Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Wagon Train Research (Part 2)

Westward Bound - Not Just Oregon
We know there were wagon trains. As was illustrated in the tracing of Kelsey Grammer’s Who Do You Think You Are? episode (Season 5), extended families packed their belongings, and carried their personal wealth overland to reach the newly opened west lands. Sometimes, families were left behind, as the pioneer travelled with a wagon train.  This westward migration  wasn't just for those panning for gold.  There were the Mormon's escaping persecution, the future vintner wanting rich soil, and those who made a living in transport. 

4 Research Tips / Hints
Manuscripts
Not every family researcher will find Great-Grandpa's passage recorded in diaries, or even his name.  But, by narrowing his year, and month of travel, you may find his experience recorded through the eyes of his neighbors and friends:  
  • Analyze diaries from his hometown.
  • Follow the path and his final settlement to determine his passage.
  • Track Military Forts' activities along the route. The military controlled the trails, and would detain small groups travel for safety.  This may have delayed your pioneers trip.


Remember others traveled by water. The trip from Louisiana up the Mississippi River was still arduous, but may have been your ancestor’s best option if they were not travelling with a large wagon train through hostile territories. Newspaper accounts are a great resource of those who arrived west.

Resources and Database

A key resource to begin your ancestor’s westward migration is the State Historical Society of Missouri, Manuscript Collection. a3Genealogy researchers proved that a religious "group," Bethel Community, occupied settlements in both Missouri and Oregon by locating the letters that leader, William Kiel, wrote to his congregation back home in Missouri from 1855-1870.  He even threatened to excommunicate ("bar them from the Bethel Community") a few Missourians for raising the Union flag, and endangering the community. Interestingly enough, he was writing from his new Bethel Community in Oregon.  The letters were filled with historical data, names of members and religious practices.[1]





9 Helpful links:
  1. One of our favorite websites: Oregon - California Trails Association holds over 48 thousand pioneers in their database.
  2. The Oregon Genealogical Society and Idaho Genealogical Society have a listing of names in their Pioneer Certificate programs.
  3. For FAQs, visit the Bureau of Land Management Website
  4. For a list of Oregon Trail Historic Sites visit Legends of America http://www.legendsofamerica.com/we-oregontrail.html
  5. The Oregon Territory and Its Pioneers
  6. Oregon Trail Histories
  7. Oregon State Archives. This can be most helpful when looking for land records.
  8. The ancestry.com California, Pioneer and Immigrant Files, 1790-1950 database holds 10,000 records with biographical information about pioneers who arrived in California before 1860.
  9. Find A Grave, Along The Oregon Trail Cemetery Tombstone project.
African Americans Headed West
The overland journeys were before the Civil War.  Free-coloreds, as  many as 3000 by 1850, found their way to California from the onset of the gold rush, but rarely settled in the unwelcoming Oregon. Review the Black Laws of Oregon 1844-1857

Even though some slaves were carried by their masters, many found the westward journey as an integral step to their escape plan. If you need to refresh your history of the role African Americans played during this westward movement, you may wish to read Blacks in Gold Rush California, by Rudolph M. Lapp.  

Another great resource is the Negro Trail Blazers of California by Delilah L. Beasley; original 1818; reprinted 1969.

 [1] Kiel, Wm., Letters 1855-1870; Bethel Community to Oregon 24 Jun 1855; microfilm, Western Historical Manuscript Collection, UMKC

Kathleen Brandt
a3Genealogy.com
Accurate, accessible answers

3 Steps to Oregon Trail Pioneer Research

Over the Oregon Trail
Over 350,000 pioneers travelled the Oregon Trail, often leaving Independence or St. Joseph, Missouri to arrive at their Oregon City, Oregon destination. The route was not carved in stone, and ancestors may have begun their migration from an eastern state, or even Kansas, Iowa or Nebraska. Read more about common routes at FamilySearch the Oregon Trail.

But, like Kelsey Grammer on Who Do You Think You Are? Season 5, you too may be able to trace your ancestor’s Oregon Trail passage. But how do you find records that detail their cross country passage?  Their method of passage?  Your ancestor's experience?

Step 1: Learn the Trails

It is possible your ancestor traveled overland, by water, or partly by rail.  A good source to understand their choices may be answered in John Unruh, Jr.'s book The Plains Across; The Overland Emigrants and the Trans-Mississippi West, 1840-1860.  It is possible that Great-Grandpa left Illinois with his four (4) brothers, but only two (2) settled in California.  The remainder of the party may have ended their journey in Salt Lake, or may have taken any other fork in the trail.

Many of our pioneers made several trips overland.  We may be able to confirm their one-way trips to California, but how did they return to Missouri?  Did you know that many returned to the Mid-west through Panama - Isthmus!  Be sure to check any ship records going to Louisiana ports from San Francisco or other west coast ports. 

Step 2: Search for Your Ancestors in Writings
What did five (5) month travelers do?  Many recorded their journeys in diaries and letters back home, detailing the trip.  Sometimes the diaries are filled with gruesome details as the writer recalls on paper a companion's demise. Sometimes the accounts are so detailed they read like a novel.  Sometimes they just follow a train of thought, or confirm a reader's suspicion. Be sure to take a look at this bibliography of books and articles.

4 Common Places to Find Diaries?
1) The Oregon-California Trails Association (OCTA) hosts of Paper Trail, an online database Guide to Overland Pioneer Names and Documents is a great place to begin your diary, manuscript, and written information search.
It is subscription based, but the initial search is free.  This database will GUIDE you to the correct repository. You cannot download the diary from this location, but it leads you to where to go using a surname search.
2) The Merrill J. Mattes Reseearch Library at the National Frontier Trails Museum. I must say, spending a day with this concentrated selection of wagon train resources, makes me smile. 
3) University of Oregon Manuscripts Collections for diaries and pioneer manuscripts.
4) Local Histories and Newspapers detail wagon trains and their departure (it was both exciting and devastating to communities and families).  Small-town newspapers also reprinted letters sent "home" for the community to read; sometimes enticing others to follow, and just as frequently warnings of the danger.

Step 3: Scour Populated Databases and Collections
Besides our favorite websites: Oregon - California Trails Association that names over 48 thousand pioneers in their database, be sure to visit the Oregon Genealogical Society and Idaho Genealogical Society. Their collections hold a listing of names in their Pioneer Certificate programs.
Visit Oregon Pioneer List (OPL) for settlers in Oregon prior to 1900.
The Oregon Archives, Early Oregonian Search is a great place to begin your ancestral search for ancestors who lived in Oregon prior to its 1860 statehood. .

African Americans on the Trails?
Black Pioneers and Settlers
Know that “territorial laws in the 1840s dictated the expulsion of African Americans, and the state constitution similarly prohibited African Americans from residence, a provision not repealed until 1926 and 1927. The laws were a deterrent to black migration” (Oregon Historical Society). However, African Americans did travel on the trail and settle in Oregon . Be sure to review the End of the Oregon Trail: Black Pioneers and Settlers and Salem Oregon Online History, African Americans in Salem.

For more information on tracing your Westward Pioneer, visit Wagon Trail Research, Part 2.
Kathleen Brandt
a3Genealogy.com
Accurate, accessible answers
(extracted from a3Genealogy:Wagon Trains 1840-1960, posted 13 May 2011)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

7 Research Tips - Are You Royalty?

King & Queens of England
The Royalty In You
The Who Do You Think You Are? Season 5 episode  with Valerie Bertinelli (TLC) has once again sparked interests in American Royalty. It actually began before the 13 Aug airing of the show, just by the short preview of Bertinelli looking at a Coat of Arms pedigree chart. So as promised, we are offering a few suggestions to begin your Royal research. 

Where to Start?
Can you trace your lineage to George III or even one of the 5000 plus trees posted on MyHeritage? It sounds like a daunting feat, but George III reigned from 1760 to 1820; pretty recent. His great-grandchildren lived as late as the 1950’s. If you can’t connect to one of them, don’t forget the offsprings of his many illegitimate grandchildren. And of course there’s more to Royalty, than the British.

At a3Genealogy, this year alone, we have confirmed four Royal Connections for clients (plus one for the media) by initiating our research using the Royal Ancestry: A study in Colonial & Medieval Families by Douglas Richardson which identifies “over 250 individuals who emigrated from the British Isles to the North American colonies in the 17th centuries.” Of course, in this day and age, we usually are able to solidify our findings with DNA tests results. Other sources, like The Royal Collection on ancestry.com, may also help with your initial research. 

Top 7 Hints / Tips to Researching Royalty and Coat of Arms
  1. Burke’s Peerage. What does Britain, Spain and Moraco, ...(and all other) royal research have in common? They  usually begin with Burke’s Peerage which is the foundation of most royal research. The goal is to take your family tree from America and connect to established Royal genealogies. Serious researches turn to the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) to stay abreast of "royal and noble genealogy."
    Ancestry.com has the Burke’s Family Records that “records the genealogy of the junior houses of British nobility, and the Burke’s Peerage and Baronetage Genealogical and Heraldic, Vol 2” which may also be helpful in launching your Royal research.
    Coat of Arms and Pedigree (Author's file)
  2. Coat of Arms Review. As seen on the Valerie Bertinelli episode of Who Do You Think You Are? (Season 5, TLC), a coat of arms pedigree chart is quite the treasure. But, bee sure to understand Heraldic Practices before adopting a coat of arms. This article, Coat of Arms and Family Research, may keep you from making common errors in your genealogy.
  3. Land Deeds' Secrets.  Be sure to check wills, and probates, but especially land deeds. The long practice of our ancestors gifting property to illegitimate children has always been a welcoming find for making genealogical connections.
  4. Surname Analysis. When researching for one of the media outlets, a common practice for a3Genealogy researchers is to search for “Royal” surname matches with that of celebrities, dignitaries and ancestors. You don’t even have to reach that far. Ellen De Generes is Kate Middleton’s 14th cousin twice removed.  Read What do Kate Middleton, George Washington and Ellen DeGeneres have in common? And, in 2008, Sarah Palin was proven to be the 10th cousin to the late Princess Diana.  
  5. DNA Projects.  Did you know a DNA study on the surname of Stewart/Stuart proved that over half the men carrying that surname were descendants of Scotland’s Royal dynasty?  Be sure to review the Surname DNA Journal: Y-DNA of the British Monarchy
  6. Connecting with Society Members. Connecting to Royal ancestors is not new. The interest to create or maintain relationships has not only been a practice, but practically an obsession through the years. Review the Sovereign Colonial Society Americans of Royal Descent, Pennsylvania, founded in 1867 which includes descendants of all Royal Houses, medieval and modern. A proposal (for invitation to the Society) must prove one “is a descendant of one or more Kings through" an American ancestors.
    Baroness Lacaze, Ship Manifest
  1. Titles on Official Documents. Birth Records, Naturalization Records, and Passenger Lists and other official documents may announce your Baroness! This year one maternal grandmothers was recorded as a German Baroness, the other was French. Often titles were dropped in America, but with proper sleuthing, the genealogists, may find just the document needed to prove royalty. Lucky break for these American descendants? Perhaps. But it’s the luck of “no stone unturned.”
African American European Royalty Connection
In spite of much controversy, the connection of Queen Charlotte, wife of King George III, to the  Portuguese Royal House of Moorish descent is well known.  However, many would argue that at best, Queen Charlotte was the second “Black” Queen, the first being Queen Philippa, the wife of King Edward III, and also of Moorish descent.

We are sure the doubts and denials will continue in spite of Moorish rule and connections in various European dynasties, and historical arguments and proof. Yet, in spite of the Queen Charlotte controversy, there are so many other African American connections to royalty due to offsprings born in slavery, miscegenation, and the abundance of mulatto bloodlines. With proper genealogical research and DNA, African Americans can also prove their European Royal bloodlines.

Kathleen Brandt
a3Genealogy
Accurate, accessible answers

15 Ways to Crack Your Quaker Conundrum

Quaker Testimonies, Earlham School of Religion
Researching Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
If you’ve already uncovered your Quaker connection, you have probably come to the realization that Religious Society of Friends Church Minutes and records (what great records they have) is the best source for beginning Quaker genealogical research. And, like Valerie Bertinelli, (who had Quaker ancestors - see episode 5 of Season 5, Who Do You Think You Are? TLC) - you are probably on your way to uncovering fascinating histories of your ancestors. 

But for the beginner Quaker researcher, you may easily become overwhelmed with the plethora of sites dedicated to Quaker research.  So the a3Genealogy researchers have chosen to share their favorite Quaker research websites and links.  If you are beginning your Quaker research, be sure to start with the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). This may also help discern myths from facts. Our favorite client story was explaining that even Missouri (yes, Missouri to my client’s disbelief) had Quakers! He was convinced they only resided in Pennsylvania.

15 Favorite Sites
History and Practices
History and Practices
1.      FAQs About Quakers. Our goal is not for you to convert, but to have some understanding of your ancestor’s practices. Be sure to read the Quaker History on the Friends General Conference website.
2.      History of Quakers. This Wikipedia site is cited with References, Readings and Primary Sources, as well as External Links.
3.      List of Quakers. This Wikipedia site  that“list[s] notable people associated with the Religious Society of Friends” may assist  the researcher in making a family connection.  With the help of this list, we have connected clients to colonial ancestors, politicians, and contrary to traditional practices, soldiers.  

Historical U. S. Quaker Sites 

Quaker Monthly Meeting Records Philadelphia, 1762-1764
4.      Quaker Information Center. Although not comprehensive, this site provides a “short list of historical sites in the U. S.
5.      Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) Genealogical Historical RecordsThis online Research Guide holds the location of Quaker records at the Family History Library, and other Historical Societies and Libraries. But, be sure to visit the Family History Library (FHL) 2600+ sources of monthly meetings, wills (and abstracts of wills), books, and microfilmed family histories.
6.      Historical Societies. Be sure to visit the local historical society. Valerie Bertinelli’s Quaker ancestors lived near Scranton, PA. With help from the Lackawanna Historical Society researchers she was able to find information at the Catlin House headquarters.

College Libraries, Archives & Museums
7.      Swarthmore College.  Quaker History & Genealogy at the Swarthmore College Friends Historical Library
8.      Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections. We particularly appreciate the Digital Archives of the Haverford College collection (5128 digitized images). But, be sure to also review the Swarthmore College Digital Archives  of 2894 digitized images. . 
9.      Cyndi’s Lists. This compilation of Quaker dedicated repositories and libraries guides the researcher to special collections and manuscripts as well as books.

Obituaries
10.  The Earlham College Library provides the American Friend Index of Obituaries online.

Favorite Book and Diaries
11.  Bryn Mawr Quaker Journals and Diaries. “This collection consists of Quaker manuscript books of all descriptions - journals, diaries, commonplace books, scrapbooks, account books, memorandum books, collections of letters, typewritten copies, and other miscellaneous items.”

Ancestry.com Affiliates
14.  The Quaker Corner. This Rootsweb repository of resources boasts over 1200 subscribers to their Quaker Roots discussion group and mailing list.

15.  Research Guide to Finding Your Quaker Ancestors. This ancestry.com Research Guide is chocked full of examples. We particularly like the clarification on “Quaker Dates” and “Abbreviations” used in Quaker meeting minutes. 

African Americans Quakers
Historians are constantly sharing stories of the Quaker’s stand on slavery, Quaker abolitionists and Quaker schools for Black students, but rarely do we trace African-American Quakers. Here are a few sites to peruse on the topic:
18 April 1622 Wirtten Slavery Protest, PA
Kathleen Brandt
a3Genealogy.com
Accurate, accessible answers

3 Steps to Obtaining Italian Dual Citizenship


Reclaiming Ancestor's Italian Heritage 
With popular genealogy shows like that of Valerie Bertinelli on Who Do You Think You Are? (Season 5, airing on TLC) where she explores her Italian heritage, we know the questions will once again pour in on how to get Italian dual citizenship.

Ready To Verify Eligibility and Apply
We have already had the expected questions "Does Valerie Bertinelli have dual Italian Citizenship?" "Is she eligible for Italian dual citizenship?" Well, even Ms. Bertinelli has to show proof or eligibility, if she does not already have her dual Italian Citizenship.

If you meet the eligibility requirements outlined, and already have the documents needed (see below), then you can package it and set an appointment with the Italian Consulate. If you need the genealogical proof and needed documents, however, be sure to review this useful guide to obtaining your dual citizenship.

The 3 Steps Plan to Dual Citizenship?
For the past 6 years (2008-2014) a3Genealogy has assisted many clients in meeting the requirements to become Italian Citizens. As a premier service firm, we
1)  confirm your eligibility for dual citizenship
2)  gather needed documents and genealogical proof
3)  prepare dual-citizenship paperwork.

All you have to do, is to submit your paperwork to the Italian Consulate. (We'd do that too, if they'd let us, but they don't!). The process, however,  is not for the faint of heart or for the impatient type.  We are finding that collating a complete paperwork package takes between 3-4 months. If your ancestor's surname changed, or if there are apparent errors on certified certificates expect a little longer. And remember, full proof of your genealogical lineage must be shown through the various documents. Once the paperwork is submitted and accepted by the consulate, then you wait.

Benefits
As an Italian citizen you can secure an Italian Passport and live and work in any European Union (EU) country. You can take advantage of the free public health care and you can pass the citizenship to your children and take advantage of the Italian free education. These are just a few of the benefits of having a dual citizenship. If approved as an Italian citizen, your spouse and children (under eighteen) are also eligible for dual citizenship.

Documentation Needed
But to qualify for an Italian dual citizenship, you need to do a lot of legwork to meet all the regulations in proving “jure sanguinis” (your birthright) through lineage to an Italian citizen who did not renounce their right to Italian citizenship. You will need to gather or hire a researcher to gather your materials. This is an overview of what is needed:
  1. Your direct line ancestor, grandfather, grandmother, great-grandfather, etc, emigrated after 1861 and was an Italian citizen..
  2. Your immigrant ancestor did not become an American citizen before his descendant (your direct line) was born. So if the lineage is from you, your father, and grandfather, your father would have been born prior to your grandfather’s USA naturalization date for you to be eligible.
  3. Proof of naturalization date or proof that your immigrant ancestor was never naturalized.
  4. Translated birth certificates for you and your direct line to the immigrant ancestor and spouses as well as your children.
  5. Translated marriage certificates (into Italian). Of course a3Genealogy uses experienced translators dedicated to meeting dual citizenship requirements.
Eligibility Determination - From You to Italian Ancestor
Failing to meet the requirements of Items 1-3 (above) are most often the reasons an Italian descendant is determined ineligible. Our clients find it convenient to hire a3Genealogy specialists in lineage research to confirm these basic eligibility requirements have been met, prior to translating marriage and death certificates and searching for Italian birth certificates.

There are other ways to obtain Italian citizenship, but a3Genealogy only works with those obtaining it through “jure sanguinis.”

Buona giornata!
Kathleen Brandt
a3genealogy.com
Accurate, accessible answers

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Canadian Connection to American Revolution? (Loyalists)

United Empire Loyalists
5 Resources to Researching Your Loyalist (Tory)
Canadian research can be quite fascinating, as seen on WDYTYA with Rachel McAdams and sister Kayleen. Knowing the 18th century history and settlement of Canada reveals a few interesting facts. Canadian researchers will find that one Canadian in ten has a Loyalist ancestor. Descendants of these Loyalists are widespread, as kinship – cousin DNA matches have proven.  Descendants of loyalist traced to Canada, may have originated in the United States, or settled in one of the other British commonwealths – Australia, New Zealand or another British Colony.


Recap of Who Was a Loyalist
Loyalist Settlements
A Loyalist (also called a Tory) was a North American colonist who sided with the Empire, and was loyal to the British crown during the American Revolutionary War, that began in 1775.  Land and property of Loyalists were seized during the War. And, these “King’s Men” often left the colonies. Up to 100,000 Loyalists settled in Canada beginning in 1776. It was the Boston Loyalists noted for the first large exile to Canada in 1776. New York was a stronghold that did not fall to the “rebels” and can boasts the greatest number of Loyalists.

The United Empire Loyalists (UEL)
In determining eligibility for compensation for War losses, Britain identified Loyalists as those born or living in the American colonies at the outbreak of the War and rendered war services to the Crown. Britain classified Loyalists as those who left America by the end of the war or soon after. These honored Loyalists, given the United Empire Loyalist (UEL) title, settled in Quebec, modern day Ontario, and in Nova Scotia (News Brunswick).  Although many Loyalists returned to America after the War, those who remained and complied with the parameters  set forth were awarded land grants of 100 to 1000 acres for Army Officers. The average family was awarded 200 acres. (See The Old United Empire Loyalist List below). 

Know that others may be considered “late loyalists.” Visit Historica Canada for more information.

5 Resources to Begin Loyalists Research 
American Claim, 1789
Like the Loyalist/Tory ancestral research conducted on WDYTYA, Rachel McAdams episode, Season 5, researchers are able to uncover worthy information of their American Revolutionary War Loyalists who settled in America or in Canada. This may include military officers or others who served the Crown. As mentioned, your ancestor may be found on both sides of the border, as many exiled Loyalists returned to America after the war.

In addition to the five resources below, be sure to use the keyword “Loyalist” in the ancestry.com catalog for indexed images of papers, books, deeds, and patents.
Officer Letter Book, 1789, ancestry.com
1.  The Old United Empire Loyalists List, 1885 (United Empire Loyalist Centennial Committee), has been indexed on ancestry.com. Unfortunately the original documents are not shown, but the transcriptions are quite useful in uncovering 7000 Loyalists and their descendants.

2.  Order Upper Canada Land Petitions, 1783 – 1865.
Canadian Claim, 1786
 These land petitions contain petitions for grants or leases of land and other administrative records for over 82,000 references to individuals who lived in Ontario between 1783 and 1865.

Albany Land Grant

3.  Review Letters and Diaries and NY Loyalists. Military officers and Loyalists often corresponded via letters or recorded events in diaries. Here are two resources giving an account of New York’s Revolutionary War history That Ever Loyal Island: Staten Island and the American Revolution by Phillip Papas is filled with names, dates, and social content of Staten Island and the Loyalist sentiments.  Notes of Chapter 5 give a reference to various loyalist claims by names; and Merchant and Redcoat: The Papers of John Gordon MaComb, July 1757-1760, Albany New York. This bound 3 volume doctoral dissertation captures the early life of Albany, NY leading up to the American Revolutionary War highlighting The Papers of John Gordon MaComb, July 1757 to Jun 1760 (New York, British Army). A copy of the dissertation may be ordered from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor library.

4.  Loyalist Muster Roll Index The National Archives of Canada holds various volumes (C" Series”) that gives an account of the Loyalist Muster Rolls.

5.  Library and Archives Canada. Researchers must be familiar with the holdings of the Military Research collections at the Canada Library and Archives. 

Black Migration to Canada During American Revolutionary War
In exchange for their freedom, free-coloreds and slaves, as early as 1779, were encouraged to fight for the British. Over ten percent of the Loyalists that arrived in the Maritime colonies of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island were black men, women, and children.

However, few realize that since slavery was legal in Canada there were also slave-owning Loyalists from the 13 colonies who migrated with their slaves.  Approximately 2000 slaves arrived in Canada - 5500 in Upper Canada (Ontario), 300 in Lower Canada (Quebec) and 1200 in the Maritime colonies.

Additional Resources
Kathleen Brandt
a3genealogy.coms
Accurate, accessible answers

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

5 Tips/Hints to Researching Gold Rushers - Alaska

Alaskan Gold Mining Company,
The Alaskan Gold Rush - Gilded Age
Known by several names, the Gold Rush was a vital contributor to the Gilded Age, as Mark Twain called the years between 1878 - -1899. The Gilded Age was the era of great fortune and wealth. It brought industrialization, the gold rush, vast railroad development to include rails to Alaska, and more. In 1899 construction on the White Pass & Yukon Railroad that began a year earlier (May 1898) was completed.

But with the hope for wealth, for many, there was also great loss. As seen on TLC: Who Do You Think You Are? Episode 2 of Season 5 with Jesse Tyler Ferguson, mining companies, investors, and prospectors headed toward Alaska, but many failed to reach their destination due to harsh climate, avalanches, and illnesses. Over 100,000 were led to join the fray of the Stampeders to Alaska but only about 30,000 completed the trip.

The climate, however, was not the only contributor to the high mortality rate. Thousands were killed laying transcontinental tracks, and the unregulated industrial efforts across America proved deadly for many. Families were torn and forsaken, all the while political and racial tensions rose.  That was the Gilded Age.

Routes to Alaska – By Foot, Horse, or Steamer
If your ancestor chose to make his fortune in Alaska during the Gilded Age, family historians will find the research arduous, but not impossible. With the diverse trails and routes to Alaska most travelers found themselves hiking and riding horses by land and taking boats and steamers up the river. But whether by boat/steamer, horseback or on foot, the same fate was common.

Gathering Background Data
Gold Mine Map National Park Service
    Researchers should be familiar with both the land trail and steamwheelers and riverboats courses to Alaska.  With a bit of sleuthing the researcher may uncover the listing or history of vessels, names of boat captains or a passenger lists.

    In the diary that Jesse Tyler Ferguson reads on Who Do You Think You Are?, the July 1898 Monte Cristo River Steamer is referenced. This Steamer operated from 1898-1903. A helpful reference when tracing steamboats can be found in the Annual Report of the Supervising Inspector General of Steam-Vessels- Inspection for the relevant year. Through this report we learn that the Monte Cristo was used to traverse the Stikine River.

    5 Places tor Research Your Ancestor Adventurer

    1. National Parks Service (NPS). The NPS website is a great place to learn of the Alaskan trails, popular routes and events that may assist your ancestral research. The site boasts an expansive list of “searchable databases of people who went north to Alaska (and Canada during the gold rush.” They include the 80,000 genealogical records held at the Dawson City Museum, images of the gold rush at the Valdez Museum and Historical Archives and a Historical Database.  
    2. Alaska State Library. The Alaska State Library offers Finding Your Gold Rush Relative to provide research sources for “the Klondike and Alaska gold rushes,” 1896-1914.  
    3. Find A Grave. Landslides, avalanches, and other natural disasters often explain the cemeteries along the trials. Find A Grave has listed 116 burials in Slide Cemetery in Skagway Borough, Alaska. A Palm Sunday avalanche killed between 60-100 travelers over the Chilkoot Pass and the bodies recovered from this 3 April 1898 event are interred in Slide Cemetery. The listing of the Palm Sunday Avalanche victims may also be seen at the National Park Service website.
    4. Nationwide Newspapers.  Across America newspapers were reporting the trials, tribulations and successes of the Stampeders - Gold Rushers. Either way, local news often reported names and dates of departure and news of the travelers if it reached the homefront.
    5. Diaries of Women and Men. The Klondike women’s population was about eight percent (8%) - mostly housewives, a few wealthy investors, but few worked as miners. Accounts of their travels might be found in diaries.  Visit the Alaska State Library for diares of Mary Jane and Fred Healy, 1884 - 1891; Clare M. Stroud Boyntan Phillips, 1898-1902; Elizabeth Robins, 1900,  and more.

      Read about the adventures and accounts from Jack London, Sam Dunham, Robert Service and more: Gold Rush Literature, National Park Service.
    African Americans in Alaska
    Like other adventurers, black gold miners settled in Alaska as did African American seamen and miners. For more information review Black Heritage Sites by Nancy C. Curtis, Ph.D.
    National Parks Service
    In addition, researchers may find their African American soldiers from the 24th Infantry - Buffalo Soldiers – in the Territory as they were dispatched May 1899 for the purpose of maintaining peace and order.  Although respected as fierce soldiers, they faced racial prejudice in the Territory. And, according to the enumeration of the 1900 US Census, only 168 “black people” were recorded living in Alaska after the gold rush. 

    Kathleen Brandt
    a3genealogy.com
    Accurate, accessible answers