Roadtrips


I would strongly encourage anyone taking a trip to the Family History Library to travel midweek to midweek through the weekend so that you can use Sunday—when the Library is closed—to reassess and plan for whatever remaining days you have. That’s one of many things that I think that the Oakland County Group does well. They even get a large room in the hotel with tables, power strips, and snacks for the whole day, allowing everyone the opportunity to spread out and work.

For me that meant taking as much time as possible filling in the gaps on the materials I’d found and making a long list of items I wanted to go through in the remaining two days of the trip. I took some time transcribing some of the Bradley County deeds and thinking about other angles in researching those families. And I recognized a large oversight in copying the Canadian “C” Series index and forgetting to go back and copy the original documents—top of my list for Monday morning.

Mormon Tabernacle Apr 2015I would also encourage everyone to take the time regardless of their religious bent to hear the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in the Tabernacle on Temple Square. I went and it was a fabulous experience including with lovely moving music and a thoughtful message about decluttering one’s life based in the ideas Mari Kondō presents in her NYT Bestseller, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up—I can’t escape libraryland.

To round out the day a large group got together for dinner at Red Rock Brewing Co. for Chicken Schnitzel and Oatmeal Stout. It was a fine way to end the day!

Happy hunting,

Jess

On Saturday, when the library is only open 9-5, I continued working my way through the Bradley County microfilm—mostly tax records.  What the FHL holds is primarily tax book indexes though a few of the actual books were filmed including 1890 so while the indexes indicate that relatives owned enough to be taxed the 1890 book tells you what they owned and owed as well as gives you a fair idea of their neighbors. I managed to get through all of the indexes and the relevant portions of the 1890 Tax Book—largely Palestine Township. In retrospect what I didn’t get to were the early tax books they did have filmed. They’re on my list for next time or my list to order into the Lansing Family History Center—whichever comes first.

The two sections from page 47 of the 1890 tax book below shows one of the entries for my 3rd Great Grandfather Stephen Martin (father of Mattie Martin and grandfather of Rhodie Rogers Trotter) followed by his son-in-law, Austin York.

1890TaxBookp47a 1890TaxBookp47

This day’s research was also an example of technology not always being fast. Running down the time stamps for all the things I scanned… it took hours to get everything I wanted just out of the 1890 Book. I was the last person on the scanners on the 2nd floor that afternoon just trying to cram in my last two copies as the closing announcements ran. Some days you’re on a roll and on others things just take forever.

Happy hunting,

Jess

So it is possible to research from 8 am to 9 pm Tuesday through Friday at the Family History Library. I didn’t manage that any of the days for a variety of reasons (including Red Wings hockey) but I did manage a marathon session from 8 am to 7:30 pm on Day #3 of my Salt Lake City Trip… all focused on my father’s families in Bradley County, Arkansas.

In many ways I’m at a bit of a brick wall with my father’s lines. I have a potential slave owning family (or more accurately, allied families) but no clear cut line to trace. So, my goal was really to look hard at whatever records I could get my hands on in the hopes that along the way a story might emerge. What that translates too is that I went through the majority of the available rolls of microfilm in the FHL from the county—court records, deed books (lots of deed books), tax indexes, tax books. And I have to confess microfilm makes me vaguely motion sick. But it was worth it.

I didn’t come out that day with a new set of names but it did give me solid supporting documents about where my families were, their living situations, and their relationships. For example, the deed books included land transactions, but you could also find contracts ranging from the purchase of “a certain Roan mare colt,” to (in the earliest books) the sale of 8 slaves from son to mother for $1. It’s breath-taking and troubling at the same time.

Finding real documents implying the relative wealth of my 2nd Great Grandfather Sandy York (born in slavery) was fascinating. He was making deals for that roan mare in 1871 and buying land out right by 1885.

YorkforMare

And when going through the earliest records whenever I found anything indicating a slave transaction I copied the related documents. I’m still sifting through those and transcribing in the hope that the information will help someone in their research even it if it isn’t me. These include slaves held by the Ganaway, Ederington, Hampton, Newton, McCammon, and Williamson families so far.

But my find of the day has to be the deed of gift for an undescribed tract of land belonging to the Pagan family to Trustees Monroe Wilfong (the 1st father-in-law of Sandy’s son, my Great Grandfather Phillip Henry York), Andy Wilfong (a relative by marriage), and Mars Ingraham to establish an African Methodist Church—given the families’ early involvement and staunch support I would guess this was a tract meant to house Mt. Olive Church.

MtOliveChurch

 

Happy hunting!

Jess

I knew I wouldn’t keep this up while I was in Salt Lake but the next blogs will continue to offer highlights from my recent trip to the Family History Library…

Day 2 was spent mostly on B2, the British Research Floor, further exploring my military ancestors and their relations. Among others, I searched for information on Major Wade Rothwell whose sons, Thomas and Frederick, settled in Warwick, Ontario and married Harry Alison’s daughter, Frances, and her niece (and my 3rd great aunt), Mary Anne Massy.

Interestingly, I couldn’t find him anywhere in the records. And I spent a good chunk of the morning trying to search the internet for any additional information I could find beyond one appearance as a Lieutenant in A List of Officers of the Army and of the Corps of Royal Marines in Google Books. But, through a combination of general searching on the internet and in findmypast.com, I was able to uncover a bit more of his story including his brevet promotion to Major while serving as a Captain in the 6th Garrison Battalion on 4 June 1814. The article below is from 1809 when he first transferred to the Garrison.

RothwellCaptain1809

Probably the most intriguing find was this one on Black Kalendar, a website dedicated to cataloguing cases of murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, etc. in Britain from 1254-2015. This was a fabulous fluke find while googling “Lieutenant Wade Rothwell.” It notes his fine and six month sentence for participating in a duel that left a fellow Lieutenant dead… One more scoundrel on the family tree. The reference is a minimal article from the Hampshire Chronicle available through The British Newspaper Archive but it confirms that Rothwell was in the 9th Regiment. (Search on “Obrie” or “Roth Well”—with a space. The indexing is wonky.)

My fail of the day was finding a the reference down to the bundle number in the British National Archives site of a pension for an Owen Byrne (possibly my 5th great grandfather), only to find that the relevant microfilm roll ended exactly before his entry AND is wasn’t on the next roll. A Specialist did his best to assist me but he was stymied as well. My options are to have someone look it up for me at Kew or order it direct from them. And, no, for some reason it’s not in findmypast.com either though theoretically it should be.

Happy hunting!

Jess

There is nothing like going into a research trip while still recovering from a performance weekend! But I am happily on vacation, crossing off a bucket list item by taking a week to do research at the Family History Library in Salt Lake Cityona trip hosted by the Oakland County Genealogical Society.

I spent the majority of my first day on B2 (British Isles) tracking my Massys and Alisons during their time serving in the British Military. As noted before I had located a detailed service record for Hugh Massy but hadn’t been able to find the equivalent for his father-in-law, Harry. Well, with the help of one of the specialists, and after going through a lot of microfilm, I finally found an equivalent record for Harry Alison. A service record with his birth date and place, marriage date and place, outline of service at home and abroad, promotions, and children’s birth dates and location of baptisms. That by itself was a tremendous find for me. And I have a stack of baptismal records and a new web resource to play with.

DetailAlisonHarryServiceRecordNot bad for a first day’s work!

Happy Hunting,

Jess

Films to FindI am counting down to a genealogy vacation! I have a billion things to do between here and there (including dancing in a show!) but I’m trying to plot a research plan in snatched moments of down time. I can’t wait!

It’s a chance to do serious research among like minded folk, cross something off my genealogy bucket-list, and at it’s simplest I am getting out of town for a little over a week.

Again… I can’t wait! More from the road soon!

Happy hunting,

Jess

The last installment on my Pennsylvania road trip…

Where Gettysburg was a somber experience my next stop was invigorating. The next morning I got up bright and early in the city of York to do research at the York County Heritage Trust. Again, I had emailed ahead to see what I might expect and had received a very positive reply from the head archivist indicating that there was a substantial amount of information on the Helsel/Heltzel/Hoetzel families. I parking at a local ramp and walked a couple blocks to the Museum and Archives. It’s another repository that charges a daily fee for non-members and asks you to put the majority of your materials away in lockers before fully entering the premises—but it’s so worth it.

I could have spent a week here—and as it was I opted to change my plans and spend half the following day there versus making other stops on my last research day. I went in focused on the Helsel family and was very impressed with their systematic approach. With the proliferation of German names they have control spellings and numbers for their research files so, for example, the Helsel’s control spelling was “Heltze”l and the number was 2636. Armed with that, a volunteer pulled a clippings file, and the appropriate sections of cemetery, tax, estate, and vital card files. And the card files in turn led me to detailed transcriptions and facsimiles of relevant church records. And as I started going through those I realized that I could find information on almost all of my German lines within their collection. As I said, I could have stayed a week.

I spent all of day one on the Helsel’s or working through the church records. And the staff didn’t have to twist my arm to get me to come back the next morning—despite the huge one day parking garage bill. In the end that too, could have been helped if I’d asked the right questions up front. When I paid for my copies at the end of the day the receptionist told me that they had access to free parking in a temporary lot behind the building. I’m chalking the day one bill up to a city donation for having such a fabulous research facility.

Christ Lutheran Church, York, PennsylvaniaChrist Lutheran Church Cemetery, York, PennsylvaniaOn the second day, I got up a little earlier so that I had time to walk down to Christ Lutheran Church (where one branch of the family worshiped) and take photographs. At the archives I spent time on my Mohr, Morningstar, Glass, and Kuntz families—all solidly intermingled long before the same families are marrying in again upon migrating to Ohio. If I had more time I would have spent even more time researching my Dice, Coppenhaver, and Grove families. I have no doubt there would be materials to find. Maybe next trip?

Happy hunting,

Jess

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