Sunday, December 4, 2016

Perkinson Family Christmas, 1926



It is just a old, blurry, slightly faded photo of the Perkinson family gathered on the front porch of the family home in Woodstock, Georgia ninety years ago. But this was the one, the picture that first drew me into wanting to learn more about my family history.

Looking at the picture. I see how much I have learned about many of these relatives. Some of my research has become the source of some of my posts over the years. I added numbers by some of these relatives so you can put a face with a name in my posts about ...
  1. Mary Louise Perkinson, the subject of this tribute
  2. Oscar Dean Perkinson, Jr, whose story lead me learn more about the Civilian Conservation Corps and gave me a chance to share some old photos
  3. Leila Perkinson Stevens and the story of her wedding
  4. Oscar Dean Perkinson, Sr, local politician, accidental participant in an Inaugural Parade, and warehouse manager as well as my grandfather
  5. Louie Dean Stevens whose college courtship days were interesting to follow
  6. Ernest Vaughn Perkinson whose World War I draft registration lead me to learn about an unexpected occupation
  7. Paul Perkinson and how he read of his death in the newspaper
  8. Jesse Dean Perkinson, a noted researcher into the uses of atomic energy

Finally, looking at this picture also reminds me there are still more stories to research further. Stories like that of the family matriarch, my Great Grandmother, Louela Dean Perkinson, seated in the middle of the photo.  Widowed at 40 with at least five children still living at home, by necessity becoming involved in her late husband's business affairs. Definitely a story for another day. 

Interesting how one old photograph continues to draw me closer to my ancestors and relatives.

Monday, October 31, 2016

What To Do What To Do, What To Do?



Grandmother's Hankies, personal photo



They can be that proverbial two-edged sword. Family heirlooms. We are delighted to have these special items that once belonged to an ancestor or relative, especially those things which provide some special insight into their lives. But then, all too frequently in my case, these items stay stored in a drawer or box. And I continue to wonder what to do with them.

Last week during a visit to our local library, I may have found a few suggestions as to what to do with some of these heirlooms. As I was walking through the craft section of the library, I spied several books dealing with crafting family history and memorabilia. I added them to my check-out pile and then spent an afternoon looking through the books and considering some new possibilities.

Memorabilia Quits by Rita Weiss had some new takes on ways to use family items in a quilt.(1) In addition to the often seen T-shirt quilt and quilts made with family photos printed onto cloth, there were photos of a lovely quilt made with squares featuring "Grandma's Hankies". This made me think of the box in an attic trunk filled with handkerchiefs passed down from my Grandmother to my mother and now to me. All are still in excellent condition, lace and printed design still there; after all, these were used primarily in the Sunday purse when those ladies when to church. A smaller project might be making several pillows using some of the handkerchiefs, together with initials or a monogram. Or ... 

Judi Kauffman had a very interesting book, Memory Crafting Beyond the Scrapbook, which featured a number of smaller projects.(2) One quick project was a "Memory Tray", just a simple wooden tray with photos or cards displayed beneath a piece of glass. That might be a possibility for using some of my mother's handwritten recipe cards or a way to display Christmas photo cards received from family members. Another small project was a "Keepsake Envelope". This was essentially an envelope sewn from satin, lined with a soft material, designed for storing a piece of jewelry, an award, a baby bonnet, etc, together with a card describing the provenance or history of the item. This would certainly be a special way to protect and commemorate the medals my mother-in-law received as a college student in the late 1920s.

I've been an avid scrapbooker for years so I added several books on the topic to my stack to checkout. I especially enjoyed looking through Scrapbooking Your Family History by Laura Best.(3) One of my first scrapbooks was a family heritage book. I know how much time was involved in completing it so I especially liked seeing a number of smaller scrapbook projects in Best's book. For starters, she had a "Family History Jar". The jar contained a number of questions, each written on a strip of paper, together with a notebook for recording the answers. It would be a great conversation starter at family gatherings. She also reminded scrapbookers to provide a key identifying all those family members in group pictures. I loved the idea of a scrapbook page picturing a child along with photos of the person(s) for whom the child was named. Another simple idea was making one scrapbook page on a specific theme or person to hang in a 12x12 inch frame. This could be a page of photos from Christmas or other family gatherings to hang at holiday times, a collection of photos of a grandparent through the years, pictures of various houses where a family had lived, so many possibilities for an easy way to display a little family history.

Lisa Bearnson and Becky Higgins coauthored an interestingh book, Our Family Scrapbooks. It deals, of course, with large, heritage scrapbooks, but the book also presents some great small scrapbook ideas.(4) One of the simplest books was a "Family Faces" scrapbook, just a single photo of a relative on one page of an small photo album with the person's name or a short sentence about him/her on the opposite page. This is a great idea for young children whose relatives may be scattered around the country. Another small scrapbook was the "One Memory at a Time" book. This was a perfect way to use some of those interesting old photos like my grandfather working on the family farm or my father in a baseball uniform. This small scrapbook called for a 4x6 inch photo album, one picture on the left and a short descriptive paragraph about the photo on the right page. Finally Lisa and Becky used a similar idea for documenting family heirlooms, again having a photo of an item on one page and brief information about the item on the opposite page. This would be a way for me to provide information about Thomas Nelson's clock, my Grandmother's metronome, or my mother-in-law's college medals.

Several years ago, I started my Pinterest board Celebrating Family as a way to keep and share other projects related to family history. Once again, a trip to my local library stirred my creativity. Now I have more ideas about things that I could do as a way to celebrate and share some of our family stories with others.

Lessons Learned:

  • Our local libraries are filled with so many interesting books and materials.
  • Think outside the box. An craft or creative idea found in one source might be tweeked or expanded a little and become a great means for sharing our family stories or history.

(1) Weiss, Rita and Linda Causee. Memorabilia Quilts: Fabulous Project With Keepsakes and Collectibles. New York: Sterling Publishing Co, Inc. 2007.
(2) Kaufman Judi. Memory Crafting Beyond the Scrapbook: 130 Projects to Sew, Stitch, and Craft. Iola WI: Krause Publications, 1999.
(3) Best, Laura, Scrapbooking Your Family History. New York: Sterling Publishing, 2005.
(4) Bearnson, Lisa and Becky Higgins. Our Family Scrapbooks. Primedia, Inc., 2005.

Friday, September 9, 2016

The Slave Name Roll Project*: The Apprenticeship Indenture Rolls of Cherokee County, Georgia


"Power of Words" by Antonio Litterio,
via Wikimedia.org



By 1865 America's Civil War was over. With the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution (the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863) now recognized as law in the former Confederate states, previously enslaved individuals were now free.

While searching through Georgia will and probate records for information about some of my ancestors, I came across a series of documents for Cherokee County, Georgia Apprenticeship and Indentures from 1866-1904.(1) Every indenture for 1866 pertained to a former slave in Cherokee Country, as did most of the listings for 1867. The documents listed "freed negro" boys and girls by name, age, and the individual to whom they were indentured. There is also the statement that these young people had been counseled by the County Ordinary to make this decision. Responsibilities for the young person were clearly stated in the contract as were those of the employer. At the end of the period of indenture (the child having reached his or her legal age), the young person was to have been taught to read and write the English language as well as to have been taught a trade. The now adult was also to be given money (usually $100) and often a new suit of clothing. At the age of 21 for the boys and 18 for the girls, these former slaves would finally be able to live in freedom.

Each record is listed in the following format:
minor freed Negro -- to whom indentured -- age at the time of the contract -- type of work or trade -- # of years of the indenture -- date agreement was recorded
Note: I did not include any record which only referred to the individual as an orphan, likely to come under the care of the county, only those in which the indentured individual was described as being a "freed negro" or "freed child". I have left them in the order of how they were recorded rather than placing them in alphabetical order.

Joe McAfee -- to John M McAfee -- age 12 -- farm hand  -- 9 years -- 8 Jun 1866
Laura McAfee -- to John M McAfee -- age 6 -- farm hand -- 12 years -- 8 Jun 1866
Evaline McAfee -- to John M McAfee -- age 11 -- farm hand -- 7 years -- 9 Jun 1866
Sanford McAfee -- to John M McAfee -- age 13 -- farm hand -- 8 years -- 9 Jun 1866
Ed McAfee -- to John M McAfee -- age 13 -- farm hand -- 8 years -- 9 Jun 1866
George Wheeler -- to C M Wheeler -- age 15 -- farm hand -- 6 years -- 9 Jun 1866
Albert Wheeler -- to C M Wheeler -- age 13 -- laborer -- 8 years -- 9 Jun 1866
Emily Caruthers -- to Newton J Wheeler -- age 13 - house girl and laborer -- 5 years -- 9 Jun 1866
Lucy Dean -- to William H Dean -- age 10 -- laborer -- 8 years -- 14 Jun 1866
Harriet Hawkins -- to William W Hawkins -- age 12 -- laborer -- 6 years -- 9 Jun 1866
Joe Dupree - to William G Dupree-- age 15 -- laborer -- 6 years -- 14 Jun 1866
George Foster -- to William S Foster -- age 16 -- laborer -- 5 years -- 14 Jun 1866
Joshua Foster -- to William S Foster -- age 16 -- laborer -- 5 years -- 14 Jun 1866
Thomas J Evans -- to Phillip J Evans -- age 15 -- laborer -- 6 years -- 14 Jun 1866
Jane Evans -- to Phillip J Evans -- age 12 -- laborer -- 6 years -- 14 Jun 1866
Nero Underwood -- to Thomas G Underwood -- age 15 -- laborer -- 6 years -- 14 Jun 1866
Bob Strickland -- to Andrew J Covington -- age 12 -- laborer -- 9 years -- 15 Jun 1866
Alexander McCurley -- to George R McCurley -- age 10 -- laborer - 11 years -- 15 Jun 1866
Thomas McCurley -- to George R McCurley -- age 7 -- laborer - 14 years -- 15 Jun 1866
Mariah McCurley -- to George R McCurley -- age 9 -- laborer - 9 years -- 15 Jun 1866
Mariah Sorrells -- to Solomon Fuller -- age 9 -- housekeeper -- 9 years -- 16 Jun 1866
Jacob McGraw -- to George McGraw -- age 12 - husbandry [note: does not specify if it is animal or plant husbandry] -- 9 years -- 15 Jun 1866
Samuel Riggins -- to Sarrah Riggins -- age 9 -- husbandry -- 12 years -- 15 Jun 1866
Fanny Popham -- to William G Popham -- age 7 -- husbandry -- 11 years -- 5 Oct 1866
Sallie Donaldson -- to Joseph Donaldson -- age 11 -- husbandry -- 7 years -- 16 Jun 1867
Jessie Donaldson -- to Joseph Donaldson -- age 9 -- husbandry -- 12 years -- 16 Jun 1867
Edie Donaldson -- to Joseph Donaldson -- age 7 -- husbandry -- 11 years -- 16 Jun 1867
John Fletcher Conn -- to Sammuel Conn -- age 6 -- husbandry -- 15 years -- 16 Jun 1867
John Con -- to Samuel Con -- age 11 -- husbandry -- 10 years -- 16 Jun 1867
Henry Con -- to Samuel Con -- age 10 -- husbandry -- 10 years -- 16 Jun 1867
Emma Con -- to Samuel Con -- age 3 -- husbandry -- 15 years -- 16 Jun 1867
Dian Bruce -- to Burton Bruce -- age 10 -- housekeeping -- 8 years -- 16 Jun 1867
Rachel Pitman -- to William A Trasley -- age about 10 -- housekeeping -- 8 years -- 17 Jun 1867

Although I had previously found records for indentured servants in my research, these were the first I had come across that dealt essentially with children who had formerly been enslaved. These contracts present another view of life after the end of slavery in the southern United States. For this reason, I feel they can be helpful to researchers seeking to learn more about their previously enslaved ancestors.

Blogger Schalene Dagutis, through her blog Tangled Roots and Trees, developed the Slave Name Roll Project in 2015. This project is a means for listing the names of slaves as individual names are located through our research of wills, probate records, and property records. It gives us the opportunity to provide information so that present day descendants can make a connection to their enslaved ancestors.


(1) Georgia Wills and Probate Records, 1742-1992, "Cherokee County, Apprenticeship Indentures 1866-1904"; accessed www.ancestry.com.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

The Slave Name Roll Project*: Estate of William Perkinson, Cherokee County, Georgia


"Power of Words" by Antonio Litterio,
via Wikimedia, org

Among the will and probate records for William Perkinson (1784-1865) of Cherokee County, Georgia, there were several indications that William had owned slaves.(1) In the appraisal of his estate, recorded 1 Mar 1866, the first four listings were of his four slaves:

  • Elias, a negro man
  • Ben, a negro man
  • Warren, a negro man
  • Daniel, a negro man

Additional records indicated that two of these slaves had been hired out at various times of the probate process and thus provided additional income which was included in the assets of William Perkinson's total estate. 
  • negro boy Elins, hired for 9 months to Stephen Terry
  • negro man Ben, hired for 9 months to Stephen Terry
  • negro man Ben, hired for 9 months to T D Perkinson
Among the sale records of Perkinson's estate, there was no indication as to what had happened to the four previously mentioned slaves. By the final return for the estate in June of 1866, the Civil War had ended and all slaves had been freed. This suggests that Elias, Ben, Warren, and Daniel may have remained in Cherokee County, Georgia.

Among the Will and Probate Records for Cherokee County was a list of Apprenticeship Indentures, 1866-1904. Virtually all of the 1866 entries were for freed negro boys and girls, indenturing them to an individual until each turned 18. During those intervening years, they were to be cared for, taught a trade, then released from their indenture. These young people where no longer slaves, but I plan to list their names, ages, and person to whom indentured in a future post.

Blogger Schalene Dagutis, through her blog Tangled Roots and Trees, developed the Slave Name Roll Project in 2015. This project is a means for listing the names of slaves as individual names are located through our research of wills, probate records, and property records. It gives us the opportunity to provide information so that present day descendants can make a connection to their enslaved ancestors.

(1) Georgia, Wills and Probate Records, 1742-1992, Cherokee County, Inventories and Appraisements, 1854-1924, p 341, William Perkinson Estate; accessed on www.ancestry.com.
(2) Georgia, Wills and Probate Records, 1742-1992, Cherokee County, Sales Bills, Vol B, 1855-1929, p 214, William Perkinson; accessed on www.ancestry.com.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

My Top 10 Genealogy Programs

Gold Top 10 Winner by Sam Churchill / flickr


Randy Seaver in his blog Genea-Musing recently posted about his favorite genealogy programs. It started me thinking about those programs and web sites I most frequently use in my genealogy research. After compiling my list, I realized that my research strategies would be vastly different without my Top Ten. Some are free, some fee, some are web sites, others are software that I see as essential for my research. They are listed below in alphabetical order (after all,, I was a teacher and librarian forever).

  • Ancestry - This fee site continues to provide online access to a growing database of records that would be beyond my means to physically locate on my own. Their shaky leaf hints provide suggestions of resources, events, or individuals for me to fully research myself.
  • Digital Archives of Norway - For those of us with Norwegian ancestors, this free site is a must. In addition to census records and information on Norwegian genealogy resources, the web site contains online images of church records from across the entire country. Yes, the text is written in Norwegian, but by keeping Google Translate on and some Norwegian vocabulary cheat sheets I found on Family Search, I have been able to learn so much about the Norwegian side of my family.
  • Family Search - This free web site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints provides online access to genealogy records from around the world. Some are similar to those records available through Ancestry. Other records are available only on Family Search. Some records are indexed, others must be browsed to locate information. The Family Search Research Wiki is filled with helpful hints, history and geographical information, and links to external web sites on specific counties or geographical areas.
  • Family Tree Maker - Bottom line, I would be lost without a genealogy software program, and Family Tree Maker remains my choice. It is my primary place to record everything that I learn about my family through my research. I like that I can develop new trees as I research a possible family relationship, then easily merge it into my primary tree if it is clearly a branch of my family tree. And, thanks to some new practices I started after my Genealogy Do-Over, I maintain much of my research log in the software itself.
  • Find A Grave / Billion Graves - These two, free web sites are helpful for locating cemeteries, burial locations, and photos of headstones or grave markers. Although the two sites are similar, each site maintains its own unique database. There is some duplication of names between the two sites, but using both sites greatly expands the scope of my research. I also appreciate the opportunity to gain access to Billion Graves' premium ($) resources by submitting new photos of grave markers or by transcribing information from photos of markers.
  • Fold3 - I maintain a fee subscription to Fold3 and use if frequently to search for military records, pension records, and, as a real bonus for one with many Georgia ancestors, access to old issues of The Atlanta Constitution. It has also proved helpful in locating information about the military units in which various family members have served.
  • Georgia's Virtual Vault - If you have ancestors who lived in Georgia, this is a fabulous web site. The Vault is a prime example of a state providing free access to certain digitized state records, i.e. marriage records, land purchases, confederate enlistment and pension records, maps, photos, the list goes on.
  • Google Drive - The free suite of programs has turned out to have many genealogical applications for me. I've found so many uses for Google Sheets, their spreadsheet app. Sheets lets me keep lists of materials to request for interlibrary loan, newspaper articles to locate, books to browse when I visit area university or genealogical libraries, timelines. Using Google maps, I have developed maps of family residences, ancestor farms in Norway, family migration routes, etc., all saved and accessible on Google Drive. The beauty is that all this information is available to me whenever and where I have internet access, on my smartphone, my laptop, or a library computer.
  • Hathi Trust Digital Library - HathiTrust is a partnership of academic and research libraries that provides both indexing and some full-view documents on its web site. It is similar to Google Books in providing access to numerous books that are out of copyright as well as access to a wide variety of research texts. The big plus for me is being able to have a guest account. This allows me to maintain my personal collection of go-to resources. I have a Georgia collection, a military records collection, and several others.
  • Transcript freeware - This free (for personal use) software was developed by Jacob Boerema. Basically, the software allows you to open a document pdf file or a photo into the top half of a split screen for viewing then to key your transcription of the document in the bottom half of the split screen. A previous post explains more about how you can adjust the light, font size, or contrast of the image to make the image easier to view. This is no autocorrect in Transcript, so your transcription can show the grammar, spelling, and punctuation of the document's writer. I've also found that transcribing a document often helps me pay closer attention to details that I might have overlooked were I just reading the document.
That is my list, for now, Already I can think of 10 more sites that have earned favored status for me. Now, it is your turn. What are your Top 10 sites or programs?

Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Slave Name Roll Project*: The Camps of Rutherford County North Carolina

"Power of Words" by Antonio Litterio,
via Wikimedia.org

Thomas Camp, my sixth Great Grandfather, died in 1798, leaving 10 children from his first marriage and 12 children by his second wife. Six of these younger children remained in the Rutherford County area of North Carolina for the rest of their lives . Thomas' will makes no mention of any slaves, but looking at the wills of his children who lived in Rutherford County provided some information as to how they had managed the property which had been left to them in their father's estate.

Son Crenshaw Camp, in a will written in 1808, ten years after his father's death, mentioned one slave, a Negro boy named Embro who was to be given to Crenshaw's brother George Camp.(1)

Daniel Camp, another of Thomas' sons, served as the sheriff of Rutherford County, NC in the late 1790s. In the middle of a book of will transcriptions was information concerning a slave transaction that involved Daniel. The slave Stantee had been the property of William Nevills and was described as "an african by birth nearly thirty six years of age about five feet ten, high complexion, very dark".(2) Sheriff Camp had overseen the public sale of Stantee to Lewis Beard; the auction had been held on 25 August 1795 to settle a debt of Mr. Nevills.

The will of a William Camp in this volume turned out not to be "my" William Camp. The will, however, provides information concerning several slaves who were part of the estate of another William Camp.(3) This will, proved in Rutherford County in February of 1855, mentioned the following:

  • a negro woman named Ferre to my wife Elizabeth
  • a negro boy named Wade to my wife Elizabeth, Wade to go to my son John Camp upon her death

There were several interesting records concerning Thomas Camp's son Joshua Camp.(4) The inventory of the estate provided the names of 17 slaves who were part of Joshua's estate: 

  • [men] Sandy, Major, Dick, Sam, Frank
  • [women] Liz, Judy, Harriet, [fourth woman's name was unreadable]
  • [boys and girls] Gardison, William,  Adam, Henderson, Albert, Polly, Martha, Victory.

Additional probate documents concerning Joshua Camp's estate (pages 673-674 of the same volume of records) provided further information concerning the sale of some of the slaves in October of 1853, including:

  • Frank was purchased by J T Camp [Joshua's son John T Camp, estate executor]
  • Sandy was purchased by J T Camp
  • Dick was purchased by John First
  • William was purchased by James Phillips
  • Albert was purchased by George Camp [probably Joshua's son]
  • Nancy Camp [Joshua's widow] purchased an unnamed male and female
  • Major was purchased by J O Simmons

After I wrote the first draft of this post, I was looking for other Camp family members in the 1870 census for Rutherford County, North Carolina. In my search I saw the census records of two Rutherford County residents who may well have been some of Joshua's former slaves - Frank Camp and Gardison Camp - now farmers, now free, now with their own families, their stories continuing.


Blogger Schalene Dagutis, through her blog Tangled Roots and Trees, developed the Slave Name Roll Project in 2015. This project is a means for listing the names of slaves as individual names are located through our research of wills, probate records, and property records. It gives us the opportunity to provide information so that present day descendants can make a connection to their enslaved ancestors.


(1) North Carolina Probate Records, 1735-1970, Rutherford County, Wills 1782-1898, vol. A-F, p85, will of Crenshaw Camp; accessed on FamilySearch, https://familysearch.org.


(2) North Carolina Probate Records, 1735-1970, Rutherford County, Wills 1782-1898, vol. A-F, p44, indenture between Daniel Camp and Lewis Beard; accessed on FamilySearch, https://familysearch.org.
(3) North Carolina Probate Records, 1735-1970, Rutherford County, Wills 1782-1898, vol. A-F, p287, will of William Camp; accessed on FamilySearch, https://familysearch.org.
(4) North Carolina Probate Records, 1735-1970, Rutherford County, Estates, 1847-1854, Vol. C, p 183, estate of Joshua Camp; accessed on FamilySearch, https://familysearch.org.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Step By Step : The Naturalization of Peter Peterson Myren




Recently Lisa Alzo presented a most informative webinar concerning naturalization records.(1) In the webinar Lisa covered the steps involved for an immigrant to become a naturalized American citizen, starting with the filing of a Declaration of Intent and ending with the awarding of a Certificate of Naturalization. It was particularly helpful to see actual documents, examining the information presented on each, and noting that different states had slightly different documents used for the process.

However familiar I felt I was with the naturalization process, I knew I wanted to take a new look at some of my naturalized ancestors and relatives. Using the information Lisa presented, I wanted to revisit what I already knew about my Great Grandfather, Peter Peterson Myren. I also wanted to apply some of her research tips to see if I could learn more about Peter's path to citizenship.

One strategy suggested in the webinar was to develop a timeline of events in the naturalization process. All events that I have recorded in my Family Tree Maker software appear in chronological order, but it helped to set up a smaller, separate timeline to look at only those events related to Peter's immigration, residence, and naturalization.

My timeline included the following events. From Norwegian church records, I knew that Peter had notified that church of his plan to emigrate from Noway to America in 1870.(2) Having an approximate date of departure had enabled me to locate Peter and his brother John and their arrival at the port of Quebec in late June of 1870.(3) This 1870 date was confirmed in subsequent census documents. The 1900 US census recorded Peter as arriving in the US in 1870 and having been in the country for 30 years. This 1900 census also listed Peter as being a naturalized citizen. Information in the 1910 US census recorded Peter as having immigrated in 1878, a date I consider to be a transcription error as 1870 is the date shown in all other records I have found. The US census for 1920 also listed his arrival as being in 1870 and that he was naturalized in 1890.

My timeline confirmed that Peter had followed the established sequence of events, but I also wanted to see the documents associated with his becoming an American citizen. Several years ago, I had located Peter's naturalization record through the index available online through North Dakota State University Libraries. The information provided in the index - name, county of residence (Traill), and date of naturalization (May 1890) was specific enough that I ordered a copy of the record.

The one page record had three distinct parts. First was the signed statement by two witnesses that Peter Peterson Myren had lived in the United States for five years, lived in the state of North Dakota for one year, and that he was of good moral character. The second part of the record (shown below) was Peter's signed statement that he was renouncing all allegiance to the King of Norway and Sweden.



The third part of the record was the signed statement of a judge that "Peter Peterson Myren be, and he is hereby admitted to be A CITIZEN OF THE UNITED STATES", the caps being straight from the printed form. Rereading this section of the document caused me to focus on the handwritten statement that "said Peter Peterson Myren [was] the same person who took out his Intention Papers in the name of Peter Peterson before the Clerk of Circuit Court Eau Claire County, Wisconsin". After all, I had recently learned that the marriage of Peter and his wife Kari took place in Eau Claire County, Wisconsin, in 1880. I should not have been surprised to see that his first step toward citizenship had also started in Wisconsin.

FamilySearch.org provided me with the chance to find Peter's Declaration of Intention, sometimes referred to as First Papers. Their digitized Wisconsin, County Naturalization Records, 1807-1992 are not indexed, but they are easy to browse if you know the approximate date and county in which the Declaration was filed. From the Eau Claire County records, I selected the volume of Declaration of Intention 1871-1880 as most likely to contain Peter's declaration.(4) Thankfully, this volume contained an index which listed four Peter Petersons has having filed a declaration during that time period. Of the four records, two records listed a Peter Peterson born in Norway in 1848 and immigrating to the United States in 1870; this matched what I already knew about my Great Grandfather. The other two records had dates that eliminated them as possibilities for my Peter.

Looking back at the book's index for Peterson/Pederson, I noticed a listing for a John Petterson. His declaration indicated that he was born in Norway in 1843 and immigrated to the United States in July, 1870. This matched with what I already know of Peter's older brother John, especially as these two brothers had immigrated together. John's record was on page 83 of the book. One of the possible Peter records was on page 84. Plus John (page 83) and Peter (page 84) had both made their declarations on the same day, 7 Nov 1871. It was looking as if I had found my Peter's declaration.

I spent time looking back at the second possible Peter Peterson record. This second record showed a filing date of 5 Jul 1872. The signature also provided another thing to question. The record on page 148 was signed Peder Pederson, while my Peter is more frequently listed in church, immigration, census, final naturalization record, obituary as Peter Peterson / Myren. It was enough for me to feel that the declaration signed by Peter on page 84 was that of my Great Grandfather, Peter Peterson Myren.

Using a specific timeline helped me to see how and where my Great Grandfather had followed that path to citizenship. Immigration in 1870, filing a Declaration of Intention in 1871, and appearing before the court for his second papers, his actual citizenship papers, in 1890. In twenty years, Peter had made life changing decisions that lead to his becoming an American citizen. In just over twenty years, one of his sons would follow a similar path, leaving the United States and becoming a citizen of yet another country. But that's a story for another day.

Lessons Learned:

  • Reading all the information of a record can sometimes lead you to find new information.
  • A timeline can help to clarify the sequence of events.
  • Once again, Legacy through its free webinars, added to my knowledge of research tips and resources.

(1) Alzo, Lisa. "Navigating Naturalization Records"; accessed through Legacy Family Tree Webinars (free through 13 July 2016) http://familytreewebinars.com/download.php?webinar_id=380.
(2) Oppland Parish (Lesjaskog Lesja, Norway). Minister Book no. 9 (1854-1889), Espress Expatriate 1870, p. 289, entry 2, 24 Mar 1870; accessed through Digital Archives of Norway.
(3) Passenger Lists, 1865-1922, ships manifest for Mercator; accessed through Library and Archives of Canada.
(4) Wisconsin, County Naturalization Records, 1807-1992 Eau Claire > Declarations of intention 1871-1880, various pages; accessed through www.familysearch.org.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Slave Name Roll Project* : Estate of Joseph Harrison, Jones County, Georgia


"Power of Words" by Antonio Litterio,
via Wikimedia Commons

Some documents are filled with information concerning the names, ages, and family relationships of slaves. Others, such as these few documents related to Joseph Harrison of Jones County, Georgia, provide only limited information. Perhaps the basic information available might prove helpful to others.

In his will signed in 1827, Joseph Harrison of Jones County, Georgia, mentioned only one slave.(1) This slave was a negro girl Eddy. The will stipulated that following his death, Eddy was to be given to Joseph's youngest daughter Mary Harrison.

During 1828 as part of the probate of Joseph's will, an inventory was made of all his goods and property. This inventory included a list of his slaves.(2) The inventory provided only the following information concerning these slaves. 
  • Sam, a boy age 17
  • Harry, age 18
  • Dick, age 20
  • Judah, age 15
  • Ally, age 37
  • Amy, age 9
  • Avelm, age 7
  • Mary, age 5
  • Eady, age 4
  • Eliza, age 2
Sam is the only person identified by sex. There is also no indication as to whether the Eady mentioned in the inventory is the same person named Eddy in Joseph's will.  Probate records did not include any information as to the eventual disposition of these individuals.

Blogger Schalene Dagutis, through her blog Tangled Roots and Trees, developed the Slave Name Roll Project in 2015. This project is a means for listing the names of slaves as individual names are located through our research of wills, probate records, and property records. It gives us the opportunity to provide information so that present day descendants can make a connection to their enslaved ancestors.

(1) Georgia, Probate Records, 1742-1990, Jones County Wills 1809-1864 vol A-D, p 167-168, will of Joseph Harrison; accessed through www.familysearch.org.
(2) Georgia, Probate Records, 1742-1990, Jones County Inventories and Appraisements 1826-1838 vol F-G, p 189-190, estate of Joseph Harrison; accessed through www.familysearch.org.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

June - a Month for Wedding Discoveries, part 2 : Love at the World's Fair



"Visitors to the 1893 World's Fair" credit C D Arnold
source: Wikimedia.org

It was one of those things on my To-Do-List. Find out more about the possible marriage of my Great Grand Aunt Cornelia Anna Andrews. This made my To-Do-List because there was just one reference to a husband on a family tree and one listing in a census record. Her death certificate, however, listed her by her maiden name, no married name, yet indicated that she was a widow at the time of her death. So once again, trying to answer one simple question was to send me down an interesting path.

The family tree of another descendant of this same Andrews family I’m researching had listed Cornelia Anna Andrews as the “possible” wife of Ira Wasson. Sure enough, there was an Ira Wasson and a Cornelia Wasson listed in the 1900 census as residents of St Cloud, Sterns County, Minnesota.(1) The age, birthday (Sept 1856) and birthplace (Pennsylvania) agreed with what I already knew about my Cornelia. The census record also indicated that the couple had been married for 6 years (possible marriage date of 1894) and listed no children residing in the household.

I was not so successful in searching for verification of their marriage through the marriage databases available on Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org. When all else fails, think like the middle school students I was with for many years, and just Google it. It worked! Searching for “Ira Wasson” and “Cornelia Andrews” lead me to a listing for a newspaper article in The Chicago Tribune titled “Marriage Result of World’s Fair Meeting”. Kudos to the one who wrote that headline! Unfortunately the article was available through Newspaper.com with whom I do not have a subscription. Again, Googling “Chicago Tribune Archives” lead me to a wonderful surprise. The Tribune had recently added FREE access to their online archives so I was able to read the brief but charming article below.(2)


I couldn’t help wondering why this article was in the Tribune and on its front page. After all, Pleasant Lake is a suburb of Minneapolis, over 400 miles from Chicago. Had The Chicago Tribune taken a special interest in yet another World’s Fair related event, small though it might have been? Later, having a date and location, I found their actual marriage record in FamilySearch.(3)  Finally, enough to validate their marriage.

When I read of their connection to the 1893 World’s Fair, I immediately had visions of a period piece movie, filled with the sights and activities so vividly described by Erik Larson in his novel The Devil in the White City. And I really wanted to find a happy ending.

According to various city directories available on Ancestry.com, I learned that Ira Wasson was still living in Stearns County, Minnesota in 1899, moving in 1900 to St Louis, Missouri where he continued to work as a music teacher for some years.

The last official document for Cornelia was her death certificate.(4) This was what had lead to the initial note on my To-Do-List. According to her death record, Cornelia was a widow who has come to Nashville from St Louis 10 days prior to her death, apparently to visit her brother Howard Andrews. Cornelia died at the Andrews family home on 9 May 1904. Her cause of death was listed as ulceration of the stomach and bowels. Had Cornelia been in poor health for some time? Had she decided to come to Nashville to be with family in her last days? Was her death an unexpected event for the family? More questions.

With Cornelia listed as a widow, I wanted to learn a little more about her late husband Ira Wasson. Imagine my surprise to find many indications that Mr. Wasson was very much alive at the time of her death and for years beyond – a FindAGrave memorial, city directory entries, later census records, even another marriage in 1903 (before Cornelia’s death). The rest of Wasson’s story I’ll leave to his descendants to pursue.

Returning to the St Louis city directories, I did not find anything to shed light on Cornelia’s life between 1899 and her death in 1904. I did not find any listing for Cornelia Wasson, Cornelia Andrews, or possible version of her name with initials. However, between 1899 and 1904, there were very few listings for any women in the St Louis directories nor was the name of a wife included with the listing for a man. Presumably there had been a divorce before Wasson’s second marriage in 1903. Perhaps those years brought the beginning of serious health issues for her. Certainly, I had another check mark on my To-Do-List, but it had not led me to the happy ending I had hoped for.

So once again, as we often find in researching our family’s history, answering one question can lead to more questions. After all, we are dealing with real people, real lives, not just names and dates on a tombstone.

(1)  1900 US Federal Census, T623 roll 792, Minnesota, Stearns, St Cloud City, p 150A, Ira Wasson [and family]; accessed on Ancestry.com.
(2)  “Marriage Result of World’s Fair Meeting”, published Chicago Tribune, 7 Aug 1894, p 1; accessed on www.archives.chicagotribune.com.
(3)  “Minnesota, County Marriages, 1860-1949”, citing Stearns County, p 519, record #6521; accessed on www.familysearch.org.
(4)  Tennessee, City Death Records, 1872-1923”, citing Nashville, record for Cornelia Andrews #761, dod 9 May 1904; accessed on www.ancestry.com.
                                                                                             

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Slave Name Roll Project* : Estate of Samuel Slade, Pike County, Georgia



"Power of Words" by Antonio Litterio,
via Wikimedia.org

* Blogger Schalene Dagutis, through her blog Tangled Roots and Trees, developed the Slave Name Roll Project in 2015. This project encourages the listing of the names of slaves as their names are found through our research of wills, probate documents, and property records. It gives us the opportunity to provide this information so that present day descendants can make a connection to their enslaved ancestors.

Over the past year I have been researching wills and probate records as to a means of learning more about my ancestors. I contined to come across information which indicated that some of my southern ancestors had been slave owners. Included in some of the wills and probate records was very specific information about individual slaves - their names, ages, physical descriptions, sometimes even a mention of family relationships. Some wills also specified what was to happen to specific slaves following the ancestor's death. Probate returns sometimes documented the person who purchased a specific slave during the settlement of the estate. 


This type of information from ancestors' legal documents could prove helpful to those exploring their African-American roots. I also realized that posting this type of information is something important to do. Participating in the Slave Name Roll Project has presented the opportunity to share this information, information which might otherwise remain difficult for others to find.

The first will I revisited was that of Samuel Slade of Pike County, Georgia.(1) Samuel's will was signed on 25 June 1858 and filed for probate 6 August 1860. In his will he makes specific mention of the following slaves:

  • Frank, age 11, dark complexion, to be given to Slade's daughter Frances Ann Bankston
  • John, age 13, dark complexion, to be given to Slade's daughter Abi Hall
  • Henry, age 18, yellow complexion, to be given to Slade's son Samuel Slade
  • Lawrence (a woman) to be given to Slade's daughter Abi Hall
  • Susan to be given to Slade's daughter Aletha S Keneday
Later probate records and returns for the administration of Samuel Slade's will contained another list of slaves.(2) These named slaves were Dave, Joe, Susan, Larance, Hester, Willis, Lewis, Mandy, Hannah, Emily, Ned, Clark, Jordan, Elijah, Vilot, and Jane; no age or physical description was given for any of these listed. There was nothing to indicate whether Susan and Larance were the same individuals listed in Samuel's will or if they were other people.

Thank you to blogger True E. Lewis. Her quote expresses a powerful reason for participating in this project.(3)
"It's honorable to do .. You're RELEASING their Names and their Souls for their Descendants to hopefully find them one day. Every time this happens they are REJOICING. They have been in a book or what have you for so long."
1. Georgia, Wills and Probate Records, 1742-1992; Pike County Record of Wills, Book C-D, 1844-1912, p 203-205; accessed on Ancestry.com.
2. Georgia Probate Records, 1742-1990; Pike County Returns and Inventories 1861-1883, vol BA, p 224-225; accessed on FamilySearch.org.
3. Lewis, True E. "A Quote For the Remembered and Released Slaves", 
http://mytrueroots.blogspot.com/2015/08/slave-name-roll-project.html

Friday, June 3, 2016

June - a Month for Wedding Discoveries, part 1


"The Wedding Morning"
by John Henry Frederick Bacon, via Wikimedia Commons

June is still considered to be a traditional month for weddings. It is a time filled with hopes, dreams, family, and the excitement that comes with entering a new stage of life. And for me this week, June has been the time I discovered two interesting marriage records. It was enough to make me do my version of a wedding happy dance.

Over the past few years, I have tried unsuccessfully to find the marriage record of my GreatGrandparents, Peter Petersen Myren and Kari Syversdatter. I have looked at numerous online databases and indices, studied various North Dakota records, all without success. I had even requested snippets of possible records only to discover before I purchased a copy of the record that the records were not for my ancestors. Even all the focus and attention I gave to my Norwegian roots during the Genealogy Do-Over had not been enough to help my find this marriage record.

A recent e-mail from Ancestry.com mentioned a hint pointing to a birth record for a Norwegian relative. The birth record was part of Ancestry's database of church records from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, records covering 1875-1940. In one of those Ah-Ha moments, I realized I had not checked this database of church records for the marriage of my GreatGrandparents. I had only been looking through the civil records of Wisconsin and North Dakota.

It took using several variations and spellings of Peter and Kari's names, but I was eventually rewarded when I found the marriage registration record shown below.


source: Ancestry.com

My notes, shown in color to the left of their entry, indicate that this really is my Peter and Kari's marriage registration. The names of family members agreed with what I knew of Peter and Kari's families, as did Peter's listed residence. The marriage date of 16 December 1880 verified the approximate time period in which I had suspected they were been married. Assuming all along that they had been marred in the Dakota Territory, their Wisconsin marriage showed that I was only about 400 miles off in my geographical calculation.

From that day in 1880, the couple lived together in North Dakota until Peter died in 1923; Kari passed away in 1938. Eight of their nine children grew up on Peter's Dakota homestead; one child died there in his infancy. Today the property is still owned by a family member. I'm so glad I finally find the true beginning of their story.

The marriage information I found for another relative presented a very different story, a story I will share late.

Lessons Learned:

  • Boundaries in the United States were sometimes fluid in the period before an area officially became a state. Names of areas also changed through the years. In your research it pays to look at the counties or even states around the area in which a family lived.
  • I am so appreciative of the record keeping of the Lutheran Church in America. Their records enabled me to find a long missing marriage record. These and similar church records greatly add to the information available to us if we search just through civil records.


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Tuesday's Tip : Get to Know the Time Period


A map of the most inhabited part of Virginia ... drawn by Joshua Fry and Peter Jefferson, 1751
Library of Congress American Memory, Early Virginia Map Collection.

Lately I've been thrashing around trying to learn more about my 5 GreatGrandfather William Reid and other Reid family members who had resided in colonial Virginia. I was constantly being reminded that researching records from that time period were not like researching the birth, marriage, and death records of relatives in the 19th and 20th centuries.

One interesting resource I came across was Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement in Virginia by Lyman Chalkley. The transcriptions of all three volumes were found on rootsweb.(1) Since I knew that my Reid ancestors had lived in Augusta County, VA, this resource seemed like it would be worth my time to look through, especially as the opening page stated 
"The Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement in Virginia: 1745 to 1800 by Lyman Chalkley is really the best starting place for anyone researching ancestors in Augusta County during this time period. This three volume series contains most of the abstracts of court records in Augusta County between those dates."
I started with volume I, searching page after page using the Google find feature to locate Reed/Rei information. After going through Court Book XVII and 228 pages of abstracted records, I still had not found anything related to my ancestors. However, each page seemed to contain an interesting record that provided a closer look at life in Colonial Virginia. 

In the records for February 1745/1746, I kept coming across the term "freedom dues". After checking several online genealogy glossaries, I finally found more information in the online Encyclopedia Virginia. Freedom dues were the payment given to an indentured servant at the completion of his contract or term of service. Usually it was money, but freedom dues could also include clothing, tools, or animals.

While looking for Reids/Reeds, I can across several records concerning William Morrison (not a relative) who was seeking to obtain his freedom dues from Donald Davis. First Davis was called into court to show cause for not paying freedom dues to his indentured servant William. Another court record showed Morrison's attempt to be paid the dues from Davis' estate. Several months later, a third court record showed that William Morrison was finally paid his freedom dues of just over £3. Continued reading showed that William Morrison was one of many indentured servants who had to use the legal system in order to obtain what was due them.

The Chronicles provided a variety of records that could be proof of residence for someone's ancestors, especially in the days before the first US census of 1790. There were records in Book 1 that listed members named to that session of the County Court. Other records provided the names of court appointments such as Sheriff, deputies, attorneys, or surveyors. Also included were records of those selected as officers in the militia. Even a listing of family members newly immigrating to join a county resident were part of the court records. 

Some of the cases brought before the court were not much different from what passes through our legal system today. A wide variety of cases was handled through the Augusta County court with more serious cases being referred to the higher court in Williamsburg. Charges of drunkenness, swearing, adultery, or loose behavior. Individuals being charged with murder or theft. Property disputes. Requests for garnishment or child support. Petitions for tax relief for the elderly or infirmed. Claims for losses (due to Indian raids). Requests for building permits. Wills presented for probate. Petitions for bankruptcy. Even seemingly frivolous suits such as the case of an attorney charged with interrupting another (he was fined 5 shillings).

It was clearly a different time and place as seem through other court records. Some of the suits were hard to imagine such as the woman suing to regain her clothes which had been taken to settle a debt incurred by her late husband. As early as 1746, individuals were being brought before the court and accused of speaking "treasonable words". Taxes were levied as "six pounds of tobacco [to] be collected from every person that has not delivered in his crows heads or squirrels scalps, according to law". There were charges for conspiring with one Indian tribe against other tribes. The penalty for stealing lace was "39 lashes". One group of men, found guilty of breaking into a dwelling, was sentenced to having their ears chopped off!



Colonial jail, personal photo

A number of cases involved children being indentured by their family to another individual, usually because the family was unable to support the child. I read of one child who was brought by the parish church to be indentured to a gentleman after the child's father had "run away according to law". Still others, as young as two and three, were indentured because they were orphans in need of a home.

Smallpox continued to be a concern for the residents of Augusta County, Virginia. Court records showed that individuals coming from an area in which smallpox had been found were ordered to be removed from Augusta County by the Sheriff. Other records granted approval for doctors to inoculate any one in a specific area against smallpox.

Chalkley's court record abstractions proved to be worth the time I spent looking over them. That hour or two provided me with a better understanding of just how similar and yet how different life in the twenty-first century is when compared with that of the eighteenth century. As I continue to research ancestors living in colonial times, thanks to Chalkley, I have a clearer view of the legal system, the militia structure, and the relationship between the church and state as well as of everyday life in colonial Virginia.

(1) Chalkley, Lyman, Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement in Virginia. Commonwealth Publishing, 1912; accessed on http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~chalkley/index.htm.