Saturday, January 6, 2018

From Norway to North Dakota

Hvem va du Helene? (Who Were You, Helene?)
Today a surprise package came in the mail.  When I saw the envelope was mailed from Norway, I knew it was from  longterm client Stein.

I have not heard from him in a year. Matter of fact, I got family pics from him the last time he was in North Dakota and knew he was doing another family tour in America.

The a3Genealogy crew connects clients to overseas cousins.  We usually do a genealogy booklet, verification with DNA, and we collect as many pics and artifacts as we can for the client. Many of our clients are looking for "off-the-internet documents. They have come to dead-ends on the internet, but know there's a lot more information floating around, or "archived."

This is not the first time, I have been mentioned in a client's personal family book, but it's special every time! One of my presentations is called Sharing Your Ancestors.  Any long-term client of ours, (and we have several) knows that I want them to write and share about their family.  It started with my Napa Valley vintner in 2008. He has connected with dozens of Stice cousins he never knew. One was a significant scientist in the cloning of Dolly the Sheep. (Remember that?)

a3Genealogy is now known for creating travel guides, and even setting up meetings for cousins. It's our off-the-TV version of Who Do You Think You Are, but just as exciting. There's the Australian South Pacific client who connected with her biological family from WWII in the Ohio.  Then there's Mary Ellen of Effingham, IL who brings her ancestors alive in books, on stage, and in historical presentations.  And the descendant of a WWI - WWII soldier who we traced and mapped throughout Iceland and Europe so he could follow the footsteps of his ancestor and the troops.

There are so many reasons to do genealogy, but to create a space for your ancestors to have life, is so special.  We also find out a little about ourselves by meeting these distant cousins. So when I opened Stein's book, and found this compilation of his genealogical research of Helene, I melted.

Helene Fauske was most fascinating as she worked for Rockefeller, Standard Oil, and was working in their Asia offices for the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCM). Read the section about Women in the Mission to get research tips: Ancestors Who Joined Missions. In addition to vital records we uncovered business and personal correspondence, photos and newspaper articles on her movements.

"Søkene Etter Helene" 

 a3Genealogi gjorde en søkejobb, og fant Helene Fauske. de fant de to pleiehjemmene hun bodde på, og kan bekrefte at hun døde på. Dokumentene fra begravelsen viser at Helene aldri giftet set. a3genealogi bekrefter at hun mottok en pensjon fra standard oil pa 2500 i maneden.
Translation: The Search for Helene 
a3genealogy did research and found Helene Fauske. They found the two nursing homes she was living in and confirmed her death date.  The documents from the funeral  home showed that Helene never got married. a3genealogi confirmed that she received a pension from standard oil at $2500 a month." [This was based on the nursing home/court papers].
We connected Stein to his unknown North Dakota cousins. They had the other half of the story.  Family pics, the letters from Asia and NY, and so much more were just waiting for Stein in North Dakota.

An Excerpt from Chapter Profesjonell Hjelp

Translation: Professional Help
Well I returned home, and continued the work, but I was forced to realize that I needed help from someone who could do genealogy... I needed help! Kathleen Brandt is a professional genealogist and owner of a3Genealogy. She was hired to do this easy job, and to systematize all my loose threads. Most of all, I hoped it would be possible to find relatives alive. Kathleen started searching at multiple sites and sent reports back to me by email. This worked perfectly 
[Kathleen] had found some of her [Helene’s] descendants in Grand Forks. The lady I should be related to was Inez S. Drake. I was in doubt... Yet, her maiden name was Kjelsberg.. This name was known from previous research. I asked Kathleen to call Inez to see if she knew anything about Helene Fauske. [...] Inez was Helen's niece. Kathleen called me back with an invitation from Inez [to contact her]. It was just amazing... Thus I could start planning trip number two, but first a little more background material was needed.
Note: Translations were done by me. I haven't been to Norway since the 1980's and I used Google Translate to assist in this loose translation.

The Take Away
Share Your Ancestors!
I just asked Stein if he was willing to make this book more widely available in America.  I'll let you know his answer.

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, available answers

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

No More Microfilm - No Problem

Finding FamilySearch Images?
The a3Genealogy research team decided to welcome 2018 by responding to some of our most pressing questions of 2017.  We are still getting quite a few questions/inquiries and shared frustrations via phone and email on the FamilySearch "no microfilm distribution policy" of 2017.  So we turned to the a3Genealogy FamilySearch expert, Lauri Jean Swett to unscramble what's possible and what's not. Lauri Jean shares tips, hints and suggestions on how to succeed at retrieving our ancestor related images and documents. Let us know if you have other questions on this topic that may help with your genealogy project. 
Kathleen Brandt, a3Genealogy 

Digitizing the Collections
FamilySearch shocked the genealogical community with its announcement this summer that it was discontinuing microfilm distribution to local family history centers and affiliate libraries.  Why would FamilySearch make this change after 80 years? The primary reason for the change is that most of its microfilm collection has been digitized and is available online. Additionally, digital cameras are now used for record preservation not film.  According to FamilySearch, their entire collection will be digitized by 2020.[i]   With the ‘why’ out of the way, the next question is: if most of the collection is already digitized and available online, how do we access the images? 

Images Attached to Indexes
Sample Icons from FamilySearch Search Results
The easiest way to locate images in FamilySearch is to follow those attached to indexes.  To do this, search the historical records here, with an ancestor’s name.  The entries in the list of search results will have icons on the far right.  The camera icon means an image is available.  Click on this icon to view the digital image.  Does the camera icon include a webpage behind it?  This means the image is available on another website such as or Click this icon and you have the option to visit the partner website to see the image.

Indexes without Images with Film or Digital Folder Numbers
This option requires a few more steps. First, open the index entry. The microfilm number may be in two locations. To the right of the entry details may be a section that includes the index name, GS Film Number, Digital Folder Number and Image Number. GS stand for Genealogical Society of Utah, the precursor to FamilySearch.  Take note of these numbers as you will use them when searching the FamilySearch catalog. Clicking on the film or digital folder number will not take you to the images but an alphabetical listing of the index entries. If the film or folder number is not listed to the right, read through the “Citing this Record” section below the indexed information. Make note of film number, volume numbers, certificate numbers and other information to more easily find the image of interest.
Family Search Catalog
Using the Film/Folder Number to View the Image
From the index entry, scroll to the top of the webpage and click on the catalog tab which takes you to Family Search CatalogUnder “Search for:” click on “Film/Fiche Number” and enter the microfilm number or digital folder number and click “Search.” This takes you to the simple catalog entry.  Clicking on the record’s name reveals the details of author, format, language, and publication information, followed by notes and subject headings for the catalog. Below this information is the microfilm information. Scroll down to locate the film or folder of interest and look to its right for a camera icon.  Clicking on this icon opens the digital images. If the image number was included in the index entry, replace image "1" with that number and press enter. Double clicking on the highlighted image allows the user to view the record of interest.

Microfilm Tips
If the index entry did not include an image number, look at the beginning and end of the film for an index or directions on using it.  Is the film strip divided by county, organized by certificate number or by date? It may take a while to locate the exact record sought. These same steps that helped us find our record on microfilm helps us find it among the online images.

Catalog Icons
Each microfilm in the catalog will also have icons to the right.  The magnifying glass allows us to search the index.  The camera means digital images are available. The camera with a key above it means the images cannot be viewed from home. 
Sample Icons from FamilySearch Catalog
A trip to your local family history center, affiliate library such as the Midwest Genealogy Center, or the FamilySearchLibrary in Salt Lake City, UT may be necessary.  A microfilm icon means that digital images are not available from FamilySearch.  Search online to see if another provider has the images online. The microfilm may be part of the collection at a local family history center, or an affiliate library.  Scroll to the top of the microfilm details and look for the location drop down box.  This box shows locations that have at least one of the microfilms in that record group.  Changing to a different location will show only the films available at that location.

Unindexed Records and Indexes without Film or Folder Number
A word of caution. not all FamilySearch indexes include film or folder numbers, and not all microfilm records have been indexed.  With such records, the old school approach is necessary. Do a catalog search by location, author or subject to find the record of interest.  Once we have identified the catalog entry we wish to pursue, we look for the icons to determine how to access that record.

Happy hunting!
Lauri Jean Swett
An a3Genealogy Researcher

[i] FamilySearch Digital Records Access Replacing Microfilm,” FamilySearch, posted 26 June 2017 ( : accessed 28 June 2017)

Thursday, December 28, 2017

New Speaker Titles for 2018

Happy New Year!  
Although I constantly add titles to our presentation lineup, know that I also will tailor all presentations to meet your conference needs.  When in Texas, make it Texans! 

Whether in Missouri, Kansas, Indiana, or Pennsylvania this past year, I have learned there is a thirst for DNA knowledge.  Sometimes it is just Why DNA?  Other times it's "What do I do with the results?"  Our DNA and genealogy research presentations are for the family historians and genealogists who are seeking hints about their ancestry, or are wishing to tackle a brickwall. It is also, and especially, for those who wish to connect to their biological families. This DNA series is designed to assist you with your family research needs.

You will also find below the course I use for our Professional or Inspiring Professional Genealogists.  As an entrepreneur coach, the You Are A Pioneer series has been tailored to our genealogy comrades.  Again, I have found that although we have a consulting package for the serious freelancer or small business genealogy company, sometimes a group session for discussion and sharing assist all of us to be accountable with setting goals, meeting objectives and fighting obstacles. the corporate and academia that title is part of the Brandt Motivation seminars: Setting Goals, Meeting Objectives & Fighting Obstacles.  

DNA Series

#1  DNA for Genealogists Who? What? When? Where? and Why?
This basic DNA Primer is designed for the genealogists or family historian and covers the basics of the following objectives:
  • Purpose of DNA for Genealogy
  • Understanding 3 types of DNA tests
  • Using DNA to bring down your genealogical brickwalls
  • Tips and tools to analyze your DNA results

 #2  Y-DNA and MtDNA - Making Sense of This
(Note: must be minimum of 90 minutes, or one topic for 60 minutes)
This presentation is designed to connect scientific terminology to the genealogist’s daily practices by 1) exploring vocabulary 2) answering common questions 3) following quick scenarios to discover the practicality of DNA to bring down brickwalls. 
  • Y-Haplogroups and SNPs: Why do I want this?
  • Genetic Distance: What does it mean?
  • Reading Your Report
  • Surname Projects
  • MtDNA Haplogroups: What’s the Meaning?
  • Reading MtDNA Results
  • Will Phylotree Meet Family Tree?
  • Bridging the Gap 

#3  What’s in Your DNA? Autosomal Analysis
All of the popular DNA testing companies use autosomal testing - ancestryDNA, FamilyTreeDNA, 23and Me, and MyHeritage - but what can these tests do for the family or professional genealogists?  The following topics are covered while discussing common brickwall scenarios, tools, and analysis.  This topic may be offered in a 60-90 minute lecture, or is often presented in workshop style (3 hours). Topics covered:

The Basics for Autosomal DNA Analysis
  • Autosomal DNA Limitations
  • Path to MRCA
  • SNPs and cMs
  • Chromosome Browser Tools
  • Organizing Data
  • DNA Analysis Techniques
Quantitative Analysis
  • Triangulation
  • X Chromosome
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Phasing
Entrepreneurial - You Are A PioneerTM
Becoming a Professional Genealogist
This motivational presentation walks the new or seasoned professional genealogist through seven essential steps to help ascend an invisible staircase to realize an ideal genealogical freelance or research business. The presentation also helps to identify the marketplace and industries that turn to genealogists for research services and will guide the professional genealogists to answer two basic questions
1) “What does an ideal business or freelance opportunity look like to me?” 
2) “How do I create it?”

Research Tips, Hints and Repositories
Finding Your Revolutionary War Soldier
Finding your Revolutionary War soldier among 200,000 plus participants can be daunting. Anyone sixteen to fifty-three years old during this time living in the original thirteen colonies, may have participated in the Revolutionary War in some capacity; albeit, not all for the American cause. This presentation provides 7 key resources to ferret out your Revolutionary War Soldier.

Kansas City - The Midwest Gateway to Genealogical Resources
From New York to California, Louisiana to the Plains, the Great Lakes to the Gold Rush, Virginia to Missouri’s Little Dixie counties, or Pennsylvania to the Missouri Rhineland, our ancestors historically migrated through Kansas City (KC) using the waterways, Overland Trails, the early railroad, or military convoys resulting in a wealth of original documents and manuscripts, diaries, and journals.  This presentation uncovers “must-visit” repositories that house original records, collections and manuscripts.  Researching within a 60 mile radius from the center of KC, researchers will have the answer to What Does Kansas City have to offer the professional genealogists?

And yes, if your group visits KC, the home base of a3Genealogy, we will happily get that Party Bus for Researchers, filled with pencil sharpeners, and take you on a tour!

Will see you in 2018!
Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, accessible answers

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Happy Holidays! $50.00 Off Selected Genealogy Packages

Offer Expires 6 Jan 2018  
Need a Last Minute Gift Certificate? 
Every year we do it! We need a special gift for Mom, Dad, the Family and our brain goes blank. At a3Genealogy we recognize the panic in your voice, your emails and your facebook posts.  So again this year, we are offering our Holiday Special (code #80) off our 10 hour $80.00/hour packages. (A savings of $50.00.)

Special Holiday Promotion 
Code #80 extends a $50.00 discount on four of our most popular packages: 1) Basic Family Research Package  2) Consultant Package  3) Military Package 4) DNA Analysis Package. You must purchase research projects in 10 hour increments. Special Holiday Promotion Code #80 does not apply to other Packages to include Heirship Research Packages, Media Packages, Dual Citizenship Packages, or Adoption Packages. Promotion Code #80 expires 6 Jan 2018.  

Popular Packages Plus More

10 Hour Basic Family Research Package:  This family research package typically includes two surname lines. Know that our research is not just an or internet searches but may include researching for military, naturalization documents, court records, and records held at Federal, State and County repositories. USA only.

10 Hour Consultant Package:  This package is designed for the aspiring genealogist, but genealogy professionals often request it. Are you a family historian or genealogist and need help with your brickwall?  You do the research, but we will be your partner and guide you via conference calls, emails and local meetings.  We have experts across the USA and many overseas that can also coach you through local issues. We often assist in your document retrieval needs.  

10 Hour Military Package:  For your Revolutionary War soldier WWII veteran, and all those in between, we can design a research project to honor your ancestor.

10 Hour DNA Analysis Package: Your results are in, but what does this all mean?  We can use DNA Analysis Package, to assist in solving a brick wall, planning a trip overseas, or even connecting you to your biological family. This is not a comprehensive Adoption Package, but this might be just the package you need.

  • Be sure to visit our webiste:
  • a3Genealogy Gift Certificates can be applied to any research project. Gift certificates are activated upon payment.
  • Contact us for more information, or make your holiday purchase here: Gift Certificate #80. Happy Holidays!
  • Projects for Promotion Code #80 must be scheduled by 1 April 2018. 
  • All gift certificates are activated upon payments. Clients will receive an expiration and ID code to confirm activation. 
  • For phone purchase, contact Kathleen Brandt at 816-729-5995. 
Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, accessible answers

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Researching Institutionalized Ancestor Records

Boston Almshouse
 Asylums and Almshouse Records
Family researchers will inevitably uncover an institutionalized ancestor battling insanity, feeble-mindedness, mentally disabled children, or other mental illnesses.. Although there were twenty United States mental asylums in existence in 1850,[1]  it was most common for almshouses to care for those with mental and physical disabilities as well as for the aging.  Almshouses, often referenced as “poor houses,” notably boarded old, distressed, ill, and insane citizens prior to 1880. By 1890 there were 162 mental hospitals.

Accessing Institutionalized Records
Welfare Island, Insane Asylum, NY
built betw. 1834-1839
Every state has statues specifying the distribution, and release of records of the institutionalized and mentally ill.  Prior to State Statutes, some state hospitals like Osawatomie, Kansas discarded the patients’ original files leaving perhaps just an index to past patients. The Kansas Statute 65-5603, specifies the information that can be released for family history research. "Examples include: dates of birth and death, dates of stay, names and addresses of family members. Medical information, including the DIAGNOSIS, is not open." 
Restricted State Records
When hospital records are not available, recreating an ancestors’ medical history is still possible. Gathering genealogical data using death certificates, military pension records, available probate records, or medical records submitted and filed with court cases, cemetery records, and local newspapers often yields sufficient data to understanding your ancestor’s medical history.[2]

Open State Records
Contrary to restricted states’ statues, many open-state records are accessible using digitized databases. For example the New York, Census of Inmates in Almshouses and Poorhouses from 1830-1920 may be retrieved from

10 Resources to Begin Your Search
Doctors notes from Osawatomie Kansas State Hospital
Filed in Civil War Military Pension Records
  1. wiki hosts a listing of historical asylums, almshouses, state hospitals, reform schools, private institutions and sanatoriums across America, “and around the world.”
  2. Census Records: In 1850, the Seventh Census of the United States enumerated insane persons, deaf and blind, and idiotic persons to include the Slave Schedules. “Deaf, dumb, blind, insane, idiotic, a pauper or convict patients were also noted on the 1860 and 1870 Federal Censuses. The 1880 census included “maimed, crippled, bedridden, or otherwise disabled.”
  3. Crime, Pauperism and Benevolence report created in 1890 by the Bureau of Justice Statistics identified the mental hospitals that housed part of the 91,997 USA insane population.[3]
  4. Database Catalog search using keywords “lunatic” “insane”, “blind” etc. on will also provide research resources for institutionalized patients.
  5. State Archives and Historical Society Records. Practically each state has collections or information on area asylums and almshouses.
  6. Court Records.  Divorce records, guardian records, and agreements for care by a state or facility may be located in these records.
  7. Will and Probate Records. Often names a guardian or person to care for the mentally (and physically) disabled.
  8. Military Pension Records. Often hold medical records for mental health patients.
  9. Cemetery Records Across the nation, patients were buried on the property of asylums, or at neighboring cemeteries.
  10. Death Certificates. Although lunacy was rarely noted, cemeteries, institutions and almshouses were named as resident or death place. 
Unearthing African American medical history records may be more challenging. Admitting ‘free coloreds’ to state poorhouses and insane asylums prior to the Civil War was not widespread but these records may be uncovered. Slave names were rarely provided, but ailing slaves (deaf, idiotic, etc) were identified by age, gender, and color. For more information, visit the Museum of disAbility History website.

Women’s Mental Health
Women were disproportionately committed to the State Hospital by disgruntled husbands. Insanity was often the argument used to dissolve a marriage. Researchers will discover cases of women being committed to asylums for alcoholism, dementia, “moral insanity” such as infidelity, contradicting a spouse or being too opinionated.

For more information, reference the following:

[1] Pg. 207,
[3] Pg 207, , pg 2 for 1890

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, accessible answers

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Living is Knowing - Secrets of DNA

As you know I'm hosting a new genealogy TV pilot about late discovery adoptees and reunions and the a3Genealogy DNA and a3Gen Private Investigative (PI) teams work tirelessly on adoption cases. Using DNA as a tool is so healing for so many!

I will be talking about, familytreedna, 23andme and MyHeritageDNA and others at the Topeka Kansas What's In Your DNA? workshop Nov 17-18. Here's the workshop schedule. Be sure to join me there. Take a look at this ABC Good Morning America video of a reunion. Can you image the conflicts, the questions, etc.?

This is a revised version of what posted to family and friends today:  
Holidays are coming and I want you to get gifts for a lifetime. Like a DNA kit. They are on sale now everywhere. Please test the oldest persons in your family on both father and mother side (that old uncle who talks with a mouth full of spit can spittle it right into the DNA kit tube). Test both parents if possible. If you want more suggestions on who to test and specific recommendations for your genealogy needs just drop me a note.
 Why? Because now you are busy working and coping with life. But one day you will stand up and ask yourself "Who in the world am I?"
 So, I’m saying the same to all of you: “Get a Thoughtful Gift!”

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, accessible answers.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Chancery Court Record Research

Sally Grimes, daughter of Gabriel Winston
Another Brickwall 
Another brickwall was solved using chancery reports.  This was a case of which Johnson? Well it was Silas! We were able to prove kinship of the Johnson family in Howard County, Missouri to Virginia. All the children were named in grandpa's record since dad had died.  JOHNSON's.  The one family line we were not looking forward to tackling! This deserves the reprint.

Kinships Named: Parents and Maiden Names
As family researchers and genealogists, one of our common brick-walls is a result of the lack of resources to confirm kinships. Familiar relationships, parents’ names,  maiden names are all needed to complete family units, but what happens when we’ve exhausted all the normal resources - census, wills/probates, deeds, vital records, church records…etc.? Well, hopefully the researcher has not overlooked Chancery Records when they are available.

What are Chancery Court Records?
Chancery Court records hold a wealth of genealogical information. Although not necessarily a part of every states’ historical legal system, when available it will behoove the researcher to take more than a cursory glance at these genealogical-rich documents. Researchers will find personal testimonies that include family relationships. In some states (i.e. Virginia, Tennessee, etc) chancery court records are available from the early 18th century through early 1900’s. In Virginia alone there are over 233,000 multi-paged cases. More on Virginia Chancery Courts can be found at this informative piece on 

What is "Next Friend?"
Of course the key to understanding any court record relies on period vocabulary. In the Chancery Court record of Sally Grimes of Hanover County, VA vs. Joseph Grimes, Sally’s father Gabriel Winston is identified as both “father” and “next friend.”

A "next friend" can be considered the person who represents and speaks on behalf of the plaintiff. The next friend may be a parent, a guardian, an older sibling , etc.  By no means should the researcher assume it is a parent or even a relationship. We have uncovered many next friends proven not to be of blood relation.  In many cases the next friend is identified, removing the tempting guessing game and solidly identifying kinships. This is most useful, when also looking for a maiden name.  

Unlike many states, Delaware's "Court of Chancery" has survived since 1792.  Of course its roles, jurisdictions and litigation realms have been consistently updated to meet the needs of the court to include corporate litigation. Visit Delaware Courts for a quick history of the English Origins of the "Court of Chancery." 

As the times have changed, so has the role of the Chancery Court. In current day Mississippi Chancery Courts are the repository for land records.  Researchers will also find divorces, guardianships and wills in the Mississippi Chancery Courts.

Other states like Missouri, may boast of early records of the Chancery Court.  For St. Louis MO. Chancery Court Records may be found as early as 1811 to about the Civil War.  These records can be found at the Missouri State Archives. Like other states, Missouri researchers may find other counties with salvaged Chancery Court Records.  

Be sure to check FamilySearch Wiki for your state / county. 
(Updated from Chancery Court Records for Genealogy Brickwalls posted 3 May 2016).

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, accessible answers