How Has It Been Updated?

FamilySearch is indicating that it’s 1860 census has been “last updated” on 24 March 2017.

The question is “how?”

I realize that FamilySearch provides access to a vast quantity of information at no charge. I appreciate that. I just wish that I had some inkling of how this database has been updated? There’s several ways it could have been updated and it makes me wonder

  • Have images been improved?
  • Have missing images been included?
  • Were there areas that were not originally included in the index?
  • Has the index been “improved,” had alternate interpretations added, etc.?

What sort of update has been done determines whether I need search the database again or not. It is something I would like to know. is guilty of the same sin of omission. With it is a bigger problem as I am paying for their service.

Is the 1860 census “new and improved” in a way that I need to perform all those searches for Benjamin Butler over again? Do I need to see if there were any 1860 enumerations that were difficult to read? I don’t know what I need to do if all I know is that a database has been updated.


FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestLinkedInShare DNA Test Arrived and Terms & Conditions

The DNA submission kit has arrived. 

Before I send back the sample, it would be a good idea for me to review the terms and conditions I agreed to before I ordered the test. I need to read through those terms and conditions again and determine if I am comfortable with them. I suggest everyone read them more than once. has two sets of terms and conditions–one for the DNA part of their site and one for the genealogy data part of their site:

You must agree to the DNA terms and conditions before receiving the DNA kit. Although one can always change one’s mind after the kit has been received and simply not submit it–if that is your preference.

I Finally Purchased the Chicago Manual of Style

How much it will help my writing is yet to be determined and I probably should not admit to it publicly, but I finally took the plunge and purchased The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Edition. I have a reasonably firm grasp of the English language and grammar, but a printed reference will be nice to have.

I don’t think the typical genealogist needs to have it. I also don’t think a genealogist’s analysis of a problem is invalid if a few comma splices have been sprinkled in their argument. If their argument falls due to a few grammar errors, then it was not that strong of an argument in the first place. I’ve probably spliced a few commas myself upon occasion. But there are times when I do want to know  the “correct” way to do something and TCMoS  is one place to find out. And my personal preference is to have a printed book over an electronic resource.

This doesn’t replace Evidence Explained–not by a long shot.  Evidence Explained has templates for the citation of genealogical references not covered in TCMoS. Evidence Explained also has a nice discussion of the research process and evidence analysis and, in the discussion of specific citations, provides a broad background on the specific item being discussed.

So watch out comma splices, I’m getting prepared!



From Whence It Came?

Determining the origin of pieces of information that have been shared and reproduced endlessly can be difficult. Sometimes it is seemingly impossible. It is made even worse when using compiled materials that do not cite sources or provide any references as to where they obtained material.

One can find a seemingly endless set of sources providing the information underlined in red in the illustration, which is:

  • Samuel Sargent died on 2 April 1841–apparently in Potsdam, New York.
  • Sarah (Gypsom/Gibson), wife of Samuel, died on 4 February 1847.
  • Clark Sargent removed to Buckton, Illinois, and died in 1847.

There are other histories that provide the same information. There are numerous online trees that include the same information. Records on Clark Sargent and his wife Mary (Dingman) Sargent in Winnebago County, Illinois, where he lived at least the last half of the 1840s, suggest that 1847 is a reasonable year of death. I have been unable to verify the dates of death for Samuel and Sarah, his parents.

The reference to “Buckton” in the 1881 history of Marlborough, New Hampshire, is actually helpful for tracking this information because it probably is incorrect. Buckton is likely a mangled reference to Rockton, Illinois. Rockton is located in Winnebago County, where Clark lived. There is a Bucktown in Illinois, but the town is near Danville, Illinois, a distance from where Clark lived and someplace where there is no evidence that he lived (although it is possible he went there and died). This 1881 publication is the earliest publication date for an item containing the information on Samuel, Sarah, and Clark summarized in the three bulleted items.

Because of that, at this point, I am considering this reference the earliest reference for the information. I’m not citing all the other print and online publications that include this information. Repetition of a fact by others does not make it any more reliable. There may be an item published earlier that contains the same information. If that is the case, then I’ll have to revise my “earliest reference” comment.

I’d really like to document the information with sources whose validity and probable informant is a little easier to determine. I cannot tell where the information obtained in this 1881 publication was located. I’m not saying the 1881 history as shown here is incorrect–just that I have no way of “checking” t for reasonableness based upon likely informant, how they probably came to know the information. etc. The book has a great deal of information and any one piece of it could be wrong.

It is noted that that publication of the book is not that long after the events took place and it is possible that a family member of Clark’s provided the information.

This may be the earliest document I have for these dates. It may also end up being the only “source” of these dates that I have.

The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy & the “Ethnic Mix” Results

To get me up to speed, I’ve purchased The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy by Blaine Bettinger. It’s another book to add to my reading list, but I do want to make good use of the results of the DNA test I’m having done.

In response to a some emails that I have received behind the scenes, I do know that:

  • DNA won’t solve every question I have
  • DNA may ask more questions than it answers
  • Every “submitter” to the database does not answer inquiries
  • Paper records still matter

My real reason for taking the test (as mentioned in the earlier post) is to make some connection to my elusive Irish forebears. My great-great-grandparents, the Irish immigrants, have been researched extensively in the area where the settled and while the father could be traced to a specific location in Ireland the mother could not. Any other information or conclusions that reached will just be an additional benefit.

The “ethnic mix” part of the test is not something in which I have a particular interest. I realize that others are interested in these results. I am not. The results go back to a time where I will not be able to trace specific individuals. I like to have a name of a person that somehow connects to me. While I sometimes am not able to locate very much information, I have enough specific people I can find information on, learn about, study, etc. I don’t need to occupy myself with a time where everyone is nameless. Others are and that is fine. Others are interested in the ethnic mix results and that’s fine as well.

But it’s perfectly fine to not be interested in those results as well.

So the mention here of the ethnic mix results of my test will be minimal as I only write here about what interests me.

As usual, your opinion and your mileage may vary.

An 1805 Property Tax Reminds and Asks Questions

The FamilySearch database  contains more than the vital records that were extracted to make the index to these records. There are tax lists, election results, tax levies, road surveys, and a variety of other record documenting town business. A search for Samuel Sargent when querying the database brought no results.

A manual scan of the town records for Marlborough located property tax record entry for Samuel Sargent “invoice[d] for 1805.” The only records that were indexed were the records of vital events. Always scan the originals.

The images being used were not even of the original records.

In this case, the digital images on FamilySearch were created from a microfilmed copy of a handwritten transcription of the original records. The style of the handwriting and the consistency of the handwriting make this apparent. The transcriptionist also included the page number from the original volume (that’s the “4” on the left hand side of the first image shown in this post and also why the headings appear at the bottom of this page–that’s where page four starts). Samuel and John Serjeant must have appeared on the bottom two lines of page three of the original record book.

I need to determine what the headings exactly stand for so that they are interpreted correctly. Rotating the images made them easier to read.

My citation to these records needs to clearly indicate that I am using the FamilySearch database that includes these records (titled “New Hampshire, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1636-1947“). I think it needs to include a parenthetical comment indicating the records for Marlborough appear to be transcriptions of the original book. That comment should not indicate all the New Hampshire town records in this collection appear to be transcripts because not all the records have been viewed. It should only refer to those records used.

2.5 Pews in the Local Baptist Church

[Note: these church pews were written about on the old blog, but we’ve updated the post]

Estate inventories can provide a wide variety of clues about the deceased.

Sometimes they even reference church membership. Upon his death in 1819, Samuel Sargent owned two and a half pews in the “Baptist Meetinghouse.” One pew was in the gallery and the remaining pews were on the floor. The gallery pew was valued at $7, the full pew on the floor was valued at $12, and the half pew on the floor was valued at $5. Samuel is styled as “of Marlborough” throughout the packet of estate papers, so it is assumed that the church to which the inventory refers is in Marlborough. That assumption may be incorrect.

The listing of church pews may surprise those whose ancestors lived outside New England. It’s definitely not something one usually encounters in the South or the Midwestern United States.

Two and half pews in the local Baptist church seems a fair amount of room, but maybe not. After all, Sargent did have a fairly large family and the size of the church is not known. Context matters.

There may be more in your ancestor’s estate settlement than you think.

Taking the DNA Plunge in Hopes of an Irish Discovery

After years of hemming and hawing, I’ve finally decided to have the DNA work done at The combination of a St. Patrick’s Day Sale and my desire to know something a little more about my Irish family made me finally take the plunge.

While there’s always the chance that new relatives will “pop up,” my real reason for the test is in hopes of connecting with the one-eighth of me that is of Irish extraction. My direct paternal great-grandfather, Charles Neill,  was born in 1875 in Hancock County, Illinois, to Irish immigrants Samuel and Anne (Murphy) Neill. The Neills are known to have originated in Newtown Limavady in County Derry. That’s where Samuel Neill was born in the 1830s along with his known brother Joseph and his probable sister Roseanne. If there were other Neill siblings, I am unaware of them.

Samuel’s wife Anne Murphy was born in Ireland, but no specific location is known. She and Samuel married in New Brunswick in the 1860s. I know nothing about her heritage.

There’s always the chance that the test will help me establish some new connections on other families, but my real interest is in my relatively recent Irish immigrants. My maternal families have been fairly well traced to the late 1500s, but there’s the chance that some connections will be made in a few paternal families that I’m stuck on, particularly a 3rd great-grandmother from Pennsylvania and a 3rd great-grandmother from Ontario.

But the Irish lines are where I’m really hoping to make some contact.

We will have updates–hopefully.

Let My Son Go: He’s Too Small and Weak for the Army and Needs to Emigrate With Friends

There is always a little more to the story.

In an earlier post, “Focke Returns to Germany in 1879,” discussion focused on two passenger manifest entries for Focke Goldenstein and his March 1879 naturalization in Galesburg, Knox County, Illinois, around which those naturalizations were sandwiched:

  • 3 November 1873, arrival in New York City on the Weser
  • 31 March 1879, Focke naturalized in Knox County, Illinois, despite living in Adams County, Illinois–likely because his uncle Jurgen Ehmen was a Knox County resident.
  • 17 October 1879, arrival in New York City on the Oder

That chronology has not changed.

Focke Goldenstein’s file in the Auswanderungskonsenses (1842-1919) from Ostfriesland, Germany, (available on Family History Library microfilm) contains a letter from his father which references his desired to emigrate:

Wriße September 23, 1873

Johann Lürken Goldenstein, innkeeper in Wriße, requests a discharge certificate for his sixteen and a half year old son, Focke Janssen Goldenstein, so that he can emigrate to America.

Reasons for this most obedient request are:
*) My daughter, Wilhelmine Janssen, lives in a America and is married. Focke will be able to stay with her until he is established and should be able to find work.
*) It would be advantageous to my son and to myself if he could immediately emigrate to America in order to find work there.
*) My son is too young for military service as he has is only sixteen. Additionally he is much too small and weak and is not likely to be qualified for military service.

*) My son has the opportunity to emigrate in about 3 weeks with a individuals he knows. I obediently ask you superiors to speed things up as much as possible.

Based upon the time frame, Focke must have immigrated fairly quickly after the letter was written by his father. The letter is dated 23 September and Focke arrived on 3 November.

The request of release from military service makes Focke’s naturalization as a United States citizen before his return visit in 1879 seem even more necessary. His status as a United States citizen would have helped to keep Focke as a man in his early twenties from being subjected to military service on his return trip to Germany.

Focke is listed in a group of six Germans on the 1873 manifest all of whom are between 16 and 25 years of age. There are other Germans listed on that manifest. Habben Agena, a fellow 16-year old, is known to have lived near Goldenstein in the 1890-era. Research had focused on him because his age was the same as Goldenstein. The names on the manifest should be analyzed in more detail than they have.

Focke has been researched by me for years. Before I located the letter, I had mentally put him in that “done being researched” category. That was a mistake.

There’s always something more to learn and it’s those small, seemingly innocuous facts that provides the biggest history lessons of all.


Brick Wall Busters 2017 Webinar Released

Get your research rolling…..

This hour-long presentation (aimed at advanced beginner and intermediate researchers) focuses on research approaches to get you past “brick walls”. We will look at reasons why we have “brick walls” and how we may be making our own “brick walls.” Focus will be on problem-solving, getting past assumptions, realizing what we know versus what we think we know, and completely analyzing and understanding what we already have.

Order here for immediate download. Recorded presentation and handout included.