<![CDATA[Claudia C. Breland <br />Genealogy and Online Research - Genealogy and Life ]]>Wed, 20 Jan 2016 06:53:50 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Anatomy of a Probate File]]>Tue, 29 Sep 2015 05:15:14 GMThttp://www.ccbreland.com/genealogy-and-life/anatomy-of-a-probate-file
Recently I discovered, through DNA testing of a cousin, that my 2nd great-grandmother Rhoda Wilsey Prosser Jones was actually Rhoda Wiltse, the daughter of Reuben Wiltse, who lived in Saginaw, Michigan. Reuben died in 1882, and I desperately needed to look at his probate file. Since Saginaw county probate records are not online (even in the new Ancestry collection of wills and probates) OR on microfilm at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, I hired a local genealogist to go to the Saginaw county courthouse for me. There were 40 pages in the file, and I paid the $1 per page, willingly. When I sat down to go through the papers, I decided to make a list, in date order, of the actions taken by the administrator and the probate court. It made for a very interesting story:

1 March 1882: Ezra Wiltse of Ontario, Canada appeared and states that he was the son of Reuben Wiltse, who died 22 February 1882. Reuben had real and personal property valued at about $2000. Ezra stated that the other heirs were Mrs. Chloe Gibbs and Mrs. Phoebe Prettyman, but he did not know of their whereabouts. He requested Anson Sheldon to be the administrator of the estate.

3 March 1882: Editor's affidavit: probate notice published in the Chesaning Weekly Argus for 3 weeks.

29 April 1882: Probate court assigned Rufus Mason to be the administrator of Reuben Wiltse's estate.

29 April 1882: Bond in the amount of $500 posted by the administrator.

16 May 1882: Inventory of the estate taken; total including land and personal possessions, $2098.35.

9 June 1882: Editor's notice: ad in Chesaning paper requesting creditors to come forward before 8 December 1882.

16 December 1882: List of creditors: $600 owing against the estate.

10 January 1883: Administrator came before the court to state that a great part of Reuben's property is perishable, and requests to be authorized to dispose of it by public or private sale.

(no date): Personal estate originally valued at $290 has depreciated to $150.

12 January 1883: Administrator requests that "all the perishable assets be speedily disposed of and converted into money." Request granted by the court. If sold at public auction, posting of public notices required at least 3 days prior.

21 February 1883: The debts of the deceased amount to $900; personal estate is insufficient to pay this amount. The heirs are: Ezra Wiltse of Addison, Ontario, Canada; Chloe Gibbs of Middleville, Barry County, Michigan; Rhoda Jones of Hillssdale, Hillsdale County, Michigan; and Phoebe Prettyman of Fairfax, Atchison County, Missouri.
    Rufus Mason requests to sell the described real estate "and make distribution of the surplus."

28 February 1883: Newspaper notice in the Chesaning paper, anyone opposed to the sale of this real estate please appear in court on March 26.

26 March 1883: No one appeared to oppose the sale of the real estate.

20 October 1883: Rufus Mason reports to the court. The property was initially offered for sale on 25 June 1883, at one o'clock in the afternoon, "and for want of bidders offering any price warranting a sale; such sale was adjourned from time to time" until 3 October 1883, when it was sold to Isaac Gibbs of Middleville, Michigan for $575.

   Making a list like this made the actions of the court and the administrator clear.
   Reuben's land was worth only what someone was willing to pay for it. It was sold to his son-in-law, Isaac Gibbs.
   The heirs received nothing, because the debts outweighed the assets.

<![CDATA[My Grandfather's Journals - Part 2]]>Sat, 08 Aug 2015 11:04:28 GMThttp://www.ccbreland.com/genealogy-and-life/my-grandfathers-journals-part-2When I published the first volume of my grandfather's journals, At Home in Lansing: 1927-1931, I sent emails to several Michigan libraries, genealogy societies and historical museums, letting them know about the book. I never got a reply, but someone must have been paying attention. This week I received an email from the Library of Michigan, letting me know that it is being considered for next year's list of 20 Michigan Notable Books and asking me to send them 8 copies for the review committee. Whether or not it gets chosen (I should find out early next year), this is such an honor!

Spurred on by that affirmation, I hired my daughter to do some typing of the next book in the series, Lansing and Beyond. In a little over 6 hours, she brought me to the end of 1934, and then I had a decision to make. When I planned this series originally, I figured each volume would cover 5 years. However, as Grandpa Reed became immersed in journaling, he wrote more. At Home in Lansing covered 5 years, and is 250 pages long. Lansing and Beyond was originally supposed to cover 1932-1936 - however, 1932 through 1934 was already 236 pages long. Another two years would make the book almost 400 pages, and I wanted to keep these books easy to read, and low in cost. And looking at the next set of bundled printouts my dad did in the 1980s, it appears that my next volume (my working title is Lakeside Memories) will also only cover 3 years, from 1935 to 1937.

And here I want to put in a plug for fiverr.com: I have had the same designer create the covers for all my books, and I don't think I need to look elsewhere! Here's a first look at the cover for Lansing and Beyond: The Journals of Maurice L. Reed, 1932-1934.

<![CDATA[Considering Courthouses]]>Wed, 15 Jul 2015 15:37:55 GMThttp://www.ccbreland.com/genealogy-and-life/considering-courthousesLast week I took a whirlwind tour of my beloved state of Michigan, packing two weeks' worth of research into five days. During this time I visited four county courthouses, one probate court, one historical museum, two public libraries, one state library, and four cemeteries. While I've been aware for a long time that each state has its own rules about who can access vital records, this was my first experience dealing with several county courthouses within the same state.

1. On Monday, July 6, I drove to Gaylord, the county seat of Otsego County, Michigan. My first stop was the probate court. Their website did not give any open hours, so I guessed that they would be open by 10 am.
I went to the counter and requested the two wills I was interested in (that I knew existed because of legal notices published in the newspaper, which I found on the Otsego County Library website). Willis Townsend (a noted and respected attorney) died in 1936, and his wife Fannie Augusta (Beem) Townsend died in 1947. The clerk went back to the computer to check, and came back to inform me that those wills were on microfilm, the originals having been destroyed in 1963. (Yes, I winced.) I was in luck - the courier had not yet left, so the probate court could send the microfilm over to the county courthouse, where I could view it any time after 1 pm.

So I spent the duration going to the public library, where I spent half an hour going through several local history books without finding any mention of the Townsends. I had lunch, and drove around the cemetery (no luck there). I also stopped by the Congregational Church the Townsends attended.
I got to the courthouse at 1 pm, and at first was not sure I was in the right place. This was a different architecture than I had ever seen in a county building:
I went to the county clerk's office, requested the microfilm, and sat down at the microfilm reader. The first will I looked at was Willis Townsend's. Since he was an attorney who had lived in Gaylord for decades, I expected a fairly sizable estate. I soon found his probate records, and you can see the poor quality of the microfilm:
When I got to the will itself, I viewed page 1, then page 2. That second page ended in the middle of a sentence, and there was no page 3, 4 or 5. The originals are no longer available, having been destroyed at the time of microfilming.
2. The following day, Tuesday, July 7, I drove to the Manistee County Courthouse. This is a building that I have visited several times; my first time researching there was while I was in college in 1976. Their website  made it quite clear that although the county clerk's office opened at 8:30 am, genealogy research hours were restricted to 10-11:30 am and 1:30-4 pm. Signs posted in the office prohibited any photographing, copying, or tracing of any entries in the ledger books.

There were several restrictions to what I could look at. Births more recent than 100 years ago were restricted; I would need a death certificate in order to get a copy of recent births. The ledgers of birth records were not available to view, even older than 100 years ago, because the dates overlapped. In order to have them search for a 1908 birth, I paid $5 for the search, $13 for a typewritten transcribed record, and $1.50 for using my debit card to pay for it.

As far as I could tell, there were no restrictions on deaths or marriages; I searched successfully for 1926, 1939 and 1943 marriages. Although I should note that the 1943 marriage of Gayle (Thompson) Boucher and Robert McKinley was not indexed (I checked multiple times), but was listed in the marriage ledger.

3. On Wednesday, July 8, I drove to Charlevoix, the county seat of Charlevoix county. On the way I enjoyed fabulous views of Grand Traverse Bay:
At the Charlevoix County Building (which took some maneuvering to get to, as surrounding streets were blocked off for road work), there seemed to be no restriction on what birth records I could look at. I checked the birth & death indexes (which were in front of the ledgers, not separate index books) for my name of interest (Kubiak and variations) for 1890 to 1920, with no results. When I asked for the marriage records, I found that those were restricted, no matter what the year. The clerk did not charge me for her to do a look-up on her computer; the only marriage with that name was in 1999. I probably spend a total of 20 minutes in this office.

4. Friday, July 10 found me back in southern Michigan, at the Hillsdale County Courthouse, which I also visited in 1976.
Although the county clerk's office was tiny (with only a narrow counter and nowhere to sit down and look at records), they were by far the most helpful. I was there with a cousin, and we told them the names we were interested in (Beam, Beem and Townsend), and they helpfully printed out separate lists of births, marriages and deaths:
Marriages and deaths were listed right up to the present day, and births seemed to stop at 1914, one hundred years ago.

When we asked for a particular ledger, they brought it out and placed it on the counter for us to examine. When I asked hesitantly if it was all right to take photos, the answer was, "Of course!" I told them that of all the county clerks' offices I had visited that week, they were by far the friendliest and most helpful.
After thinking about this week of research, I have realized that although I did my homework ahead of time, researching the county clerk's websites, locations, open hours, address and phone numbers, that was not enough. My preparation would have been more complete if I had called ahead of time to find out 1. What years are available (or restricted) for viewing, 2. The cost for a look-up of a restricted record, 3. The office hours for genealogical research, and 4. Whether or not I could take photographs of original records.

Summary: Do your homework before you visit!
<![CDATA[My Grandfather's Journals]]>Wed, 22 Apr 2015 20:55:38 GMThttp://www.ccbreland.com/genealogy-and-life/my-grandfathers-journalsWhen I began writing this blog, almost 4 years ago, one of the first posts I wrote was about my Grandpa Reed's journals and the influence they have been in my life. They've been sitting on bookshelves or packed in boxes, and moved from household to household, for the last 30 to 40 years.Recently (actually, at the end of February) I was inspired to begin transcribing them for publication. 
Fortunately, back in the 1980's when my dad was discovering new uses for his Osborne computer almost every day, he took the time to transcribe and print out the complete set of journals, from 1927 to 1959. These transcriptions were printed with a dot-matrix printer, each year headed by a list of significant events, and slipped into page protectors. It was from these transcriptions that I wrote and illustrated my newest book, At Home in Lansing: The Journals of Maurice L. Reed, 1927-1931.
As I typed the words Grandpa wrote with a fountain pen on lined paper, almost 90 years ago, I was amazed all over again. At his thirst for self-education, and the record he kept of the books he checked out of the state library, one of the benefits of living in Lansing. At his hunger for hard, physical work, and the details he set down of digging out a basement underneath their bungalow home. At his passion for weaving, which began in the late 1920s, was set aside for a time, and then taken up again to become his retirement work at Reedcraft Weavers. And at his joy in camping, and in taking his family and friends to explore new areas around Michigan and the US.

Here are some excerpts:

April 11, 1928
   Signed a contract to teach next year at $2305. Summer school will add a little to it.

Dec. 18, 1929
    One of the most severe snow storms Lansing has ever seen began about noon today. I got the car out & drove to Evening School but only 2 in first class & 3 in second, one of them Miss Norton’s. One of my students had no way to get home. I took her, got tuck for an hour on Willow, sent her on as soon as I saw I was to be there some time, got a horse to pull me out for a dollar. Had to park on Main St. as couldn’t get in garage. All schools were closed all day Thurs.

March 21, 1930
   Went to the closing exercises of Evening School last night, and ducked out at 8:30 to go to lodge, hoping to get some knowledge of the ritual. Have made no visible headway at it yet, and feel so disgusted. I dislike intensely to spend such oceans of time learning such utterly useless material. Had I known one must learn thousands and thousands of words of ritual in order to become a common 3rd degree Mason, and that it must be done from another Mason, as it doesn't exist lawfully in print, and that it must be accompanied by the inhalation of second-hand tobacco smoke, carbon dioxide and bad lighting; I fear I should never have attempted it.

July 4, 1930 (camping at Yellowstone National Park)
   Dinner was the biggest success yet.  I invented out of sheer imagination a pot roast of Mackinaw trout and it was delicious, with bacon, vinegar, salt, pepper & sugar in it, and steamed.  Another big feature was the successful initiation of my reflector baker.  I baked a batch of biscuits and they were perfect, browned to a turn, done through & through in only 12 min. cooking.  M.H. made shortcake of them with the fruit, and ate his full quota of the trout beside.

Nov. 29, 1930
      Ruby and I and Jane are pretty bored over it all. We have had to sit for hours in stifling, overheated rooms, facing glaring lights, and listening to no end of gossip, unable to read or be comfortable days, and in misery one of the two nights. Nothing against the folks we visited. They did all they could to show us a good time, but hereafter we stay in town all winter unless it be for a long trip South some time. Other people are accustomed to keep their house hotter than we enjoy, they do not have any common interests with us, have religious scruples against a game of bridge, and we are getting older probably, and do not so easily adjust ourselves to their ways. The annual trip, which we have made every year since 1924, I think, has almost become a custom, but it is too severe, and too hazardous, at the time of year, and we feel it had better be dropped.

<![CDATA["...she went to the people called Shakers...."]]>Thu, 04 Dec 2014 00:17:11 GMThttp://www.ccbreland.com/genealogy-and-life/she-went-to-the-people-called-shakers    In the course of client research, I look at a lot of records. Lots and lots of records. I love land records and probate records, for the details they provide about family, and glimpses into the lives our ancestors lived.
    Recently I came upon a will that made my mouth drop open as I read. This is the first will I have seen that disinherited a wife, and gave a compelling reason for it.

Worcester County, Massachusetts, Probate File 35711 for Manessah Knight (1814); digital image, FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org: accessed 3 Dec 2014), imaged from FHL microfilm 859180.
In this will written in 1814, Manessah Knight gives several bequests to his son Charles Knight, his daughter-in-law Catherine Knight, and his grandchildren. There is no mention of his wife until the last paragraph:

The Reason why I have not made any provision for my wife Hannah Knight in this my will is because that the Said Hannah Regardless of her marriage Covenant did in the year 1782 abscond from me leaving my bed and board with a family of four young children to bring up that said Hannah at that time went to the people called Shakers with whom She has Ever Since lived altho Repeatedly Requested to return home. I Do not therefore think it my Duty as She has conducted to give her any part of my Estate.

You just never know what you're going to find in a will!
<![CDATA[Conversations, Emotions and Events]]>Sun, 30 Nov 2014 01:58:12 GMThttp://www.ccbreland.com/genealogy-and-life/conversations-emotions-and-eventsI love reading genealogy mysteries, and there are more and more of them being written, so that I can hardly keep up! But it's rare that a genealogy mystery makes me think about it for days afterward, applying the deeper lessons in the book to my own research.

Such a book was The Lost Ancestor, by Nathan Dylan Goodwin.
    The story is fascinating, and takes place in the present, and in the past. Present-day genealogist Morton Farrier (with his own family history puzzle to solve) is hired by Ray Mercer to find out what happened to Ray's grandmother's twin sister, Mary Mercer, who disappeared in 1911. The story switches back and forth, from Morton's detailed and meticulous research, to back in the past, where we find out what happened in Mary's life that led to her disappearance.
   What impressed me the most, and what I found myself thinking about for days afterward, is how events and conversations and emotions that occurred in 1911 that were not recorded led to events that were recorded. In Ray's telling the professional genealogist about his grandmother Edith and her twin sister Mary, we have no idea that there was any sort of rift between them. Edith goes for an interview to be hired as a housemaid at Blackfriars Manor, but Mary is hired instead. Why? It's the conversations and emotions that lead to events, that Morton eventually tracks down.

   In thinking of "reading between the lines" in my own ancestors' lives, I can think of two good examples. My mother Mary Elizabeth Stoelt was born on 2 August 1931, to Arnold and Bessie (Randall) Stoelt. Records give the facts of her birth, and of Bessie's death five months later, on 20 December 1931. Bessie's mother, Claudia Grace (Thompson) Randall died just two months earlier, on 27 October 1931. And curiously, in the obituary for Claudia Thompson Randall that was published in the Manistee (MI) News-Advocate on 28 October 1931, there is no mention of her daughter or granddaughter. The only survivors listed were her husband Herbert and son Ray.


It's not in the records, but in oral tradition, told to me by my mother's stepmother, Ervilla Stoelt, who heard it from her husband Arnold, who was there at the time. Apparently shortly before Claudia died, Herbert came to visit Arnold and Bessie. There was a huge argument, and Herbert shouted epithets at his pregnant daughter Bessie and stormed out of the house. Although Herbert died in 1946, when my mother was 15 years old, he never made an attempt to see or visit his her.

The other example is a lot farther back in time, and involves emotions, conversations and events that I can only guess at. In June 1880 my great-great grandmother Rhoda Prosser Jones was living in Hillsdale, Michigan with her second husband, Henry Jones, and her two children.
Just three years later, in June 1883, Mrs. Henry Jones was found along the railroad tracks outside of town, with a fractured skull. The Hillsdale Standard reported it as "A Sad Case of Suicide," although the coroner's jury in the case seemed a little puzzled that her stockings (she wasn't wearing shoes) were not soiled.
    As a result of reading The Lost Ancestor, I'm now trying to imagine the conversations, events and emotions that led to Rhoda Jones' death. Although the verdict was suicide, I am leaning toward the theory that she was murdered. What were the conversations in that house? Does the fact that Henry Jones remarried in October 1883 have a bearing on it? What happened to her youngest daughter, Mary Almeda Jones?  Why did her son Charles Douglas Prosser flee to Chicago?

Just as Morton Farrier solved his mystery using just the records he found, without having any idea of the conversations, emotions and events, if I look for the records, eventually I will find the truth of what happened.

<![CDATA[Writing Up the Incorrect]]>Thu, 27 Nov 2014 20:27:40 GMThttp://www.ccbreland.com/genealogy-and-life/writing-up-the-incorrectPicture
(Or: Will the Real Ida Kube Please Stand Up?)

Not long ago I was working on researching the family of John and Ida Kube, who settled in Watertown, Wisconsin after emigrating from Germany in the 1850s. According to The History of Jefferson County, Wisconsin (published in 1879) they had four children who grew to adulthood:
                  Laura, born 7 Jan 1861
            Alfred, born 15 November 1863
            Ida, born 25 July 1867
            Adolph, born 26 May, 1871

   It was fairly easy for me to research three of these children: there were plenty of records online providing direct evidence for the marriages and children of Laura (m. Charles Stickney), Alfred (m. Levina Showalter) and the youngest son Adolph (m. Estella Ash). However, the youngest daughter Ida was a bit of a puzzle - there was conflicting evidence all over the place, with family trees (sourced and unsourced) providing misinformation. As I went through the evidence, and discarded one theory after another, it struck me - it wasn't enough for me to know that these were incorrect. I needed to write up my findings, in order to direct future generations to the correct family. 

    Was Ida Kube the wife of Otto Gericke? In 1930 Otto and Ida D. Gericke were living in Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin.[1] Their children were Wesley (1898-1974), Sarah (b.1902) and John C. (1906-1969).[2] The birth record for John Carlyle Gericke states that his mother’s maiden name was Ida Strauss.[3] In addition, Wesley Gericke’s 1974 death record also states his mother’s maiden name as Strauss.[4] On the 1900 census of Lake Mills, Jefferson, Wisconsin, Ida D. Gericke indicated her birth date as Nov. 1869.[5]

(1) 1930 U.S. census, Jefferson, Wisconsin, population schedule, Lake Mills, enumeration district (ED) 0022, sheet 3B, dwelling 78, family 84, Otto Gericke; digital image; Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 24 Nov 2014); citing NARA microfilm publication 2576, FHL microfilm 2342310.
(2) “Swift Family,” Public Family Tree, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 24 Nov 2014), entry for Ida Kube.
[3] “Wisconsin Births and Christenings index, 1826-1908,” birth record for John Carlyle Gericke (1906); Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 24 Nov 2014).
[4] Minnesota Historical Society, death certificate #MN-018039 for Wesley O. Gericke (1974); database, “Minnesota Death Certificates Index,” Minnesota Historical Society (http://people.mnhs.org: accessed 24 Nov 2014).
[5] 1900 U.S. census, Jefferson, Wisconsin, population schedule, Lake Mills, enumeration district (ED) 0146, sheet 8A, p.192 (stamped), Otto Gericke; digital image; Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 24 Nov 2014); citing NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 1793, FHL microfilm 1241793.
   I should note here that even without this Ida's children's records, I would be suspicious just because of her stated birth month on the 1900 census. In my experience, years are often incorrect; months, not so often.
    Other family trees on Ancestry state that Ida Kube became the wife of Frank Gherke. In 1920 Frank and Eda Gherke were living in Waterville, Le Sueur County, Minnesota; Frank was 42 (b. about 1878) and Eda was 34 (b.1886).[6] Their children at the time were Ester (8), Agnes (7), Albert (5) and Ellen (2).  Agnes’ 1912 birth record states her mother’s maiden name as Eda Freitz.[7]

[6] 1920 U.S. census, Le Sueur, Minnesota, population schedule, Waterville, enumeration district (ED) 81, p.4A, dwelling 86, family 84, Frank Gherke; digital image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: access 24 Nov. 2014); citing NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 843.
[7] “Minnesota, Births and Christenings Index, 1840-1980,” database entry for Agnes Minna emma Gehrke (1912), Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 24 Nov. 2014).
     Even without the children's evidence, the fact that Eda was born about 1886 is a dead giveaway - this is not the person I'm looking for.

    Another possible candidate for Ida Kube is the wife of William Gehrke; in 1920 they were living in Fergus Falls, Otter Tail, Minnesota with their children Rudolf (35) and Selma (18).[8] However, the 1910 census of Fergus Falls reveals that these were children from William Gehrke’s first marriage, to Maria Gerke.[9] Maria Gehrke died in 1911 and is buried in Western Cemetery in Otter Tail County, Minnesota.[10]

    William Gehrke died in 1936, and is also buried in Western Cemetery.[11] His second wife Eda is buried there, also, having died in 1941.[12] However, she shares a gravestone with Herman Bartelt, who died in 1911.[13]   A look at the 1910 census shows Herman and Ida Bartelt living in Lawrence, Grant County, Minnesota.[14]  On the 1900 census, Ida Bartelt indicated that she was born July 1866, which most closely matches the information we have.(15) 

    Evidently after Maria Gehrke and Herman Bartelt died, their widower and widow married. Eda Bartelt Gehrke’s death certificate needs to be obtained, with the knowledge that the accuracy of that information depends upon the informants, who may have been her stepchildren. It does not appear as though Ida/Eda had any children. She is the most likely candidate for the daughter of John and Ida Kube.

[8] 1920 U.S. census, Otter Tail, Minnesota, population schedule, Fergus Falls, enumeration district (ED) 143, sheet 4A, p.34 (stamped),, dwelling 69, family 84, William Gehrke; digital image; Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 24 Nov. 2014); citing NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 849.
(9) 1910 U.S. census, Otter Tail, Minnesota, population schedule, Western, enumeration district (ED) 0130, sheet 10A, p.10 (stamped), William Gehrke; digital image; Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 26 Nov 2014); citing NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 714, FHL microfilm 1374727.
(10) “Find A Grave,” memorial page #40474726 for Mary Gehrke (1859-1911), Find A Grave (http://www.findagrave.com: accessed 24 Nov 2014); citing records of Western Cemetery, Western, Otter Tail, Minnesota.
(11) “Find A Grave,” memorial page #40474725 for William F. Gehrke (1855-1936), Find A Grave (http://www.findagrave.com: accessed 24 Nov 2014); citing records of Western Cemetery, Western, Otter Tail, Minnesota.
(12) “Find A Grave,” memorial page #40474729 for Eda B. Gehrke (1863-1941), Find A Grave (http://www.findagrave.com: accessed 24 Nov 2014); citing records of Western Cemetery, Western, Otter Tail, Minnesota.
(13) “Find A Grave,” memorial page #40474709 for Herman Bartelt (1853-1911), Find A Grave (http://www.findagrave.com: accessed 24 Nov 2014); citing records of Western Cemetery, Western, Otter Tail, Minnesota.
(14) 1910 U.S. census, Grant, Minnesota, population schedule, Lawrence, enumeration district (ED) 0028, sheet 1A, p.37 (stamped), dwelling & family 9, Herman C. Bartelt; digital image; Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 25 Nov 2014); citing NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 699, FHL microfilm 1374712.
(15) 1900 U.S. census, Grant, Minnesota, population schedule, Lawrence, sheet 6A, p.76 (stamped), dwelling & family 9, Herman C. Bartelt; digital image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 24 Nov. 2014); citing NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 765, imaged from FHL microfilm 1240765.
<![CDATA[Grandma Ruby's Pumpkin Pie]]>Thu, 27 Nov 2014 17:48:58 GMThttp://www.ccbreland.com/genealogy-and-life/grandma-rubys-pumpkin-pieI don't have many clear memories of my Grandma Ruby Reed, since she died when I was just eight years old. I think of her often, but especially at this time of year, when I am making pumpkin pies from her recipe that has been handed down, that she had been making since the early days of her marriage in the 1920s.

Spicy Pumpkin Pie
2 T. butter
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. ginger
1/4 t. ground cloves
1 15-oz. can pumpkin
2 eggs
2 T. flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup milk
1/2 t. salt

Melt butter and mix with cinnamon, ginger, cloves and pumpkin in a large bowl. In a separate smaller bowl, beat eggs until they are frothy and light. Stir in flour, sugars, salt and milk into beaten eggs. Then mix the eggs into the pumpkin, stirring with a light hand. Pour filling into pie shell and bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes. Turn oven down to 375 and bake 45 minutes longer, or until a knife inserted into center of pie comes out clean. Cool and serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

I have made this recipe every year since I've been married, and no other pumpkin pie recipe even tempts me. My mother made it every Thanksgiving since the 1950s - in sunny Albuquerque, New Mexico, snowy Cincinnati, Ohio, and humid Merritt Island, Florida. My children have grown up with this pumpkin pie, and though my daughter doesn't care for it (much), my son's favorite dessert of all time is this pumpkin pie. I'm making sure they have this recipe, and I fully expect that a hundred years after my grandmother first started making it, this pie will continue to be part of our Thanksgiving tradition.

Grandma Ruby Reed with Chris and Claudia at Columbine Cottage, Beulah, Michigan - about 1959.
<![CDATA[DNA and Direct Evidence]]>Tue, 11 Nov 2014 04:08:49 GMThttp://www.ccbreland.com/genealogy-and-life/dna-and-direct-evidenceLast month I decided to tackle another clients' brick wall. In 1870 his great grandmother Katherine Marie Cluny was living in a Catholic orphan asylum in Manchester, Passaic County, New Jersey. She was just seven years old.
1870 U.S. census, Passaic, New Jersey, population schedule, Manchester, p.176, dwelling 150, family 197, Catherine Clunney; digital image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 3 April 2013); citing NARA microfilm M593, roll 884, imaged from FHL microfilm 552383.
By 1880 17-year old Kate was in service in a private home in Trenton, Mercer County, New Jersey. She (or her employers) indicated that her parents were born in Ireland.
1880 U.S. census, Mercer, New Jersey, population schedule, Trenton, enumeration district (ED) 101, p.232C, dwelling 208, family 229, Kate Cluney; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 3 April 2013); citing NARA microfilm T9, roll 788, imaged from FHL microfilm 1254788.
She married John Gallavan, presumably in Trenton. In 1900 she (or someone in the household) indicated that she was born in August 1862 and was 37 years old, and that both her parents were born in Ireland. Katherine and John would have thirteen children: John Jr., Mary Katherine, Margaret Ida, Joseph, Katherine, Elizabeth, Agnes Cecelia, Alice Beatrice, Ida, Helen, Grace, Richard, and Madeline.
1900 U.S. census, Mercer, New Jersey, population schedule, Trenton, enumeration district (ED) 0096, sheet 3A, p.259 (stamped), dwelling 60, family 65, John A. Gallavan; digital image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 20 Dec 2012); citing NARA microfilm T623, roll 983, imaged from FHL microfilm 1240983.
Katherine Cluny Gallavan died 23 March 1953 in Long Branch, Monmouth, New Jersey. Her death certificate (informant unknown) indicated that her mother's name was Catherine Burns; her father's name was left blank.In 1918 her married daughter Elizabeth Gallavan Hackethal died of influenza in Cuyahoga County, Ohio; her husband was the informant and said that Elizabeth's mother's maiden name was Clooney.
New Jersey State Dept. of Health, death certificate 12261 (1953) for Catherine M. Gallavan.
Ohio Bureau of Vital Statistics, death certificate 88238 for Elizabeth G. Hackethal (1918); digital image, "Ohio Deaths, 1908-1953," FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org: accessed 6 Oct 2014).
So, in re-visiting this puzzle (who were Katherine's parents?) I came upon another puzzle. Figuring that her parent's surnames were some variation of Cluney/Clooney and Burns, I took a look at the collection of New Jersey marriage records for 1678-1985 in Family Search. And I found a marriage record that looked promising. On 11 December 1853, James Clouny married Margaret Byrnes in Patterson, Passaic County, New Jersey.
"New Jersey Marriages, 1678-1985," database, FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org: accessed 3 Oct. 2014), James Clouny and Margaret Byrnes (1853).
In 1860 James and Margaret were living in Paterson with their three children, John (5), Anna (3) and Dennis (6 months). James Clooney died 21 October 1866 in Paterson.
"New Jersey Deaths and Burials, 1720-1988," database, FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org: accessed 3 Oct 2014), James Clooey (1866).
By 1870 Margaret Cluny was nowhere to be found, but her children John, Anna, Dennis and 3-year old James were living in the household of Ellen McLaughlin there in Paterson, with Ellen's children, John, Kate, Margaret and Dennis, all born in Ireland.
The 1880 census of Paterson made it clear that Ellen McLaughlin was the Cluny children's aunt.
At this point, I was cautiously excited, building my theory that Katherine Cluny was the daughter of James and Margaret, and the sibling of John, Anna, Dennis and James. But there were still questions: why would Katherine, alone of all the children, be placed in an orphanage? A look at the 1870 census provided a possible answer - Ellen McLaughlin had her hands full, with four children of her own, ages 10 to 16, and her niece and nephews. 3-year-old James was probably the only one left at home, since the other children were at work or at school during the day. There may have been no room for Katherine. Then there is the fact that the 1870 census is a snapshot in time - she could have been there for just a couple of months, waiting for one of the older children to move out.

As I wrote the report for my client, I was thinking that this would make a good case study for publication - there was plenty of conflicting evidence, and no real direct evidence linking Katherine to her parents or siblings. And just because I want to know everything about everyone, I started doing descendant research on the Clooney children. The oldest, John Cluny, married Mary McCarthy about 1882, and they had six children: Mary, Margaret, James, Catherine, Helen, and John. Anna Cluny died unmarried in 1892. Dennis Cluny married Mary Skelly in 1887, and they had Helen (b.1888), Margaret (b. 1891) and James (b.1897). There were several names in common with Katherine's children (Margaret, John, Helen...) but perhaps not surprising in an Irish Catholic family.

Then I got an email from my client. He had had DNA testing done with both Ancestry and FamilyTreeDNA, and gave me the username and password so I could go take a look. And lo and behold, one of his top matches in Ancestry had this family tree:
I was so excited to receive this confirmation that my theory was correct! I immediately emailed my client's match, to explain their connection, and give them the information I had about James Cluny and Margaret Byrnes. Further research in Irish records online revealed the baptismal dates of John, Kate, Margaret and Dennis McLaughlin, children of Patrick McLaughlin and Ellen Clooney.

Much more research lies ahead, but DNA has provided the direct evidence I needed to let me know I'm on the right track.
<![CDATA[There's Value in Volunteering]]>Mon, 10 Nov 2014 06:10:44 GMThttp://www.ccbreland.com/genealogy-and-life/theres-value-in-volunteeringWhen I was first starting out as a professional genealogist, one of the pieces of advice I heard from other established pros was "volunteer for your local society." Back then, I didn't have either the time or the inclination to volunteer anywhere. I was working part-time outside the home, I had three teenagers to keep tabs on, and all of my spare time was spent in doing genealogy research, for clients, for a fee. We really needed the extra income, and I was intent on improving my knowledge of genealogical records, resources, citations, and reports. Our local genealogy society met on Saturday mornings, which was time I reserved for my family.

Fast forward several years, and my, how things have changed. We downsized and moved to a different part of Western Washington. I no longer have teenagers at home, and I'm working full-time as a genealogical researcher, writer, and speaker. I joined the local society, which meets on Wednesday afternoons, and began volunteering my time. I staffed the reference desk in the Genealogy Center at the library where the society meets, and taught a standing-room-only class on DNA. I'm scheduled to teach another class for my society early next year, on Historic Newspapers.

This past weekend I presented 3 lectures at the Family History Fair in Bellevue, Washington: a 2-part session on DNA, and one on Finding and Using Historic Newspapers. Two of them were held in the Chapel, as that was the only room large enough to hold all those who registered. In between sessions there was a steady stream of people coming by the APG table, to ask urgent questions about their family situation and which DNA test to order. I no longer need the client work - instead I'm seeing an increasing need for professional genealogists like myself to teach. Classes in finding and using records, resolving conflicting information, writing a captivating family history, using source citations, and navigating the new frontier of DNA testing - these are wanted and needed. And that is why I volunteer.