Showing posts from 2012

RIP John Humphrey

A couple weeks ago I took the German Genealogy course at GRIP with John Humphrey. He was an amazing teacher, very kind and I learned a lot from him. Today I have learned of his passing via the GRIP page on Facebook. Rest in peace, John.

(Further information will be provided on the IGHR website on Wednesday. I will update with a link).

Wedding Wednesday: Angelo Fantacone & Angiolina Basile

(Register #89)

My mother-in-law is a recent genealogy-addict, which is very exciting to me.  Yesterday we went to the Central Library’s Local History and Genealogy room to search the New York State Vital Records Index.  Amazingly, we found ever date we were looking for.  I then learned, after much confusion by clerks sending me every which way, that old marriage registers have been scanned in Syracuse and are available for free download in the basement of the County Clerk’s Office.  This makes up for the crazy amount of money they charged me for death records next door at the Bureau of Vital Statistics.

My mother-in-law’s maternal grandparents, Angelo Fantacone and Angiolina Basile were married in Syracuse, Onondaga County, New York 31 July 1905, which means we learned their wedding date on their 107th anniversary.  I love genealogy serendipity like that

According to the record, Angelo Fantagone [sic] was 24, a carpenter living in Syracuse (I think he was actually in Cortland at this tim…

GRIP: Final Thoughts

After a weekend to decompress from GRIP, I wanted to put my thoughts in order.Are Institutes Worth the Cost and Time:  Beyond a doubt.  In fact, I can’t wait to go back next year and am contemplating adding SLIG to my January plans.  Institutes are a great way to look in depth at a topic that a typical lecture cannot do.  Cost-wise, GRIP is an amazing deal.  For under $700, I received one week of lectures, syllabus, room, board and an awesome polo shirt.  This is probably one of the best values available in genealogical education. The Best Part of GRIP:  The people, just like at conferences.  I met so many interesting people in class, at meals and as a roommate.  The coursework is great, but the people you meet are even better. What to do Next: Write research plans, order FHL microfilm and search the German newspapers of Buffalo.  I also want to practice reading Gothic Script. Adding on a Research Trip: Always a great idea if you can do it.  Since I was driving past Eden, NY, where my…

GRIP Day 5: Back to Reality

My brain was pretty done after 12 hours of lectures and talking and learning yesterday.  It is amazing how much information I have learned in such a short time.  Today (Friday) I woke up ready to take in as much as possible on my last day here, which was a good thing, as the records discussed today should lead to much genealogical success.  Our first lesson today was on the German records held at the National Archives in College Park, Maryland.  These records, the Rasse und Siedlungs Hauptamt (RuSHA), were created in Germany by the SS in the 1930s and are full of Ahnentafel charts and other genealogical information.  These charts can go back to the 1600s in some cases, but always until ancestors born by 1800.  If you can find an ancestor or collateral relative, they will be tremendously useful to you.I do not normally quote syllabus materials, as they are under copyright and one of the ways genealogists are able to make a living, but I feel that the following sentence about the SS rec…

GRIP Day 4: So Many Sources, So Little Time

Today (Thursday) John said that genealogists have 3 jobs:To identify sourcesTo find the information about your family in those sourcesWrite up our findings (they are of no use in a notebook)He made sure to give a multitude of sources for us to look for.  Whether church records from the seventeenth century, compilations, maps or online databases, I now have dozens of items to look for while looking for my ancestors across the pond.We began the day looking at maps and gazetteers.  In German research, the Meyers Orts- und Verkehrs-Lexikon des Deutschen Reichs is the most important gazetteer in German research.  There is a “how to” book by Wendy K. Uncapher that is very useful.Our second session was on sources of information in Germany.  Published sources from Germany are much more accessible than archives in Germany.  It is important to look for civil records (especially family registers for those from Württemberg), land records, and house books, among others.After lunch we discussed how…

GRIP Day 3: The Center of the Labyrinth

‘Wednesday means we are halfway through the Institute, which is pretty hard to believe.  Our morning session was on the Pennsylvania Germans.  Although I do not have Pennsylvania ancestry, many of the records discussed would be useful to any research.  In the end, it is all about the research strategies and methodologies you use.  The second session continued this theme with case studies of immigrants to the area.After some excellent discussion at lunch (where I met Karen of Karen’s Genealogy Oasis blog), we came back to “Finding Places of Origin in Germany.”  Although I have a few ancestral villages, I do not have them for most of my German immigrant ancestors.  John reiterated that whole family genealogy (aka cluster genealogy or FAN research) is tremendously important in these cases.  Newspapers, particularly German language newspapers, can be very useful in this.  Even if you have the obituary from an English language newspaper, which is often just a short death notice, find the o…

GRIP: Day 2

Another early start today (Tuesday) for breakfast and catching up online.  Our first session today was on German church records.  John discussed how church records brought the common man out of obscurity.  Prior to these, you can only research nobility or the winners of history.  With local parish records, every person has a name and a spot in the past.  These are the records that will help you put together families and the joining of families (through marriage).  They are the most important record group for German research.After our church record introduction it was time to learn to read said records.  The Germans used Gothic script, which is what has kept me from ordering parish records from the villages I have identified as my ancestral home.  After a couple hours of reading words and paragraphs with his Gothic script font, I was a parish reading rock star.  Then came the copies of actual parish registers after lunch and it was like I had never seen these characters before.  As wit…

Get a GRIP on German Genealogy: Days 0-1

I arrived at the La Roche College campus Sunday afternoon for the inaugural Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburg where I am taking the German Genealogical Research track with John T. Humphrey.After registration (where we received our course notebook and GRIP polo shirt) and unloading my car, we had a simple buffet dinner and a welcome to the institute.  Then it was back to the room to begin reading Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff, followed by an early bedtime.Monday began with an early breakfast and then off to class.  We began with participant introductions and it was interesting to hear the variety of reasons people were taking the course.  We were then given an introduction of the course and a background of Germans in the US.  My biggest takeaways from the morning sessions was that genealogy is local, both in the US and in Germany and to find a document that your ancestor has signed, as it will give you their German surname.  This is a tactic that I imagine would work for…

Sodus Bay Lighthouse Museum

Image from the Sodus Bay Lighthouse Museum site

Yesterday, my husband surprised me with a trip to the Sodus Bay Lighthouse Museum, which is located in Sodus Bay, on Lake Ontario. The lighthouse was originally built in 1824, but had to be rebuilt in 1871.  It became a museum in 1984.

The museum showed this history of the lighthouse, talked about Sodus Bay in the War of 1812 (every building except one was burnt down by the British), and showed beach fashion over the past 150 years.  Included with admission is a guided tour and this was one of the best tour guides I have ever had.  After the tour we walked to the top of the lighthouse which gives a great view of Sodus Bay.  In the gift shop, I purchased a Lighthouse Passport and got my first stamp.  I'm looking forward to visiting other lighthouses in the future.

After out tour ended, we wandered around the grounds a bit and looked at Lake Ontario.  Unfortunately, it started to rain, so we were not able to explore as much as we had want…

New York Indexed in 1940 Census at

New York is now indexed for the 1940 census at!  From Ancetsry’s webpage about this: “From upstate to downtown, New York was a busy place in 1940. The 11th state was number one in population with 13 million people. The eyes of the world were watching, too, as the World’s Fair landed here in 1939, and planes were landing at the new LaGuardia Field. What were your Empire State relatives up to in 1940?”I know how I’ll be spending my Wednesday!

Tuesday’s Tip: A Rose by Any Other Name

Having a hard time finding a person in an index that you just know must be there?  For women, make sure you always check their maiden name (particularly in passenger lists) or Mrs. Husband’s Full Name.  For birth records, always try “male” or “female” last name, as many infants were not named prior to leaving the hospital.

Amanuensis Monday: Barbara Fleeman Probate (Part 1)

I have found many probate packets for my ancestors over the years, most all small, just a will and a few pages of information from the Surrogate’s Court.  One probate packet that surprised me was that of my 4th great-grandmother, Barbara (Griss) Fleeman, who died 1 October 1870.  At 37 pages long, this packet includes legal proceedings that occurred for 3 years after Barbara’s death.  Written mostly in not-always-easy-to-read longhand, I will be transcribing a couple pages a week over the next couple months.  Italics are used to differentiate handwritten items.  Items in brackets are asides written by me.Erie County, SS. - To Jacob Sumers + Henry A. Swartz By virtue of the power and authority given to me, I do hereby appoint you appraisers of the personal property of Barbara Fleeman late of the City of Buffalo deceased.In Witness Whereof, I have hereto set my hand and seal of office, this 12th day of June 1872.  [Signature Unreadable] Surrogate. Erie County, SS. – I Jacob Somers and I…

Motivational Monday: June

It is hard to believe we are at the halfway point of the year already.  After hearing Elizabeth Shown Mills speak at NGS, I am focusing the majority of my time putting sources into my updated RootsMagic database.  Although most items are sources in my Legacy database, not everything is and there is almost no document transcription or comments on the validity of the document/information.  As such, I am trying to create a main database that will include all of this information and have decided that RootsMagic 5 is the best program for this.Research:Main focus: Sophia Possehl research strategySecondary focus: Continue basic search for the husband’s family (Ancestry, FamilySearch, etc.)Search for tombstones for my husband’s family in the Utica areaOrganization:Put all Whitehead family sources into RootsMagic.  All sources must be fully documented, transcribed and with comments as needed.Dedicate one shelf on our bookcase to my genealogy notebooksEducation:Watch all RootsMagic webinars of …

Wordless Wednesday: The Frisco Club, Buffalo

The Frisco Club, Buffalo, NY.  Marked are Elizabeth (Fink) Gress with her children Chester and May.  In the background are the words “Blackrock Market.”“Lois – Grandma at the Frisco club, she help the boys – Chester, Walter + Howard.  they belonged to it + the mother’s always helped.  I was about 14 years old, thought you might like it.”  Assuming this was written by May, the photo is from  approximately 1904.Photo scanned from original owned by my great Aunt Lois 25 May 2009.

Memorial Day: Franklin Bowers

In memorandum of my great uncle, Franklin Bowers, who gave his life in service for this country 9 July 1944 in Normandy, France, just 13 days before his 22 birthday. (He is the young man on the left).Photograph and burial information courtesy of my Great Aunt Lois, 26 May 2009.

Research Plan: Where is Sophia's town of origin?

Sophia Possehl/Passel Gress is my 3rd great grandmother.  Here is my problem analysis and work plan, Elizabeth Shown Mills style, to find her town of origin in Germany.Written by: Amanda E. Perrine ( to: Own FilesDate: 17 May 2012Subject: Sophia Possehl/Passel's German town of originQuestion: What town in Germany was Sophia Possehl/Passel born in?Known FactsInformationSourceShe immigrated from Germany, arriving in NYC 16 Nov 1859. 1. Joh. Passel, farmer, 56, male. 2. Dorothea Passel, wife, 46, female. 3. Friedricke Passel, daughter, 19, female. 4. Joh. Passel, son, 16, male. 5. Sophie Passel, daughter, 14, female. 6. Carl Passel, son, 7, male. 7. Line Passel, daughter, 3, female.database, ( : accessed 16 Jun 2009), Sophie Passel; citing Port of New York records.Birth: 29 Jan 1849 in Germany. Death: 27 May 1928 in Buffalo, Erie, NY. In US 72 years [1856]. Father: John Possehl, born Germany. Mother: unknown, …

The Loomis Family of Sangerfield, NY

I attended a presentation at the DeWitt Community Library on the Loomis Gang of Sangerfield, NY.  It was presented by Sue Greenhagen and Darothy DeAngelo, who are sisters, genealogists and historians, and whom I have heard before at their Oakwood Cemetery walks.
Although I tend to think I haven’t been in the central NY area for long, it has actually been about a third of my life.  In all that time, I had never heard of the family gang that lived in nearby Sangerfield.
In 1638 John Loomis and Mary White left England and settled in Windsor, CT.  They had 8 children and all were pillars of the community for many years.  Their fifth son Deacon John had a son named Sargent Daniel, who had a son Daniel, who had a son Daniel, who had a son Lieutenant Daniel, who in 1779 had a son, George Washington Loomis.  George was not such a model citizen and eventually moved to Sangerfield to escape the police.  Here he met Rhoda Mallett and had a large family.
The family was known for crimes such as s…

Thrifty Thursday: Vital Record Purchases

Purchasing vital records can become an expensive proposition for genealogists, especially when you need them for FANs as well as your direct line.  One way I have found to decrease the cost is to go directly to the vital records office in the town or city the person was in when the event occurred.  I have saved $10 per record by doing this, which quickly adds up.

NGS 2012: Final Recap

It is hard to believe that one week ago the NGS conference began.  This was the largest genealogy conference I have attended and I look forward to many, many more.  Here are my general thoughts on the conference and recommendations for the next one:First of all, I ask attendees in the future to please be polite to each other.  I had doors slammed in my face because people were in too much of a hurry to wait 5 seconds and hold them open and the commotion surrounding full sessions, with people shoving, cutting in line past people waiting much longer and being just plain rude, is not necessary.  It’s just genealogy people.  If all else fails, I’ll give you the $12 to buy a recording to listen to later.  Also, remember to wear comfy shoes, bring a water bottle and snack bars, get enough sleep and take care of your biological processes in a timely manner.  These things will keep you in a much friendlier place.In that same vein, please NGS, have Elizabeth Shown Mills give her presentations …

NGS 2012: Final Day

It is hard to believe how quickly Saturday came.  The three morning classes this day were the ones I had most been looking forward to.  First, I went to Railroad Men and the Records They Left Behind by Patricia Walls Stamm.  My paternal grandfather, his father and his grandfather all worked for the railroad, as did others in his line, so I was looking forward to learning more about the records available for them.  What surprised me the most is that railroad papers traveled with the person in charge of them. You have to look everywhere to find out who currently holds the archives for a particular railroad.  Most railroads have historical societies which can also help with these records.My second session was Research Reports for Ourselves:More than a Research Log Presented by Paula Stuart-Warren.  I think everyone was surprised by the packed house for this lecture.  It was quite apparent that I am not the only one who does not, as Ms. Stuart-Warren said, treat her work as well as I woul…

NGS 2012: Day 3, PM

My first session of the afternoon on Friday was Making the DNA Connection by John Pereira of  This was a discussion on Ancestry’s new DNA test.  It looks interesting, but I really need to do more research before making a DNA test purchase.  There is a waitlist for this test and it is available only to members of Ancestry.comMy last session for today was Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion: Catholic Church Records by Dave Schroeder.  Having recently begun searching for my father’s side of the family and my husband’s mother’s family, Catholic Church records are going to be tremendously important.  I was pleasantly surprised by all of the information available on the records and that records are available beginning in the last 1800s.  Check with diocese archivists to see if records are available.  And remember, a small donation to the church never hurts.After the session was over, we headed to dinner where I gave a brief beginning genealogy lesson to the server, who was interested…

NGS 2012 Day 3, AM

It was hard to believe on Friday morning that the conference was half-way done.  I had learned so much already and some of the sessions I had been looking forward to the most were over the next two days.
I began day 3 with Printed Legends and Missing Footnotes: Dissecting 19th and 20th Century Compiled Genealogies by D. Joshua Taylor.  Most genealogists come across a compiled genealogy which is unsourced.  Surprisingly, these are not always correct  It is important to verify as much of the information as possible.  Additionally, remember that just because a like does not have a + next to it does not mean the line ends, they just did not have information on them, something I have found in my Perrine research.  My favorite tip from this lecture was to look for reviews of the book in its contemporary journals.  I had never thought of this.  This is a great lecture for purchase if you are wondering what to do with compiled genealogies about your family,
My second session was on Facial Re…

NGS 2012: Day 2, PM

My afternoon on Thursday began with the Palatines to America luncheon feating Marianne S. Wokeck on “Framing Genealogy: How Family Research Enriches the Ways in Which We See the World".” (If anyone has a copy of the syllabus, please let me know, I was not able to snag one.)  I really enjoyed her talk, particularly the idea that how a person remembers a place changes based on age.  If you moved away at 8, everything in your mind will be bigger due to your small size.After lunch, I headed to German Marriage Laws and Customs by Warren Bittner.  I wish I could go to the Palatines to America conference to hear more from him.  This was a fascinating presentation, full of great photographs on the power point slides.My key takeaways were on “stands” in German society (similar to an Indian caste), to look for word "dispensation" on a marriage record, because the diocese may have much more information on the couple trying to get married and that there was a time when religious ce…

NGS 2012 Day 2: AM

Day 2 (Thursday) of the NGS conference began in a much nicer fashion than day 1: not much actual gridlock on the highway and I arrived in time for the first session, which was on BCG certification.  As this is on my 5 year plan, I thought I should get some basics.  I only stayed for the first half of the session (it ran through 2 session times), but learned a lot.  It is time to go through the manual with a fine tooth comb, up my research reports and work on friends research so that I can practice writing “client reports”.

After this, I headed to Indexes! Indexes! Indexes! How to Find People Who Don't Seem to Be There! with Elizabeth Shown Mills.  This was my first time seeing her speak and I was quite impressed by her presentation.  My favorite part was when she mentioned that “Cassell” can be indexed as “Cafell”, which I am hoping will help me with my Casell (but often spelled Cassel or Cassell) ancestors.

The best strategies she gave, in my opinion, was to use wildcards for vowel…

NGS 2012 Day 1, Morning

I spent the first hour of the morning on the parking lot known at the I-75 trying to get to the opening session at 8am.  Sadly, I missed the beginning of this session, but luckily heard Patricia Van Shaik speak on the Cincinnati Panorama of 1848, a daguerreotype.  I can not even begin to tell you how much I love what the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County have done with this photo; in fact, this type of project is the reason I went to school for my MLS.  You can explore the photo from their website.  If all libraries offered sites like this, with photos and historical information, our genealogies would be so much richer (side note: if your library needs an MLS to do this, I’m available!)

At 9:30 the exhibit hall opened.  I went in about 5 minutes late, as I was sitting next to a set of doors they never opened.  My first trip around the the hall was cursory to look at books I may want, people I may want to speak with and to get badge ribbons.  I was able to talk to Chris W…

NGS 2012 Day 1, Afternoon

After lunch Wednesday (which will receive it's own post later this week), I attended Fitting the Pieces Together: A Case Study in City Research by F. Warren Bittner, CG.  This was one of the best presentations I have ever seen.  Mr. Bittner is a wonderful presenter and his presentation was good for all levels of genealogists, in my opinion.  This is one I would recommend purchasing the CD for.Bittner started with a basic overview of the genealogical proof standard and then put it into practice with a case study on his New York City ancestors.  The main takeaways from this lecture are that the address a family lived at in a city is one of the most important items you can have.  The second is that indirect evidence which comes from comparing documents tends to provide the best proof of identity.  Lastly, always make sure every statement you make is cited.  My favorite quote was that that when looking at  “complex evidence: Compare sources, resolve conflicts, must include a written p…

Family Tapestry: Integrating Proof Arguments

My first workshop on day 1 of the NGS conference was “Family Tapestry: Integrating Proof Arguments” by Jeanne Larzalere Bloom.  As you will notice, the majority of the lectures I am attending are on proof arguments and writing, and this was a wonderful introduction to both.All genealogists should be writing proof arguments for every step of their research.  It is tremendously important to remember that the proof argument is not a final, written-in-stone document, but rather a statement of where you are in your research at this point in time.  Looking at it in this way makes writing proof arguments much less overwhelming that the grandiose essay I had in my mind.Bloom discussed her adaption of the Toulmin Model for genealogy.  First, we need to start with the evidence found an exhaustive search.  We use this information to build a proof argument and, finally, a proof summary.  It is important to remember that the entire point of a proof summary is to answer the research question you po…

FamilySearch Media/Bloggers Dinner

On Tuesday night FamilySearch sponsored a Media/Blogger dinner.  It’s not every day that you get to eat dinner with Paul Nauta of FamilySearch, the AncestryInsider, Leland Meitzler, Pam Schaffer, Sandra Benward and Denise & Scott Richmond (who I met on the Legacy Cruise in October).  I also met Ruth Blair, who shares my blogiversary and DearMyrtle said my business car was pretty (I can die happy now).The main discussion was on the Community 1940 Census Project.  There are over 460 blog ambassadors for this program (including myself) and they are looking for more!  If you are interested and at the conference, there is a special offer where you can sign up and write a blog post and receive a very nice gift.Over 101,000 people have volunteered as indexers and arbitrators, which is how 30% of the census has already been indexed.  This is likely the largest community indexing project and we can only hope to see more of these in the future.  Remember, if you index two batches while at t…

BCG Education Fund Workshop

The BCG Education Fund sponsored a full-day pre-conference workshop at the NGS conference today.  There were two parts, Dr. Thomas W. Jones on “Editing Your Own and Others’ Genealogical Writing” and Melinde Lutz Byrne on “Editor’s Ink: Writing for Genealogical Journals.”For the pre-lunch session, I attended Dr. Jones’ lecture.  “Polishing is the greatest part of writing” according to Dr. Jones, it is also the hardest part.  When you begin writing you can start with anything: key terms, a description of what you want to say or full sentences.  If you cannot come up with anything to write, you probably should not be writing.  It is where you go from here, all the polishing, that is the difficult part.I was amazed that as an NGS Quarterly editor, Dr. Jones routinely cuts 25-50% of the words sent to him.  The main rules for publication, after having interesting and well-done research, is to be concise, choose simple words and have a logical sequence.After lunch, I attended Melinde Lutz By…

Planning for the NGS Conference

A hoard of genealogists is descending upon Cincinnati today to attend the 2012 National Genealogical Society Conference.  In order to make the most of your time, it is important to pre-plan your conference, or at least the first day.  Luckily, NGS has made a multitude of tools available to help in this planning.Syllabus, Daily Schedule and Exhibitor ListingThe syllabus and daily schedule of events are available as PDF files on the NGS website for conference attendees.  By going through these, you can decide which lectures you want to attend during each time period.  Important items to keep in mind:Is the speaker one you want to hear?Is the topic important to your current level and interests as a genealogist?Is the session being recorded?  If there are two sessions you are interested in and one is being records and the other isn’t, go to the one that isn’t and purchase the recording for the other.Is the syllabus specific or general?  If the syllabus gives you a lot of information on a …

NGS Conference Begins in 1 Week

In one week, the pre-conference workshops begin for the NGS Annual Conference in Cincinnati.  This will be my first national genealogy conference and I am very excited to be one of the official bloggers!  I will post daily about the workshops, lectures and special events I attend, as well as general information about the conference and Cincinnati.Will you be at the conference?

1940 Census: Maternal Grandmother

My main goal for the 1940 census was to find all of my grandparents, as this is the first time any of them were listed on a census record. Last, but not least, is Grandparent number 4 (according to my pedigree chart), Marlyn Whitehead.  She was also the last one I found, which is pretty ironic considering she was the one I most wanted to find.  My Gramma Casell has been with me every step of the way on my genealogy journey and I was very excited to find her on a census and show it to her.  She took a while to find as the address I had for her parents in 1943 from a SS-5 form was not where they were living in 1940.  After asking her for other recommendations (after all, she should totally know where she lived at age 4), I learned that’s personal subscriptions have city directories that library subscriptions do not.  One 2 week trial later, I had an address: 87 Ullman, Buffalo, Erie Co., NY.  She is listed with her parents, William and Vera (Gress), her five sisters and her…

1940 Census: Maternal Grandfather (aka He’s Everywhere)

My main goal for the 1940 census was to find all of my grandparents, as this is the first time any of them were listed on a census record.

Grandparent number 3 (according to my pedigree chart) and the third one I found (after failing at finding grandparent #4) is my maternal grandfather, Robert Casell.  He took a bit longer to find than he should have, as I had The Evangelical Lutheran St. John's Orphan Home where he lived as being on Mineral Springs Road in Buffalo, Erie Co., NY.  Turns out it was a town over, in West Seneca.  Once I had that knowledge he was tremendously easy to find, as the orphanage is written in the enumeration district descriptions.

He is listed as 9 years old, with his brothers Alfred and James.  Their sister Beatrice is located 2 sheets later as “Beatrice Cassel” (the list is broken down by male and female).

While talking to my mother and grandmother last night, they asked if I had found my great grandfather yet.  Since I had not looked, but was certain I cou…

1940 Census: Paternal Grandmother

My main goal for the 1940 census was to find all of my grandparents, as this is the first time any of them were listed on a census record.Grandparent number 2 (according to my pedigree chart), and the first that I found yesterday is my paternal grandmother, Agnes Nuwer.  She was 2 years old and living in a house of Westwood Road, Alden, Erie Co., NY, with her parents Albert and Edna (Roll), siblings Richard, Marilyn and Albert, Jr., and cousin Henry.  According to my Uncle Al, Henry was actually living with them as a paid farmhand, which shows why the earlier you become a genealogist the better, as I would have never known this otherwise.  Three families before them, Albert’s parents, my great-great-grandparents, John and Anna (Zeapfel) Nuwer, are listed with their daughter Charlotte.Sources:1940 U.S. census, Erie County, New York, population schedule, Alden, enumeration district (ED) 15-2, sheet 1A, p. 115 (stamped), dwelling (blank), family 2, John Nuwer household; digital images, N…

1940 Census: Paternal Grandfather

After not being able to look at any images of the 1940 census yesterday, I made a lot of progress today, finding all 4 of my grandparents!  The fastest way I found to search the images was to download the entire enumeration district and then flip through it in Windows Live Photo Gallery.Grandparent number 1 (according to my pedigree chart), and the second found today, is my paternal grandfather, Theodore Acquard.  In 1940 he was 6 and living on a farm on Alleghany Rd. Bennington, Wyoming Co., NY.  He is listed with his parents, Florian and Stella (Karpinski), younger brothers Daniel and Ronald, grandfather Joseph Acquard and uncle Walter Acquard.  His name is misspelled as “Theadore”.Source: 1940 U.S. census, Wyoming County, New York, population schedule, Bennington, enumeration district (ED) 61-8, sheet 7B, dwelling (blank), family 150, Florian Acquard household; digital images, National Archives and Records Administration, 1940 Census ( : accessed 3 Ap…

1940 US Census Release Day

The 1940 US census was released this morning! My plan was to look for my easy to find grandparents before work and then focus on the harder to find ones this evening. Hahahah... The demand on the site meant that this was not possible, but I am hoping to be able to find everything tonight or tomorrow. Until then, I index!

Were you able to find your relatives on the 1940 census yet? Have you began helping with the indexing project?

Family History Day: Census Mortality Schedule

After attending Family History Day, I had a list of sources to look for.  At the top of this list was checking to see if any of my ancestors would have been listed on a census mortality schedule.  My 4th great grandfather, John George Zeapfel died 17 Oct 1879 in Lancaster, Erie County, NY.  Searching for him on Ancestry did not yield any results, but reading mortality schedule did:This shows he died of consumption and that there was not a doctor present at the time of his death.  It also gives his birthplace (Alsace, France), occupation (retired farmer) and marital status (widow).  Since NY state did not have death certificates this early in most cases, this is the only place to find some of this information.

Family History Day: Sources for New York State Research

My last lecture of Family History Day was “Sources for New York State Research” by Christopher Challender Child.  As someone from Western New York, whose ancestors are also from Western New York, lectures like this can be disappointing, as they often focus only on New York City.  Luckily, Christopher covered records for the whole state.NEHGS actually has a site specifically for those of us with NY ancestors:  This includes databases and articles specifically for New York.State census records are some of the best things to look at for your NY ancestors, particularly since the 1892 state census is a wonderful substitute for the 1890 federal census.  There are also marriage and death records for June – July 1855 and 1865 located with the census of that year.Other records he recommended were tax records, poor house records, and mug books.

1940 US Census: Boarders in the Household

Less than two weeks until the release of the 1940 US census!  When searching census records, it is easy to just focus on family members and the other people living in a household.  After all, boarders were just people passing through, helping pay the mortgage, right?

While in some situations, you will see a boarder in a census one year and never see them in relation to your family again, sometimes boarders will actually be far more important to your research.  Here are a few examples from my family tree:

In 1910, my 3rd great grandmother, Sophia (Passel) Gress, had been a widow for 11 years and all of her children were grown and living with their spouses, raising children of their own.  Sometime between 1900 and 1910 she had begun taking in boarders, and as of census day she had 6 young men renting space in her home.  One of these men, George Eddy, was a 28 year old house painter.  I like to picture Sophia telling her granddaughter Elsie about this kind, hard working, handsome young man…

Family History Day: A Dozen Ways to Jumpstart Your Family History Project

The third class I went to for Family history day was also given by Lou Dennis Szucs.  This time she spoke on ways to jumpstart your family history project.Often time, we feel stuck in our research as genealogists.  Maybe we hit a brick wall or we just don’t know where to turn next.  In these cases, Lou first recommends going back over what you have.  When was the last time you looked at all of your documents for information you may have missed or didn’t realize was important the first time around?  Even just writing the information out in a new way, such as a timeline, may give you a new idea.  Also, make sure you are looking at the witnesses, sponsors, neighbors and fellow passengers on those documents, as they can often give you clues about your family (or may even be your family!).  One of my favorite bloggers, Tina, has been doing this recently.  She is going through her entire document collection, cleaning up her database and posing about it on her blog Gen Wish List.  She has fo…

Family History Day: Hidden Treasures at

The second presentation I went to at Family History Day was “Hidden Treasures at” by Lou Dennis Szucs.  It was pretty cool to hear someone speak in person who’s books I have read.The most important take-away from Lou’s presentation was to not use the search box on the front page of  While it will give you things such as census records and vital records, the smaller collections will not rank highly enough for you to find information on your family member.  Always go to the specific collection or to the correct county, state or country page to do your searches.What are some of the hidden treasures at Schedules for the 1850-1880 censusSeamen's Protection CertificatesUS Veteran's Gravesites, 1795-2006Homes for Disabled SoldiersReturns from Military PostsAfrican-American and Jewish landing pagesLou also discussed how important it is to browse the records, not just look at the page your ancestor is on, take the information, and go on…

Family History Day: Immigration Records on

On 17 March 2012, I attended the Family History Day sponsored by and the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Tarrytown, New York.

The first workshop I attended was “Coming to America: Finding Your Ancestor's Arrival Record on” by Juliana Szucs Smith.

Juliana discussed the differences in arrival records throughout the history of America.  Pre-1820 are the hardest to find, as manifests were not required and those that were created did not tend to survive.  One of her tips was to check works such as the Great Migration Project and old publications for abstracts of lists.

In 1820, passenger lists were required.  Although there is not a lot of information available on these forms, it is always exciting to see your ancestors name listed.  One of Juliana’s best tips for this era is to look at the end of passenger lists, where births and deaths that occurred on board are often located.

In the 1890s, manifests expanded to include information such as marital s…