Monday, March 25, 2019

Why We Pull Wills?


Brickwalls and Unscrambling Common Names
I know I pound this in absolutely EVERY genealogy presentation, post and speaking engaging I have given.  But let's remember to pull a copy of the WILL and PROBATE. We can't always get the original, but don't depend on the abstracts and (hit me over the head, even!!!) please don't just glance at an index.

What was here?
The four sons were named. Believe me, when working with Dodd's of New Jersey, unscrambling family units is not an easy task.  In addition, father Stephen H. Dodd named his own father.  In honoring his father, Stephen generously proffered his father's name, Samuel T. Dodd, and his wife. So now I know Stephen, son of Samuel T Dodd, was married to Letitia and had these four sons. and a daughter who was mentioned by the date of this will.

It was all just laid out for the descendants.

Great Monday!

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Polish Research - Where Do You Start?

Getting Started
The a3Genealogy International Team has been tackling large Polish ancestry project the past year. We have bragging rights for breaking brickwalls if given enough time.  These projects are not easy, most of the in-country documents are not indexed.  There are different research techniques for Jewish ancestry in Poland, and Catholic.  Let’s further break this down.  Catholic genealogical research is even divided between Roman Catholicism and the Greek Catholic Church.  Have you heard of Ruthenian? I’ll explain that late.  Bu the way…Polish genealogical research is not really in Poland. It includes the full eastern bloc to include Ukraine, Austria, Russia, Hungary, and Czech.  No…it’s not easy! So where do you start.

As with all genealogical research start with yourself.  Exhaust the American or Canadian or European, or Australian records.  Those are just some of our projects.  You should be ferreting out all you can, on you surname (and remember that surname can be spelled in a half dozen ways.)  But start with the most recent spelling and be flexible. What to look for in the online collections?  Yes, start online.  It’s one of the few times I will say, spend lots of time, just pulling online records. 
  • Census records -will give you family units.  Not a big hint since the same names may be in the household three doors down, but pay attention to occupation, military service, education level, age, and place/date of birth.  These small details will become life-safer later.
  • Death records of your immigrant may hold family secrets.  Plus you will want to pull the birth records of all of their children.  This will narrow down the emigration, and help to tie family units in Europe.
  • Military records -these records give us contact persons’ names, and date and place of birth. May mention if your ancestor was an alien or naturalization.  You may find that the next of kin is a wife back in Galicia Poland (let’s say), or family that did not travel, or maybe state where in Galicia, or Tarnapol or one of the powiat, or voivodeship, gmina.  
Collecting more is best.  The reason is when we “jump the pond”, we get to match these people like a Rubik's cube.

  1. Immigration / Passenger List records – Here you are looking for birth information, “home” contact, and arrival contract.  Don’t get discouraged if it names an in-law or acquaintance, as these may be your key to the correct ancestor.  You will want to use all of your tools for this to include but not limited to:
  2. Ellis Island Passenger Search
  3. Familysearch.org, NY Passenger Arrival Lists (Ellis Island), 1892-1924
  4. The National Archives, AAD is a great resource for Russian and German (index files).
  5. Naturalization Records – just start online, but you need copies of the originals (the indices gives us minimal details, and really, is more for confusion than untangling family units. Don’t forget Declaration of Intent records (1st Papers).  By the way this is where you will find change of names too.  My Wasyl changed his legally to Walter
  6. Special Boards of Inquiry, Immigration Records,  – a common overlooked one.  There aren’t a lot that have been digitized, but exhaust there first, the find out where your Special Boards of Immigration Inquiry are located (if salvaged).  What will you learn? LOTS!
  • Character of the immigrant
  • Family situation
  • Family members
  • Occupation
  • Migratory path
His Story

Her Story

OH....and 
  • Lots of lies, but more truths.  Luckily these sworn statements help us wade through the obvious issues here.


Immigration Records, Boards of Special Inquiry (BSI)

Today I worked in the Philadelphia, PA Immigration Records, Special Boards of Inquiry, between 1893-1909 digitized on ancestry.com.  I have also worked with this record collection in the regional National Archives - NY. 

Other Sources: 
This is the time for super passenger/manifests list knowledge.  Matter fact, if you have been waiting for an excuse to understand the markings, locations, how to use them,  the time has arrived to be the best friend of passenger and manifests lists.
Kathleen Brandt
a3Genealogy@gmail.com
Accurate, accessible answer

Monday, February 18, 2019

Research Tips to Tracing American Ancestors Overseas

Ancestor Disappeared?
Consular Records
Did your ancestor travel overseas for work, missionary work, U.S. government work? Was a child of an American citizen born overseas? This occurred frequently with customary long overseas visits. The Department of State records, various records of death notices of US citizens abroad should be scoured for your elusive ancestor.  Don’t dismiss these records as only for those who were naturalized USA citizens and returned to their native land to visit family. Vacationers fell sick, were victims of violence, automobile accidents, or were imprisoned, etc. These records also included deaths that occurred in Canada and the Americas.



What to Expect
In addition to providing genealogical data of family members and kinship, often a passport number is provided. In the case of Spyrus Kansas, Greek born, but naturalized citizen of the USA, the names and addresses of his wife and siblings are provided, along with his passport number and his burial (and re-interment) information with the cause of death.  It even gives information on the family home being attacked by guerilla forces while in Greece. 

Married in Europe
Women were often naturalized by marriage; and travelled on a joint passport. See Passports Applications for Genealogy.  In doing so, American citizens (by marriage) like that of Germaine Jackson’s death states she was a [USA] native by marriage, but born in Paris.  The good news for the researcher is that for clarification, her marriage date, and address of her French family and origin are provided.

Death at Sea
It’s no surprise that many died at sea. There are 333 records of Titanic casualties; limited to the bodies found. Obviously sea voyage continued to the destination, and the deaths were reported to the Dept. of State, upon arrival as was William Morris’s death. Morris of New York was  traveling to Brussels in 1903.

Foreign Death Certificates
Often research leads us to locating a foreign death certificate. Know that foreign death certificates are most often written in the foreign language where the death occurred. For forensic genealogical searches of heir, estates, and dual citizenships, these foreign death certificates are a place to begin your search, but are usually not accepted for USA insurance or estates and may be denied for Dual Citizenship records. (This is only applicable for foreign consulates that still require ancestor death certificates.)   

Foreign Service Post Records
If your ancestor served the USA on an assigned foreign diplomatic or other government post, records can be located in Record Group (RG) 84: Foreign Service Post Records of the US Department of State.  Textural records of the death (plus births and marriages) from 1788-1962 of US citizens may be found in the Records of Diplomatic Posts (RG 84.2) and Records of Consular Posts, RG84.3.

Locating the Records
Although ancestry.com has digitized the Reports of Deaths of American Citizens Abroad, 1835 -1974, researchers must know that the original National Archive death records are archived in four reference collections: 
  • Record of Death Notices of United States Citizens Abroad, 1835 – 1855 
  • Death Notices of United States Citizens Abroad, 1857 – 1922  
  • Death Reports in the State Department Central Decimal File, 1910-1963 
  • Reports of the Deaths of American Citizens, 1963-1974
For More Information

Kathleen Brandt
a3Genealogy.com
a3genealogy.blogspot.com

(Original posted 16 Feb 2013)

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

WWI Papers Destroyed in Fire? The Christmas Gift


Merry Christmas to Me!
I have this newspaper photo of Great - Uncle George who served in WWI. He was the celebrated "colored man"from Rice County, Ks - George F. Strader "Our First Colored Hero of the World War."  I also found him listed in a picture with his troop Co D of the Pioneer Infantry 805 book .

I have information of his troop; and I have, in my arsenal of goodies, Great - Uncle George's WWI helmet that his mother turned into a chandelier. Yes, read about it at WWI Chandelier Helmet.   Who turns a WWI helmet into a chandelier?  Oh...I know! My Great-Grandmother.  The chandelier - helmet is a hit in my Sharing Your Ancestors presentation. But what more can I find about Great-Uncle George?

There's so much I don't know.  How was G-Uncle George injured in service?  When did he get promoted to Sargent.  By the end of his service years he was a Sargent as listed in the troop book, and in the Enrollment Book(V: 27, Reno Republic, Rice counties).

But, The Best Christmas Gift Ever!
Late Christmas Day, 2018,  I received an email from a man named Greg Stredder.  Greg had obviously done his research and googled George Strader (not Stredder) and found me.  So let's do this sequential. 

1) Lesson one:  Expose Your Ancestors
I have a blog and articles posted across the internet so other researchers can find me. I have written about G-Uncle George and his mother on this blog.

Back to Gregg who found me and sent me the email.  Greg's message was short. " Thought this would be of interest to you." Greg had come across an article in the Lyons Republican paper, dated 14 Jan 1919, from Lyons, Rice County,  Kansas (the county seat) while researching his own "Stredder" family, I was delighted.  The editor titled the article A Letter From France and misspelled my great grandparents names as James Stredder, but the letter was clearly signed by George F. [Franklin] Strader. 

2) Lesson two: Prove kinship. Is this my George?
Stredder or Strader was proved by this write up:  "Corporal "George was the first colored boy from this county..." Yep, it's my Great-Uncle George. There were only two colored boys from Lyons Kansas, Uncle George and my grandfather (who did not serve due to a physical injury). Others from Sterling which was also in Rice County "down the 2 lane highway a-piece," and from neighboring counties (Reno, Ellsworth, Stafford and Barton counties), worked in the Lyons salt mines or only lived in Lyons, KS temporarily for work. My "colored" Strader family arrived in Lyons Kansas in spring of 1900. My great-grandfather, James, a teamster in Kentucky was drafted to work in the salt mines. So, no question it was my Great-Uncle George.  Oh and by the way, Great-Grandma had told me about the letter, but we never found it in her belongings in 1968 when she passed away. Either way, in our family, and in Lyons, Uncle George was quite celebrated.  Plus the printed letter was signed by George F. Strader.  

3) Lesson three: Collaborative Research
Be kind, when you find something this magnificent, this marvelous in the paper about someone else's ancestor, be like Greg!  Share it.  I had experienced a bitter-sweet Christmas.  Greg changed my negative narrative to a day of gratitude.  Thank you Greg! 

A Letter From France
The printed Lyons Republican letter of  14 Jan 1919 fills in quite a bit of detail about Uncle George's military service and his troop. The details take us to the place in time, the activities, and daily routines of Uncle George's WWI experience.  It is a great replacement for his burned WWI personnel record that was not salvaged from the 1973 St Louis National Personal Record Center. (NPRC). 

10 New Details
1) Uncle George wrote the letter 10 Dec 1918, over a month before it was printed in the Lyons Republican. At the time he was a Corporal.  By the time he came home he was a Sargent.  When was he promoted?
2) I need to review this newspaper one more time for the misspelling of the family surname of Strader.  Did it appear as Stredder in other articles?  
3) George was in Chatel France, surrounded by the Argonne Forest. 
4) George could read and write.  His mother was a school teacher during the Reconstruction era.  She was only fourteen when she started teaching. But we didn't know how well George wrote.  I did know all five of his sister were well educated.  One attended Emporia, Kansas State Teachers College  But it's good to know that George, the second child could also read and write. 
5) The family letters were reaching George while he was serving in France. 
6) George somehow got lost in the Argonne Forest alone. More information on this may be in the Morning Reports. 












7) George was in a quartet. He seemed quite proud of this.  Note:, my father was also a good singer. 
8) George saw up to 45,000 German prisoners at one time.  Was he at a POW camp?
9) George was involved in raids that included gas bombs.Yes, g-uncle George was injured in the war, but unlike the story G-Grandma like to tell, it was not from front line action!

10) The letter gave information about other local black soldiers.
  • Daniel Baugh was from Barton County, KS.  He worked for the railroad when he came home from the war and lived in Geneseo, KS.  
  • Arthur Stewart was from Sterling Kansas, and was a farm worker before and after the war. 
  • And as stated, Booker was from Great Bend.  
G-Uncle George came home, but soon after he went to St. John, Stafford County, and lived with his oldest sister. Like my grandfather, g-uncle George was a car mechanic. 
Again, special thanks to Greg Stredder! 

Kathleen Brandt
a3Genealogy@gmail.com
Accurate, accessible answers.


Tuesday, December 11, 2018

4 Must Polish Research Collections

Archival Jurisdictions
At a3Genealogy we encourage our clients to research their family lines. So right now, as I'm writing this post, an Australian-based client is currently researching in Warsaw and forwarding to us his findings and documents. We work with our clients -"teamwork" - to get answers on their ancestral brickwalls. In this case, it is the client who is the document retriever, and a3Genealogy researchers will analyze documents, follow the Genealogical Proof Standards (GPS), and work toward proving kinship to meet the objective of "Who are the parents of Stephanus...? (Truncated for client privacy). 

Sources for Polish Research
Rudzinski Folder online:The Head Office of the State Archives 
Our Polish ancestral projects are broad in scope.  The last project was for an Israel-based American who wanted EU status, through his Polish ancestor.  That was a fun project!  We must note that many of our Polish ancestral projects require us to start right in America, so our top Polish resources include Poland research, online research, and American research.  Here are four of our favorites:

If you haven't visited the Central Archives of Historical Records Warsaw or one of the other national Poland archives, well, you are missing a treat. The Central Archives of Historical Records Warsaw or Archiwum Główne Akt Dawnych w Warszawie, AGAD, holds a wealth of genealogical information (AGAD).  Visit the AGAD  link to read about it in Polish, or have your page translated (right click mouse and choose translate). 

Although our current Polish ancestral research project does not include a Polish American component, we must sneak in an underutilized American collection. We love the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences of America PIASA Archives Yes, this collection can be a bit academic, but so worth the time.  Here's information based on their website: The archival manuscripts are included in seventy-five collections.
"The archival collections include manuscripts, 
correspondence, diaries, maps and sound recordings."

A quick look at The Head Office of the State Archives Sezam and Zosia Databases is a great place to begin your research.  We often use this as a finding aid, and send the "Nerd Team" to the site to ferret out information. Yes, we affectionately call a few of our researchers the "Nerd Team."  They consider it a a badge of honor. Here is information on the various databases and Poland Holdings of the Polish State Archives.   
If your research lands you on needed State Archival collections, the a3Genealogy team relies on the Family History Library for their microfilmed/digitized Polish State Archives collection.  Since not all of the State Archives records were microfilm, you may need to make a written request for document retrieval.  Here's more information on the Poland State Archives records. 

Teaming with Document Retriever
The a3Genealogy researchers follow basic protocols, dare we say Standard Operating Procedures, to work with the document retrievers around the world. Our clients taking on this role also follow the basic procedures. We know when researchers are in a "genealogical research zone", there are two things often forgotten:  1) Giving distinguishing file names to each document; 2) Citing sources. Now that can be a problem, when we need to go back to the repository or archive for further research! So for anyone retrieving documents, here are things to consider as you pull those precious nuggets of ancestral leads: 

Shared Documents
Where will shared documents be stored?  At a3Genealogy we use Box.com, Dropbox, and Google Drive, based on the retriever's experience.  Our retrievers may send us documents in any legible form (scanned, phone cameras, by snail mail, email, messaging, etc).  We ask for full pages to include margins. Then we file the documents in the appropriate folders. 

Files Folders and Identification System
The biggest issue is that a project may have multiple "Stephanus" in each generation (cousins, direct line, uncles, etc).  So your files and folders must clearly determine which "Stephanus". Researchers want an at a glance filing system!  That's a major time saver. 

Citing Sources
So this is where we have broad guideline for clients, but professional document retrievers for hire should know to follow GPS standards for citations. Ok, our overseas retrievers often use a different citation format, but it usually meets our needs. Just remember to cite! For clients we have them jot down everything they can about the collection: name, folder number from archives, collection name, etc.  This can be given to the a3Genealogy team via handwritten notes, phone pics, etc. and we sort it out for proper citation. 

Just a few Polish  repository and research tips and tricks.  
Kathleen Brandt
a3Genealogy@gmail.com
Accurate, accessible answers

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Homes for Unwed and Troubled Women 1869 – 1950

Where Are the Records?

 Seattle Advertisement for Florence Crittenton Home

Usually we find out by accident that Grandma was born in a home for unwed mothers. Sometimes, we figure it out, by the surname throughout her historical records, where a father is not listed, or the maternal family surname is the only one used. Sometime, we just deduce it correctly, when the family lived in rural America, yet, Grandma was born in a woman friendly town like Kansas City. Who was Grandma’s father will always be a family secret, or, the gossip of the hometown, but perhaps more information can be found in the records of the place of birth, especially if it was a home for unwed mothers.

History of Homes for Unwed Mothers
Florence Crittenton Home, Kansas City
Homes for unwed mothers and “troubled” women were becoming a common place by the early 1890’s. As early as 1869 the sisters of St. Vincent opened The House of Providence, a program for unwed mothers and their children, as did many other cities.

Charles Nelson Crittenton
By 1893 Charles Nelson Crittenton, grieving the death of his four year old daughter Florence who suffered from scarlet fever in 1882, founded Florence Night Mission. This Mission was designed to assist the prostitutes, troubled “lost and fallen women and wayward girls” of New York City.

By 1895 Dr. Kate Waller Barrett, an Episcopalian minister’s wife and mother of six, joined forces with Dr. Crittenton. Dr. Barrett’s primary interest was to assist unwed mothers. After completing her nursing course in 1894 at the Florence Nightingale Training School in London and her medical degree at the Women’s College of Georgia, in Atlanta, she and Crittenton partnered to establish up to 73 homes for unwed expectant mothers across America.[1] The National Florence Crittenton Mission became a well known safe-haven for unwed, troubled girls. Most of the homes served between 8-15 girls, but then there were the larger Florence Crittenton homes, like that in Kansas City.

Willows Maternity Home, KCMO
Other private homes for unwed mothers, or troubled women like “The House of Another Chance in Seattle which opened in 1926, assisted up to 150 women. And the The Willows Maternity Home, founded in 1905, in Kansas City was noted for its significant influence in adoptions. 

Homes for Colored Girls
Based on the times, the colored girls had their own homes for unwed mothers. In 1925 in Kansas City, there was the Florence Home for Colored Girls. Although named after the Critenton’s daughter, it was funded by the philanthropist William Volker. 

Kansas City – The Baby Hub of the US
According to statistics, Kansas City was the baby hub and a safe-place for unwed mothers. It was located in the middle of the US with convenient access to the railroad. A railroad map into Kansas City was featured on the Interesting Willows’ Statistics pamphlet printed in 1921 by Willows Maternity Home.

At that time, Kansas City also was the home of the Florence Crittenton Home, The St. Vincent’s Hospital, Eastside Maternity Hospital (often called the Kansas City Cradle due to its close association and history, but this relationship is a bit misleading) and the Florence Home for Colored Girls.

Where are the Records?
Some of the workers kept diaries that have been preserved for these homes as the chronicles of the Florence Crittenton Home in Montana. The records for the Florence Crittenton Mission in Kansas City are held at the Missorui Valley Special Collections. The Florence Crittenton Home of Norfolk records are held in the Old Dominion University Libraries, Special Collections: Manuscripts. However, some records were destroyed, as those at the Willows Maternity Home, in Kansas City. These records were supposedly “piled in the backyard and burned.” 

Be sure to check with State Historical Societies and manuscripts for these records. 

Note on Adoptions: Although the homes mentioned in this post historically encouraged the women to keep their child, the same homes were used as adoption agencies.

[1] The New York Times, 17 Nov. 1909, Page 9; http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9F06E3DA1630E733A25754C1A9679D946897D6CF, online access 19 May 2010

Reprint of 19 May 2010, title of same name.

a3Genealogy
Accurate, Accessible Answers
a3genealogy@gmail.com

Monday, November 26, 2018

New Genealogy TV Show - "I Should Have Known"

PRESS RELEASE
The new TLC pilot, I Should Have Known, aired Monday, 26 Nov 2018.  "I Should Have Known," proves to be much more than a genealogy show. 

Kathleen Brandt, of a3Genealogy (KCMO), is an International Professional Genealogist, Licensed Private Investigator, and a host of the show. She has joined others to help "Lindsay" and Francisco wade through their "new life secrets."


I Should Have Known
(click here for full episode)
Here is what TLC says:

           I Should Have Known
Lindsey [sic] and Francisco's lives get turned upside down when they learn a life altering secret that makes them question who they even are?  Now struggling with the fact they were lied to their entire lives, they each embark on a mission to uncover the truth.  
Be sure to sign into your provider to access the online full episode of the show. We'd love your feedback on the show.

Kathleen Brandt
a3Genealogy@gmail.com
Accurate, Accessible Answers
(original post, 25 Nov 2018, revised)