Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Wyandotte County, KS Historical Museum

Researching at Local Repositories
Wyandotte County Historical Museum, Bonner Springs, KS
It’s not often that a county museum Wyandotte County Historical Museum holds the original marriage license and marriage affidavits.  But, the Wyandotte County Historical Museum  is the repository of the Kansas City, Kansas marriage records as well as other towns within Wyandotte County.

Recently when looking for a marriage record you can probably imagine my surprise when I received a negative response from the County Court House, the Kansas Historical Society in Topeka, and the Kansas Room of the Main Library in my attempt to locate these original records.  My last resort was to check the Trowbridge Research Library at the Wyandotte County Historical Museum located in Bonner Springs, Ks.

Being familiar with local repositories is always a plus; and having researched at the Trowbridge Research Library before, reminded me that they had a few original records plus cemetery records and newspapers from the 1860s.  I’ve also referenced their index of wills, and tax rolls which span from 1869-1905.  But, what about marriage records?  Could there be a chance that original marriage records were also archived in the small cramped research space of the Museum?

Trowbridge Research Library
Having already exhausted the well preserved ledgers of indexed marriage records at the Wyandotte County Courthouse, it was clear they did not house the original applications and affidavits, with the intimate details.  These were held at the Wyandotte County Historical Museum not indexed or alphabetized) from before the 1860s. These marriage records are surprisingly well preserved with the full affidavit and relevant marriage license in tact.

Kathleen Brandt
accurate, accessible answers

(This is an updated article of same name dated 2 Jul 2010).

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Genealogy Roadshow

The PBS U.S. version of The Genealogy Roadshow premiers 23 Sept 2013. “Philip McGovern…, of Irish production company Big Mountain called the show “part detective story, part emotional journey, combining history and science to uncover fascinating stories of diverse Americans.”  At a3Genealogy we are only surprised that this show took so long to make its way to our shores. Especially, since this is what we do every day. We prove or disprove family folklores, solve ancestral mysteries, and trace that elusive ancestor while proving kinship and lineage.

Family historians and genealogists daily create their own roadshow. Going from town to town we uncover the secrets that are tucked away in vertical files of State Archives, record books of court houses, artifacts and memoirs hidden in local museums, and oh…if cemeteries could talk?!. Well, to the sleuthing genealogists each tombstone actually does add to our ancestor’s story and the headstones' clues may help bring down a brickwall.

Online database searches (i.e. contribute a small part of the genealogists’ research. The PBS Genealogy Roadshow reveals what is possible when the average family research goes beneath the surface. “This is about regular Americans who want to find out their past,” McGovern said. “We are tapping in to this trend where people like you and me try to find out their past.”

As genealogists we are proud to have our profession highlighted and our research exposed. But what is most exhilarating is the elation of our clients when family folklores are confirmed or denied.

Season 1 of the Genealogy Roadshow takes place in Austin, Texas; Nashville, Tenn.; Detroit; and San Francisco.    

Kathleen Brandt
accurate, accessible answers

Friday, September 6, 2013

Looking for Immigrant Passenger / Naturalization?

Filby’s Passenger and Immigration Lists Index

Have you tried referencing Percy William Filby's Passenger and Immigration Lists Index for that impossible immigrant? Did you know it covers over 5 million passengers, spanning 153 - 1900? Sure it can be more challenging than tapping inquiries in online subscription bases, but what if you need to widen your search? Filby’s cumulated Volumes give us one more glimpse of hope when looking for that elusive ancestor, or trying to identify a family unit, or locating naturalization papers.  And, you, probably already know that ship passenger lists prior to 1820 were not necessarily preserved and housed in a central location, even though now most are held at the National Archives
If nothing else, researchers will broaden their knowledge of passenger and immigration research sources by using this collection that is chock-full of locations, books, and information location.  If you visit a genealogy library, like the Midwest Genealogy Center (MGC), in Independence Mo., chances are, the sources (periodicals, passenger books, and reference books) are already on the shelf. Matter of fact, at the Genealogy library, they have most often hand-scribbled in the margin the equivalent of a “finding aid.” a3Genealogy is called upon frequently to review the Filby's Index and locate and analyze the information at MGC.

What is “Filby’s”
Often called Filby’s, nicknamed after the author/editor P. William Filby the Index of Ship's Passengers was originally published in 1981 with 500,000 passenger records. Subsequent to the initial 3 volumes additional supplements have been issued - about 1 per year for about 13 years.  So now the index contains more than five million records of US immigrants in its thirty-three supplements.  

Researchers must review all of the supplements in ferreting out their ancestors. Time consuming? Yes, but remember it is alphabetize. Keep in mind, though, that names may be spelled incorrectly. We often suggest, you widen your search. Remember, for example, the letters K and C are audibly similar to a record keeper or non-speller. So, your Casell, may be a Kasell.

Oh, and don’t limit your search to passenger lists. It can also assist in locating naturalization records and the associated courts. The listing of passengers, taken from many different sources and compiled alphabetically by surname, makes it easier to identify family clusters. Occupations are also noted which can assist researchers in narrowing ancestors who were blessed with common surnames (i.e. Smith, Williams, Jones).  Since various ships-lists are provided, researchers can more easily obtain the full manifest and perhaps review the original source.

Find and Seek Exercise 
Filby meticulously created a code of resources.  And the Midwest Genealogy Center  (MGC) not only “broke the code” (front of book) but provides the researcher with the key to the stacks. Neatly noted in the margin of each coded page, the MGC staff has scribbled the stack location of available in-house sources. Many of the sources are truly in-house; but others may not be available at MGC. Lucky for us, that too is noted.

Online database:
Of course there are online index databases, but not half as fun and not as easy to analyze (IMHO). But decide for yourself. Be sure to look at the Passenger and Immigration Lists 1500-1900 (PILI) on the site.

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, accessible answers