Month: January 2016

Volke (Behrens) Sartorius’ Story Emerges from the Probate Files

The stories of our ancestors don’t appear in nice little books labeled “The Story Of —.” That would be too easy, but the stories are often out there. buried in primary research materials, written in little snippets that often appear out of context and out of chronological order. That story has to be gently and […]


The Importance of Practice

Generally speaking, genealogical research in the United States becomes more difficult as one’s work moves to before the Civil War era. There are exceptions. There are families who are difficult to trace after that time (particularly ones who are members of the lower socioeconomic classes) and there are families who are relatively easy to trace […]

Volke Behrens’ Daughter Reka was Not Herman Sartorius’ Daughter

We have mentioned Volke Behrens before on this blog. Volke Behrens was born in 1850 in Weene, Ostfriesland, Germany, to Ulfert Gerdes and Fredericka Maria (Lichtsinn) Behrens who later settled in the northeastern portion of Adams County, Illinois. That is probably where Volke Behrens gave birth to a daugher in  the early 1870s, before her marriage […]

A Civil War Draft Registration with Exact Birth Dates

Genealogists have a love-hate relationship with clerks. Sometimes they cannot write, use the word “unknown” as if it were going out of style, and have handwriting that would send third grade penmanship teachers into spasms. And then there’s this guy: R. H. Bacon, the “Enrolling Officer” who wrote the Civil War era draft lists for […]


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No Sources for Imagined Places I Cannot See

[Note: All images were current as of 23 January 2016 at 11: 30 pm central time.] I’ve had a little time to work with the “U.S., Obituary Collection, 1930 – 2015” at And I’m not impressed. Complaint number one: What paper was the obituary in? The specific newspaper from which the obituary “index” information was taken is […]

Not Quite Three Hermans in’s Probate Index

Filing systems can vary slightly from one location to another. The researcher should not expect one location to use the exact same filing structure as a nearby location. A search of the Illinois, Wills and Probate Records, 1772-1999 for the last name of Sartorius in Adams County, Illinois, resulted in three entries for Herman Sartorius in the […]