Two sides to every document

FACT: There are two sides to every document. An obvious statement, you say. I agree. So, why am I writing about this? Because I was surprised recently when I turned over a document and read what was written on the back of the page. Here’s the story.

In my last blog post, I mentioned a box of family pictures and documents sent to me by a cousin.[1] Among the documents is a yellowed, fragile piece of paper with a list of names and dates. An uneven edge and incomplete dates suggest that the paper was torn. The paper measures 10 inches long x 4 inches wide.  A scanned copy, received via email about two months ago, did not reveal the color or condition of the page. First guess? From a family Bible, although the page did not include the usual headings of “Births” and “Deaths”.

Jones_Jimmey_Patience_children_crop_for blog

Jimmey Jones and Patience, list of names & dates.  Privately held by Susan Posten Ellerbee [address for private use,] Yukon, Oklahoma. 

The list appears to be a list of children born to Jimmey Jones and Patience Heamons/ Havens (or variation). These characteristics identify the document as a primary or original source. The origin of the information is unknown although possibly based on firsthand knowledge of the events. [2]  (For a review of  primary, secondary, and tertiary sources, read  “Evaluating sources & information”.

The person of interest is “Nancy born September the 22: 1823” (line 9). Nancy A. Jones, wife of Esbon Traver, is one of my maternal great- great grandmothers. Nancy’s maiden name is carved on their gravestone. [3] I admit that I presumed the information to be true and haven’t actively done the research to confirm Nancy’s maiden name.

This list of names introduced me for the first time to Nancy’s parents, Jimmey (James) Jones and Patience Heamons/ Havens. Confirming names and dates on the list is the subject of a future post. Today, I focus on the document itself.

I turned the page over, expecting to find it blank. Imagine my surprise, and delight, when I discovered additional information there. A printed form with hand written entries, a date, and tape marks. Get out the white gloves!

Reverse side of Jimmey Jones and Patience list:

Esbon_Traver_reverse side Jimmey Jones_Patience children.jpg

The list of names and dates wasn’t a page torn from a family Bible! It was written on the back of a form. Tape marks suggest that someone thought one side was more important than the other.  As a genealogist, both sides of the page are equally important. Where is the rest of the page? What information is on that paper?

Who is George Barker, named as substitute for 37 year-old Esbon Traver? Many men “avoided military service by simply taking advantage of that section of the Enrollment Act of 1863 allowing draftees to pay $300 to a substitute who served for them.” [4]  I am still looking for his service record and will report in a later post.

Compare the handwriting on both sides of the documents. I’m not a handwriting expert but the handwriting appears to be that of two different people. Ink appears consistent with time period of 1860s. I need a hero- an historical document expert!

Review of historical documents is one aspect of genealogy. Asking questions – who, what, when, where, why- reveal information about the document and its provenance.  The National Archives suggests these steps to analyze such documents: [5]

  1. Meet the document.
  2. Observe its parts.
  3. Try to make sense of it.
  4. Use it as historical evidence.

As you meet a document, inspect it carefully. Dates and signatures give clues about the document’s authenticity.[6] Is there a seal on the document?  Look for signs of tampering. Read the words carefully. Is there a hidden meaning? Consult books on historical and/or genealogical research for more information about document analysis.

Questions and preliminary answers:

  1. Who wrote the document? List of names could have been written by Esbon Traver, his wife, Nancy Jones, or one of their children. A different person probably wrote the entry on the other side.
  2. What information is contained in the document? One side: A list of names and dates beginning with Jimmey Jones and Patience Heamons/ Havens and their presumed children. Other side: Entry for a substitute for Esbon Traver, dated 1864.
  3. When was the document written? List of names: After 1866, since that is last date on the document. Substitute form:  Probably 1864.
  4. Where was the document written? Unknown, possibly Ulster or Greene county, New York.  Sources: census records for Esbon Traver and his wife, Nancy.
  5. Why was the document written? List of names: to preserve family history? Consider possibility that back of substitute document was an available piece of paper and, therefore, used for the purpose of recording family names and dates.
  6. How was the document produced? Printed form on one side.  Handwritten entries on the form. Handwritten name and date list on the other side of the form.

Next steps:  Consult with historical document expert and/or handwriting expert. Continue search for records about Jimmey, Patience, and their children. Identify Civil War service record for George Barker.

Online resources:  I found this Document Analysis Worksheet  on the National Archives Website.

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REFLECTION: 

I was really surprised to find the ‘substitute’ form and entries on the back side of the name list. I don’t know why I expected a blank page. Now, I have more information about Esbon Traver.  I plan to follow up on the substitute information. I remembered bits and pieces about evaluating historical documents from various research courses. The date on the form helps to date the paper itself and gives another clue about the date of the entries on both sides of the paper.  I don’t have the exact provenance of the paper – who gave it to my uncle? Since he and my maternal grandfather are both named Esbon, presumably after Esbon Traver, I wonder if the paper was given to my grandfather by one of his parents and then to my uncle. I need to buy a basic ‘genealogy how-to’ book for reference purposes. Maybe one about historical research methods?

What I learned:  Always look at both sides of a document! Expanded my knowledge base about the dating of documents.  Found a worksheet for document analysis.

What helped:  seeing and handling the original document. Having an archival quality plastic sleeve for the document.

What didn’t help:  knowing the document was old but no idea how old (paper from 1864). I would have gotten my white gloves out sooner!

Future plans: Consult historical document expert.

SOURCES:

[1] Family papers and photographs from estate of Esbon Herman Tucker (1917 – 2003). Privately held by Susan Posten Ellerbee [address for private use,] Yukon, Oklahoma. Items sent to Ms. Ellerbee by Mr. Tucker’s daughter, April 2018.  Mr. Tucker is brother of Ms. Ellerbee’s mother.

[2] Elizabeth Shown Mills. Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, 3rd ed. (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2015), 24-25.

[3] Find A Grave, database and images (http://www.findagrave.com : viewed 27 April 2018), memorial page for Nancy H. Jones Traver, Find A Grave Memorial # 92468922, citing Locust Cemetery (Greenville, Greene county, New York), memorial created by Lorna Puleo, photograph by Lorna Puleo.

[4] Michael T. Meier. “Civil War Draft Records: Exemptions and Enrollments”.  Prologue, Winter 1994, Vol. 26, No. 4, Genealogy Notes.  (https://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/1994/winter/civil-war-draft-records.html  :  accessed 8 May 2018), paragraph 4.

[5]National Archives, “Teaching with Documents: Document Analysis,”  National Archives (https://www.archives.gov/education/lessonsaccessed 8 May 2018).  Includes worksheets and other materials related to the analysis of documents and other primary sources.

[6] History Detectives, “Document This,” PBS, History Detectives (http://www.pbs.org/opb/historydetectives/educators/technique-guide/document-this/  :  accessed 8 May 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?

 

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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).

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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.

A Valentine in the Family Tree

Do you have a Valentine in your family tree?  Both my husband and I have ancestors named Valentine. One of my genealogy goals  for 2018 is to tell more stories about my husband’s family so this post focuses on Valentine Creager (aka Valentin Cregar/ Kruger) , my husband’s 6x great-grandfather. The story of Valentine and his descendants extends from Pennsylvania to Maryland and Kentucky then, eventually, Texas.

Disclaimer:  Six years ago, when I began collecting information about the Creager family,  I was not diligent in saving digital and/or print copies of reference materials.  I remember reading some items but have no idea where I found them. Research notes? Virtually non-existent. Source citations? Incomplete.  Digital or paper copies available?  Sometimes. Results? Secondary sources in this particular blog.  Frustrated?  Yes!  Then, I remember — this is one reason for my Genealogy Do-Over!

valentine center tree w names

The Creager surname is believed to be an Americanized version of the German surname,  Krieger.   Our American ancestors trace to Johan Casper/Caspar Krieger, who immigrated to America in the 1730s. [1]  Valentine Creager , third child of Casper Creager and  Maria Christiana Hofferth/ Hoffert  was born in 1734 in Oley Mountain, Berks County, Pennsylvania.  According to Scharf’s (1968) history of western Maryland,  “a company of German immigrants came down from Pennsylvania and established themselves in the valley of the Moncacy [River]. . . . “ (p. 360).[2]  Casper and his family followed sometime later.

Valentine was baptized by Rev. John Casper Stoever in Oley Hills, Pennsylvania on 2 March 1734 at St. Joseph Lutheran Church (aka Hill Church) [3]. Valentine is believed to be the only child whose birth and baptism can be validated from church records at this time. Irene (Creager) Lawson [4] stated, “At the time of Velte’s baptism, his father, Casper, was a resident of Oley Hills,  Pennsylvania, and was an official at St. Joseph’s Church or Hill Church and was one of the three designated to purchase 50 acres of land for a cemetery on August 12, 1747.” (page 10).

When he was 25 years old, Valentine Creager received a 21 year grant of land in the area known as Monocacy Manor, near Frederick Maryland, in 1759. [5]   A manor was land set aside by the original English lords, such as Cecilius Calvert, Second Lord Baltimore and the first Proprietor of Maryland, as a lease.   “Initially, the term of a lease was designated for a period equal to the natural lifetimes of three individuals selected by the leaseholder. They frequently were for his own life and the lives of perhaps two sons. . . . “ [6].  At the end of the lease, “land and improvements were to revert  to the Lord Proprietary” (Tracey & Dern, p. 305).  However, the Revolutionary War  probably disrupted these agreements  as evidenced by  the 1781 confiscation of the Monocacy Manor leases which were then  sold as Loyalist property [7].

 

 

Map of Monacy River area in Western Maryland.  Note how close it is to Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

 

 

 

 

When did Valentine Creager marry Maria Christina (maiden name unknown)? Reported dates vary from 1760 to 1768.  The only agreement seems to be that they were married in Maryland, probably Frederick County. Births of their children partially reflect Valentine’s absence from home during the Revolutionary War:

  1. Daniel Creager born 1764                                     Spouse:  Anna Barbara Schmitt
  2. Elizabetha Creager  born 17 Feb 1768
  3. John George Creager  born 11 May 1771            Spouse: Margaret ‘Peggy’ Myers
  4. Susanna Creager born 22 Feb 1773                     Spouse: Abraham Miller
  5. Christian Creager born 22 Mar 1774
  6. Thomas Creager born 6 Feb 1775                         Spouse: (1) Rebecca Robbins                                                                                                                       (2) Sarah Ann Hedges
  7. Amelia Creager born 24 Nov 1780                         Spouse:  Nathan Crum
  8. Maria Creager born after 1781

Researchers disagree about the number of children born to Valentine and Maria.  Baptismal records for Elizabetha, John George, Susanna, Thomas, and Amelia support relationships. [8]  A 1798 confirmation record for Maria Creager names Valentine and Maria Creager , which suggests a possible relationship to them.[9]  In the Lutheran Church, confirmation means that the young person accepts responsibility for the practice of their religion and adherence to church beliefs. I was raised as a Lutheran so am aware of the significance of this event.

An online message board [10] mentions one additional child, Henry, born in 1766, and another source[11] mentions Christian, born in 1774.  I make no attempt to prove or disprove either claim.   Some genealogists question whether Daniel is the son of Valentine and Maria or the son of one of Valentine’s brothers.

Valentine Creager served in both the French and Indian War of 1757-1758 and the American Revolution. In 1774, his name appears as a member of a Committee of Observation whose duties were to watch the British and Tories.  His allegiance to the American cause included an appointment to raise money for buying arms and ammunition. [12]   By October 1777 and possibly as early as November 1775, he received an appointment as Captain of the 4th Company. [13]  Re-organization of George Washington’s Army found Valentine serving in multiple units throughout the campaign.  The Maryland Flying Camps saw little action during the war but served an important function as observers of the British and protectors of local populations.

Valentin and his family continued to live in Frederick County, Maryland, after the Revolution.  The 1790 United States Federal Census names Valentine Creager, Frederick County, Maryland and these members of his household: [14]

Number of Free White Males Under 16:   1  (1 son, probably Thomas)

Number of Free White Males 16 and over:  2 (Valentine + 1 son, John George?

Number of Free White Females:  2 (Maria + daughter or 2 daughters)

The reported death date and place for Maria Christina Creager, Valentin’ s wife, vary from ‘after 1780 in Maryland’  to ‘3 June 1797 in Washington County, Kentucky’ with no specific notes or sources recorded.

gg62755812TIP:  If you are unsure about something, write a note to share what information you have.   Example (with some fictional data):  “March 1780, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Frederick County, Maryland,  Valentin and Maria Kruger as sponsors for Hans Hofferth, son of Johan Hofferth and wife, Anna. So, Maria died sometime after March 1780.  Since the ages of females were not recorded in 1790 census, uncertain if Maria was one of the 2 females listed with Valentine Creager.”

Several of Valentin’s sons, including John George, our direct ancestor, found their way to Kentucky by the early 1800s. [15]   In 1803, Valentine sold land in Frederick County, Maryland.  This transaction provides the last known record about him.  According to an online family tree [16], Valentine died about 1808 in Washington County, Kentucky.  The date and location of Valentine’s death and burial are not yet confirmed.

Records of Valentine Cregar’s Revolutionary War service formed the basis for his recognition as a Patriot by the National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution. (Valentin Cregar,  #A084178).  Descendants of his sons, John George Creager and Thomas Creager, proudly acknowledge themselves as Daughters of the American Revolution. Some of  John George’s descendants, specifically his daughter Sarah and her husband,  eventually settled in Texas.   John George and his wife, Margaret, are believed to have died in Boxelder County, Texas.

Our descendancy family tree (in a more traditional format)

Creager to Ellerbee descendant chart

Mable Venette Reed is my husband’s maternal grandmother.

 

reflection-swirl-green-color-hi

Reflection

I was really frustrated when I could not resurrect print or digital copies of pages from Irene Creager Lawson’s  book, The Creager History.   AARGH!!!!  But, my frustration grew smaller as I found copies of some sources.  My research techniques have certainly improved and continue to improve.  I learned a little about the colonial period in Maryland.  Found online digital copies of multiple records cited in other sources.  A particularly exciting find was PDF copy of original records in German from Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, Woodboro, Maryland !  Difficult to read handwriting but I was able to pick out ‘Valentin’.  With birth dates of Valentin’s children in hand, I found entries for some of the children and copied the relevant pages.  Yes,  I wrote the complete URL to each document!  And the date accessed!

What helped:  basic information already gathered for mother-in-law’s DAR application.  Access to resources about Maryland at the Oklahoma Historical Society Library here in Oklahoma City.  Finding a website with digitized church records for Frederick County, Maryland and the digitized  Maryland State Archives Online.

Website with Maryland church records:    Bob Fout, Genealogist    http://bobfoutgenealogy.com/records/

What didn’t help:  not previously exploring discrepancies in reports by various researchers.  Accepting some reports on face value without checking their sources.  Only a few Genealogy Do-Over tasks have been completed for mother-in-law’s family tree:  paper files placed in color-coded files,  individual checklists and research logs started for a few people.  But, I now have more about Valentine Creager!

Future plans:  Continue file clean-up.  Confirm sources cited by others.  Keep looking for copies of original sources.  Write notes about consistencies and discrepancies in records as well as reports made by others.    Keep paper and/or digital copies of all online resources, including complete URLs!

[1] “Descendants of Hans Ernst Krieger and Other Krieger families of Frederick Co., MD (aka Creager, Kruger, Creeger, etc.”  Updated; 2007-06-12.  Rootsweb ( https://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=GET&db=grannyapple1130&id=I0051    : accessed 12 Feb 2018).  Cites various sources; acknowledges duplications and missing sources and that the information “is not without errors.”

[2] J. Thomas Scharf, History of Western Maryland being a history of Frederick, Montgomery, Carroll, Washington, Alleghany, and Garrett Counties from the earliest period to the present day; including Biographical Sketches of their Reprsentative Men. Vol. 1 (Baltimore: Regional Publishing Company, 1968), p. 360.

[3] “Records of Rev. John Casper Stoever, Baptismal and Marriage 1730-1779,” Harrisburg Publishing Co: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, 1896, archived at WayBackMachine (https://archive.org/details/recordsof revjohno1stoe.pdf   : accessed 13 Feb 2018), p. 7, entry for Krueger-George Valentine.

[4] Pages from Irene Creager Lawson, The Creager History (Austin, Texas: Privately published, 1985) in documentation file supporting Membership Application of L.A. Golding (National no. 751615) on Valentine Cregar (1734, Pennsylvania – aft. 1803, Maryland ), approved 1 Feb 1993;  National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, Office of the Registrar General, Washington, D.C

[5] Grace L. Tracey & John P. Dern, Pioneers of Old Monocacy: The Early Settlement of Frederick County, Maryland 1721-1743 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc., 1987),  p. 323.

[6] Tracey & Dern, Pioneers of Old Monocacy, p. 305.

[7] Tracey & Dern, Pioneers of Old Monocacy, p. 305.

[8] Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church (formerly St. Peter’s), Rocky Hill, near Woodsboro, Frederick County, Maryland, Parish Registers, 1767-1889: Birth/Baptism Records 1767-1854, digitized by Bob Fout 2016; Bob Fout Genealogy (http://bobfoutgenealogy.com/records/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/GRHC_Baptisms_1767-1854.pdf   accessed 13 Feb 2018).  Entries found for Elizabetha (entry 14),  John George (entry 84),  Susanna (entry 114)  , Thomas (entry 150)  and Amelia (entry 251).

[9] Membership Application of L.A. Golding (National no. 751615) on Valentine Cregar (1734, Pennsylvania – aft. 1803, Maryland ), approved 1 Feb 1993;  National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, Office of the Registrar General, Washington, D.C.

[10]  Audrey Shields Hancock, “George Valentine “Velte” Creager,” Rootsweb, website/discussion board  8 February 2002 (http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~grannyapple/CREAGER-KRIEGER/B . . .accessed & printed  10 July 2011;   site currently offline).

[11] A letter to Mrs. Avonne Golding, dated 21 May 1987, from Wm. C. Willman, Research Correspondent, The Historical Society of Frederick County, Inc., Frederick, Maryland, names Christian and gives a birth date but my review of those digitized records did not reveal an entry for Christian. [Source: DAR documentation file, L.A. Golding (National no. 751615)].

[12] Scharf, History of Western Maryland, Vol. 1, pp. 128-129.

[13] “Journal & Correspondence of the Council of Safety, July 7-December 31, 1776”,  Archives of Maryland, Vol. 12, p. 317.  Image copy, Maryland State Archives Online (http://msa.maryland.gov/megafile/msa/speccol/sc2900/sc2908/000001/000012/html/am12–317.html  : accessed 13 Feb 2018).

[14] 1790 U. S. Census,  Frederick County, Maryland, p. 201 (penned), col. 1, line 22,  Valentine Cregar; image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed 13 Feb 2018); citing National Archives & Records Administration microfilm M637, roll ____.

[15] 1810 U.S. Census, Washington County, Kentucky, p. 337 (stamped), col. 1, line 6, John Creager; image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed 13 Feb 2018); citing National Archives & Records Administration microfilm M252, roll 8.

[16]  Randmisc, “Creager Family Tree,” Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/163769/person/-2087063383/facts   : accessed 13 Feb 2018), “George Valentine Creager,” death data undocumented.

 

Writing & publishing a family history: Part 3. Evaluating sources & information

In two previous blog posts, I described format changes for the next edition of Dad’s family history and examined citation of sources.   This blog post, third in the series, presents evaluation of  sources and  the information in them   Get a cup of your favorite beverage and a snack because this is a long post!  You may even want to read it in 2 sittings!

Entering the facts in a database or research log is only the beginning!  “Oh, no,” you say, “there’s more?”  Oh, yes, there’s more!  Review the document itself.  Identify the document  (or source)   as original/ primary, derivative/ secondary, or authored / tertiary.  Classify the information found in the source as primary, secondary, or unknown.   A statement about both the source and its contents can be included in your citation of the source.

“The Evidence Analysis Process Map”, designed by Elizabeth Shown Mills, puts these concepts in perspective:

QL17-Gallery (1)

Elizabeth Shown Mills, “QuickLesson 17:  The Evidence Analysis Process Map”.  Evidence Explained (https://www.evidenceexplained.com/content/quicklesson-17-evidence-analysis-process-map  :  accessed 18 December 2017.

To begin, use one of the sources cited in the previous blog:

1790 U.S. Census, Bucks county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, township not stated, p. 112 (penned), col. 1, Peter Pofte [Poste]; digital image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed, viewed, downloaded 17 October 2017); citing National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication M637, roll 8.

1790 United States Federal Census

The document is a scanned or microfilmed copy of the original document, held at National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, D.C. (the repository).  An online database provided access to the document. Document is a primary source.

The writing is uniform, indicating that one person filled it out. Census takers received instructions about the report and what information to collect.  Recording the information at or near the time of the event, the census taker asked questions of a household member, possibly the head of household, Peter Poste, or a neighbor.  The number and ages of people in the family should be validated by other sources and serves as a base for future research.    Primary information.

Guidelines for Evaluating Sources & Documents

Sources

In genealogy, sources are classified as original, derivative or authored. [1] You may also see the terms primary, secondary, and tertiary sources. [2] , [3]  The concepts are essentially the same.  An original source is “material in its first oral or recorded form.”   [4]  Created at or near the time of the actual event, reports by someone who experienced or witnessed an event are  classified as original sources. [5]   This includes original materials from the time period, such as tax lists.

Examples include original birth & marriage certificates, physical objects (such as a cross-stitch sampler), autobiographies, personal diaries and audio recordings.  A map created at or near a specific date is an original source. [6]  Other examples are creative works, such as art, poetry and music and original articles or reports of research studies.  Are satellite images of the earth primary sources?  Yes, if the image has not been changed.  An exact photocopy , microfilm image, photograph or scanned image of a document [7]  are generally classified as primary sources.  However, the information may be either primary or secondary.

One of my prized items is an autograph book that belonged to my maternal great-grandmother, Anna Klee Maurer.   The small book contains notes from her friends and teachers.  The most significant entries (to me) are the notes written by Anna’s future husband, Hermann Maurer (dated October 21, 1883) and the notes written, in German, by her future in-laws,  Valentine and Katharina Maurer.

Anna Klee front pages_crop

Anna (Klee) Maurer .  “Autographs Album”  ( book,  Brooklyn, New York, ca 1883); privately held  by Susan M. Posten Ellerbee, [address for private use,], Yukon, Oklahoma, 2017.  Ms. Ellerbee is Anna’s great-granddaughter.  The book has multiple handwritten entries which appear to be from her friends and teachers as well as her future husband, Hermann Maurer, and his parents, Valentin & Katharina Maurer.  Entries by Valentin and Katharina are written in German.  Some entries are dated, varying  from April to October, 1883. Hermann and Anna married December, 1883. The book was found in the personal effects of Ms. Ellerbee’s mother, Eunice Bertha (Tucker) Posten and was probably given to her by her mother, Charlotte A. (Maurer) Tucker, daughter of Hermann and Anna.

The book itself is a primary source.  Translations of the German language entries are derivative sources.  A transcription of all entries in the book becomes a derivative source with secondary information.

In contrast, derivative or secondary sources are created after the event.  A copy of an original or original in which the content has been manipulated are examples.  Derivative sources interpret or evaluate evidence, especially when the original work was done by others.  Specific examples include delayed birth certificates, tombstones, county record books (which are transcriptions of original documents), databases, translations, transcriptions of personal diaries or audio recordings, and some family histories.

An image copy of an original birth, marriage, or death certificate is a primary source.  However, if the certificate is a transcription of the original certificate, then it is a secondary source. My maternal grandparents’ death certificates, obtained from the state of New York, are original sources with a blend or primary and secondary information.

My great-aunt Viola wrote a brief family history of the Tucker and Maurer families.  The handwritten document names five generations of my mother’s family with some birth, death, and marriage dates.  Two family stories tell of possible lost fortunes.  I have a carbon copy of the original document.   Here’s my citation with source and contents evaluation:

“Maurer- Tucker Family History.” (Handwritten notes. Huntington, New York, ca. 1985), carbon copy privately held by Susan M. Posten Ellerbee, [address for private use,], Yukon, Oklahoma, 2010.  Transcribed by Ms. Ellerbee in 2012. Author considered  reliable.  No sources given.  Family stories told to Mrs. Tucker by her grandparents.  Most names & dates have been verified with other sources.  Secondary source with blend of primary and secondary information.

The third category of sources is authored works which are a “hybrid of both original and derivative sources” [8]  Labelled as tertiary in other disciplines, these sources obtain information from primary and derivative sources.   Examples include manuscripts with personal conclusions; family histories may fall into this category.   Other types are county histories with genealogical and biographical information, textbooks, directories, video documentaries and reference books such as encyclopedia, handbooks, and manuals.  The Posten family history that I am revising is this type of source.

Q & A

Are photocopies  original or derivative sources?  Mills (2015, p. 30) states  “. . . image copies as originals so long as (a) the images are legible; and (b) their information does not conflict with other information.”  If these criteria are not met, treat the image copy as derivative and  “seek access to the material from which the images were made.”   This concept provided my rationale for seeking the actual books at a local library instead of using online copies of the same books.

What about a scanned or digital image of a  marriage record found online?  Most consider this as a primary source, it meets the criteria above.  Some consider this as a derivative source.   If possible, obtain a copy of original by personally visiting or requesting the document from the repository.  Remember that the county clerk’s office or the church where the marriage was performed are the repositories, not the online database.  The church or county hold the original document as filed in their office.  A note of caution here.  Ask for an actual copy of the original or you may get a copy of a form with information typed in.  This type of document is a transcript of the original and, therefore, not a primary source.  (Disclaimer:  I read this on a blog and now can’t find the reference!).

Information

As the next step, evaluate the information in the document. Similar to the classification of sources, information is classified as primary, secondary, or unknown.  Any document may contain a blend of these categories.  Information in the document, a.k.a,  content , is classified according to its origin[9] :

Primary information is information provided by someone who experienced or witnessed an event .[10]  If created at or near the actual event, the document or information is marked as primary. [11] Examples include eyewitness accounts of an event, names of persons on census records, and first person accounts of an event  in their original form, such as handwritten entries in a personal diary.

What about death certificates?  Death certificates contain both primary and secondary information.  The person’s name and  death information – date, time, place and cause of death- are primary information.  The person’s date of birth, place of birth and parents’ names are secondary information.

Secondary information  is information provided by someone who has some knowledge of the event but did not actually witness the event.  An intrepretation or evaluation of someone else’s work is secondary.  Specific examples include marriage information copied into a courthouse or county marriage book, hearsay, tradition, and local lore.  The family stories documented by my great-aunt Viola are secondary information.  A newspaper report of a family reunion contains secondary information although the reporter may use information obtained directly from the participants.

Information is labelled as ‘unknown’  when you don’t know who provided the information.  Two examples are a newspaper obituary with no documentation of source and a photograph with no information about the persons in the photograph.  This information needs to be validated by other sources.  When you locate the newspaper where the obituary was published and the publication date, the information can then be classified as ‘secondary’.

Demarious Family Bible

Family Bible Records:  Original or derivative? 

To evaluate family Bible records,  follow guidelines from historical research methods for evaluating documents.  [12], [13]  Ask these questions:

  1. When was the Bible published? If the Bible was published prior to the events documented, then the record (and its scanned or photo copies) might be a primary source.   When photocopying or scanning Bible records, also copy the title and publication date pages.  “My cousin sent me a copy of the Bible pages but doesn’t  have the page with the publication date!”  Now what?  Look further.
  2. Who wrote the entries? You may not know exactly who entered the information.  I am fortunate to have a scanned copy of the presentation page for one family Bible so I know who the Bible belonged to and can date the entries from that point.  A transcription of that information equals a derivative source.
  3. Look for differences in handwriting. If the entries were made close to the time of each event, you should see differences in the style of handwriting as well as differences in the ink.

Ask similar questions about each document that you review.

  • Who created the document? Does the person have the authority to do so?  Ask if the creator is an expert on the topic.  A mother who writes her baby’s name and birth date in the family Bible is certainly an expert on the baby’s birth!
  • What does the document contain? Is the information relevant to your research?
  • When was the document created? If not an original document, when was it copied?  If a transcript of the original,  when was the transcription done?  How accurate is the transcription?  Think of census records.  How many times have you seen a name that was transcribed incorrectly?  Was the error because of poor or illegible handwriting?
  • Where was the document created?
  • Why was the document created?
  • Assess the quality and accuracy of the information in the document. Can you verify the information using other sources?

To summarize, careful review and analysis of every source and fact leads to a more accurate story about your family.  Seek primary sources whenever possible.  Do you include an evaluation of every source and every piece of information?  Ideally, yes.  Drop-down menus appear on most genealogy software programs for this task.  Document  the classification of sources and information on research logs.  Use software, such as Evidentia  (https://www.evidentiasoftware.com ), to assist in your analysis.

For a fun and more concise view of the topic:

RootsWeb’s Guide to Tracing Family Trees, Guide No. 12 (http://rwguide.rootsweb.ancestry.com/lesson12.htm   : accessed 18 December 2017.

reflection-swirl-green-color-hi

REFLECTION

As a nurse and teacher, I participated in 10-12 research studies during my career.  As either primary or co-investigator, I wrote and implemented protocols, then analyzed  the data and finally, wrote the final reports.  I applied lessons learned from these experiences to genealogy.   As I wrote this blog, I realized that I have not consistently evaluated sources and information.  In some cases, I saw what I wanted to see.  Months later, as I again reviewed the document and my notes, I thought, “How did I ever come to THAT conclusion?”  I am slowly becoming a better genealogist.  There is so much to learn!

What helped?  Reading about each topic from a variety of sources.  Fairly consistent information in the sources. There is some debate about whether photocopies of original certificates are primary or secondary sources.  Putting the information in a chart form for easy comparisons, although I didn’t include the chart here.

What didn’t help?   Finding other websites written in a more concise or reader-friendly format.  I had to consider that maybe I just needed to post a list of the websites and let readers go there.  But, I always learn something when I write my blogs, so here it is!

Next steps:   Take time to critically review at least one document or piece of information per research session.  I often just skim over this process.  Put a copy of the Evidence Analysis Process Map on my bulletin board.  Add items to my Research Toolbox (done).

References

[1] Elizabeth Shown Mills, Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, 3rd ed. (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2015), 24.

[2] The US GenWeb Project, Primary & Secondary sources (http://www.usgenweb.com/research/sources.html  : accessed 19 Dec 2017).

[3] “Comparative Literature:  Primary, secondary & tertiary sources.”  Yale University Library (https://guides.library.yale.edu   :    accessed 14 October 2017.

[4] Mills, Evidence Explained, 24

[5] George E. Morgan, How to do everything: Genealogy. 3rd edition.  (New York: McGraw-Hll, 2012), 32.

[6] Joni Seager,  “Mapping” Primary and Secondary Sources. (http://teachinghistory.org/history-content/ask-a-historian/25244   :  accessed 19 December 2017

[7] Morgan, Genealogy, 10.

[8]Mills, Evidence Explained, 24.

[9]Mills, Evidence Explained, 25

[10] Ibid.

[11] Morgan, Genealogy, 32.

[12] Randall Seaver, “Original or Derivative Source?  Bible Records,”  Weblog:  Geneamusings, 13 June 2012 (http://www.geneamusings.com/2012/06/original-or-derivative-source-bible.html  :  accessed 14 October 2017.

[13]   Gena Philibert Ortega, “Genealogy 101:  #4:  The Family Bible.”  Weblog:  Genealogy Bank, 8 November 2016 ( https://blog.genealogybank.com/genealogy-101-4-the-family-bible.html  :  accessed 18 December 2017.