Tuesday, November 4, 2014

3 Steps To Get Documents Fast

Can't Go to Salt Lake?
Most of my readers have never tried the FamilySearch Photoduplication ServicesBut, really, you may be wasting researching days. Even though the Family History Library (FHL) in Salt Lake City isn't just around the corner, you may not need to wait for that microfilm reel - especially if you just need one marriage copy or death record. That one death record of 3rd great-grandpa may be all you need to move your genealogy and family research to the next generation. So have you tried the Family Search Photoduplication Service?

Within 4 days I received a requested marriage license in my e-mail. Yes! My e-mail.  Note: this service is for individual images, not a personal research service. So you must do your homework upfront.

3 Easy Steps
  1. Identify Film and Item Number. Yes, some film have several item numbers, often cataloged by years. Verify the exact Item Number where the image is located. This is done by visiting the FamilySearch Catalog
  2. Initiate Request using the Photoduplication Request Form
  3. Wait and Receive
A Bonus
Do you have a Family History Library that you frequent? For a3Genealogy Kansas City researchers, it's the Midwest Genealogy Center. Unbeknownst to the researcher, the FamilySearch catalog will alert you if the film needed is already at "your" Family History Library. Here is the response we received when attempting to order microfilm 1845384:

By accessing the Midwest Genealogy Center Resources, we verified the film was truly there!

Oh how we love technology!
Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, accessible Answers

Friday, October 24, 2014

Press Release: Research Job Opportunities

Closed 21 Nov 2014

Two Open Positions - Genealogists

a3Genealogy research jobs are assigned based on clients' needs. Research applicants must meet the following requirements: 1) expert in research topic 2) familiarity with local repositories and 3) location requirement

Job1, Family Research, 10 hours
2 Positions

Objective: Family Tree Research (U.S.A)
  • This job will be primarily online research using professional databases, but also retrieving original documents (vital records, newspaper references, courthouse records, etc.). a3Genealogy pays for all pre-approved vital records.
  • Must be able to properly cite references using GPS Standards. Final Report must be in Word file with .jpg or .pdf images. Must have excellent writing skills. 2 positions available.
  • Any travel expenses must be pre-approved.
  • No location requirements
Full job description will be provided. 

All researchers must be experienced in writing Final Reports and proper GPS citation. Certified Genealogists and ProGen graduates preferred. However, we also use the following when needed:
Researcher Assistants
Document Retrievers (specify your location)

Send resume with pricing structure to:

Kathleen Brandt
Website: a3genealogy.com

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Family Feuds Can Be Proven

Mother had "No Love" for Fiance
Researching For Family Dynamics
Would you love to know not only your family tree, but the family dynamics? Were there family feuds, tensions, ugly gossip? But how can you get that information for your genealogy project? How does a researcher prove that family members were at odds with one another? The top four family feud research resources are 1) newspapers for local gossip 2) court records - keep an eye out for frivolous lawsuits 3) deed/wills can stipulate relationship demands, or purposely exclude family members, sometimes with an explanation 4) military records. Yes, I said military records.

What Can Be Found In Military Records?
Who Signed for Minor? The Guardian

Family Correspondence 
Many researchers fail to obtain the full Personnel Service File of their veteran ancestor. Sure, some of those WWI and WWII files are not available due to the 1973 National Archives Fire in St. Louis, but others have been salvaged. And if the file has been preserved, know that it could be the  key to your ancestor’s family life. Did someone other than a parent sign for a minor to serve in the military? Why? Was there a guardian? Have you read the letters from girlfriends, fiances, aunts and other family members. They can be telling.
"Neither the Marine nor Family are on friendly terms with the Mother"
Insurance Beneficiary Papers.  Researchers often overlook the beneficiary papers of the serviceman’s insurance benefits. But actually the assigned beneficiaries can often give cause to raise an eyebrow. Did your single ancestor name a sibling vs. a living parent as beneficiary. 
Response to Estranged Mother
Pension Records.  In the Civil War Pension Record of Nelson Strader (alias Mason), the family's dirty laundry was exposed. It is here that we learn that Nelson thought his wife Mary was mean, and left her for Louisa. The military depositions and affidavits used for the military to untangle the love triangle left the family researchers enough information for a Hollywood movie. Not only did these records proffer family relationships, but they gave us a peek into the community dynamics. 

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, accessible answers

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Researching Orphanages and Children's Homes

Children Institutions in Kansas City 1918 - 1920
Keeping in mind that Kansas City was a railroad station hub, the second largest in the nation, competing only with Chicago, in the 1918-1920 era, know that it also was also a hub for abandoned children and maternity homes.  The 21 April 1919 Kansas City Times article named the following orphanages: The Children’s Home, The Life Line Mission (KS), The Negro Orphans” Home, the Gillis Orphans” Home (MO). However, know that there were plenty more. Many of the children were abandoned without a name or any clue to parentage.

One Well-Known Children’s Home – Life Line Mission
According to the 17 Feb 1918 Kansas City Star newspaper, Life Line Mission was “an institution devoted to the care of children under four years old.”  Turning to local newspapers using the mission names as the keywords, may lead the family researchers to uncovering an ancestor’s past.  The local newspaper may be your key to adoptions and misplaced children research. Plus you may learn a bit more about the law and social practices.

For one, it was clearly illegal to bring destitute persons to Kansas. A 12 Feb 1918 Kansas City Times article gives details on the arrest of Dr. Hartman for bringing three “destitute persons” - two women and a baby- to Rosedale, KS. Dr. Hartman owned a maternity home in the Rosedale township (later part of Kansas City, Kansas) that borders the Kansas City, MO. state line. But much more can be learned about the children’s home that Hartman used to drop off several children.   

Children of Life Line Mission: 1918-1920
A Kansas City Star and Kansas City Times keyword search for Life Line Mission from 1918 - 1920 proffered several children’s names.

Francis, Jack and Wallace, 20 July 1920, Kansas City Times, Three Babes Want A Home. One is 5 years old (Francis), Another Blue-Eyed and Chubby; Third Seldom Cries,  Jack and Wallace were not yet one year old. Both Jack and Wallace were left at Union Station (KCMO) “The mother of Wallace is known…” Ten month old Jack is dark complexion, with black eyes and dark brown hair “He was given to a woman to hold and she found she had a baby on her hands that did not belong to her.”  pg. 11, Co 1.  Wallace’s mother was 18 years old with black hair and dark eyes and small of stature and visits her son. Three month old “Wallace is blue eyed a [?] blond and fat.”

Emanuel Lissner, 15 Oct 1918, Kansas City Times. …the 3 year old son of Louis Lissner died yesterday of pneumonia at the Life Line Mission, Kansas. He had a sister Gertrude Lisner. Funeral services held at home of Albert Lissner, 1323 Summit St. Buried in Elmwood Cemetery.

Stultz children 27 Feb 1919, Kansas City Times. Belle, 5 years old, Beulah 3 years old. Seek Father of Two Children. Homes for Kiddies Will Be Obtained if Relatives Are Not Found. Father Lem Stultz. Mother died of influenza.

William J. Harvey, 29 Sept 1919, Kansas City, Times.  William J. Harvey about 5 months old was left on a porch with a note and a bundle of clothes. His father was “lost in the service.”

Infant Child Sydnor, 9 Feb 1920, Kansas City Times. Mrs. Jessie Sydnor’s Child Ill at Life Line Mission (KS). Mother Jessie Sydnor.

Peter Lyons, 28 Aug 1919, Kansas City, Times. Peter Lyons, four year old son of Mrs. May Lyons was at the Mission for one week. While his mother was sick, he was to stay with his aunt, sister of May Lyons, Mrs. Wm. Hunter.  However, he “became lost.” Peter was found wandering the street, but was returned to his mother.

Striegel Keota Eagle, Keokuk County, Iowa, 11 April 1918. Elmer Pipes grandson of Mrs. Striegel of Keota, Iowa.  He was kidnapped by his mother, Louise Pipes Quinette. Father [I or J] S Pipes. I. S. Pipes divorced his wife 4 years prior. Note: appears as Pipes, may read Piper.

Other Places to Research
The Missouri Valley Special Collections is chocked full of hints, tips and surprises.  In narrowing 1920’s children’s home, we turned to the Jackson County Institutional Homes documents that provides us with the Jackson County institutions [under the direct control of the County Court," including the "McCune Home for Boys, Jackson County Home for the Aged and Infirm, the Jackson County Girls' Parental Home, the Jackson County Home for Aged and Infirm Negroes, the Jackson County Home for Negro Boys, the Detention Home. This collection includes the photos.

Adult Residences
Of course not all housing institutions were for children. The Helping Hand Institute was an institution at 523 Grand Avenue in Kansas City, MO for "worthy homeless men" and some women and children not able to find work. Again, the newspaper will be the researcher’s friend.

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, Accessible Answers. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Did Americans Volunteer with the Royal Air Force?

American's and RAF, WWII
Royal Air Force (RAF) and Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF)
After the 2013 airing of the Minnie Driver’s episode of the British, Who Do You Think You Are? two recurring questions popped up in our a3Genealogy email: 1) Were there Americans in the Royal Air Force (or Royal Canadian Air Force)?, and 2) Were there men of color who served with these forces?

Background of Americans in the RAF and RCAF
Even before America entered WWI in 1917, over 300 American citizens pretending to be Canadians were members of the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Royal Air Force. Many of the RAF service records, 1918-1919 may be found in the UK at The National Archives.

Many researchers, European, African and American, may find that their ancestor, like that of Minnie Driver, of Season 5, Who Do You Think You Are? (TLC), served with the either the Royal Air Force (RAF) or Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) during WWII.  American servicemen in the RAF and RCAF during the WWII era risked their American citizenship by joining these forces. (They were later pardoned).

Eagle Squadron American Pilots
About 250 Americans joined the Eagle Squadrons, others were enlisted through mercenary Colonel Charles Sweeney’s American squadron, or were actively recruited through the Clayton Knight Committee. It is said the Clayton Knight Committee recruited as many as seven thousand Americans for the RAF and Royal Canadian Air Force, but the exact number of Americans who served with the Royal Air Force and Royal Canadian Air Force is difficult to pinpoint, since many pretended to be Canadians and even South Africans before America “entered the war in December 1941.”

7 Places to Research Your RAF and RCAF Veteran
Researchers will find that having service numbers will assist on this pursuit. Included are a few indexes below that may be useful:
  1. One of the best places to begin your research is with the Royal Air Force Museum.  
  2. Be sure to also visit the National Churchill Museum.
  3. An often overlooked site for RAF research from 1918-1939 is FindmyPast. This database contains “almost 343,000 airmen, who were born in over 30 countries.”
  4. The National Archives (UK) may assist the family historian with earlier Royal Air Force personnel research. 
  5. For an index of RCAF personnel between 1914-1945, visit the Air Force Association of Canada. An index of the 379 Americans bombers that served with the RCAF can be found at the Bomber Command Museum, Canada.  These bombers are honored on Canada’s Bomber Command Memorial.
  6. The Library and Archives, Canada, holds all military service records.  (username/ password NOT needed). http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/military-heritage/second-world-war/Pages/introduction.aspx
  7. Fold3 has a collection of photos of American RAF servicemen being conferred by the President of the United States of America. (Servicemen are identified). Begin your photo search by scrolling through the RAF Ceremonies and Decorations.
Johnny Smythe, RAF
Men of Color with the RAF
Clearly men of color was allowed to serve with the RAF.  Johnny Smythe, Sierra Leone, was just one who volunteered and served with the RAF.

An exhibit “RAF and the Commonwealth” shares stories of African, Asian and Carribean airmen and women’s contributions to the RAF. 

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, accessible answers

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
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
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
Accurate, accessible answers
(extracted from a3Genealogy:Wagon Trains 1840-1960, posted 13 May 2011)