Thursday, December 11, 2014

Christmas and Holiday Gift Certificates 2014

Last Minute Gift
Yes, it's too late to complete your family tree by Christmas, but consider our popular Holiday Gift Certificate. You will receive the Gift Certificate in our festive Red Envelope in time to place under the tree.

Email for our holiday quotes:
          Promo Code: a32014
          10 hours minimum research

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, accessible answers

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

7 Great Finds in Historic Hotel Records

Where Did They Stay?
When travelling for business we often enjoy the comforts of historic hotels in the small towns of Kansas, the resorts of Colorado, the boutique hotels of Texas, or the elegant and historic hotels of Massachusetts. Our research often includes tracking migrations, political/business travels, or learning the social life styles of ancestors who had the means to travel to visit family or for work.  Most genealogists may learn about this part of family history using newspaper notices. Local newspapers, especially in smaller towns, announce their visitors. They may even mention if the town guests are staying at a hotel or with family.  So from here, the fascination of hotel registers ensues!

Our admiration for historic hotels is not confined to U.S.A. markets, even though this article concentrates on finding your ancestors within America’s historic hotel records. But still, here is an interesting fact: the oldest hotel in operation is the Nisiyama Onsen Keiunkan in Yamanashi, Japan that first opened in 707 A.D. For forty-six generations, the same family has operated this hotel (Guinness World Records)  

7 Great Finds
Broadmoor Hotel, Colorado Springs, CO
What information can the genealogist / historian find within the archives of the hotels registered with the Historic Hotels of America, or in town museums and State Archives? Once you have determined that your ancestor did stay or work at a historic hotel, you may find one of the following treasures:
Broadmoor Bonanza 1949
  1. Hotel Magazines – upscale hotels may have announced their guests or taken photos of guests and events published in the magazines.
  2. Hotel registers may be available.
  3. Many of these historic hotels have onsite archivists that may assist with your research through onsite art collections, donated antiques, and social history, etc.
  4. Photo negatives may be available to include honeymooners, and newlyweds.
  5. Photos of hotel events or hosts of large events (polo team meets, golf tournaments, etc)
  6. Employee Records
  7. Entertainment Records.  You may find documents, photos and even contracts of entertainment events
Where are the records?

Researchers should first confirm their ancestors’ whereabouts by using social columns, deeds, obituaries, etc. Then contact the historic property. Be sure to ask for the following: an onsite or corporate archivist, the location of historical registers, employee ledgers, and guest ledgers. Don’t forget to check the National Historic registers for a copy of the records that might have made them eligible for the Historic Hotels of America.

County, state and local archives may also have important files on residents or guests of the historic hotels. By probing at the Broadmoor Spa in Colorado Springs, I was able to uncover awesome photos. The 1872 Sweet Springs Hotel Register was located in the University of Virginia, Claude Moore Health Sciences Collections Library.

African American Guests
Most historic hotels did not integrate until the 1960’s - civil rights era. My western Kansas Strader family was seemingly one of the first African Americans at the Broadmoor Resort in 1968, albeit a short stay by eight family members.

However, you may find your African American family in the employee registers.  In some of the smaller Midwestern hotels, which seemed to accept guests of color earlier, researchers may find that their ancestor were registered. Some of the historic hotel registers did not denote race but others may have noted their guest as “colored” or Negro.

Omni Parker House
Omni Parker House by Susan Wilson
Add the Omni Parker House historic hotel to your Boston historic tour. Was your ancestor a chef? Within a short distance from the New England Genealogical Historic Society, stands the relatively newly-renovated Omni Parker House well known for its mastery of the Boston Cream Pie. This historic hotel was noted for hiring top chefs (one might say celebrity chefs) since 1855 when it first hired Chef Sanzian. The original 1855 Parker House was completely demolished by 1927. But before the original Parker House was destroyed Charles Dickens had an extended stay, and John Wilkes Booth stayed a few days prior to killing President Lincoln. In more modern times, J. F. Kennedy announced his presidency and Malcolm X was a busboy at the Omni Parker.

Researching for your ancestors’ records as an employee or guests at this hotel will be extensive, but be sure to check all area historical repositories.

Our favorite hotel research began with the AAAFive-Diamond resort of the Broadmoor Hotel and Resort. Since 1919, the Broadmoor hotel has hosted many of the nation’s presidents, entertainers, and celebrities. There’s a wall of fame on the corridor walls outside the bowling alley filled with photos of the U. S. Presidents and foreign Presidents who have visited and everyone from early actors to present day actresses. But although the original hotel registers were not available, in addition to the wall of photos, there’s a series of resort magazines that began in 1946 that announced guests by names. The Memories and the Broadmoor Bonanza were popular as they announced their guests. This hotel has also preserved their honeymoon negatives, so many are available. Photos are the biggest requests – photos of polo teams, events and married copies. 

Employee records and entertainment records have also been preserved. The onsite archivists contacted, returned, findings in an email for our research project.  For onsite review of documents, an appointment must be made in advance.

Melrose, Warwick Hotel, Dallas, Texas
Warwick, Melrose Hotel, Dallas
The Warwick line of elegant historic hotels tells American history in a unique way. If your ancestor was from the “upper crust” you may find them as having lived or worked in one of these historic properties.
“… the Warwick Denver hotel was once a Playboy mansion. The Warwick Melrose in Dallas was, in the 1930s, an apartment building for the millionaires from Texas, and the Warwick New York was built by William Randolph Hearst in 1926 as a gift for his long-time mistress, Marion Davies, who was a Hollywood actress.”
As I write this end-of-the-year article on 2014 Travel  Research - Hotel Records, I am a guest at the AAA Four Diamond Melrose, Warwick Hotel built in 1924 while researching in Dallas.

Kathleen Brandt
Happy Thanksgiving, 2014

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

3 Steps To Get Documents Fast

Photo duplication Services will be discontinued as of 
December 5, 2014. As of this date, existing orders will
 be completed, but new orders will not be accepted.
As of 5 Dec 2014 patrons must order the microfilm. 

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

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).
  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