Archive | December, 2012

Where Did My Family Celebrate 1900?

31 Dec

I’m still not sure how we’ll be celebrating New Year’s Eve tonight…very spontaneous, I know. But I’m getting a little understanding of where my ancestors spend the 1899-1900 New Year’s Eve. Here’s the rundown:

Great-grandpa Willard Mickelson was a 21 year old single man living with his mother, brother, and married sister in Logan, Utah.

Great-grandma Eleanor Tarbet was a 22 year old single lady living with her parents and four younger siblings in Logan, Utah.

Great-grandpa Charles C. Anderson was a 21 year old man living with his mother in Millville, Utah. His father was a polygamist who had moved to Canada.

Great-grandma Hidvie Caroline Nielsen was a 17 year old woman living with her parents and a ton of siblings in Millville, Utah.

Great-grandpa James Lawrence Vanderbeek was a 7 year old boy living with his parents and younger brother in Englewood, New Jersey.

Great-grandma Ruth Marie Ziesel was a 6 year old girl living with her parents and older brother in Philadelphia, PA. This is the only great-grandparent that I knew personally.

Great-grandpa John J. Roberts was a 23 year old man. He was serving an LDS mission in Samoa (1898-1902), but is listed on the census as living in Paradise, Utah with his family.

Great-grandma Kathrine P Petersen was a 13 year old girl living with her parents and many siblings in Paradise, Utah.

So that’s it. I need to go make New Year’s Eve plans…

My Love of Addresses!

30 Dec

I just went and looked at all of the census records I’ve downloaded from and and every one of them, except the really early ones, have addresses (or what look like addresses..some of the handwriting is abysmal, like mine). The early ones don’t. But if I’m looking post-1900, I can see addresses on the left-hand side of each of them…

I posted a little about addresses here.

As I was replying to a comment recently, I listed a few things I do to determine, deduce, or double-check the addresses. Let’s use one of William’s homes to illustrate:


Here is the 1930 US Census with William. Check out the bottom left hand corner for the address running up the side:

Screen shot 2012-12-25 at 7.04.20 PM

You never know what you’ll find. For instance, at first glance, William and his (3rd) wife, Mary, seem to live at either “So. Smedley Str.” or So. Smellyfest” or “So. Smulleyjest”. Hmm. I can’t tell. I know he said his home was worth $36,000. That’s like 400k bones nowadays. But if he lived on Smellyfest or Smulleyjest Street, I will disown him.

So, I’m zooming in (and rotating the picture instead of my head):


Like an idiot, I left my little cursor-hand-thing in the picture when I did the screen-capture, but you get the idea. Can you see “Spruce” in there, really lightly written? Here, this will make it easier:


“Spruce”? Yes, it looks like they lived on Spruce Street in Philadelphia. Or at least they might have. Better keep looking…


If I look at the street above William and Mary’s on the census form, I find “South 17th Street”. So I head to Google Maps and look for 17th Street. In fact, I look for 319 South 17th Street because that is the listing right above William. That may have been the house the census person visited right before he or she visited my ancestor. On Google Maps I find the following:

cross streets

You’ll notice that South 17th Street conveniently crosses SPRUCE STREET. And in fact, 319 South 17th Street is pretty close to 1626 Spruce Street.

There is a third thing I could try.


I searched the City Directory Index for Philadelphia in 1950, and I found Dr. Wm Ziesel at 1626 Spruce…

Screen shot 2012-12-25 at 7.29.35 PM

Awesome. I know that isn’t the only place he lived, and soon I’m going to use the census records mixed with the city directories to track him house to house until he died…I’ve looked at some of the addresses and used the “Street View” on Google Maps to see what the houses look like (if they are still there…).

And then I will trick-or-treat there…maybe.

Getting Found…

28 Dec

In the last few weeks this thought has crossed my mind a hundred times: “Jeesh William, you couldn’t write one thing down?!” No journal? No diary? No nothing. Lame. I’d have been happy with some scrawling on a napkin. You know what would be so great? A journal where he explains his marital situations. Diary entries regarding his children. Stuff like that. I wish the same thing about each one of my ancestors. A few of them did write short personal histories, for which I’m thankful. I’ll discuss William’s daughter’s personal history sometime soon.

But alas, I digress…

And as a result, I’m making myself very findable. I keep a journal pretty regularly, and I picture my posterity reading it (whether they want to or not…), so I try to imagine what about this day or incident will they wish I recorded and then I record that thing…

Screen shot 2012-12-25 at 9.28.34 AM

I currently keep my journal on Google Drive so that I have access to it from any computer or my iPad, iPhone, etc. In fact, you’re welcome to read it. Just sign in as “” and use the password “thisisalie45”. Ya, that’ll give you complete access to my personal journal. Feel free to edit it and change anything you’d like…

Screen shot 2012-12-25 at 9.34.50 AM

As you can tell, Google Drive also tells you when you’ve misspelled something. I’m glad I saw that after I posted this example…

Here’s another thing I’m doing to really make myself available to my descendants. I am writing a personal history that focuses on my life from birth to age 19. Some years ago my wife gave me a little mini-book that asks a personal history question each day. The book is titled, “Dad, Share Your Life With Me” (by Kathleen Lashier, 2006). I’ve altered some of the questions to fit my life better. The intent was that a person writes right in the little book, but I decided to do a more complete job. I’m typing each question into a Google Drive Document and answering it with as much detail as I can stand. I’m even going back and doing research on some of the questions so that my record is as complete and correct as possible.

Screen shot 2012-12-25 at 9.55.05 AM

I really want my children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren to know me. So, I’m making it as easy as possible to find me. Along with journals and personal histories, I’m gathering/scanning documents that are key to my life. But everyone knows to do that, so I don’t have anything to say about it…

PS…You can still purchase these little mini-books at Amazon, new or used. The used ones go for less than a buck! 

How Google Books was a game-changer…

26 Dec

I know that “game-changer” is dramatic, but, well, Google Books really was a game-changer. At least in one instance. Here, let me show you…

Early on in my research of William Ziesel, I was watching some video from the FamilySearch “learn” section.

( –> Learn –> Research Courses –> type in a word and see if there is a course about it)

I can’t recall the video, but at some point the presenter talked about Google Books. Google has been scanning books into their library for a few years now. Here’s an overview of Google Books.

Screen shot 2012-12-26 at 10.06.22 AM

I went to Google Books and just typed in “William Ziesel”…and found that he had published a book back in the early 1900’s about gum disease (exciting, I know, but he was a dentist).

Screen shot 2012-12-26 at 10.09.14 AM

It does look to be a stunning page-turner, and Google Books will let me read it entirely on-line, but I decided that since I was in the middle of research I didn’t have time. Oddly enough, I still haven’t read it…

There were actually numerous copies of that book on Google Books, but then I found this, and here is where Google Books was a game-changer:

Screen shot 2012-12-26 at 10.12.24 AM

Check that out. The proceedings of a court case where my g-g-grandmother was going against my g-g-grandfather! What are the chances that of all of the court cases in the world, my ancestors’ case would be described, published, and then scanned by Google Books!? So I scanned the article and found this!

Screen shot 2012-12-26 at 10.18.33 AM

From this I find a marriage date (which may be wrong by the way), and also that they had three children by the time they were divorced. I know, from other records, that they had a child who passed away early in life, but this record clues me in to the fact that I’m probably not missing any other living children. I also saw a divorce date, which I didn’t have.

But here was the real kicker:

Screen shot 2012-12-26 at 10.30.43 AM

Here it mentions that William married again (which we kind of knew about) and that he and his second wife had a daughter (which we did not know about at all!). We also learn that the second marriage was in a state of disrepair, which eventually opened the door for discovering a third wife…

Since this case was decided in 1921, we know that this mystery daughter was born before 1921 and (presumably) after the divorce in 1914 (which, thankfully, was the case).

And this was the start of my research that turned up Eleanor Ziesel (1916-2008). And I’ll discuss her a little later…

Well, lookey what I found on a Passport…

25 Dec

So, in my search for William Ziesel, I was also looking for clues regarding his first wife, Marie Elizabeth Schuck. After they were divorced, apparently Marie and her son Edward took a trip overseas. That required a passport. I found it on! Here’s what the indexed page looked like:

Screen shot 2012-12-24 at 10.00.46 PM

Ok, obviously Marie’s husband wasn’t named “William William”. I don’t know why that’s on there. Lame. Either way, I checked the orignal record and the husband is “William Ziesel”. Another indexing error, I’d suppose.

Here’s what I saw when I clicked on “View Original Image”:

Screen shot 2012-12-24 at 10.05.43 PM

On here I found that Marie listed William as her husband. I thought they were divorced by 1924 (the year she travelled). Wait, the address she lists for William is in Pennsylvania, and the address she lists for herself is Wildwood, New Jersey. I don’t know why she lists him as her husband, but there isn’t a place to write “ex-spouse” or anything like that, so maybe she just did the easiest thing. Who knows?

There was a lot of other useful info on the passport, which maybe I’ll discuss later, but I was particularly excited to see the little picture on the bottom left corner of the passport. Here, take a closer look:

Screen shot 2012-12-24 at 10.09.34 PM

Taped to the passport, and scanned into is a picture! My guess is that this is Edward, Marie and William’s youngest son. I don’t know for sure, but Edward was abut 20 years old when they went on the trip and this looks like a 20 year old to me.

Just a fun little moment of coincidence from finding a passport!

Addresses on the Census Record…

24 Dec

I wish you could look up US Census records by address. Maybe you can, I don’t know. I’m going to go look it up on Google.

Ok, nope. I don’t think you can.

Here’s why I care…

At some point, William Ziesel purchased a home at 1639 Franklin Street in Philadelphia. He must have purchased the home sometime before 1900, because he is listed as living at that address in the 1900 US Census. Here’s what it looks like on the actual record:

Screen shot 2012-12-24 at 9.01.53 AM


William’s name is underlined in blue. The street is underlined in green. The address is underlined in red. Not every census has this, and you can’t always read them. But in many cases the person doing the the census wrote the street they were working on along the right hand side of the census document. You ought to know that these addresses aren’t indexed, meaning, you’ll have to look at the actual record to see the address written along the side of the record.

He is listed at that address in a couple census records.

In the 1920 book, “Who’s Who in Philadelphia in Wartime”, William is listed, and it lists his home and dental office as 1639 N. Franklin Street.

By 1930, the census shows William and his new wife, Mary Kniveton Ziesel living at 1626 Spruce Street in Philadelphia. So, I’m guessing he moved (maybe that’s obvious). His ex-wife Marie Elizabeth is listed as living at 1421 Arch Street in Philadelphia. She is listed as having no children (they’ve all grown up and moved out) and is listed as a “Lodger” along with over 50 other lodgers. The address for Marie Elizabeth is listed along the left-hand-side just like the other census records.

I went to Google Maps and found 1421 Arch Street. It is currently the Le Meridien Hotel. It looks old (if you use the “street view” of Google Maps) so I’m guessing it is the same building. I found the website for Le Meridien and just emailed them to get a little history of the building. I did google it and found that the building started as a YMCA, so maybe my ancestor was living at the YMCA for awhile. Here is what the building looks like now:

Screen shot 2012-12-24 at 9.58.25 AM


Ya, it looks nice now. Pretty posh. Rooms run about $150 a night. But I doubt the YMCA was like that. If this is all true, that tells me a little about her life. At one point she was a dentist’s wife with multiple properties, and by 1930 she is living alone at a YMCA. This info helps me gain a little better understanding of her circumstances.

“Mary E” or “Mary O”?

24 Dec

I’m a novice. Or, I feel like a novice as far as family history goes. And that explains why I was a little confused until I started looking at actual documents…

As far as our family is concerned, William was always married to Marie Elizabeth Schuck. Fine. But we also figured out that he was divorced and remarried at some point (actually twice, but we’ll get into that later).

I was searching on and I happened upon a Mary O. Ziesel in one of the indices. In my noviceness I thought, “Yes! I found another wife! This is easy!” Of course, I really couldn’t find another “Mary O. Ziesel” listed anywhere, ever, which got me wondering…

Here’s what it looked like:

Screen shot 2012-12-24 at 8.15.58 AM

This is what the indexer thought they saw when they looked at the 1900 US Census for Philadelphia. It quickly dawned on me that those were the same children as Marie Elizabeth and William had. So, where is Marie E. Ziesel? Did “Mary O” do something to “Mary E” and take over as mother?

So I clicked on the “view image” link:

Screen shot 2012-12-24 at 8.19.03 AM

I found the actual census record that has been scanned into FamilySearch and this is what I saw (and maybe you’ll see it, too):

Screen shot 2012-12-24 at 8.21.02 AM

Fine. Let me zoom in to exactly what caught my attention…

Screen shot 2012-12-24 at 8.22.49 AM

At first glance, it looks like “Mary O”, but if you really squint, you can see that the “O” is actually just a beautifully written “E” with a giant bottom and a little top.

So there we have it. She was “Mary E.” all along. Good.

It pays off to look at the actual record.

So what if it is indexed wrong (the person doing to looking and typing so that you can find your ancestor’s name on the computer typed in the wrong letter, etc)? Here’s a post I recently read regarding the subject…

Happy family historying…

A little intro to William (the saga begins…)

24 Dec

Without making a long story longer, our family has been doing genealogy and family history for decades. My cousins are particularly good at this stuff. So, finding new info, in any form, is kind of exciting for me. I just wanted to share how I came upon some new information, in the hope that other genealogy-minded people might benefit. I loved reading “how-to” genealogy posts. So that’s what this is…

Dr. William Ziesel was born in Philadelphia in 1866. He is my great-great-grandfather. His wife, Marie Schuck is my great-great-grandmother. They had three children that lived to adulthood, one of which is my great-grandmother on my maternal side.

I’d read once, in my Nana’s personal history, that her parents had divorced when she was young. I haven’t thought much of it; no one I know has discussed the subject. Not that anything was off-limits…I guess we just haven’t gotten around to it. Or no one knew much about the situation.

So I was thinking about doing a little family history work, and the Ziesel family came to mind. And one of the first thoughts I had was about William’s second wife. What ever happened to her?

A quick check of my Nana’s personal history gave me a name: Irene. No last name, and no other information other than that my Nana liked her. I looked in a few typical online places ( and didn’t find anything obvious. Remember, I’m a novice genealogist, so things have to be pretty obvious for me to find them…

googled William Ziesel. There’s actually a lot online regarding him since he published a pamphlet/book about gum disease (which I haven’t read and probably won’t read) that can be found online. After following a few google matches, I happened upon a book called, “Who’s Who in Philadelphia” the 1920 edition. No big deal; it lists his book and children and practice. But wait! His wife is listed. And it wasn’t Marie. This wife’s name is Evelyn Irene Lee. That must be the “Irene” mentioned in Nana’s personal history!

So there we have it. I didn’t know much about her, only that she was married to g-g-grandpa and had a full name. I still couldn’t find much about her in the census records, but at least I had a name. I added the name to my research notes.

Here was another coincidental moment: I was watching a family history training video (that I was finding only mildly entertaining, at best) that mentioned “Google Books”. On a whim, I looked up William Ziesel and found a hit. He was mentioned in a completely obscure, unreadable, super-uber-boring book about court cases in New Jersey in the summer of 1922. The title? New Jersey Equity Reports, vol. 93. What a page-turner this must be…

But, the wonderful thing is that there is a case in the book called “Ziesel v. Ziesel” where William is trying to get the courts to overturn a financial court decision between him and his ex-wife (my g-g-grandmother). The details of the case don’t matter to you, but here is the line that got me: “They were divorced in Pennsylvania December 21st, 1914”. So now I had a divorce date (which I didn’t have before). Then the real bomb…Check this out…

Another child!!?

I knew he was married again, to Evelyn Irene Lee, but I didn’t know they were divorced and I had no idea that their marriage produced a daughter!

Then it hit me. In the Who’s Who book there was an odd name listed, which I overlooked or didn’t think about because I didn’t recognize it. Here it is:

Married Evelyn Irene 
Lee. Father of Carl Stanley, Ruth Marie, 
Edward Loeling, Eleanor M...

Since I’d never heard of a fourth living child, I must not have thought much of this. But there she is, Eleanor M, my new family member!

A few census searches found Evelyn Irene Ziesel living with her daughter, Eleanor Ziesel. Now here’s another kicker: Evelyn had older children still living with her from a previous marriage. Those children’s last name was “Peden“, and some sleuthing, I found that their father’s name was James Peden and that he had past away, leaving Evelyn a widow.

So there you go. That’s how a few “lucky” breaks helped me find new family members. Now I just have to figure out his third wife’s info…(that’s another story)

What is “Discovering William”? (and why would you care?)

24 Dec

In a nutshell, this blog is about what William taught me about family history and genealogy…

Better said, some weeks ago (after a multi-year break) two things happened that rekindled my interest in genealogy. First, my younger brother brought up some genealogical information he had discovered. Though we haven’t thoroughly documented this information, if it is correct, it is info we’ve been searching for over the course of decades. That got me thinking…

Secondly, I was sitting there in bed one morning, and for some reason I was thinking about a related family (genealogically speaking) and, out of curiosity, decided to see what info I could dig up on them. The head of the family was William Ziesel, and you can find that story here.

As I’ve dug back into genealogy, I’ve learned some things about the research and effort required, and this blog is where I’m going to share it.

Disclaimer #1: I’m not an expert. I’m a sharer.

Disclaimer #2: This isn’t a blog dedicated to William Ziesel and his family research, though I’ll be using him (at least at the start) to illustrate some things.

Ok…here’s an update from the “About” page I just realized was there..

Don’t let the title of this blog fool you…this isn’t a blog about William Ziesel. Well, it is, but it isn’t. Here’s a better explanation:

My efforts to dig up a little info on my great-great-grandfather have proven to be good training. And, as I discover things, I’m passing them along. I’m certainly no professional genealogist, and I’m not even an expert in anything. But I’m learning and having some success. Maybe that will be the most helpful thing. If you are like me, maybe you just need an ordinary person like you to walk you through various steps of research.

I was talking to a friend about family history some weeks ago and he made a solid observation. It is easy to find information on why one should do genealogy. There’s plenty of motivational information around. What he wanted was someone to sit down with him, right at the computer, and walk him through how to do research.

Now, to be sure, I love the professional genealogists. Are you kidding me? I couldn’t do any of my research without their efforts. They’re great! I just don’t happen to be one.

So, that’s what this blog is. This is how I’m finding information, doing research, storing data, organizing data, etc. You can just watch me do it, step by step. If it is helpful, great. If not…

PS…I guess it kind of is a blog about William. I mean, if you’re in my family and are looking for info on William, there’s going to be a boatload here, along with other family lines. So…