Friday, June 11, 2021

Not My Slave


Sunday, May 23, 2021

Ancestors & Bankruptcy? 7 Great Genealogical Finds

Vermont Watchman and State Journal
Montpelier, Vermont, 
16 May 1842

What Can Bankruptcy Records Tell Us?
a3Genealogy attorney clients, corporate clients and even the media often have us digging into and copying bankruptcy records. What do they know that most genealogists overlook?  Bankruptcy records are filled with genealogical information, and they go back in time that can be quite useful in uncovering ancestors, their whereabouts, their secrets, and their heirs!

It was clear when the a3Genealogy research team was led to a full newspaper page of 1842 bankruptcy cases, that something had gone awry. Yes, the 1841 Act was in effect and obviously quite welcomed. It followed the Panic of 1837. 

Where to Begin
Start with understanding the applicable Bankruptcy Act. 

Bankruptcy practices are not new.  As Jake Ersland reminds us in his Prologue article, "By 1900, Congress had passed four separate bankruptcy laws - The Bankruptcy Acts of 1800, 1841, 1867, 1898.  Read: Using Bankruptcy Records for Genealogical, by Ersland.  

7 Great Finds 
  1. Names: family and associates
    Our ancestors often went into business with relatives. It's a great way to get a list of unknown persons and connect the dots.  This is why genealogy researchers use bankruptcy records also for communities. One bankruptcy can affect an entire community. It's a great way to understand roles in the family, the community and the industry. With one research project we were unable to unscramble a close family and associates. The names proffered by the bankruptcy docket and case file led us to a list of persons; mostly related. It also allowed us to do newspaper searches on the interested parties.  Ultimately, we were able to divide the correct father - son family units. 
  2. Addresses / Property

    After the Civil War, the 1867 Bankruptcy Act was used to recover financial losses across America.  It is through the use of this Act that we often can follow an elusive ancestor.  After bankruptcy, due to financial devastation caused by the war, many "picked up" their belongs and moved to more prosperous towns.  Bankruptcy papers may provide their new residence or relatives in another town. Or a connection through a testimony or deposition or witness that helps corroborate data. This may connect researchers to a the correct family unit.
  3.  Heirs
    Financial problems were known well before bankruptcy laws. Prior to these acts we followed bankers, Even so the notices were the same: in newspapers, and in the court records. It is in these records that we were able to learn of the son in law telling the story, the death of the business partner and the name his father - the ancestor of the client. 

  4.  Occupations 
  5.  Divorces
  6.  Court Records for Details
    It was through a Newspaper article that we realized that Morris was in trouble. It led us to the his bankruptcy infraction in 1923.  Perjury charges included family affidavits and testimonies, witnesses for and against Morris' character and information on his family life
  7. Reasons for Moving
    It's not often that our missing ancestor joined the Circus, but when named in a bankruptcy case, the descendants understand a lot more about his lifestyle and sudden disappearance. It's the story we've heard and it always begins with "and the Circus  came to town..."

Be Historically Correct  

Kathleen Brandt
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Sunday, May 2, 2021

Was Grandma a Feminist? shhh... Her Secret Life?


4 Resources to Researching The Heterodoxy
For the feminist of 1912  to abt. 1940, the badge of heterodoxy was hailed proudly in Greenwich Village. For the opposition, the "Heterodites "were destroying the “honor of the traditional women:" taking care of the family, cooking and cleaning; and being subservient to their mate.

Better said, they controversially encouraged women to think for themselves and find freedom by being economically, mentally and sexually independent. The Horror!

Many, but not all,  had come from progressive liberal schools, along the east coast.

Marie Jenny Howe, from  Cleveland, OH organized and founded Heterodoxy, a Greenwich Village group for women. A safe place to share and exchange thoughts and issues affecting it's members and women nationwide . Howe was an ordained, non-practicing Unitarian minister. Her only known stipulation for membership was that the applicant “not be orthodox in her opinion.” 

Women across the nation - activists, artists, writers, musicians, female professionals (i.e. doctors), “homemakers, aka wives, lesbians, and exhausted widows and divorcees, moved to or participated in the bohemian type lifestyle and freedom that Greenwich Village offered. Many joined the biweekly luncheons at Polly Halliday’s restaurant. Grace Nail Johnson, a New York African American elite, wife of Weldon Johnson,  was the only known African American woman who belonged to Heterodoxy. 

4 Tips to Researching Your Heterodoxy
After having raised her family - two sons and a daughter -  a 48 year old widowed moved from Massachusetts to a Greenwich Village address. She was settled in her small home by 1930 with an apparent roommate. Her story was quite curious to the a3Genealogy research team in 2012. One son had distanced himself from the family after “Father’s” death. The daughter, educated at Wellesley College in their home state of Massachusetts, frequented “Mother” in her small Greenwich Village home; the youngest son followed a “protest crowd” of his own. Notes and photos were located.  Following are 4 places to start your Greenwich Village ancestral research, even if she had lived in a sleepy midwestern town, before moving to New York City. 

Tip 1  Address
A single woman with a Greenwich Village address may tip off your genealogical research. Also these was neighborhood for that elusive artists - writer, actor, musician, etc.

Tip 2  Insane Wards, Jail and Prisons Records.
Be sure to check the insane wards. This feminine heterodoxy beliefs and practices landed many women, especially wives, in an institution for “reprogramming.”  

Heterodites Alice KimballAlison Turnbull HopkinsDoris Stevens, and Paula Jakobi were just a few arrested in 1917 and 1918 for suffrage protests. They served time in the Occoquan Workhouse, jail, or prison psychiatric wards. Your female ancestor may have also been an activists with a criminal record for her protests activities - suffrage, labor rights, birth control, etc. 

Tip 3  Diary.
Do you have a diary from your female ancestor? Many of these women were avid writers. 

They wrote to politicians, to each other and many kept diaries. The details of meetings were excluded, but personal diaries, by happenstance, may reference a name or two that may be quite telling. A reference to Polly’s Halliday's liberal tea house may also let you know that you are on the track of a progressive thinking ancestor.  .  

Tip 4 Photo Collections.

General Federation of Women's Club

Newspapers, libraries and local repositories have special collections and photos of the Heterodoxy and other Women Organizations. Photos and diaries of Jessie Tarbox Beals, should not be overlooked. Her diary and photos captured Greenwich Village and the Bohemian cultures. 

We used to call them "black sheep." Now I reference them as the "shapers and shakers" of America. 

 Be Historically Correct  

Kathleen Brandt
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Saturday, March 20, 2021

Our Ancestors Quilted...And The Quilts Were In Their Wills

Is Quilting Part of Your DNA - Which Marker?

There was no surprise that a 5 Generation Morris Family Quilt was made. Quilting was a past-time.  It was time to sit around the table with other quilters, in the home, after church on a quiet summer evening. But what happened to the quilts?

I can't encourage genealogical researchers enough to read the will, not just an abstract, to get an hint of their ancestor's hobbies and loves. In generations to come, descendants of Geraldine Strader will know she was a quilter. AND...she put a precious value on her quilts as they were included in the will along with their appraised values.  

Mom Strader's quilts were published probably because she was a Kansas City, Kansas known hand quilter, and her specialty was applique quilts.  They are as beautiful as it sounds. She began quilting when her husband died in 1994. She was already fifty years old. In her lifetime, over the last 25 years of life, she produced over 10 applique quilts, and 12 hand quilts and some fun beautiful machine quilted quilts (her early ones).   

She took Hawaiian applique classes in Hawaii of course. Why not? Her vacations were scheduled around quilt classes.  She gathered fabric from Gambia while visiting her dear friends Doris and husband George Haley, the USA Ambassador to the Republic of The Gambia. That quilt is not shown here, but it is awesome and will be featured in the book.  

Reading of the Will

Addendum to Will - "Quilts are to Never to Leave the Family"

In our family the loudest of arguments was over the quilts. Who will distribute?  Which one is for me?  I want that one? And then of course there were loud voices in the background. "She promised me a quilt."  No she didn't. She ONLY gave them to FAMILY.  Luckily most were distributed before death: sister, 1st cousin, etc.  Some first cousins didn't get theirs finished, but the fabric was named. The three grandsons were designated to receive earlier ones: "choose from those left"  (see #10 above).  

#7 Sample Quilt - Learning Patterns

The three living children each received one with fond memories - one with a story, one that took her 18 months to complete because she was a beginner doing a king size quilt while learning the different patterns (i.e. pinwhee, log cabin, etc). And all of them have perfect beautiful hand quilting stitching. 

Where Will They Land?

Like all descendants, ancestors can't plan enough.  Where do these treasures land in 3-4 generations?  Do you have your grandmother's quilt? I blogged about my first one from Grandma Kathleen: Grandma's Hands in 2010. It was made out of her polyester dresses, sewn only as Grandma could do. But I carried it to college, and it's still with me 40 plus years later.  Why? Because it's from Grandma. We all got one, all seven of her grandchildren, and no one messes with Grandma's quilt!

Today is National Quilting Day. Tell us about your family quilts.

Be Historically Correct
Kathleen Brandt
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Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Tracking Runaway Indentured Servants

Irish Indentured Servants

Mid-Atlantic State Immigrants - 1700's

National Women's History Museum, 2007

More than half of the immigrants that came to America in the 1700’s were assigned, contracted or bound to work for a fixed term of years. Many did not complete their work terms and instead fled from their contracts. Since many of these runaway servants, often convicts, owned both time and money, ads were placed in various newspapers for their capture. Ads were placed in all of the mid-Atlantic states to include 1) Pennsylvania,  2) Virginia, and
3) Maryland.

This is an example of an indenture contract from abt1683.  It is important to note the phrasing "free and willing to be retained to serve".  This highlights the voluntary nature of indentured servitude which would set it apart from slavery. The age of the servant is included as well as her length of service.  This particular contract directs responsibility of payment for passage to America to the master.  The master must also "provide and allow all necessary meat, drink, washing, apparel, and lodging." Servants could take their masters to court if they felt the terms were not being honored.  This contract appears to contain an official seal as well as numerous signatures, indicating agreement amongst parties involved.

Resources to Find Indentured Servants
Here are 3 of our favorites highlighted for Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia. 

1) The Pennsylvania Gazette, 1728-1796
The following Scottish indentured servant, Daniel Baldridge ran away with presumably his wife, son and daughter. John King, the subscriber, wanted Daniel and his son returned. 

This collection may offer the family researcher the runaway’s origin, occupation, and physical features. Often a date of immigration is provided. Copies of these advertisements are available on thanks to Farley Grubb’s 1992 publication of “Runaway Servants, Convicts and Apprentices. Over 6000 runaway ads were placed in the Pennsylvania Gazette.

2) Runaways in Virginia
This Westmoreland County, VA. skilled duo ran away: Richard Bulling a shoemaker, David Powell a bricklayer who used the alias Francis Evans, 
Virginia Immigrant Runaway

Virginia historians easily spout that over 75% (3/4) of the white colonial immigrants arrived in bondage in the 1700’s. Many of these immigrants were French, German and Scots.  

The Colonial Williamsburg website offers an Indentured Servants Index that was posted in 
the Virgina Gazetter 1736-1780 publications.  This is one of the first stops for a3Genealogy researchers to uncover white, "negro,", and mulatto indentured servants. For African American ancestry research, be 
sure to also “Explore Advertisements” on The Geography of Slavery in Virginia website. This project offers transcriptions and images of runaway slaves.   

3) Runaway Maryland Servants 1728-1775
As genealogists we rely on early news accounts of history, and The Dunlop’s Maryland Gazette, the Maryland Gazette and the Maryland Journal and Baltimore Advertiser do not disappoint. 

The C. Ashley and Beverly B. Ellefson Collection (MSA SC 5931) at the Maryland State Archives holds an index of Runaway Servants from 1728 -1775 by name. 

According to the Collection Description, this 4 box compilation of index cards donated by scholars C. Ashley and Beverly B. Ellefson contains records of convicts imported to Maryland from England, 1716-1774, records of runaway servants, 1728-1775, and runaway convict servants, 1734-1775.

Be careful not fall in the "rabbit hole" while chasing Your Runaways!

Be Historically Correct
Kathleen Brandt
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Saturday, March 6, 2021

Soldiers-Sailors Genealogy: Divorces & Court Records

Records: Soldiers & Sailors "Civil" Relief Act of 1940
We want to know our ancestors’ stories. Yes, even those who were divorced while serving the country during WWII had more than just the dates of enlistments, discharge, and engagements. They had families at home, they were stressed, and lonely. Marriages were weakened due to separation, financial burden, and due to the “war bride” rush of WWI and WWII, nicely put, divorces were on the rise. We know our soldiers and sailors were more than dates, so what more can we learn? 

The Soldiers & Sailors Relief Act of 1940

Alliance Times Herald, Alliance, NE, 25 Sep 1942, pg 5.

Military service brought on court cases: financial, landlord and rent due, default on mortgages and leases and divorces. Researchers can peruse these court cases to find out more about the family dynamics and the character of their ancestors. We have uncovered unknown children, bigamy, and proof of desertion through the answers / depositions generated through the Soldiers & Sailors Relief Act requests of court stays, or rights waived.  By the way, there was a 1918 statute also.

Divorce records and Civil Court Proceedings
This Act of 1940 was created to protect the military persons of unfair disadvantages in their personal and family life due to military service obligations. The Soldiers & Sailors Relief Act of 1940 was designed to lift the burden of civil lawsuits, to include divorces.

The Balance Everyday

We often turn to divorce records which were plentiful in wartime. 

Divorce records tell us who they were divorced from; what assets or dependents were named, when they were divorced, where they were divorced, and how the terms of the divorce decree were determined.  But, that hardly tells us about the social events; the struggles at home. 

Be sure to request not only 1) the divorce decree, but 2) the court transcription, or full court records, and don't forget 3) the docket. It is here that researchers will find out if the Soldiers and Sailors Relief Act was used. 
Correction: This sailor did not "default" as that is the protection of the SSRA.
But this case reveals more about our sailor and his service. 

Oh… you may have to order the transcription and documents of the court case from the county court. So, expect to spend a few dollars depending on the court. And, don’t expect the court cases to just fall in your lap. Will blog about this later.  

Be Historically Correct
Kathleen Brandt
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Monday, March 1, 2021

Did you Know? ... MyHeritageDNA

Have you uploaded your DNA data to MyHeritage? What are you waiting for? It's free and you will be able to access advanced DNA features for free! 

Transfer DNA for Free
Users and a3Genealogy clients who have tested with another service (ancestryDNA, familytreeDNA, 23andMe, etc.) can upload their data now through 7 March 2021You will be able to gain free access to all DNA features on MyHeritage. So don't wait!

Upload to MyHeritage 1-2-3:

Create a Free Account on My Heritage Use this link:
Ask a3Genealogy about DNA Analysis Packages

Be Historically Correct 

Kathleen Brandt
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Sunday, February 28, 2021

5 Resources to Tracing Missouri Territorial Ancestors

Emphasis on Free Territorial People of Color
Territorial Research in Missouri, whether for white or free-people of color ancestry, is quite similar to other territorial research. Following are a 5 resources to uncover relevant territorial census records, church records and court records to begin your research. 

Missouri has its particularities. In honor of the last day of Black History Month, the examples within are for Free -People of Color, with additional guidance for descendant researchers but the basics and collections covered for the most part apply to all - mainly because this covers free persons of pre-statehood Missouri. 

Most researchers know, that pre-statehood, early records in Missouri may live in Illinois, Louisiana, Florida or Missouri Territory, as well as the Kansas Courts.  Here is an earlier posted article on the conundrum of "Florida Territory Research and the Missouri Records."

Uniquely Missouri 
Missouri is Unique for the slaveholders, slaves & free-coloreds. When researching Free People of Color, the resources and strategies does not follow the "prescribed" slave to slaveholder research practices in other regions.  Matter of fact, when discussing territorial research or earlier colonial research of free people of color (yes there were free colored during this period as far west as Missouri), it is quite similar to researching other free persons in the region; however, there is one glaring difference: the laws!

The colonial upper Louisiana Territory -"Missouri"- laws on the books did not follow the Lower Louisiana territory practices; especially regarding the limitations and restrictions of free-colored persons. 

Some would love to point to the Code Noir books, but how these laws were practiced in Louisiana, let's say New Orleans, vs how the same laws were practiced in St Genevieve, Missouri for the same time were not equal.  So let's just concentrate on Missouri for now as we celebrate its Bicentennial (1821-2021).

Before Louisiana Territory
When researching Missouri pre-statehood remember early settlers were determined to block British access to the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. They began setting up camp in St. Genevieve as early as 1750.  

Early Census Records - French & Spanish
Men who owned land, obligated to pay taxes, or lived as free persons usually guaranteed census enumerations.  This was the true in Missouri as early as the 1752 France Illinois Country census.  "Illinois Country" is what this territory was called; researchers may also see it read Pais des Illinois, Upper Louisiana or Haute-Louisiane, and after the 1752 census the Spanish translation of Alta Luisiana.

1787 St. Genevieve
Note: these census records capture all free persons: white, black, and brown - to include Native Americans and mulattos). Many of the early Missouri census records can be found in the State Archives of Missouri, Jefferson, City. 

Church Records:
1830 Slave Baptism
The desire to baptize the colored people, free or not, was practiced, as it was across the Lower Louisiana Territory. These books should be treasured as they often provide us with generational information. These records include birth records, and death dates. Although these early records were in French and Spanish, many indices are in English. These records may also be found on

Slave's names and that of his parents are given here, along with the slave master. Yes, you may need a translator, but you are looking for words like "hijo". Your eye will get accustomed with practice as you rely on your 8th grade Spanish class. 

Court Records
Missouri practiced Due Process for all, allowing slaves to request their own freedom. This is seen in other colonial areas, especially when a promise for freeing a Revolutionary War soldier is breeched. However, Missouri court records may also reveal land disputes or the free negro licenses required after 1835.  Researchers may also uncover travel passports for free-coloreds.  This was required for travel outside of the territory and issued especially for those who worked the waterways between Missouri and Louisiana or Illinois. 
Passport Permission for Free Persons to travel to New Orleans

These records may be found in the French & Spanish Archives at the Missouri Historical Society.

Where Are the Records: 1741 – Statehood, 1821
The following 5 resources will assist the researcher in uncovering the following:

  1. State Historical Society of Missouri: French and Spanish Archives, 1741 – 1841
  2. Family Search, French and Spanish Archives, 1766 -1816 (microfilmed)
  3. Missouri Historical Society, Slaves and Slavery Collection 1772-1950
  4. Secretary of State Archives: Territorial Censuses (1752-1819) and Tax Lists (1814-1821)
  5. Guide to St. Louis Catholic Archdiocesan parish Records
Or follow a3Genealogy for Missouri Bicentennial presentations. 
Be Historically Correct 

Kathleen Brandt
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