Monday, May 22, 2017

NERGC 2017 – Searching for Living Persons


We’ve all wished we could talk to someone who might have that critical piece of the family puzzle. If only we could talk to Aunt (or Uncle) So-and-So. They are in their 80s or 90s now, and we don’t know where – or if - they are living. How can we find out? That’s the reason I attended Thomas MacEntee’s, They’re Alive! session at NERGC.

Besides expanding our genealogy research, other reasons you might need to find long lost relatives is if you are planning a family reunion, or find cousins who might be working on collateral lines.

PeopleFinder.com website is free to search, and it might give you enough information in order to use other sources to drill down. When I put hubby’s name in and the state, the site came up with four cities he was associated with, along with a list of people. The site wants you to click through to their paid section for more information, but Thomas warned the audience about doing this.

PeopleSmart.com is another reputable site. When I put hubby’s name and state into this site’s search function, it was very fast. It gave two locations in which he had lived, and one in which he hadn’t. It gave a list of people, some with middle initials, and one more than PeopleFinder.

ZabaSearch was fast, provided hubby’s current address and includes a Google map of the location. It listed the same associations, but the phone number listed was outdated.

Anywho.com is another interesting site, providing much the same information as the others. All these sites have paid options for more information, and Thomas said – Use at your own discretion.

Other ways to find folks is to utilize Google, Bing, and Yahoo!. These sites might have the information you need. White pages, Facebook, Ancestry public trees, Twitter, Google Blog search are all options for finding people. Alumni associations – high school and colleges, court records are also possibilities.

My Best Takeaways: Learning about ZabaSearch with its Google map feature. Whether you find a family tree online or information from one of the people finder sites, always verify the information yourself. Thomas allows information he produces to be used in genealogical society newsletters. All the newsletter editor has to do is contact him and ask permission. Very generous.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

NERGC 2017 – Planning a Future for Your Family’s Past


Marian Burk Wood at NERGC 2017
The session we were waiting for was at 3:00 on the first day of the conference. Our good friend, Marian Burk Wood was presenting information on how to organize and preserve your genealogy materials for future generations.

I didn’t need to take notes. I already had her companion book Planning a Future for YourFamily’s Past. This book is a must-have for every genealogist.

The room was packed, even though Marian’s time slot competed with presentations by well-known speakers like Thomas MacEntee. Elissa Scalise Powell, and Helen Shaw.  It was apparent that conference attendees craved information on how to preserve their genealogy collections.

Marian introduced the audience to her PASS Process: Prepare by organizing materials; Allocate ownership; Set up a genealogical “will,” and Share with heirs.

She went on to explain how to sort your “stuff,” and various organizational techniques. She had examples of storage materials and showed how to use and label.

After placing documents and photos into acid/lignin free archival boxes, Marian inventories the items. She explained how this process makes it easy for her and other family members to know what is in box.

She covered the delicate situation of family feuds. What to do if more than one person wants possession of your genealogical materials. She also explained what to do if no one steps up. She suggested donating your material to your ancestor’s local historical society or other interested repository. She found repositories for items that were of no value to her family, i.e. she donated a WWII war bond wallet showing General MacArthur to the MacArthur Memorial Museum in Norfolk, VA. Make sure you contact the organization and find out their specific donation requirements.


My best takeaways: “By the inch, it’s a cinch.” I have to remind myself that in order to tackle the job of preserving my genealogy research, I have to do it in small increments. Although I have acid free boxes and photo envelopes, they aren’t adequate for our documents and photos. Nor have I inventoried the boxes. Many items are in Pendaflex folders and we have photos that are not labeled. I have ordered more archival boxes and protective sleeves. Not enough to take care of everything hubby and I have, but it is a start – remember – by the inch, it’s a cinch. We also have to develop our genealogy “wills.” Good luck with your preservation efforts.

Monday, May 8, 2017

NERGC-2017 - Finding Someone Who Eluded Census Records



Directions to the Springfield, MA Civic Center provided by the New England Regional Genealogical Society were easy to follow. We exited I-91 at Columbus Street, onto Main Street, and within a few blocks was the Civic Center where the Fourteenth New England Regional Genealogical Conference was being held. Excitement was mounting!

Parking was right across the street; registration was easy. While we waited to meet our friends Wally and Marian for lunch, we had a long chat with speaker DonnaMoughty. We first met Donna when we lived in Newtown, CT, and she spoke to our newly formed genealogy club. Donna now lives in Florida, is a member of the Manatee Genealogical Society, as are we, so we see her there as well. It was nice to have a chance to visit in Springfield. Donna is a professional genealogist specializing in Irish research along with U.S. research, methodology and technology including Macs, iPhones and iPads.  She provides research, consultations and training. She is one busy lady!

After a delicious lunch at the Red Rose restaurant, my first NERGC session was Finding Someone Who Eluded Census Records, by Carol Prescott McCoy.

There are different types of censuses. The population census is the most used, but there are also industrial, agricultural, Veteran’s, some state censuses, and slave schedules. Note the date when the census was taken, i.e. in 1920, the date was 1 January. Check every year, every type. People moved and could have been missed. Or they were too far out in the country, in dangerous territory, where the census taker didn’t want to go. Sometimes ancestors are listed twice, if they were traveling between residences. And these could contain different information!

Copy/download entire census page to capture neighbors for future searches. Record all members of the household. Sometimes boarders or “servants” can be relatives. Record names, ages, and places exactly as in the census.

Name spelling issues are the most common. Try every variation. If that doesn’t work, find neighbors from previous census. If your ancestors stayed in the same place, finding the neighbors will locate your people. This was the only way we were able to find my New York City Nunn family in the 1900 census. When the census taker was told the last name was Nunn, he thought he was being told “none.” After several attempts at this misunderstanding, he finally wrote the deceased father’s first name “Joseph,” as the last name, scribbled in with the wife’s first name – a real mess. I located them because I found a 1905 New York Times article where Elizabeth Nunn (eldest daughter) sued her neighbor for return of money Elizabeth had entrusted with the woman in 1900. When I untangled that mess, I found the family!

Census Substitutes. Town records, tax lists, school lists, old maps, town histories, voter lists are all places where your ancestors’ histories reside. Hubby and I developed an 1890 Census Substitute for Newtown, Connecticut by using tax records, school and voter lists, and some church records. It was our hope that other towns would follow suit in order to fill in this 20 year gap.

My best takeaways: Develop a census database. This can be done for each person or by family, to sort by last name as well as date. Develop a timeline (I did that years ago, but it is a good reminder to review and update.) FAN Club - Follow friends, associates and neighbors. Be flexible!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

It Started With a Question


While I have been working hard on my second Caitlyn Jamison mystery, Fatal Dose, hubby has been working equally hard on his Decker family genealogy. This week I finished the third manuscript edit, and then spent over three hours utilizing Word’s “Find” feature to identify each time I used the word “had.” I was amazed at how often I use that word without knowing. During that process I also identified words and sentences that weren’t needed. The manuscript is now about 300 words lighter than when I started.


But back to genealogy. Yesterday hubby turned around and asked, “Do you have a Blanche Tucker in your tree? She was a school teacher.” My answer was, “I don’t know.”



That prompted me to pull out my Tucker genealogy and figure out where I left off. I opened the Index of names document I started several years ago and decided my first step would be to finish the Index. That accomplished, I printed it and also printed the Index I created from Jessie (Tucker) Agard’s journal entries (not finished), as well as notes I made from William Lanning Tucker’s 1924 diary. These Indexes will be a good resource as I go forward.



That done, I told hubby this morning, “Yes, I have a Blanche in my tree. She was married to Emmitt Tucker (b: 1887), son of Freddie Tucker (b: 1855), grandson of Ezra D. and Caroline (Lanning) Tucker.  Emmett and Blanche had a daughter, Grace. Grace married first, Nelson Sansouci (announcement in previous post).

Blanche (Rumsey) Tucker is the daughter of Mahlon and Adeline (Douglas) Rumsey of Newfield, NY. 

Emmitt and Blanche celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary on 23 December 1966.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Mystery of Lena Stanley Myers – Solved


We think. Over six years ago one of my hubby’s high school friends asked for help in finding out who her grandfather was. Her father was adopted, and he let the family know that he never wanted to know who is birth parents were. Years after his death, his children did want to know.

Our friend’s brother had a couple of documents that got us started, but it took a number of months (years) and much searching to figure out that the mother – Lena Stanley of Trumansburg, New York, but we could never be sure who the father was. We found out that Lena married Cornell prep school student Joseph Myers of Des Moines, IA, and that they had took a steamer to Texas for their honeymoon. These events were reported in the newspapers.

When Joseph’s father found out he had married, Joseph was pulled out of Cornell in Ithaca, NY and sent to Harvard. A year and a half later Lena had a child – our friend’s father.

The adoption situation of this child created questions. But the bigger question was – Who was the father of the baby born in 1906? We developed a number of scenarios.

The baby was born in February 1906; Lena and Joseph’s annulment proceedings were in the fall of that year. The annulment documents state nothing about a child. Instead, Joseph agreed that the marriage had never been consummated (remember the newspaper articles about their honeymoon cruise), and the reason was he was being treated for venereal disease at the time of their marriage. The annulment took place in a county away from where the couple would have been known. So many twists and turns to this story.

The mystery continued all these years, until recently when our friend’s brother had his DNA tested through Ancestry.com and someone contacted him with a close match. Our friend received an email recently with a photo attached – Here is your grandfather!

The man identified as the father is Gonzalo Martinez-Fortun, a Cuban, possibly in the area attending Cornell University. The census shows him living in Trumansburg, New York a couple of blocks from Lena’s residence. Gonzalo returned to Cuba 1 July 1905, eight months before the baby was born. His family suspects he never knew Lena was pregnant.

Our friend sent a photo of her father, and a photo of Gonzalo, and we can see the similarities.

And so another mystery solved. It took years of research and the miracle of DNA to finally five our friend the closure she desired.When Gonzalo's eldest grandchild was told of the story, she now wants to come to New York and meet everybody. What fun that would be.

For more on this story, scroll down and click on the links to Lena Stanley of blogs written In February and April 2011.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Frances Wortman and Madison Covert


Frances Wortman, second daughter of Lewis Halsey and Phoebe Ann Wortman was born about 1839 in Jacksonville, New York. In 1869 she married Madison Covert. Frances and Madison moved to West Troy, Albany County New York where Madison worked in manufacturing.  While there Madison’s brother Frederick lived with them.[1]  During their years in Albany Madison became involved in the Republican Party and was named their Fourth Assembly District delegate. He remained active in politics for many years.  Madison had also fought in the Civil War and attended reunions of his Company C of the 126th Regiment of the New York Volunteers.[2]

            Twenty years later when Madison was 63 and Frances age 61 they had been married for thirty-one years, had no children, and were living in Dix Township, Watkins Village, Schuyler County, New York. In 1900 Madison claimed he was a capitalist. 

            On March 20, 1907 the Elmira Star Gazette reported, “Mr. and Mrs. Madison Covert who have been among Watkins’ most esteemed residents have disposed of their handsome residence here and left for Newark where they will reside with their niece, but they will travel extensively for some time.”[3]  The 1907 Newark, New York Union reports that, “Mr. and Mrs. Madison Covert are now nicely located with Dr. and Mrs. D.D. Le Ferre’s. Mrs. Le Ferre is Mrs. Covert’s niece. He is a retired manufacturer.”

Frances and Madison continue to move and by 1910 we find Frances and Madison Covert living with their niece/nephew’s family in Horseheads, Chemung County, New York, Elbert and Claudia Mundy, and their son, Arthur M. Mundy.  Elbert and Claudia had been married twenty-seven years (1883) and he earned a living as a mail carrier.

            They did not continue to live with the Mundy’s however. By 1920 Frances and Madison had moved north to the town of Covert in Seneca County. By this time Madison is 83 years old and Frances is 80. They are now living with their grand niece of nephew, H.S. Miller (age 35), his wife Alice (age 29), and her mother Fran C. Miller, a widow (age 60). 

            Madison passed away in June 1920; Frances passed away November 1922.


[1] 1880 Federal Census. Frederick was age 16 at the time, born 1864. Fred Covert died March 1911.
[2] Fulton County Postcards – Newark, NY Union 1907-1908.
[3] Fulton County Postcards – Elmira Star Gazette

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Isaac Howell Obituary

Hubby is working hard on his Decker and Howell family of Cayuta and Sullivanville, NY. He has had incredible success working with the wonderful town clerks in these towns. 

In his research he came across a sad obituary in The Telegram, Elmira, NY, April 14, 1906.

This place was stirred Thursday by a report that Isaac Howell, a well-known and highly respected resident had died by hanging. Mr. Howell was about to change his residence and his household goods were at the time all in readiness for transfer and Mrs. Howell, looking out of the window, remarked to her husband that the man was coming to move them. At this remark, Mr. Howell exclaimed that he would not move and at once left the house. When his assistance was desired in a few minutes, he was nowhere to be found and a search revealed the fact that he was dead in a building near by. Several years ago, Mr. Howell lost his wife by death and since that time he has acted strangely at times since He was fifty-eight years of age, a veteran of the civil war and a carpenter by trade. He is survived by three sons and a daughter by his first marriage, Horace of Catherine, Harry of Newfield, Fred of Sullivanville, Mrs. Arthur Dickens of Newfield; his second wife to whom he was married some eight years ago and two little girls, aged six and four years; two brothers, Emmett of Horseheads; and Harry of Sullivanville. The funeral will be held tomorrow at this place and the burial will be here.