Tag Archives: FamilySearch

The Absolute Power of Collaboration!

13 Jan

Can you imagine if you were working on your genealogy all by yourself? Maybe some of you are thinking, “I am working on it alone. No one else in my family cares about this stuff. So, Brian, mind your own business…”

Ok, suit yourself. But I doubt anyone is working on their research alone. According to this nice little graphic from Pinterest, there is little chance I am working on my family lines alone:

genealogy chart

So if you’re working on your great-great-great-grandparents, there are lots of descendants, and surely one of them is doing research. And if not a direct descendant, a cousin. Somewhere. Doing something. Right?

I recently discovered some great information about my ancestors through “cousins” who are working the same line. Since I’m a pretty inexperienced researcher, there are certain “stories” that would take me months, if not years, to dig up. Here’s how I found it.

I was on FamilySearch just looking up a little info on John Pearson (1821-1914). I don’t have much outside of what is already on FamilySearch. I do have his daughter’s short personal history, so that’s something. But I noticed that someone had recently updated some of John’s information on FamilySearch/tree. And when I clicked on the username that was responsible, it brought up an email address. So, of course, I shot off an email:

Hello,

I am doing some family history work and am wondering what you may be able to share regarding John Pearson (b. 1822). I am directly related to him and am just trying to find some biographical information about him and his work in Logan Utah…

Thank you,
Brian M.
And here was the reply:
Brian,
I am so glad to hear from you. I am wondering how you got my name. I am descended from John Pearson as well. [she gives her line info] to John Pearson.  Who are your parents, grandparents and great parents? I do have some information on John Pearson I am willing to share. What information do you have? I would like to add to what I have. I will pull some things together after Christmas for you. Do you live in Logan?
And it begins. My new “cousin” and I exchanged a few emails and then she sent me an email with the following:
  1. Birth certificate
  2. Marriage certificate
  3. Death certificate
  4. John’s second wife’s obituary
  5. About 10 good pictures of John and his family and home

JohnPearson

Yep, he’s obviously related. The beard is a dead giveaway that he’s my blood relative…(if I had a beard).

I could not have found these things myself. Well, maybe I could have, but I don’t even know where she obtained the pictures. I was able to add the autobiography of John’s daughter, which our family has, to an email and send it to her.

We both win!

Then, I noticed a second person adding to the John Pearson FamilySearch page. He is related to John through a different daughter than I am. So, I emailed him. He sent me a short biographical sketch containing things I didn’t know regarding his first marriage and his second wife’s first marriage. And when I had a question on some of the data, he quickly sent follow-up information to help my research. So, of course, I sent the little autobiography.

The power of collaboration! How has collaborating with others helped your research?

I’m pretty sure…I just want to be really sure…(Dude, your handwriting stinks)

6 Jan

Now I’m not one to talk. My handwriting isn’t very good. If I were walking door to door helping with a federal census, my entries would be unusable. Especially if I were in a hurry. Which I would be. And if I didn’t think anyone would ever look at this info again. Which I’m sure I would assume. I’m just like that.

So I’m sure it is safe to say that there is a chance, an ever-so-slight chance, that a census taker (I’m not sure what the official title was) felt about the way I did, and therefore was hurrying along to get done and may have written things down wrong, or eligibly. Apparently that may have happened in Rhode Island in 1900…

I’ve looked for information on William Ziesel’s second wife, Eveyln, for a couple weeks now. I’m just trying to find her in census records and I thought I found her, along with her parents. I already know her parents’ names, but I’m just trying to find any siblings, etc. Here’s what I know:

Evelyn Irene Lee was born in 1879, in Rhode Island, to Franklin Pierce Lee and Clara Louise Cooke.

In the 1900 US Census, I actually find Evelyn I. Lee as a “student” in Bristol, Massachusetts, at the Wheaton Female Seminary. She is listed as being born in August, 1879. So, I’m sure it is my Evelyn. Plus, as a bonus, on the same 1900 US Census, I find Evelyn listed as a daughter with her parents, but also listed as “at school”. So, double proof. But there was a little problem with this one.

Evelyn and her parents are listed as Frank and Clara See. Not Lee. See. See? See the problem?

Is there a chance that there is a family of similar make-up, living in Rhode Island in 1900, with only the first letter of their last names different? Of course. If there is a chance for my ancestors to mix it up a bit and make themselves hard to pin down, they’ll do it. That’s the genealogy game anyway, right?

Of course, I’m suspicious. Even though there is a chance that the above paragraph applies, it is a small chance. So I applied a little trick (probably a well-known one at that). I made sure that the “S” in “See” wasn’t really a poorly written “L” for Lee. Here’s what we’re looking at:

Screen shot 2012-12-27 at 7.51.31 PM

Pretty clearly “See”, right? Well, not so quick. When I get confusing info like this, I look around for other places where the census taker had to write a capital “L” just to see if there are any similarities. And, on this record, I found one:

Here’s the word “Landlord”

Screen shot 2012-12-27 at 8.05.58 PM

The “L” in Landlord makes the word kind of like “Sandlord”. This person could’ve been a sandlord. I don’t know. I’m not sure what a sandlord is.

Here’s an even better one on the same page:

Screen shot 2012-12-27 at 8.08.25 PM

You can see the “Servant” and “Landlord” both seem to start with the same letters. But, of course, they don’t. This census taker writes his L’s and S’s the same. Or, I mean, the lame. Get it?

I can tell the name of the census taker from the sheet. I’m not going to post it here because a.) I appreciate his efforts, and b.) I don’t want anyone doing a descendants chart and pummeling his great-great-great-grandchild, who probably wrote illegibly, too.

Long story short, this is my Evelyn…

About that YMCA…

2 Jan

As you may recall, I was looking at addresses on census records some time ago and found that my great-great-grandmother was on the 1930 US Census, living alone (well, not really, but without any family around that I can find), at 1421 Arch Street in Philadelphia. And, as reported, that is currently the Le Meridien Hotel and I emailed them to get little history of the building.

Screen shot 2012-12-27 at 9.27.19 AMScreen shot 2012-12-27 at 9.31.59 AM

And, as previously reported, the Le Meridien actually started as a YMCA and was eventually renovated into the nice hotel it is now…

So, my questions:

1. Was this building a YMCA or something else in 1930?

2. Was Marie staying there permanently or just visiting Philadelphia and staying there like it was a hotel (was that even possible?)?

To find these answers, I started by emailing the Le Meridien directly to see if they had any answers. I was delighted with the response.

Here is my original email:

Hello,

I am conducting some family history research and found that in 1930, my great-great-grandmother, who had been divorced years earlier, was listed as a “lodger” at 1421 Arch Street in Philadelphia. There were more than 50 people listed as lodgers at the same address.

Is this the same building as the Le Meridien? Was it a YMCA back in 1930? I am just hoping to get a little history on the building so that I can more easily picture my g-g-grandmother’s circumstances.

Thanks!

Brian

And here is the response, a few days later, from Adi:

Mr. Mickelson:

I am happy to confirm that you are correct in concluding that our building was originally opened as the Central YMCA in 1912 and continued service in this role until 1972 when it was taken over by the District Attorney’s office. We began renovating the building in 2005 and opened as a hotel in 2010. We do not have a large amount of information related to the YMCA years as most of that was removed when the DA’s office was here but I can share that our building was part of a two building complex that included what is now the Metropolitan apartment building; it is hard to know if your grandmother stayed here or there or perhaps during her time stayed at both.

You may potentially find information related to life at the Central YMCA through there archive at the University of Minnesota Library. https://www.lib.umn.edu/ymca

Enjoy the journey of discovering you Grandmothers life and please let me know if I can assist further.

Adi.

First off, how great of the hotel to have employees that are so helpful! Wonderful!

Here is what I picked up from the email:

1. Yes, in 1930, this building was the YMCA, so that is where g-g-grandma was staying.

2. I can find more info at the Univ. of Minn library (which I’ll check out when I get a second).

3. Maybe the DA’s office can help, but I doubt I’ll bug them. They are solving cold cases and stuff…

4. Maybe I’ll go stay at the Le Meridien because they were so helpful.

What I still don’t know:

1. Was Marie staying there permanently? Or just visiting?

2. Had she ever heard “YMCA” by the Village People?

More to come!

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 Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org 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:

ZOOM IN:

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):

SPRUCE

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 Street

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

CROSS STREETS:

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.

CITY DIRECTORIES:

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 “OfCourseNot45@gmail.com” 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.

(FamilySearch.org –> 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 Ancestry.com! 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 Ancestry.com 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 FamilySearch.org 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…