Monday, December 26, 2011

What's In A Name

I came across a genealogy involving one of my ancestors. There was a dispute over his name. I could offer my argument for the name IF I could offer proof. Of course, there is no birth or death certificate and this case there is no marriage certificate due to a courthouse fire. I know where the body is buried but there is no readable stone. I have several pictures of him which prove nothing. My grandmother, for reasons unknown, always referred to her grandfather as Berryman B. Wood. Something about that amused her but I never thought to ask. I have no doubt as to his name. And there was certainly no provision to add the following.

Berryman Baughan and Solomon Wood were close friends. They married sisters. Solomon Wood married Phebe Lucas and Berryman Baughn married her baby sister Jane Lucas. The story is they each agreed to name a child after the other. When they made this arrangement is unknown. Both married in Greene County, Ohio, and then came to Logan County, Illinois, settling in Corwin Township.

In researching families we frequently see sons named after grandfathers with the third son named after the father.

Berryman and Jane had six children, four of whom were girls. The boys were Abraham and Hiram, probably the grandfathers - we know Abraham was Jane's father. Then Jane died. Berryman remarried and had four children, three girls and one son, Solomon Wood Baughan. His second wife died. He remarried again and seven children, two of whom were boys. He promptly named the first son Berryman but the child died. The second son was also named Berryman. In the end Berryman Baughan had 17 children, only five of whom were boys. But one was named after his friend Solomon Wood.

Solomon and and Phebe had eight children before Phebe died. Only two were boys. The first was Joel, which was Solomon's father's name, and the second was Berryman Baughan Wood. After Phebe's death Solomon, who was the second coroner of Logan County, married Rhoda Turman. They had one son, Solomon S. Wood, before Solomon died. 

How can there be doubt as to the name of Berryman Baughan Wood?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Fantasy Genealogy

A woman wrote that she was descended from "almost all of the Magna Carta Sureties." I advised that several of them either had no known issue or their line was extinct within four or five generations. She became very upset, said I was just jealous. I didn't hear from her again.

I don't know of any Magna Carta Sureties in my lines. My sister has some. She's a Calvert descendant. It doesn't seem to make her life better or worse. She may not even be aware of it because she's not terribly into genealogy.

Frankly, if I were going to pick a noted ancestor I'd want it to be one of the Yorkists, the later Plantagenets. I just find them more interesting. Alas, I think that is highly unlikely.

I have seen one of my lines traced back to Adam online. A genealogist of some regard thinks one of my lines goes back to Charlemagne. I don't believe either one.

I have ancestors who were Revolutionary War veterans, War of 1812 veterans and Civil War veterans. Isn't that enough? There are plenty of people who would happy for those. I have Huguenots. I have Dutch settlers and those who were in Jamestown and early New England. No Pilgrims though. No Kings either. There is a thief who was transported, barely escaping death at Old Bailey*.

What is with us that we need to have fantasy pedigrees to someone famous? Isn't a thief we can prove better than an fantasy online pedigree hooking us to Cleopatra?

*Old Bailey Proceedings Online (, version 6.0, 27 November 2011), April 1740, trial of William Isgrigg (t17400416-2)

Monday, November 07, 2011

Occupy Genealogy

Have we lost sight of what genealogy is all about? There is a movement to turn genealogy over to a select few with highly specialized skills. By making it a formal profession with strict requirements, testing, etc. they hope to give it credibility as well as allow the pros to make more money doing it. I don't think the founders of the movement meant to push the rest of us out but some are advocating just that. Will it happen? Not in my lifetime!!!

Back in the dark ages, before we had the internet, we had CompuServe and the Roots forum. In 1987 I was looking for a program to diagram my research into those pesky later Plantagenets who liked to all use the same first name. I knew I wanted pedigree charts and family group sheets, having been raised with genealogy, but I wanted my computer to do it. That's when I learned about PAF. Later members of the Roots forum would get involved in an experiment which resulted in The Master Genealogist, TMG for short. I began using that genealogy software when it was in beta [because I knew beta testers, not because I was one] and I used it until last year. It is a highly flexible but very complex program. I never did learn all its bells and whistles and I had regular problems. Eventually I decided I wanted to spend less time on the program and more time on genealogy. After a lot of agony and then research I switched programs.

Recently there was something I wanted to try but couldn't find enough information in the program's help file to do it. I posted on the program's user forum, a pretty active group. I got the answer but I also got some that distressed me. A received a couple private emails and one forum post suggested I should spent more time learning the finer points of the program so I wouldn't have to ask questions!

Yes, I know, what is a user forum for if not to ask questions. But it also seems to me that we should be able to expect a genealogy program that just works, keeps track of our information and then spits those pedigrees and family group sheets back at us on demand without requiring a degree in computer science. Apparently those three don't think so. Maybe genealogy software pros are coming next?

Let's "occupy" genealogy, from the comfort of our homes of course, and take it back for family researchers!

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Friday, September 30, 2011

Veterans Administration Pension Payment Cards, 1907–1933

Veterans Administration Pension Payment Cards, 1907–1933 | Learn |

The Veterans Administration Pension Payment Cards, 1907–1933, are online. You can read the details of the collection at the link above. Near the bottom is an index to the rolls with a link to each roll. Unfortunately you will have to go through the roll to see if the person you are seeking is there. If you chose pdf and wait for it to load [and you will wait] you can save the entire roll to your computer. I found that contributed to faster searching. I used Adobe Acrobat and viewed the pages two up.

The cards only cover 1907-1933. If your veteran and beneficiary died before 1907 you won't find them here. If you do you will find the veterans service and maybe his disability, often his location and sometimes his cause of death along with the date. If the final payment to the widow it generally states that. Most I checked were handwritten but some were typed.

These veterans would have preferred that their disability not be listed on cards for all to view. It seems many of them suffered from chronic diarrhea.

Not every veteran is a male. Ellen Downing, a nurse, got a pension beginning June 12, 1896. When she died June 19, 1910, her final payment went to Daniel W. Downing of Pittsburgh. It doesn't state his relationship to Ellen.

One George Downing alias Henry Harris [that's what it says] began collecting his pension on August 7, 1894. On May 24, 1913, he was dropped from the pension rolls. He didn't die. They learned he "did not render 90 days of service." This really sounds like an interesting story. He wasn't the only person with a totally unrelated name as an alias that I ran across.

A word of warning. Whoever alphabetized these cards was not perfect. Check before and after where you expect to find your ancestor.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Huguenot Records at

The Lucases came to the US in 1710, having fled up the Rhine from Otterberg, Germany. Before that they lived in France. They were Protestants and fled France to Germany. For some reason the records of the French Protestants in Otterberg survived three centuries of war. Now you can look them up on The Otterberg records show up in Germany Births and Baptisms, 1558-1898.  []

Just because I could I checked out France, Protestant Church Records, 1612-1906. []

There are Lucases there, haven't checked those out yet. There are images of the French Protestant records so I can check out nearby names.

Whatever happened to Jacob Bowman?

Richard Bownam was born on October 20, 1767, in Somerset County, NJ. He married Mary Senteney and they had 10 children. By the time he was ready to draw up his will in April 1829, he was living in Hamilton County, Ohio. Apparently the first child Abraham and the last child William were deceased by that time as he does not mention them. George was living nearby in Ohio. Ezekial was in Indiana on his way to Illinois and the remaining children were in Logan County, Illinois. Three of the four girls and Ezekial were married to Lucases.

The remaining children except for Jacob that is. It is obvious from the will, which names every living child regardless of sex, that no one knows where Jacob is. Twice in the will Richard writes: "if my son Jacob return or call for his share within two years..." Richard thinks Jacob is alive and might return although he prudently makes provision for Jacob's share if he doesn't within two years.

All we know about Jacob is that he was born between 1802 and 1808 and that in 1829 his father did not believe he was dead. Did he run away? Did he go off on a trip and never return? I have never seen any research which finds Jacob.

It seems to have been a close family. They traveled together and lived in proximity even as adults. Four of them married into the same family, to three siblings and their cousin. After Richard's death Mary moved to Illinois to Mt. Pulaski Township to be with her family and is buried in Steenbergen Cemetery.

So what happened to Jacob?

The Mystery of the Ashes

Buried among some discarded photographs the letter caught my eye.

It was from Charles R. Loomis of Loomis, Offers & Loomis of Buffalo, New York, to Mrs. Alma Cunningham in New York City. The date on the letter was September 24, 1943. It said: 

Dear Mrs. Cunningham: 
I have just returned from securing the permit for shipment of your sister's ashes and for the burial of the same. Unless I am otherwise advised we will send the ashes by express to you, care of Mr. Carl Lipp, Mt. Pulaski, Illinois on Monday of next week. They should then arrive at about the same time you do. 

It seemed odd to keep such a letter so I had to track it down. I knew who Carl Lipp was, my great uncle by virtue of his marriage to my great aunt, and the letter was in their daughter's possession. But I had no clue who Alma Cunningham was. So I dug.

Alma Vonderlieth Cresmer Cunningham was the daughter of George Vonderlieth and his wife Catherine Miller. George was a brother of Adolph who married first Elizabeth Lipp and second her sister Anna Catherine. Elizabeth and Anna were sisters to Carl Lipp. There's the Lipp connection.

But who was Alma's sister? A Vonderlieth. And then I knew. A quick check of dates showed Leonore Vonderlieth died May 28, 1943, in Buffalo. 

Leonore Vonderlieth, better known as Vaugh de Leath, was born September 26, 1894, in Mt. Pulaski. She was known as the "First Lady of Radio" in the 1920s and was one of the first "crooners." One of her hits, from 1927, was a hit for a guy named Elvis years later. Hear Vaugh de Leath's version here:

The ashes were buried in Mt. Pulaski Cemetery in the family plot with her parents and her sister Alma.

Newly Released War Of 1812 Land Records | Jim Dane

How did I miss this? This is the new part:

"The National Bureau of Land Management recently released family military land records to the general public. These records have only been available in the last couple of years and the best part of this release is that you can print the actual documents from your home computer for free. You can expect to find the actual military land warrant document given to your ancestor for completion of service to the United States during the War of 1812..."

If you haven't looked at the federal land patents lately it's time for another look.

Newly Released War Of 1812 Land Records | Jim Dane:

'via Blog this'

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Friday, August 12, 2011

Three Rules to Research By

Genealogy's Star: It is both who and what you know

James Tanner is one of the smartest genealogists out there and he communicates well. These are old rules but he makes it very clear why you should stick to them.

You might even want to subscribe to his genealogy blog.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Google Images

Randy Seaver, a prolific genealogy blogger, wrote about finding cemetery images on Google Images recently. Naturally I had to try it. I am not sure how it works but searching for "Robert Downing cemetery" brought up his stone, his relatives' stones, my non Downing relatives' stones, photos from my blogs of unrelated people, even pictures of me. I guess he is linked to me in their logic.

A search for "Samuel Downing cemetery" did not produce a photo of Samuel's stone which I know is online in several places but it did produce much of the same results as the Robert Downing search.

I searched for my name and got pictures of me and people with the same name.

Needless to say there are many other photos produced in a search that appear to have no connection to what I searched for. It also produced some of the graphics on my blogs and web pages such as the Geneabloggers logo on this page.

If you are looking for that elusive stone, maybe a historical spot, a town, whatever, it is worth a look to see what is online.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

BillionGraves Update

IF you have an iPhone and you want to try this buying the app will save money. Yes, it is a gimmick.

BillionGraves: Save a Dollar—Buy the iPhone App Now

Remember, a GPS smartphone is required. iPods, iPads and Android tablets need not apply.

If you try it let me know how it goes.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Joseph A. Bozarth Probate

Joseph A. Bozarth wrote his will on February 28, 1896. He died April 18, 1897, in Illiopolis, Sangamon County. I got it through IRAD because it less expensive. Also, the interns at IRAD are more experienced at finding the entire file. It's their job. It is not the primary job of the Circuit Court Clerk. Documents from IRAD are generally copied in the format in which they exist, ie, double sided pages are copied double sided.

Joseph Bozarth was born in Morgan County where he married Elizabeth Ann Henry and they moved to Sangamon County as did his brother William and his wife Lucinda Jones. William died on January 28, 1896, possibly prompting Joseph to write his will a month later. 

Elizabeth survived her husband as did two of their five children, Florence Bozarth and Eva Bozarth Wood. Eva was married to William Tobias Wood.

Bozarth left his wife a life estate in his property. At the death of his wife and after paying all debts he left the remainder in two parts, "one part to Florence Bozarth without qualification, the other part to be invested in real estate for the benefit of Eva Wood, her heirs and assigns forever." He intended it to be entailed forever.

We also know from the probate that they were members of the Christian Church in Illiopolis which got $7.50 from the estate.

It would appear that Joseph Bozarth did not think Florence would marry. He wanted to make sure Eva's inheritance went to her children and not her husband - a totally unnecessary precaution since Eva outlived her husband by nearly 30 years but not an uncommon one.

Elizabeth Henry Bozarth did not die for ten years, on February 7, 1907, in Kansas. Florence Bozarth did indeed marry, to a Nichols. She received notice of the final estate settlement by mail under that name. Unfortunately no address was given. There is no marriage in the Illinois State Archives database which may just mean she married after 1900.

The Bozarth monument in Riverside Cemetery, Illiopolis, cost $184.15. Elizabeth's plaque is on the other side.

The final settlement of the estate did not occur until December 22, 1908.

Monday, July 04, 2011

William Henry Downing Probate

William Henry Downing's probate file came from the Logan County Circuit Clerk. Parts of it could be found at IRAD and the whole probate would be in the FamilySearch files.

On December 2, 1903, in the typhoid epidemic, William Henry Downing died. He was the only child of William Nelson Downing, who died in the Civil War, ironically of "typhoid pneumonia," and Delilah Downing Downing. He was 40 years old, not expecting to die and had no will.

His heirs were his widow Eliza Harding Downing, sons Clarence, Charles Ellis, Ennis and Floyd. Clarence was 17 and Floyd was 7. [Floyd isn't in the picture.]

The widow was named Administrix on December 8, 1903. David Shellhammer, husband of Delilah Downing Downing, and James Shellhammer, Delilah's first son by her second marriage, stood as sureties. Appointed as appraisers were Lewis Upp, Charles Brooker and William Beckers, all three very close neighbors. Brooker would become the father in law of the eldest son Clarence. Upp was married to a Lincoln, descendant of the same immigrant ancestor as the more famous Lincoln.

They finished up their work promptly and reported on December 28, 1903, valuing the property of the estate at $4,700.25. The list is four pages long and is quite specific at times - "6 rocking chairs, 1 bay mare named Brownie, 1 red steer, 1 gray mare, 66 hogs" - and less specific at others - "1 lot of chickens" [which I first read as "a lot of chickens"]. 

The value of the widow's property as prescribed by law, which included school books, a sewing machine, beds, one fourth of a cow for every family member [fortunately for the cow there were four members], two sheep for every family member, one horse, etc., was $1,281.50. 

The Administrix reported on March 23, 1907. There was $4,700.25 in receipts which included $599.37 for "property not sold but make up amount shown on appraisement bill." In the long list of bills totalling $3,704.76 we learn that funeral expense was $263.75 and the stone cost $1,140. The balance after all bills was $995.49, less than the widows' amount.

The land apparently passed separately. It is not mentioned. Each son received 80 acres which was farmed by son Ellis until the early 1970s. Most of it is now farmed by his grandson, Roy Downing.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Delilah Downing Downing Shellhammer Will

Delilah Downing Downing Shellhammer was the youngest child of Robert Downing whose probate was previously discussed. I had never considered that she had a will or probate but I found it in the probate records posted online at FamilySearch. These probate files are more work to collect, not being word searchable, but they are also free. Help with the records

Delilah died June 22, 1909. She first married William Nelson Downing who died in the Civil War. She then married David Shellhammer. She had a son, William Henry Downing, by her first husband. William Henry died in 1903 leaving four sons. She had two sons, James and Albert, and two daughters, Sarah Jane Shellhammer West and Augusta Shellhammer Park, by her second husband. 

On June 1, 1909, Delilah executed a will. Delilah couldn’t write and had to sign it with her mark. Whether Delilah couldn’t write or was too ill to write at the time is unknown.

Delilah very carefully and specifically divided her property into fifths giving one fifth to each child and the remaining fifth to be equally among the heirs of her deceased son William. Her estate consisted of her personal effects and furniture and land in Section 1, Mt. Pulaski Township. She directed that one heir buy out all the others and that the others cooperate to do that.

Finally she named T. A. Scroggin executor of her will. There were no claims against the estate. Everyone cooperated and probate closed November 1, 1909. 

Some of Delilah’s descendants should have taken a lesson from her will.

7 cloud services compared: How much control do you give up? | ZDNet

7 cloud services compared: How much control do you give up? | ZDNet

If you are considering cloud storage you need to read this.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Gadgets and Gear for Genealogy

If all goes as planned I will be taking a trip and there will be research. Since my last trip my toys have changed.

My new phone is an old smartphone. It's a Nokia E71, their version of a Blackberry. It has a camera and internet, some apps but it is an older phone. It has built in free GPS. It has built in tethering [which I have not tried]. The best part: unlimited talk, text, internet - everything - is $45 a month, no contract. So I can stand in a cemetery, take pictures and send them on by text message or email as a backup. It has a micro SD card which means I could fill one and swap it out too. 

I have an iPod Touch, before the camera was added, which has copies of my genealogy database and some files. See FamViewer and GEDViewer for a discussion of the database programs. I have since added Families which works with Legacy genealogy software only. I switched to Legacy last winter but that's a story for later.

In the spring I added an iPad2. An iPad is an iPod Touch with a much larger screen. [I am told Apple hates that remark.] I love my iPod Touch so a larger would make it perfect, right? Well, yes and no. I find my iPad2 to be just a bit too big to be comfortable. That is my only complaint though. It has a front facing camera and a rear facing camera. Certainly the database is easier to read on the larger screen. The digital genealogy books I carry are also easier to read. I did not buy the version with the built in cell internet service. It was more expensive and I didn't want to commit to a contract. It soon became clear I'd love the iPad2 and even the iPod Touch better if they had internet service.

Thus the latest addition to my genealogy toolbox is a Virgin Mobile hotspot. It is a small device, easily fits into a pocket, and up to five devices can connect wirelessly to the internet through it. If you buy your device at a certain very very large retailer [and only then] you can also buy from them 1GB of service for $19.99. It's good for 30 days. You can renew or not, as needed, or you can sign up to automatically add a new GB every 30 days. 

Finally, in addition to standard backups to a separate removal drive and backups to the cloud I started backing up to an additional removal drive. About once a month I take the drive to the safety deposit box, which is built to withstand a category 4 hurricane, deposit it and bring the old home to fill.

Robert Downing Probate

This is the first of several planned posts on probate. This probate file was obtained in the standard way from the Logan County Circuit Court Clerk.

On June 14, 1887, Robert Downing died. The War of 1812 veteran and one of the earliest settlers in Logan County, Illinois, was 93 1/2 years old. He died without a will. Letters of Administration were not issued to his eldest surviving son, Robert Harden Downing, until January 3, 1888. As he died with little money, no land and two of his daughters were given a lump sum by agreement of all other heirs it would appear he had carefully divested himself of most of his property, probably beginning after the death of his wife Jane Morrow Downing on May 16, 1882.

The heirs of Robert Downing were the four daughters of his deceased eldest son John, son Robert Harden who was the administrator, daughter Mary Downing Roberts, son Lorenzo, son Alexander, the son of his deceased son Henry Clay, daughter Melita Downing Downing [correction added March 23, 2012] daughter Elizabeth Downing Downing, daughter Delilah Downing Downing Shellhammer. One child, Hannah, had died young.

At the time of his death Robert was receiving a pension of $24, apparently per year, for his War of 1812 service. In the estate was an uncashed check for $24 which was characterized as "utterly worthless" as the government refused to pay it.

Daughters Elizabeth and Delilah, the youngest of the children, were given $200 each which all of the other heirs agreed was proper so that they "might equally share the estate." This seems to indicate the others already had their $200 at the time of death. Each heir signed off on the agreement. Their individual affidavits tell us where they were located at the time as well as their name. 

The stone for Robert cost $23.75. I would have to guess this is the "Father" stone at the side of the major stone for Robert and Jane. In the foreground is the War of 1812 marker.

When all was said and done, exclusive of the $400 above, each of the eight heirs received only $53.28. The four daughters of John each received $13.32. Elizabeth died after her father but before the disbursement. Each of her eight children got $6.66.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Mystery Pictures

This isn't an original idea but its a good one. I'm posting mystery pictures to a web album. Naturally since I have the pictures I must know someone in them but often that's it, I know one person. Any information on the pictures is welcomed. Free free to share the link.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Cloud Storage Options

Say you want to store some genealogy files online where you can easily get to them with your laptop, iPad, smartphone, Android device, etc. Maybe you want to backup, show relatives, share, refer to while at a research site. What can you do? There are multiple options but this is about cloud storage.

To know what cloud storage is best for you really need to know what you want. Do you want to store, sync, collaborate, backup? I have used all three of the following free storage options.

Dropbox, with 2 GB free storage, is promoted by many. The prime reason most give for preferring it is the ability to sync files. When you are on your laptop and you change a file it automagically changes that file on your desktop and all other devices. That is not always a good idea in my book. Yes, it gives you a mirror backup on all your devices but if you mistakenly delete a file or overwrite a good file it is gone on all your devices. If I am collaborating with a researcher and they change the file it is changed whether I think that was a smart idea or not. If you want to share files or collaborate you need to give the other person log on information. I'm not comfortable with that. I can attach it to an email instead. You can limit the folders they see. 

Dropbox has an app for almost every device making logging on pretty much a no brainer. There are ways you can up your free Dropbox storage to 8 GB which involve giving out your friends' emails.

Windows SkyDrive gives you 25 GB free storage, no strings. It provides backup and makes your files available from another computer. You can chose which files your want to sync and which you don't. You can chose who you want to share with and which folders you share with them. You can provide a link to files you want others to see. Reviewers like to note is the 50 MB limit on file size. Check your files and see how many you have which are 50,000 KB. If you have a lot of large pictures saved in .tif that might be an issue. Otherwise you should be good to go.

Windows SkyDrive does not have an app for all your devices. You need to log in. Make it a favorite or a bookmark.

Amazon Cloud Drive gives you 5 GB free storage. If you buy an album during the promotion period you can get an additional 20 GB. Amazon wants you to buy music from them and store it on the cloud drive so it is available to you wherever you are. I did put some music there - music you buy from them does not count against your storage limit - but mostly my storage is genealogy files. That's really what it is, storage which you can access - no sharing, no sync, at least not yet. Apple, in its infinite wisdom, has withheld approving any app which accesses Amazon because, of course, they want you to buy music from them using iTunes. If you are using the storage for backup or to have files available to you from another computer then this is not an issue. It works for storage. 

Google's cloud drive for the masses seems to be lost in space. You have long been able to collaborate on documents. Google has free photo sharing through Picasa. They made cloud storage available for the Google Apps customers but reviews were not exactly glowing.

Your computer manufacturer may also provide you with some free cloud storage. There are some other companies that provide a small amount of free storage.

Is it safe? The original file is still on your hard drive I hope and you do back that up, right?

Bottom line: there is free cloud storage out there. Chose the one that suits your needs. Or chose all of them. In theory you could have 58 GB free cloud storage that way.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

No Slave to Citation

You must read this blog including all the comments. That's the blog in the link, not this one.

Citations are the bane of the average person's genealogy research - needlessly.  You can't skip citations but you don't have to be a slave to them. Elizabeth S. Mills told me years ago the deal is [my paraphrasing] you need to include enough information in your cite so someone can find it in the future. Simple as that. [Ok, maybe not but close.] Despite her fearsome reputation she is not the evil monster of citations, worrying about every comma.

Kerry Scott is so right on, saying what many have said privately for years but didn't dare to say in public out of fear of the cult.

Really, you must read THE BLOG and the comments. If the links don't work here it is again:

Sunday, February 13, 2011


I own two monitors. I finally gave in and set both up on the same computer. For work it has been okay, not worth going out and buying the second one though.

Genealogy is a very different story. Today on one monitor I had my genealogy program open to a family. On the other I had the Illinois Archives databases open. I was able to quickly check the dates for marriages and some deaths, Civil War and other military records where appropriate. I had a book open on the desk which sometimes had a different date than what I had entered probably 20 years ago and I wanted to see what the state said.

Illinois State Archives Databases

Without disturbing the open databases I could easily flip between people and families. Sometimes when they are sharing one screen one gets lost behind another window, accidentally closed, etc. With two monitors everything could stay open, full size, and visible at the same time.

Of course, it doesn't have to be the state archives. It could be ever growing or any other web site with information. On FamilySearch you can open some census records for example.

It is amazing the amount of time saved when you can enter the information directly into the program, enter the source, look back to verify if necessary and move on.

I wish I hadn't waited so long to convert to dual monitors.


Samuel Downing, my ggg grandfather, was second of 16 children. His immediate younger brother Thomas followed him to Illinois and purchased neighboring land.

Thomas had three wives. He apparently had a thing for the number 13 too. [Remember that.] He married Elizabeth Kellison in Pike County, OH, on May 13, 1819. They had five daughters before she died. He married Rebecca Huff in Pike County, OH, on September 13, 1832. They had three children, a daughter and two sons, before she died. He married Loretta Sherman, who was 17 years younger, on October 13, 1842, in Ohio. They had four children, three daughters and a son. Add it up. Thomas had 12 children, nine daughters and three sons.

On June 11, 1865, Thomas Downing died in Logan County, Illinois. The original probate documents leave a blank for his widow, list five daughters [Margaret, Nancy, Susan, Mary and Rebecca] and three sons [George, William, Thomas]. Three daughters [Caroline, Elizabeth and Sarah] had died young or at least without heir. The child of the deceased daughter Hannah Downing French is listed. 12 children, all accounted for. Thomas had no will and probate took some time.

There apparently was a dispute which resulted in a suit to partition and to assign specific land to Loretta as her dower. It was filed September 23, 1867, more than two years after Thomas' death. This suit lists the heirs of Thomas as Loretta, the five daughters, the child of Hannah and his FOUR sons George, William T., Thomas and Samuel W.

Samuel W.??? Where did he come from?

Samuel W. duly got his share of the estate, specific parcels of land which can be found on 1873 plat maps. Since he was not a minor we can assume he was a child of one of the first two marriages. He is not mentioned in any other documents before or after but he is a very real presence in the probate documents.

Samuel, brother of Thomas, died 14 months after Thomas. His son Samuel Wesley inherited a share and controlled more of that estate as guardian for various other heirs.

Did the courts get confused when the names were the same and the lands were all in the same area? Are land records wrong?

Or is the mysterious Samuel W. the 13th child of Thomas? [cue 'Twilight Zone' theme]

Monday, January 03, 2011

10,000 Dead People

It was a long and miserable December thanks to the cold from hell. The bright spot is when I was able to be up but not able to go out I worked on my "10,000 Dead People" database and got it to a place where it could be uploaded. I had to divide it into thirds to do that and fidget with the formatting to get each part to reasonable size. It went up the last week of December and almost immediately I began receiving additions, corrections, etc.

What I personally call 10,000 Dead People is basically a list of people buried in south Logan County, Illinois. Why there? With only a few exceptions this includes all of my ancestors back to the beginning of this country so I am particularly concentrated in this location. Unfortunately that made it more difficult to work on which is why I gave it the frivolous name. I am related to a lot of these people, was very close to some of them, knew many more of them. It's difficult to look at some of them as a name on a stone. Too many memories.

Now it is up and it is a great resource for those researching in south Logan County along with the Logan County ILGenWeb site which, if I do say so, contains many resources for researchers of the same area.

It's permanently a work in progress. If you have additions or corrections send them on.