces or it does not. Oxygen is required for a certain chemical reaction or it does not. Statements of these types are a little easier to show than “Eric Swenson was born in Ostergotland, Sweden in 1856.”  But it remains that either Eric was born there on that date or he was not.

When we say that statements are true or false, we are differentiating them from statements as “Eric Swenson should have immigrated in 1880.”

It seems that statements for genealogical purposes should be more precise and there should be a little more direction other than that they are “true or false.” There still is a certain level of vagueness to our definitions no matter how precise we may like to make them.

Genealogical Statement: A precise type of statement involving individuals, relationships, or locations. A genealogical statement should either express a single relationship (biological, legal, social, or cultural) between individuals or indicate the existence of an individual.

A genealogical statement can express a relationship that exists between (or among) two (or more) people, possibly at a certain time and possibly in a certain geographic location. The time and location are not necessary. “Susan Smith was the mother of Henry Smith,” “Thomas Jones and Susan Smith were married in 1830 in Coshocton County, Ohio,” James Tinsley, Jonathan Fowler and Isaac Rucker were witnesses John Rucker’s 1780 Amherst County, Virginia deed” are all examples of genealogical statements as they express relationships. Relationships can be biological, legal, cultural, or social. The 1780 deed example

A genealogical statement can also indicate a person existed in a certain location at a certain point in time. “Riley Rampley lived in Hancock County, Illinois, in 1850,” “Susan Jones lived in Chicago, Illinois, between 1890 and 1930,” are both examples of genealogical statements.

Statements do no contain opinion but genealogists may have differing opinions as to whether a specific statement is true or not true. That’s where the analysis comes to play.

Where do we get genealogical statements? From genealogical sources and documents.

Genealogical sources contain statements that we often vaguely call “information.”  Information is primary or secondary, but one has to be careful with how broadly one paints the information brush. The problem I have with the use of the word “information” is that it’s easily interpreted by many as meaning all the material contained in a genealogical source. “Information” is often not really well-defined in research manuals. It may be easiest to view “information” as that collection of statements within a genealogical source. Statements in sources are either direct or implied. And, statements are either primary or secondary–just like “information” is primary or secondary.
Direct statements are those that are explicitly stated in the document, such as when a birth certificate indicates the age of the father is twenty-five or that his name is William Miller. Direct statements may be either true or false–they are called direct only because of the way they are stated on the document.
Implied statements are those statements that are implied from the source and not explicitly stated. “William was at least twenty-one when he was married in 1851” is an implied statement from the record because the record does not mention William being under age or needing consent to marry. The lack of such a statement that William was under twenty-one implies that he was over twenty-one at the time of the marriage. There are other types of implied statements contained in documents. Different genealogists may disagree upon what statements a document implies and their reasons for why they believe the document those implied statements. That does not change our definition of what an implied statement is.

Whether we view any statements from a document as true or false depends upon our analysis of those records, the perceived reliability of the source, etc. As we research, we extract genealogical statements from records. And since information is comprised of “statements,” each statement is either primary or secondary in nature–in the way that genealogists have defined primary and secondary in such works as Elizabeth Shown Mills’s Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace 2nd Edition.

After we have conducted an exhaustive search, we should have a collection of genealogical statements (which we can classify in two ways “direct” or “indirect” and “primary” or “secondary”). From those genealogical statements, we choose those we believe to be reliable and credible (our evidence), combine them with our logic, reasoning, and analysis and construct a proof argument. And of course, we cite our sources along the way.

One genealogical document contains no “proof.” Genealogical documents contains genealogical statements.


Unraveling the Mysteries of Women

I was quoted several years ago in an article on the FamilySearch blog, “3 Ways to Unravel the Mysteries of Women in Your Family Tree.” Female ancestors present challenges for ways mentioned in the article.

Here are few of my female ancestors for whom I was able to locate a great deal of records and where those records were located:

  • Barbara (Siefert) Beiger Fennan Haase Haase (died in Illinois in 1903)–two divorces (1870s and 1880s) and the guardianship of her children in the 1850s.
  • Nancy Jane (Newman) Rampley (died in 1923 in Illinois)–her denied Civil War widow’s pension was finally approved in the very early 20th century, after a great deal of testimony which documented much of her life before and after her marriage to the Civil War veteran.
  • Antje (Jaspers) Habben Fecht (died in 1900 in Illinois)–a family court case after her husband’s death in 1877 documented her operation of the family farm after his demise.
  • Susannah Rucker–deeds executed by her children in Orange and Amherst Counties in Virginia in the mid-18th century document her move from one county to another.

There is no doubt that female ancestors are more difficult to document than male ancestors. One key is making certain you have researched everything you can get your hands on and have interpreted every document in the appropriate legal and historical context. Often records that are not directly about females indirectly contain significant clues about them.


Setting Goals

No one lives forever and at some point one needs to decide what the “goals” ‘of their genealogy research are. There are no general right or wrong answers. There are just answers for one individual.

For me, I’ve decided that I’m not really interested in tracing all the descendants of any of my umpteenth great-grandparents. Those are fine goals, but they simply are not what interests me. I realize that analyzing DNA results is easier when one has traced as many descendants of their ancestors as possible. For most of my 5th great-grandparents and closer, I have their descendants reasonably traced to around 1900–which is usually close enough to facilitate working with DNA matches and completing later generations when necessary.

I’d rather learn more and completely establish information on the ancestors and ancestral families of:

  • John George (1798-1871) and Sophia Elizabeth (Derle) (1807-1877) Trautvetter of Wohlmuthausen, Thuringen, Germany, and Hancock County, Illinois.
  • Peter Bieger and Barbara Siefert who married in 1849 in Cincinnati, Ohio.
  • Mary (Dingman) Sargent Landon, born around 1818 in Ontario and died in the early 1850s in Illinois or Iowa.
  • Elizabeth (Chaney) Rampley (1804-1883), native of Bedford County, Pennsylvania.
  • Benjamin Butler, born about 1819 in New York State, probably and his wife Margaret Stephens.

And there are several families that I would like to write up what research has already been done. And I’d like to find out the identify of the Sledd man who murdered a slave in Amherst/Bedford County, Virginia, in 1811. I also need to finish digitizing the photographs I have from my grandparents, my great-grandmother and my grandfather’s sister.

And there’s a few other individuals I’d like to flesh out in a little more detail.

That’s enough to keep me occupied for a some time. All the descendants of my 6th great-grandparents will simply have to wait. There’s only so much time.


When the First Shared Match Does Not Share

Not all of DNA matches have trees, but those that do can keep one aware of reasons why those matches might not make sense. The issue with this match is one that we’ve discussed before here, but some warnings are worth repeating. This match (whose tree is partially shown) is a descendant of Sarke (Fecht) Huls. Sarke is my 3rd great-grandmother Elska (Fecht) Janssen’s sister. The Tjark Huls shown on the chart is a second cousin to my great-grandmother Ufkes. Looking at this match’s tree indicates that our only biological connection is through the Fecht family. My branch of this family and the match’s branch of this family settled in Bear Creek Township, Hancock County, Illinois, in the later part of the 19th century.

That’s our only direct biological connection: my maternal grandfather’s familial connection. There’s other connections that aren’t biological–at least not to me. When I viewed the tree of this match, I noticed several last names that were also familiar because they were families that lived in Walker Township, Hancock County, Illinois (where my paternal grandparents had family connections): Kunz, Mulch, Mund, and Hanerhoff (not seen in the illustration because it is one generation further back). A first cousin of my great-grandma Rampley married a Kunz, a family with the last name of Mulch raised my great-grandma Trautvetter, a sister of my great-grandfather Trautvetter married a Mund, and another sister of my great-grandfather Trautvetter married a Hanerhoff. So there were chances for additional shared connections through these families with this match’s matches where we all did not share a common ancestor.

And there were.

The closest shared match (154 cM) I had with this Fecht relative was one I had already determined. That match (Dawn)’s connection to me has already been established. She is a relative of paternal great-grandmother Neill and is not a Fecht descendant. Dawn’s tree indicated that she had other connections in Walker Township besides the Rampleys and it’s probable that the connection Dawn has to this match is through one of those families whose connection to me is not biological. The closeness of this match to me (154 cM) does not indicate anything about how close this match matches my known Fecht relative. Their relationship may be more distant than that.

The second match shown I do not have determined yet.

The third and fourth matches are known descendants of the Fecht family. The third (m) is also a known descendant of another of my families that is not shared by this match.

This is another set of shared matches that could have been very confusing because the first one’s biological connection to me is not the same connection I have with the match itself.


When You Post Something Online

A few reminders based upon personal experience and reality about posting something in a blog or any online forum–genealogy-related or not:

  • You do not know who will read your content.
  • You cannot control how people react to that information.
  • You cannot control where or how people respond to what you posted.
  • No one has to ask your permission to have a reaction to what you wrote.
  • Someone may “use” your information without asking. They may or may not give you credit. They may even violate copyright law. How you pursue that violation depends on your time, skill level, financial status, etc.
  • If you are going to get in a snit over how someone reacts to what you posted, do not post it.
  • People may be hurtful, mean, or downright nasty in their response. It may not be fair, it may not be nice, but it happens.

The only person whose reaction you control is your own.

This applies to personal things you post, genealogical information you post. Anything you post.


New FamilySearch Tool Disappoints

Don’t get me wrong, I like FamilySearch and all the digital images of records they have online. I’m not so impressed with their new tool to help one find digital images of original records that have been placed on their site.

According to a post on the FamilySearch site “FamilySearch New Tool Unlocks Data in Digital Record Images” the “Explore Historical Images” was recently released and allows users (with a free account) to search for records that are tagged to certain geographic locations.

A search for Hancock County, Illinois, located 754 results.

There is no easy way to see what a record type actually contains until one clicks on the item. Clicking on that link pulls up that one set of digital images, bypassing the catalog entry and taking one right to the “digital roll of microfilm.” It appears that each separate roll of microfilm or item resulted in a separate “hit.”

One problem is that from the results screen I have no idea what the “vital record” is (birth, marriage, or death), who created it, or what time period it covers. This seems to be a tedious way to navigate through these results. There is also no way currently to tag a result that I’ve looked at previously. This seems to be a very inefficient way of looking at these records–especially in locations where I’ve already utilized a great deal of the online records at FamilySearch and am hoping to find something new.

The information on the right hand side was not helpful in terms of what I was actually looking at. Of course the digital microfilm contains the title cards, but it would have been nice to know what I was looking at before I got into the actual set of images.

Looking at the results, it appears that items that were cataloged for all of Hancock County (county land deeds, county court records, county vital records, etc.) were returned as well as items that were cataloged for smaller political units within Hancock County (towns, villages, etc.).

There may be times where this tool will allow me to stumble upon something I have not already encountered.

What seems to still be a more productive approach is to search the card catalog for the location in which I have an interest and browse the records cataloged under that region. Then:

  • Look at records cataloged for larger political jurisdictions that contain the region I am interested in.
  • Determine what locations within the region of interest have records cataloged at that smaller level.
  • I need to know where within the location my individuals of interest lived. That will help me know what smaller regions I need to look at.
  • I need maps of the area of interest so that I know what adjacent regions are for the area of interest. I can see what towns and villages are near to the area of interest and search for those in the card catalog.

Using the card catalog for varying levels of geography, combined with good maps, seems to still be the best approach to finding digital images on FamilySearch that are not in the record collections but are simply in online collections of digital microfilm.

They way the “Explore Historical Images” is currently structured seems to require a great deal of browsing in an inefficient fashion. That’s time I could spend searching the catalog and knowing what I was getting at faster…and using that extra time for looking at actual images of records.


MyHeritage Colorization of Photos

The genealogy-world is aflutter over MyHeritage’s free photo colorization feature on their website ( Color me not really impressed.

Personally I’ve never been one to see the value in the colorization of photographs that were originally black and white. The determination of the actual colors appears to be somewhat based upon guesswork and I struggle to see how the colors bring anyone “back to life.”

I did colorize a few photographs as an experiment, but personally thought that the resulting images were not quite as sharp as the original and in some cases the faces really seemed to be glowing at me.

The picture of my brother and I with a cow and calf from the late 1970s really resulted in a disappointing colorized image. The color of the hats appears to be more blue than the “Pioneer seed corn green” that I know those hats were.

I’d rather spend my time digitizing the images I have and researching those gaps in ancestral lives that need to be filled.

That’s the real way to “bring them back to life.” Colorizing an old black and white photograph isn’t going to do that. Researching and locating more documents will.

Michael and David Neill, Carthage, Hancock County, Illinois, 1979.

A “Complete” Relative

All of “Evelene” Grass’ ancestors are my ancestors because of our triple relationship.

The phrase “complete relative” is one that I made up because it seems to fit the situation. E. Grass (1886-1935) is related to me in three ways. The relationship is such that when one gets to her great-grandparents every one of her ancestors is one of my ancestors.

The reason is fairly simply (or maybe not depending upon your perspective). Her father and her mother’s parents are all siblings of one of my ancestors.

  • Bertus Grass–her father (1851-1886) was a brother to my second great-grandmother Noentje Lena (Ufkes).
  • Garrelt Fecht–her maternal grandfather (1829-1913) was a brother to my third great-grandfather Hinrich Jacobs Fecht (1823-1912).
  • Feke (Janssen) Fecht–her maternal grandmother (1828-1913) was a sister to my third great-grandfather Johann Christopher Janssen (1823-1889).

The Fecht and Janssen families were from Wiesens, Ostfriesland, Germany. The Grass family, originally from Backemoor, moved there some time after Bertus and Noentje Lena were born.

I’m not certain if any descendants of this relative have done a DNA test or not. If they have, their tree is non-existent and looking at their shared matches will be a challenge since there are other double connections I have to the Fecht and Janssen families.

On paper, E. Grass’s tree represents 1/8th of my genealogical tree. That’s because:

  • My great-great-grandmother Noentje (Grass) Ufkes represents 1/16 of my paper tree.
  • My great-great-great-grandfather Hinrich Fecht represents 1/32 of my paper tree.
  • My great-great-great-grandfather Johann Janssen represents 1/32 of my paper tree.

Just because E. Grass’ tree represents 1/8th of my tree does not mean that if she had tested that 1/8th of my DNA is also hers. That’s not how DNA inheritance works, particularly since her relationships to me are:

  • first cousin three times removed through the Grass relationship (she was a first cousin to my great-grandfather Ufkes).
  • second cousin three times removed through the Fecht relationship (she was a first cousin to my great-great-grandmother Habben).
  • second cousin three times removed through the Janssen relationship (she was a first cousin to my great-great-grandfather Janssen).

The nature of our relationship does mean that if a descendant of hers tested, I’d have to analyze those results very carefully and would make no initial conclusions about any shared matches that we had.

And we certainly would have shared matches.