New Madrid earthquakes and Holcombe ancestors

What do you know about the New Madrid (pronounced MAD-rid) earthquakes of 1811-1812? If you are like me, you  don’t know much, if anything.  Geologists and seismologists (persons who study seismic activity, a.k.a. earthquakes) can maybe tell you about it.  I learned about the earthquakes while researching my mother-in-law’s Holcomb ancestors. Several Holcomb families are reported to have  lived in or near New Madrid, Missouri, when the earthquakes struck.  As a genealogist, can I prove the connection?  First, I relate the family history  and  historical documents then information about the earthquakes. Finally, I make my own conclusion.

New Madrid earthquake pic

The ancestral Holcomb/ Holcombe line traces back to Pendleton County, South Carolina.  The 1790 census shows Joel Holcomb with one male over 16 years and 4 females. [1]   Joel Holcombe I received a land grant in Warren county, Kentucky  in 1792. The state of Virginia generally reserved land grants in this area for Revolutionary War soldiers. [2]  Joel Holcombe I is my mother-in-law’s fifth great-grandfather.

An extensive Holcombe family history was published in 1947.[3] The narrative records one or more men named Joel Holcombe in each generation.  Sources include historical documents and oral family history. The editor also refers to written communications from numerous family members.

Pages 492-493:  “[Joel Holcombe I] moved about 1797 with brother, Harman Holcombe, to Warren Co., Ky [Kentucky]. . . . moved from Warren Co., Ky. about 1804 with his brother, Harman Holcombe to New Madrid, New Madrid Co., Mo., they being reported as the first settlers there to take up land W. of the Mississippi River in the then new Louisiana Purchase. . . . moved to St. Clair Co., Ill. where his brother, Zachariah Holcombe, arrived in 1807. Joel had returned to New Madrid, Mo., by 1809 when he d.[ied] there.”

Page 493:  “Joel Holcombe II. . .  moved from Pendleton to Warren Co., Ky. about 1797 . . .and on or before 1812 had left Warren and was settled in New Madrid Co., Mo. where they were Dec. 16, 1811 when the first of a long series of earthquake shocks there, and throughout a large adjoining region. . . . “

If this account is true, then Joel Holcombe I died in or near New Madrid in 1809. Other Holcombe relatives survived the earthquake.   “The Holcombes  fled this disaster with others, generally mounted, carrying but little of their property to higher ground to the north and west, in Mo., where Joel Holcombe remained only a year or two before removing to St. Clair Co., Ill. , where he entered land in 1814. . . . “ [4]

Census records for 1820 show Joel Holcomb in St. Clair County, Illinois.[5]  The family consists of 2 free white males of 16 and under 26 and 1 free white female of 26 and under 45.  Birth years for the males are estimated as between 1794 and 1804 suggesting that this is the younger Joel Holcomb.  So far, information looks consistent.

However, there is at least one issue. Joel Holcombe II’s birth year is reported as about 1797. If true, then he would have been 13 or 14 years old at the time of the New Madrid earthquakes. At present, I am not attempting to validate the above information as reported in the Holcombe history. That is another project!

missouri map

New Madrid is in the boot heel region of Missouri.  During the early 1800s, the Mississippi River system  was the primary trade route connecting eastern cities with New Orleans.  New Madrid was the largest settlement between St. Louis and Natchez, Mississippi.  This thriving, busy community had no way to predict the coming earthquake. Survivors reported rainy, unusually warm weather in the days just before the first quake.

The first earthquake shook the people of New Madrid, Missouri out of their beds at 2 a.m. on December 16, 1811. Numerous quakes continued to occur through March 1812. [6]  At least two of the subsequent quakes were felt as far away as Washington, D.C.  Eyewitness accounts describe the general destruction including coffins being tossed out of the ground at the local cemetery.[7]  At one point, the Mississippi River actually ran backwards and carried a flatboat about 4 miles upstream.

Located near Dunklin County, Missouri is Holcomb Island.  Dunklin county was formed in 1845 from Stoddard County which had been formed from  New Madrid County in 1845. [8]  Was this island named after our Holcomb ancestors? From a message board:  “Could Joel have been unlucky enough to have his 100 acres sink to the bottom of the Mississippi?”[9] The same person reported that Joel Holcomb bought land in New Madrid County from an Edward Robertson in October 1811. I have not seen the original land transfer record and have not located it online.

Question:  Were Holcomb ancestors present in or near New Madrid, Missouri at the time of 1811-1812 earthquakes?   Answer:  Likely.  The land transfer record would prove that Joel Holcomb I purchased land in New Madrid about two months before the first earthquake. Land purchase suggests residence  at the appropriate time.  What other Holcomb families lived in the area?  Joel Holcombe II may not have been old enough to have his own family.  The assertion still needs to be proved.  I see a genealogy field trip to Missouri in my future!

For additional information:

Fuller, Myron L. The New Madrid Earthquake. USGS Bulletin 494. Washington Gov’t Printing Office, 1912. [Cape Girardeau, MO: Center for Earthquake Studies, 1989].  121 pages with extensive references including some firsthand accounts.  Available online:  https://pubs.usgs.gov/bul/0494/report.pdf

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Reflection:

I have been intrigued by this story since I first read about it in 2015 as I delved deeper into my mother-in-law’s family.  The New Madrid earthquake was a significant event in our nation’s early history.  We lived in Arkansas for 9 years and heard about the New Madrid fault which runs through northwestern Arkansas.  A similar earthquake now would potentially cause thousands of deaths.  I have only scratched the surface on this topic.  Still makes for an interesting family story.

In this post, I continue to write about possible family connections to specific events. These connections make both the people and the events more real.  I realize that I need to validate information reported in the Holcombe book.  The challenge will be to separate the lives of multiple men named Joel Holcombe in various generations.  Genealogy Do-over focus for 2019?

What I learned:  Personal stories about those who experienced  the New Madrid earthquake. The impact was more far-reaching than I expected.  The Indian leader Tecumseh is part of this history. The Holcombe family story has been handed down for generations.

What helped:  Previous access to some documents.  Book about the earthquake in my local library.   1820 & 1830 census records for Joel Holcombe (probably  Joel  II) in St. Clair, Illinois. Met word count goal of less than 1500 words for this post.

What didn’t help:  Not having access to documents mentioned by others.  No online database found with 1810 census or tax records for Missouri. I am becoming too dependent on technology!

To-do:  Field trip to New Madrid and/or Missouri State Archives. Continue search for documents about Holcomb family during this time period.  Search 1810 census records in Warren County, Kentucky for Joel Holcomb.

SOURCES

[1] 1790 U.S. Census, Pendleton district, South Carolina, population schedule, , page 5, column 2, line 12, Joel Halcomb; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, printed, downloaded 21 September 2018); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M637,Roll 11.

[2] Hannah Elizabeth Weir McPherson, The Holcombes.Nation Builders (Washington, D.C.: The author , 1947), 492.

[3] McPherson, The Holcombes, Joel Holcombe I (p. 477, 492-493); Joel Holcombe II (p. 493); Joseph Holcombe (p. 493, 499-500).

[4] McPherson, The Holcombes, 493.

[5] 1820 U.S. Census, St. Clair county, Illinois, population schedule, page 131, line 33, Joel Halcomb; digital images, Family Search (https://www.familysearch.org   : accessed & printed 2 December 2018); citing National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication M19, roll 25.

[6] Jay Feldman, When the Mississippi ran backwards: Empire, intrigue, murder, and the New Madrid earthquakes.  New York, NY: Free Press, 2005.

[7] Arch C. Johnston & Eugene S. Schweig, “The Enigma of the New Madrid Earthquakes of 1811-1812,” Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, 24 (1996), 339-384; image copy, Semantic Scholar, (https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/1302  :  accessed & downloaded, 2 December 2018).

[8] Family Search Wiki (https://www.familysearch.org/   : accessed 3 December 2018),  “Missouri County Creation Dates and Parent Counties.”

[9] Donna Lonan, “Wingfield Notes: The Holcombs,” My Arkansas Families, discussion board, November 1981 and January 1982, posting date unknown  (http://homepages.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~arkfam/holcomb.html  : accessed 2 December 2018).

The story of stollen

What food traditions are honored by your family during this holiday season?  For my husband and his family, Nana’s cornbread stuffing is the ‘must-have’ dish with Thanksgiving turkey.  My family ate traditional fare of turkey with white bread dressing for Thanksgiving.  My mother’s allergy to turkey meant that she also baked a chicken or duck for her meal.  One of my fondest memories about visiting mom’s parents is stollen, a sweet yeast bread with German origins.  In this post, I digress from the telling of individual stories to share our family recipe and a few stories.

stollen

What’s left of the most recent stollen at our house

As mentioned, stollen is a sweet yeast bread with German origins.  It is made with dried fruits, nuts and spices. How to pronounce “stollen”

Here’s the RECIPE:   CHRISTMAS STOLLEN_one page

My maternal great-great grandparents immigrated to the U.S. from Germany. Valentine Maurer and Maria Metzger were from Baden in southwest Germany. Ludwig Klee claimed Prussia in north east Germany as his homeland.  The ancestry of Anna Wolfe, Ludwig’s wife, is either Dutch or Prussian.  So, we honor those German traditions and food.

I remember that Gram always had stollen when we visited. Sometimes she bought the stollen from a commercial bakery,  Entenmann’s.  Entenmann’s  baked goods are available at many retail grocery chains. If you have never tried any of their cakes and desserts, you are really missing something wonderful! Sometimes the stollen came from the local bakery where great-aunt Viola worked.

My sister found the original recipe years ago. Both of us tweaked the recipe a little to produce this version. I make this stollen the week before Thanksgiving. We eat it Thanksgiving morning while watching parades on TV.  For the next several weeks, snack time often includes a small piece of stollen.  I often make a second recipe in December.

HINTS

Use real butter, not margarine.  I use unsalted butter.  I cannot say how it would turn out if you use soft butter from tubs or salted butter.

Nuts:  I use pecans. Almonds or walnuts give a slightly different flavor.

Raisins:  We like golden raisins but regular black raisins work well, too. I haven’t tried the recipe with cranraisins.

I don’t have a counter-top mixer. I do all of the mixing and kneading by hand.  Quality should be the same if you use a counter-top mixer for kneading the bread dough.  Continue to mix in fruits and nuts by hand.

One recipe makes two stollen cakes. Wrap one in plastic wrap and aluminum; place in the freezer. Keeps in freezer for months.

Warm a piece in microwave for 10-15 seconds then put some butter on it. The butter just melts into the bread.

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REFLECTION:

I put the recipe at the beginning of my post.  Why?  Personal preference. I am annoyed by  food posts that show multiple pictures of a dish with lots of text before you ever get to the recipe.  I don’t mind reading a short introduction.  Then, I want to read the recipe!  If I am interested, then I will read the rest of the post.  I guess it’s a marketing ploy similar to a salesperson telling you all about a product without telling you the price.

What I learned:  different ways to pronounce ‘stollen’.

What helped:  years of experience making this sweet yeast bread for my family.

What didn’t help:  nothing.

TO-DO:   I made one batch last week for my family. Make another batch after Thanksgiving for in-laws.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Ida Bedell Maurer, age 28, succumbs to Spanish Flu

This year represents the 100th anniversary of the Spanish Flu epidemic.  We usually think that victims of influenza are more likely to be very young or very old. However, the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918-1919 was different. “It [Spanish flu] seemed to target the young and healthy, being particularly deadly to 20 to 35-year-olds.” [1]   Ida E. Bedell Maurer, age 28, became one of those victims.

Spanish_flu_death_chart

(Image: from the National Museum of Health and Medicine) – Pandemic Influenza: The Inside Story. Nicholls H, PLoS Biology Vol. 4/2/2006, e50 https://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.0040050

Ida E. Bedell was born in October 1890 to William H. Bedell and Mary Ida Decker.[2]  By 1900, her parents moved to Huntington Station, Suffolk county, New York. [3]   The family of her future husband moved to Huntington Station from Brooklyn between 1900 and 1910. [4], [5]    The two families possibly knew each other.  In July 1916, Ida E. Bedell married Herman Charles Maurer, son of Herman Maurer and Anna Klee in Huntington Station, Suffolk county, New York.  The Huntington Long Islander newspaper carried the wedding announcement [6]:

Maurer - Bedell Marriage

Following their marriage, “Mr and Mrs Herman Maurer left on the afternoon train for Bridgeport, Conn., where they will reside. The groom hold a responsible position in that city.”   Herman’s ‘responsible position’ was that of a carpenter for the Remington Arms Company. [7] ,[8] .  The young couple’s future seems bright.

Nothing else is known about their life in Bridgeport, Connecticut. In October, 1918, Ida Bedell Maurer, age 28, died from influenza. [9]  Her husband, Herman, was also hospitalized with ‘the disease’.  There is no mention of children.

Bedell_Ida_mMaurer_death notice_crop

Following Ida’s death, Herman returned to Suffolk county, New York where he continued to work as a carpenter.  [10]  In 1922, Herman married Elizabeth Bailer [11] . They became the parents of two children – Herman E. Maurer, who died in World War II, and Grace Maurer. I wish I knew more of their story.

Websites with additional information:

Spanish Flu, posted 11 September 2018:   https://www.history.com/topics/world-war-i/1918-flu-pandemic

“The Deadly Virus: The influenza epidemic of 1918″, no date:   https://www.archives.gov/exhibits/influenza-epidemic/

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REFLECTION

I have thought about writing this piece for several months.  My husband and I both have ancestors who died between 1917 and 1919.  I can confirm deaths due to the flu for some. Death certificates and/or other death records for some people remain undiscovered; those stories are for other posts. Both young and old persons from our families died during this time.

What I learned:  That the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918-1919 was more likely to affect younger people than the very old or very young.   Ida Bedell Maurer was just one of those younger persons.

What helped:  access to multiple record sources.  Research on this family has been virtually complete for several months.

What didn’t help:  personal family issues and a slight delay in being able to write and post this blog.  Online, I found a picture of a young woman in bridal clothes who may have been a victim of the 1918-1919 Spanish flu. I could not find any identification. If I posted that picture here, people might think that the picture is of Ida. I would not want any mis-identification.

To-Do:  Search for pictures of Herman and/or Ida in their teens or 20s.  I have pictures of Herman as a baby and, in his 60s with his 2nd wife, Elizabeth Bailer.

SOURCES: 

[1] “1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic”,  ThoughtCo, Humanities, History and Culture,  No date,  https://www.thoughtco.com/1918-spanish-flu-pandemic-1779224   :  Accessed 5 November 2018.

[2] “New York and Vicinity United Methodist Church Records,1775 -1949”,  database; marriage record for William H. Bedell and Mary Ida Decker, 30 June 1880,  Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com   :  accessed 4 November 2018),  citing  Methodist Episcopal Church Records in New York City and vicinity, Manuscripts and Archives Division of the New York Public Library; New York, New York.

[3] 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Suffolk county, New York, population schedule, Huntington Station,  ED, p. 2 (ink pen), p. 79A (stamp), dwelling 21, family 21, William H. Beddell, head; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed & printed 5 Novmber 2018); citing National Archives & Records Administration,  Washington, D.C.. microfilm publication T623.

[4] 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Kings county, New York, population schedule, Brooklyn Ward 21, enumeration district (ED) 331, p. 3B (penned), dwelling 13, family 63, Herman Maurer head; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, downloaded, printed 8 October 2010); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T623_1058.

[5] 1910 U.S. Census, Suffolk County, New York, pop. sch., Huntington, enumeration district (ED) 1367, p. 2B (ink pen), Family #26, Herman Maurer (head); digital images, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed, viewed, downloaded 31 January 2017); National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication T624, roll 1083.

[6] “Maurer-Bedell,” Huntington [New York]  Long Islander,  Friday, 21 July 1916; PDF (cited by JamesCummings18, online family tree (https://ancestry.com/mediaui-viewer/tree/1840461/person/7031497197/media).

[7] “Connecticut, Military Census, 1917,” database and images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com   : accessed & printed, 4 November 2018; citing Connecticut Military Census of 1917; Hartford, Connecticut: Connecticut State Library.

[8] “World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” digital image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed, downloaded, printed 25 July 2016), entry for Herman Charles Maurer, age 23; citing World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918: citing Selective Service System, National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C.; dated 5 Jun 1917.

[9]  “Mrs. Ida Maurer”, death notice, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, Kings, New York, 15 October 1918, page 10, column 3; Newspapers.com (http://www.newspapers.com   : Accessed & printed 1 February  2018.

[10] 1920 U.S. Federal Census, Suffolk County, population schedule, Brookhaven, enumeration district (ED) 94, p. 4B, dwelling 78, family 94, line 93, Herman C. Maurer, boarder; digital images, Find My Past (http://www.findmypast.com  :  : accessed, downloaded 3 February 2018); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D. C. microfilm publication T625_1268.

[11] United States, Marriage Transcription for Herman Maurer and Elizabeth Bailer, 12 Feb 1922.  Find My Past (https://search.findmypast.com     :   accessed & printed 3 Feb 2018); Civil Marriage & Divorce records. Original data from New York City Municipal Archives, New York, New York. Borough: Brooklyn.

 

“It runs in the family”: Family health history pedigree

Did you inherit grandpa’s nose?  Are your eyes the same color as great-aunt Anna? Your genetic inheritance determines these, and other, physical characteristics. Medical conditions can be inherited as well as the risk of developing certain diseases.  As a genealogist, you collect a lot of information about your ancestors.  We tend to focus on dates and places – birth, marriage, death, occupation, travel. Do you also record information about illnesses?  What do you do with that information?

October is Family History Month.  It is a time for collecting and organizing information about your family. I suggest that you also develop a systematic plan for gathering and recording your family’s health history.  Thanksgiving is National Family History Day, as declared  by the U.S. Surgeon General. [1]

What are some genealogical sources of health information? Well known sources include death certificates and obituaries.  Less well known sources include various census records and county histories.

  1. Death certificates. Usually list cause of death and contributing factors.
  2. Family members. At your next family gathering, ask questions about your ancestors’ medical and health histories.  Someone might remember that your cousin twice removed had kidney stones and that her mother died from the same thing! Label this information as ‘tentative’.  Remember to cite source and date.
  3. Obituaries. Cause of death sometimes listed.  “A lingering illness” suggests illnesses such as cancer, chronic obstructive lung disease/ emphysema, dementia, heart failure, kidney disease, neurologic disease or stroke. Following an accident, people may survive for years with various levels of disability.  “A sudden illness” suggests a more acute condition although the person may have had symptoms for days, weeks or months.
  4. Birth certificates. May list weeks of gestation, which could indicate prematurity. May also report complications of pregnancy suffered by the mother.
  5. County death records. Usually a list of names, dates  and cause of death.  Availability of these records varies widely.  I found some county death records in Texas for the years 1917-1920 when causes of death were overwhelmingly ‘influenza’ and ‘pneumonia’.
  6. Look for information in newspaper social columns.  “Mrs. Mary Adams returned home Tuesday from Oklahoma City where she attended  the funeral of her sister, Susie, who died from pneumonia.”  A brief death notice may follow an earlier story about an accident or that the person had been admitted to the hospital.  Obviously, before our recent privacy laws went into effect!
  7. Published and unpublished family and county histories. Look for details that may lead you to search for other records.  “John James died after falling off a horse. He lingered, speechless, for three days.”   “Marilyn Samuels spent her last years in a tuberculosis sanitarium.”
  8. Reports of a woman’s death soon after giving birth. Sarah Ostrander Richards, my great-great grandmother, probably died from complications associated with childbirth.  Here is the evidence:  “Mr. [Nathaniel] Richards second wife was Miss Sarah Ostrander, born June 20, 1801 and died March 27, 1836. She had one son, Ostrander, born March 20, 1836.” [2]

CENSUS RECORDS show limited health information.

  1. Decennial Census records. Some included space to check if the person was ‘deaf, dumb, or blind’.[3]  (1850 census, column 13; 1860, column 14; 1870, column 18; 1880, columns 16-19; 1885, columns 16-29). If person is ‘inmate’/ patient of hospital or other institution, search for other clues about why person is there.
  2. Census mortality schedules,  data gathered from 1850 through 1885.[4] In general, these schedules listed persons who died within 12 months before the census.  Cause of death was one recorded item.
  3. 1880 census supplemental forms:  Defective, Dependent, and Delinquent Classes (wording as posted on NARA website): [5]   Information limited to the named categories.
    1. Schedule 2: Insane
    2. Schedule 3: Idiots
    3. Schedule 4: Deaf- Mute
    4. Schedule 5: Blind
    5. Schedule 6: Homeless Children
    6. Schedule 7: Prisoners
    7. Schedule 7a: Pauper and Indigent

How do you document your family’s health history?  One method uses the U.S. Surgeon General’s website, My Family Health Portrait.   

Susan_famhealthhx_crop

Other websites that you may find helpful (listed alphabetically by author):

Centers for Disease Control:  Family Health History.   https://www.cdc.gov/genomics/famhistory/

Family Search Blog:  4 steps to starting a health history.  Includes a downloadable Family Health History form.    URL:  https://www.familysearch.org/blog/en/4-steps-starting-health-history/

Genetic Alliance: An easy to follow booklet, “Does it run in the family: A guide to family health history.”     URL:  http://www.geneticalliance.org/sites/default/files/GuideToFHH/GuidetoFHH.pdf

Laura Landro, 30 March 2014, New Tools to Track Your Family Health History, Wall Street Journal,     https://www.wsj.com/articles/no-headline-available-1395070890

Donna Prezcha,  Tracing your health history, URL:  https://www.genealogy.com/articles/research/79_donna.html

Why is it important to know my family medical history?   URL:   https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/primer/inheritance/familyhistory

Vibrant Life, 6 Medical History Questions You Should Ask Family,  Article 6, 19 July, unknown year;  http://www.vibrantlife.com/?p=2365

Summary:

In this post, I presented  common and less common sources of family health information.  Add to your to-do list:  Develop method to collect and record family health information.  Add family health information to records. Use multiple sources.

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REFLECTION:

I collect family health information but haven’t routinely documented  the information in a meaningful way. Until I used the Surgeon General’s website, I only vaguely understood the importance of a genetic health history.  ‘Cause of death’ is an item on forms that I use.

What I learned:  nothing new at this time.  However, my learning curve for this information has evolved over the past 5-6 years.

What helped:  Knowing about the Surgeon General’s website. I presented this information to nursing students for many years.

What didn’t help:  nothing really.

TO- DO:  Review family health and medical information collected to date.  Use more diverse sources of information.  Record individual health and medical information on research logs.

SOURCES:

[1] Surgeon General’s Family Health History Initiative website,  URL:  https://www.hhs.gov/programs/prevention-and-wellness/family-health-history/about-family-health-history/index.html

[2] J. B. Stephens, Compiler, History and Directory of Newton and Ransom Townships, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania (Montrose, Pennsylvania: J.B. Stephens, 1912), p. 86; digital images, Pennsylvania State University Libraries Digital Library Collections, (http://collection1.libraries.psu.edu/cdm4 : accessed, viewed, downloaded 2 July 2010; Nathaniel Richards family – 3 wives and their children.

[3] Blank copies of Census forms available from National Archives and Records Administration:  https://www.archives.gov/research/genealogy/charts-forms

[4] See note number 3.

[5] See note number 3.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots, 2018

What’s in your family pedigree?

October is National Family History Month.  Colorful fallen leaves are among the month’s  symbols.  Have some leaves fallen from your tree?  Is your tree almost bare? For about 18 months now, I have been sharing family stories and my journey towards becoming a more efficient and effective genealogist.  This month is no different.  Today, I reflect on the use of pedigree charts as a genealogy tool to fill in branches and add leaves.

family tree design fall leaves

Accessed 8 October 2018 from:  https://www.kissclipart.com/simple-family-tree-design-clipart-family-tree-gene-br7aw8/

Start small and stay focused.  Work on one family and one generation at a time.  If you feel like you are going too far out on a limb, scoot back and try another branch.  Your tree doesn’t have to be large or old. I have 5-8 generations and  200-300 people per tree (Dad, Mom, Dad-in-law, Mom-in-law). I have large and small branches. Some branches have many leaves, some have only a few.

Compare a pedigree chart to a sapling.  The  trunk is still small with a few branches and leaves. My initial pedigree charts showed 3-4 generations (branches)  with many incomplete details (leaves).  Over time, I added information on these charts.  I use a pencil  and question marks extensively until I can prove facts.  I am still learning to be very careful with research.  As a start, become familiar with the concepts behind pedigree charts.

Basically, a pedigree chart shows a person’s parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and, sometimes, more generations.  One of the easiest formats is 3-4 generations designed for printing on standard 8 ½ x 11 inch paper. Limiting the number of generations on the page means that basic vital information (birth, death, marriage) can be included and easily read when printed.  You are number 1 on the chart, or anyone else of interest in your family tree.  As you expand the number of generations, start new charts as needed.

You may want to start with a blank printed chart and fill it in by hand.  Those who advocate doing everything on the computer, please don’t choke!  Freely use pencil or question marks as needed.

Since recent posts focused on mom’s family, here is copy of  mom’s pedigree chart from RootsMagic, the genealogy software program that I use. Look for this feature in your program.  When first opened, online family tree databases usually show this standard type of pedigree chart.  Options may include flipping the chart so the home person (a.k.a. Person number 1) is at the top or bottom of the page.  The option chosen depends on what you are trying to show.

tucker_pedigree2

Traditional pedigree charts start on the left side of the page (person number 1). However, person number 1 can be on the right, top or bottom of the page. I have seen charts that start at the top of the page then list children across the page. Choose a format that best fits the message.

Kristen Williams, self proclaimed Genealogy Addict,  presents easy to follow directions in her  May 2016 blog post, “How do I get started?”  

Want a basic 4-generation pedigree chart?  Try this one from National Archives and Records Administration:  4 generation pedigree chart

Here is another form of the standard pedigree chart:   Grandma’s 6 generation box chart

In my first genealogy class, we received large 24 inches x 24 inches foldable 6-generation pedigree charts.  This chart is unique because it has room to list the children of the first 4 generations. I haven’t found a comparable pedigree chart online. If anyone knows of a source, please comment!

There are other types of pedigree charts, including fan and bowtie charts. These formats provide  different ways to view your ancestors.  Printable and fillable forms are readily available online.

FAN chart

This chart looks like a folded out fan. Color coded fan charts can be impressive. As with other pedigree charts, you can easily add more generations.

Ancestor Fan of Daniel Richard Posten_ver4

Fan chart, ancestors of Daniel Richard Posten, my dad.

One genealogist offers a different view of fan charts in his blog post of 16 April 2013.   James Tanner cautions about using any type of pedigree chart. Specifically, he discusses  “ unspoken inference that the information you find to create your fan chart is correct. “  His caution about pedigree charts applies to all of us who publish information about our families.

Bowtie chart  

This expanded fan chart looks like, well,  a bowtie.  The person of interest (Person number 1 on other charts) is in the middle.  Person number 1’s parents are on the left and right of the center circle. Also described as two connected fans.

Tucker_bowtie Pedigree

Bowtie chart, ancestors of Eunice Bertha Tucker, my mom. I did not add birth, death, marriage information here. Some templates show space for that information.

Similar to the bowtie chart is an hour-glass chart. In this chart, person number 1 is in the middle with parents above and below.

These are only three of the many choices for showing your family pedigree.  On your web browser, type in ‘family pedigree chart’ for many images and forms.

For Family History Month,  pick out a pedigree chart format and fill it out as much as you can. Try at least one of the other formats.

Websites:  Pedigree charts and other family history forms

https://www.focusedfamilyresearch.com/free-genealogy-charts.html   Accessed 7 October 2018.   Free genealogy charts,  no publication date. Author:  Paul Hoesl.

https://www.familytreemagazine.com/freebie/fivegenerationancestorchart/      Free downloadable chart.   Accessed 7 October 2018.

https://www.thoughtco.com/filling-out-genealogical-forms-1421955    Accessed 7 October 2018.   Updated 3 August 2018. Author:  Kimberly Powell

https://www.thoughtco.com/free-family-tree-charts-4122824   Accessed 7 October 2018. Author: Kimberly Powell.  Updated 30 May 2018

Need more ideas for Family History Month?  Here are two websites with suggestions.

Kimberly Powell, ThoughtCo.  Ways to celebrate family history month. 

Family History month for non-genealogists”, blog post, 4 October 2013,  by Laura Hedgecock, Treasure Chest of Memories blog.

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REFLECTION

I am taking a short break from record clean-up for my Genealogy Do-Over. In some respects, I continually celebrate “Family History Month”.  I found suggestions for doing more than just recording birth, death, and marriage information.  I like the idea of different pedigree formats.  I respect Mr. Tanner’s practice of not using fan charts and agree with his caution about continuing to publish information that may not be correct. 

What I learned:  some of the ‘fillable’ online pedigree forms require purchase of additional software. Formats and amount of information vary widely.  Format of choice may depend on how readable you want all of the information to be. Some genealogical software programs offer more than one type of printable pedigree chart. 

What helped:  Software program that prints traditional format pedigree with options for number of generations and information.  I learned how to fill in and use pedigree charts in my first genealogy class, taken about 30 years ago.  GULP!  Has it really been that long ago???

What didn’t help: At least one online genealogy database does not offer user-friendly, printable pedigrees.  I didn’t try to print pedigrees from other online genealogy databases. 

To-do:  Continue trying to locate company that makes large scale, foldable pedigree format that includes names of children. Create own form, based on the original one that I have. 

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2018

Evaluating sources: Pre-1850 census records

“I finally found a census record for my ancestor! At least, I think it’s for my ancestor!”  As a genealogist, you know the feeling, especially when the census record is from 1840 or earlier. The name looks right with only a slight spelling variation. Location, at least the county, is consistent with other records. But, is this really your ancestor’s family?

1840 U.S. Census_Baker Co_GA_Wm Bailey I_Wm Bailey II

Image of 1840 U.S. Census, Baker county, Georgia, page 35

In this blog post, I briefly describe content of United States census records from 1790 to the present. Next, I present two tools for evaluating information found in pre-1850 census records. Examples are from my own family tree.

For your files, download blank copies of federal census forms from National Archives, Resources for Genealogists, Charts and Forms:  NARA Charts and Forms

Brief history of U.S. census records

To recap, information found on the federal decennial United States Census varies. From 1790 to 1840, censuses listed only heads of household. In 1790, enumerators requested name of the head of household then the number of persons in each of five gender and age categories:

  • Free White males aged:
    • under 16 years
    • of 16 years and upward
  • Free White females
  • Other free persons
  • Slaves

The complexity of census questionnaires increased until more than 50 categories appeared in 1840. [1]

Beginning in 1850, separate schedules listed free persons and slaves.  Schedule 1, Free Inhabitants, listed each person in the household. Instructions to enumerators stated [2] :

The names are to be written, beginning with the father and mother; or if either, or both, be dead, begin with some other ostensible head of the family; to be followed, as far as practicable, with the name of the oldest child residing at home, then the next oldest, and so on to the youngest, then the other inmates, lodgers and borders, laborers, domestics, and servants.

The person/s listed after the head of household (HOH) may or may not be related to the HOH. In many cases, you can presume that younger persons are children of older persons. Seek other sources to prove the relationships.

For those with Native American and/or slave ancestors in 1850, the census is not complete.  “Indians” (a.k.a. Native Americans) who were not taxed were not counted at all.  A separate schedule (Schedule 2) recorded slave inhabitants by gender and age under their owner’s name.  The Census Mate format (discussed later in this blog) may help.

Beginning in 1880, enumerators listed the relationship of each person to the head of household. Current practice involves a mailed census form to be completed and returned.  Some households are then chosen randomly to complete more detailed questionnaires.

Evaluating and deciphering information in the pre-1850 census records

Tool #1:  Four-step research strategy

Source: Barry J. Ewell, “Four-step research strategy for pre-1850 U.S. Federal Census,” Genealogy by Barry, 13 February 2016 (http://genealogybybarry.com/genealogy-four-step-research-strategy-for-pre-1850-u-s-federal-census/  :  accessed 23 September 2018).

This strategy is useful if you have, at minimum, an 1850 census record.

The steps are:

  1. Create a family profile using from 1850 census.
  2. Subtract 10 years from each person’s age.
  3. Apply the 1840 race/sex/ age category combination to each person.
  4. Build a household search for the household in the 1840 census.
  5. Repeat steps 1-4 for each census year from 1830 to 1790.

The created household search criteria are then used to search online databases. I applied this strategy to a family from my extended tree:

Step 1:  1850 census, William Bialey [Bailey].[3]

  • Bialy, William              W M    age 75     Birthplace: NC
  • Bialy, Siety                    W F     age 65     Birthplace: NC
  • Bialy, Winny                 W F    age 22      Birthplace: Wilkinson co, GA
  • Bialy, Benjamin            W M   age 20     Birthplace: Wilkinson co, GA
  • Bialy, Nancy                 W F    age 17     Birthplace: Wilkinson co, GA

Given ages of William and Siety, the younger persons are probably their youngest children but could also be grandchildren.

Steps 2 & 3:   1840, gender/ age categories  would be:

  • William           age 65            M, age 60-70
  • Siety                age 55             Fe, age 50-60
  • Winny              age 12            Fe, age 10-15
  • Benjamin         age 10            M, age 10-15
  • Nancy              age   7             Fe, age 5-9

Step 4:  Household search, 1840 census, Baker county, Georgia. Found three entries for William or Wm Bailey. Only one record listed a male, age 60-70 and a female, age 50-60. [4] Total of 9 younger persons: 2 males 10-14 (Benjamin +1) ; 1 male 15-19; 3 males 20-29; 1 female 5-9 (Nancy); 2 females 10-14 (Winny + 1)

Gender and age categories fit categories determined in Step 3. As expected, more children were living with William and Siety in 1840.  Continue with 1830 census. Identify names of other children and approximate birthdates from other records.  Add these children to current record as discovered. See example:    Wm Bailey 1840 census with names

Helpful hints:   gg62755812Mr. Ewell presents more helpful census tips in a January 17, 2018, post, “190 Genealogy Articles to help you search the US Census.”   http://genealogybybarry.com/category/3-genealogy-rsh/census-rsh/

ADDENDUM: After locating a census record that appears to fit your family, continue by writing  names, ages, and other information on the printed record.  Add names and ages gleaned from other records. Use colored ink or pen to identify questions such as “Unknown daughter, born 1820-1825.” Here is another example with unknowns and  questions added: 1810 Census example 2_John_Creager

Tool #2:  CensusMate Worksheet

What if you don’t have an 1850 census for the family?  Are you trying to narrow down birth years and you only have pre-1850 census records? CensusMate worksheet may be your answer.

Developed by John L. Haynes, this pre-formatted Excel spreadsheet uses a “timeline format to find ages, names, and birthdates from 1790 -1850 Census Data.” [5]  Add the numbers for each category in the designated spaces, males first, then females. Don’t leave blanks; add a zero if there are no persons in a specific category.  There is space to add names and other information although the space is limited.

This example is from my dad’s family tree.  Is Richard Postens father of my great-great-great grandfather, Thomas Postens who was born in 1782? I entered gender/age category numbers from 1800, 1810, and 1820 census records. I added names and estimated birth years for two males who could be Richard’s sons. At age 28, Thomas could have married by 1810. Conclusion: Richard Postens could be Thomas’ father. More proof is needed. Richard also had several daughters. ‘D1’ was born between 1775 and 1784. This information narrows search parameters.

CensusMate example2_Richard Postens

These relationships are still speculative.

SUMMARY:

In this blog post, I presented two ways to evaluate pre-1850 census records. If you use or have developed other tools, please share in Comments section or email me. I will gladly report in another post.

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REFLECTION:

Pre-1850 census records are interpretive challenges for genealogists.  I began planning this post several months ago and really thought that I would find more tools. Maybe I just didn’t look far enough?

What I learned:  Barry Elwell’s method. I do something similar but not in the systematic manner that he outlined.

What helped:  Finding CensusMate tool about 4 years ago and using it occasionally. Online databases.

What didn’t help: Procrastination.  Multiple revisions, trying to keep post to less than 1500 words. Goal achieved:  1300  words + 10.

TO-DO:  Continue searching for tools/ methods for analysis of pre-1850 census records.  Apply newly discovered methods to my own research. Report as needed in future blog post.

SOURCES:

[1]U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, “History: Through the Decades: Index of Questions: 1840,” (https://www.census.gov/history/www/through_the_decades/index_of_questions/1840_1.html  : access 22 September 2018).

[2] U.S. Census Bureau, Measuring America: The Decennial Censuses from 1790 to 2000 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Commerce, 2002); image copy, Census.gov ((https://www.census.gov/library/publications/2002/dec/pol_02-ma.html  : downloaded and printed, 23 September 2018), page 10.

[3] 1850 U.S. Federal Census, Baker county, Georgia, population schedule, , p. 48A (stamped), dwelling 117, family 117, William Bialy [Bailey]; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed 23 September 2018); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M432_61.

[4] 1840 U.S. Federal Census, Baker county, Georgia, population schedule, Newton, p. 35, line 11, Wm Bailey; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed 23 September 2018); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication M704, Roll 37.

[5] John L. Haynes, CensusMate: Worksheet for Genealogy and Family History, (http://www.censusmate.com/   accessed 23 September 2018).

Kate, Stephen, and Aunt Viola’s family history

My ongoing quest is to confirm information provided by maternal great-aunt Viola Maurer Tucker via a handwritten 8-page genealogy.[1]  Her manuscript created the foundation for research about my mother’s family. I can confirm much of what she wrote. Surname misspellings are common but not unexpected.  Viola was in her late 60s when she wrote this document.  I believe that she recorded what she remembered.  My job now is to confirm and add to this family history.  Using processes outlined in Genealogy Do-Over, I am about  halfway done with the Tucker-Maurer family.  When completed, I will post Viola’s original document with my additions.  Here is a report of my latest findings.

According to Viola’s history (page 3):

Katherine (Kate) married Steven Scheffle.  They had 5 children:   Steven, Gertrude, Agnes, Edward, & Charles.

Viola did not report any other information about Kate and Steven or their children. I began with census records which then led to birth, marriage, and death records. Eventually, I remembered to search for obituaries.  Kate’s obituary named four surviving children and answered an important question:  Did her daughters marry or not?  Viola almost got it right – Stephen and Kate had 6 children, not 5.

Katherine Anna Maurer, 3rd child and oldest daughter of German immigrants Valentin Maurer and Anna Katharina Korzelius, is sister of my maternal great-grandfather, Herman Maurer.  Valentine and Anna initially settled in New Jersey, the birthplace of Katherine’s older brothers, Valentin and Hermann[2] . By 1866 (the year of Katherine’s birth), the family had moved to Brooklyn, New York, the birthplace of Katherine, her younger brothers Joseph and Edward, and her sister, Rosina. The year 1880 finds 14-year-old Kattie working as a box maker. [3]  Earning pennies, her wages helped to make the family’s existence a little easier.

Katie’s future husband, Stephen L. Scheffel (note the surname spelling variation from Viola’s report)  and his German immigrant parents also lived in Brooklyn. The couple may have met at church. Katie and Stephen, both in their early 20s,  married about 1889.[4] They brought up their children in the Roman Catholic church.

Maurer_Katherine_Stephen_ScheffeL_wedding_from BRozier

Photograph labelled as Katherine Maurer & Stephen Scheffel wedding. Privately held by Susan Posten Ellerbee [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE}, Yukon, Oklahoma, 208. Photographs originally held by Mercedes V. Tucker Bunce, Ms. Ellerbee’s aunt, and sent electronically to Ms. Ellerbee by Barbara Bunce Rosier, daughter of Mercedes. V. Tucker and Mahlon Bunce, May 2018.

The babies came frequently:  Stephen J in March 1890, Gertrude in April 1892, Agnes in June 1893, Edward in December 1894, Charles Henry in April 1896 and William Valentine in December 1898. June 1900 finds the family living in Brooklyn, Kings county, New York. [5] The census taker recorded that Kate was the mother of 6 children with 6 children living. An amazing feat considering infant and child mortality rates of the era.[6]  Katie not only survived the births of 6 children in 10 years but also kept all 6 of those children alive. This adds one more child, William, to Viola’s list. More challenges faced Katie.

Katie’s husband, Stephen L. Scheffel, died a year or two later. One witness to Stephen’s will, written in 1901, was Joseph Maurer, Katie’s brother.[7]  The probate case file, dated 1903, does not record the date of Stephen’s death.  I haven’t found a death record but suspect that Stephen probably died in 1902 or early 1903. Given that he wrote a will in 1901, he probably expected to die soon.  Thirty-six year old Katie now found herself a widow with six children under the age of 13. The better life promised to her immigrant parents must have seemed out of reach.

The children assisted as much as they could. By 1910, four of Katie’s children held jobs. [8] Stephen J, age 20, worked as a magazine agent. Gertrude and Agnes held positions as bookkeepers. Edward was an office boy in a business house. Stephen, the oldest, was also the first to marry. He married Marion H. Schick, daughter of German immigrants, in 1916.[9] The year 1920 held slightly more promise for the family.  Katie’s other 5 children still lived with their mother. [10]

During the next decade, Katie’s children gradually left home.   Agnes married James H. Callahan, a lawyer, in 1927. [11].  Edward married Margaret Gross in 1926 [12]and had a daughter, Alice Marie in 1928. [13] William married about 1929 to Madeline.

Katie was now grandmother to 5 grandchildren, four children born to Stephen & Marion and one daughter born to Edward. These may be her only grandchildren.

The 1930s brought financial ruin to many. Unemployment skyrocketed. How were Katie and her children affected? Their financial circumstances probably became even more difficult. Personal tragedies would also mark this decade. By 1930, Stephen and his wife, Marion had separated. Stephen and his 2 sons moved in with Katie. [14]  Marion and their 2 daughters moved to Orangetown, New York, where she worked as a live-in housekeeper. [15]  What caused this split? Money? Other issues?

In May 1931, Edward died, leaving his wife and daughter.[16] I found a September 1932 death record for Stephen J. Scheffel in San Diego, California.[17] Had he followed others in search of work? In 1936, Stephen’s wife, Marion, married Frank Kuhn, the man for whom she worked as housekeeper in 1930. [18] Where were Gertrude and Charles in 1930? That remains a mystery.

By 1940 and still living in Brooklyn, Katie’s son, Charles,  cared for his aging mother.[19] Katie experienced the difficulties of being an immigrant’s daughter in the 1870s and 1880s.  She saw the nation at war. At least two sons, Edward and Charles, fought in World War I.  She lived through the Roaring 20s and the Great Depression.  She buried her husband and two of her six children. Katie would not experience another war. Katherine Anna Maurer Scheffel, 75 years old, died 4 December 1941, [20] on the eve of World War II.  She was buried two days later in St. John’s Cemetery in Brooklyn.

Maurer_Katherine_mScheffel_obit_1941_crop

Obituary for Katherine A. Scheffel, printed in Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York) on 4 December 1941, page 15, column 4, under ‘Deaths’. Accessed from Newspapers.com on 2 September 2018.

What of Katie’s surviving children- Charles, William, Gertrude and Agnes?

  • Charles: SSDI record for Charles H. Scheffel, born 22 April 1896; died 19 March 1957 in Florida. [21]  New York birth record for Charlie Scheffel , son of Stepfan Sheffel and Kathy Anna Maurer implies that this is the same person. [22]
  • William: born 26 December 1898. [23] Died 24 September 1946 in Brooklyn per obituary.[24]
  • Gertrude: born 3 April 1892. [25] Died in February 1973 in Brooklyn per SSDI.[26] Gertrude probably remained single throughout her life.
  • Agnes: SSDI record for Agnes Callahan, born 3 June 1893; died October 1985 in New York. [27].  Corresponds to New York birth record for Agnes Scheffel, daughter of Steffen Louis Scheffel and Katy Anna Maurer Scheffel. [28]

Katie’s life was not glamorous. She did not gain notoriety or extreme wealth. In an era of high maternal and infant mortality, she successfully negotiated the trials of childbirth six times. Similarly, all six of her children grew to adulthood. Did she ever become depressed? Or, am I projecting today’s values on her? Sad? Yes.  I believe that her children’s needs helped to overcome those feelings. Her Roman Catholic faith may also provided strength and solace.

In summary, I used multiple types of records to confirm and add to information reported by great-aunt Viola. Katie’s obituary was a large missing puzzle piece to tell the story of Katie and her children. I began this puzzle in 2016. Now, two years later, only a few small pieces remain to be found.

Attached is a family group sheet for Stephen Scheffel_Katharine Maurer  and their children. A detailed group sheet with sources is available upon request.

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REFLECTION:

I considered various ways to present this information. Katie’s obituary, found recently, gave me the lead I needed to discover Agnes’ marriage. Obituaries can be a rich source of information.  Perhaps a topic for another post?  I continue to find that Viola’s history is an excellent structure with only a few inconsistencies.  I am a perfectionist and want everything to be complete and solid.  I am beginning to accept that I can leave questions unanswered and holes left open.  I try to do the best work that I can with the tools that I have available. And, so, I leave work for future generations.

I used indexes extensively. I may not have financial resources to order all of the original records.  Digital copies of some records may be available at a local Family History Center of the LDS Church. If doing a formal report, the original records should be obtained. The blog turned out longer than I planned. The extensive source list seems almost too much!

What I learned/ relearned:   Look for obituaries earlier in the process.  Ancestry and FamilySearch will not lead me to all records about a person.  A slower data entry process forced me to look at documents more thoroughly.  I sometimes found information that I had previously overlooked.

What helped:  Viola’s history.  Online access to multiple records and indexes.  Creation of research logs for each child. I applied lessons from Genealogy Do-Over. Specifically, during each work session, I saved and labelled digital records, added information to RootsMagic on my computer, and filled in research logs. Although this temporarily slowed forward progress, I won’t have to re-do it later! Finding obituaries for Edward and Charles, even though it was 1 a.m.!

What didn’t help:  Continued temptation to ‘point-click-save’ without thoroughly reviewing information in the document.

To-do list: Continue search for Stephen Scheffel’s death certificate circa 1901-1903. Confirm death dates and locations for Stephen J. Scheffel and Gertrude Scheffel.  Locate Charles and Gertrude in 1930 census.

SOURCES: 

[1] Viola Blanche Maurer Tucker, “Maurer-Tucker Family History,” 8 pages; MS, 1800s to 1980s, Huntington, Suffolk County, New York; privately held by great-niece, Susan Mercedes Posten Ellerbee, [address for private use], Yukon, Oklahoma, 2017.  Carbon copy of original document created ca. 1975-1980 sent to Ms. Ellerbee by her great-aunt.

[2] 1860 U.S. Federal Census, Atlantic county, New Jersey, population schedule, Galloway, p. 291 (penned), dwelling 2238, family 2205, Valentin Maurer age 31 digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, downloaded, printed 31 January 2018); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication M653_682.

[3] 1880 census. 1880 U.S. Census, Kings county, New York, population schedule, Brooklyn, enumeration district (ED) 182, p. 42B(penned), sheet325B, dwelling 161, family 465, Mauiner [Maurer] Kattie, age 14; digital images, Family Search (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:6HS : accessed, printed, downloaded 13 August 2018); citing National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T9, roll 0852.

[4] Marriage year based on birth of oldest child in 1890. “New York, New York City Births, 1846-1909,” database, , Family Search (http://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:CFQ : 11 February 2018 : accessed & printed 30 August 2018), entry for Stephan Scheffel, born 8 March 1890; citing New York Municipal Archives, New York City, New York

[5] 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Kings County, New York, population schedule, Brooklyn Ward 21, enumeration district (ED) 0331, p. 5A (penned), 185 Hopkins St, dwelling 19, family 100, Kate Scheffel age 24; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, printed, downloaded 7 February 2018); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication T623, roll 1058.

[6] In 1900, approximately 165 babies died for every  1000 babies born.  “Infant mortality and life expectancy.” Accessed from PBS (https://www.pbs.org/fmc/timeline/dmortality.htm   : accessed 9 September 2018).

[7]  Kings County, New York, Surrogate’s Court, Probate Case Files, Will and witness documents for Stephen L. Scheffel ca 1901-1903; “New York, Wills and Probate Records, 1659-1999,” digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: viewed, printed, downloaded 20 May 2016); Wills, Vol 0305-0307, 1902-1903. Probate Place: Kings, NY.

[8]  1910 U.S. Federal Census, Kings County, New York, population schedule, Brooklyn Ward 30, enumeration district (ED) 1064, p. 5A (penned), dwelling 69, family 112, Katherine A. Scheffel head; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, downloaded, printed 20 May 2016); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T624_985.

[9]  New York City Clerk’s Office, New York, New York, “New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-1995,” digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed, printed, downloaded 29 August 2018), entry for Stephen J Scheffel; citing 1916 BKLYN S Jan- Apr; License number 2026.

[10] 1920 U.S. Federal Census, Kings County, New York, population schedule, Brooklyn, Assembly District 9, enumeration district (ED) 484, p. 13A (penned), house number 245, Catherine Scheffe [Katharine Scheffel] head; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, printed, downloaded 17 July 2016); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T625_1157.

[11] “New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-1995,” database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 September 2018), entry for Agnes M. Scheffel; citing New York City Municipal Archives, New York City Clerk’s Office, New York, New York; License Number: 9506.

[12] New York Department of Records/ Municipal Archives, “Extracted marriage Index, 1866-1937,” database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed & printed 1 September 2018), entry for Edward Scheffel; citing Index to New York City Marriages, 1866-1937. Indices prepared by the Italian Genealogical Group and the German Genealogy Group..

[13]. 1930 U.S. Census, Kings county, New York, population schedule, Brooklyn, enumeration district (ED) 0881, p. 1B (penned), Edward Scheffil age 35; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed, printed, downloaded 17 July 2016); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T626, roll 1538.

[14] 1930 U.S. Census, Kings County, New York, population schedule, Brooklyn, enumeration district (ED) 1754, p. 13B (penned), dwelling 158, family 596, Kathrine Scheffel; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : downloaded & printed 9 February 2018); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T626, roll 1508.

[15] 1930 U.S. Census, Rockland county, New York, population schedule, Orangetown, enumeration district (ED) 44-27, p. 12 B (penned), dwelling, 236, famiy 249, Marian Scheffel housekeeper, age 34 in household of Frank Kuhn; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, downloaded, printed 29 August 2018); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm T626.

[16] “SHEFFEL, EDWARD,” obituary, The Brooklyn (Brooklyn, New York) Daily Eagle, 4 May 1931; online images, Newspapers.com (http://www.newspapers.com : viewed, downloaded, printed 1 September 2018), Deaths; citing The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. page 17, column 2.

[17] California Department of Health and Welfare “California, Death Index, 1905-1939,” index, online database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed & downloaded 17 July 2016), entry for Stephen J.Scheffel, birth year abt 1890.

[18] New York, New York State Department of Health, “New York State, Marriage Index, 1881-1967,” digital index, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, printed 29 August 2018), Marion H. Scheffel, Frank M. Kuhn, certificate no. 40937.

[19] 1940 U.S. Federal Census, Kings County, New York, population schedule, Brooklyn, enumeration district (ED) 24-1128, p. 4B (penned), household 78, Catherine Scheffel head; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, printed, downloaded 9 February 2018); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T627_2575.

[20] New York, Bureau of Records, Department of Health, Borough of Brooklyn, Certificate of Death no. 23456 (4 December 1941), Katherine A. Scheffel; Muncipal Archives, New York City, New York.

[21] Social Security Administration, “U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007,” database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed & printed 12 July 2016), Charles H. Scheffel, 0891444136.

[22] “New York, New York City Births, 1846-1909,” database, Family Search (http://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1: TT2 11 Feb 2018), Charlie Scheffel, 22 Apr 1896; citing Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, reference cn 6142 New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microflim 1,324,428.

[23] “New York, New York City Births, 1846-1909,” database, Family Search (http://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1: SQD 11 Feb 2018), William Scheffel, 26 Dec 1898; citing Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, reference cn 357 New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microflim 1,984,423.

[24]  “Deaths, Scheffel, William,” obituary, Brooklyn (Brooklyn, New York) Daily Eagle, 25 September 1946; database with images, Newspapers.com (http://www.newspapers.com : accessed & printed 2 September 2018); citing The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, page 15, column 2.

[25] “New York, New York City Births, 1846-1909,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1: X6l: 11 February 2018), Gertrud Scheffel, 03 Apr 1892; citing New York, United States, reference cn 3738 New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1, 324,409.

[26] Social Security Administration, “U.S. Social Security Death Index,” database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed & printed 17 July 2016), Gertrude Scheffel, 147-18-1503, New Jersey (before 1951).

[27] Social Security Administration, “U.S. Social Security Death Index,” database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, printed 5 September 2018), entry for Agnes Callahan, 067-01-6266, New York (before 1951).

[28]  “New York, New York City Births, 1846-1909,” database, , Family Search (http://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:HH3: 11 February 2018 : accessed 13 August 2018), entry for Agnes Scheffel; citing New York Municipal Archives, New York, New York

©© Susan Posten Ellerbee, Posting Family Roots blog, 2018.

Name variations in census records: Maurer & Klee

census checklist Maurer KleeIn my previous post, Herman Maurer & Anna Klee:  Maternal great-grandparents, I stated:  “I am still searching for records related to Herman and Anna’s childhoods, specifically 1870 and 1880 census records.”   After posting the blog, I started a new search.  Results:  two records found — 1880 census for Herman’s parents and 1870 census for Anna’s parents.  Happy dance!  However, the search was frustrating and required more time than I expected. Multiple strategies include name variations and children’s names. Here’s my report.

First, Herman Maurer.

Search attempt record from research log for Valentine Maurer, Herman’s father:

10-13 Aug 2018 Family Search/ Ancestry Collections, BMD, census online, generic Valentin/ Valentine, Maurer, b. Germany, 1825-1830; names of each child After multiple tries (about 3 hours total),  Valentine Mauiner, age 52, Brooklyn, 1880!! Posted to Ancestry tree.

As expected, the family was finally found in Brooklyn, New York,  in 1880 [1].  However, the search involved many road blocks. Previous searches for the family using Ancestry database (at least 4 hours)  had produced no results. Next step involved looking at Brooklyn census page by page.  About 30 wards and townships with hundreds of pages in each ward quickly spoiled that effort! I really appreciate the pre-digital age researchers who spent hours reading those hundreds of pages on microfilm!  I tried using the names of Herman’s siblings (Valentin, Katherine/ Katie, Rosina/ Rosie, Joseph and Edward).  No luck! I tried using asterisk as placer for surname:  Maur*, Mau*, Ma* on Ancestry with similar lack of results.

Go to the next website- Family Search. Begin again and use same search strategies of children’s names and surname variations. Finally, a hit!

1880 U.S. Census_Brooklyn_Kings_NY_Valentine Maurer family_crop

The transcription reads:

Mauiner, Valentine, M W, 52, head, b. Germany.

Annie C, wife, F W 32, b Germany.

Valentine, son, M, 22, b. New Jersey.

Herman, son, M, 20, b. New Jersey.

Kattie, daughter, female, 14, b. New York.

Rosie, daughter, female, 12, b. New York.

Joseph, son, M, age 9, b. New York.

Edward, son, M, 5, b. New York.

Mauiner as surname!  Anna was actually 52 years of age, not 32. That explains why I didn’t find them before now. I tried similar search strategy for 1870 census without success.  The search continues for Valentin and Anna in 1870!

Also of interest is that 14-year-old Kattie Maurer is recorded as a box-maker. She made paper boxes, possibly match boxes, at home and was paid per piece. Her minimal wages supplemented the family’s income.

Onward, to Anna’s parents, Ludwig or Louis Klee and wife, Anna or Katharina. This search finally yielded even more surprising results. I used a similar strategy, beginning with Ancestry database then moving to Family Search database. I typed in Ludwig Klee, Louis Klee, Anna, and Katharina as parents. When no results found, I tried the names of their children – Fritz, Anna, Katherine/ Katharina for 1870 census and added Mollie and Louis for 1880 census. Again, no hits on Ancestry database. Next database searched was Family Search.  Again, I used the same format of surname, parents, and children. Finally, I used the asterisk approach of “Kle*”.  I had almost given up when an 1870 entry showed Anna Kleh, age 25, and Fritz Kleh, age 7.  Male, head of household was recorded as Louis Rleh, age 30.  These names and ages sound familiar!

1870 U.S. Census_Brooklyn_Kings_NY_Louis Klee family_crop

Here’s the transcription [2]:

Louis Rleh [Klee], 30, M W, machinist, value of personal estate $600, place of birth – Prussia, parentage: father of foreign birth- marked; mother of foreign birth – marked.

Anna Kleh [Klee], 25, F W, place of birth New York, father of foreign birth – marked, mother of foreign birth- marked.

 Presumed children:  Fritz, 7, M W, place of birth: New York.

Anna, 6, F W, place of birth: New York.

Katharine, 2, F W, place of birth: New York.

Louis, 1, M W, place of birth: New York.

As with the Maurer family, the transcriber wrote the surname as it looked. The search continues for Louis and Anna in 1880!

gg62755812To help you with similar problems, try these steps:

  • Begin in town from another census. Narrow down location (township, post office, ward, election district) as much as you can.
  • Review other census records. Place of birth recorded for each person may give you a clue.
  • Use name variants found in other records.
  • Use a few letters of name with asterisk to broaden search.
  • Change first names to anyone known to be in household, with name variants same as above.
  • Look in other census sources, online and print.
  • Review possible records page by page.

Expand your research toolbox to include other resources. Here is a partial listing of online resources:

Online family tree databases suggest records through a link to your family tree on their website or another family tree program.  Check your family tree software program for access.

Print resources (partial list):

  • State-specific census indexes. Available at many historical society libraries. Check with your local library and state or county historical societies.
  • Local and county histories. Biographies and other information, such as lists of school board members, will give clues about a person’s residence during the census years.

Happy hunting!

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Reflection:

This post was easy to write and tells of my progress in obtaining census records for Valentine Maurer and Louis Klee.  I wish that I could report 1870 and 1880 census records for both families. Oh, well, subject for another post!

What I learned:  Census databases are not created equal! Don’t limit myself to the most popular websites. Try using known address from one census to find enumeration district for another census.  For Brooklyn, try same ward from another census.

What helped:  Knowledge of search strategies. Being able to narrow residence to city and state. Tracking search attempts and strategies on research logs.

What didn’t help: Number of pages in Brooklyn census. I was too lazy to look through hundreds of pages.

TO-DO: Continue search for Valentine Maurer (1870 census) & Louis Klee (1880 census) families.  Use multiple sources, including print indexes available at Oklahoma History Center library.  Keep detailed record of search attempts, including key words, on research logs.

SOURCES:

[1] 1880 U.S. Census, Kings county, New York, population schedule, Brooklyn, enumeration district (ED) 182, p. 42B(penned), sheet325B, dwelling 161, family 465, Mauiner [Maurer] Valentine, age 52; digital images, Family Search (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:6HS : accessed, printed, downloaded 13 August 2018); citing National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T9, roll 0852.

[2] 1870 U.S. Census, Kings county, New York, population schedule, Brooklyn, Ward 16, p. 78 (penned), dwelling 288, family 762, Louis Rleh [Kleh]; digital images, Family Search (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M8NB-M8X : accessed, printed, downloaded 14 August 2018); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M593.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and “Posting Family Roots” blog, 2018. 

Herman Maurer & Anna Klee, maternal great-grandparents

Herman Maurer (1858-1927).  Anna Klee (1864-1918)

Maurer_Herman_wife Anna Klee_ca unknown

Herman Maurer and Anna Klee. privately held by Susan Posten Ellerbee, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], Yukon, Oklahoma, 2018. Photographs originally held by Esbon Herman Tucker, grandson of Herman and Anna. Photographs given to Ms. Ellerbee by Mary Ann (Tucker) Rogers, daughter of Esbon Herman Tucker, April, 2018.

You probably saw at least one blog post about Herman, Anna or their children. Each post captured a single life event and discussed  genealogical research methods and/or findings.  I am still searching for records related to Herman and Anna’s childhoods, specifically 1870 and 1880 census records. However, I can share information about the life of Herman and Anna as a couple.

Take a trip down memory lane:

30 April 2017: Birth certificate of daughter, Amalie Charlotte Maurer

15 May 2017:  Charlotte Maurer Tucker in Reflections on Mother’s Day, 2017

21 December 2017: Anna’s autograph book

12 April 2018:  Viola Maurer, Herman and Anna’s youngest child

6 June 2018:  Herman and Anna’s ‘missing children’

1 August 2018:  Herman and Anna in 1920 census

Herman Maurer and Anna Klee were first-generation Americans.  Their parents immigrated to the United States in the 1850s. Herman’s father, Valentin Maurer, was from Baden, Germany.  [1]  His mother, Anna Katharina Korzelious (approximate spelling), was also from Germany. [2] Baden lies in the southwest part of Germany, close to an area called Alsace-Lorraine. Alsace-Lorraine alternated between German and French rule throughout its history.  (Note: Mom always said that her Maurer ancestors were from Alsace-Lorraine.)

Map of Germany showing Baden and Prussia from Encyclopedia Brittanica

Source:  https://www.britannica.com/place/Prussia.  Accessed 10 August 2018

Anna’s parents, Ludwig Klee and Anna Wolf, came from Germany, possibly Prussia [3] or Holland[4] .  I haven’t found consistent records to verify either claim.

Herman Maurer, the oldest child of Valentin Maurer and Katharina Korzelious, was born 16 October 1858 in Egg Harbor City, Atlantic county, New Jersey.[5]  Valentin apparently moved his family to Brooklyn, New York, by 1866, where Herman’s sister, Katharine, was born.[6]

Anna Klee was born 25 July 1864 in Brooklyn, Borough of Kings, New York to Ludwig (or Louis) Klee and Anna Wolf.[7]  According to aunt Viola’s history, Anna was one of five children. [8]

Herman, age 25, and Anna, age 19, married on December 31, 1883 in Brooklyn, New York. [9] I have no  family story about how they met.  They may have lived in the same neighborhood or attended the same church. Discovery of 1870 and 1880 census records for the two families may yield that information.

Maurer_Herman_Anna_Klee_MC_for blog

Herman and Anna lived at 169 Hopkins Street in Brooklyn according to various records.  This multi-family dwelling no longer exists.

Hopkins Street

Photo by Percy Sperry. ©Milstein Division, The New York Public Library.  Used with permission.  Photo accessed 26 July 2018 from New York Public Library Digital Collections:   https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47dc-d3dc-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

Children came quickly and often to the couple.  In 1910, Anna reported being the mother of 8 children with 5 still living.[10] Records support or confirm the births of 7 of those children:

  • Edward (born 1885; died 1892)[11]
  • Arthur, born 1887[12]
  • William Charles, born 30 June 1890[13]
  • Amalie Charlotte (born 26 May 1892; my grandmother)[14]
  • Herman Charles (born 22 Aug 1893)[15]
  • Emma Lizzie (born and died 1898)[16] (Note: Found after I posted “Missing Children”).
  • Viola Blanche (born 16 Mar 1907)[17]

I am waiting on a copy of birth certificate for Lillian, born about 1901, and died young.  Anna probably had all of these children at home.  UPDATE  22 Oct 2018:  Received from another Maurer researcher, copy of birth certificate for Lilian Maurer, born 7 Jan 1901; source NY Birth Index.   Parents listed as Henry Maurer and Catherine Schell. Back to the records! 

Maurer children composite

Photos privately held by Susan Posten Ellerbee, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], Yukon, Oklahoma, 2018. Photographs of girls originally held by Esbon Herman Tucker, grandson of Herman and Anna;  given to Ms. Ellerbee by Mary Ann (Tucker) Rogers, daughter of Esbon Herman Tucker, April, 2018. Photographs of Maurer boys originally held by Mercedes Viola Tucker Bunce, granddaughter of Herman and Anna; digital copies sent to Ms. Ellerbee by Barbara (Bunce) Rosier, daughter of Mercedes Viola Tucker Bunce, May 2018.

Herman worked as a mechanic.  About 1903, Herman and Anna moved to Huntington, Suffolk county, New York, on Long Island.  Charlotte and her husband, Esbon Tucker, lived with Herman after their marriage. [18]

Anna died in 1918 and was buried in Evergreen Cemetery, Brooklyn.  [19] Herman continued to live with Charlotte and her family until his death in 1927. [20]

Of Herman and Anna’s five surviving children, only two gave birth to grandchildren.  Charlotte and Esbon had four children. Herman Charles and his 2nd wife, Elizabeth,  had two children.  Mom talked often about having only two cousins on her mother’s side.  The death of her cousin, Herman, in World War II,[21] left her with only one Maurer first cousin.  As I remember, mom knew about her distant cousins but had lost contact with most of them.

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Reflection:

I wish I knew more about Anna’s parents.  Their file holds little information and much of that is contradictory.  I haven’t found 1870 or 1880 census records for either set of parents.  I debated about posting because of this. The search continues.

What I learned:  What little I really know about the Klee family beyond names and a few dates.  I wish that I listened better when Mom was alive and telling the stories!

What helped:  Documents and records already in file. Thanks to cousins,  I now have pictures of Herman and Anna as well as pictures of their young children.

What didn’t help:  Lack of information about Anna’s parents.  As I reviewed documents in my files, I realized that much of the information was contradictory.   I spent several hours searching with minimal results. Today’s BSO is  tomorrow’s  focused search.  I created research logs for Ludwig and Anna but the logs are not complete.

TO-DO:  Renew search for Ludwig Klee and Anna Wolf. Start over with only Viola’s history. Critically analyze each document.  Record each step!!!  Request birth certificates for Arthur, William, Herman and Viola. Request death certificates for Edward, Emma Lizzie, Lillian and their mother, Anna Klee Maurer. This could be very expensive! Explore options to contact other Maurer cousins.

[1] Valentine Maurer, death certificate no. 16339 (1898), New York City Archives, New York City, New York City, New York.

[2] 1860 U.S. Federal Census, Atlantic county, New Jersey, population schedule, Galloway, p. 291 (penned), dwelling 2238, family 2205, Catherine Maurer, age 31, birthplace Germany; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, downloaded, printed 31 January 2018); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication M653_682.

[3] 1910 U.S. Census, Suffolk County, New York, pop. sch., Huntington, enumeration district (ED) 1367, p. 2B (penned), Family #26, Herman Maurer (head); digital images, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed, viewed, downloaded 31 January 2017); National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication T624, roll 1083.

[4] Viola Blanche Maurer Tucker, “Maurer-Tucker Family History,” page 1; MS, 1800s to 1980s, Huntington, Suffolk County, New York; privately held by great-niece, Susan Mercedes Posten Ellerbee, [address for private use], Yukon, Oklahoma, 2017.  Carbon copy of original document created ca. 1975-1980 sent to Ms. Ellerbee by her great-aunt.

[5] Hermann Maurer, death certificate no. 10424 (1927), Department of Health of the City of New York, New York City, New York; copy of original privately held by Susan Posten Ellerbee, [address for private use,] Yukon, Oklahoma, 2018. Copy of original obtained from New York City Municipal Archives, June 2015

[6]New York, Bureau of Records, Department of Health, Borough of Brooklyn, Certificate of Death no. 23456 (4 December 1941), Katherine A. Scheffel; Muncipal Archives, New York City, New York; copy of original privately held by Susan Posten Ellerbee, [address for private use,] Yukon, Oklahoma, 2018. Copy of original obtained from New York City Municipal Archives, July 2016.

[7] Tucker, “Maurer-Tucker Family History,” page  2.

[8] Tucker, “Maurer-Tucker Family History,” pages 2 & 3.

[9] Brooklyn, New York, Certificate of Marriage Brooklyn, no. 3739, Hermann Maurer & Anna Klee, 31 December 1883; New York City Department of Records & Information Services, New York City; copy of original privately held by Susan Posten Ellerbee, [address for private use,] Yukon, Oklahoma, 2018. Copy of original obtained from New York City Municipal Archives, June 2014.

[10] 1910 U.S. Census, Suffolk County, New York, pop. sch., Huntington, ED 1367, p. 2B (penned), Family #26, Herman Maurer (head).

[11] Prepared by Italian Genealogical Group and German Genealogy Group, “New York, New York, Death Index, 1862-1948,” database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed & printed 17 July 2016), entry for Edward Maurer, b abt 1885, died June 1892; citing “New York City deaths, 1862-1948,” New York City Department of Records/ Municipal Archives; Certificate #10178.

[12] “World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” digital image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, downloaded 4 February 2018), entry for Arthur Maurer; citing , United States, Selective Service System. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. M1509, Roll: 1818992; Draft Board: 1.

[13] Find A Grave, database and images (http://www.findagrave.com : viewed & downloaded 1 February 2018), memorial page for William Charles Maurer, Find A Grave Memorial # 2749358, citing Long Island National Cemetery (East Farmingdale, Suffolk, New York), memorial created by Chuck, photograph by Chuck.

[14] New York, New York City Department of Records and Information Services, birth certificate 5947 (28 May 1892), Amalie Charlotte Maurer; Municipal Archives, 31 Chambers Street, New York, N.Y. 10007. Copy of original privately held by Susan Posten Ellerbee, [address for private use,] Yukon, Oklahoma, 2018. Copy of original obtained from New York City Municipal Archives, March 2017.

[15]  “New York, New York City Births, 1846-1909,” database, Family Search (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2W74-MXN: 20 March 2015) : accessed & printed 17 March 2017), entry for Herman Maurer; citing Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, reference certificate no. 11175, New York Municipal Archives, New York.

[16] “New York, New York City Municipal Deaths, 1795-1949,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/2WFS-Q5K : 10 February 2018), Emma Lizzie Maurer, 04 Sep 1898; citing Death, Brooklyn, Kings, New York, United States, New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,324,009.

[17] “New York, New York City Births, 1846-1909,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:61903/1:1:2WCT-7YW: 20 March 2015), Anna Klee Maurer in entry for Blanche V. Maurer, 16 Mar 1907; citing Manhanttan, New York, New York, United States, reference cn 10873 New York Municipal Achives, New York. Event place: Brooklyn, Kings, New York.

[18] 1920 U.S. Census, Suffolk county, New York, population schedule, Huntington, enumeration district (ED) 113, p. 7A (penned), dwelling 136, family 139, Herman Maurer, head, age 60, widower; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed, downloaded, printed 14 March 2017); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. Microfilm publication T625, Roll 1269.

[19]  “New York State Death Index, 1880-1956,” database with images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com :  accessed & downloaded 23 July 2018); entry for Anna Maurer, 1918, 26 Jul, Huntington, pg. 1003; citing “NY State Death Index,” New York Department of Health, Albany, N.Y.’ Certificate number: 45345.

[20] New York City death certificate no 10424 (1927), Hermann Maurer.

[21] For more information about Herman Maurer (1923 – 1944), read my 2017 Memorial Day post. 

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and “Posting Family Roots” blog, 2018.

Perils of ‘Point and click’ genealogy

Are you my grandmother’s parents?

Hint found, online family tree database: George H. Maurer, age 61, born in New York and wife, Anna, age 55, born in New York living in Manhattan, New York, 1920.[1]  Must be my great-grandparents!  My momma told me that her grandparents were Herman and Anna Maurer and that they lived in New York City. Minor detail that husband recorded as “George H.”  His middle name could be Herman! Given name and name person is known within family aren’t always the same!  Another minor detail: George’s parents are recorded as born in New York. According to mom, Herman’s parents were German immigrants to the United States.

George_Anna_branch or tree

This is one example of my experience with genealogy point and click syndrome, a.k.a, ‘shaky leaf syndrome’.  A shaky leaf appears on the online family tree. I read the record in a cursory manner then, ‘point and click’ to attach the record to a person. Or, I saw the record on another person’s online tree. The record fits some information about the person or family, so it must be OK.

The problem?  This George H. and Anna Maurer are not my direct ancestors! How did I find out? Only after I carefully reviewed paper and digital records. The review, prompted by Genealogy Do-Over, presented several clues. Specifically, Herman’s parents were born in Germany. Second, Anna Klee Maurer, died in 1918! Where did I go wrong? How can I prevent this from happening? “It’s simple,” you say. “Question everything!”

Read more about Ancestry hints on Amy Johnson Crow’s  blog :  “The truth about Ancestry’s Hints”. Posted 4 January 2017. 

Not really so simple. Novice genealogists, in particular, can easily catch this syndrome. If not careful, even experienced genealogists occasionally follow a wrong lead based on one or two facts.  Names, dates, locations are close and look right. I am blessed that Great-Aunt Viola wrote a brief family genealogy.[2] I have often referred to that document in the past several months and continue to use it as a base.  What if I didn’t have that document?  How would I know that Herman and Anna, living in Manhattan in 1920, are not my ancestors? The single census record doesn’t divulge that information.

1920 Census_George_Anna_Maurer

!920 U.S. Census, New York City, New York. George H. Maurer and wife, Anna Maurer.

So, it’s back to the basics. My solution:  Search for a census record closest to the year and location of another known event that you can confirm.  The record may or may not include Herman or Anna. Analyze every piece of information on the record.  Repeat with other records, moving forward or backward in time. During the process, you may circle back to where you started.  But, you could also end at a different place. This seems almost too logical but I believe that we sometimes bypass this guideline in the quest for an older ancestor or event.

Here’s my case study. What if  I had few documents and only this basic information. For the moment, forget previous posts about this family.

  • Mother, Eunice Tucker, born 1919 in Huntington, Suffolk county, New York to Esbon J. Tucker and Charlotte Maurer.
  • Mom lived in Huntington until her marriage to Dad.
  • Grandmother (Mom’s mother), a.k.a. Gram, k.a. Lottie, was born in New York City, possibly Brooklyn, to Herman and Anna (Klee) Maurer.
  • Viola, a.k.a. Aunt Olie, Gram’s sister, lived with Esbon and Lottie.
  • Grandfather (Mom’s father), a.k.a. Pop, born in Greenville, New York to William F. Tucker and Bertha Traver. I remember Pop saying that he was from upstate New York.
  • We often visited Gram and Pop in Huntington.
UpstateFun fact:   What is the definition of ‘upstate New York’?    For some, upstate is all areas of New York except New York City and Long Island. Others consider west of the Hudson River as ‘upstate’ or name specific counties as being ‘downstate’.  Join the conversation on twitter:  https://twitter.com/hashtag/whereisupstate

The 1920 census for Huntington, Suffolk county, New York, seems like the logical choice. Search criteria:  Esbon Tucker, Lottie Tucker,  Eunice Tucker (mom).  An online database quickly displays the record  IF the handwriting is clear and  IF the names are transcribed accurately.  If not,  inspect the record images page by page until you find an entry that looks like it ‘could be’ the right person or family.  I missed my mother and her parents the first time that I looked.

1920 U.S. Census_Herman Maurer_Huntington

1920 U.S. Census, Huntington, Suffolk county, New York. Page 7A.

Transcription for dwelling # 130, family 139, 1st Ave, Huntington, New York, reads: [3]

  • Herman Merured, head, age 60, head, M, W, wd [widower], b. New Jersey, father b. Germany, mother b. Germany
  • Viola Merured , daughter, age 13, f, w,  single, b. NY, father b. New Jersey, mother b. New York
  • Esmond  Tucker, son-in-law, age 28, married, b. NY, mother b. New York, father b. New York.
  • Charlotte Tucker, daughter, age 28, daughter, married, b. New York
  • Esmond Tucker, grandson,age  2 6/12, single, b. New York
  • Eugenies  Tucker, age 8/12, single, b. New York

Next, evaluate each data point separately.  Start with a person whose information is clearer and/or closest to a known fact. For me, the names of Herman, Viola and Charlotte stood out.

  1. Herman Merured, head of household, age 60, ‘wd’ which means ‘widow’ or ‘widower’. “Merured” could be “Maurer”. His wife died before 1920.
  2. Viola Merured – daughter. Viola, Gram’s sister, lived with Gram and Pop.
  3. Charlotte Tucker, daughter. One name transcribed correctly!

Judge the other entries:

  1. Esmond Tucker – son-in-law. First name close to Pop’s given name of Esbon. Surname transcribed correctly! Inferred husband of Charlotte.
  2. Esmond Tucker – mom’s older brother, Esbon; spelling is close. Age of 2 6/12 suggests date of birth about July 1917. (Note: Esbon’s date of birth is 30 April 1918 on his birth certificate).
  3. Eugenies Tucker – close to Mom’s given name of Eunice Tucker. Age 8/12. Inconsistent with Mom’s birthdate of 31 August 1919 and only 5 months old in January 1920. Possible transcription error or census taker error?

Is this record close to known information? Yes, but only because I know about mom’s family. Another researcher, less familiar with our family, might say ‘no’ or ‘maybe’. This census record suggests that Herman’s wife, Anna, died before 1920.  Tying the pieces together, I  now state that Herman and Anna Maurer, living in Manhattan in 1920, are certainly not my ancestors. Next question: When did Anna die?

Be sure to document search attempts and findings on a research log.  State why information is consistent or inconsistent with other information. For questionable information,  I use a red pen and question marks on handwritten notes and highlights or colors on digital notes.  Any source may have multiple types of information.  You will save time and effort later.  This will save time and effort later.

TO-DO LIST:  Search for Herman and Anna in previous census, such as 1915 New York State Census. If Herman again listed as ‘wd’,  locate 1910 U.S. Federal Census. Continue searching earlier census records as needed to narrow range of possible death years for Anna.

Found:  1915 New York State Census record for Herman and Anna.

Fortunately, the census taker for this part of the 1915 New York State Census wrote more clearly. This facilitated ready identification and display of the transcription for this family:   [4]

1915_NY State Census_Herman_Anna_crop1.jpg

1915 New York State Census, Huntington, Suffolk County, New York, Herman Maurer, part of page 47.

1915 census Herman final

Herman, Anna and their children were in Huntington in June 1915. Since Herman was listed as ‘wd’ (widower) on 1920 census  Anna’s death date narrows to between June 1915 and January 1920.

Another search of my paper files yielded an almost forgotten item from an online message board, an obituary for Anna Maurer.[5]  I verified the message board entry by locating a transcription of the obituary from another source.[6]  The obituary reads:

“Brooklyn Standard Union, July 28, 1918. Anna Maurer. Funeral services for Anna Maurer, who died on Thursday at her home in Huntington, where she had been a resident for fifteen years, will be held tomorrow at 10 A.M. at the funeral chapel of Mrs. George Ehlenberger, 295 Wyckoff Avenue, near Linden Street. Mrs. Maurer was born in Brooklyn fifty-four years ago and is survived by her husband, Herman Jr, and two daughters, Viola and Mrs. Mattoe Pucker. Interment at Evergreen Cemetery.”

“Mrs Mattoe Pucker”? I don’t have a copy of the original printed obituary to see if this is a print or transcription error. Names of Herman and Viola are consistent with other records.

Finally, I discovered a death record for Anna Maurer in Klee_Anna_mMaurer_death index_1918_crop21918, Huntington:  [7]

The New York Department of Health reports an 8-9 month wait to obtain a death certificate for genealogical use.

FYI: Yes, I marked George H. and Anna Maurer census record as ‘negative evidence’ and ‘not my ancestors’.

Addendum: Anna Maurer from 1920 census found?

As I checked databases and sources for this post, I found two records for another Anna Maurer,  who could be the same Anna Maurer who lived in Manhattan in 1920.  Hopefully, someone reading this post will recognize her as their ancestor.

1940 Census[8]: Anna Maurer, age 76.  Estimated birth year 1864.  Female, White, birthplace New York. Inmate, Wards Island, Manhattan State Hospital, New York City, New York.

New York, Extracted Death Index[9]:  Anna Maurer, age 77, birth year abt 1864, death date: 1 March 1941; death place: Manhattan, New York, USA.

Are the two Maurer families related?  Maybe.

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REFLECTION:

I recognize my error now and am being more cautious. I document searches and results on more regular basis. I realize how easy it is to confuse persons with similar names, birth years, birth dates, and residences. I could have easily marked Anna Maurer, who died in 1941, as my great-grandmother.  My mother died in 2007 so I cannot ask her. Mom’s brothers and sister are also dead. A cousin knows some of the family history.  Get the information from your oldest relatives as soon as you can!

When I began collecting and analyzing records, I didn’t follow any logical process outlined here. I have become more systematic in my approach. I document more often and more thoroughly.

I sometimes get discouraged. I keep finding gaps and missed information. I remind myself about the purpose of the Genealogy Do-Over:  to improve genealogy research skills, including data management. As a result, I view items and information differently. I am more skeptical and keep better notes. I ‘point and click’ less often and take notes/ make comments more often.

What I learned:  Carefully check and re-check information. In the 1915 census, my grand-uncle, William Charles Maurer,  listed his occupation as registered nurse. I have been a registered nurse for 45 years. Even now, only about 10% of nurses are male. There is a story to be discovered and told!

What helped:  Documentation of previous searches and records found. Organization of paper and digital files begun last year.

What didn’t help: Incomplete transcription (by me) of data in records. I didn’t actively search for and find the death index record for Anna Maurer until this month.

TO- DO:  Order Anna Klee Maurer’s death certificate – one of 6 on my list!  Transcribe all data found in a record, even if the information isn’t relevant to the current question. Review Genealogy Do-Over Months 1 and 2.  Take a breath!

Sources:

[1] 1920 U.S. Census, New York, New York, population schedule, Manhattan Assembly District 13, enumeration district (E.D. 965), page 21B (penned), dwelling 2469, family 490, entry for George H. Maurer, 55; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed, downloaded 26 Jan 2014); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. Microfilm publication T625, Roll 1209.

[2] Viola Blanche Maurer Tucker, “Maurer-Tucker Family History,” [Page]; MS, 1800s to 1980s, Huntington, Suffolk County, New York; privately held by great-niece, Susan Mercedes Posten Ellerbee, [address for private use], Yukon, Oklahoma, 2017.  Carbon copy of original document created ca. 1975-1980 sent to Ms. Ellerbee by her great-aunt.

[3] 1920 U.S. Census, Suffolk county, New York, population schedule, Huntington, enumeration district (ED) 113, p. 7A (penned), dwelling 136, family 139, Eugenies [Eunice] Tucker; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed, downloaded, printed 14 March 2017); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. Microfilm publication T625, Roll 1269. Census date:  22nd & 29th January 1920.

[4] 1915 New York State Census, Suffolk county, New York, population schedule, Huntington, , pg. 47, Hermon Maurer age 55; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, printed, downloaded 10 January 2017); citing New York State Archives, Albany, New York..

[5] Cyber Angel, “Anna b Bklyn d Huntington NY 1918 hus Herman,” Maurer Family Genealogy Forum, message board listing, posted 8 February 2002; (http://genforum.genealogy,com/cgi-bi/pageload.cgi?Herman, Maurer: :maurer:::836.html  : accessed 9 June 2007).   “Anna Maurer”, obituary, Brooklyn Genealogy Information Page, Newspapers, Brooklyn (Daily) Standard Union, 1918 Deaths. . l July 11th-30th (http://bklyn-genealogy-info.stevemorse.org/Newspaper/BSU/1918.2b.html  :  accessed 18 July 2018).

[6] “Anna Maurer”, obituary, Brooklyn Genealogy Information Page, Newspapers, Brooklyn (Daily) Standard Union, 1918 Deaths. .  July 11th-30th (http://bklyn-genealogy-info.stevemorse.org/Newspaper/BSU/1918.2b.html  :  accessed 18 July 2018).

[7] “New York State Death Index, 1880-1956,” database with images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com :  accessed & downloaded 23 July 2018); entry for Anna Maurer, 1918, 26 Jul, Huntington, pg. 1003; citing “NY State Death Index,” New York Department of Health, Albany, N.Y.’ Certificate number: 45345.

[8] 1940 U.S. Census, New York, New York, population schedule, Manhattan, enumeration district 1649, sheet 30B, Ward’s Island, Anna Maurer; imaged at Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 26 July 2018); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication T0627-02663.

[9] “New York, New York, Extracted Death Index, 1862-1948,” database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 26 July 2018); entry for Anna Maurer, death 1 March 1941, certificate #5345; citing “Index to New York City Deaths 1862-1948,” Indices prepared by the Italian Genealogical Group and the German Genealogy Group, and used with permission of the New York City Department of Records/Municipal Archives.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and “Posting Family Roots” blog, 2018.