Monday, July 27, 2015

Court and Prison Records for Narcotics and Liquor

Leonard McCray, Inmate Number 2541, at Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary, National Archives
Was Your Ancestor a Federal Inmate? ( Like Ginnifer Goodwin's)
We were all glued to our TV screen as Who Do You Think You Are? (WDYTYA) featured the family of Ginnifer Goodwin.  During the show, the questions poured in.  So here is the promised research blog of how to find records of your incarcerated federal prisoner. 

Opium, 1922
Most would believe that during the 1920’s prohibition violations would have populated the prison system.  However, in reality it was drug offenders: morphine and cocaine.  The KC NARA webpage states “Leavenworth had so many drug violators that they formed their own baseball teams. The "Morphines" and the "Cocaines" squared off in an annual contest to determine the best baseball-playing dope violators in the institution.” 

Palatka Florida News, 1921
However, narcotic records were not classified as archival, and were marked to be discarded after 30 years.  For example the Leavenworth Federal Narcotic records for prisoners held in the Leavenworth Federal Annex were destroyed.  But many of these inmates appear later with other offenses.  To ferret ancestor's prison records, be sure to review each regional branch of the National Archives (NARA).  We have found inmates convicted in Arkansas. sentenced to Leavenworth, but court records were archived in NARA-Atlanta.
Liquor Licenses
Federal Prohibition Agent
If your ancestor requested a liquor license, you may find his application in the records created by the Federal Alcohol Control Administration “Liquor Licenses,1920-1934".  You may also find earlier IRS license stamps in other local repositories.

Federal Court Records
U. S. District Court Records are located at all of the National Archives locations, with each holding the District Court records for the states in their region. However, the Federal Penitentiary Inmate Case Files are held only at the following NARA regions: Kansas City, Alcatraz, Atlanta and McNeil (state of Washington).*
(*Paragraph Correction Made: 7 Aug 2015)

 10 Hints in Federal Prison Records 
  1. Mug Shot - These pics are clear, and the person is definitely identified.
  2. Record Sheet -To include name, crime, violation (some surprisingly minor) and dates.
  3. Personal Data Sheet - Birth, education and religion. Often includes spouse and parent’s name.
  4. Fingerprints - These records include marks and scars.
  5. Daily Work Record -Reports our ancestors’ daily life in prison. 
  6. Hospital Record - Medical records are often difficult to obtain for ancestors, but prison records proffer the information without a fuss (up to 1952). 
  7. Correspondence Log -These records may hold the post office and state of correspondence. This kind of information may assist a researcher to a family’s whereabouts. 
  8. Personal Correspondence - Although letters were considered private property of inmates, they may have been confiscated and preserved due to a violation
  9. Trusty Prisoner’s Agreement - Perhaps your ancestor was remorseful and on the mends.  He may have been allowed to work outside the walls or in a low level job inside.  That might give a happy closure to those sleepless nights.
  10. Sentence of Court Case -We all have used court cases to further our research and you definitely wouldn’t want to disregard this one.

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, accessible answers

Sunday, July 26, 2015

a3Genealogy and Who Do You Think You Are?

Kathleen Brandt of a3Genealogy researched for 
Ginnifer Goodwin Episode of Who Do You Think You Are?, 
aired TLC, 26 Jul 2015. 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

9 Resources for Researching Your Alaskan Veteran

Alaska Veterans from 1867 -- 
What You Should Know
To review the Military History in Alaska, 1867-2000 visit the Joint Base Timeline.

African American Army Engineers – WWII Alaska
Many know about the Buffalo Soldiers and Tuskegee Airmen, but few remember the African American Tuskegee (Alaska – Canada) Alcan Highway contributions during WWII. Be sure to read the history on American Experience. The completion of the Sikanni Chief River Bridge in Oct 1942 is credited as ending segregation, after a long fight, of the U. S. Military in 1948.

Women Veterans
By 1994, over 1500 Native American women and Native Alaskan women served in the military. At least 60 Native American women served in the Eskimo Scouts before 1980.  According to a 2013 Alaska Business article Ceremony Honoring Alaska’s Women Veterans at State Capitol over 8500 female veterans live in Alaska.  Be sure to read Native American Women Veterans.

Where to Begin Veteran Research
1.      Alaska History and Cultural Studies provides an overview of the importance of military forces in Alaska. 
2.      Federal Records may be located at the National Archives - Pacific Alaska Northwest Region in Seattle, WA.  This collection holds Alaska Military Post Returns (1867 – 1916) and is a great resource for officer research, as well as reviewing unit events.

WWI Selective Service System Draft Records, 1917-1918. 
3.      With Alaska having such a reputation for WWII, many researchers fail to review the Alaska WWI Selective Service System Draft Records, 1917-1918.  Over 16 thousand WWI draft registration cards can be located on the FamilySearch website.

Alaska State Archives – WWI
4.      WWI Service Personnel Information 1923 lists WWI soldiers, residence, branch of service, enlistment and discharge dates, and more for the Territory.
5.      Alaskans Military Deaths compilation provides death dates and cause of death along with branch and additional military information of service personnel. 

National Cemeteries
6.      Fort Richardson Cemetery archives in Anchorage, holds information on WWII military burial records. Although many veterans were re-interred in their home cemetery, many remained at the Ft. Richardson Cemetery.  Read  history of National Cemetery of Ft. Richardson. For a listing of Veteran Administration (VA) recorded burials visit the Ft. Richardson website or Find-A-Grave (6678 names provided).
7.      Sitka National Cemetery, 1868-1870 established in Sitka, AK is administered by Ft. Richardson National Cemetery. Review VA burial records at for Sitka National Cemetery. or (1317 names provided).

Alaska Veteran Museum
8.      The Alaska Veterans Museum, located in downtown Anchorage, opened April 2011. Read news article: Veteran Musuem Opens Downtown. Visit the Alaska Veterans Museum website for their oral history collection, documentaries, and other military artifacts.

Looking for Native American Veteran Research?

9.      Researchers of Alaskan Native Americans must not bypass information on the WWII (1942 – 1947) military reserve force Alaska Territorial Guard (ATG), often referred to as the “Eskimo Scouts.” Begin research efforts by reviewing Office of Veterans Affairs ATG.  An ATG roster may be found here.  Be sure to visit Searching for Veterans on Alaska’s Remote Edges.

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, accessible answers

Monday, July 13, 2015

Researching Alaskan Settlers, Railroad Workers & Gold Seekers

Anchorage Centennial Highlights Genealogy
Part I of Alaska Series
If you have ever attempted research on that adventurous ancestor who headed for Alaska, you have probably found a shortage of records.  But this is one region that you must periodically revisit to uncover newly found records. Alaska seems to be late bloomers in jumping on the genealogy train, but it is chug-chug-chugging along now. And, with Anchorage celebrating their centennial, my recent visit (Jun 2015) introduced us to some new finds that helped meet research goals.

Celebrating the Anchorage Centennial has forced many to take a strong look at the history of this “tent city” which exploded in 1915 thanks to the commitment to building the Alaskan railroad. Know that the city was not incorporated until 1920.  

5 Anchorage Resources  - Not to be Missed
Tent City. Anchorage Museum
  1. Land Auction Records: 10 Jul 1915 there was a Great Anchorage Lot Sale / Land Auction. Read about the 1915 land auction.  The Alaska Engineering Commission Record Book, salvaged from the trash, was noted in the Alaska Dispatch News on 14 Jun 2015. This is the earliest ledger book that bridges the tent city to land ownership in Anchorage.  This record book holds names of Japanese, Slavic and Scandinavian settlers of Anchorage. It “lists purchasers, sales prices and initial payments of townsite lots …between 1915-1917.” 
  2. Bureau of Land Management, General Land Office Records:  this resource will confirm the land patent of your ancestor.  And, don’t forget in Anchorage the town was settled in 1915, but most land patents were about 1921. These records were vital in a study of the expansion of the Russian Greek (Eastern Catholic) Orthodox Church. For more information on the Russian Church and native Alaskan Culture visit the Library of Congress website.

    Although an image is not online, we were able to confirm the 1964 Alaska homestead of Mahala Ashley Dickerson, the “first black female attorney of Alabama” who homesteaded and practiced law in Alaska. For more information on M. Ashley Dickerson, read her autobiography Delayed Justice For Sale.

    Side Note: Many overlook the ex-slave and free-coloreds that settled in Alaska before the turn of the century. Here is an 1897 account of an ex-slave who made a handsome amount panning in the Klondike. He was returning to Georgia to save his late slavemaster's daughter.
  3. Black Gold Miner,  ex-slave St. John Atherton, 1897
  4. Consortium Library’s Archives and Special Collectionsthe University of Alaska Anchorage houses Alaska’s Archives and Special Collections. This holding includes historical manuscripts, photographs, audio, books, and exhibits. One of the favorites is George Harper’s Black in Alaska Exhibit, which included “Blacks in the Gold Rush.” For more information on Blacks in Alaska visit the Guide to George Harper’s Blacks in Alaska History Project.
  5. Cook Inlet Historical Society: a great place to start if your ancestor settled in Anchorage in the “early 20th Century.” Search the database list for Anchorage 1910-1935  Legends & Legacies for your ancestor’s name, or contribute facts on your ancestor for inclusion. Some settlers came for the gold rush, others for the Alaskan railroad. We also see Natives Americans who chose to settle  in Anchorage, miles away from their home community. We suggest the sources of the stories be confirmed, as some may be of undocumented oral history. 
  6. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA): located in Seattle, WA., researchers can access microfilm holdings of “censuses of Alaska Native villages; naturalizations; records of the Alaska Railroad, the Russian-American Company, and the district and territorial governor of Alaska, 1884 -1958; and townsite deeds and deed books.”
Other Great Resources
There are so many other outstanding places to research in Anchorage (and other cities in Alaska).  Before visiting Anchorage, be sure to visit the Familysearch website. We have found the Probate Collection to be a key to unlocking that adventurous ancestor.

If you are looking for the best Photograph Collection, visit the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson CenterThis collections houses more than a half a million photographs.  Be sure to review the Collection Guides.

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, accessible answers

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Vancouver Genealogy Tips - European Immigrants, Chinese and African American Ancestry

Vancouver Public Library, visited 3-4 Jul, 2015
photo Safdie Architects
Where to Start in Vancouver, British Columbia?
Many a3Genealogy clients are seeking their American born ancestors that settled in Canada, or their immigrant ancestors who travelled through Canada to settle in the USA.  Either way, don’t forget the upper northwest early records to include Vancouver Canada.

If you doubt if researching ancestral histories from British Columbia can yield positive results, look no further than the Vancouver Public Library.  The periodic newsletters found on the website will give you a glimpse of the activities, efforts, and events to assist researchers in their genealogy pursuit.

Online Start
British Columbia Archives at the Royal BC Museum website has indexed births (1854-1930; deaths 1872 – 1993, colonial marriages (1859-1872 and baptisms (1836-1888). Additional Newspaper Birth, Marriage and Death Indexes, 1911-190 may be found on

British Columbia Cemetery Finding Aid Database has over 344, 000 entries from 264 cemeteries. Be sure to check the Vancouver, Mountain View Cemetery Index, 1887-2007, online at

British Columbia Genealogy Records Online include an abundance of links. For example,  Sessional Papers of the Government of British Columbia, provide estate information. Extracts may be found on Roots Web as is for 1861-1863.

Asian Ancestor Search

Vancouver, British Columbia Passenger Lists records Chinese Arrivals, 1906-1912 and 1929-1941 on  Remember your ancestor may not have travelled directly from Asia to United States.  We were able to uncover a listing of Hong Kong born immigrants passing through Vancouver with their final destination as Chicago. 

Runaway Slaves in Vancouver?
Many researchers looking for their African American ancestors fail to realize that in the1850’s, about 800 free African Americans migrated from California to Vancouver.  These free coloreds were active in assisting ex-slave escapes.  One story well documented is Free Boy: A True Story of Slave and Master by Lorraine McConaghy. The underground railroad does not commonly include the upper north west of the USA or Vancouver.  However, there are newspaper accounts of escapes from slavery with the assistance of free-colored settlements in Vancouver. 

By the Civil War approximately thirty thousand runaway slaves found refuge in Canada. Many returned to the USA after the Civil War.  Review: Black Canadians on the Historica Canada website. 

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, accessible answers