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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Verifying Genealogy Records found online

Wendye's Question:
I am trying to find the birth and death certificates for my gg grandfather James Webster Bremner. From I've learned that:

"James Webster Bremner b. 20 Sept 1835 in Kirriemuir ANS, SCT, occupation Weaver/Gardener, m. 22 Oct 1857, in Kingoldrum, ANS, SCT, Elisabeth Adam, b. 1827, Lintrathen.ANS, SCT. James died before 1881. 1871:Lived at 94 Morrice Place, Hilltown, Dundee with grandchildren."

I can't see that he could have grandchildren because his first child, Alexander Bremner(my g grandfather), was born 16 Oct 1857.
I have found James' marriage(Scotlandspeople) 22 Oct 1857, Kingoldrum, Kirriemuir, ANS, SCT and Alexander's birth certificate (Scotlandspeople) 16 Oct 1857 Kingoldrum, Kirriemuir, ANS, SCT.(Legitimated by the subsequent marriage of the parents-such marriage being registered in the Parish of Kingoldrum, County of Forfar, October 23rd, 1857. On both of these documents and on the 1861 census he is listed as a Mason. I have been unable to find him on the 1871 census. I am trying to verify James Webster Bremner's birth, death and occupation.

Olive Tree Answer:
Hello Wendye - Anything you find on the internet is suspect, and must be verified. Please take a moment to read my answer to Debbie's question

I use the census records on but Footnote,comicon also has many online.

The person on the 1871 census at Morrice Place is Alexander Bremner, with grandson Alexander, et al. It is not James.

You have been to Scotlandspeople - you may want to go back and look for James' death; we know that he was living after 1855, so unless he left the country, you will find him.

You will not find a statutory birth certificate for James; they begin in 1855. But you will be able to find a parish register entry for him.

James' birth is listed on the IGI (an extracted entry, which is usually trustworthy, but again requires verification). An extract from the page can be purchased at Scotlandspeople ("Old Parish Registers").

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Finding Death Records in Tennessee

Connie's Question
Matilda Richardson was the first wife of my great grandfather, Levi Richardson. They had three sons, the youngest born January 8, 1852 or 1855. Matilda had died by the time this son was three years old. They lived in Hawkins County, Tennessee. I would like to know the date of Matilda's death, where she was buried, and what her maiden name was. Thank you very much.

Olive Tree Answer: Dear Connie,

Your first task should be to follow that youngest son and find out exactly when he was born. Finding his marriage and death records (and possibly his obituary) may give you his mother's maiden name. And, if you have his birth date and that "three year old" information is correct, you will have narrowed down the death date for Mathilda.

Look for cemetery records in Hawkins County for Mathilda. If unavailable, look at deeds, and guardianships. And once you have Mathilda' surname, check for wills for men of that surname: someone may have devised property to "my grandson Joe Richardson, son of my late daughter Mathilda."

Next, when was oldest child born - and where? That might give you a Look there for marriage records

You may find your answers at the Hawkins County website. There is also this site for Hawkins County And the Tennessee State Library archives has a resource list for Hawkins county

Tthe LDS have a wealth of microfilms for Hawkins Co TN - cemetery indices, chancery court records, wills 1786-1886. County oaths and bonds (Hawkins County, Tennessee), 1813-1930, deeds from 1700s to 1950....

Thursday, December 24, 2009

From Scotland to New York - Finding Answers

Dottie's Question:
Looking for information on Hugh McLeod and wife Jean Gordon McCleod. Came from Glasgow, sons John and James emigrated to NY area about 1880. James was a New York City policeman and married an Italian girl.

Olive Tree Answer: Hello Dottie - You have not told me how you know this information, and what is it you want to know about Hugh and Jean.

Do you have the census reports for the McCleod family in Sotland? And do you have the census reports for the sons in America? I use for American and Canadian Census records but of course you can use any site you prefer for these records.

As you have Jean's maiden name, I assume that you have family information, or a death or marriage certificate for at least one of the sons.

Scotlandspeople should be your next stop. You can get the census reports for the family, you can see the marriage certificate for Hugh and Jean which will supply parents' names for each of them. You may find other siblings for John and James. The Scottish census indexes are also available at

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Meaning of a term on old genealogy records

Peter's Question:
I’m hoping that you can answer my query. My Great Great Grandfather – James Baron was employed as a “blogger” in 1880. My family is from the North West of England –Lancashire. Would you know what the job was? I can’t find any references to the term except for the current Internet/web use

Olive Tree Answer: Hi Peter,

Unless one of your future descendants is a time traveller who has failed to obey the rules of The Continuum, then the Blogger term means something other than the current definition.

When was James born, to whom was he married, where in Lancashire did he live and where did you find this Blogger term?

e.g. On a census, on a marriage license. a city directory listing? Mentioned in a book? I suspect this is a case of either a transcription error or misreading old handwriting. If I could see the original document where you spotted this word, it would be helpful. You might want to take a look at the tutorials on reading old handwriting on my OliveTreeGenealogy Blog

Sunday, December 20, 2009

FInding an Ancestor Who Disappears

Ed's Question:
William J. Page/Paige was born in Bangor, ME, in May 1882, son of Oscar and Martha (Cowan) Page. He was married in Veazie, ME, in 1905 to Margaret Jenkins, who was from East Boston, MA. They lived in the Bangor area, but moved back to Boston by 1919. After their last child was born in Boston in 1924, William left his family. His wife was unable to locate him and evidently had him declared dead, since in the 1934 Boston City Directory she is listed as a widow. (However it is said that he kept in touch with his older daughters.)

William is not in any more Boston City Directories. I did not find him in the 1930 Census in Maine or Massachusetts. I did not find his death record in Maine or Massachusetts, from 1924 to 2005. He is not mentioned in the death notices of his father or siblings. I haven't yet found his mother's date of death. When William's wife died in 1946, her death record implied he was alive, age 57, but the wording of the form is "Age of Husband if alive." Her death notice said he was dead.

I would like to know what happened to him and where he died. Do you have any suggestions of other places to look?

Ask Olive Answer
Hello Ed,
It looks as though you have done a thorough job in your search for William. I am heartened to see that you have attempted to follow the siblings for a clue to William's whereabouts. Many times we find references to siblings and in-laws in obituaries which help to narrow time frames and offer other locations to search.

I would not put too much credence in the "declared dead" assumption: oftentimes directory listing information is supplied by neighbors. If his wife did have him declared dead, you would find reference to that in Boston court records. Those court records will state what efforts were made to contact William, where he was last known, etc.

The apparent contradiction between Margaret's death certificate which implies that William is alive, and her obituary which states that he is deceased, is not an unusual occurrence. Death certificate information is accurate when the person supplying that information is fully informed, and calm in an emotional moment; obituary information may have been hastily given, incorrectly transcribed, or supplied by someone not fully informed.

As you already have the information about the deaths of William's father and siblings, it might be useful to look at probate records. Occasionally, we find a gem "Notice to Heirs" which specifies who may be entitled to share in the estate, and what the executor did to notify them. If Oscar owned land, follow the real estate transactions: did the surviving children sell the home? If William was alive at the time of the estate distribution, he would have had to sign papers indicating that he had received his portion.

The Bangor Public Library has a number of resources which might prove helpful.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Finding Navy Records of an Ancestor

Marilyn's Question:
I am trying to find information about my mother's brother, Stanley Stewart Schultz, who seems to appear in only one record---the 1930 US Federal Census. He was incorrectly transcribed by as Stanley I Schultz. I have searched for Social Security records, death records, and any other information possible but can find nothing.

I know Stanley was born on March 24 (or 26) 1925. His parents names were Max M. and Gertrude Schultz. He married Lorraine Kutcher (Kutscher) in Hamburg (Buffalo) N.Y. in June in the mid-1940's . He had two children, Bruce Mitchell Schultz and Ward Allen Schultz (later adopted by a man named Brock). He lived on 51st St., Brooklyn, NY until the early 1950's when he and his family moved to a house in Glen Cove, NY. Stanley was a teacher, I believe at Tilden H.S., in Brooklyn. I looked at a yearbook from the school (online) but did not see him listed on staff.

Stanley served in the Navy in the 1940's (in Hawaii) but I don't know if he enlisted or was a draftee. I looked at muster rolls but I don't know the name of his ship and there are many Stanley Schultz's listed. Stanley died in a car accident on June 28, 1956 and is buried in Mt. Hebron Cemetery in Flushing, NY.

1.I thought that if I could find his Social Security information,including his SS number I could further my search about other ancestors, but it does not appear in the SSDI. Where else do I look?

2. How do I find other information about his naval background?

Ask Olive Answer
Hello Marilyn - you say you have found nothing but you have amassed quite a collection of data for Stanley. Have you checked local papers for an obituary? Or for the World War II announcements about local soldiers off to war, or safely returned? I suggest you try Newspaper Archives or GenealogyBank for their newspapers. Search or

As he died in 1956, he would most probably not appear in the SSDI; the records found in the index, with few exceptions, are from the 1962 and later. But that does not mean the Social Security records do not exist for him.

You have his birth and death dates; you can request a copy of his SS-5 from SSA

"Without an SSN, we will need the person's full name, date and place of birth, and parents' full names to locate the record. If you can provide the necessary identifying information, we will search for the number.

You may send your request to:

Social Security Administration
OEO FOIA Workgroup
300 N. Green Street
P.O. Box 33022
Baltimore, Maryland 21290-3022

You will be charged the cost of searching our records even if we are unable to locate any information on the person you are asking about. The fee for searching our records is $27 when the SSN is known and $29 when the number is unknown or is incorrect. The check or money order should be made payable to the Social Security Administration. We will also accept VISA, MasterCard, American Express, Diner's Club or Discover. Please include the appropriate credit card number, along with the expiration date of the credit card with your written request."

His Naval records may be ordered via the standard from 180

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Finding an Ancestor in Griffith's Index and Scottish Newspapers

Sandra's Question:
My g-grandparents Robert Thomson & Jane Cochrane were born in Ireland and moved to Scotland where they married in 1868 in Port Glasgow, Renfrewshire. I have found their marriage certificates listing their parents names and professions. I have searched the Scottish Censuses for 1841 through 1891. In every source their birthplace is listed only as Ireland. The last names of Thomson, Getty, Cochrane & Fullerton, (my gg-grandparents), I learned from Irish web sites, were Scottish. Their relegion was Presbyterian. From the frequency of appearance of these last names and their religion, I believe they are from Northern Ireland (Antrim, Armagh, etc.) but may have
come from Scotland sometime in the past.

I have searched in Ancestry, Family Search, Scotland's People, and a few Irish Library resources. I have had no luck so far. I understand that the Irish censuses were destroyed for the pertinent years. My question is, What online resources are available for more information? I'm happy to pay for access to this information, but before subscribing, I would like to know the probability of success. I've heard of Griffith's Evaluation but not yet located it online.

Ask Olive Answer Hi Sandra - You indicated that you have searched the Scottish census, but did not mention how much success you had. Did you find Robert (or Jane) with their parents? Do either of them have siblings?

It is always a good idea to check the siblings' marriage and death records, too. Some subtle changes may occur in maiden names, and the "deceased" notation under parents' names may help to narrow down the death date range for those parents. And occasionally, very detailed information (i.e. street addresses, towns) may be found.

Nor did you indicate whether you had searched the Scottish records for the parents of Robert and Jane. There was significant travel between Ireland and Scotland (though no passenger lists are available); it is not inconceivable that parents of Robert born 1849 would have lived past 1855, and hence findable on the ScotlandsPeople website.

Griffiths Index is available (free) at Fáilte Romhat and Ask About Ireland

The Scotsman (newspaper) has archives available online for a fee; you may find obituaries there.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Finding an Ancestor in Galveston Arrival Records

Yvonne's Question:
My ancestor Willm Jacobs Tammen b. 17 Feb 1850, Eversmeer Ostfriesland Germany, arrived in America at Galveston, TX in Oct 1890. with his wife Hauke Wina Decker Tammen and six children. They took a train to Wichita Falls and live there the rest of their life. HaukeWina's parents had previously settled there. They 'family' story is that they arrived at New York on 'the big boat' and transferred to a 'cattle boat' for the trip to Galveston. I have searched all the records of Castle Garden in New York and have not found them also the Galveston Ships lists do not mention them. The children, all with the surname of Tammen, were: Jantjen Willms b. 1875; Reiner Willms b. 1878; Jacob Willms b. 1881; Amke Willms b. 1883; Arenka (Annie) Margaretha b.1886; Heimke Maria b. 1889. All children b. in Eversmeer and baptism recorded in Westerholt records.

I would like to find what ship (s) they traveled on and the dates they arrived in New York and Galveston. Or when and where they left in Germany. I feel that I will have to find a record on the German side. Where do I go from here.

Olive Tree Answer: Dear Yvonne - The Galveston Immigration database of the Texas Seaport Museum is not online right now, but you can send them a query at That would be my next step if this were my family tree.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Proving that a Ships Passenger List Record is the Right Ancestor

Beth's Question:
I believe that Richard Brown of the 1850 Burlington, Racine, WI census (enumerated 15 October 1850) is the same Richard Brown who arrived in San Francisco on the SS Sarah Sands 17 December 1850. I think he went down the Mississippi to New Orleans and took a ship to Panama where he got on the Sarah Sands. How can I know for sure?

Olive Tree Answer: Hello Beth: Comparing the 1850 Wisconsin census and the 1860 Mendocino census on, it is very probable that this is the same Richard and Margaret J. Brown.

However, you need a few more facts to establish certainty, and you are a long way from proof that Richard was on that 1850 ship. If you look at the passenger list, the comment reads "25 days from Panama, via Acapulco Mexico; 12 days, Dec 17, 1850. " It is possible that Richard could have travelled from Wisconsin to Mexico or Panama in a little over a month. But is it probable?

As there are little or no intra-US passenger lists, you may have to rely on newspaper articles (in Wisconsin and California, as well as in Gulf port cities.) Did Richard appear in any items such as "In the Hotels" or "In Transit" or other announcements? You can check newspapers online at or

Check the real estate transactions in California: when is Richard first mentioned?

I see that Richard died in July of 1860, and Margaret in November of 1870: check for obituaries. And be sure to check in Wisconsin as well.

If you are sure, or family lore has it that Richard was a gold miner, there are many books from that period: diaries, store ledgers, county histories.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Searching for a Portuguese Ancestor

Jerry's Question:
I'm trying to establish the birth town (island) in Azore Islands of Manuel Thomas born 1835. It is unknown what date Manuel arrived in the U.S. or which port he entered. Subsequent census data indicates his wife arrived in 1875 (see info below).

Known facts on Manuel:

Manuel and wife Maria (de Jesus Ambrose) Thomas are first located on the 1880 federal census of Erie, Erie County, Pennsylvania along with four of their children all shown to be born in Pennsylvania (Mary 1874; Manuel Jr. 1875; Antone 1877; and John 1881). John is the only child baptized at St. Andrews Catholic Church in Erie. The other siblings may have been born elsewhere in Pennsylvania or another New England State? Their fifth child (William) was born 1883 in Oakland.

Manuel Thomas is buried at St. Mary's Cemetery @ 4529 Howe St, Oakland, California. Location: Dormitory 2, Station 27, Area 7, Grave 1. Burial Mass: Sacred Heart Church, Oakland, California (4025 Martin Luther King Way, Oakland) Father Hayes. Record #2/4228

Laborer; lived in California 20 years according to his death record which is in question. He died at Fabiola Hospital from chronic nephritis. Mortuary record indicates he was 52 years old at the time of death. Physician was Thomas Olmstead, MD of 1127 Telegraph Ave. Undertaker: J.L. McCarthy of San Pablo Ave. Information obtained at Oakland Main Library, History Section.

Known facts on Maria de Jesus Ambrose:

Maria (Mary) de Jesus Ambrose born Dec 1, 1854 Azore Islands; married Manuel Thomas but it is unknown if marriage took place in U.S. or in the Azore Islands where both were born. After Manuel Thomas died, Maria married Joseph Main(s) in Oakland approximately 1897 after Manuel's death. The 1900 federal census shows her having arrived in U.S. in 1875 (25 years in U.S. at time of death) but her first born child occurred in 1874 in Pennsylvania.

She is buried at St. Mary's Cemetery in Oakland, California. Location Section 2, Space 3-9-1. A member of St. Columba Parish Church, San Pablo Ave (at 64th St.) Oakland. She was 46 years old at the time of death. Source records are almost non existent for this husband and wife team.
Any direction that can point me where to locate data most greatly appreciated

Olive Tree Answer: Hello Jerry, I hope that you have already joined LUSAweb and entered your data in the Portuguese Roots database. There are many people there who share your interests. Your frustration is evident: you have been diligent and yet somehow unrewarded.

I assume that you have consulted the Catholic records in Erie and Oakland. Occasionally, priests required documentation of parents' baptisms and sacramental marriage before baptizing a child.

Erie City directories are available at the LDS; if Manuel is listed, that may help you determine when he arrived there. has many City Directories online

Was there some construction project in Erie around 1873? Was there something which drew people from Azores there? Are there many people of Portuguese origin in the area?

I would check the Erie County naturalization records: unfortunately Manuel died before the 1900 census which would indicate if he were naturalized, but it might well be a fruitful search. The LDS have films of county records, and of the Erie County Historical Society card index. has Naturalization Recordsicon from NARA

You mentioned Maria's birthdate, but not Manuel's. Do you know his exact date? Perhaps on his headstone? That would help immensely when searching Portuguese records. It might also be of interest to find out who else is buried in that section of the cemetery.

The good news is that the LDS have microfilmed many parish records in the Azores; the bad news is that you need to know which island, which district before you can find what you seek.

More good news - the Portuguese archives is online; more records are being added all the time.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Obtaining New York Vital Statistic Records

Fithian's Question
How can I request a birth certificate for my deceased mother (NY State). I have gone to the website of the NYDPH (NY Dept Public Health) and it clearly states that only the person in question, or the person's parent can make that request...which is really strange, don't you think. There is a long-standing discrepancy in the family as to the exact date of her birth, although the town of her birth is accepted as true, as she lived there for her entire childhood. any comments or suggestions?

Olive Tree Answer: Hello Fithian. In recent years, public access to vital records has changed due to privacy concerns and security regulations. Most access rules depend upon when the event occurred and where.

You did not mention where or when your mother was born.

The rules in New York City, Albany, Yonkers and Buffalo are different than the rules in the rest of New York State.

For areas in NYS other than those four, if the birth took place after 1881 and before 1934 (seventy five years ago), you will have no trouble getting a copy of the birth certificate for genealogical purposes. If the birth was less than 75 years ago, you will have to offer proof of death and of your relationship. The basic cost is $22.00

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Finding an ancestor with an unusual surname

Norma's Question:
I have researched my family pretty well here in USA. My Maiden name is
Ernenputsch, and. as you can see it is unusual and there are about 175 or so with that name. I have the entrance of my gggrandfather and family into the states, however when I check the German files I cannot locate him or his family in Germany. How or where do I search to find information on him or
his parents? His name is Carl/Charles Ernenputsch and is found to be a widower on the passenger list. He and his 3 children immigrated November 6,
1885. I lost track of him until his death in Michigan 1918. My grandfather's name was Hugo and I pretty much have his information. His
brother Charles was murdered in Lincoln Twn., Newaygo, Michigan. His murder was never solved. They had a sister by the name of Rosetta (aka Setta.) I have traced her to Chicago by her married name of Whitfield, and she had 3 daughters. I would appreciate very much to be able to make contact with her descendants but without knowing their married name I am at a loss. How do I find out what the married names are?

Olive Tree Answer:
Dear Norma, You have many questions, I will try to briefly answer each of them.

You are blessed and cursed with an unusual surname. The good part is that you may be able to find other Ernenputsch's who have more complete details which can provide you with clues to where families with that name originated. Some may have complete Home Town information on their passenger lists, or on their applications for naturalization. Some people have detailled obituaries which mention their birthplaces. As far as Carl is concerned, have you obtained his death certificate? The Library of Michigan, in partnership with Michigan State Archives, has placed death certificates 1897 - 1920 online.

Did he have an obituary? Did he apply for naturalization? Or did Carl and Hugo naturalize? has Naturalization Recordsicon from NARA. also has Naturalization records as part of their World Archives Project

And be sure to look for burials: oftentimes immigrants have both their hometowns and US towns proudly carved on those headstones.

Did you derive the emigration information from an index, or from the actual Hamburg passenger list? The Hamburg list has a residence included.

As you have Hugo's complete information (including birthdate) it will be easier to identify the correct person when you get to those German church records. Don't forget the German naming conventions, do a search on vornamen and ruhnamen for further explanations.

As for Rosetta Whitfield, I did a quick check at the Illinois State Archives; Rosetta died 07 July 1937 in Chicago: her obituary will probably give the daughter's married names. And check the 1910 census: I believe there is another daughter. You can find obituaries in many online newspaper sites such as, or

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Don't Trust Family Lore as Absolute Fact

Teresa's Question:
I need help finding the parents of this couple.

Christopher Sheets b. About 1818 in OH - d. About 1851 Adams Co., IN
He married Margaret Perkins b. About 1823 in OH d. ???? Adams Co., IN
They were married Mar 30 1843 in Root Township, Adams Co., IN

Margaret remarried after Christopher's death. She married William McKendry b. May 16 1817 - d. Aug 3 1858.

I have all their descendants but have hit an innumerable amount of brick walls trying to find where they came from and who their parents, siblings, etc. Were.

The oral family history states that this particular Sheets family came from Germany and settled in Pennsylvania, then in Ohio, and then in Indiana.

Olive Tree Answer:
Dear Teresa, Oral family history can be correct, or it can be quite inaccurate. Sometimes it is a mixture of two family lines with their stories merged into one. So use it for clues but don't count on it being 100% correct until you can verify it.

Your first goal should be to gather all the information available from Indiana. When did Christopher die? Where is he buried?

Check Adams County wills & estates for both Christopher and Margaret. If he died when his children were still young, look for records in Orphans Court, or the Indiana equivalent of Orphans Court. Look for guardianship records. In many states, children came under the jurisdiction of Orphans Court even if their mother was still living.

Look at the real estate transfers for property owned by Christopher.

And of course, check local newspapers for obituaries. And check as well for "social notes" near their wedding date. You can search newspapers in and in

The 1850 census for Christopher has a David Sheets listed: he is younger than Christopher and may be a brother. Follow him; he may have lived longer, and had an obituary which gave parents names or (at least) a hometown in Ohio. Look to the neighbors: are there any other Ohioans nearby? Any Perkins'? I use the census records on but Footnote,comicon also has many online.

The Adams County USGenweb has a directory of cemeteries online, and an Adams County death index in the works.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Writing a Good Query

Mary's Question:
I have a brickwall in locating Benjamin Laurence there between 1800 and 1815. He had 3 children born in Georgia and the children state in subsequent censuses in TN that their father was born in NC. I would appreciate your help very much.

Olive Tree Answer: Dear Mary,
I would like to help you but you have not given me much to go on. I chose to publish your query so I could respond for other genealogists to see what detail is required before submitting a query for a response. You may want to follow these guidelines before posting to a mailing list or writing privately to contacts, as well as here on AskOliveTree. It is always a good idea to include dates, locations and full names of all individuals. See Good Query Bad Query for more suggestions. Meantime, here are my specific questions for you:

1. When are the first and last appearances of Benjamin Laurence?

2. What is his spouses' name?

3. What are those childrens' names and where and when were they born?

4. Did you follow those children of Benjamin's until their obituaries and probate records?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Finding Genealogy Records in Russia

Ray's Question:
How do i go about finding birth certificates in Russia

Olive Tree Answer:
Dear Ray - That is a very short question to which my answer is "That depends".

What time frame? Before World War One? After World War Two? Before 1800? After perestroika?

And where? Did you mean Russia or the Soviet Union or Ukraine???

And, just to complicate matters a bit, what religion?

There are civil archives in Russia. Few parish records survive. "State" archives, and the regional archives have inconsistent holdings.

And, for the most part, you have to know exactly what town you intend to search, and apply to the archives covering that town. There are almost a hundred different archives.

You will need to amass every detail you can before you start looking at Russian records. And you will undoubtedly have to hire a local researcher.

For a good introduction to Eastern European genealogy, check out the FEEFHS (Federation of East European Family History Societies) site.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Finding a Swedish Ancestor on a Ships Passenger List

Nancy's Question:
I have not been able to find my Swedish great grandmother on a ship from Liverpool, England, into New York. Sofia Johnson left Sweden and went to Hull, England, on the ship Romeo. She is on a passenger list dated 11 May 1883 (#2188? 3188? 1188?) With her are son Emil and daughter Swea. They came from Falkoping Sweden and were going to Rockford Illinois.

They would have arrived in Hull, England a few days after leaving the west coast of Sweden. I understand they took a train across England to Liverpool and boarded a ship there for New York. I have searched through the lists for mid-May and into June and have not found them.

Could you possibly find them in your collection of Liverpool to New York 1883 passenger lists?

Olive Tree Answer: Hello Nancy - AskOliveTree is not a lookup service. I try to help genealogists find their ancestors by suggesting avenues of research they may not be aware of. Occassionally I find an actual document of an ancestor a person is seeking but that is simply a bonus of my checking some of the facts researchers send me.

Also, any Liverpool to New York ships passenger lists that Olive Tree Genealogy has transcribed, are online (free) on my website where you are welcome to search for your names of interest.

You say you have looked on ships passenger lists through May and a little bit in June. I suggest you extend your search to the entire year. Your famikly may have stopped along the way to rest; they may have stopped to earn a little cash. They may have stayed with family or friends for several months before moving on.

I am not sure why you believe they arrived in New York. There were many ports of arrival available to them, including Canadian ports which were much cheaper than USA ones. The major ports, other than New York, were Philadelphia Pennsylvania, Baltimore Maryland, Boston Massachusetts and New Orleans Louisiana. There is a 5 step guide to finding your ancestor in Ships Passenger Lists you may want to check to for help finding lists for these other ports.

I would hunt for Emil's naturalization papers to see if any further clues are found there. has Naturalization Recordsicon from NARA. also has Naturalization records as part of their World Archives Project

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Be sure to gather all data before you jump ahead in genealogy research

Carrie's Question:
I was told that that my grandmothers mother (Antonie Vochner) married Vaclav(aka James)Pauza and he was born 1877. There are two problems in this. The first one which might be easier to figure out is Great Grandma's last name: Vochner is very hard to track down and I even found that "Wagner" might be the American Vochner name. It is said that the names changed due to the language barrier.

The second problem is I was told that Great Grandpa's (Vaclav's) father was named Dominik Pauza....but the only Dominik Pauza I found...and that I have actual documentation on is born in the year 1879 and can't possibly be the father with only having 2 yrs difference. Somehow I am thinking there is a Frank Pauza involved here and may even be the Grandfather in question. This gets really mixed up when you listen to what other people think but I am going to continue until I figure out something or until someone helps me out.

Olive Tree Answer:
Dear Carrie - I have a few questions of my own... Where are James and Antonie living? When and where did they die? What is your source for the information supplied?

I found James and Antonie in the Ohio census on; I looked for Ohio death records. I found that James and Dominik are brothers.

You need to obtain all information possible here in the US before you start looking in Czechoslovakia; you need a hometown, or at the least, a region.

Have you checked for passenger lists or obituaries or naturalizations for Vaclav and Dominick? has ships passenger lists and has Naturalization Recordsicon from NARA.

Have you checked church records in Cleveland? Where are their children baptised? Find their burials and you may find which church they attended. Follow Dominik: If Vaclav does not supply details on his birth in any of the offiicial records, Dominik may have been more specific. The LDS have hundreds of microfilms for Cleveland.

I urge you to go to the library: Gregory Stone has an article published in Rocenka in 1995 "Czech migration patterns to Cleveland, 1865-1940" which gives towns and villages. The great news is that some archives in Czechoslovakia are beginning to present information online. In the past, you had to send a research request to the Czech Embassy, wait many months, pay in Czech funds, and then find a translator for the results.

When you have that hometown, you can easily find a marriage record for Vaclav and Antonie; the marriage record will supply parents ofr both, maiden names for the mothers, and the names and occupations of the witnesses. And possibly more, depending on what region they were in. Then you can start on birth records for Antonie and Vaclav and Dominik.

Why look for Dominik's baptism? Because there may be different sponsors, different witnesses, etc. which may lead to other relatives; they may have been living in a different village or at another address. Any little detail may be important, and may lead to further discoveries. Never miss an opportunity to gather data.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Finding an Ancestor in 1910 Census using City Directories

A query:
RE: My great grandparents, Morris (Moritz) M. and Bertha (nee Unterberger) Schultz

1900 US Census: Listed as Morris/Bertha Schutz from Galicia (Austria). He was born in July, 1864 and immigrated in 1886, living in Manhattan. (Bertha was born in about June, 1872)

1920 US Census: Listed as Morris/Bertha Shultz ( lists them as Shiltz [Shultz]) from Austria, Morris, age 53 (approx. 1867), immigrated 1888, living in Bronx.

1930 US Census: Listed as Morris/Bertha Schultz from Austria, Morris, age 63 (approx. 1867), immigrated 1887, living in Bronx.

A copy of Cedar Grove Cemetery Assoc. (Mt. Hebron section) purchase contract lists Morris as "Morris M. Schultz, aka Moritz M. Schutz", (died May 21, 1940, age 73). (Bertha died on January 27, 1947, age 74--this means she was born in about 1872-73).


1. 1910 US Census: I can't find Morris/Bertha although I have looked using *wildcard

2. Birth Information: I am looking for info. on where Morris was born, but so many possibilities came up and I don't know how to
tell, which, if any are correct. A few are listed with their resources below:

In Poland: JRI Vital Records Database (Births) I found---

a. Moritz Schutz born on Jan. 19, 1865 in Miserau (Mizerow, Poland) but I don't know if this was part of Galicia, Austria at
the time. (birth registration in Pless), and the date is too early and the month is incorrect, based on most of the info. found in the above
census information.

b. Moritz Schutz born on July 22, 1857 in Deutsch Weichsel (birth registration in Pless), but I don't know if this was part of Galicia
either and the birth date seems too far off base.

c. Moritz Max Jolles (on a couple of soundex lists, the name Jolles appears when Schultz is plugged in), born April, 1865 [Lviv PSA AGAD
births 1863-76, 1900,01]

On immigrant passenger lists I found--

a. Moritz Schutz from "Krakau, Ostereich" (Krakow, Austria) on a Hamburg passenger list on The ship was the
Wieland which departed on May 1, 1887, Hamburg to NY. He was 22 yrs. old. But when I looked at the original list his name appeared to be crossed

(In Poland: JRI, Krakow Deaths 1810-54, 69-89, I found the death of a Michael Schutz in 1870. One of Morris's sons was named
Michael, could it be he was named after this man found on this list of deaths???)

b. Moritz Schutz on the Eider, leaving Bremen, Germany on Mar. 15, 1887 to NY. But this man was only 18 years old (1869) and
he was from "Bohemia" according to the original manifest.

I'm not sure what my next step should be in my search.

Olive Tree Answer: The 1910 census is difficult to search; I estimate that at least twenty per cent of my searches in that census, no matter which index used, are futile and NYC is particularly difficult. I have however had success finding entries by using street addresses. You can obtain street addresses of the individuals by finding birth or death records, or city directories, or newspaper articles (police reports, real estate transactions, bankruptcies, etc. all reported in local newspapers.)

You can send for Morris' death certificate ( he died in the Bronx, the certificate is # 5061 ). As he died before Bertha, you may be fortunate and find that Bertha has supplied the information for that certificate.

The census indicates that Morris was naturalized around 1895: a copy of his naturalization records may supply you with the information you seek. Earlier records consist of little more than a name, and a signature or two where the prospective citizen swears allegiance to the USA, but occasionally you do hit the jackpot.

The Jewish Daily Forward (and many other resources) are available at the NY Public Library; an obituary may be found for both Morris and bertha.

Please do not go hunting for Maybe Morrises until you have obtained all the information which is available to you; that method will most certainly take a great deal of time, and what appears to be a good lead might send you off in the wrong direction.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Finding an Ancestor's Death Record

Carole's Question:
Please help me find where and when my great-uncle died. Here is what I know:

1. Vincent Alphonsus Hipp was born May 19, 1884 in Monroeville, Huron County, Ohio, the son of Andrew and Catherine (Seifert) Hipp. After graduation from high school, he evidently went out to California.

2. In 1904 he is listed in the San Francisco City Directory as being a clerk at the Pac Hardware & Steel Co., 4 1413 1/2 Guerrro.

3. Further information is that the "Goldfield Tribune" listed him as being at the deathbed of my grandfather in Goldfield, Nevada on December 20, 1906. (He may have worked with my grandfather at a lumber business in Goldfield.)

4. After that he disappeared, and no one knows what happened to him. As I grew up, I was told the story that he had worked as a clerk on a boat on the Sacramento River, fell overboard and drowned. I haven't been able to prove or disprove that story.

Here's what I have done:

1. Checked both of the older California State Death Indexes (even had a search done) to no avail.

2. Looked at the 1910, 1920 and 1930 Censuses. No luck.

3. Checked the WWI Draft Registration Cards. No luck.

4. Checked Ancestry and Family Search sites. SAA

So, what should I do next? Could there possibly be any truth in the family story? If so, where would I look? Who should I contact? I live in Wisconsin so can't get to CA any time soon. Please guide me. Thanks so much.

Olive Tree Answer:

Dear Carole - An excellent query! You have done all of the basic research which could and should be done. And you have explained clearly what information you are looking for.

If you cannot find Vincent, then you must look to the other family members for clues. I see that his parents are in the 1930 census on, so they have lived long enough that there is probably an obituary for them. And I see that there are six or seven siblings to research. Look at each of them: was an obituary published for them? You can try href="" > or for online newspapers. Are there estate records for them?

The family was in Ohio and Indiana (and best of all, in Allen County, the home of the premier US public library for genealogy) and you state that the grandfather was in Nevada.

Check newspaper reports in each of these locations (and wherever else the family may have lived; this includes Vincent's siblings). An obituary may have been published for Vincent ("Ohio newspapers please copy") or a social note may have appeared for one of his sibs: "We are sad to learn that the brother of Mrs. Henry Smith, V. A. Hipp, has been killed in Someplace. Mrs. Smith will be travelling to Someplace Else to be with her parents at this time.")

Check estate records for Vincents parents, siblings, and grandparents. There may have been a distribution of assets wherein the attorneys recorded how they notified the family - and who they notified.

And look at real estate transactions. The children of Andrew and Catherine may have inherited property from their grandparents: that land may have later been sold to one of the sibs, and all had to sign.

I see a number of books published about Goldfield history; some mention of Grandfather or Vincent may give you further clues.

The LDS have a book - Esmeralda County Records (Nona Parkin) which has newspaper notices from 1864 - 1983. There are also microfilms of deeds until 1908. and Contracts, assignments of mortgages, etc. Also see Esmeralda County Auditor/Recorder for their services. Huron County Ohio is also well represented (e.g. probate records 1851 - 1967). Likewise Allen County Indiana.

Good luck!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Searching for American Legion Inventory of Military Graves

Larry's Question:
Im researching Bartholomew Ozbun b.1844 TN, m. Hellen Wentworth. I located Bartholomew and Hellens headstones at Pleasant Valley Cemetery, Haxton, Kansas. On the left is a grave marker for Confederate Service and on the right is a American Legion marker.

I thought I had read somewheres that in the 1930s the American Legion undertook to survey cemeteries and mark the graves of veterans of all wars. Would you know of a publishcation of this inventory. As hard as Ive looked I have not come across the Confederate Unit Bartholomew may have served.

Olive Tree Answer: Hello Larry. It is important to include County names when asking for assistance. Not everyone you write to will be as familiar with your ancestors' geographic locations as you are. I was unable to quick;y find the county for Haxton, Kansas.

I had not heard of the American Legion supplying Confederate grave markers, but of course anything is possible. You should write to the local American Legion and ask them about the grave markers (and about Bartholomew as the Legion marker would indicate that he was a member): American Legion, 6521 Nieman Rd, Shawnee Mission, KS 66203

The Kansas Sons of the Confederacy might be able to assist you. The Pleasant Valley Cemetery may be able to provide some clues, as I am sure that whoever did place those markers had to have the cooperation of the Cemetery.

But do be aware that whatever qualifications were required to earn a marker, that documentation, if it ever existed, is probably long gone. And the documentation may have been more anecdotal than official: in the not too distant past, if a lady or a gentleman declared that they were born in Atlanta or that Dad served in the Confederate Army, it would have been impolite to demand proof.

Bartholomew's obituary may contain his service information. You can find obituaries in many online newspaper sites such as, or

1890 veterans schedule may exist for where he was in 1890; you might get a starting point for where to look for muster rolls if you trace his whereabouts in 1860 and 1870 and those of his male siblings. I use for census research but you can also use onther online resources.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Using National Archives UK to find Australian Ancestor

Trevena's Question:
do you answer questions about England and Australia as well?

I am trying to find a signature for my Captain Henry Dunsford for when he was master of the ship "Jane Cain", British ship but registered in Australia.
Henry was born in Plymouth in 1818 and served in the Merchant navy and/or Honourable East India company. He lived in Australia from about 1834/4, but sailing back and forth to England. In 1848 he Captained the ship "Elizabeth Jane" and then in 1848 and 1851 Captained the "Jane Cain". He was married to Mary at the time and she had two children in Sydney Australia, Henry Frederick 1845 and Sophia Louisa 1846, and on the way back to England in 1849 had a third child Fanny Nelson P Dunsford.

Henry took his Masters exam in London England in March 1849. He appears on no census either in England or Australia, but on an electoral roll in Australia in 1855/6 but that was after he returned to Australia and married Caroline Sarah Litten at St Pauls, Geelong in 1854. I can find no marriage for him and Mary, did he ever marry her or was it a poor man's divorce or did he marry Caroline bigamously? I don't think I will ever find that one out, but if I could et his signature for the "Jane Cain" as Master or as discharging sailors, I would know for definite it is the same Henry, as Fanny's baptism record shows her father Henry as the Master of the " Jane Cain" and I have his signature from his marriage certificate to Caroline Litten to compare it with. Bit of a puzzle this one, can you help me at all?

Olive Tree Answer: Dear Trevena, I'm happy to attempt to answer any query sent to me. If I can't answer a query, I have some knowledgeable and generous genealogy friends who have volunteered as Guest Genealogists.

The National Archives has a research guide to Merchant Seaman log books and crew lists as well as Merchant Officers service records. You might also want to read my article explaining how to use the National Archives website Ordering Documents Online from National Archives in Kew England - a Comedy of Errors Part 1

You might want to order a copy of the marriage between Henry Dunsford and Mary Petters (Dec 1841; Barnstaple, vol 10 page 34) and the one for Henry Dunsford and Mary Meeds (same citation). The 1851 census, as you already know, shows Mary Dunsford, captains wife, born (and residing in) Clist Honiton, Devon.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Finding an Ancestor's Civil War Service Record

Claire's Question:
My great-grandfather's (Jeremiah McCarthy) death certificate notes that he was a Civil War army veteran. A letter from my aunt (his granddaughter) many years ago related that as a young man Jeremiah was paid to be a substitute soldier. However, I can find no official proof of his service. I believe he was born (1847 approx) and resided in Bucks County, Pennsylvania prior to the war and in (Hampden County)
Massachusetts thereafter until his death (1920). Some censuses show his place of birth as New Hampshire, but I can find no proof of that
and most of his siblings were born in Pennsylvania. I have been unable to locate any official record of his service, which is needed
in order to have the VA issue a headstone for his gravesite.

Ask Olive Answer
You do not mention whether you have checked for a Civil War pension for Jeremiah. I would try to look it up for you but you did not include his wife's name.

Check the 1890 veterans schedule, if one exists for Jeremiah's location at that time.

Who supplied the information for the death certificate? Was it a knowledgeable family member, or perhaps a neighbor? Does his obituary or those of his children indicate Civil War service?

Look for records of the Hampden County GAR; and in local newspapers in Massachusetts for a mention of Jeremiah as a GAR member. Online newspapers you can check are , or

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Getting around a Genealogy Roadblock in England

Donna's Question:
In searching my husband's family tree, I've hit a road block at his great-great-great-greatgrandfather, William Jackson. William came here from England, according to the DAR, to fight as a patriot in the Revolutionary War and was born in the early 1750's. They have no other information that would help me trace the tree back in England. No town, or county, or any place to even start, and with a common name like William Jackson, it won't be easy to latch on to the right Jackson roots. What would you suggest I do to get started?

Olive Tree Answer: Hello Donna, If you are very fortunate, the English Jackson family was comfortably well off. And William's parent or sibling or Great Uncle Chauncey left a will which bequeathed half the family silver to William. Or perhaps William did right for himself in the Colonies, and he left a little something to his nephew Percival back in England.

There are several hundred years' worth of wills tucked away at the National Archives. Some of them are indexed and available online. There are also very nice Research Guides to help you. Just remember that you will have to search for odd spellings of where William lived, in addition to "America" or "Virginia". You may want to read my article explaining how to use the National Archives website Ordering Documents Online from National Archives in Kew England - a Comedy of Errors Part 1

The newspaper (and patience) is your friend. William's attorney may have sent to England to have a notice appear in the local papers that might have gone something like this.... "William Jackson, late of Little Tripworth by the Sea, having died in Tappahannock Virginia on the 14th ult....." Newspapers here may contain legal notices, or reports of passengers recently arrived. You can try href="" > or for online newspapers.

You say William was born "early 1750s." It would help if you had a more precise birthdate (as well as an exact death date). There are a wealth of English parish records. Some of them are available online. Armed with a birthdate and some idea of location, you can do a credible job of finding suitable candidates for further research.

You did not mention William's wife. Were they married here? Or in England? Where is her family?

Look also to pupil lists at English schools. Men who succeeded in the Colonies sometimes sent their sons to England to be educated. And check incoming passengerlists for William's sons or grandsons returning from England.

Follow the male heirs. In later documents, perhaps obituaries, you might find a mention of "educated at Oxford" or something similar.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Finding a Belgium Ancestor

Jane's Question:
My grandmother who we always knew of as Lucie Stiren from Hondelange,Belgium came to the US in 1915 according to census records. I had gotten some information on birth from a relative in Belgium which had her name as Suzanne Lucie. She married Paul Paquet in the US (Michigan) and am told they met here.

I have been unable to find Lucie coming in on any ship and would really like to. He sister came with a gentleman and was listed under his name and her
last name wasn't listed. So I am thinking Lucie could have come with a family or something and I'll never find her? If her last name wasn't listed
was this a common thing or did it just happen that way with her sister.

Anyhow any suggestions as to finding the ship Lucie or Suzanne-Lucie Stiren came on would be appreciated.

Hello Jane,

In the past, I have had some success locating European passengers to Michigan on Canadian passenger lists on I did a quick look for you, but did not find anything evident. You may want to spend some time looking further at Canadian (and Great Lakes) passenger lists.

Escanaba, Delta County, is where Paul and Lucie lived 1915/1930; Escanaba is the county seat for Delta County.Paul states that he has been naturalized. The LDS have films for Delta County Naturalization records, 1867-1955;you may be fortunate and find that Paul included his wife's information. also has Naturalization Recordsicon from NARA

LDS (and the Delta County Genealogy Society) have newspaper indices from 1909. I did find a number of Belgians in Escanaba; there may have been social notes published in local newspapers (e/g/ "Miss Lucie Stiren was the guest of Mr and Mrs Joseph Bintz this weekend; Miss Stiren is the sister of Mrs. Bintz and she has just arrived here from Belgium.")

I found these census records on
1910 census, delta escanaba Joe Mary Bintz (census taken 14 april) mrried 0 yr mother 1/1 Mary 0 years old

1920 census, Delta Co, Bark River: Joe, Mary, Anna 14, Emil 5, Helen 3, Leona 11 mos

I also found this marriage record:

Groom name: Paul Paquet
Groom age: 36 years
Groom birth year: 1881
Groom birth place: Luxemburg
Bride name: Lucie Stiren
Bride age: 27 years
Bride birth year: 1890
Bride birth place: Belgium
Marriage date: 28 Apr 1917
Marriage place: Escanaba, Delta, Michigan
Father of groom name: Nicholas Poquet
Mother of groom name: Margaret Lieber
Father of bride name: Nick Stiren
Mother of bride name: Madaline Horwick
Film number: 2342720
Digital GS number: 4210010
Image number: 195
Reference number: v 2 p 39 rn 6486
Collection: Michigan Marriages 1868-1925

and this appears to be Lucie's sister:

Groom's name: Joseph Bintz
Groom's age: 37 years
Groom's birth year: 1873
Groom's birthplace: Belgium
Bride's name: Marie Stiren
Bride's age: 27 years
Bride's birth year: 1883
Bride's birthplace: Belgium
Marriage date: 08 Apr 1910
Marriage place: Escanaba, Delta, Michigan
Groom's father's name: Nicholas Bintz
Groom's mother's name: Annie Heisen
Father of bride's name: Nicholas Stiren
Mother of bride's name: Helene Harnich
Film number: 2342688
Digital GS number: 4209131
Image number: 579
Reference number: v 2 p 5 rn 3773
Collection: Michigan Marriages 1868-1925

1917 draft: Paul Paquet May 7 1879 in Lux. wife lucie which I found on

1920 census, Delta Co, Escanaba
Paul (arr 1905)(Naturalized 1906??)
Lucie (arr 1915) ,
Henry 1+

1930 also escanaba
Paul (arr 1916 Naturalized)
Lucie arr 1915
Paul H 11
Nicholas 7
M. Rodolph 5

Friday, November 27, 2009

Looking for Virginia Ancestors

Joan's Question: I am looking for John and Sarah Bennett/ Bennit that had a son named Jehu/ John born in Virginia about 1766.

The 1832 publish date of the family Bible says Jehu was born in 1772, son of John and Sarah. The 1850 census for Baltimore Hundred, Delaware states Jehu was born in 1766 in Virginia. He is in the 1800 census for Baltimore Hundred, Delaware. He got land in 1794 in Baltimore Hundred, Delaware.

Olive Tree Answer: Dear Joan - The Virginia Library and the Maryland Archives should be your favorite websites for the next few months. A wealth of material is available online at both locations.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Finding out if Balamonte is a Jewish name

Peter's Question:
My dad is Jacob Baiamonte who was born in Palermo, Sicily. My grandmother contends we are Jewish but my father says she
nuts...because we are all Catholics.

I have been DNA tested by FamilyTreeDna (Dr. Bennett Greenspan) in response to my grandmother's allegations...and the results show that grandma was correct...because I have all the genetic markers of the Cohanin and Jewish people.

My question: Where do I go from here? None of the names of my family are typically Jewish names and we have deep roots in Italy. I have the family records back to the late 1600's and all the name are Italian and Catholic. How can I have someone go into the archives of the Cathedral in Palermo and dig farther back...and also check the tax and notary records. I don't know any genealogists there.

Ask Olive Answer Hello Peter - That's an interesting bit of family lore. There are quite a large number of Jewish families in Italy who have been required by circumstances to outwardly adopt other religions.

As you have family records "back to the 1600s" you should be able to find evidence of this, if it exists: adult baptisms, or civil registrations for births and marriages. If your information indicates Catholic records all the way back, then your quest for your Jewish origins will be a difficult one. Many records were destroyed during World War II; those few Jewish records which survived are now held in Israel.

The JewishGen organization has many resources which might help you, including the Jewish Family Finder. There you will be able to search by surname and by location.

The LDS has films of civil registrations for the Palermo area from 1820 to 1908 for births, marriages and deaths; some years are indexed.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Question about Children of Peace

Beverly's Question:
My husband's family were Children of Peace. Both from the Willson and Doane families. I was looking for a list of those imprisoned during the rebellions. Is there such a thing

Olive Tree Answer: Hello Beverly, I must point out that your query would have been better had you explained what "Children of the Peace" was or is. It would also have been very helpful to know the country (USA? Canada? Europe?) where the Children of Peace were found. Last but not least, not being familiar with this group or the time frame when they were active, I've no idea of what rebellions you are referring to, nor the time period you want.

Normally I would not go on a hunt to find out details which could (should) have been included in the original query. But this is a good time to remind readers of how to write a good query - remember the Ws! Who, Where, When (Names, Locations, Dates) . That is the minimum information that should be present in every query sent out.

For my readers, Children of the Peace were former Quakers who established a community in the village of Hope (now called Sharon) in York, Upper Canada (present day Ontario Canada) about a hundred and eighty years ago.

As it turns out, there is still a museum and the museum has a number of publications for sale. You can find more at this archive site.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Death Records can help prove relationships

George & Jenny's Question:
My gggranfather eLemuel Dawson b. abt 1827 OH, d. 20 May 1890 buried Maple Grove Cemetery Berrien Co., MI.
Quit claim deeds with the following names.
Starting with the 1850 census of Sarah Dawson 47 PA widow, in
Kankaee,La Porte Co IN

Group #5
Enoch & Permelia Dawson—Richland, Richland Co Wis.
Daniel & Elizabeth Dawson—Berrien Co Mich

Group # 6
Elemuel & Matilda Dawson—Berrien Co Mich
Milly A & Greenburg King—Berrien Co Mich
Mathias & Elizabeth Dawson—Clinton Co IN
By their attorney in fact of Berrien Co Mich--Daniel Dawson
All the people who purchased this land have Dawson connections
Sold by group 5 to George Dawson Feb 17 1884 Book 10 54/116
Sold by group 6 to Mary Ann Miller Feb 26 1884 Book 10 54/118
Sold by group 6 to Ella G Dawson Feb 26 1884 Book 10 54/119
Ones that was a bit different
Sold by Dawson (Benjamin, Lemuel, Ewell, Millie) to Ella Dawson 5 April 1884
stating they were heirs of Ewell Dawson Book 10 54/115
And going back to 1851 when there is another quit claim deed that involves
most of the Dawson siblings… there is this one…
Sold by Enoch Dawson, Uel Dawson Lemuel & Angeline Dawson, to James C
Cunningham on June 16 1851 Book2W/467-468

I beleive Sarah was eLemuel's mother, but have NO idea who her husband was?

Ask Olive Answer George & Jenny - You know that Lemuel (or is it Elemuel?) Dawson was buried in Michigan in 1890. Have you located the relevant census records for him? It is difficult for me to tell if you have.

It appears very tempting to assign Enoch, Daniel, Matthias, etc as siblings based on those quit claims, but further proof is required. There are a number of historical newspapers online which may have carried an obituary for Lemuel; and for his wife, if you know who she is and when she died. I suggest you try Newspaper Archives or GenealogyBank for their newspapers. Search Obituaries in or

The Berrien County Genealogical Society may also be able to assist. Tracing Lemuel and his wife through census and marriage records may lead to other connections with the individuals listed in those deeds. Have you looked for obituaries, death records or burial records for those potential siblings?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

What to do when searching online records fails

Cornelia's Question (one of several):
Jonathan L. Hudson b. 1814-1816 Reading, Berks, PA m. 12 Oct 1848 Wayne Co., Michigan Charlotte Ransom d. 7 Jan 1876 Trenton, Wayne, MI. I know he was a chaplain in the civil war, but his claim to have been in Andersonville cannot be proved from online indexes.

Olive Tree Answer: Hello again Cornelia - Not all genealogy records are online and that means not all genealogy research can be done online. You must be prepared to slog through OFFline resources - microfilm, books, etc. Since you have not found your ancestor in online records of Andersonville Prison, it's time to do your research the old-fashioned way - offline.

NARA holds records for Civil War Prisioners of War. They are called Records of the Commissary General of Prisoners. The records found in Record Group 249 include records relating to the parole of Federal prisoners, records of prisoners held in Confederate prisons including Andersonville, records of Confederate prisoners of war held in Union prisons, and records of claims filed by Union prisoners of war.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Finding an ancestor who was MIA

Roberta's Question:
Hi, hoping you can help. My great aunt's husband was in WW2 and was killed. She got a telegram saying he was dead. But I can't find his death and she said no one ever told her where he was buried. Can you help? His name was Jimmy Cunningham

Olive Tree Answer: Hello Roberta. I think your best bet is to check the online World War two MIA (Service Personnel Not Recovered Following World War II) and Service Personnel Buried at Sea During World War II for your great uncle. Be sure to check under the name James, as Jimmy would be your family's nickname for him.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Finding a Scotland Location

Jamie's Question:
My grandmother always said that her father was from Eagerness and that he came to USA from Scotland. I can't find Eagerness on any maps. What do I do now?

Olive Tree Answer: Hello Jamie - is it possible that Eagerness is really Eggerness in Wigtownshire?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Looking for a town in Germany

Sally's Question:
My 4great grandmother came to America in 1876 as a young girl from Bohemia or Prussia. The country of origin on one census is Bohemia, and on the other census I have for her she says she is from Prussia. We have a letter in the family which says that "Emil has gone back to Nicholasburg" I have looked all over Germany and Bohemia and cant find anything that sounds like Nicholasburg. Where can I look?

Olive Tree Answer: Hi Sally, The best way to find a town in Eastern Europe is through the JewishGen Town Finder. This is not just for Jewish families. Being curious I had a look and my search there turned up Mikulov in Moravia, German name Nikolsburg. Moravia (Morven, Moldau) was part of Czecholaovakia (Bohemia) and of the Austro Hungarian Empire.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Looking for a Civil War Soldier's Death

Elizabeth's Question:
Perhaps you could help me. My great-great-grandfather was George Backman a Civil War soldier. The family farm was in Palmer in Pennsylvania but I can't find him there. I know that he was living after 1880 but I loose [sic] track of him after that. His daughter married a Wilson (my line)

Olive Tree Answer: Dear Elizabeth - There is an obituary in the AccessPA necrology database for a George Bachman of Easton Pennsylvania, which mentions a daughter Mrs James Wilson.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Guest Genealogist Barbara Brown Answer Part 2

Guest Genealogist Barbara Brown Response, Part 2. See Part 1 of Barbara's answer (published Nov. 13/09) to Marcia's challenging question

You state that you do not know James' first wife's name. That should be among the first goals for your research. You know the names of his children by that first wife, we know that Elizabeth lived until 1847. Find the death information for Elizabeth, and perhaps you will discover her mother's name. Do the same for her siblings. See the Ancestor Death Record Finder for help with finding death records.

Armed with a name for James' first wife, you can then look for their marriage. Church records may have parents' names or the names of witnesses. Witnesses are often (but not always) related and offer another avenue of research for you. Marriage bonds are usually good pointers to older male relatives (but of course, not always). Of significant help in finding early parents are, surprisingly, brothers-in-law. For example, there may be several James Baggotts, but only one has a sister Hermione who is married to a Saul Leffingwell.

When you find [e.g.] Saul and Hermione Leffingwell selling a piece of land to James Beggit of Ohio as "distribution of estate" you have a probable winner....And once you have collected the in-law names, you can look through Virginia wills & estates records and find like-named devisees to point the way to earlier generations. You may want to see Ancestor Marriage Record Finder for help finding marriage records.

You have James' date and location of death. Have you looked for probate records? Or obituaries? From the 1850 / 1860 census, it looks as though the children of the second marriage were all born in Ohio. I used the census records on but these are now coming online on Footnote,comicon too.

When did James and Mary marry? Are there cemetery indices for that county James lived in at the time of his 2nd marriage? Are there female Baggots buried there who died before James' second marriage (and after the birth of Martha the youngest child of the first marriage)?

You have so many opportunities for new knowledge about this family. I hope that you enjoy the process.

And I know that you will be successful. While I was writing this response to your query, I did a bit of looking about. I followed William and George and Martha and James P Baggott. And there is quite a bit to be found, and a large number of descendants for your James Baggott. And a little gift: write Lorine at (replace AT with @) and she will give you the details. Martha Baggott married quite well; she was still living in 1900 in New York, replete with many servants. As she was active in the social scene there, I am sure that you will be able to find a glowing obituary for her, as well as very extensive estate papers.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Guest Genealogist Barbara Brown Answer Part 1

Guest Genealogist Barbara Brown tackles this challenging query, in a 2-part response.

Marcia's Question:
I would be very grateful if you could give me an idea as to how to find information on my great-great grandfather's father/mother, and even further back, if possible.

James was born in Fredericksburg, VA, in 1791. He was a participant in the War of 1812. He died in Osborn (now Fairborn) Ohio in January of 1863. He had three brothers:

1. William, born in Fredericksburg, VA, December 25, 1798
2. George
3. John

I don't know his first wife's name, but you printed a letter from his daughter, Elizabeth, entitled, "Letter to Mrs. Eliza Thornton, Alamucha P.O., Lauderdale County, Mississippi, form Elizabeth Baggott, Dayton, Montgomery County, Ohio, March 14, 1847." Thanks for that!

James and his first wife had four children:

1. Elizabeth, born April 6, 1826.
2. William
3. George
4. Martha Ann

In the letter, Elizabeth says, "Father is married again." His second wife was Mary Caylor who died in May of 1877. They had six children:

Oliver Perry (my great-grandfather, who fought in the Civil War. I have a copy of his diaries). He was born in Montgomery County (near Dayton), Ohio on September 1, 1840, and died on October 14, 1906, in Anna, IL.

Josephine Boneparte

Charles L. who died March 02, 1898. He is buried in Murphysboro, IL.

Martin VanBuren, born January 30, 1837, died in Cobden, IL.

James K. Polk Baggott

Virginia Helen Baggott

There is this Spotslylania County, VA, will of 1773 with the same names as my ancestors (John, James, George). I suspect they're relatives, but how do I make the connection?

Will: John Baggott, Spotsylvania Co, VA (1773) [Edited]Names wife Margarett Baggot, daughter Ellinor Baggott , four sons as follows: John Baggott, James Baggott, Thomas Bagott, & George Baggott wife Margarett Baggott & James Went Executors
third day of April 1773. John Baggott (seal)
Thomas Ruseley
William Hopson
Nicholas Smyth
Source: Library of Virginia,Spotsylvania Co, VA Will Book E 1772-1798Reel 28, pages 185-186

Guest Genealogist Barbara Brown responds: Dear Marcia,

It is tempting to jump upon a surname associated with familiar family forenames in the hopes that you have made a multi-generational leap in your quest. And the James Baggot who left a will in 1773 may indeed be one of your forebears. But proving it will take a bit more buttressing of facts before we can declare it to be true.

I have a number of Virginia resources to hand and I can tell you that there are quite a few Baggott families in the area at the time your James would have been there.

In order to move confidently from one generation to the next, we need to build a framework. That frame holds every fact we know about an individual, and if something or someone looks promising, we can know at a glance if we are on the right track. The structure gives us an orientation in place and time.

The letter from Elizabeth Baggott to her aunt Eliza Thornton which Lorine posted on her website Past Voices: Letters Home gave you a wonderful starting point. Rarely do genealogists come across such a valuable document.

Elizabeth listed her siblings and their ages, named her father's second wife, named other relatives in Mississippi and Virginia. And there is an implied bit of information as well: Elizabeth complains that she has not ever heard from her grandmother. Which means that one of Elizabeth's grandmother's lived to at least 1830s, when Elizabeth would have been old enough to be aware of such a deprivation.

Before you can confidently look for James' ancestors, you need to fill in all the details for James, his wives and children.

For example, fill in the details on James' children, when each of them were born. Follow the children from the first marriage: they may well have clues to offer about James and his first wife. They may be found living with or near other relatives; they may have left a will naming cousins or aunts; they may have a long a detailed obituary. You can Search Obituaries in or

Where is James in 1820, 1830, 1840?

You state that James participated in the War of 1812. Did he draw a pension?

You do not mention how you know that James had siblings William, George and John, so I will accept for the moment that you have family documents which state that. Have you followed those brothers? They might have lived longer than James, may have left a will or (if you are most fortunate) lived in a locale which had informative death records, and a fully-informed supplier of information who reported their deaths.
The wills may mention "My nephew Oliver" or "My niece Mary Smith nee Baggott, daughter of my eldest brother James." Those death records, if you are lucky may give parents names. And they may have lived in an area where newspapers dutifully reported every social event, and spent much time researching and composing fitting tributes in the form of obituaries.

Every day, more and more early newspapers are brought online, indexed and presented in convenient fashion. But we must have pinned down the relevant locales first. be continued tomorrow

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Guest Genealogist Barbara Brown

Ask Olive Tree is very honoured to have Guest Genealogist Barbara Brown this month. Barbara started researching her own family more than thirty years ago, while she pursued a corporate career in data processing. Eventually, this hobby became a full-time calling.

She has taught at LDS wards and stake conferences, and at local libraries, and she has taken on a number of private students. While researching for others, she discovered the NGS Bulletin Board system in 1990, which soon led to other online genealogy societies.

Her articles have appeared in a number of e-zines including Olive Tree Genealogy. You can count on Barbara to find the most elusive ancestors even when you are sure that you have hit the proverbial brick-wall!

Barbara tackles a very intriguing and challenging question for Ask Olive Tree, so please check back tomorrow for her response to Marcia's Question.

From Canada to Australia - Finding a Ships Passenger List

Fred's Question:
I am trying to find how my Gfather Charles Hayes came to Australia form Canada in 1906 ,we have been told a lot different stories,it appears he married in Newcastle sometime in 1906.His death papers stated that in 1915 when he died he had been in Australia 9 years,he had 3 children in Australia as my gmother was born Newcastle area. my Gfathers date of birth according to his death papers was 1880 and born in Toronto, papers stated that his father was William Hayes and mother May A Cleary. Any help or direction would be greatly appreceated by all 11 of us and our offspring.

Olive Tree Answer: Dear Fred - It seems you have some good clues to go on, although you have to remember that the death papers may not be accurate. The information in them was not given by your grandfather (the deceased) and depending who the informant was, and how much they knew about your grandfather, will indicate how valid the details might be.

Having said that, you will want to use the 1906 year as a starting point for your search for immigration records. Allow a few years either side to be safe. Of course if you could find his marriage to your grandmother, you could narrow the timeframe! Have you searched the Index to Births, Marriages & Deaths for New South Wales for marriages resources? You didn't provide me with Charles' wife's name so I can't say if any of the 3 hits I got are for your grandfather.

I should also point out that it is easy to forget that the person you are asking for help may not be familiar with the local geography, but it's very important to provided all location details. For example I have no idea where Newcastle Australia is, but I needed to know to direct you to the correct area for BDM. I wasn't going to go hunting but decided this was a good opportunity to give readers a little reminder that you should never make the person helping you work harder than necessary! A search online provided me with the fact that Newcastle is in New South Wales District but it would have saved me time if that information were provided to me.

But back to finding a ships passenger list - you will either need to find a ship outbound from Canada or inbound to Australia from 1904-1908. The online UK Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960 on Ancestry also show ship arrivals in Australia so they may be worth a search. There is also the New South Wales, Australia, Unassisted Immigrant Passenger Lists, 1826-1922 I also like Cora's Web for finding what is available in online ships passenger lists to Australia.

There are also the online Australian Electoral Rolls, 1903-1954 which might help indicate when your grandfather arrived in Australia.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Finding Catholic Records in Ontario

RMC asked:
Cameron: Albert Alexander, b. 1837 in "Ontario," likely. Married 1869 in Catholic service to Minnie O'Toole in Guelph. Moved to SLC, Utah, prior to 1875. Any idea how one might find his parents' names. They both immigrated from Scotland, according to census records. Thank you!

Olive Tree Answer: Hello RMC. You provided your private email and requested a response to it, but the purpose of the AskOliveTree Blog is to publish queries and my answers on it for all genealogists to read. It is my hope that the Q & A will help more than one researcher!

Since your family were Catholic in Guelph, you may wish to write to Church of Our Lady (in Guelph) and request a lookup of Albert and Minnie's marriage. The research fee used to be $15.00 per hour. Just address your letter to the Secretary, Church of Our Lady, 28 Norfolk St. Guelph, ON N1H 4H8, Canada

You can also contact them using their online email form

Sunday, November 8, 2009

New York to Canada - Finding the Records

Myra's Question (edited):
My great grandfather was George Colburn Herron. He said he was born in 'York State', on 23 August 1836. He died 10 May 1887, in Wilson township, Alpena county, Michigan.

His story was: he was born to Patrick and Mary Ann Herron. He said his father was from Ireland and his mother was Pennsylvania Dutch. He, saying he was the oldest, had 5 brothers and sisters. His mother died when he was about 8, his father apprenticed him out to a bad situation. He ran away from the apprenticeship, and ended up in the Cayuga area, Haldimand county, Ontario, Canada. He lived with Isaac
and Mary Mino, near a Link family (Jacob and Anna Maria) that included a daughter named Catherine, born in 1842 in Germany. The Mino family raised him, and his best friend there was Noble Brackinreed, a local boy who also was apprenticed out later. At one point, most likely during the US Civil War, Noble and George traveled out of Canada to Tennessee, and the story says (he told this to his daughter, who told
her own daughter later, who wrote all the stories down) that he and Noble were looking to improve their lives. They didn't stay there. Noble enlisted in the Union Army in Ohio (30 May 1862), and George returned to the Cayuga area. He and Catherine went off and married secretly, and they had their first child somewhere, either in Canada or the US,by 25 August 1862 (George S. Herron). Their 2nd child, Julia Anna, was born 19 April 1864, maybe in Port Huron, Michigan. No records have been found of the marriage or the first two births. The rest of the births all happened in Alpena county.

I can find NO records of George's family (although I did find a family in Albany, New York, in 1850, with a Patrick and Ann Herrin as parents, and 6 children, one of whom was named George. However, he was not the oldest of the children there, and the birth date (about 1844) was off by about 8 years. I've been told there is also a "York" area in Ontario, and there are Herrons around there, but I haven't found anything showing George there. Nor can I find anything in the Cayuga area indicating George was there! seemed satisfied with his stories being true.

The only time I find George, where I KNOW it's him, is in Alpena county, Michigan. This is my direct family line, and I can't go back beyond great grandfather George Colburn Herron in . I really need help. I use and I post queries all the time. I have never found anything or anyone that can or will help.

I would love to find anything showing George in the Cayuga area, or something about his marriage or the births of his first 2 children.In 1870, in Alpena county, there are Noble and his wife, Mary, with no children. 2 doors down (sort of, it was a farming community) were George and Catherine, with their 5 children. There, George stated he was born in Canada, and all children were stated to have been born in Michigan. The 1880 census (enumerated by Noble Brackinreed) said he was born in Ontario, with parents born in Ireland and PA. George died in 1887, so no other records are available. His death certificate listed his parents' names, and the 1880 census and his family stories stated where his parents were born.

I really need some help, guidance, etc. on this one

Guest Genealogist Kathryn Lake of LOOKING4ANCESTORS responds: Greetings Myra,

You have a challenging search ahead of you. The information you seek regarding George Herron's birth may not be available. From the information you have provided, George was born between 1836 - 1844 which was before Vital Registration in Ontario which began 1 July 1869. Records for this time period in Upper Canada (Ontario) are often difficult to find, especially births. Parish baptism records might provide the information you are looking for, however, you would need to know the church that the family attended. Have you searched for what records have been microfilmed for Haldimond County on the FamilySearch Library catalog?

A search of Isaac and Mary Minto on the 1851 Canada West census shows no George Herron residing with them. I did find two other "George Herron"s that may be a possibility, but not knowing the names of the siblings I'm not sure. The 1851 Canada West census is indexed and available on

Also, have you searched the 1842 Census of Canada West for Patrick Herron? This is a head of household census only. This census in not available on-line. I would suggest contacting the Haldimond County branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society to see if they have this census indexed. The microfilm can be borrowed from the Archives of Ontario through inter-library loan.

Another approach is to research George's siblings. Have you found the marriage and death registrations for them? They may name the parents on these records.

Good luck in your research.