Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Historical Church Records

Catholic Record Society of the Diocese of Columbus
Church Records
We know the importance of using church records to close research gaps. They provide us with births, deaths, marriages - all the vital records.  They also provide us with location and other community activities 

Catholic Record Society, Diocese of Columbus
But taken a bit further, the Catholic Record Society of the Diocese of Columbus has compiled much of their church records and published the Barquilla de Santa Maria  newsletters coving over 35 counties (see map).  Many church organizations and societies have done the same, making our genealogical search a bit easier. Here's an example of what you may find.

To Preserve and Publish

The Catholic Record Society of the Diocese of Columbus took on an ambitious endeavor.  Here is an abstract of their mission statement “dedicated to the searching out, preservation, and publishing or otherwise making available to researchers and the public any materials pertaining to events, persons, organizations, and places in Ohio historically associated with the Diocese of Columbus.”  Now that’s a genealogist’s dream mission statement for a repository!

More Diocese of Columbus Information
The Catholic Record Society of the Diocese of Columbus began publishing “narratives of historical and genealogical” interest in 1975. Currently over 3000 pages have been published and many can be accessed online.  The best part is that in most cases your ancestor may be searched online by name index and then with a corresponding Volume search the referenced image can be located. Know that Volumes between 1988-2002, have been indexed but the documents are not  yet online!

Visit the Index Page. 
In addition to the ancestral-filled tips of our ancestors, this Catholic Record Society has made cemetery information and other Research and Records available. 

How to Access
Know that records and documents cannot be accessed by the public in person. As already mentioned documents and images of early Volumes are online for free.  Here is the Order Form needed in order to obtain individual copies of documents not yet accessible on the website. 

Recently, I needed  a few individual pages (vs. Volumes) and found the cost to be extremely reasonable.  But be sure to specify exactly what you are looking for and know that you should conduct the online index search first!

Happy Diocese Record Hunting!

Kathleen Brandt
accurate accessible answers

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Proof of Evidence in the French Colonies

Analyzing Early Careers
Recently I was looking on Facebook and noticed a family member (husband’s not mine) had deceitfully posted to his profile that he graduated in the class of 1984. Well, as an avid researcher, and Licensed Private Investigator, I confirmed that this was incorrect. It should have read in the subjunctive tense “If I were to have graduated from this College, I would have graduated with the class of 1984, assuming I passed my classes on time and carried the normal load of 15 hours a semester. 

Does this type of detail matter? Of course it does! How would your family research change shape, if you were under the premise that Grandpa was a newspaper editor to find out he was actually the “reliable newspaper carrier.” What if great grandma, who family lore boasts of her well ran hotel on the Transcontinental Route, actually ran a brothel? The proof is in the detail.

How to Analyze Data
Information, instructions and guidelines on analyzing data, documents and other genealogical sources has flooded the internet.  But here is a great article to read by Elizabeth Shown Mills, QuickLesson1: Analysis and Citation as a primer. 

It was this Mill’s blog post that inspired me to look up the difference between the various carpenter positions which surnames are often explicit hints to occupations:  Menusiere: woodcarver or chair-maker; Carpentier: early French reference to two (2)  wheel carriage/wagon maker or wainwright. You will find these distinctive occupations in many early colonial records under French control and in French territories (Louisiana territory and Canada).  

Why Self-Promotion?
Like my discovery that not all printed documents reveal the truth, we must keep in mind that many who arrived in America were those who escaped the French Revolution, or perhaps one of French Acadians who arrived in French Louisiana in 1785, thanks to the King of France, or Huguenots who were exiled members of the Protestant Reformed Church of France. A good source is the French Colonists and Exiles in the United States: French Colonists and Exiles in the United States. These immigrants were trying to start anew, and often created a new past for themselves and promoted themselves even though the facts dispute their claim.

French Colony Research in the USA
Here are a few places where you may uncover early French records relating to your ancestral search. I suggest you begin with the State Archives, but I have located early diaries/letters in private collections.

St Louis, Mobile AL, Baton Rouge and New Orleans, Biloxi, Mississippi, Detroit and Green Bay were all early French settlements.  The Illinois country, or Pays des Illinois, included Illinois, Missouri and Indiana. Of course in Canada: Quebec and Montreal also hold many early French documents.

Florida, South Carolina and Texas
Most people know the French were in Florida (Jacksonville) and Parris Island in South Carolina, but they were only there for about a year, and many early documents in those locations may have been created under the Spanish colony rule. Of course many Huguenots settled in So. Carolina also. Visit The National Huguenot Society.

The French were only present in Texas for about 3 years, but I’ve not located any significant genealogical records. Feel free to share, if you have uncovered a fascinating source!

Concentrating in Louisiana
The University of Louisiana Lafayette is an unsuspected repository of French Colonial Records 

The Historic New Orleans Collection website has compiled a list of “French Language archival material in Louisiana and North America – A Guide to French Louisiana Manuscripts

Be sure to remember the Church Records: Here is an ancestry.com Wiki on Louisiana Church Records 

State Museums are taking an active role in preserving colonial Records. The State Museum of Louisiana has 80 reels of French period colonial documents on microfilm.

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, accessible answers

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Research Orthodox Church in America (OCA)

Written by Mark Stokoe and the Very Rev. Leonid Kishkovsky  (online)
One More Stone to Turn - OCA Records
When Orthodox is mentioned a few associations are immediately made: Jewish Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, maybe even the Albanian. But the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) website quotes authors Mark Stokoe and the Very Rev. Leonid Kishkovsky about its history: "Orthodox Christian in North America have been largely overlooked and ignored. With few exceptions, their historical experiences remain unrecorded, their documents untranslated, their personalities, institutions and activities unknown. ” 

As genealogists and family researchers, we should be familiar with the OCA - its history and records. How else do we turn every stone and scour every possible clue to our ancestors? Admittedly, this only occurred to me in talking to a neighbor who is a member of the OCA. 

Brief History - Russia to Alaska 1794 
A History and Introduction of the Orthodox Church in America is provided on the website. But I’ll mention a few genealogical highlights:
  1. The Alaskan Mission: It appears that in 1794 eight Orthodox missionaries from Russia arrived in Kodiak, Alaska. (We know that was North America not the United States of America.)
  2. Immigration and Conversion (1870-1920)  First Orthodox Church in US was established in New Orleans, 1864. Comprised of our Greek, Slavs and Arab ancestors. If you are looking for your Serbian, Russian or Greek ancestor in the 1860’s, you may also wish to research the OCA San Francisco records, Holy Trinity Cathedral and other largely populated immigrant areas (i.e. New York, Chicago).
  3. Institutions of the Immigrant Church. The church was organized under the Russian Orthodox Church diocese by the early 1900’s (all ethnic groups)
Vital Genealogy Impact
By 1917 the Orthodox mission in North America would include more than 350 parishes and chapels, its own seminary, bank, women’s college, monasteries, orphanages, schools, publications, and fraternal societies. Immigration and Conversion 
The impact of wars and politics on religion, immigrants and migratory paths must be considered. So, as you research your ancestors, be sure to take into account the 1917 Russian Revolution. This conflict clearly impacted the church and its affiliations to the Russian Diocese. Also, be sure to understand the impact of the purchase of Alaska by the United States in 1867. This too changed gravely reshaped the established Orthodox Alaskan community. For an in depth historical overview visit: A History and Introduction of the OCA.  

Finding Records
“With few exceptions, their historical experiences remain unrecorded, their documents untranslated, their personalities, institutions, and activities unknown." Orthodox Christians in North America (1794-1994)
The Archives and headquarters of the OCA is located in New York (see below). OCA includes 700 parishes, 2 million members, of the USA, Canada and Mexico. (As researchers we know the value in narrowing our search)

To my surprise the website touts “individuals and groups are always welcome to visit the OCA Archives to familiarize themselves with the collections or to conduct research on a particular topic."
The OCA Archivist:
http://oca.org/history-archives/orthodox-christians-na Alexis Liberovsky, alex@oca.org
Archivist / Director 
PO Box 675 
Syosset, NY 11791
Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, accessible answers

Friday, June 8, 2012

Military Discharge Records - DD214

Proof of Service
DD214 is the Discharge Papers or Separation Documents to include Military Service Records or Proof of Military Service. I get calls daily for this request, but a3Genealogy only does Military Record search for genealogical purposes. If you are looking for genealogical assistance in gaining military records, for example Civil War, Revolutionary War, etc, feel free to e- mail your request to a3genealogy@gmail.com.

Please know that between 16-18 million Military Personal Files were destroyed or damaged in the fire of 1973 at the St. Louis National Personnel Records Center. This fire destroyed about 80% of Army records from Nov. 1 1912 to Jan. 1 1960; and 75% of all Air Force records from Sep. 25. 1947 to Jan 1. 1964. For more information on the damage please refer to The 1973 Fire, National Personnel Records Center.

For Veteran Benefits
If you are searching for records of a living person in order to get discharge information for social security, medical care, dependent care or VA benefits to include home buying, a3Genealogy performs these services under our Private Investigator Services.

However, military records from the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) are free to veterans. if you wish to do your own sleuthing:
Visit Military Record Request Using Standard Form 180 (SF-180)

Kathleen Brandt 
Genealogists and Licensed Private Investigator
Accurate, accessible answers

Monday, June 4, 2012

Lebanese Immigrants

Learning Ancestor's Migratory Path
I lived in Detroit in the 1980’s,  and as anyone would, I noticed the significant Lebanese influence. There were neighborhood restaurants, derbakke drumming and handkerchief dances at festivals. At the time, I did not know that Detroit hosted the largest population of Lebanese Americans in the US. Of course there are noticeable communities in Utica, NY, Boston and Ohio.

Lebanese represent over half of the Arab immigrants in the USA.  There were two waves of immigrants to the United States. The first, 1881 to 1925, twenty five percent of the Lebanese, about 1000,000, mostly Christians came to America and settled in the Midwest. Many came from Beirut.

The second wave - 1975 to 2002 - was a direct result of the Muslim Christian civil war. This is when I took note of the Lebanese fashion and made shirwal, baggy pants for the purpose of wearing to the World’s Fair in Knoxville, TN (1982). (Note: my father hated them, but I received lots of compliments at the World’s Fair).

Know Your Geography
When researching, be sure not to blindly lump the Lebanese with the Syrians immigrants. Syria surrounds Lebanon on the north and eastern borders. Be sure to note there were also the Lebanese Jews. Israel lies directly south of Lebanon.

Where to Research?

Lebanon Naturalization

Although most Lebanese researchers are excited about visiting the Jafet Library at the American University in Beirut, b
efore blindly exploring in Lebanon be sure to exhaust the American resources. I find that immigration and naturalization records are a key to the family's migratory path to the USA.  
  • Immigration and naturalization records
  • Passport Applications
  • Death records (holds birthplace and often Lebanese parent’s names) 
Be sure to visit the following websites:
LebWeb.com website

Few Research Hints
  • Remember your ancestor may have adopted a Christian name in English, or Greek as well as Arabic. And be sure to include Hellenistic names for ancestor’s born around WWI. 
  •  Women did not always take on a husband’s name. It was just as common to keep a maiden (father’s) name. 
  •  Before the Ottomon Empire, surnames were not common. Visit the Assyrian InternationalNews Agency website to understand names and the translations. 
Further Reading
For more information visit:
Lebanese Americans by Paula Hajar and J. Sydney Jones 
Kathleen Brandt, Professional Genealogist
Accurate, accessible answers