Finding (or not)  a Revolutionary War Patriot ancestor. Part 2.  The case of Sarah Ostrander’s father, Thomas

clipart-of-revolutionary-war-soldiers.med“You’re descended from a Revolutionary War soldier.”  Many can prove a direct line back to such a person. For others, like myself, the family story stalls out. In the previous post, Part 1: Oral traditions and the case of Jacob Postens, I described our family’s oral history of direct lineage to Jacob Postens, a Revolutionary War soldier. Evidence does not support that claim. In the current post, I relate my discovery of Thomas Ostrander, my great-great- great grandfather. In this second of the two-part series, I recall some information seen in previous posts. In both stories, I describe sources beyond the census records.

Family Traditions:

To review, I received a typewritten genealogy from a cousin in the early 1990s. Ruby Posten Gardiner, my grandfather’s niece, gave the information to a cousin who forwarded it to me.  [1]

typed Posten lineage

Copy of typewritten genealogy from Cousin Ruby

I traced Dad’s family from John R. Posten (Dad’s father) to Thomas Postens. That’s where the paper trail stopped. Now what? To become a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution (D.A.R.), I have to prove a direct ancestral line from me to a Revolutionary War soldier or someone who supported the American cause. A D.A.R. member suggested that I look at the wives of my known male ancestors.

Female ancestors in Dad’s family

During the next three months, I searched the women’s ancestors and crossed names off. Minimal or no records beyond the early 1800s was a common reason.  The D.A.R. database includes multiple patriots with the Shotwell surname but none of the information fit for my line.  July 2018_part2_pedigree_cross off001 I then turned to Jennie Richards Posten, Dad’s mother.

Sarah Ostrander Richards

Jennie’s parents were Ostrander Richards and Amelia Magdellene LaCoe. [2] Amelia’s grandfather, Anthony Desire LaCoe (Antoine Desirée Lecoq), immigrated to the United States in 1792 from France.  [3] That left only the parents of Ostrander Richards. Ostrander’s death certificate revealed his parents as Nathaniel Richards and Sarah Ostrander. [4] A county history, published in 1912,[5] revealed more:

“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.” (p. 86)

Key items include:

  1. Sarah’s title of “Miss” suggests this is her first marriage.
  2. Sarah’s date of birth (June 20, 1801).
  3. Sarah’s date of death (March 27, 1836), approximately one week after giving birth, suggests that she died from complications associated with childbirth.

Ostrander’s death certificate records his date of birth as February 28, 1836.  Reasons for the discrepancy between the county history and his death certificate are unknown.

Nathaniel Richards’ ancestors remained elusive. A descendant of Nathaniel’s brother had suggested that Nathaniel and Peter’s parents were Nathaniel Richards and Sarah Van Sickle. [6]  Since then, a thin thread connects the senior Nathaniel Richards and his father, Abram Richards, to the American Revolution. Another item added to my “To-Do” list!

What about Sarah Ostrander? Many hours of non-productive research followed this clue. I kept a journal of this journey from its beginning in early 2010. One entry summarized a break in the case: [7]

I found a Sarah Ostrander in one family tree with parents’ names listed as Thomas Ostrander and Elizabeth Smith. The creator of that tree told me about the ‘Ostrander big book’. [8] She didn’t have any information about Sarah’s marriage or children but did have Sarah’s birth date, which corresponded to the birth date given in the Newton history. Have I found Sarah’s parents? “

Thomas Ostrander became the focus for the next phase. I posted more queries and continued to search. Since Thomas’ birth date was listed as 1745, he could be my Revolutionary War ancestor.  Continuation of my journal entry:

“The Ancestry.com website opened Revolutionary War records during the Week of July 4, 2010. Thomas Ostrander had a pension file![9]  Thomas was a lieutenant in a New York regiment. His wife and children are listed, including a daughter, Sarah, born June 20, 1801 (the same birth date listed for Sarah Ostrander Richards, my ancestor, in the Newton and Ransom history and from the Ostrander big book).”

Thomas Ostrander Rev War File title card

Have you identified any problems?  Thomas was born in New York, served in the New York militia, and died in New York. How, then, did Sarah meet and marry Nathaniel Richards, known to be living in Pennsylvania in the 1830s? Back to the databases and books!

I looked for more information about the Ostrander family. A compilation of articles from the Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine, originally published in 1938, showed a possible link between the Ostrander family of New York and the Newkirk family of Pennsylvania: [10]

Page 27: “Children of Jacobus and Gilles (Newkirk) Swartout: iii. Jannetjen Swartout, bapt. October 11 1719; married Maes (Moses) Ostrander. Issue, born at Fishkill [Dutchess county, New York]: . . . Thomas Ostrander, born April 26, 1745.”

I now have consistent information between 3 documents- the Newkirk genealogy, Revolutionary War Pension file for Thomas Ostrander, and the Ostrander genealogy book. But, the question remains: Did Thomas Ostrander ever live in Pennsylvania?

Census records in 1880, 1900 and 1910 asked for mother’s place of birth. Ostrander Richards listed his mother’s place of birth as “Pennsylvania” on all three. [11]  [12] [13]  Conversely, Ostrander’s death certificate shows his mother’s birth place as “N.Y.” [New York].  Where was Sarah Ostrander Richards born?

I posed alternative explanations:

  1. Thomas Ostrander moved his family to Pennsylvania at some point, then moved back to New York.
  2. Sarah Ostrander remained in Pennsylvania when her parents moved back to New York.

Based on the possible Newkirk family link to Pennsylvania , I searched for related families in Luzerne and neighboring counties in Pennsylvania in 1800, 1810, and 1820.  I tried surnames of Newkirk, Smith, and Swartout as well as Ostrander. Although these census records only name heads of household, the gender and approximate ages of household members are recorded. There he was  – Thomas Ostrander, 1810, Tunkhannock, Luzerne county, Pennsylvania! [14] Dad’s family lived in or near Tunkhannock during most of his childhood.  From the Revolutionary War Pension application, I plugged in names and dates of birth for Thomas, Elizabeth and their children:

1810 Census Thomas Ostrander_orig doc

1810 U.S. Federal Census, Tunkhannock, Luzerne county, Pennsylvania

1810 Census_Thomas_Ostrander_transcription

Transcription of entry for Thomas Ostrander, 1810 U.S. Census, Tunkhannock, Luzerne county, Pennsylvania; names, estimated DOB and ages of family members based on Revolutionary War Pension Application file information

At last, I had stronger evidence to support the claim that Thomas Ostrander was father of Sarah Ostrander Richards! Some evidence is secondary and indirect. To summarize:

  1. Thomas Ostrander and family lived in Tunkhannock, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania in 1810. Reported ages match information recorded in Revolutionary War Pension file.
  2. Tunkhannock and Newton (home of Nathaniel Richards, husband of Sarah Ostrander) are about 17 miles apart.
  3. Sarah Ostrander married for the first time in her early 30s. Women usually married in their late teens or early 20s during that era. Reasons for later marriage were often related to care of family members.
  4. Thomas Ostrander died in 1816 in New York. He moved back to New York after 1810, leaving Sarah (and possibly her sister, Jane) in Pennsylvania. Note: Finding Jane is another story!
  5. Two documents (1912 county history and Thomas Ostrander’s Revolutionary War Pension File) record Sarah Ostrander with a birth date of June 20, 1801.

I submitted my application to join the Daughters of the American Revolution in January, 2011.  I included these bits and pieces of information plus a summary piecing them together. They approved my application and I am now officially recognized as a Daughter of the American Revolution!

reflection-swirl-green-color-hi

Reflection:

In this post, I relived my year-long journey to prove that I am a descendant of a soldier who fought in the American Revolution. The  journey took turns that I never expected. My initial feelings of frustration and discouragement cannot be under-stated! I almost quit the search. Frequent words of encouragement from a D.A.R. member helped me meet my goal. I am now working with a cousin to prove lineage from another Revolutionary War solider on my mother’s side. I remain hopeful that I will someday find Thomas Postens’ parents.  I wrote a more detailed record of this search in 2011; the manuscript remains unpublished.  I used excerpts from that manuscript in this blog post. Again, I used skills learned through Genealogy Do-Over as I revised this post.

What I learned:  Keep looking. Indirect and secondary information helps complete the puzzle. Take breaks as needed. An online family tree with minimal or no sources can still provide clues.

What helped: Access to multiple online and hard copy resources. Encouragement from D.A.R. member.  Journal of my activities, searches and results. I kept photocopies or scans of everything! Skills learned in Genealogy Do-Over lessons.

What didn’t help:  No research logs to compile information. Scattered notes. Incomplete citation of sources.

To-do:  Continue search for parents of Thomas Postens. Use research logs more consistently. Seek opportunities to publish my original manuscript.

SOURCES:

[1] Typewritten genealogy, Posten family tradition regarding lineage of John Posten to Jacob Posten (b 1755) as reported by Ruby Gardiner, granddaughter of Daniel Posten & Phoebe Fulkerson to Vera Posten Brooks, ca. 1989; privately held by Ellerbee, [address for private use,] Yukon, Oklahoma. Copy sent by Ms. Brooks to Ms. Ellerbee about 1990.

[2] Jennie Richards Posten, death certificate no. 062881-64 (25 June 1964), Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Health, Vital Statistics, New Castle, Pennsylvania.

[3] Susan A. LaCoe, Lenay LaCoe Blackwell, and Velma Sue Miller, compilers/ updaters, Commemorative Record of LaCoe Family: Containing Biographical Sketches and Genealogy. Illustrated. 1750-2010, Martha L. LaCoe, compiler of first edition, edition 2010 (Pennsylvania: Privately published, 2010), pages 1, 34.

[4] Ostrande[r] Richards, death certificate no. 7033-1919 (10 January 1919), Commonwealth of Pennsylania, Department of Health, Vital Statistics, New Castle, Pennsylvania.

[5]  J. B. Stephens, Compiler, History and Directory of Newton and Ransom Townships, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania (Montrose, Pennsylvania: J.B. Stephens, 1912), 86; digital images, Pennsylvania State University Libraries Digital Library Collections, (http://collection1.libraries.psu.edu/cdm4 :  accessed & printed,  8 June 2010; entry for Nathaniel and Peter Richards, written by P.K. Richards, West Pittston,Pa. Peter K. Richards was son of Peter Richards and nephew of Nathaniel Richards. Page 85: “They immigrated to eastern Pennsylvania, which was at that time was called ‘going west,’ making the trip in large covered wagons. Nathaniel came in the Spring of 1829, and Peter in the Spring of 1832.”  P.K. Richards (author of the entry), born in 1832, did not witness the events but heard the stories from his father, Peter Richards, who died in 1850. Nathaniel Richards died in 1852. Both Peter and Nathaniel were born in Sussex County, New Jersey.

[6] Jim Richards,  “Re: Nathaniel Richards b. 1760 Ulster Co. N.Y.”, GenWeb, Richards Family Genealogy Forum,  25 July 2000 (http://genforum.genealogy.com  : accessed 18 July 2010).

[7] Susan (Posten) Ellerbee ,”Journal”, (MS, Yukon, Oklahoma, 2010-2011), entry for July 28, 2010; unnumbered pages; privately held by Susan Posten Ellerbee, [address for private use,], Yukon, Oklahoma, 2018. Handwritten entries in school-type notebook about her search for Revolutionary War ancestor as she prepared application to join Daughters of the American Revolution.

[8] Emmett Ostrander & Vinton P. Ostrander; Corliss Ostrander, ed. Ostrander: A Genealogical Record 1660-1995 (Marceline, Missouri: Walsworth Publishing Company, 1999).

[9] “Revolutionary War Pension & Bounty Land Warrant Application Files,” database with images, Fold3  (http://www.fold3.com :  accessed and downloaded 1 July 2010); Elizabeth Ostrander, widow; citing Revolutionary War Pension & Bounty Land Warrant Application Files, (Washington, D.C. : National Archives and Records Administration), microfilm publication M804.

[10] Adamson Bentley Newkirk, “The van Nieuwkirk, Nieukirk, Newkirk  Family,” Publications of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania, special number (March 1934), 27; digital image reprint, Genealogies of Pennsylvania Families (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1982), pp. 387-502.  Accessed from Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com   : accessed 1 July 2010). Digital copy of the original article also available from Hathi Trust (https://babel.hathitrust.org)

[11] 1880 census, Ostrander Richards. 1880 U.S. Census, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Ransom, enumeration district (ED) 43, p. 347A (stamped), p. 13 (penned), dwelling 110, family 110, Ostrander Richards 44; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com   : accessed, printed, downloaded 5 May 2010); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. , microfilm publication T9_ 1138.

[12] 1900 census, Ostrander Richards. 1900 U.S. Census, Lackawanna county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Ransom Twp, enumeration district (ED) 40, p. 225 A (stamped), dwelling 133, family 177, Richards Ostrand [Ostrander], head; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, viewed, downloaded 31 May 2017); citing National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C. Roll: T623_1419.

[13] 1910 census, Ostrander Richards. 1910 U.S. Census, Lackawanna county, Pennsylvania, population scheduled, Ransom Twp., enumeration district (ED) 50, p. 10A (penned), dwelling 142, family 146, Jennie Richards daughter; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com :    accessed, viewed, downloaded 31 May 2017); citing National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C. Microfilm publication T624.

[14] 1810 U.S. Census, Luzerne, Pennsylvania, pop. sch., Tunkhannock, p. 763, Thomas Ostrander; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, viewed & downloaded 21 September 2010); citing National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C. Microfilm publication M252. Roll 49.

“Missing Children”: The case of Lillian Maurer (abt 1901 – ‘died in infancy’)

Willie, age 3, appears on a census record. Ten years later, Willie’s name does not appear on the census record with his parents. What happened to Willie? You question relatives with no result. Using your best research practices, you search diligently for Willie in online databases – birth and death records, websites for newspapers and cemeteries, city and/or county genealogical society websites. You query the local historical society. Nothing turns up.  Viewing microfilmed newspapers at the local library also yields no information. You record everything on a research log, vowing to return another day.  You keep Willie in mind but, in essence, Willie remains “missing” in your family’s genealogy. Hopefully, you eventually find out what happened to Willie,  the “missing” child.

Two often overlooked sources are the 1900 and 1910 United States Census records. Column headings for 1900 census included “mother of how many children”  and “number of these children living”.[1]  Column headings for 1910 included  “number of children born” and “number of children now living”.[2]  For both censuses, instructions for enumerators stated: “Stillborn children are not to be counted.” [3], [4]  Compare the numbers recorded on the census with listed names and ages of children.  You may find that more children were born to this woman. These are among your “missing” children. Search your records obtained from other family sources. Again, compare that information with the census records.

Maurer_Lillian_b1901

Lillian Maurer photograph ca 1901, label taped to picture when received; privately held by Susan Posten Ellerbee, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], Yukon, Oklahoma, 2018. Photographs originally held by Esbon Herman Tucker, grandson of William F. and Bertha. Photographs given to Ms. Ellerbee by Mary Ann (Tucker) Rogers, daughter of Esbon Herman Tucker, April, 2018.

I present the case of children, including Lillian,  born to Anna Klee Maurer, my maternal grandmother’s mother.  From Aunt Viola’s family history:  [5]  Herman Maurer and his wife, Anna Klee “had 8 children (all born in Brooklyn, NY)”:

  1. Edward (Eddy)    1887? – 1892. “Edward died at about 5 years of age.”
  2. Arthur                   6/ 17/ 1888? – 7/ 1954
  3. Charlotte               5/ 26/ 1892 –   4/ 9/ 1974
  4. William                  6/ 30/ 1890? – 11/15/ 1957
  5. Harry                      1894 ? – ? infancy
  6. Herman                  1893 – 6/ 1957
  7. Lillian                     1901 – ? infancy
  8. Viola                        1906 –

Given the reported birth and death years, the 1900 census should list 6 children born and 4 children living for Anna;  the 1910 census should list 8 children born and 5 living. Can Viola’s information be confirmed? After all, these are her siblings!

I began with the 1892 New York State Census, conducted in February, 1892: [6]

  • Page 2, column 2, lines 38-40: Herman Maurer, age 32; Annie Maurer, age 27; [illegible] Maurer, age [illegible]
  • Page 3, column 1, lines 1-2: Arthur Maurer, age 4; William Maurer, age 2.

Charlotte (my maternal grandmother) was born in May 1892. Her birth certificate[7] shows her as the 5th child of Anna, suggesting another child born between 1883 (Herman & Anna’s marriage year) and 1892.

Continue with the family as recorded on the 1900 census:[8]

  • Maurer, Herman, head, b. Oct 1859, New Jersey, married 16 yrs.
  • Maurer, Anna, wife, b. July 1864, New York, mother of 7 children, 4 living
  • Maurer, Arthur, son, b. June 1887, New York
  • Maurer, Willie, son, b. June 1887, New York
  • Maurer, Lotta [Charlotte], daughter b. May 1892, New York
  • Maurer, Herman, son, b. Aug 1893, New York

Analysis:  Compared information to 1892 census and family records. The 1892 census records 3 children; the 1900 census adds 2 more children (Lotta and Herman).  The number of children still living (4) suggests that one of the children reported in 1892 (illegible name and age) died before 1900. Family records show 6 children born by 1900 with 2 of those having died.  The 1900 census data support my hypothesis that another child was born and died. So, there is still one more child to be found!

What is revealed in the 1910 census? [9] Barely legible, the record lists Anna as the mother of 8 children with 5 still living.  The living children are Arthur, age 22; William, age 19; Charlotte, age 17; Herman, age 16, and Viola, age 3.

1910 Census_Herman Maurer family_3

Putting the census data together suggests:

  • 3 children born between 1883 (marriage year) and February 1892.
  • 4 children born between February 1892 and June 1900 (7 children born).
  • 1 child born between June 1900 and April 1910 (8 children born).
  • 3 children died between 1883 and 1910 (5 children living by 1910).

Family records (family history + Charlotte’s birth certificate) indicate:

  • 4 children born between 1883 (marriage year) and February 1892
  • 3 children born between February 1892 and June 1900 (7 children born).
  • 2 children born between June 1900 and April 1910 (9 children born).
  • 3 children died between 1883 and 1910 (5 children living by 1910).

Records agree that 5 of Anna’s children survived in 1910. Records disagree about the number of children born to Anna- 8 or 9. Was the “missing child” stillborn and reported by Anna in 1900 but not reported in 1910? If the child was stillborn, Viola may not have known about him or her.

Birth and death indexes support information given by Viola about three of the ‘lost’ children:

  1. Edward Maurer. Birth: 22 January 1885, New York City Municipal Archives, New York City Births [10].  Death: 30 June 1892, New York City Municipal Archives, New York City Extracted Death Index.  [11]  Recorded by Viola as “1887? – 1892. Edward died at about 5 years of age.”  Analysis: Database entries consistent with family history; confirmed.
  2. Charles Harry Maurer. [12] Birth: August 1893 (based on age 4/12 at death). Death: 10 January 1894. Recorded by Viola as “Harry , 1894 ? – ? infancy.” Analysis: Database entry consistent with family history. Estimated birth date of August 1893 suggests that Charles Harry was twin of Herman Charles.
  3. Lillian Maurer. Birth: 7 January 1901, New York City Municipal Archives, New York City Births [13].  Death:  Before 1910; Lillian is not listed on the 1910 census. Databases support handwritten family history.  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! 

Having a child every 2 to 3 years was common in the early 20th century.  The semi-final list of Herman and Anna’s children appear to fit this pattern:

  1. Edward Maurer      (22 January 1885-30 June 1892)
  2. Arthur Maurer        (19 June 1887 – 2 April 1953)
  3. Unknown child        (possibly abt 1888 – before February 1892)
  4. William Charles Maurer      (30 June 1890 – 15 November 1957)
  5. Amalie Charlotte Maurer    (26 May 1892 – 9 April 1974)
  6. Herman Charles Maurer     (22 August 1893 – June 1957)
  7. Charles Harry Maurer         (August 1893 – 10 January 1894) (possible twin of Herman Charles; still to be confirmed)
  8. Lillian Maurer                        (7 Jan 1901 ?  – before 1910) See update above.
  9. Blanche Viola Lucy Maurer  (16 March 1907 – November 1985)

Given the six and seven year gaps, Anna may have been pregnant more than nine times. I am still looking for information about the unknown ‘lost’ child. Lillian’s case is not yet solved but I am getting closer!

reflection-swirl-green-color-hi

REFLECTION:

Aunt Viola’s handwritten history provided the names of Edward, Harry and Lillian.  Without those names and dates, I would have had a more difficult time discovering information about them. Census questions about births and living children did not include stillbirths. Gaps of 3-4 years (or more) between births suggest additional pregnancies which may have ended in stillbirths or miscarriages.  I have 2 children, both living, and experienced several miscarriages. So, if asked the census questions now, my record would show ‘Number of children born to this person =2;  number of living children= 2.”

Initially, I discounted the August 1893 birth dates implied and reported for Herman Charles Maurer and implied for Charles Harry Maurer. One of the dates had to be wrong! Alternate question:  Were ‘Herman Charles Maurer’ and ‘Charles Harry Maurer’ the same person? Answer: No. Hmm- a subject for another post!

My research is not complete.  I don’t have copies of  records that could give more clues. A genealogist’s work is never done!

What I learned:  Look for hidden treasures in census records. Question every bit of data. Keep looking! Even scant information from a family member provides clues. A research log and/or software program are valuable tools to record conflicting data and your analysis. Writing up  stories for my blog helps to identify gaps.

What helped:  Viola’s family history. Access to multiple databases online. Copy of Charlotte’s birth certificate. Conflicting information required additional research to prove or disprove the claim. I put my questions aside for a period of time.

What didn’t help: ignoring clues from the records. Not considering one obvious answer- twins!  I don’t have a copy of the birth record for Lillian Maurer, born 1901, per NYC Birth Record Index.

Next steps:   Continue looking for evidence of the missing child. Request copy of Aunt Viola’s birth certificate. Identify potential birth & death records for Lillian Maurer from NYC Records Database;  request copies of most likely records, beginning with copy of birth record for Lillian Maurer born 1901.  22 Oct 2018: received 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! Order birth and death certificates for Edward and Harry Charles.  Add these to my ‘BMD certificates to order’ list.

SOURCES: 

[1] Department of the Interior, Census Office. Twelfth Census of the United States, June 1, 1900: Instructions for Enumerators (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1900), 29, 30; accessed from U.S. Census Bureau (https://www.census.gov/history/pdf/1900instructions.pdf   : 6 June 2018).

[2] Department of Commerce and Labor, Bureau of the Census. Thirteenth Census of the United States, April 15, 1910: Instructions for Enumerators (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1910), 29; accessed from U.S. Census Bureau (https://www.census.gov/history/pdf/1900instructions.pdf   : 6 June 2018).

[3] Department of the Interior, Census Office, Twelfth Census of the United States: instructions for Enumerators,30.

[4] Department of Commerce and Labor, Bureau of the Census, Thirteenth Census of the United States: Instructions for Enumerators, 29.

[5] Viola Blanche Maurer Tucker, “Maurer-Tucker Family History,” pages 1 & 2; 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.

[6] New York State Department of Health, “New York, State Census, 1892,” database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, downloaded 31 January 2018), entry for Herman Maurer, age 32, page 2, column 2, lines 38-40; citing New York State Education Department, Office of Cultural Education, Albany, New York; Street Address: 173 Hopkins Street.

[7] New York, New York City Department of Records and Information Services, birth certificate 5947 (28 May 1892), Amalie Charlotte Maurer; Municipal Archives, 31 Chambers Stree, New York, N.Y. 10007.  Photocopy of original certificate held by Susan Posten Ellerbee, [address for private use,], Yukon, Oklahoma.

[8] 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.

[9] 1910 U.S. Census, Suffolk County, New York, pop. sch., Huntington, enumeration district (ED) 1367, p. 2B, 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.

[10] New York, New York City Births, 1846-1909,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:61903/1:1:2WQN-B2J: 20 March 2015), Anna Klee Maurer entry for Eduwart Maurer, 22 Jan 1885; citing New York City Municipal Archives, New York.

[11] “New York, New York, Extracted Death Index, 1862-1948”, database,  Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 June 2018); entry for Edward Maurer, born 1885, died 1892, 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. Certificate no. 10178.

[12]  “New York, New York, Death Index, 1892-1898, 1900-1902,” database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com:   accessed 5 June 2018); entry for Chas. H. Maurer, death date 10 Jan 1894, age 4 M; citing New York City Deaths, 1892-1902; Deaths Reported in January-February-March, 1894 and Deaths reported in the city of New York, 1888-1965, New York Department of Health, Albany, New York; certificate no. 1429.

[13] “New York City Births, 1891-1902; Births reported in 1901. Borough of Brooklyn,” database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed & downloaded 21 April 2018), entry for Lillian Maurer; citing New York Department of Health. Births reported in the City of New York, 1891-1902. New York, New York, USA: Department of Health; certificate #7178.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and “Posting Family Roots” blog, posted on WordPress.com, 2018.

Viola Blanche Maurer Tucker (1907 -1985)

On this “Thankful Thursday” ,  I express my gratitude to Viola Blanche Maurer Tucker, my maternal great-aunt, for writing down names and information about the Maurer and Tucker ancestors[1].  I have a carbon copy of the original.

Maurer Tucker History_ca1980_for blog_April 2018

Page 1 of “Maurer-Tucker Family History” written by Blanche Viola Maurer Tucker, ca 1980.  Carbon copy privately held by Susan Posten Ellerbee. 

Do you remember carbon paper?  carbon paper imageBefore copy machines, there was carbon paper.  First, insert a piece of carbon paper between two pieces of paper.  Write or type on the top page.  An exact copy, more or less, of the top page appears on the subsequent pages. Generally, you can produce three or four clear copies this way. Each piece of carbon paper lasts for 4-5 copies.  Messy, but effective!

For more information about the history of copying, read this story:   ‘Photocopier’ 

Back to my story. Viola was my mother’s aunt, my maternal grandmother’s sister.  Called ‘Olie’ by us, she had always lived with my grandparents (at least, as far back as I can remember!).  I didn’t really think much about those living arrangements when I was a child or even as I became an adult.  I knew that both of Olie’s parents died when she was young and that’s why she lived with her sister.   As I carefully reviewed documents for Genealogy Do-Over  and recorded information on research logs,  Olie’s situation really hit me.

Blanche Viola Maurer was born on March 16, 1907, the youngest  of nine children born to  George Herman Maurer and Anna Klee.  Her brother, Herman Charles, born in 1893, was her closest living sibling.  Between 1893 and 1907, Herman and Anna buried two children – Charles Harry and Lillian.  Charles Harry, born in 1893 and died in 1894, was probably twin brother of Herman Charles.  Lillian, born January 7, 1901, [2]  ‘died in infancy’ according to Viola’s handwritten family history. [3]

Anna was 43 years old when Viola was born.  It is possible that Anna was beginning to go through menopause at the time.  When Viola was 11 years old, Anna died [4]  leaving Viola and her 60-year-old father alone.

Charlotte  (aka “Lottie”),  Viola’s only living sister, married Esbon J. Tucker in June 1917 [5].  Lottie and Esbon did not establish  their own home immediately.  In January, 1920[6], the census taker found Herman Maurer,  widower and head of household with 13-year-old  Viola, as well as Charlotte (Lottie), Esbon, and their two children, Esbon, age 2, and Eunice (my mother).

Herman , Viola’s father, died in May  1927[7] , leaving 20-year-old Viola an orphan.  She continued to live with Lottie and Esbon. [8] Viola had no children of her own but was like a second mother or a big sister to Lottie’s children.  Viola was an accomplished needlewoman.  She taught her niece, Eunice,  to knit and crochet.  Eunice, my mother, then taught me.  I still enjoy these crafts.

As mentioned in the introduction, I did not appreciate her situation until now.  Olie was a constant person in my grandparents’ home, as she had been when my mother was growing up.   I cannot imagine losing my mother at age 11 and my father by the time I was 20!  What was it like to constantly rely on a sibling for a home?  How did she respond emotionally to these events?

Consider the time period.  Women rarely worked outside of the home in the 1920s and 1930s.  Was Olie a ‘Rosie the Riveter’ during World War II, when so many women took on the jobs of men to support the war effort?  Mom never said anything about that and I never thought to ask.   According to the 1940 census, Viola worked as a salesclerk in a bakery. [9]  That explains all of the wonderful cakes at their house!

By 1970, Lottie suffered  several strokes and dementia.  Pop and Olie cared for her at home for as long as they could.  My mother said that she only found out about the problems when Pop decided to put Lottie into a nursing home, about 6 months before her death. This very difficult experience probably deepened the bond between Pop and Olie. After Lottie died in 1974,[10] Olie married my grandfather. Two old people, living together for decades, now joined in marriage.

Esbon Tucker_Viola Maurer_1975

How did Viola  feel about all of her losses?  I remember her as being cheerful and kind.   At first, she probably was overwhelmed then accepted her situation.  I do not know how I would have reacted .  Did the experience make her stronger?

Viola wrote the nine-page family history in the late 1970s or early 1980s. She mentions Lottie’s death (1974) and her own marriage to Esbon but not Esbon’s death in 1984.[11]  Using available resources, I have confirmed much of the information that she gave.  One surprising fact is that she reported her full name as Blanche Viola Lucy Maurer when she applied for a Social Security number.  [12]  This is my first encounter with that name!  I learned earlier that Germans traditionally used a middle name in everyday life rather than the person’s given first name.

Again, I express my gratitude to you, Blanche Viola Lucy Maurer Tucker, my third grandmother. Thank you for teaching my mother to knit and crochet, so she could teach me. Thank you for being part of my childhood.  Thank you for taking time to write down our family stories. Questions still to be answered:

  1. Is there another ancestor named Blanche in the family history?
  2. Is Viola’s middle name of Lucy on any other documents?

 

reflection-swirl-green-color-hi

Reflection:

I started writing this post about 2 months ago but wasn’t sure exactly what direction I would take.  As I searched for inspiration, I looked again at daily blog prompts  suggested by Thomas  MacAntee.  The idea of “Thankful Thursday” caught my eye. I am grateful to Viola for many things. We visited my New York grandparents only once a year but I vividly remember some things – a red and white enamel kitchen table with pull-out leaves (now a collector’s item!), two black and white cocker spaniels,  German stollen (a sweet yeast bread),  a sleeper chair (like a sleeper sofa but twin size), a musty basement.  As I delve more into the family history, I see German connections in each generation.  The written legacy of names and dates proves invaluable, even though, on the surface, the contents appear skeletal.  I build from the bare bones outward. Without Viola’s document, progress would be much slower.

What I learned:  carbon paper is hard to find in 21st century America. I developed a new appreciation for the difficulties that Viola must have faced from her early teens.  Or, am I projecting my own values on her?

What helped:  Amount of research already done on the Tucker-Maurer family.  Transcription of Viola’s history done in 2010. Copies of birth and death certificates from New York.

What didn’t help:  Nothing that I can think of.  Not ordering Viola’s birth and death certificates before writing blog.

Future:   Consider other daily topics for future blog posts. Order Viola’s birth and death certificates. Order death certificate for Anna Klee Maurer, Viola and Charlotte’s mother.

Sources: 

[1]  Viola Blanche Maurer Tucker, “Maurer- Tucker Family History.” (Handwritten notes. Huntington, New York, ca. 1975-1980);  carbon copy  privately held by Susan M. Posten Ellerbee, [address for private use,], Yukon, Oklahoma, 2010. Copy given to Ms. Ellerbee by her mother who received copy from Viola ca 1980.  Transcribed by Ms. Ellerbee in 2012. Ms. Ellerbee is great-niece of Viola Blanche Maurer Tucker.

[2] “New York, New York, Extracted Birth Index, 1878 – 1909”,  online database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  :  :   accessed 10 April 2018); entry for Lillian Maurer, born 1 Jan 1901, Kings, New York; citing  “Index to New York City births, 1878-1909”, New York City Department of Records/ Municipal Archives, New York City, New York.

[3] Maurer., “Maurer-Tucker Family History,” Section – Charlotte Amalie (Anna) Maurer, page 1.

[4] Cyber Angel, “Anna b Bklyn d Huntington NY 1918 hus Herman,” Surnames: Maurer Family Genealogy Forum, discussion list, 8 February 2002;  (http://genforum.genealogy.com   : accessed & printed 9 June 2007), transcription of obituary posted in Brooklyn Standard Union, 28 July 1918.

[5] Suffolk county, New York, Affidavit for License to Marry (3 pages), 14570 (stamped); 783 (penned), Esbon J. Tucker Charlotte A. Maurer, 1 June 1917; New York State Department of Health, Vital Records Section, Genealogy Unit, Albany, New York.

[6] 1920 U.S. Census, Suffolk county, New York, population schedule, Huntington, enumeration district (ED) 113, p. 7A (penned), dwelling 136, family 139, Viola Maurer, daughter, age 13; 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.

[7] Hermann Maurer, death certificate no. 10424 (1927), Department of Health of the City of New York, New York City, New York.

[8]1930 U.S. Federal Census, Suffolk County, New York, population schedule, Huntington, enumeration district (ED) 63, p. 2A (penned), p. 132 (stamped), dwelling 35, family 46, Viola Maurer, sister-in-law, age 23; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed, downloaded & printed 14 March 2017); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. Microfilm publication T626, Roll 1651.

[9] 1940 U.S. Federal Census, Suffolk county, New York, population schedule, Huntington, enumeration district (ED) 52-97, p. 12 B (penned), household no. 463, Esbon Tucker (head); Viola Maurer, sister-in-law, age 32; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed, downloaded, printed 14 March 2017); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication T627, Roll 2785.

[10] Charlotte Tucker, death certificate # 031537 (9 April 1974), New York State Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Albany, New York.

[11] Esbon J. Tucker, death certificate no. 100055063 (barely legible) (18 July 1984), New York State Department of Health, Vital Records Section, Albany, New York.

[12] Blanche Viola Lucy Maurer, SS no. 077-09-2343, 30 Nov 1936, Application for Account Number (Form SS-5), Social Security Administration, Baltimore, Maryland.

 

Immigration and citizenship on the U.S. Census

The year:  2092. Genealogists in the United States eagerly anticipate release of the 2020 census data.  It’s been 50 years since citizenship status for all U.S. residents  was available. DNA charts in hand, genealogists peruse the census, looking for names of ancestors who immigrated to the United States. Information provided by those ancestors will confirm genetic ancestry results.  Hopefully, the ancestor reported a more specific locale than “northern Europe”.

Scenario #1:  In 2020, not all households in the U.S. received a census survey with citizenship and immigration questions. A few lucky genealogists discover that their ancestors were among the one in six households who received and filled out the ‘long form’.  Although the census did not ask about legal status, opponents of adding a question about citizenship had successfully argued their points.

Scenario #2:  In 2020, all households in the U.S. received a census survey with a question about citizenship.  A sample of households received a longer survey that included questions about nativity (place of birth) of each person and their parents.  The census did not ask about legal status. Response rates dropped slightly from previous years.

How would your genealogy research be affected if your ancestors had not been asked about immigration and citizenship status on the U.S. Census? Many of us learn about our ancestral roots from the answers to those questions. I wonder what my ancestors thought about the census questions related to their place of birth and citizenship status: “Where were you born? “  “Where was your father born?”  “Where was your mother born?”  “Are you a citizen of the U.S.?”  Did they answer truthfully? One of this week’s news items is a proposed addition to the 2020 United States census about citizenship.  The heated debate led me to search for the facts.

detectiveQuestions:

  1. When did a citizenship question first appear on the U.S. census?
  2. How has the citizenship question changed?
  3. What is the exact wording of the proposed question?
  4. For a non-citizen immigrant, is a question proposed that will ask about their legal status in the United States?
  5. How is the proposed 2020 change different from earlier censuses?

Questions about citizenship, naturalization, and immigration have appeared on the U.S. Census for decades.  The information, in some form, has been requested since 1850.  Look at blank census forms again.[1]  Column headings range from “place of birth of this person” (1880) to “naturalization status or citizen of what country” (1900 to 1940).

Tables 1 and 2 summarize the information related to nativity (birth) and citizenship from 1850 through 2000.

Table 1.  Information requested on U.S. Census by year, 1850 – 1940                             (Source: National Archives & Records Administration, Charts & Forms)

 

Table 1 Census question

a1930:  If of foreign birth, give country in which birthplace is now situated. Distinguish Canada-French form Canada-English and Irish Free State from Northern Ireland.
b1940:  If foreign born, give country in which birthplace was situated on Jan. 1, 1937. Distinguish: Canada-French from Canada-English and Irish Free State from Northern Ireland.

Table 2.  Information requested on U.S. Census by year, 1950– 2000                            (Source: U.S. Census, Through the Decades, Index of Questions)

Table 2 census question

a 1970:  If foreign born, is person’s origin or descent:  Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American, Other Spanish, None of these.
b Beginning in 1980, only a sample of the population was asked to answer these questions, among other questions.  
c 1980 & 2000: If person speaks language other than English at home, how well does person speak English?

Beginning in 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau sampled the population through the American Community Survey. [2]  Citizenship questions from 2010[3] to 2018[4] were:

2020 citizenship question

Citizenship question on American Community Survey, 2010 to 2018.

Reports of the exact question format for 2020 vary from “Are you a citizen of the U.S?” to “Are you a legal citizen of the U.S.?”  Wording of the question will be “what is already used in the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, which asks respondents to check one of five categories to describe their citizenship status.” [5]   Since 1970, all households received a short form questionnaire and only a sample of households, about 1 in 6, received a longer form. [6]  The questions about citizenship were only on the longer form.

Addendum:  18 April 2018

As I reviewed census records for immigrant ancestors, I saw abbreviations related to the citizenship status of foreign-born persons.  From the 1930 “Instructions to Enumerators”:

  • Na = “naturalized”
  • Pa = “papers”; person has taken out papers to begin the naturalization process.
  • Al = “alien”; person is not naturalized and has not taken out “first papers”. 

Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census. Fifteenth Census. Instructions to Enumerators, Population and Agriculture. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office: Washington, D.C. : 1930), p. 31, items 180 – 184.  (https://www.census.gov/history/pdf/1930instruction.pdf      : accessed 17 April 2018).

To summarize, here are the questions posed at the beginning of this post, with  answers:

  1. After 1850, when did a specific citizenship question first appear on the U.S. census? ANSWER: 1900.
  2. How has the citizenship question changed? ANSWER: 1900 -1930; 1970-2000:  when did person come to the U.S.? Naturalization status asked from 1900 -1930 and 1950-1980.  1940: Citizenship of the foreign born.  1990 – 2000: Is person a U.S. Citizen?   American Community Survey, begun in 2010, surveys a sample of the population annually.  Questions include:  Where was person born? Is person a citizen of the United States? If citizen by naturalization, year of naturalization.  When did person come to live in the United States? 
  3. What is the exact wording of the proposed question? ANSWER:  Is this person a citizen of the United States?
  4. For a non-citizen immigrant, is a question proposed that will ask about their legal status in the United States? ANSWER: No. (Disclaimer: If you find such a question, contact me and I will change this answer. Please include your source and the actual wording of the question.  Thanks.)
  5. How is the proposed 2020 change different from earlier censuses? ANSWER: The question about citizenship will be on the short form, which is sent to every household.

FINAL COMMENT:   Information about an individual’s citizenship has not been available for every person in the U.S. since 1970.  Beginning in 2020, will this change? What will genealogists in the future think about these changes?  Will either of the presented scenarios ( or another scenario) occur?  

If you are interested in the debate, here is a sample of articles, both pro and con:  (alphabetically by author’s last name):

Steve Camarota, March 28, 2018.  “Would a Citizenship Question on the 2020 Census Reduce Response Rates?”  Part 2.  Center for Immigration Studies.  28 March 2018 ( https://cis.org/Camarota/Would-Citizenship-Question-2020-Census-Reduce-Response-Rates-Part-2 :   accessed 31 March 2018)

Caroline McAtee Cerbin, “Citizenship question to be put back on 2020 Census for first time in 70 years,” USA Today, On Politics E-Newsletter, 26 March 2018 (https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2018/03/26/citizenship-question-put-back-2020-census/461044002/ :   accessed 30 March 2018).

Arloc Sherman, “Citizenship question jeopardizes census accuracy, undermines funding process”, The Census Project, 29 March 2018 (https://thecensusproject.org/blog : accessed 31 March 2018).

Brian Tashman, Trump Is Undermining the 2020 Census. Marginalized Communities Will Bear the Brunt,”  https://www.aclu.org/blog/immigrants-rights/trump-undermining-2020-census-marginalized-communities-will-bear-brunt    Accessed 31 March 2018  Posted 5 Jan 2018

Hansi Lo Wang & Andrea De Leon, “The 2020 Census Questions Every U.S. Household will be Asked, Annotated,” National Public Radio, 29 March 2018 (https://www.npr.org/2018/03/29/598018163/census-bureau-releases-2020-census-questions-including-1-on-citizenship  : accessed 31 March 2018).

reflection-swirl-green-color-hi

REFLECTION

After multiple drafts and a lot of self-debate, I decided to go ahead and post this. I am spoiled by the amount of information available on census records. I am aware of controversies regarding the census, such as the reporting of one’s race.  Opinions vary widely about the issue of the proposed 2020 census question.  I have tried to present those varied opinions.  Some, not all, households were asked the question since 1970 and some of those refused to answer.  Perhaps I am being too simplistic and only seeing through the lens of genealogy.  Given current concerns about identity theft,  will information about individuals from the 1950 and later censuses still be made public 72 years after the census?  The American Community Survey reports aggregate data now. Will a genealogist in 2082 be able to see individual data gathered in 2010? This post may generate some negative comments.

What I learned:  A citizenship question has not been routinely asked since 1970.  Some opponents of the proposed question believe that a question about citizenship also makes an inference about an immigrant’s legal status. Some proponents of the proposed question downplay the legal status issue.  Whether the question will actually impact response rates in 2020 or not is still a matter of opinion. I learned about the American Community Survey.

What helped:  access to many online sources. Having copies of the NARA census forms in print and online versions.  Creating multiple versions of this post.

What didn’t help:  Multitude of negative opinions and fewer positive opinions about the proposed change. My own uncertainty about posting this.

For future:  No suggestions at this time.  Maybe a post about one of my immigrant ancestors and how the census information guided me to discover more?

[1] National Archives & Records Administration. Research our Records. Resources for Genealogists. Charts and Forms.   https://www.archives.gov/research/genealogy/charts-forms  :   accessed 31 March 2018.  Available forms include genealogy charts; federal census forms; nonpopulation census forms, 1880 census supplemental forms: defective, dependent, and delinquent classes; immigration forms;  military forms.

[2] U.S. Bureau of the Census. “American Community Survey”.  (https://www.census.gov/history/www/programs/demographic/american_community_survey.html : accessed 31 March 2018).

[3] U.S. Bureau of the Census. “American Community Survey, Questionnaire, 2010,” (https://www.2.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs/methodology/questionnaires/2010/quest10.pdf  : accessed 31 March 2018.

[4]   U.S. Bureau of the Census. “American Community Survey, Questionnaire, 2018,”  https://www2.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs/methodology/questionnaires/2018/quest18.pdf   :  accessed 31 March 2018)

[5] D’Vera Cohn. “What to know about the citizenship question the Census Bureau is planning to ask in 2020,”  Pew Research Center, 30 March 2018 (http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/03/30/what-to-know-about-the-citizenship-question-the-census-bureau-is-planning-to-ask-in-2020/  : accessed 2 April 2018, paragraph 4.

[6] Tamara Keith, “FACT CHECK: Has citizenship been a standard census question?” National Public Radio, 27 March 2018 (https://www.npr.org/2018/03/27/597436512/fact-check-has-citizenship-been-a-standard-census-question  : accessed 3 April 2018).

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

A maz(e)ing Genealogy (subtitle:  Proving family stories)

Subtitle: Proving family stories that provide minimal information

Watch the genealogy shows on television. The searches appear straightforward with records obtained in clear chronological order. Occasionally, the host says, “We had to really look for this information.”  Subjects type a name into an online database, usually Ancestry, and a particular record for their ancestor appears.  At a county clerk’s office, the marriage book opens to the exact page with the person’s marriage record. These presentations simplify the process of genealogy. Yes, genealogy can be simple and straightforward. More often, our genealogy path seems more like a labyrinth or maze with frequent dead-ends and no clear way out. The ‘brick wall’ may actually be a hurdle or temporary road block.

Read “The Brick Wall Checklist” for an opinion about brick walls.

person in maze

Source:  http://www.the-burgenland-bunch.org/Newsletter/Newsletter266.htm

“Which begs the question: what is the difference between a maze and a labyrinth? Although considered synonymous by some, it is generally accepted that a labyrinth contains only one path, often spiralling around and folding back on itself, in ever-decreasing loops, whereas a maze contains branching paths, presenting the explorer with choices and the potential for getting very, very lost.” (Source: https://theconversation.com/how-to-escape-a-maze-according-to-maths_71582:  accessed 10 Feb 2018)

Some characterize genealogy as a puzzle with missing  pieces. How do you put a genealogy puzzle together? Read this blog post for some ideas:  Finding all the pieces to the puzzle.  For me, the image varies with each family group/ person and the specific goal.

I have been doing genealogy for over 20 years. Last year (2017), I started a Genealogy Do-Over by carefully reorganizing and reviewing files. Each file contains multiple records and notes. This year, I focus on my mother’s family (Tucker-Maurer) with forays into my husband’s family lines (Ellerbee-Simmons and Johnson-Reed). The person of the week is Rosina Maurer, sister of my great grandfather, Herman Maurer, and the maze that I found myself in.

The first rule of genealogy is “Start with what you know.”  In this case, I started with a handwritten family history by my great-aunt, Viola Maurer Tucker, written in the early 1980s.  [1]

“Valentine & Katherine Maurer had 5 children:  Herman, Katherine, Joseph, Rose, Edward. . . . Rose married Jacob Smetz.  We lost track of them after Herman (our father) died.  They had 2 or 3 children and lived in New Jersey.”

With these minimal clues, the search began with the first record found for Rose –  1892 New York State Census, Brooklyn, Kings County, New York: [2] 

Page 3, column 1, lines 13-17: Valentine Maurer, 65, b. Germany; Annie Maurer, 64, b. Germany; Rosie Maurer, age 24, b. U.S., box maker; Joseph Maurer, age 23, b. US, brass worker; Edward Maurer, age 17, b US, mechanic.

New facts: Rose, a.k.a.  ‘Rosie’, born about 1868, single and living with her parents in 1892.  Disclaimer:  Still lost in the maze of 1870 and 1880 census records for this family. I haven’t yet done an exhaustive search in these records.

gg62755812Keep chronological journal, handwritten or computer-based, of when and where you find information even if information is conflicting or negative. This journal / research log will keep you from retracing your steps later. Transfer appropriate information to your family tree. On family tree, write notes about conflicting and negative information.

With this basic information, I am now ready to enter the maze to find Rose/ Rosie Maurer Smetz. First, I went to Ancestry’s online database and typed “Jacob Smetz” as Rosie’s spouse.  No records found for Jacob Smetz or any children.  A dead-end, return to entry point.

Next, I remembered a document already in my files -probate record for Anna Katharina Maurer, Rose’s mother, who died in 1899: [3]

Anna Kathrina Maurer probate pg 2_crop

Probate record for Anna Katharina Maurer, 1899.  Last paragraph on page 2.

 Did Viola have Jacob’s name wrong?  Try another direction.  Begin again with 1900 census. Changed Jacob’s surname to ‘Schnitz’.  – no results!!! Changed residence from New York to New Jersey. Again, no results! Back to entry point. Record each direction and results in journal.  This feels like a roadblock, so I end here to return later.

Start over.  Review available information again before entering the maze.  From the probate records, I saw, for the first time(?),  ‘Rosina’.  Try  ‘Rosina’ again with both ‘Smets’ and ‘Schnitz’.  Nothing found on Ancestry website. There have to be records for this family!

Try another strategy using Family Search online genealogy.  At last, a record found:  Marriage record for Rosina Maurer and Jacob Smets,  27 November 1895, Manhattan, New York. [4]

Jacob Smets, Marriage, 27 Nov 1895, Manhattan, New York, New York, United States; New York (City), New York, male, 34, single, white, birth year (estimated) 1861; birthplace: Elimpt, Germany. Father: John Henry Smets. Mother: Gertrude Corzilius. Spouse: Rosina Maurer, female, 28, single, white, birth year (estimated) 1867, birthplace Brooklyn, N.Y. Father: Valentine Maurer. Mother: Ann Catherine Corzilius.

This record opened the 1900 census for Jacob and Rosa Smets in Stonington, Connecticut [5]:

Jacob Smets, head, 26, b. June 1864, Germany. Rosa Smets, wife, 33, b. Nov 1867, New York, mother of 3, 3 living. Gertrude Smets, daughter, 4, b. Oct 1896, New York. Joseph Smets, son, 2, b. March 1898, New York. Arthur H. Smets, son, age 11/12, b. July 1899, Connecticut.

Jacob & Rosa apparently moved from New Jersey to Connecticut, about 140 miles,  between April 1899 (date of her mother’s probate) and June 5, 1900, date of 1900 census.  Arthur, their youngest son, recorded as born in Connecticut in August 1899, so the family moved during Rosa’s 5th or 6th month of pregnancy. I now have the names for 3 children and an interesting twist.  Why did they move to Connecticut? Jacob’s listed occupation as a weaver in a velvet mill probably answers that question.

The 1900 census led to the 1910 census for Jacob & Rosina Smets in Brooklyn, New York [6]:

Jacob Smets, head, 48, M1 [1st marriage], married 14 years. b. Germany; immigrated 1891, naturalized citizen. Rosina Smets, wife, 42, M1 [1st marriage, married 14 years, b. New York. mother of 4, 4 living. Gertrude Smets, daughter, age 13, b. NY. Joseph Smets, son, 12, b. NY. Arthur Smets, son, age 10, b. CT. Robert Smets, son, age 9, b. NY. Anna Dale, lodger, 70, b. Ireland. Henry Ryder, lodger, 65, n. NY. Murphy, lodger, 19, b. NY

Another child, Robert, born in 1901 in New York. Jacob & Rosina moved from Connecticut back to New York before Robert’s birth in 1901.

Circled back to Ancestry website, and found Jacob & Rosa in Brooklyn, New York, per 1905 census. [7]

Jacob Smets, 39, no. of yrs in U.S. = 15. Rose Smets, 36. Gertrude M. Smets, 8. Joseph Smets, 7. Arthur H. Smets, 5. Robert Smets, 4.

This again confirms their move from Connecticut back to New York.  It’s  late at night and I am stuck in the maze.  Time for bed!

032-Genetoons-AncestralFindings

Source:  Genetoons Genealogical Cartoons  (https://ancestralfindings.com/genetoons-cartoons-2/

Still in the maze but making progress. Continued to circle around the Ancestry database and discovered another opening:

1920 Census [8]—South Brunswick, New Jersey:  Jacob Smits [Smets], head, 58, immigrated 1892, NA YR: 1897. Rosina Smits, 52. Gertrude Smits, 23. Joseph Smits, 21. Anthon [Arthur] Smits, 20. Robert Smits, 18.

The family did live in New Jersey! Followed the tracks of Jacob and Rosa’s children with some success (to be reported in a later post).

Another opening: 1930 Census[9]—South Brunswick, New Jersey!  Jacob & Rose Smetts.  Changed surname spelling again:   Jacob Smetts, head, 64, b. Germany.  Rose Smetts, wife, 55, b. NY.  Herbert Dorer, Boarder, 32, b. Switzerland.

Changed direction to Find A Grave for Smets/ Smetts. Many possible detours (i.e. names) but no entries found for Jacob, Rose, or any of their children.

Changed direction again – to Newspapers. Com website. Nothing found for Jacob or Rosina Smets.  Then, three large openings in the maze after using ‘Smetts’:

24 July 1930 Central New Jersey Home News:  “ Letter of admin to Rose Smetts for estate of the late Joseph Smetts, who died. . . July 12.” [10]

17 Dec 1936 Central New Jersey Home News:  Obituary for William J. Smetts, “William Jacob Smetts, husband of Mrs. Rose Smetts.” [11] 

According to German naming traditions,  first names given at birth were rarely used and people were usually known by their 2nd name.  Could ‘Rosina’ be her middle name?  If so, what is her first name??

9 July 1949, “Henry Renk attended funeral services for Mrs. Rose Smetts. . . “  [12]

Possible clear path out of the maze, except for the mention of Henry Renk. What is his relationship to Rose?  Definitely a  BSO to be explored another day!

Retraced steps back to Ancestry website, searching now for  ‘Rose Smetts’.  Another opening:  1915 census – Frankling Twp, Somerset County, N.J.[13]:

Smets, Jacob, 46, b. June 1865, Germany. Rosina,  40, b. Nov 1874, New York.  Gertrude, 17, b. Oct 1896, New York. Joseph, 16, b. Mch [March] 1899, New Jersey. Arthur H., 15, b. July 1900, Conn. Robert, 14, b. June 1901, New York.

Retraced steps (again!) to  recheck for page numbers of newspaper entries (forgot to record these earlier).  Looked around the location one more time and discovered a previously overlooked item:

Death notice for William J. Smetts, 14 Dec 1936:  “son, Arthur H., died November 18 [1936). . . daughter, Gertrude Anderson.”. [14] 

At last, a clear path out of the maze!  Some areas (residence in 1870 , 1880, 1940) remain just out of reach.

Looked over the top of the maze walls, using a broad search term: “Rose Smetts died 1949”.  Found:  Obituary for Mrs. Rose Smetts[15]:

Maurer_Rose_mSmetts_death notice

Asbury Park Press, Asbury Park, New Jersey, 6 July 1949, p. 2, column 3

Exit point of the maze.  Now, the final test question:  Was information given at the entry point proven?

“Rose married Jacob Smetz.  We lost track of them after Herman (our father) died.  They had 2 or 3 children and lived in New Jersey.”

“Rose married Jacob Smetz” – Rose married William Jacob Smetts.  Proven with spelling variations of Jacob’s surname.

“They had 2 or 3 children” – Jacob and Rose had 4 children, 2 of whom died between 1930 and 1940.   Proven plus one.

“lived in New Jersey” – Jacob and Rose moved to New Jersey between 1910 and 1915.  Both of them died in New Jersey.  Proven.

If you are interested, view Rose’s life summary: Maurer_Rose_Timeline2

reflection-swirl-green-color-hi

Reflection:

What began as a routine task soon became an intriguing and frustrating study. I often run into name variations but there seemed to be more twists and turns than usual for Rose’s family. Maybe I just wasn’t picking up on clues. I originally viewed this as a zig-zag path with many choices of direction. Then, I realized that I was going in circles. The concept of a maze seemed more fitting as I reached dead-ends and had to retrace my steps. Before starting my Genealogy Do-Over, I rarely followed through for the siblings of my direct ancestors.  And, I stopped quickly when I could not access readily available information.

What helped:  handwritten family history provided by great-aunt Viola, even with its minimal information. Tools and techniques learned during the past year. Slowing down and documenting everything.  Searching for additional information before finishing this post.

What didn’t help:  early frustration when surname variations didn’t produce results.

What I learned:  Go back to original data, even when you think that you have learned everything you can from it. Thorough documentation takes more time but helps by forcing review of information more than once. It’s OK to put research aside for days, weeks, or months.

Footnotes/ Sources:

[1] Viola Blanche Maurer Tucker, “Maurer-Tucker Family History,” p. 4 ; 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] New York State Department of Health, “New York, State Census, 1892,” database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, downloaded 31 January 2018), entry for Rosie Maurer, age 24; citing New York State Education Department, Office of Cultural Education, Albany, New York; 173 Hopkins Street.

[3] Probate record for Anna Katharina Maurer, p. 2.  Kings County, New York, Probate case files, Anna Katharina Maurer; “New York, Kings County, Probate Administration Records.,” digital records, Author: New York. Surrogate’s Court (Kings County)., Ancestry. com, New YOrk, Wills and PRobate Records, 1659-1999 (www.ancestry.com: accessed & printed 20 May 2016); names children, confirms date of death.

[4] “New York, New York City Marriage Records, 1829-1940,” database, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:24C2-M4S : 10 February 2018), Jacob Smets and Rosina Maurer, 27 Nov 1895; citing Marriage, Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, New York City Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,493,451.

[5] “United States Census, 1900,” database with images, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M97F-TCG : accessed 10 February 2018), Rosa Smets in household of Jacob Smets, Stonington township (excl. Stonington borough), New London, Connecticut, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 488, sheet 7A, family 166, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972.); FHL microfilm 1,240,150.

[6] “United States Census, 1910,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M5S9-VNK : accessed 10 February 2018), Rosina Smets in household of Jacob Smets, Brooklyn Ward 30, Kings, New York, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 1098, sheet 7B, family 151, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1982), roll 985; FHL microfilm 1,374,998.

[7] 1905 New York State Census, Kings County, New York, population schedule, Brooklyn, enumeration district (ED) Assembly district A.D. 07, E.D. 22, p. 18, lines 1-6, Jacob Smets; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, downloaded, printed 10 February 2018); citing New York State Archives, Albany, New York..

[8] 1920 U.S. Census, Middlesex County, New Jersey, population schedule, South Brunswick, enumeration district (ED) 71, p. 5A (penned), dwelling 59, family 60, Jacob Smits [Smets] 58; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, downloaded, printed 10 February 2018); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication T625_1057.

[9] “United States Census, 1930,” database with images, Family Search (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:X4XG-DQN : accessed 11 February 2018), Rose Smetts in household of Jacob Smetts, North Brunswick, Middlesex, New Jersey, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 63, sheet 2B, line 100, family 50, NARA microfilm publication T626 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2002), roll 1367; FHL microfilm 2,341,102.

[10] Letter of admin for Joseph Smetts.

[11] “William J. Smetts,” Obituary, Central New Jersey Home News, 17 December 1936; online images, Newspapers.com (http:///newspapers.com : accessed, printed, downloaded 10 February 2018).

[12] “Henry Renk attended funeral services”, The Central New Jersey Home News (New Brunswick, New Jersey”, local newspaper (9 Jul 1949): p. 7; PDF images, (http://www.newspapers.com  :  accessed 10 Feb 2018), key word Mrs. Rose Smetts.

[13] 1915 New Jersey State Census, Somerset County, New Jersey, population schedule, Frankling Township, p. 1A (penned), Jacob Smets 46; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed & downloaded 16 February 2018); citing New Jersey State Archives, Trenton, New Jersey, reference no. L-14, Film 58.

[14]“William J. Smetts”,” death notice, The Central New Jersey Home News, 14 December 1936, death date, death of son, funeral information; digital images, Newspapers.com (http://www.newspapers.com : accessed, downloaded, printed 16 February 2018); citing The Central New Jersey Home News. p. 17, column 4.

[15] “Deaths: Smetts- Rose Maurer”, Asbury Park Press, Asbury Park, New Jersey, 6 July 1949, p. 2, column 3. accessed, downloaded & printed 23 Feb 2018 from Newspapers. Com.

Share your work with a family history scrapbook

Earlier this month, I presented an Ellerbee Family History scrapbook to my father-in-law in honor of his 80th birthday.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY PAPA!!

This project is my 4th genealogical scrapbook, 3 traditional paper format scrapbooks and 1 digital scrapbook. The projects evolved as a different way to present information about a family. As mentioned in earlier blogs, I wrote a narrative history about my dad’s family in 2012. I then promised my in-laws to research each of their families. The first two projects, both paper scrapbooks, resulted.

Project #1:  Simmons Family Scrapbook.

Paper scrapbook created for my father-in-law, about his mother’s family. He knew his grandfather as Clay Simmons but little else about the family. My quest, then, focused on discovering his Simmons’ heritage. That quest led to our first genealogy field trip to east Texas (a topic for another blog post!). HIs grandfather’s full name was Henry Clay Simmons.  Ancestors include James Aster Simmons, the first Baptist minister in Trinity County, Texas, circa 1856.  The Simmons family traces back to Virginia (ca. 1745) and the birth of a man named William Simmons. I used different color schemes for each generation.

Migration of Simmons Family
Suggestion:  Add a name to each place and date. 

Project #2:  Johnson-Reed Scrapbook. 

Paper scrapbook created for my mother-in-law, whose maiden name is Johnson. I used a book of floral design papers as background. Rather than an in-depth look at a single family line, Nana Linda’s scrapbook embraces direct ancestors of both Papa (Horace) Johnson and Nana (Venette) Reed for 4-5 generations. Several years ago, my in-laws pulled out on old suitcase full of family pictures. Some of those pictures found their way into this scrapbook.  A brief biography of a distant cousin who founded an Arkansas town added to the family tree.

Holcomb-Reed_graph for blog

Sample page from mother-in-law’s scrapbook.  Diagram shows relationship between two families. 

Project #3:  Posten Family. 

Digital scrapbook for my 90+ year-old aunt; presented to her during our trip to Pennsylvania in August 2017. Our family tree extends to our oldest known direct ancestor, Thomas Postens (born 1782, New Jersey – died 1854, Pennsylvania).  During my childhood, we traveled to Pennsylvania every other year.  Trips became less frequent after Dad’s mother died in 1964, so this scrapbook focused on the more recent story of my immediate family. Page themes included weddings, three generations of military service and my sons. A shoebox of pictures inherited from my mother yielded pictures of Grandma Posten with me and my siblings. My aunt readily identified when and where each picture had been taken.  My oldest son bears a definite resemblance to my dad and Grandpa Posten when they were in their early 20s.

Project #4:  Ellerbee Family Scrapbook.

Paper scrapbook created for my father-in-law. I promised this one as supplement to Simmons Family Scrapbook. Years ago, Papa shared his copy of an Ellerbe family history (Ronald William Ellerbe, The Ellerbe Family History, Baltimore, MD: Gateway Press, Inc., 1986). The book represents an extensive history of multiple family lines with similar spellings of the surname.  A boon to this genealogist! This scrapbook focuses on our direct family line, Ellerbee. Recent contact with a second cousin yielded copies of pages from a family Bible published in 1876. Yes, I gave credit for sharing those photos! Review of documents led me to a new appreciation of one widow’s journey from southwestern Georgia to eastern Texas in the early 1880s with 6 children aged 3 to 14.

Consider a scrapbook to share your next genealogical project. Choose a method – paper or digital.  Time, resources and cost determine the size and method. Begin with a smaller project such as persons who fought in a specific war, a single generation or location, persons with the same given name through multiple generations, or stories about people in a family picture. The process of creating scrapbook pages can even help crack a brick wall! I used a single branch of the extended family for two of my projects. Think creatively about how to present information such as a census record.

census example from scrapbookSimple format, band of design paper on a solid background.  Copy of 1910 Census, Cherokee County, Texas for W. J. Simmons, wife, Janie, and 4 of their 9 children.  Small leaf sticker pointed to the family. Transcription of entry for W.J. Simmons is on next page for easy reading.  In 1900, W.J. & family lived in Coltharp, Texas, a town which no longer exists. Picture of historic marker and information about the town followed the 1900 census record.

Family pictures, Bible records, and original documents are ideal for this type of project. Copies of these items abound in all of my scrapbook projects.

Check the cost of your chosen method. For a paper scrapbook, you will need the scrapbook itself, paper, plastic sleeves and tape. Use archival quality, acid-free paper and sleeves.  Buy tape labelled for scrapbooking.  A scrapbook kit provides these items , except for the tape, plus stickers and other add-ons.   For a digital scrapbook, compare cost and other requirements such as minimum number of pages. Most offer templates and other helpful hints. Create your own pages or ask for help from one of their designers. Once the digital scrapbook is created, how will you distribute it? Digital and print copies are both options. Consider cost of postage to mail a print copy of the finished product to you and/or others.

For either method, allow plenty of time. The first two paper scrapbooks took about 6 months each because I could only work on them 2-4 hours or less per week. I had done little research on the Simmons family, subject of the first scrapbook, so gathering information took more time than for the other scrapbooks. Our scheduled visit to Pennsylvania dictated the time frame for the 20-page digital scrapbook which took about 20-24 hours total to create. The last scrapbook entailed two weeks of intensive work, about 30-40 hours per week.

For a comparison of Digital scrapbooking websites:   https://www.comparakeet.com/digital-scrapbooking-sites/

Paper scrapbooks. Choose size of scrapbook. Sizes range from 4 inches x 6 inches to 12 inches x 12 inches. So many choices of papers and colors! Choose a theme such as color, location or event.  When starting, purchase a theme kit or packet of design papers plus complementary or contrasting solid color pages. Allow time and money for multiple trips to the craft or scrapbook store! Wait for sales!!  Scrapbook specialty stores often sell unique papers that cost slightly more than papers found in craft stores. Check online sources for paper and other items. Some online sources allow you to order single pages. I ordered a Civil War Confederate packet and a Korean War theme packet online. Take pictures of your finished product.  You can then share these digital pictures with others in your family.

Develop a tentative table of contents, by section and/or page. The overall purpose of your project guides the sequence. In general, each section of my paper scrapbooks represented one generation.  The section started with a printed family group sheet followed by pictures, census records and other documents. Final pages in the section told a story about a specific person or event through local newspaper reports, church/ county histories or a summary written by me.

One challenge is finding creative ways to present various documents.  For a multi-generational family history, begin with a pedigree chart using a pre-printed, fill-in-the blank family tree form. Blank forms with handwritten entries personalize the scrapbook. Add stick-on items. Buy theme-based scrapbook packages at craft stores or online. I have jewels, flowers, letters of the alphabet, U.S. state decals, ribbon and leaves to add as accents. For the most part, I used fairly simple designs and shapes.

page 14_John Ellibee_Martha Love_marriage record_Ellerbee scrapbook_Jan 2018

Copy of  Marriage record for John Ellibee & Martha Love, 1842.  Full page from marriage record (with red circle around entry), enlarged view of actual entry, and a handwritten label identifying the document. Solid color background with coordinating bands of design paper at top and bottom of page. 

As you accumulate items, think about the information in or about the item. What is the most effective way to present the item? There are at least 3 men named William Green Ellerbee among the ancestors so green paper backs their stories. Use a state outline behind a document. Military symbols accompany copies of service records. A picture of a schoolhouse goes well with a copy of a school record. I wrote a newspaper-type story about a genealogical brick wall and presented it on (yes, you guessed it!) brick wall paper. A death certificate or tombstone picture on black paper with the words “In Memoriam’  is powerful. If available, add a picture of the person to a copy of a funeral notice. Add your own handwritten note to a census record – “6 year old Noah is listed as son but it is unlikely that 60-year-old Martha is his mother. Still looking for parents of Noah.” Sometimes, simply present the item on a solid color piece of paper.

Use contrasting and coordinating colors. The color wheel guides this concept. Complimentary colors, such as red and green, appear directly across from one another. Analogous colors, such as green and yellow, appear close to each other. Examples of various color schemes:

color wheel 2

Link to source for  Color Wheel

Choose a base color for your project, then expand by adding different color schemes for each page or section. For my mother-in-law’s scrapbook, a pink and maroon flower-themed paper guided color choices for the rest of the book.

linda scrapbook sample title page

Are source citations important for scrapbooks? I believe that the answer is, “Yes!” Plan space for citation when setting the page format. I added source citations for census records and other documents. For photos of the family Bible, my citation reads “Photos of pages generously provided by .  .  .  .   .  .,  descendant of . . . . .”   Relate the provenance of the item in the photograph:  “Handwritten journal kept by Grandmother Bailey, found at Grandmother’s house by Judith Bailey, current owner of the journal.” Format source citations for other records, such as census records, according to current genealogical standards.

reflection-swirl-green-color-hiReflection:

These scrapbooks were time consuming, medium difficulty, rewarding projects. I had little personal experience with scrapbooking before I created the first one. My husband is a graphic artist who offered constructive criticism. Now, I regularly scour local craft stores for sales on scrapbooking items. I started with one family history themed scrapbook packet and bought multiple single pages. I now have 6 boxes of scrapbook paper in assorted themes, designs and colors. Last summer, I bought 2 boxes of scrapbook papers and accessories, worth about $70, for $10 at a garage sale. For the latest project, I bought 10 design specific pages but only used 4 of them. There are more stories in the documents!

What helped:  Paper scrapbooks done in 2013 & 2014. Bought scrapbook supplies at various times during the past 4 years and only when on sale! Identified general color scheme of black, blue and green before starting current project. High quality copies of 3 pictures done at office supply store. Searched internet for page ideas. Genealogical research essentially complete on family before starting most recent project with most documents in paper or digital files.

What didn’t help:  With 1st project, no experience with scrapbooking. No clear format in mind, minimal planning. Genealogical research ongoing throughout 1st project. This project — home printer malfunction halfway through. Printer was down for 4 days while we waited for part. Good news – we didn’t have to buy a new printer! Used printer downtime to create items on computer and plan rest of scrapbook pages. Started creating pages in the middle of the family line, which was a little confusing.

Suggestions for future:  Tentatively plan sequence of sections and pages before starting. Inventory materials on-hand for ideas. Complete genealogical research as much as possible before starting scrapbook but remain open to new ideas or documents that may surface. Continue to look for scrapbook page ideas.

For more information, find print books about scrapbooking at your local bookstore or public library.

Websites you may find helpful (in no particular order):

Scrapbook your family tree (supplies and page layout ideas): http://www.scrapbookyourfamilytree.com/product-category/genealogy-scrapbook-paper/:

Scrapbooking genealogy (supplies and page layout ideas):    https://www.scrapbookinggenealogy.com/

Scrapbooking Your Family History: http://www.thoughtco.com/scrapbooking-your-family-hitory-1420758

Scrapbook A Family Tree:  https://www.familytree.com/scrapbooking/scrapbook-a-family-tree/

Pinterest, ideas for page layouts and links for supplies:  https://www.pinterest.com/rustico3059/scrapbook-your-family-tree/

The complete guide to starting your family tree scrapbook:  https://scrapbookingcoach.com/the-complete-guide-to-scrapbooking-your-family-history-for-generations-to-come/

Scrapbooking Your Family History: A Beginner’s Guide:   http://www.scrapyourfamilyhistory.com

 

 

 

 

 

Proving Phoebe’s maiden name through her daughter, Esther

You finally order and receive the death certificate for your direct ancestor!  You eagerly look for the name of his or her mother.  She is recorded as  ‘unknown’ !

Unknown mother DC sample

Copy of death certificate from digital files, Posten-Richards Family Tree.

Information for a death certificate is given by a member of the deceased’s family.  These informants do always have all of the information requested.  So, where do you go from here?  The answer may be in collateral research, which focuses on those who aren’t your direct ancestors, also known as siblings, in-laws and other members of your extended family.

Start with census records for your direct ancestor, especially those from 1850 on.  Beginning in 1850, census records listed the names of household members.  However, relationship to the head of family was not recorded until 1880.   Scenario:  the first name of an older woman is listed in the same household as your direct ancestor in one of these later census records. The woman is old enough to have been your direct ancestor’s mother.  Later, you get the death certificate for a sibling of your direct ancestor.   This death certificate lists only the mother’s maiden name!   But, you now have two clues – a first name and a possible maiden name.   Follow those leads to confirm both given and maiden names of your direct ancestor’s mother!

This post details a recent session with a goal to discover if Phoebe Bertyman/ Brutzman/ Bowman  is the sister of my paternal great-great grandfather, James D. Posten (1829-1914).  James’ death certificate[1] lists his parents as Thomas Postens and Esther Brown.  A newspaper story about a Posten family union [2] described James as ‘the youngest son’.  Collateral research and indirect evidence are the models

The search began with an 1850 census record for Phebe Bertyman in Monroe county, Pennyslvania. [3]  Thomas Porton [Postens], age 68, is listed first, followed by Jonathan, age 30, James, age 19, Phebe [Phoebe] Bertyman, age 27, Esther, age 14, and Alexander, age 10.

1850 United States Federal Census(14)(1)

1850 U.S. census, Monroe County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Hamilton Township, p. 17B (stamped), dwelling 220, family 220, Phebe Bertyman [Brutzman]; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com    :   Accessed 16 Aug 2010 and 3 May 2017); citing National Archivesand Records Administration microfilm M432, roll 798.

My best guess is that Phoebe is Thomas’ daughter and that Esther and Alexander are Phoebe’s children.  After searching other pages of the Monroe county census,  I believed that ‘Bertyman’ was probably Brutzman or Brotzman, so I followed that lead.  An unsourced online family tree [4] showed these ‘facts’:   Phoebe’s husband =  Lewis Brutzman;  Esther’s husband = Philip S. Lee;  Esther’s death date= after 1900 in Monroe County.

New goal:  Prove  above facts through census and other records.  Specific plan:

  • Search census records in Monroe county, Pennsylvania from 1860 through 1900 for Esther, Philip, and Phoebe, using Ancestry, Family Search and/or American Ancestors databases.  If unsuccessful,  try name variations first, then surrounding counties.
  • Repeat search strategy for marriage records. Note:  1900 census usually lists how many years person has been married.
  • Enter information to Research Logs and Roots Magic family trees.

Results:  Census:  1900:  Philip Lee and wife,  Esther , found in Monroe County, Pennsylvania with children and 84 y/o Phoebe Bowman, mother-in-law.[5]   An online tree cited a county history book with information about Philip and Esther.  That book  was found online  [6]   with this entry:  “In 1853, he [Philip S. Lee] married Miss Esther Brutzman, born about 1836, daughter of Lewis and Phoebe (Posten) Brutzman.”

Analysis of evidence:  Found Esther’s birth year (1836; same as suggested by 1850 census) and marriage year (1853).   Philip and Esther were living in Stroudsburg, Monroe county, Pennsylvania in 1900.  Unexpected findings:

  • Confirmed Phoebe Posten Brutzman as  Esther’s mother (as suggested by 1850 census).
  • Confirmed Phoebe’s maiden name as Posten (as suspected from 1850 census).
  • Suggests Phoebe was born about 1816 rather than 1823 (as suggested  by 1850 census).  Phoebe’s birth year of 1816 is more consistent with her being about age 20 when Esther was born.  Although, Phoebe could have had a child when she (Phoebe) was only 13 or 14 years old.   Discovering Phoebe’s age at Esther’s birth was not a research goal for this session but is still important and was entered on Research Log .  A later research session found  60-year-old Phoebe Bowman working as a servant in 1880. [7]
  • Change of surname suggests that Phoebe married a man with surname of Bowman between 1850 and 1880.

Summary:  Primary goal of discovering whether Phoebe was daughter of Thomas and sister of James was not met.  However,  serendipitous findings confirm these facts:  Phoebe’s maiden name of Posten,  Phoebe as mother of Esther,  Lewis Brutzman as father of Esther and husband of Phoebe.  [8]  Philip and  Esther were living in Monroe county in 1900.  The county history provided additional information and the search for additional documents continues.    Marriage year for Philip & Esther (about 1853) and birth year for Esther (about 1836)[9], [10] are considered as proven.  It is  likely that Phebe/ Phoebe Bertyman, living with Thomas and James in 1850, is James’ sister.  No further information about Lewis Brutzman was found during this search.

To-do list

o Continue search for Philip and Esther in 1860, 1870, 1880.

o Confirm death dates for Philip and Esther.

o Prove Lewis Brutzman birth & death dates, marriage date for Lewis Brutzman and Phoebe Posten.

o Identify Phoebe’s 2nd husband:  Unknown Bowman, birth & death dates,  estimated marriage year.

o Confirm Phoebe’s death date & location (after 1900; probably Monroe county, PA;  possibly listed under surname of Bowman).

o Confirm names of Phoebe’s parents.  Indirect evidence may provide this information.

reflection-swirl-green-color-hi

REFLECTION: 

As I completed the tasks of data entry to my genealogy program,  I finally  remembered to pull the paper files on this family.  I had done similar searches in 2015 and 2016! The file included copies of census records and handwritten notes but no systematic documentation or analysis.  disappointed face emjoiBig sigh!!!  I ran out of steam about midnight and completed tasks of entering data, sources, and media to genealogy program the next day.  But,  I did enter information to research logs before I went to bed.

[1] Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Health, death certificate 118955 (1914),  James D. Posten, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Death Unit, New Castle.

[2] “Posten Family Reunion,” The Wilkes-Barre Record, 11 September 1908; online images, Newspapers.com (http://www.newspapers.com : accessed & printed 18 August 2017).

[3] 1850 U.S. census, Monroe County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Hamilton Township, p. 17B (stamped), dwelling 220, family 220, Phebe Bertyman [Brutzman]; digital image, Ancestry  (http://www.ancestry.com    :  Accessed 16 Aug 2010 and 3 May 2017); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M432, roll 798.

[4] “Public Member Trees,” database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com  :  accessed 17 May 2017, “Lee’s” family tree by rickleedoe,  profile for Phoebe Postens Brutzman (1815 – ?), no sources given for this person, last  update unknown.

[5] 1900 U.S. census, Monroe County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Stroud Township, Enumeration District [ED] 139, p. 6 (penned), 202A (stamped),  dwelling 116, family 126, Phoebe M. Bowman: digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 May 2017); citing National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.  microfilm publication T623, roll 1442.

[6] Commemorative Biographical Record of Northeastern Pennsylvania including the counties of Susquehanna, Wayne, Pike and Monroe containing biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens and many of the early settled families. (Chicago:  J. H. Beers & Co., 1900), 150; digital images, WayBackMachine  (http://www.archive.org      : accessed 5 May 2017).

[7] 1880 U.S. Federal Census, Monroe county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Stroudsburg, enumeration district (ED) 228, p. 14B (penned), dwelling 118, family 118, Pheoba Bowman; digital images, Ancestry  (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, printed, downloaded 21 August 2017); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T9, Roll 1157.

[8] Commemorative Biographical Record of Northeastern Pennsylvania including the counties of Susquehanna, Wayne, Pike and Monroe, 150.

[9]  1900 U.S. census, Monroe County, Pennsylvania, pop. Sch. Stroud Township,  p. 6 (penned), 202A (stamped),  dwelling 116, family 126, Esther Lee.

[10] Commemorative Biographical Record of Northeastern Pennsylvania including the counties of Susquehanna, Wayne, Pike and Monroe, 150.

Great-Grandfather Daniel S. Posten and the 1900 census

Question:  Where did  great-grandfather Daniel S. Posten live in 1900?

This blog post outlines one experience in my Genealogy Do-Over journey.   “Tracking Research” and “Conducting Research” are the topics for Month 4 (April 2017).  OK,  so I’m still behind on some of my lessons.  And, I am still working on improving my research practices.  I want to share one example of how the system worked for me.

Here is a copy of my original family group sheet (FGS) for paternal great-grandfather Daniel S. Posten.

Posten_Daniel _S_FGS_ca 1988026

The yellowish color of the paper and the form itself suggest that this is one of my earliest attempts, probably started about  1987.  Entries are written in pen and pencil and may have been made at different times. This was definitely a work-in-progress!   For the Genealogy Do-Over, I used a different form and re-wrote the FGS.  I have confirmed a lot of information so the entries are neater and more complete. I started entering trees online in 2001 and Dad’s tree would have been one of the first.

gg62755812Write your name (as preparer) and date on each form.  Many forms have space for this information.  In general,  use a pen to write information that you can confirm.  Use pencil, different color ink, or highlighter for  information that needs to be confirmed. 

A research log is the way to track research efforts.  I am beginning to see the log as a diary of sorts about the journey.  As I filled out the log and other documentation forms for Daniel, I found several gaps.  Daniel was born in 1859 and died in 1918.  I downloaded a copy of his death certificate in 2010 and received an original copy (dated 1979) from a cousin in 2012.  That original copy has been scanned and placed in acid-free, archival quality sleeve in Posten binder.

One way to track our ancestors is through the United States federal census, conducted every 10 years since 1790.  Census records are available through 1940.  States also conducted censuses at random times.  A list of state censuses can be found here:  https://www.census.gov/history/www/genealogy/other_resources/state_censuses.html

From previous searches, I tracked Daniel in 1860[1], 1880[2], and 1910[3].  After his death, Lizzie (Elizabeth Phoebe Fulkerson), his wife, was listed with my grandparents in 1920[4] and with another daughter, Bertha Posten Brack, in 1930.[5] Lizzie died in 1938.  All of this information was entered on the newly created research log in May 2017.  I hadn’t really noticed the gap until I filled out the research log for Daniel.  Yes, this gap should also be apparent from the genealogy software program listing of events for Daniel.  There is a note for 1870 with Daniel’s parents:  “Family moved to Pittston about 1870; date from obituaries for both James and his wife, Meriam.”  Since Daniel would have been with his parents in 1870, I decided to conduct that search later.

Where were Daniel and Lizzie in 1900?  Have I searched before and not found anything?  If so, what and where did I search?  With no research log, the answer is:  “I don’t know.” Action item for To-Do List:  “Locate 1900 census record for Daniel S. Posten.    Target Resources:  Ancestry, FamilySearch, census books at OK History Center. Start West Pittston.”  Why start in West Pittston?  Because that’s where the family lived in 1910.

And, here’s the rest of the story.  Date:  July 11, 2017:   In depth review of records for great-grandparents, Daniel S. Posten and Elizabeth Phoebe Fulkerson.  Research goal for day:  Locate 1900 census record.  Start with West Pittston, Luzerne county, Pennsylvania.  Go to Ancestry website.  West Pittston has 3 districts, with about 50 pages of census records for each.  Big Sigh!!  District #1 – no luck.   Stretch, get water and a snack.

Look at family group sheet again.   Three of their 8 children were born around 1900:  Bertha in 1895, Martha Jane in 1898, and Samuel in 1901.  Birthplace for those 3 children is listed as Ransom Township, Lackawanna county, Pennsylvania.  Check sources – obituaries and death certificates for Bertha, Martha and Samuel.  Maybe I was looking in the wrong place!  Go to census record for Ransom Township.  Only 22 pages!   And, success!  On Page 3B,  Danial S. Poster (as transcribed), wife Lizzie, and  6 children. [6]

Research goal met!    Additional information from 1900 census—Lizzie is recorded as mother of 6 children with 6 children living.  On 1910 census, she is recorded as mother of 8 children with 7 living.  The two census records combined support a fact recorded by others, with no documentation, that another child,  Ida, was born about 1903 and died  about 1908.  I am still searching for Ida.

reflection-swirl-green-color-hi

REFLECTION:  Using the research log, I identified that I didn’t know where Daniel and his family lived in 1900.  I initially used only one clue, residence in West Pittston in 1910, to find them.  I only searched one website because that is the one that I am most comfortable with.  I met research goal for this session and didn’t follow any BSOs .  I downloaded census record immediately and recorded information on research log and genealogy software.  Total time spent:  about 45 minutes.  If I had looked at FGS closer before beginning, I might have noticed reported birthplace of children as Ransom Township and avoided searching 50 pages of West Pittston census.   Transcription of surname as “Poster” may have been an issue.  Since I hadn’t filled out a research log before May, 2017, it is possible that I had previously looked in West Pittston and Pittston, found nothing, then became discouraged and stopped searching.  Suggestion for future:  Review all documents to narrow search criteria. Recognize that notes on research log may have been written at end of a long day and may or may not reflect the best search criteria.  Continue creation of research logs for direct ancestors in Posten line.  Vary websites and other sources so I can become more familiar with each.

Participating in the Genealogy Do-over is helpful although frustrating at times.   Slowing down to complete specific tasks is still a challenge.  I am now working on Dad’s great-grandparents. Citations are getting easier.  When I print an item, I often add more information about the source than what is printed.   In the last month, I started 2 new projects, using improved techniques and tools.  TO DO:  midyear review.  Read Genealogy Do-Over, Months 4-6 again!

[1] 1860 U.S. census,  Monroe County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Price Twp., p. 76 (penned),  dwelling 516, family 691, Daniel S. Posten : digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 2012); citing National Archives microfilm publication M653, roll 1142.

[2] 1880 U.S. census, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania population schedule, Pittston, Enumeration District [ED] 136, p. 18B (penned), dwelling 163, family 177, Daniel Bostons [Posten]: digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 2012); citing National Archives microfilm publication T9, roll 1150, image 0464.

[3] 1910 U.S. census, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania population schedule, West Pittston, Enumeration District [ED] 127, p. 17B (penned), family 405, Daniel S. Paster [Posten]: digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 2012); citing National Archives microfilm publication T624, roll 1370, image 528.

[4] 1920 U.S. Census, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, pop.sch., Ransom Twp., enumeration district (ED) 93, p. 6B, Family #118, Elizabeth Posten; digital images, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed, viewed, downloaded 13 December 2016);  citing National Archives and Records Administration. Roll T625_1578.

[5] 1930 U.S. Federal Census, Lackawanna county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Scranton, enumeration district (ED) 26, p. 2B (penned), Elizabeth Posten mother-in-law, 69; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, viewed, printed 13 Dec 2016); citing National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Washington, D. C.. Microfilm publication T626, Roll 2052, Image 187.0.

[6] 1900 U.S. census, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania population schedule, Ransom Twp, Enumeration District [ED] 40, p. 3B (penned), dwelling 42, family 43, Danial S. Poster [Daniel S. Posten]: digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 11 Jul 2017); from National Archives microfilm publication T623, roll 1419.

Genealogy Do-over: Month 1, Part 2

Progress report:  Month 1,  Goal #2:  locate/ sort/ file essential documents and those that ‘”took considerable time, effort and money to order or collect.   Set aside for later review.”[1]

As of April 24, 2017 (Month 4),  this task is finally, almost complete for maternal & paternal lines, maternal  & paternal- in-laws families, taking much longer than I anticipated.  But, then, I realize that there are 500-600 people (or more) in each tree,  going back 5-7 generations.  Yes, not all of those people are directly related to us!  My husband said, more than once, “I hope that all of this  will actually help!” as I totally took over a dining room table.  Son #2 has his computer on our office desk so that space isn’t currently available.  I kept telling husband and sons, and reminding myself, that it was as much for those who will inherit my files as for me now.  I think that their eyes glazed over more than once when I tried to describe why I was doing this!   During the re-organization process,  I tried to carefully review documents.  I jumped ahead to Month 4 (research log) for a couple of brick walls and questions that came up.   I am proud of myself that I only followed 3-4 BSOs!  Staying away from those is a definite challenge!

What is a BSO?  BSO stands for “Bright and Shining Object”.   According to Thomas MacAntee [1],  a BSO is anything that “can cause your research to be derailed while you lose focus on your original research goal.”   For me, this has included not only those hints on the genealogy websites but a note that a town in the 1880 census no longer exists (spent 2 hours finding out more that was not really relevant to our family’s history), a 1940s newspaper clipping about a boy with our surname (turns out he was son of a 2nd cousin) and the death certificate of wife of  distant relative (until 2 am tracking her parents).   He recommends using a To-Do List.  To-Do lists include what you are trying to find, what you have found, and what you need to find to meet your research goal.  Basically, it’s a research plan and incorporates the BSO that is tempting you.

disco-ball-150x150

BSO example #1:    Finding 1st wife of  my  maternal great-great grandfather, Jeremiah Tucker.  According to oral family history, his wife’s name was Margaret/ Maggie Irwin.

Census records for 1870, 1880 & 1900 show Jeremiah and wife, Margaret.   A closer look at 1900 census record shows that Jeremiah & Margaret have been married for 33 years or estimated marriage year about 1867.  So, what’s the problem?  1870 census record – child, Lavinia, age 8 (born about 1862).  1880 census – daughter, Lanna, age 18.  If marriage information given in 1900 census is correct, then Margaret is probably Jeremiah’s 2nd wife.   Next item of interest already in my files, death certificate for George Tucker (age 3 in 1880) — his mother’s name is listed as Margaret Collins.  Wife, Margaret, listed in 1870/1880/1900 census records died before Jeremiah, who died in 1914.

Was  Jeremiah Tucker married to another woman named Margaret ?

This is definitely a BSO!  At any other time, I would have gone after this immediately.  But, I restrained myself .  So, here is the To-Do list:

  1. Confirm death date & location for Margaret Tucker.  Obtain death certificate.
  2.  Confirm death date & location for Lavinia Tucker; obtain death certificate.
  3. Obtain death certificates for other children of Jeremiah & Margaret – William Frederick Tucker (my great-grandfather),  Augusta Tucker Sanford.
  4. Search New York marriage records for Jeremiah Tucker and 1st wife, possibly also named Margaret, years 1860 to 1862.

During the re-organization & review process,  I encountered more BSOs and was able to avoid the temptation most of the time.  Frustrating?  Yes,  because I REALLY want to find the answer to the questions!   I will discuss other BSOs and my experiences with research logs  in a later blog.

For the moment,  I am beginning to see the benefits of the time spent on the re-organization of my files.  For each person, I can quickly scan 1 or 2 sheets of paper and see exactly what I need to find.  I also have entered  questions on the to-do tab in my genealogy software program.  Most of these will eventually be entered on the more detailed research logs.  And, future searches will, hopefully, be more focused and efficient because of time spent now.

Still to be done:   complete scanning of BMD certificates sent to me from cousin.  Put original certificates in archival quality plastic sleeves in appropriate notebooks.

[1] Thomas MacAntee, The Genealogy Do-Over Workbook. (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2016);  download from Amazon.com