Chili, South America, is in Hancock County, Illinois?

I know where “Chili” is in Hancock County, Illinois, but apparently there’s a part of it that has been hidden from me for years and which has been discovered by

I’ve been playing with‘s “U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947.” Experimenting with a database is a great way to learn about it, understand it, and make discoveries.

But some databases make me question my knowledge of geography. 

While searching for cards showing a place of birth in Hancock County, Illinois (as an “exact” search), two interesting results showed up:

  • Albert Callijas born in 1901 in Wythe
  • John Herbert born in St. Mary in 1901

Looking at the extractions from the cards I realized why these two items were returned. The Herbert card made some sense–the Callijas card did not.

Hancock County, Illinois, contains locations named Chili and St. Mary. Herbert’s card does not provide a state of birth, so it is understandable why his entry was returned for my Hancock County, Illinois, search. After all, it said he was born in St. Mary and it could have been referring to St. Mary in Hancock County–which actually is called St. Marys.

But the Chili entry?

Chili in South America? I’m not so certain why it was returned–there was a complete location given. The place of birth was entered in the database as “Chili, South America.”

It all goes back to standardizing place names in its databases in order to facilitate searching–particularly searches of nearby locations. With that standardization comes some tradeoffs. It is the nature of search.

Being aware of limitations and pitfalls allows us to make more efficient use of databases. They are, after all, finding aids. They are not perfect. They are tools that we should know how to use–even if they are imperfect.

Although I’m still wrapping my head around how Hancock County, Illinois, is in South America.


FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestLinkedInShare Updates “U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947” is indicating that it’s “U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947” is updated as of today.

The card of my grandfather’s first cousin was one of my new discoveries. It’s a great card as it provides his place of birth (West Point, Illinois), father’s name and residence (Harry L. Sparks, Truman, Martin County, Minnesota), and his residence (1935 Sherman Street, Denver, Colorado).

The database of these cards is a work in progress. Unfortunately the state I really need (Illinois) has not been placed in the database as of yet. subscribers can search the database to see extractions from the cards, but a membership is required to view the actual cards. Based on several cards I have seen it’s advisable to view the actual card as the index entries occasionally seem to have misinterpretations of the places of birth.

This database is a great one as these cards were not readily available before these indexes and images were made. It was possible to get the cards but this database greatly facilitates that process. I’ll have to wait to locate my uncles and numerous cousins until the database updates. 

From the website description of this database:

This database contains images and indexes for registration cards filled out by men born between the years of 1898 and 1929 from Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, and North Carolina. The following states are also found in the index with a link to the images available on Fold3:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Maryland
  • New Mexico
  • Nevada
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Wyoming
  • District of Columbia
  • Virgin Islands

I’ve made some good discoveries searching this database by place of birth. As we will see in a future post, there are some issues with “U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947” in terms of searching based on place of birth.

Join Michael in Ft. Wayne for 3 Days of Research This August!

The Allen County Public Library is one of the largest genealogical libraries in the United States. This August, I’ll be leading a group trip there for three days of research and learning. The days of our trip are 6-9 August. The first Sunday we have an evening meeting/introductory session–research starts on 7 August when the library opens. 

Trip attendees get help with questions, research suggestions and guidance, along with morning lectures. Our group atmosphere is relaxed–we do not herd you like cattle along throughout the day and activities are entirely optional.

For more information or to register, visit our webpage.

Years After Leaving An Estate Settlement: Follow Up One

Years After Leaving–An Estate Settlement” did not really discuss where to go next based upon the 1832 will book entry for Thomas J. Rampley in Harford County, Maryland. The page that was located was solely an inventory of the estate filed by James Rampley, the administrator.

There’s no notation as to how James was related or where he lived, but it seems reasonable to conclude that he was one of the “Harford County Rampleys” and not the son of Thomas who was living in Coshocton County, Ohio, at the time.

Following up on the estate inventory is warranted. At this point, two records are suggested by the entry:

  • the complete probate records of Harford County–including journals and loose papers (if available).
  • the court records of Harford County–including journals and loose papers (if available). It is possible that the court record provides additional information on Thomas.

Further speculation can wait until these records have been located.

Federal Land Acquirers

Federal land records from the United States Bureau of Land Management are one of those types of records that researchers sometimes overlook. BLM records utilized by genealogists usually were created during the process of transferring real estate from federal to private ownership. These claims, warrant applications, and the like are currently housed at the National Archives.

For the most part cash land sales usually don’t provide much in the way of genealogical information–just receipts. They may be helpful if your ancestor died before the title in thApple property could be transferred to him. Applications for federal land warrants (usually for pre-US Civil War service) were made based upon military service and are similar in content to pension applications. Homestead claims typically contain more information–the claimant may have had to prove his citizenship status in addition to “proving up” his claim. 

Like most records, whether or not land records will be helpful depends on your specific problem and your ancestor. Generally speaking, ancestors who were urban dwellers tend not to appear in these records. Those who were not “early settlers” also tend to not appear in these records–although there are always exceptions. Images of United States federal land patents are searchable on Bureau of Land Management website. The issuance of a patent was the last step in the acquisition process. States with territory subject to Bureau of Land Management tend to be ones that were made US territories and states beginning with the Northwest Ordinance of 1787.

Six of my direct-line ancestors took part in the federal land acquisition process. It is always worth searching for these records, but your experience may vary depending upon your ancestor’s occupation, where they lived, and when they came to the United States.

The list:

  • Focke Goldenstein–homestead in Dawson County, Nebraska, 1880s.
  • John H. Ufkes–incomplete homestead claim in Franklin County, Nebraska, 1870s.
  • William S. Newman–federal land purchase in Tipton County, Indiana, 1840s.
  • Thomas J.Rampley–federal land purchase in Coshocton County, Ohio, 1810s.
  • Augusta Newman–bounty land warrant–War of 1812 military service. His warrants were for two specific acreages. One was patented to his son. The other to someone whom Augusta sold the warrant.


Years After Leaving–An Estate Settlement

Typically one does not look for estate settlement information on someone who has not lived in an area for six years. Typically one does not expect an estate inventory to be filed ten years after someone has died in a county that he left nearly fifteen years ago.

And typically not looking everywhere is why some of the best finds are not located.

This 1832 inventory from Harford County, Maryland, indicated that Thomas J. Rampley was due money from a judgement received against a Joseph McClung. The judgement stemmed from a property dispute involving real estate Rampley sold to McClung before he left Maryland in 1817. 

The document even styles Rampley as “Thomas J. Rampley, deceased of Coshokton County Ohio.” Rampley’s estate in Ohio was probated in the early 1820s, shortly after he died there in 1823.

Records like this are one reason why the “exhaustive search” needs to be look in every damned location you can think of even when the person might have been gone for a while, the person “shouldn’t be in the records,” you don’t think that record will help solve your problem, etc. I understand the theory behind an exhaustive search, but some of my best finds have been made when I just looked and looked and looked. That’s especially true in the pre-1850 era. Look at everything.

Genealogical conclusions can always be revised if new information comes to light and even steroid-induced comprehensive searches will miss things.

But when you think “you’ve got it all,” you are asking to be surprised.

Ancestral Clues and Lessons: Hinrich Sartorius

Hinrich Sartorius was born Ostfriesland, Germany, in 1837 and died in Adams County, Illinois, in 1912. He married Trientje Behrens in Golden, Adams County, Illinois, in the 1860s. Some things about research that I’ve learned from Hinrich:

  • your beneficiaries can alter your will. Hinrich’s will gave one farm to one set of children and another farm to the others. One set would have received significantly more than the other after the properties were sold. They jointly petitioned the judge to give the property jointly to them all so they could equally divide the proceeds. The judge approved.
  • initials are a pain. Hinrich’s 1880 census enumeration lists everyone in the household by their initials. Took me a while to find him.
  • deaths at the state hospital are sometimes discreet. Hinrich died several counties away at the nearest state hospital where he had been sent a few weeks before he died. It is speculated that his health had deteriorated to the point where they could no longer take care of him. In 1912, this was not something the family would really mention or want to be common knowledge.

Tips & Quips Arrives

Tips & Quips for the Family Historian by Elizabeth Shown Mills arrived a while back and I’ve finally had some time to look at it.

It’s a small volume that is easily portable and makes Evidence Explained look like monstrous tome . My unmanicured hand easily covers Tips & Quips which is the only reason my hand is not shown in the picture.

Short, pithy, and to the point, the quotes are not intended to be thorough treatments of any subject. The clever witticisms, one-liners, and short paragraphs serve to remind genealogists of potential pitfalls and temptations to avoid. The book can be read starting just about anywhere (except for the last two pages), even in random order. Reading through a page or two may easily send the reader back to their files to check on a problem the book brought back to mind or send them to a reference book to flesh out an idea resurrected by a short quip on an unrelated topic.

Or it may cause you to write some notes of your own in the book, particularly if it’s being read in a place and at a time when your genealogical materials are out of hand.  That may even be the best time to read it.

There’s even one particularly pithy quote from yours truly on page 30:

Don’t demand greater accuracy from records than you are capable of yourself.

You’ll have to get the book to view the rest.


A 1909 Church Picture–Was it There in 1888 and 1877?

Ebay is an occasional genealogical temptation.

Today I made another discovery on Ebay and gave into temptation. The image used in this post is from a postcard postmarked 1909 in Tioga, Illinois. The note on the reverse side of the card indicated that the image is of what is now known as the Bethany United Church of Christ in Tioga  and the adjacent church parsonage. The cemetery is not pictured, but it would be to the right of the home in this picture. The image was made facing towards the north east.

Next time I visit the cemetery I’ll have to take a picture of the church myself. I’ve been there several times as five of my ancestors are buried there. I’ve taken numerous photographs of their stones, but never a picture of the church. The church would have standing when my great-great-grandfather Trautvetter was buried from there in 1916.  Now to determine if this was the building standing when Franciska Trautvetter was buried in the church cemetery in 1888 and when her mother-in-law, Sophia (Derle) Trautvetter was buried in 1877.

One picture always begs more questions.


A Filtering Wish on AncestryDNA

I’m still playing with my results on AncestryDNAso I’m still learning.

However there is one thing I wish I could do there: filter my results by submitter.

Manually searching trees and searching trees by specific surnames seems highly inefficient to me. And there’s no guarantee that a surname that matches is even the line on which we connect.

One reason I submitted to on AncestryDNAwas to locate relatives of my two Irish-born great-great-grandparents, Samuel and Anne (Murphy) Neill. He was born in the general area of NewtownLimavady in the 1830s and she was born in Ireland (location unknown) in the early 1840s.

My maternal side is fairly well-documented with a paper trail and I have more than adequate leads on my other paternal families. What I would like to do all my matches on AncestryDNA is:

  • throw out those who match the two descendants of my Ufkes great-grandparents who have tested
  • throw out those who match the descendant of my Habben great-grandparents who have tested
  • throw out the descendants of my Trautvetter great-grandparents who have tested

That would leave the descendants of my Neill great-grandparents, Charles and Fannie (Rampley) Neill. Charles was the son of my Irish immigrants. Descendants of Fannie’s parents have tested–they could be thrown out too.

That would leave the descendants of my Irish great-great-grandparents as my matches.

Then I could focus on those matches.

That’s what I’d like.

And I’d really like that instead of my ethnic ancestry–although I understand that it what motivates many people to test.

And if there’s a way to do that on AncestryDNA I would like to know it, because I overlooked it.