Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Secrets.... Every Family Has Them....



When I began researching genealogy, I quickly found that in addition to keeping track of many family facts, another responsibility came along – the keeping of secrets – Yes… secrets, which even the dullest appearing family will have. As children, we love to be privy to secrets (and to tell them!) – But as adults, the novelty of a secret quickly wears thin. To bear the load of a deep family secret can become a very heavy burden – and I know there are families with far worse secrets than mine!

 
It does seem odd how some family members will disclose some little tidbit – often off the cuff – [the secret out of wedlock pregnancy and baby given up for adoption is, I’m sure, a common family ‘secret’ – my own family having a couple of those.] Often it is an elderly relative who has this information and maybe because so many people involved are now deceased – or just because so much time has gone by – but this relative feels comfortable disclosing the bombshell -- often times in a casual, matter of fact kind of way. Also, I think they realize that sometimes someone needs to know – and that there can be great comfort in telling a long held secret.
 
Have you found long buried secrets in your research? Do you keep these secrets yourself? I blabbed a family secret once, years ago, and later regretted it – though I do realize that secrets are usually far more painful than the truth. But, I also feel that someone else’s secret isn’t mine to tell! This is especially sensitive when the parties involved are still living.....

Other secrets can include things that were considered shameful “back in the day” – like suicide. I’m sure some of us have received a death certificate and been surprised to see the cause of death contradicts what we may have always been told. Even today, mental illness carries an unfair stigma, but years ago it was rarely talked about even if there wasn’t suicide – institutionalizations were often shameful as well.
 
Years ago, while talking with an elderly relative about the children of a deceased Aunt, she mentioned the middle child, Mary Ellen, being “an invalid child” – who died as a baby in the 1930s. When I spoke to my own Great-Aunt about this cousin, she also said that the child was very ill and remembered her Dad saying his baby niece had died. But no one could seem to tell me when this child died or where she was buried. Imagine my complete shock, some years later, when I found that Mary Ellen did not die as a baby, but instead lived to the age of 48, dying in 1984, in a State Institution. Did Mary Ellen’s parents tell people that she had died, or did people just assume she must have died young, since a disabled child was not something easily talked of in the 1930s & 1940s.

A revered Aunt (now deceased_ gave a child up for adoption over 80 years ago – I would love to find this child or its descendants – whether this story qualifies as a secret, I’m not sure – but it certainly was never talked about! And that fact makes me hesitate to ask the few remaining older relatives in our family, if they might know something.... I don't want them to be angry at me for "tarnishing" our dear Aunt's memory or find it distasteful that I am looking to open such a private can of worms.... If only I had started my search years ago, for now, this long lost child would be 85 years old... and could very well be deceased....
 
Since most of the ‘family secrets’ I have stumbled upon, remain a secret today, I’m not really able to give any more specific examples – but since I know you have your own – I don’t really need to....
 
So what about your family secrets – have you kept them?
How have they affected your research?
Is there more value in keeping them – or allowing truth?
Does the "statute of limitations" ever run out on a secret?

I suspect there will be fewer secrets for future generations – as many of the things taboo in society years ago, are no longer taboo today – children born to single Mothers – divorce – and racial background, among other things – are no longer things to be shameful of – so the need for secrets is eliminated.
 
So What say You on the matter?



Monday, May 27, 2013

Amelia Hawkins Merrill... Another mysterious female ancestor....

This female ancestor of mine is a classic example of how tricky maternal lines can be… and while I should appreciate that I know as much as I do about this 5x Great-Grandmother – I’d like to know more, as any self-respecting genealogist would!
Scan of a copy
of a photo from the
Merrill Genealogy written
by her Granddaughter Mary
Amelia Hawkins was born 2 December 1793 – not sure where this birth occurred – or to whom she was born. [The 1860 census gives her state of birth as Massachusetts, but I know nothing further] Whether she was a native resident of New York is unclear to me, but she was married in Fabius, Onondaga County, New York on 13 November 1811, to Heman Merrill. The Merrill line is a well researched line full of Revolutionary War heroes and other great men worthy of history books – the wives, who were surely equally as great, are relegated to what amounts to one line footnotes [unfortunately, for about 4 generations! Ugh]
 
Due to the published Merrill genealogies – (and my own research!) I have a large number of the descendants of Heman & Amelia compiled, and Heman’s paternal lines are, again, well documented.
 
Cottage Cemetery
Amelia lived a month past 71st birthday – dying on 16 Jan 1865 (in Dayton, NY?), and is buried at the Cottage Cemetery – near her husband and some children.
 
I’m happy to know as much as I do about Amelia – and future brick-wall posts will be little more than a name – but I would love to add parents to Amelia – and of course I am always on the lookout for ‘cousins’ who also claim Heman & Amelia as ancestors!

Does anyone out there know who Amelia was?

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Mystery Photo- Freeborn County, MN?

Mystery Photo Sunday

I have such a large photo archive... of both relative & nonrelative photos... that I've decided to do a weekly spotlight of one the 'mystery photos' in my possession.

Unknown Man & 2 Women

This photo was included in an album from the Twin Lakes, Freeborn County, MN area....

Most were members of the Nelson - Grinolds-Schoonover family... I'd love to know who this is and how they might connect to the family! Other relatives lived in Wisconsin & New York.

Thanks for looking... and stop back next week if you'd like another Mystery Photo... mystery...

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Minnesota Resource... Death Index for Norman County 1871-1981





As a genealogist from Minnesota, I take great pride in the many resources our state has in place to aide researchers! Many, like the death index, are very well known, but many many others are not.

So I've decided to spotlight a few of the lesser known greats here, in hopes that I can connect someone with a tool that can use! Since Saturdays are good days to do genealogy (at least for us working folks), I decided to post these links then.

Norman County, MN
death index
1871-1981

http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~mnnorman/death.htm#1871-1922


This is a great, alphabetical index that starts 30 years before the State Death index. If you have relatives in that area, you might check out the index...

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Mystery Photo- Southern Minnesota tintype


Mystery Photo Sunday

I have such a large photo archive... of both relative & nonrelative photos... that I've decided to do a weekly spotlight of one the 'mystery photos' in my possession.
old tintype photo of an unknown mustached man

This photo was included in an album from the Twin Lakes, Freeborn County, MN area....
Most were members of the Nelson - Grinolds family.....  I'd love to know who this is and how they might connect to the family! Relatives also lived in Wisconsin & New York
Thanks for looking... and stop back next week if you'd like another Mystery Photo... mystery...

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Lac Qui Parle County, Minnesota 1900 birth index.... Saturday Research Resource for Minnesota





As a genealogist from Minnesota, I take great pride in the many resources our state has in place to aide researchers! Many, like the death index, are very well known, but many many others are not.

So I've decided to spotlight a few of the lesser known greats here, in hopes that I can connect someone with a tool that can use! Since Saturdays are good days to do genealogy (at least for us working folks), I decided to post these links then.

Laq Qui Parle County birth records
1900

http://genealogytrails.com/minn/lacquiparle/births1900.html


Transcription for birth records for 1900, from MN birth index

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Was She Crazy...Almira Parkhurst Fancher... ???


One of my most elusive ancestors is Almira Parkhurst Fancher – my 4x Great-Grandmother. When I first began researching genealogy, I got information from my elderly Aunt and she had not only dates, but a lineage for Almira, going back several generations. Over the last 20 years, I’ve found very little documentation on Almira and have come to believe very little of that early data I received as fact.
 
Almira was born 14 February 1808, supposedly in Mexico, Oswego Co, New York – family lore has her the daughter of Col. Jonathan Parkhurst – but I can find no evidence of that – She was married to Caleb Fancher on 25 February 1829 – the Fancher family being well researched and documented, though nothing ever is written of Almira. They had three children: Harriet, Emeline, and Albert Nathan (A.N.) – before Caleb died on 11 July 1838 in Hastings, NY. Widowed at 30 years old, with 3 young children to support, I have no idea how Almira supported herself and her children. In the 1840 & 1850 census, Almira is listed as the head of household, with her children in Mexico, NY (though by 1850 Harriet has married).
 

Oswego DailyTimes
Nov 20, 1852 
second part of article
In 1852, a newspaper account has Almira committed to the Lunatic Asylum at Utica, NY – which is one family story I was able to prove – I do not know why she was committed – or for how long – I cannot find her in the 1860 census (perhaps she was still the nut house?)… though by 1870 is out of the asylum and living with her daughter Harriet Erskine in Pulaski, NY. Family records showed Almira died in 1881, though I have found newspaper mention of her death in 1879, which is also the year her headstone gives. She is buried in the South Richland Cemetery in Pulaski, in an Erskine family plot.




South Richland Cemetery- Pulaski, NY
 


So other than a few scant facts and a bit of speculation, I have found out very little about Almira… The Parkhurst family has been well researched – though no one knows of Almira – I’ve posted many queries and contacted countless researchers over the years – to no avail. With only 5 granchildren who lived to adulthood, there are few descendants of Caleb & Almira around today. So I find the likely hood of uncovering a treasure trove family archive, unlikely…
 
I feel like Almira must have had a complicated, difficult life… and I just wish I knew something of it… Hopefully, one day, I will…




Monday, May 13, 2013

Kleinhans... Klein-Who??

Yet another pedigree surname that only leads to question marks – compliments of a 3x Great-Grandmother who prior to married life is unknown......
 
Agatha Kleinhans was born 8 Feb 1840, in Hildmannsfeld, Baden, Germany – the daughter of Joseph Kleinhans & Magdaleus Fras. [sound of me putting on the brakes] I don’t have, in my possession, the actual proof that Hildmannsfeld is the locale of her birth – or that Joseph & Magdaleus are her parents… though this is what I believe to be true [and there are other Krumholz researchers who agree]
Agatha Kleinhans & Jacob Krumholz

Agatha was married to Jacob Theodore Krumholz Sr, in 1864 – again, the proof of this I continue to seek – a German marriage record would be very nice!
 
I think it is interesting to note that Agatha was a bride of 24 years old, which seems old to me, for that timeframe.
 
I wonder what she was doing from 1858-1864… where she was living? Did she work?
 
The Krumholz family she married into was Catholic, was she as well? Hmmm….
Questions. Questions. Questions.
And alas, no answers.
 
The Krumholz family immigrated to America in 1877 -- and settled in Illinois, and later Minnesota… The post immigration lives of the Krumholz clan are well documented.
 
Agatha died of heart problems on 25 April 1904, in Martin County, Minnesota and is buried at the Calvary Cemetery in Fairmont.
 
She left a large legacy and number of descendants – but her early life remains a mystery…
So… Who was Agatha?
 
Were her parents actually Joseph Kleinhans & Magdelus Fras?
And if they were – who were they??? Where did they come from? Did Agatha have siblings?
Was she actually born in Hildmannsfeld?
 
When was she married? Was it indeed 1864?
 
How did she spend the 6 years of womanhood she experienced before her marriage?
 
For 20 years I have looked into the Kleinhans surname and always come up empty.
Does anyone have Kleinhans in their family?
 
I, along with other Krumholz researchers, would love to have further information on this mysterious branch of our family tree.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Pedigrees.... A quick lineage glance... And so much more...

As a ‘paper genealogist’ (one who prefers actual printed, tangible data), I feel as though I am part of a dying breed – and that may not be such a bad thing – as I constantly complain to anyone who listens about my massive clutter & genealogical disorganization!
 
In my defense, when I began genealogy 20 years ago – everything I did was handwritten, with photocopied forms filled in by hand – so I grew as a researcher, used to the tangible printed info. Of course, years ago, I graduated to a computer program and printed forms – but I still have binders of hard data …..
 
Which brings me to the discussion of pedigrees – and how they are used today and how I use mine – It goes without saying, I print mine out (as I must have something I can doodle on and make notes) and even though it creates more paper – I only have 4 generations per sheet – [Legacy scrunches down the last generation to include almost nothing if you use 5, so I use 4 – which is why my printed pedigree is over 60+ pages!]

Example of a plank pedigree
see their website for other forms
http://www.everingham.com/family/forms.html
 
Now here comes my dirty little secret – some of it is very outdated – and when I say outdated, I mean there are pages with that date to 2 Dec 1998! WOW- is that embarrassing!! (so much so, I’m tempted to delete this part, and might yet…) But I do promise you, "updating pedigree" is on my ‘to do’ list! And along with updating, I’m trying to identify all of my ‘sources’ and obtain as many hardcopies as I can for these ancestors.
 
It’s further embarrassing to have 60+ pages of a pedigree and realize that you haven’t documented as well as you should have… Many of my lines are early New England stock, some from the early 1600’s – so there are easily accessible records out there – and I’ve been working on relocating these resources and documenting them better (what fun!)….
 
And not only do I like to fill in the vital statistic data for these pedigree folks, but I also like to do a little research on them and see what things they were up to... (usually no good, in my family!) – and these historical tidbits not only add some meat to the bones of the family – they make it easier to see these pedigree names as real people – something I forget on occasion.
My 'Pedigree binder'... Always a work in progress
 
 
So in today’s world of the internet, weekend warrior genealogists, and the merging of 10 undocumented family trees into your own (all in one fell swoop, taking you right back to Adam & Eve without a lick of research), do researchers still have tangible records and more importantly, tangible pedigrees?
 
Do they actively document (or attempt at least) the data they find?
 
Are these never ending online trees being examined closely or are they taken as gospel?
 
Are researchers actively searching to add substance to the lives of these people, or am I alone on this pedigree quest?
 
So take a looksee at your own pedigree... Re-examine some brickwalls... 'Google' early ancestors to see what might be out there about them.... Connect with other researchers... Obtain some documentation....
 
So how do you use your pedigree (if you do)? Are you an active documenter for those pre1800 ancestors?
 
As always, I’m interested in what others do (or don’t do), if you have great ideas or fellow dilemmas. Share your hints or suggestions...  Now, if you'll excuse me.... I have some pedigree updating to do...



Mystery Photo- Winnifred White of Pike, New York

Mystery Photo Sunday

I have such a large photo archive... of both relative & nonrelative photos... that I've decided to do a weekly spotlight of one the 'mystery photos' in my possession.
Winnifred White
1935
Pike, New York

I don't even remember where this little snap shot came from.... but I know she is not a relative of mine....
Someone wrote 'Winnifred White fall of 1935 at Pike, NY' on the backside of the photo
It'd be nice to get Winnifred back to a family member who can appreciate her!
Thanks for looking... and stop back next week if you'd like another Mystery Photo... mystery...

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Itasca County, Minnesota 1880 Census.... Saturday Research Resource for Minnesota



As a genealogist from Minnesota, I take great pride in the many resources our state has in place to aide researchers! Many, like the death index, are very well known, but many many others are not.
So I've decided to spotlight a few of the lesser known greats here, in hopes that I can connect someone with a tool that can use! Since Saturdays are good days to do genealogy (at least for us working folks), I decided to post these links then.

Itasca County, Minnesota
1880 census transcription

http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~mnitasca/itasca-1880.htm


Northern Minnesota was still very rural and undeveloped in the 1870s & 1880s... So to find your ancestors listed as residents of this area during that time frame is a great coupe for your genealogy!

If you haven't been able to find your relatives in census records, or don't have access (ie Ancestry), check out their transcription records... the population then was very small, so there aren't many to see!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Mystery Photo- John England... St. Peter, MN

Mystery Photo Sunday

I have such a large photo archive... of both relative & nonrelative photos... that I've decided to do a weekly spotlight of one the 'mystery photos' in my possession.

John England

From Jacoby's Art Gallery
St. Peter, Minnesota

Someone wrote the name 'John England' on the reverse of this small cabinet card photo....

It was in an album from the Twin Lakes, Freeborn County, Minnesota area... that contained members of the Nelson - Grinolds family....

I don't know who John England is and how he may connect to this family, if he does at all....

I've tried to do a little research to see if I could find a John England in Minnesota... but thus far, have come up empty handed.....

Thanks for looking... and stop back next week if you'd like another Mystery Photo... mystery...

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Cass County, Minnesota Research Resource

As a genealogist from Minnesota, I take great pride in the many resources our state has in place to aide researchers! Many, like the death index, are very well known, but many many others are not.
So I've decided to spotlight a few of the lesser known greats here, in hopes that I can connect someone with a tool that can use! Since Saturdays are good days to do genealogy (at least for us working folks), I decided to post these links then.

Cass County Museum & Historical Society

http://www.casscountymuseum.org/


This website is full of great resources, including a searchable obituary index of holdings the museum has in its possession.

There are also a limited number of cemetery records and other links to historical and research resources.

So, if you have any connection to Cass County, Minnesota, I suggest stopping by this website and seeing what they have to offer!