AMEY AND THE OUTLAWS

Image by No-longer-here from Pixabay

I am participating in Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.  This is week 2 and the topic this week is Legends.

Most families have some sort of story or legend about their ancestors, some really cool tale about famous people their family members knew, about a family fortune won and lost, about some horrific sea journey made under duress.  Maybe your family claims native American ancestry.  Maybe your ancestor fought in a famous Revolutionary War battle.  Whatever it may be, most of us have these myths in our family.  Some turn out not to be myths at all, while others turn out not to have any bit of truth to them.

As for my own family, when I was younger, I heard that we might have some Native American heritage but I have yet to find that.  I have an ancestor whose last name was Wooton but he changed it to Ooton.  They say that he had a falling out with his dad and dropped the “W”.  That may be true, or maybe it was just a quirky pronunciation to which modern spelling adapted.  I found an interesting legend about my husband’s family on the internet.  It was convoluted, but it was something about a man who was a baron overseas and forced to leave his home country due to politics or religion. He settled on the Isle of Jersey where his wife died, he came to America, he buried his treasure in the ground during the Civil War and it was never seen again.  Entertaining?  Certainly.  True?  Well, to be honest, I never actually researched that far back on this particular line. It has the appearance of being one long tall tale.

One intriguing tale that I will research though, is the association of my husband’s maternal grandmother’s family with Jesse James, the outlaw.  This is one of the more common family legends out there.  (Considering that this man was a bank robber and criminal, it is interesting how a myth has built up around him.) Will this turn out to be “just talk”, or is there some truth that one of my husband’s ancestors actually did know Jesse James when he was young and maybe grew up with him as kids?

First, there’s place.  Where did the James family grow up?  What area of the country?  Next, there’s time.  In what decade did the James children grow up?

Jesse James was born in 1847 in Clay County, Missouri, near the city of Kearney, northeast of Kansas City. Jesse was about 3 years old when the 1850 census was taken.

Sure enough, Jesse and his brother Frank and sister Susan are in Clay County, Missouri with their parents, Robert and Zarelda in 1850.

1850 U.S. census, Clay County, Missouri, population schedule, Platte Township, p. 351b (stamped), dwelling 732, family 732, family of Robert James : digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 14 January 2021); from National Archives microfilm publication 432, roll 396.

In 1860, Jesse and his family are living in Clay County, Missouri.  Zarelda has remarried a man named Reuben Samuel.  Jesse should be about 13 years old.  His entry on the census has been marked (before microfilming!) with an arrow.  Apparently, someone was excited to find the entry.

1860 U.S. census, Clay County, Missouri, population schedule, Washington Township, p. 969 (stamped), dwelling 920, family 920, Jesse James in family of Reuben Samuel : digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 14 January 2021); from National Archives microfilm publication 653, FHL 803614.

By 1869, Jesse James was in the news as an outlaw and eventually, the governor of Missouri set a reward for his capture.  He probably did not answer the census taker’s questions when they came around in 1870.  His family, though, is still living in Clay County, Missouri.

My husband’s family, meanwhile, is living in Jackson County, Missouri, just south of Clay County.  His great-great-grandmother, Amey Odile Gates, was born in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, about 30 miles away.  She was 8 years younger than Jesse James, born in 1855.  In 1860, the Gates family was living in Sni-A-Bar Township, Missouri which is approximately 25 miles away.  She was married in 1874 in Sibley, Missouri which is 16 miles from Kearney, Missouri.  (These distances are “as the crow flies” and do not take into account any roads existing at that time.)  Amey and her husband John Ames made their home in Fort Osage, south of Sibley.

This information does place the Gates family (later the Ames family) in the right place at the right time to have heard the news of the James-Younger Gang.  The robbery of the Liberty Bank was relatively close to their home in Jackson County. Amey was about 11 when that robbery took place in 1866. Her age makes her a bit too young to have been a playmate of James himself.

Looking through sources, I realize that there were quite a few men involved in the gang at different times.  Many of these men grew up in this general area, including Jackson County.  These men are also about the same age as Amey and her siblings.  I may have been so focused on just finding the association with Jesse James that I have overlooked his accomplices.  I have my work cut out for me with thoroughly researching everyone involved in these notorious crimes in Missouri and the background of their families. 

This family legend may have some validity to it.  At this point, all I can do is more research.  I enjoy the hunt and the history lesson.

Search Smart!

Sara N. Martin

WEBSITE WEDNESDAY

GENERAL LAND OFFICE RECORDS FOR GENEALOGY

Hirschfield, F. Map of Nebraska published by the Burlington Route , compiled from the official records of the government and rail road offices
. Omaha, 1886. Map. https://www.loc.gov/item/98688509/.

General Land Office (GLO) records at the U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management (BLM) are wonderful if you happen to have an ancestor who purchased public land.  The website is https://glorecords.blm.gov/.  They have over 5,000,000 land title records starting in 1788.  Not every single land title record will be on this site, but it is a worthwhile search if your ancestor’s land does happen to be mentioned.

There is a good description of the types of records that are on the BLM-GLO site on their home page. Land patents on this site include cash entry (individuals paying cash for the land), homestead (1862-1976 – 160 acres issued to those who would “improve” the land), and military warrants (land issued to veterans for their military service).  Keep in mind that this site is for the transfer of federal land to individuals, not for land sales between individuals.  There are survey plats, field notes, and land status records, along with a land catalog that enables you to search for your ancestor’s land.

Be sure to read the Reference Center section found at the top of the page for information about the records on this site.  The BLM only has records for states that were surveyed by township and range and not by the older metes and bounds survey method; therefore, this website does not have records for the original 13 colonies and the states of Kentucky, Maine, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Hawaii, and Texas.[1]

Clicking on the Search Documents tab takes you to a screen with three options:  Search Documents by Type, Search Documents by Location, and Search Documents by Identifier.  Depending on the information that you have on your ancestors’ land, you can choose any of these to search.

Searching by Identifier is useful if you have very specific information about your ancestor’s land (serial number, survey ID, etc.).  Searching by location can give you a list of your ancestor’s FAN club (friends, associates, and neighbors) by showing everyone in the township that obtained land directly from the Federal Government.  For example, if I wanted to see who were the original recipients of one of the townships in Yuma County, Colorado, I could look for Yuma County on the map and right-click on the area in which I am interested.  In the following example, I chose Main Street in Wray, Colorado.  I right-clicked on that area and the township appears in the left search box under Mapped Townships.  The information given is Colorado, 6th prime meridian, Township 1N, Range 43W.

Clicking on the Search button reveals 15 pages of people who acquired land from the Federal Government in this township from 1879 until 1920.  The list can be sorted by any of the columns.  Here, it is sorted by name (default):

You can click to view the information on the land for each individual.  Some of the records will have images and some will not.

If you would like to see if your specific ancestor had acquired land, you can use the feature Search Documents by Type.  This search engine accepts wildcards and there is a search help on this website in the reference section.

I was curious about one of my husband’s ancestors who farmed in Pawnee County, Nebraska.  I typed in the state, county, and his name – John Curtis.

There was one John Curtis in the search result, and after reviewing the information, I found him to be the correct ancestor.

I was able to read the patent details and view the patent image.  (This can take a while to load.)  I can download or purchase a certified copy of the patent image.

I now know that the claim of John Curtis was established for the “North West quarter of Section twenty seven, in Township three North of Range nine East”.  This information can be put into Google Earth and so you can see exactly where this homestead was located.  An easy way is to go to the website https://www.earthpoint.us/townshipssearchbydescription.aspx and key in the coordinates and click on “Fly To On Google Earth”.  A screenprint of this website is shown:

If you want to view the place on Google Earth Pro, you can download the .kml file that pops up in a separate window after you click on “Fly To”.  Once you are on Google Earth Pro (a free download from Google), you can do a File – Open to choose the .kml file and you will “fly” to the place on the map where your ancestor lived.  The section in which his homestead is located is framed in purple on the map below.  From here, you can determine the NW ¼ of section 27 and see what is now there.  (It is still a farm.)

There is still more to discover with the land patent search.  If you click the Related Documents tab, you can see several more documents to look at.

The other Curtis’ mentioned here could be family members.  The other men may be associates.  A search by location, pinpointing this township, may show other people that could be neighbors and associates.  The original survey of the township can be found on the left-hand side by clicking on the word “Surveys”.

This is a valuable tool for research, and if you enjoy maps, this can also be fun.  Check this website out and remember – Search Smart!

Sara Martin


[1] Tom Huber, A Location Guide to the General Land Office (GLO) Survey Plats (https://www.lib.niu.edu/1999/il9904232.html : accessed 13 January 2021, para. 4.

40 YEARS OF LOOKING BACK. . . AND LOOKING FORWARD

I have decided to participate in Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks project for 2021.  This week’s theme is Beginnings, which is appropriate for January.

As for beginnings, 2021 is starting off a bit shaky with the violence at the US capitol this week.  There is still a long way to go with being able to vaccinate everyone against COVID-19.  Many people are still struggling with mortgages, rent, and job security.  I am lucky to be able to take the time to write this blog and share my reflections about genealogy and beginnings.

Thinking back to my first interest in genealogy, I suppose it was when I was very little, listening to tales from my parents about their parents and grandparents.  We had a copy of the family genealogy Descendants of Jacob Hochstetler by Harvey Hostetler from 1912 at my house.[1]  I used to read the introduction, pour over the pictures, and look at notes on the blank pages that were handwritten. I was fascinated to think that these were people to which I belonged.  They lived 200 years before me and I marveled that I was somehow connected to them.

At some point when I was in high school, I decided to work on my family genealogy officially.  The year was probably 1981. I don’t remember what prompted it.  I do know that I started doing it correctly – citing sources, MM DD YYYY, maiden names for women, city-county-state, a correspondence log – so I surmise that I checked out a book at the library, probably from the (now defunct) Everton Publishers, and studied it.  Soon I had a subscription to Everton’s Genealogical Helper and was making visits to the Denver Public Library, looking for my family.  This was all pre-Internet and I loved to research and investigate mysteries.  I had been a big Nancy Drew and Harriet the Spy lover when I was younger, and although I was not solving any true crime, I was still solving puzzles.

As for those who came before, I must mention my Grandma Johnson.  She had worked very hard in the 1960s and 1970s studying the Hurts and the Bryants.  She published a newsletter every so often for the family about her latest finds on the family history.  I have a few of them.  They are so old that they are mimeographed, not photocopied.  According to Vocabulary.com, “a mimeograph printed copies by pressing ink through a stencil onto paper, which was pulled by a crank through a system of rollers.”[2]  The unfortunate result was that, after many years, the ink that was used began to fade.  Sometimes Grandma would be creative and use colored ink, but that faded even worse.  The ones in red are barely readable.  I have the information in other sources, but one of my genealogy goals this year is to scan the ones that I have before they fade even worse.  She eventually compiled a family history titled “Bryants:  Yours and Mine”.

Grandma Johnson in 1981.[3]

Other members of my family researched ancestors and compiled family genealogies.  Both of my grandma’s sons were interested in genealogy.  I am grateful for the research that my dad compiled for our ancestors who fought in the Civil War, and the work that my Uncle Ron does in compiling surname books with long lists of descendants from a common ancestor.

When I began genealogy, I did not begin in isolation and I did not begin without a foundation upon which to build.  Besides my grandma, my dad, my uncle, and others, my sister is a genealogist and she has helped me out many times. When I wrote to everyone I could think of in my family, I discovered other genealogists.  Of course, every source and every fact still need to be looked into – that’s a bit easier now since we have the internet.

In the beginning, I compiled what I could from my family and their sources.  I then wanted my very own branch of the family to start researching, one on which not much work had been done.  I started looking at my OHL, DUBOIS, and OOTON maternal lines.  I did meet some new cousins who had worked on the family but there is still, to this day, so much more work that needs to be done on those lines.

It has been 40 years since I began this journey.  I haven’t researched consistently over those decades.  I have pursued other hobbies and have just been, in general, busy with LIFE.  Every few years I dive back into my family history.  I was able to devote most of 2020 to genealogy and I hope to devote a sizeable chunk of my time in 2021 to it, also.

May 2021 be good for your research, also.

Search smart!

Sara Martin


[1] Harvey Hostetler, Descendants of Jacob Hochstetler, the immigrant of 1736 (Elgin, Ill.: Brethren Pub. House, 1912.

[2] “Mimeograph”, Vocabulary.com (https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/mimeograph : accessed 8 January 2021), para 2.

[3] Hildreth (Hurt) Johnson photograph, 1981; digital image 2020, privately held by Sara Martin, (address for private use), Colorado, 2019.  Hildreth had the picture in her possession, and after her passing in 1992, it was acquired by her daughter-in-law who passed it on to her daughter.

Top Image by Christoph Schütz from Pixabay

WEBSITE WEDNESDAY

BillionGraves.com

Happy New Year, everyone!  Surely 2021 will be better than 2020 – it has to be!  It will be a strange day indeed when I go to the grocery store and see everyone’s faces unmasked.  I’m not excited about going to restaurants again and being seated next to a loud, noisy table but the alternative this winter has been sitting outside in freezing weather with a coat and a fire pit.  There is something to be said for indoor seating.

I’m back to “Website Wednesday” after taking a couple of weeks off on blogging to celebrate (sort of) the end of the year holidays.  My plan this year is to have two posts a week, with the other post being about my ancestors or perhaps something historically or genealogically interesting.  I’ve been spending time learning to use Evernote for genealogy and also really going back through all the family work I have done for the past 40 years, making sure I have good sources and citations.  I also have quite a few documents and photos that need to be scanned.  Never a dull moment!

This week’s website is BillionGraves.com. I imagine most of you are familiar with Find A Grave, owned by Ancestry.  Find A Grave has had more of my family members recorded than BillionGraves, but I still use BillionGraves when I need to.  It is a free site, although they do have features available for a subscription fee.

MyHeritage has partnered with BillionGraves so if you have a family tree on MyHeritage, you can access records for your family on that platform, similar to accessing Find A Grave on Ancestry.com.  They have also partnered with FamilySearch and Findmypast.

You can volunteer to take photos of tombstones for BillionGraves.  They also have volunteer opportunities for transcribers.  I have not yet tried this feature, but it does seem interesting.  There is also a family tree feature on BillionGraves.  This is a four-generation chart if you have a free account, extended generations for BillionGraves Plus.  They will provide suggestions for you to look at to see if they have graves for your ancestors.

As for the search features, you can search by person or by cemetery.

I searched for the last name Popplewell in Kentucky.  I have a few Popplewell ancestors buried in Russell Springs, Kentucky.  Here is an example of the page for Mary E. Popplewell:

Besides the tombstone information, nearby graves are listed and a life timeline for Mary is provided on the right-hand side.  For Plus accounts, there will be GPS coordinates provided.

Below this section is even more information.

There are helpful links to find more about Mary Popplewell and her family relationships.  Further down there is information on the cemetery.  The Plus account gives you access to other Popplewells on BillionGraves.  Of course, Mary does not have 639 birth records.  The links point to MyHeritage and cover all possible Mary Popplewells.  You will need a paid subscription to MyHeritage to view the records.

Anyone is free to edit the record with the editing links on the top toolbar, as long as you have signed up for a free account:

A subscription to Billion Graves Plus includes everything in the free lookup, plus additional information such as family plots, global family, nearby graves, and priority support.  There are also no ads.  A subscription costs $59.99 per year.  At this time, they are offering a 50% off MyHeritage subscription for subscribing to BillionGraves.

With a subscription, the tombstone information will look like this:

If the cemeteries that your family members are buried in are here and you have a subscription to MyHeritage, this is a great resource.  The free version is fine if you can find your ancestor on here and get more clues.  Unfortunately, BillionGraves does not yet have the widespread reach of Find A Grave so I have not been able to connect with many of my ancestors and relatives on this site.  As more volunteers photograph more tombstones, more ancestors and cemeteries will be added in the future.

LAST TURN OF THE KEY

I never knew my Great Grandpa Hochstetler. My mother never knew him, either. He is a shadowy figure in my mind. I’m not even sure what He looked like. He passed away on March 6th, 1926, before my mother was born.

I’ve always pictured him stern for some reason. I know he was Baptist. His family was Amish, but I’m not sure when he actually left the church. I know they had financial issues when the last child, my mom’s mother, was born. The census shows he was an engineer at a foundry. Until last night, that’s all I knew. At some point, I was going to research him more but I’ve been spending my time unearthing my husband’s relatives.

I sourced a short bio of him on WikiTree last night, realizing that I don’t know this man at all. Ancestry showed an obituary existed but the link was obsolete. I did some searching and found an obituary on NewspaperArchive.com. I was surprised, stunned, and sad when I read the headline: Massillon Man Dies Beneath Car In Garage.

My first thought was that the car fell on him. Reading through the article, I found that he had died of heart failure and he was found dead under the car. He was only 54.

Who found him? His wife or one of his kids, calling him in for dinner? He left 5 children. His only son had married 3 years earlier. At home, there were 4 daughters. The youngest was 8.

I’m sure this was a shock to the family. The funeral was held at their house in Ohio. I have an address and I will definitely look for it on Google Earth. I want to know more about him and his legacy. My great grandma did eventually remarry and move to Illinois where her youngest daughter met her husband. Without that event, I wouldn’t be here.

Sobering thoughts. According to my mom, my great grandma was a wonderful person. I’m even named after her! I think I will try to flesh out a better picture of her first husband’s life. It seems like the right thing to do.

WEBSITE WEDNESDAY

ATLAS OF HISTORICAL COUNTY BOUNDARIES

The holidays are almost here!  I know many of us do not have a lot of time right now to pursue our genealogical passion (or we’re turning that passion into creating lots of family history-themed presents – printed books with family photos, clever ornaments with ancestors on them, and collections of family recipes from our grandparents, to name a few.)  I’m not that creative with crafts per se, but I did spend a little bit of time baking cookies and I’m debating about making a loaf of banana bread.  I’ve also managed some time to continue my Website Wednesday theme and write a few notes about a great resource that I discovered before I go looking for the Christmas cards and the ornaments.

The Newberry Library has a website for historical and current county boundaries, along with other interesting state-related geography.  The URL is https://publications.newberry.org/ahcbp/ and the first illustration you will see is an interactive map of the United States.  According to the instructions, you can click on any state to see “content related to that state, including shapefiles, chronologies, and metadata.”  Clicking on Colorado, for example, brings you to another page where you can view an interactive map, an index of counties and equivalents, individual county chronologies, bibliography, sources, historical commentary, and metadata (data about data – information on the data used to provide these county boundaries).  A treasure trove of information indeed!

If you click on View Interactive Map you will see a map of Colorado highlighted in blue.  There are dates on the far left that you can click on to see Colorado at a specific period of time.  Clicking on the date 12-29-1866 changes the map to see the county boundaries of Colorado at that time, along with information about the state.  If you hover your mouse over a specific county, you will see information about that county.  Summit County, for instance, has a paragraph explaining that the eastern boundary was not fixed until 1886 when it was determined the Continental Divide was to be the border. 

Going back to the Colorado detail page, you can click on the index of counties and equivalents.  I noticed the “State of Deseret” listed.  I know that would have been Utah.  Clicking on that link showed me that at one time, the State of Deseret (Utah Territory) included part of present-day Colorado.

There is quite a bit of county information on this site.  Going back to the main page, you can click on the map for National Data and there are several maps for county boundaries.  (Unfortunately, I was unable to get any of these to play on my browser.)  There is a tab for instructions on using the interactive maps and FAQs.  There are also tabs for how to use the download feature and a history of the project.

Going back to the states, I chose North Carolina.  Scrolling toward the bottom, there is a KMZ file that you can download and use on Google Earth Pro. This is a zip file that I downloaded to my downloads folder on my PC. Once downloaded, I unzipped it.  I opened Google Earth Pro and then double-clicked the .kmz file.  Going back to the Google Earth Pro program, I saw it zoom into the North Carolina area and it overlayed the historical county map over the earth.  Once on there, I can zoom in or zoom out.  Google Earth Pro is free to download and it’s a fantastic tool to use.  You can put in coordinates of the land that your ancestors owned and it will zoom right to them and you can drill down and see what the lay of the land looks like right now.

Google Earth Pro V 7.3.3.7786. (December 13, 2015). Eastern United States. 34° 33’ 16.73”N, 75° 25’ 21.36”W, Eye alt 2672.43 feet. SIO, NOAA, U.S. Navy, NGA, GEBCO. Image Landsat / Copernicus 2020. http://www.google.com/earth/ [December 15, 2020].

The Newberry Library website itself is very helpful.  They have a beta Internet Archive search (another amazing website) along with their own digital collection.  I did have some trouble opening up the images that showed up on the digital search page, but when I searched by collection, I was able to pull up many issues of The Chicago Genealogist, all fully searchable.  Of course, this will have to wait for another blog post!

I hope you are all able to have a good holiday, even though we can’t all get together as we have in the past.  Meantime, Search Smart!

Sara N Martin

Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

WEBSITE WEDNESDAY

ArchiveGrid

Someday, we’ll be able to visit archives and libraries IN PERSON. When that time comes, ArchiveGrid is your friend. (Of course, you can always contact an archive you are interested in visiting – they may have open hours or have someone available to you for research, even during the time of COVID.)

Not everything is online; not everything is digitized. ArchiveGrid, according to their website https://researchworks.oclc.org/archivegrid/, “includes over 5 million records describing archival materials, bringing together information about historical documents, personal papers, family histories, and more. With over 1,000 different archival institutions represented, ArchiveGrid helps researchers looking for primary source materials held in archives, libraries, museums and historical societies.”

Tips for searching ArchiveGrid are in the top right on the “How to Search” tab. I decided to search for something locally so I typed in “Golden Gate Canyon” Colorado. (Without adding Colorado, my search brought up a canyon in Montana.) Several interesting search results popped up, including an oral history discussing the Coors family, an album of photographs from a trip to the American West in the late 19th century, and a view of the entrance to Golden Gate Canyon from the Denver Public Library. Interested in the view of the canyon, I clicked on “View the Catalog Record”.

The item’s description is listed, along with a link to WorldCat to see if this item is available elsewhere. In this case, WorldCat shows that this item is specific to the Denver Public Library and there is no link to an online image. The Contact Information link brings me to a form that I can fill out and request information about the collection (including COVID restrictions for the archive). If I want to visit the DPL in person, clicking the Archive Map link brings me to a map and specific GPS coordinates.

To view a collection whose description has links to online images or sound recordings, add “has_links:1” to a search. Along with the details on a page, there will be a “Finding Aids” link to the repository that has the record. Unfortunately, many of these links are broken but you can see the repository that houses the item and search there.

I also keyed in “Russell County Kentucky” in the search bar to see what records appeared. Quite a few search results were returned, including one for church records.

These records are at the Russell County Historical Society. The detail informs me that this collection includes the Creelsboro Church of the Nazarene records from 1913-1934 and that they are photocopies. If I had ancestors that attended this church, I would definitely want to check this out. Clicking “Contact Information” takes me to the Kentucky Historical Society website with information about their hours and COVID-19 precautions and I can also find on their website how to request copies of records if I am out of state.

This website also lets you find archives nearby. Choose your state on the main page under “Search for a location or zip”. Under Colorado, there are 21 archives. Clicking on any one of these will bring up a dialog box and the choice is to Search the Collections or Contact Information”. For the Colorado School of Mines, there are 1,789 collections. These collections primarily concern mines in Colorado. There is quite a bit of historical information in these records so if you are searching for one of your entrepreneurial ancestors who went west to seek their fortune, this might be a good collection to check out.

Remember, it’s not all online. Sometimes we have to actually visit places or have someone in that repository look at records for us. After the danger of COVID-19 has passed, I look forward to spending some in-person time at the Denver Public Library, and to make the best use of my time, I will be perusing some of their holdings before I make a trip.

Happy Hunting!

Image by kropekk_pl from Pixabay

WEBSITE WEDNESDAY

ANCIENTFACES.COM

The website AncientFaces is a free website dedicated to sharing biographies and photos of your ancestors or of historical events and the people who made those events history. This is a collaborative/crowdsourcing website where you can choose to add to existing biographies or upload your own photos of your family. They’ve been around for 20 years but I must confess I didn’t realize this website existed until the last few months. According to their About AncientFaces tab, they have over 1 million images and 200 million biographies which is definitely well worth checking out!

Starting an account is free on their site. You can choose to subscribe to emails detailing new features or comments made on your posts. Their landing page tells you “Everyone deserves to be remembered” and shows you photos that have been recently uploaded or topics of interest or families that have new information. When you find a topic or picture that you like, you can click on the heart and add it to your favorites. You can unclick on the heart and they are removed.

Don’t be fooled by what seems like only a handful of names in the biography section. If you were searching for the last name “Popplewell”, for example, in the “Search Biographies” section on the home page, you would click on a name ending in P that is closest to your surname. In my case, I clicked on Bonnie Pinson. This brought up a list of names from Pinson to Purchase but I don’t see the name Popplewell in this list. I clicked on a name close to Popplewell – Joseph Poppolardo – and I see a list of names from A. Popplewell to Zoe Popplewell. Scanning this list, I can click on the name of someone who interests me, read what has been written about them already, and add more information or a picture if I choose. (Clicking on someone will automatically add them to your favorites. If you do not want them added, just unclick the heart on their profile picture.)

Of course, you can always find people by using the search function at the top of the screen. If you use the search bar, you can choose to look for a person or a photo. Just typing in a last name will bring you to a family page that will let you know how many bios and pictures of people with that last name exist. If you see someone who might be an ancestor, you can click on that specific person. (I wouldn’t recommend that route if you’re looking for the last name “Smith” but it works well on unusual surnames.)

If you are adding regional research to your genealogy hunt, you can look for pictures of the area in which you are searching. For instance, I can search for “Jefferson County Colorado” and choose “photos” to see what pictures of this area have been uploaded by members. Currently, 9 photos appear when I do that search and each one is of a family or person. The pictures may not be specific to the place you are researching, but for them to appear in the search, there is a mention of the area in the photo description, such as the birthplace of the ancestor in the photo. When I choose “Denver Colorado” and “photos”, many more images appear, including a great photo of the highway from Denver to Idaho Springs in 1941, years before it was I-70.

If I look at the bottom of the page, I see that this photo is in an album titled “The 1940s”. Clicking on that link, I find more links to photos about Christmas, Life in the 40s, and the Holocaust.

Take some time and have a look at this site. Keep in mind that your bios can be edited by others as this site is collaborative and your photos will be available for everyone with a free account to view. I would advise not putting information about living people on this site. Take a look, though. Who knows? Maybe some distant cousin has that picture of your great-great-grandfather you didn’t know existed!

Happy Hunting!

Image by Susanne Jutzeler, suju-foto from Pixabay

WEBSITE WEDNESDAY

AncestorStuff.com

The idea of researching my family tree while wearing an “I Love Family History” t-shirt while at the same time drinking coffee from a “Genealogy is Great” mug is motivating and exciting. Doing my essential grocery shopping each week while wearing a “Genealogy Equals Happiness” mask makes that task a little less drudging. While on the hunt for wearable genealogy, I found this website: AncestorStuff.com.

The apparel store on this site is full of genealogical goodies: mugs, totes, phone cases, magnets, t-shirts & all sorts of stuff. Initially, I was only looking for items with slogans, but this site also has a lot of books, e-books, charts, and forms.

As an example of some of the books available, they have The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy 4th Edition by Val D. Greenwood at a great price. I have this book and although I haven’t yet finished it, I am learning a lot from it. They also have about 7,000 other books, such as a new book titled Remembering Anabaptist Ancestors: Amish Migrations and Family Stories by Gerald J Mast. This book contains stories about some of my direct ancestors. There are also books specific to states, such as The Lost Cities Of Colorado by Laurel Michele Wickersheim and Rawlene Lebaron.

Don’t forget to check out the clearance section. For a few bucks, you can find books such as After the Glory: The Struggles of Black Civil War Veterans by  Donald R. Shaffer and London: A History by  Francis Sheppard.

By the way, I don’t get any kickbacks from this site. I’m glad they exist and I wanted to share my latest find with you. They currently have a sale going on, too.

Meanwhile, on the genealogy research front, I have started a spreadsheet listing all the neighbors of my great-great-great-grandfather, George Lewis, on the 1850 census for Cross Creek Township, Jefferson County, Ohio. I plan to cross reference these names with the ones on the 1855 Illinois State Census in Cumberland County and see if I find any matches. I do not know the father of George Lewis, although there is a suggested ancestor on Ancestry.com without documentation. I’m curious to know if the Lewis’ moved to Illinois with any family members or groups. I know his in-laws moved out to Illinois and perhaps I can find some other collateral relatives. I’m sure I’ll be writing a blog post on this in the future.

Meanwhile, Happy Hunting and Happy Thanksgiving!

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

WEBSITE WEDNESDAY

ANCESTORS AT REST

Cemeteries have always fascinated me. On a trip to Boston when I was in college, I couldn’t walk by a graveyard without going in. I took so many pictures of tombstones of people both famous and non. (Somewhere I have a collection of tombstone pictures waiting to be uploaded to the net!)

Here in Colorado the tombstones are not quite as old as they are on the east coast. I still occasionally wander through the graveyards, reading the stones, wondering about the people and whether anyone out there still remembers them or pays a visit once in a while. When I was younger, I’d climb over the walls if I ran across an old cemetery to check it out. Sometimes the stones were vandalized and that always made me sad.

I discovered a website called “Ancestors At Rest”. The URL for this site is http://ancestorsatrest.com/. At first glance, it looks like a website from the 1990s and I wondered if it was actually still being updated. I’ve clicked on some of the links and found most of them are still valid. There are links to the Olive Tree Genealogy website and Facebook pages which are alive and well. I will be discussing the Olive Tree Genealogy website in a future post.

I was not able to find a Search box on this site, but I looked at some of the links available and what is posted on the site. There is also a Site Map at the bottom of the website which came in handy.

So, what types of records are there on this site? Coffin Plates. What is a coffin plate? I didn’t know. I learned from the site that “The history of Coffin Plates or casket plates is a long but not very well documented one. Coffin plates are decorative adornments attached to the coffin that contain free genealogical information like the name and death date of the deceased.” So why are these floating around and not buried in the ground? Apparently, they used to be attached to the coffin and buried (and some have been removed when graves have been relocated), but gradually people started to take them off before burial or even just display them on a stand next to the coffin. This website has a list of coffin plates that have been found, alphabetized by last name. I had to click on a coffin plate for a Sarah M. Martin. I found a picture of a beautiful plate with her birth and death dates – 1830 to 1866. The creator of the website, Brian L. Massey, has a personal collection of 500 of these.

There are links to Funeral Cards/Memorial Cards, a handful of Funeral Home records, some Family Bible records, and Obituaries. There are a few Death Certificates, Church Burial records, Wills, and a few Cenotaph Ontario records (war memorials). Of course there are cemetery records, but other surprising records such as naturalizations and censuses.

Of course I had to find out what Colorado records were there. I found “Search Free Death Records by Country” and the United States is organized by state. All of the cemetery listings were for Logan County. I’ve lived in this state for 50 years and I do not know where Logan County is – shame on me! It is in the NE part of the state and the county seat is Sterling. (I’ve been to Sterling several times.) I clicked on the link for the St. Petersburg Cemetery and found a good sized list compiled by a lady named Peggy.

There are links throughout this website for other sites that have free or paid genealogical info. This site is definitely worth looking into to see what is available for the area you are searching even though these are not extensive collections. There is a link to the Ancestors At Rest Blog but that has not been updated since 2017. On that blog is a bio of Brian L. Massey, the creator of the website.

Happy Hunting!

Sara Martin/Smart Canyon Genealogy

Image by ju-dit from Pixabay

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