Saturday, October 12, 2013

Chancery Court Records for Genealogy Brickwalls

Sally Grimes, daughter of Gabriel Winston
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.  

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, accessible answers

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Icelandic-American Genealogy

Icelandic-American Marriages

Islendiga-App -"App of Icelanders"
By now most genealogists researching their Icelandic-American ancestors have heard of the Islendiga Android App. This app is based on an online database of most of the 320,000 citizens of Iceland compiled in the Islendingabok - "Book of Icelanders." The Islendingabok  traces 1200 years of genealogy back to the 9th century Viking settlers. The Android app was actually designed for Icelanders to bump phones and verify relationships. The app includes an anti-incest feature for a country where practically everyone is related.  Its use as a genealogical tool to assist Icelandic-Americans too can be key to a successful genealogical search. The Islendiga App can be used to identify and trace Icelandic-American relatives. 

Tracing Icelandic-Americans
The migration of Icelanders began before 1910. About 5,000 United States residences reportedly spoke Icelandic in the home, even though many were enumerated as Danes. Many more Icelandic immigrants came to the United States after World War II

WWII Military in Iceland. a3Genealogy has been working on a large military project that included Icelandic marriages of US WWII soldiers and native women. The Icelandic government opposed the fraternizing of Icelandic women with US and British soldiers.  And the US Military imposed a ban on Icelandic marriages on 24 March 1942 - 22 May 1944. Large military troops were stationed in Iceland, including the 5th Infantry, the 29th, 115th, and more, and morerelationships were formed. By 1 Dec 1945 122 marriage applications to Icelandic girls were approved by the Army; most were privates and sergeants, but officers, too, were included (2 majors, 6 captains, 16 lieutenants). Some of the soldiers returned to Iceland to marry their bride, other single women joined their mate in the USA after the war.

At the end of the war, the US military provided transportation for the Icelandic-American family units. The British and American soldiers fathered hundreds of children, many with the surname Hansson.  Hans translates in Icelandic as "his" stating Hansson, was the offspring of an unknown father (his son/child).  By Oct 1945 sixty-five wives and children traveled to the USA and joined their husbands. 

5 Other Resources
  1. Service Records. Be sure to pull your veterans military records to prove his service in Iceland
  2. Fold3. Digitzed American service men information in Iceland (keyword) is available. 
  3. Morning Reports. You may find where your veteran ancestor was reprimanded for fraternizing with the Iceland women.
  4. Passport Records. More than once a3Gen has verified American Icelandic women to their Iceland heritage via Passports. This may also assist in uncovering the family name of your Icelandic ancestors. 
  5. Social Security Applications. Researchers may also provide additional genealogical information to include parents names. 
Be sure to review the Major Genealogical Record Sources in Iceland. For an excellent case study and uses of various sources, read The War Bride: Icelandic Woman

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, accessible answers