Tuesday's Tip - Standardizing Family Info

  TT - Standardizing Family Info


Tuesday's Tips provide brief how-to's to help you learn to use the Legacy Family Tree software with new tricks and techniques.

Standardizing Family Information

There have been a lot of posts lately about how to format names, locations and dates as well how to go through and get everything standardized and consistent. There are two resources I want to tell you about.

1) Free webinar and handout from Geoff, "Improving Your Use of New FamilySearch: Data Cleanup Strategies." New FamilySearch was the predecessor to FamilySearch's Family Tree. The screenshots are from Legacy 7.5 but the principles are the same and everything Geoff shows you in the video you can do in Legacy 8. http://familytreewebinars.com/download.php?webinar_id=57

2) Getting it Right by Mary Slawson. Mary is in the process of updating this book and I am really looking forward to it. She is a Legacy user and all the screenshots in her book are from Legacy. It is out of print but you should be able to find it. What I like is that she addresses a lot of unusual data entry situations, things like Native American names, patronymics, peerage, farm names, etc.

Tuesday's Tip - Standardizing Family Info

 

Try these two resources first, and then if you still have questions about standardization, come pose them in the Legacy Facebook Group.

 

Find tech tips every day in the Facebook Legacy User Group. The group is free and is available to anyone with a Facebook account.

For video tech tips checkout the Legacy Quick Tips page.  These short videos will make it easy for you to learn all sort of fun and interesting ways to look at your genealogy research.

Michele Simmons Lewis is part of the technical support team at Millennia, the makers of the Legacy Family Tree software program. With over 20 years of research experience, Michele’s passion is helping new genealogists get started on the right foot through her writings, classes and lectures. She is the former staff genealogist and weekly columnist for the McDuffie Mirror and now authors Ancestoring, a blog geared toward the beginner/intermediate researcher.

 


Register for Webinar Wednesday - Get the Most from AmericanAncestors.org by Claire Vail

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AmericanAncestors.org is the most-used genealogical society website in the world. It provides family historians access to more than 400 million records spanning the U.S. and beyond, including one of the most extensive online collections of early American records, and the largest searchable collection of published genealogical research journals and magazines. Learn what online resources exist, how to navigate the website, perform effective database searches, browse our collections online, and more.

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Join us and NEHGS' Claire Vail for the live webinar Wednesday, June 1, 2016 at 2pm Eastern U.S. Register today to reserve your virtual seat. Registration is free but space is limited to the first 1,000 people to join that day. Before joining, please visit www.java.com to ensure you have the latest version of Java which our webinar software requires. When you join, if you receive a message that the webinar is full, you know we've reached the 1,000 limit, so we invite you to view the recording which should be published to the webinar archives within an hour or two of the event's conclusion.

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About the presenter

ClaireVail-144x144Claire Vail joined NEHGS in 2014 and helped oversee the redesign of AmericanAncestors.org. Claire has more than thirteen years of experience as a digital strategist for high-profile institutions in higher education, publishing, and media. She has master’s degrees in journalism and English literature, with a concentration in eighteenth-century British and American studies.

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We look forward to seeing you all there!


Got UTAH ancestors? Two new webinars to help you find them by Gena Philibert-Ortega

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Got ancestors in the Beehive State? We'll help you find them! Announcing the first two classes in our Utah Research series:

We're working hard to give our webinar subscribers the educational classes they need to maximize their genealogical research! Both of these new classes are bonus webinars in the webinar library. The webinar previews are always free.

Researching in Utah: Libraries, Archives and Online

Have Utah ancestors? Where do you start looking? Trying to figure out what is available can be intimidating and time consuming. In this webinar we look at what you need to know to start your Utah research. We’ll explore repositories for research starting with archives, libraries, and museums and then societies. We will continue our discussion by looking at what Utah collections are online. Knowing what is available will help you better understand where to look for that must-have record.

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To Live and Die in Utah: Researching Vital Records

Birth, marriage, death, and a final resting place. These are all important events in documenting an ancestor’s life. Utah officially started recording births and deaths in 1905 but some counties, and even cities, started the process much earlier. Utah is unique in regards to its marriage license history. That knowledge can assist you as you search for marriage records. What alternative sources exist for vital records when a government issued certificate is not available? Once you have documented the death of an ancestor, where do you find their final resting place? We will explore vital record recording in Utah and alternatives prior to official state recording. We will also explore other places to find information about your ancestor’s BMD event. Finally we will look at what types of cemeteries exist in Utah and where to find burial information.

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 Not a member yet?

Legacy Family Tree Webinars provides genealogy education where-you-are through live and recorded online webinars and videos. Learn from the best instructors in genealogy including Thomas MacEntee, Judy Russell, J. Mark Lowe, Lisa Louise Cooke, Megan Smolenyak, Tom Jones, and many more. Learn at your convenience. On-demand classes are available 24 hours a day! All you need is a computer or mobile device with an Internet connection.

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A Grave Mistake - Even if it's Written in Stone it Could be Wrong

A Grave Mistake - Even if it's Written in Stone it Could be Wrong

This is my great-grandfather Alexander McGinnis' tombstone in Crown Cemetery, near Morriston, Ontario. You can see that his date of birth is 1844. My uncle took me to this cemetery when I was starting my research into my father's family tree. After seeing the tombstone, I copied the information inscribed and dutifully entered 1844 into my genealogy program as Alex's date of birth.

McGinnis Alex Cemetery Tombstone
Photo by Lorine McGinnis Schulze

Then I searched census records for Alex, and the more I found, the more discrepancies were revealed. Each census recorded him with a variety of ages that of course resulted in an equal variety of estimated years of birth.

* In 1861 his age was recorded as 12, giving him a year of birth of circa 1849
* In 1871 his age was recorded as 23, giving him a year of birth of circa 1848
* In 1881 his age was recorded as 30, giving him a year of birth of circa 1851
* In 1891 his age was recorded as 41, giving him a year of birth of circa 1850
* In 1901 his age was recorded as 43, giving him a year of birth of circa 1857
* In 1911 his age was recorded as 62, and the record year of birth was 1848

I knew the questions asked about an individual’s age varied on different census years. That meant that different questions, such as what was the individual's age at last birthday, at next birthday, or right now, would result in an age range of a few years.

Alex's years of birth, except for 1901 census, were fairly consistently showing his date of birth to be between 1848 and 1851. But that was quite different from the 1844 date of birth shown on his tombstone!

I decided to find his marriage record. But that was no help either. At his marriage in September 1876 he gave his age as 22. That put his year of birth at circa 1854. Surely he knew how old he was, or so I reasoned at the time. So perhaps the 1854-year was most accurate. But what about that tombstone?

I eventually discovered that his eldest daughter Mary had paid for his stone and had it engraved. My uncle had also questioned the year of birth on Alex's tombstone but apparently Aunt Mary had always insisted that she celebrated her father's birthday every year and thus she certainly knew how old he was, therefore she knew when he was born.

Alex and his family were Roman Catholic. I knew what church the family attended but the records of that church were not available to the public nor were they microfilmed. Then came a bit of luck. A few years ago the church began offering a research service. For a reasonable fee the church secretary would look through the original church books for a record.

I sent a request for the baptism of Alex, and soon received a copy in the mail. He was baptised on 3 February 1850 but born on 3 November 1849. His tombstone, erected by his daughter, was out by five years.

McGINNIS Baptism Alex 1850
Baptism of Alexander from Church of our Lady, Guelph, Ontario



So why the discrepancies? Why did Alex not give his correct age when he married in 1876? He was actually 27 years old that year, so why did he say he was 22? The census years were fairly close to his correct year of birth so obviously he knew his age. It is not uncommon to find that an ancestor might not his or her exact age but Alex appeared to know his (except for the 1901 census)

Then I realized that the marriage registrations are copies of what was sent in by the minister. So the original entry may indeed have read "27" but the "7" could have been misread as a "2" resulting in the incorrect age of 22 for Alex.

So everything can be explained except for the 1901 census record and the tombstone inscription. But can we explain the census record? Yes. We do not know who gave the information to the census taker. In 1901 Alex lived with his sister, her husband and daughter, and his mother who was in her late 70s. Depending who the census taker spoke to, the age given for Alex could be quite incorrect.

That brings us back to the original culprit - that darned tombstone. Aunt Mary was 60 when her father Alex died. She thought he was 91. In reality he was 87. Was she confused? Had she never known her father's real age? Or did Alex tell his family his wrong age as he reached his 80s?

My mother did that. She turned 92 in 2006, but for two years prior to that birthday she had been adding a year or two on to her real age. In July 2006 she told everyone at a family reunion that she was 93 and would be 94 on her birthday in September. So she added two years to her real age. She was as sharp as a tack so I still have no idea why she fibbed to make herself older. I'm the only one of my siblings who seems to know her actual age, my brothers and sister believe whatever she tells them. If they were to have a tombstone inscribed for her, it's almost guaranteed it would have the wrong year of birth.

And thus we have the moral of my story of a Grave Mistake - that even if it's written in stone it could be wrong.

If you'd like to learn more about cemetery records, watch any of the four classes on the topic in the Legacy library.

 

Lorine McGinnis Schulze is a Canadian genealogist who has been involved with genealogy and history for more than thirty years. In 1996 Lorine created the Olive Tree Genealogy website and its companion blog. Lorine is the author of many published genealogical and historical articles and books.

 

 

 


NEHGS: Who We Are, What We Do, and How We Can Help - free webinar by Lindsay Fulton now available

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The recording of today's webinar, "NEHGS: Who We Are, What We Do, and How We Can Help" by NEHGS's Lindsay Fulton is now available to view for free at www.FamilyTreeWebinars.com. 

Webinar Description

New England Historic Genealogical Society is America’s founding genealogical organization. Established in 1845, NEHGS strives to educate, inspire, and connect people through family history discovery. From our research center in Boston, Massachusetts we provide family history services, develop original scholarship, lead transformative educational tours and programs, publish genealogies and essential handbooks, and deliver data-rich online resources to our members and friends around the world. And even though New England is in our name, we have resources—both online and at our library—and a staff of experts who can assist in nearly all aspects and areas of family history research. Learn about who we are, what we do, and how we can help you explore your families’ unique place in history.

View the Recording at FamilyTreeWebinars.com

If you could not make it to the live event or just want to watch it again, the 1 hour 38 minute recording of "NEHGS: Who We Are, What We Do, and How We Can Help" PLUS the after-webinar party is now available to view in our webinar library for free. Or watch it at your convenience with an annual or monthly webinar membership.

Coupon code

Use webinar coupon code - nehgs - for 10% off anything at www.FamilyTreeWebinars.com or www.LegacyFamilyTreeStore.com, valid through Monday, May 23, 2016

MassLegacy QuickGuides for New England - 2.95 each

Legacy QuickGuides contain four pages of valuable information covering a variety of genealogy research topics. Legacy QuickGuides are written by genealogists and family historians who are experts in subject areas. Also available for your Kindle or Kindle app at Amazon.

Webinar Memberships/Subscriptions

Webinar Members get:

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Register for our upcoming webinars (free)

  • Get the Most from AmericanAncestors.org by Claire Vail. June 1.
  • Researching Your Washington State Ancestors by Mary Roddy. June 8.
  • Introduction to the Freedmen's Bureau by Angela Walton-Raji. June 10.
  • Ticked Off! Those Pesky Pre-1850 Census Tic Marks by Peggy Clemens Lauritzen. June 15.
  • Digging Deeper in German Parish Records by Gail Blankenau. June 22.
  • Circles or Triangles? What Shape is Your DNA? by Diahan Southard. June 29.
  • Navigating Naturalization Records by Lisa Alzo. July 6.
  • A Genealogist's Guide to Heraldry by Shannon Combs-Bennett. July 13.
  • Finding French Ancestors by Luana Darby. July 15.
  • Organize Your Online Life by Lisa Louise Cooke. July 20.
  • Researching Women - Community Cookbooks and What They Tell Us About Our Ancestors by Gena Philibert-Ortega. July 27.
  • The Germanic French - Researching Alsatian and Lorrainian Families by John Philip Colletta. July 30.
  • Solutions for Missing and Scarce Records by Tom Jones. July 30.
  • Getting Started with Microsoft PowerPoint by Thomas MacEntee. August 3.
  • The Battle for Bounty Land - War of 1812 and Mexican-American Wars by Beth Foulk. August 10.
  • Homestead Act of 1862 - Following the Witnesses by Bernice Bennett. August 12.
  • Successfully Applying to a Lineage Society by Amy Johnson Crow. August 17.
  • Using Findmypast to Unlock Your Irish Ancestry by Brian Donovan. August 24.
  • The Treasure Trove in Legislative Petitions by Judy Russell. September 14.
  • Clooz - A Document-Based Software Companion by Richard Thomas. September 16.
  • How to Use FamilySearch.org for Beginners by Devin Ashby. September 21.
  • Beginning Polish Genealogy by Lisa Alzo and Jonathan Shea. September 28.
  • AHA! Analysis of Handwriting for Genealogical Research by Ron Arons. October 5.
  • Time and Place - Using Genealogy's Cross-Hairs by Jim Beidler. October 12.
  • Finding Your Ancestors' German Hometown by Ursula Krause. October 14.
  • Social History Websites That Bring Your Ancestor's Story to Life by Gena Philibert-Ortega. October 19.
  • Flip for Flickr - Share, Store and Save Your Family Photos by Maureen Taylor. October 26.
  • Analysis and Correlation - Two Keys to Sound Conclusions by Chris Staats. November 2.
  • Publishing a Genealogy E-Book by Thomas MacEntee. November 9.
  • Dating Family Photographs by Jane Neff Rollins. November 16.
  • Nature & Nurture - Family History for Adoptees by Janet Hovorka and Amy Slade. November 18.
  • Multi-Media Story Telling by Devin Ashby. November 30.
  • Becoming a Genealogy Detective by Sharon Atkins. December 7.
  • From the Heartland - Utilizing Online Resources in Midwest Research by Luana Darby. December 14.
  • Tracing Your European Ancestors by Julie Goucher. December 16.
  • An Introduction to BillionGraves by Garth Fitzner. December 21.

Click here to register.

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See you online!


The Genetic Ancestry of Native Americans - BONUS webinar by Ugo Perego now available to view

"Can DNA testing show if I have any Native American blood?" was a question I was asked in a class last week. Fortunately, Dr. Ugo Perego did his thesis on the topic AND he agreed to teach about it in a bonus webinar.  Although you'll need a little DNA background to understand everything, it is a fascinating look at the history of the world's migration and provides the clues you'll need to determine if you are descended from Native Americans.

Webinar Description

This presentation will focus on genetic markers that are typical of Native American populations and how they can be used to discover your personal Native American ancestry, even in the absence of written genealogical records.

We're working hard to give our webinar subscribers the educational classes they need to maximize their genealogical research! This new class is a bonus webinar in the webinar library available exclusively for annual or monthly subscribers. The webinar previews are always free.

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Native American Webinars
Check out our collection of Native American research webinars at www.FamilyTreeWebinars.com/nativeamerican.
 
Not a member yet?

Legacy Family Tree Webinars provides genealogy education where-you-are through live and recorded online webinars and videos. Learn from the best instructors in genealogy including Thomas MacEntee, Judy Russell, J. Mark Lowe, Lisa Louise Cooke, Megan Smolenyak, Tom Jones, and many more. Learn at your convenience. On-demand classes are available 24 hours a day! All you need is a computer or mobile device with an Internet connection.

Subscribe today and get access to this BONUS members-only webinar AND all of this:

  • All 351 classes in the library (504 hours of quality genealogy education)
  • 1,505 pages of instructors' handouts
  • Chat logs from the live webinars
  • Additional 5% off anything at FamilyTreeWebinars.com
  • Chance for a bonus subscribers-only door prize during each live webinar
  • Additional members-only webinars

It's just $49.95/year or $9.95/month.

Subscribe

Look at our lineup of speakers for 2016! All live webinars are free to watch.

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Print the 2016 webinar brochure here.


Tuesday's Tip - Endless Loops

  TT - Endless Loops


Tuesday's Tips provide brief how-to's to help you learn to use the Legacy Family Tree software with new tricks and techniques.

Endless Loops

There are two kinds of endless loops, one that you should avoid and one that you can't avoid.

If you import a gedcom or download directly from FamilySearch you risk picking up an endless loop. Basically, you are inheriting other people's mistakes. This kind of endless loop is when a person is linked as their own father or son or their father is also linked as their son, that sort of thing. Endless loops can cause problems when you are using the Relationship calculator or you are generating a report.

The other kind of endless loop you can't avoid. You will see this kind of endless loop in royal family lines and sometimes in isolated communities. This occurs when you have people marrying people that are very closely related to them. This is a little different than the first example since these people will not be linked to themselves but these close links can still cause problems.

Sometimes endless loops will be reported to you on a check/repair error log but there is another way to check for them.

Go to REPORTS > CHART REPORTS > ANCESTOR CHART.

Set it to 250 generations (the max). Put yourself as the anchor person. If there are any endless loops (of either variety) in your direct line you will be notified with a dialog box. Make note of the RIN numbers of every endless loop encountered and then you can investigate them further. If it is a simple linking error you will want to correct it. If it is a legitimate endless loop (Princess Marigold married her brother Beauregard in 1346 in order to keep her family's land within the family) then you won't be able to fix it but you do want to be aware of it. If the chart generates without this dialog box you have no endless loops in that line. Remember that this only checks one direct line. You will have to change your anchor person to check other lines.

We have a comprehensive article in our Knowledge Base that covers many different relationship issues in addition to endless loops.

http://support.legacyfamilytree.com/article/AA-00344/0

  DupSpouse-DiffRIN

 

Find tech tips every day in the Facebook Legacy User Group. The group is free and is available to anyone with a Facebook account.

For video tech tips checkout the Legacy Quick Tips page.  These short videos will make it easy for you to learn all sort of fun and interesting ways to look at your genealogy research.

Michele Simmons Lewis is part of the technical support team at Millennia, the makers of the Legacy Family Tree software program. With over 20 years of research experience, Michele’s passion is helping new genealogists get started on the right foot through her writings, classes and lectures. She is the former staff genealogist and weekly columnist for the McDuffie Mirror and now authors Ancestoring, a blog geared toward the beginner/intermediate researcher.

 

 


Register for Webinar Wednesday - NEHGS: Who We Are, What We Do, and How We Can Help by NEHGS' Lindsay Fulton

Register

New England Historic Genealogical Society is America’s founding genealogical organization. Established in 1845, NEHGS strives to educate, inspire, and connect people through family history discovery. From our research center in Boston, Massachusetts we provide family history services, develop original scholarship, lead transformative educational tours and programs, publish genealogies and essential handbooks, and deliver data-rich online resources to our members and friends around the world. And even though New England is in our name, we have resources—both online and at our library—and a staff of experts who can assist in nearly all aspects and areas of family history research. Learn about who we are, what we do, and how we can help you explore your families’ unique place in history.

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Join us and NEHGS' Lindsay Fulton for the live webinar Wednesday, May 25, 2016 at 2pm Eastern U.S. Register today to reserve your virtual seat. Registration is free but space is limited to the first 1,000 people to join that day. Before joining, please visit www.java.com to ensure you have the latest version of Java which our webinar software requires. When you join, if you receive a message that the webinar is full, you know we've reached the 1,000 limit, so we invite you to view the recording which should be published to the webinar archives within an hour or two of the event's conclusion.

Download the syllabus

In preparation for the webinar, download the supplemental syllabus materials here. The syllabus is available for annual or monthly webinar subscribers. Log in here or subscribe here.

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Or register for multiple webinars at once by clicking here.

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No worries. Its recording will be available for a limited time. Webinar Subscribers have unlimited access to all webinar recordings for the duration of their membership.

About the presenter

LindsayFulton-144x144Lindsay Fulton joined NEHGS in 2012. In addition to helping library patrons at NEHGS, Lindsay has also authored a Portable Genealogist on the topic of “Applying to Lineage Societies,” as well as the “United States Federal Census, 1790-1840” and the “United States Federal Census, 1850-1940.” She is a frequent contributor to the NEHGS blog, Vita-Brevis, and has appeared as a guest on the Extreme Genes radio program. Before NEHGS, Lindsay worked at the National Archives and Records Administration in Waltham, Massachusetts, where she designed and implemented an original curriculum program exploring the Chinese Exclusion Era for elementary school students. She holds a B.A. from Merrimack College and M.A. from the University of Massachusetts-Boston.

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  5. Make sure you have the latest version of Java installed on your computer. Check at www.java.com.
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We look forward to seeing you all there!


Generational differences - emails vs texts

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Today I learned how "out of touch" I am, and that I might even be classified as a "nerd". Here's how the conversation with my 14-year-old went.

"Dad, I need a phone." (son)

"How come?" (me)

"So I can talk to my friends this summer." (son)

"We have a house phone, you can still talk to your friends." (me)

"Yah, but I want to text with them." (son)

"You could email them." (me)

"Dad, email's for nerds." (son)

Looking at my email archives, I've received 68,044 emails and sent 52,593 emails since August 29, 1998. The way I figure it, I've saved $24,718.71 in stamps as a result. If that makes me a nerd, that's okay. Interesting though how my primary method of communication is so different than my children's. Am I getting old? Also makes me wonder if my ancestors noticed their own differences between one generation to the next.


Riding Grandfather's Paper Express: Genealogical Research in U.S. Railroad Records

Riding Granfather's Paper Express


How did your ancestors experience the effects of railroads in America? The introduction of steam locomotives into American commerce and daily life in the 19th century changed the way people would experience their nation and its landscape. For many, the advent of steam locomotives and completion of major projects like the Transcontinental Railroad in 1869 represented the American idea of manifest destiny. Completing a transportation system that spanned from one coast to another signified that America fully commanded its land, able to utilize it as much as was desired for the nation’s prosperity.

However, achieving manifest destiny and propelling commerce into the future was rarely accomplished without the cost of human life. The construction of the Hoosac Tunnel in Berkshire County, Massachusetts took 195 lives and injured countless more from accidents and explosions.[1] Even riding the railroads was risky business. On Sep 8, 1894, an accident in the Hoosac Tunnel claimed the lives of William Terpinning of Syracuse, New York and George Minnick of Fitchburg, Massachusetts when a miscommunication by the track signalman resulted in a head-on collision between two trains.[2]

Finding records of railroad employees and particular incidents can be difficult. Researchers need to know the company for which they worked, the dates of service, and some basic genealogical information, in order to be certain of whether records survive. Railroads were not heavily regulated until the 20th century and the transient nature of workers means that early records do not often survive. With that said, there are many resources available for finding more information about railroad personnel and this article intends to break these down for the purpose of the genealogist.

Railroad worker. Image Source: Library of Congress.
Image Source: Library of Congress

 

Railroad Records in the National Archives

Records related to railroad personnel are located throughout several record groups in the National Archives. Those that are most valuable to the genealogist would have to be the pension files for retired railroad workers. The first federal railroad retirement system was created in the 1930s to repair the defects of previous pension programs put in place by the private sector. At first declared unconstitutional, Congress created an agreeable railroad retirement system under the Railroad Retirement and Carriers’ Taxing Act of 1937. This congressional act put the system under control of the Railroad Retirement Board and allowed employees to retire with benefits after the age of 65 or between 60-64 if they had served at least 30 years. Later amendments in 1946 and 1951 allowed for survivor benefits and annuities for the spouses.[3]

These files can vary greatly in size, from 20 to 200 pages, but the genealogical information is substantial. A researcher could find the following information:

  • Applicant’s full name, date and place of birth, names of parents, current address
  • Record of applicant’s prior services
  • Names of beneficiaries, usually spouses or children, and their relationship to the employee
  • Forms which provide the documentation the worker submitted in support of a claim, i.e. vital records, baptism certificates, statement of insurance policies, etc. Copies of the actual records were only made if completed by the person filing the claim file
  • For claim files in which the spouse completed an application for annuities, the spouse provided their name, date and place of birth, parents names, previous marriages and names and birth dates of minors living with them at the time of the application
  • If the worker was seeking annuities for disability, they were required to complete a physical examination and have the physician submit a report that included a detailed medical profile

These claim files equal genealogy gold. How does a researcher check to see if a claim file exists for a particular individual? Claim files held by the Railroad Retirement Board only exist from 1937 to the present day, so the individual in question must have retired or deceased after 1 Jan 1937. Fortunately, there is now an online index for these records through the Midwest Genealogy Center. The index will provide researchers with the surname and initial of the forename, the date of death, claim number, and which repository holds custody of the file. Most of the claim files have been transferred from the Railroad Retirement Board to the National Archives at Atlanta. For a firsthand perspective, I recommend checking out Debbie Mieszala’s article "All Aboard! Railroad Retirement Board Records" on the Advancing Genealogist blog which describes her experience in using a claim file for genealogical research.

Other sources of genealogical information can be gleaned from NARA Record Group (RG) 134, Records of the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC). The ICC was created in 1887 to more effectively regulate the railroads and investigate safety concerns. RG 134 actually contains some information on non-railroad personnel through the land acquisition forms, 1914-1939, valuation maps, and land field notes of ICC appraisers relating to the current value of real estate adjacent to railroad rights-of-way, 1915-28. These sources provide the names of people who owned parcels of land adjacent or on the railroad right-of-way at the time of the company’s acquisition.

RG 134 also contains railroad accident investigation reports, but only starting in 1911, because the Federal Government was not involved in railroad accidents until Congress passed the Accident Reports Act on 6 May 1910. An individual who endangered themselves to save lives in a railroad accident may have a Medal of Honor case file in RG 134. These run from 1905 to 1955. In 1967, the function of railroad accident investigations was transferred to the Office of Safety, Federal Railroad Administration (Record Group 399). Reproductions of these investigative reports up to 1994 can be viewed online through the Department of Transportation (DOT) website, in which they are organized by year and then by the railroad company which owned the train involved in the accident. For incidents prior to 1911, researchers should try newspapers or court records to find out more information about a particular incident, as many filed claims against the railroad companies and employees were tried for reckless endangerment, manslaughter, or homicide.[4]

A lot of railroad history and information involving particular incidents remains scattered throughout Records of the District Courts (Record Group 21). District Court proceedings are held by the regional branches of the National Archives and those pertaining to railroads consist of civil cases involving racial discrimination, working conditions, retirement benefits, claims for damages to property, injuries and deaths resulting from railroad incidents.[5] Below is the indictment of John L. Williams, in which Williams was found guilty for providing false information in his claim for retirement benefits.

Record Group 21, U.S. v. John L. Williams Jr., Eastern Dist. of Louisiana, Criminal Case No. 29445. Image Source: National Archives and Records Administration
Record Group 21, U.S. v. John L. Williams Jr., Eastern Dist. of Louisiana, Criminal Case No. 29445. Image Source: National Archives and Records Administration

 

Only a few employee rosters survive in the National Archives. The only ones are rosters of railway postal clerks, 1855-97, in the Records of the Post Office Department (Record Group 28) and lists of employees of U.S Military Railroads in Alexandria, Virginia, during the Civil War, in the Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General (Record Group 92).[6]

Company Records

Beyond the National Archives, records of railroad employees remain in the custody of dozens of local archives. The personnel listings are incomplete at best. I highly recommend downloading Jim Sponholz’s guide entitled "Locations of Railroad Genealogical Materials." This guide explains what employee records survive for each company, the dates they span and which repository has custody of these records or whether an online index exists.

Railroad Magazines

Many companies and even employees published magazines that chronicle a great deal of history about the railroads in the United States. They often include lists of current employees, detailed life histories of retiring employees, and information on the day-to-day life on the railroad. Jim Sponholz’s Rootsweb page is the authoritative source on the whereabouts of these magazines, as they are once again very scattered. Some publications are digitized, like the Journal of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, available on Google Books, and the Frisco Railroad magazine, through the Springfield-Greene County Library. Better yet, some institutions have even put together name indexes for their company magazines, such as the Boston and Maine Railroad Historical Society.

The railroads touched the lives of their ancestors in many ways, sometimes very tragically. Is there a story involving trains or railroad employees in your family tree? Depending on the time and place in which your ancestor was involved with the railroads, you may very well be riding a long way on the paper express to genealogy gold.

---

Jake Fletcher is a professional genealogist, educator and blogger. Jake has been researching and writing about his ancestors since 2008 on his research blog. He currently volunteers as a research assistant at the National Archives in Waltham, Massachusetts and is Vice President of the New England Association of Professional Genealogists (NEAPG).

 

[1] Charles Cahoon, comp. “Hoosac Tunnel Accident Victims,” Boston & Maine Railroad Historical Society (http://www.bmrrhs.org/on-lines-archives/: accessed 14 May 2016).

[2] “Two Men Killed and Others Injured in Hoosac Tunnel,” Vermont Phoenix, 14 Sep 1894, p.7, col.1, image copy, Library of Congress (http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn98060050/1894-09-14/ed-1/seq-7: accessed 14 May 2016), Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

[3] “Railroad Retirement Handbook – Chapter 1: Development of the Railroad Retirement System.” U.S. Railroad Retirement Board (https://www.rrb.gov/general/handbook/chapter1.asp#: accessed 14 May 2016).

[4] A detailed explanation of RG 134 is on pages 29-42. See David A. Pfeiffer, Comp. Records Relating to North American Railroads, Reference Information Paper 91, (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, Revised 2004).

[5] Pfeiffer, Records Relating to North American Railroads, 114.

[6] Pfeiffer, Records Relating to North American Railroads, 12.

 


Vote for your favorite cover of Legacy Family Tree 9 Unlocked - Final Round!

Compared to the 261 pages of the next edition of Legacy Family Tree Unlocked! the cover - all 1 page of it - has definitely been the most challenging page of them all. I've learned that the cover of a non-fiction book needs to be simple, eye-catching, and to the point. After lots of trial and error, two rounds of public voting (first in Facebook and second in our recent after-webinar party) and your feedback, I've narrowed it down to these two choices.

But wait - before you vote below and before I get thousands of questions about "when is Legacy 9 coming?" - showing you this cover does not mean that v9 is due out soon. It just means that I'm finally almost done with this project. And, I know I'm biased, but this version of Legacy Unlocked! is really, really good! :)

Unlocked

OK, it's your turn now. The final say. It's time to cast your vote.

Which cover do you prefer above? #1 (left) or #2 (right).

Please leave your vote in the comments below. And may the best cover win!


Mining the Über-sites for German Ancestors - free webinar by Jim Beidler now online for limited time

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The recording of today's webinar, "Mining the Über-sites for German Ancestors" by Jim Beidler is now available to view for free for a limited time at www.FamilyTreeWebinars.com. 

Webinar Description

While there’s a galaxy of Internet sites that can help you with your German genealogy, some stars shine brighter than others – and it’s not just Ancestry and FamilySearch, although those two 500-pound canaries both have huge assets for those seeking Deutsch ancestors.

View the Recording at FamilyTreeWebinars.com

If you could not make it to the live event or just want to watch it again, the 1 hour 46 minute recording of "Mining the Über-sites for German Ancestors" PLUS the after-webinar party is now available to view in our webinar library for free. Or watch it at your convenience with an annual or monthly webinar membership.

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Use webinar coupon code - uber - for 10% off anything at www.FamilyTreeWebinars.com or www.LegacyFamilyTreeStore.com, valid through Monday, May 23, 2016

GermanyTrace Your German Roots Online - 18.95

Click your way to German ancestors!

Explore your Germanic heritage from the comfort of your own computer! Trace Your German Roots Online highlights important German resources on popular genealogy websites including Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org, as well as lesser-known resources such as Archion.de. With helpful illustrated step-by-step instructions, you'll learn how to use each site to its fullest potential for German genealogy, including how to get around language barriers and navigate the various German states that have existed throughout the centuries. In addition, this book contains links to the best websites to consult when answering key German genealogy questions, from unpuzzling place names to locating living relatives in the old country.

Trace Your German Roots Online features:
  • Tips to find and use German databases, records, and research tools on Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org, and other popular genealogy websites
  • Guidance for helpful German-focused research websites, including help translating foreign-language sites
  • Recommended websites for accomplishing key German research tasks
  • Worksheets to log research progress and at-a-glance guides to help you identify important terms and resources
An ideal companion to author James M. Beidler's The Family Tree German Genealogy Guide, this book has the tools you need to take your German genealogy research to the next level. Whether your ancestors came from Bavaria, Baden, Berlin, or Bremen, this comprehensive guide will help you find your German ancestors on the Internet.

Click here to purchase for 18.95.

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  • Discover American Ancestors (NEHGS) by Lindsay Fulton. May 25.
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  • Researching Your Washington State Ancestors by Mary Roddy. June 8.
  • Introduction to the Freedmen's Bureau by Angela Walton-Raji. June 10.
  • Ticked Off! Those Pesky Pre-1850 Census Tic Marks by Peggy Clemens Lauritzen. June 15.
  • Digging Deeper in German Parish Records by Gail Blankenau. June 22.
  • Circles or Triangles? What Shape is Your DNA? by Diahan Southard. June 29.
  • Navigating Naturalization Records by Lisa Alzo. July 6.
  • A Genealogist's Guide to Heraldry by Shannon Combs-Bennett. July 13.
  • Finding French Ancestors by Luana Darby. July 15.
  • Organize Your Online Life by Lisa Louise Cooke. July 20.
  • Researching Women - Community Cookbooks and What They Tell Us About Our Ancestors by Gena Philibert-Ortega. July 27.
  • The Germanic French - Researching Alsatian and Lorrainian Families by John Philip Colletta. July 30.
  • Solutions for Missing and Scarce Records by Tom Jones. July 30.
  • Getting Started with Microsoft PowerPoint by Thomas MacEntee. August 3.
  • The Battle for Bounty Land - War of 1812 and Mexican-American Wars by Beth Foulk. August 10.
  • Homestead Act of 1862 - Following the Witnesses by Bernice Bennett. August 12.
  • Successfully Applying to a Lineage Society by Amy Johnson Crow. August 17.
  • Using Findmypast to Unlock Your Irish Ancestry by Brian Donovan. August 24.
  • The Treasure Trove in Legislative Petitions by Judy Russell. September 14.
  • Clooz - A Document-Based Software Companion by Richard Thomas. September 16.
  • How to Use FamilySearch.org for Beginners by Devin Ashby. September 21.
  • Beginning Polish Genealogy by Lisa Alzo and Jonathan Shea. September 28.
  • AHA! Analysis of Handwriting for Genealogical Research by Ron Arons. October 5.
  • Time and Place - Using Genealogy's Cross-Hairs by Jim Beidler. October 12.
  • Finding Your Ancestors' German Hometown by Ursula Krause. October 14.
  • Social History Websites That Bring Your Ancestor's Story to Life by Gena Philibert-Ortega. October 19.
  • Flip for Flickr - Share, Store and Save Your Family Photos by Maureen Taylor. October 26.
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Squatters, Pre-emptioners and Thieves: Early Land Records - new BONUS webinar by Ruby Coleman now available

Land records are paramount in genealogical research. Learn about your ancestors who may have been squatters, a member of a claim club or transferred their presumptions. Land laws were often abused and those who took advantage of them are also discussed.

We're working hard to give our webinar subscribers the educational classes they need to maximize their genealogical research! This new class is a bonus webinar in the webinar library. The webinar previews are always free.

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Everyone Makes Mistakes: Why You Should Review Your Research Notes

Everyone Makes Mistakes

 

A few days ago I decided to have another look at some census records I obtained many years ago for my Peer ancestors in Pennsylvania. When the 1830 census first became available online I had quickly found, and copied, the information for the family. I wanted to verify what I’d copied.

I headed for Ancestry.com to search their census records. Using their wildcard feature which picks up variant spellings, I searched for Edward P*er in Pennsylvania in 1830.

An index transcription popped up. I was quite puzzled because the indexed notes did not match what I had copied a few years ago. Was it possible I had made a mistake in my entry?

Inspector-160143_640


One discrepancy, which leapt off the page, was that the index showed a total of four people in Edward's household - including free whites, slaves and free colored. But my notes showed that I had more than four people in Edward's household consisting of slaves and free colored.

Here is what I had written in my earlier notes:

Slaves:
1 female 56-100
1 female 24-36
Free Colored:
1 female 56-100
1 female 26-56
1 female 24-36

Not only did I have nine people total (instead of Ancestry's four) I also has five slaves and free colored while Ancestry had zero.

I knew I needed to check the online image to clear up the discrepancy. Edward was listed on line 21 of the image page and sure enough there were only four people shown as living in his household. But a check of the column headings top of the image page revealed that I was only viewing the section on White Males and Females! There were no column headings for Slaves or Free Colored.

Clicking on the right facing arrow took me to the second page and sure enough there were the headings for Slaves and Free Colored. I was feeling pretty smug because I saw that indeed there were vertical marks in the columns I'd previously noted. I figured Ancestry.com had omitted indexing that second page and they were in error, not me.

Then I checked for my third great grandfather Levi Peer. I'd noted previously that he owned one male slave but that didn't show up in Ancestry's indexed entry. Checking the image and going to the second page showed that there was indeed a mark in the column Slaves of 100 and upwards. That seemed odd. Who would own a slave that was over 100 years old??!!

And why hadn't that fact jumped out at me the first time I saw it? Warning bells were going off so I took a closer look at that second page. And that's when I noticed that the vertical marks were slanting backwards instead of forward as they were on the page with individual's names.

And other individuals on the census page also had marks in that column labelled Slaves of 100 and upwards. There was no way all those people owned slaves over 100 years old! Something was definitely wrong but I didn't figure it out until I looked closely at the total numbers in each column on page 2. The numbers were backwards. It was a slap my forehead in disbelief moment. I was looking at bleed-through from the next page! The strokes I saw in each column on page 2 had nothing to do with the people on the previous page.

So all these years I was wrong. My ancestor Levi Peer did not own slaves in 1830 in Pennsylvania. I was very happy to learn this but why oh why had I not been more careful when I first saw this record? I pride myself on being detail-oriented and cautious but I goofed that time (and probably other times!)

So remember that it pays to go back and scrutinize your older research. You never know what clue you might have missed or even where you may have erred in interpreting the data.  I'm so happy I decided to review those 1830 census records for my ancestors in Pennsylvania.

Now I'm off to review my findings for 1820!

 

Lorine McGinnis Schulze is a Canadian genealogist who has been involved with genealogy and history for more than thirty years. In 1996 Lorine created the Olive Tree Genealogy website and its companion blog. Lorine is the author of many published genealogical and historical articles and books.

 


Another brick wall solved

Another Brick Wall Solved-2


Wooohooo! Another brick wall mystery solved!

When I heard how it was solved, it made me feel that everything we're doing here with our Legacy software and our webinar series is worth all the time and effort we put into it. And when I read of the excitement from someone who has just solved a genealogical puzzle, it lifts my spirits and gives me renewed hope for my lost ancestors. So, congrats to Susan Biddle, and with her permission, I have republished her comments that she wrote in our Legacy User Group on Facebook below.

Here's her initial comments:

Fb1

She totally left us all hanging, didn't she? ;) What tips, what webinars, and how did she do it? So after a bunch of "likes" and people asking her how she did it, she filled us in:

Fb2

Once again, congrats to Susan! And Beth Foulk deserves kudos for her Problem Solving with FANs webinar. And let's give some extra kudos to Elizabeth Shown Mills for inventing the FAN concept (Friends, Associates, Neighbors). And for whoever it was that gave the newspaper tips, well done!