Sunday, December 23, 2012
A common myth with family research is that the immigration officers purposely changed my families surname. This is a myth that needs to be broken. Remember when our family members entered the country they spoke with heavy accents and many were speaking a completely different language that that of the immigration officer. The immigration officers were reviewing hundreds of people every day. The goal was to take information quickly and accurately to process the new arrivals. Often errors occurred in the communication. Spelling errors were common. Language and accents played an important part in the mistakes. Immigrants often lacked the ability to read or write English when they came to this country. When the clerk showed them the information and asked if it was correct they would say Yes not realizing that an error had been made. This was by far the more common reason for the errors. This would even occur with English speaking people that did not know how to read. What would appear as simple names would sound correct to the ear, but be spelled wrong on the paper. As they worked there way into the fabric of our country the likely hood of the error's continuing was even more dramatic. The people our ancestors were coming in contact we in a lot of cases spoke and wrote English. It would take a while before our ancestors would if at all. This is a big reason why non English speaking immigrants located in the same communities with other folks that spoke the same language. Many of the non English speaking men would obtain jobs where communication was not their primary function, but using their muscles was. Mistakes were made from both parties. Confirming spellings with at least thee different sources is key. Listening to the stories of name origins are key. Name origins is one of the most difficult things to understand as genealogist. Keep track of all the various spellings. You will not know which was is correct until you have done a complete search.
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
The grand opening of the Abrams Foundation Historical Collection will be held on Saturday, January 5, 2013 at the Archives of Michigan in Lansing. There will be a small ceremony at 10:30a with welcoming remarks. Tours of the Archives will also be available throughout the day. January 5 also marks the first day of our new Saturday hours. Our new hours, effective 5 January 2013, are M-F 1p-5p and Sat 10a-4p. Researchers will now have weekend access to the terrific collections here at the Archives of Michigan. We hope to see you on the 5th!
Sunday, December 16, 2012
It is important when researching our families to understand as much about their surroundings as it is to know about the family. By understanding the circumstances that influenced their lives it allows us to better locate sources of information on our families. Failure to do this will prevent us from totally understanding the history of our families. Understanding the impact and creation of the Erie Canal to points west in the 1820's is critical to understanding why our families migrated in this time period when they did. The ability to not only travel at a much faster and safer pace was critical to the migration to the western half of New York and the Northern portions of Ohio in the 1820's. Another large factor was the granting of bounty lands to soldiers that served in the Revolutionary War in Ohio. Looking at the history of the local area is key to learning more about our families. Researching the families that lived around our families is critical in our own family search. This is out of the boundaries in most cases of researching our collateral lines, but can help tremendously to resolve brick walls in our own families. What do they do for a living? Where was the land located? Where did they come from? Our families did not travel alone and did not relocate in areas where they were not familiar with the people around them. Understanding the effects of government policies explains a lot on why our ancestors originally came to this country. Government military service, religious persecution and famine are just a few of the many items that caused our families to leave the old country and come to America. Researching the immigration of ethnic patterns will offer clues on how our families located here. Get your history cap on when you are researching your family. Each area that they lived in is a important research project. Understand why they lived where they did. The information is out there you have to research it.
Sunday, December 9, 2012
Understanding the history of a area while our ancestors live there is important in shedding light on the history of our families. Not doing our history research will prevent us from properly understanding our families lives. When researching ones families a thorough study should be done on the effect history both local and national plays on the decisions our families made in there lives. Despite what we think the events that were occurring around our ancestors effected the decisions that they were making just like they do our lives. Changes in geography played a important part in the migration patterns of our families. In the early stages of US history civilization clung to the coast line of the Atlantic. It was unusual for families to move into the wilderness areas around them due to the Indians and the limitations of the land. It would not be until the 1700's that people would start venturing away from the coast. Pressures from poor land and the common practice of passing the wealth to the first born played a major part in migration. The influx of immigrants started to put pressure on the lands limited resources and forced people to venture into the interior. After the Revolutionary War time period people started to look westward for new land. Early roads of travel were only wide spots in the wilderness. Travel was made difficult due to the unimproved nature of the trails. Migrating to the Ohio country from the East coast would take weeks. Travel was dangerous from the harsh conditions, wild animals and the fear of the native tribes. Water travel became the most common way for people to travel and helped ease the way. People would travel in groups to allow for a sense of security against the unknown that surrounded them on every side. With the opening of the Erie Canal in the 1820's now families could travel from the New England region to points west in day's as compared to weeks. Travel was eased so that more people would start their move. Identifying all the way stops for your family as they moved west will become more clear when you look at the primary routes that people traveled into the region your family would finally settle. Study your history. It will pay dividends on understanding why your family was making the decisions that they made. Identify the influences that may have effected your family. You will be glad you did.
Thursday, December 6, 2012
Sunday, December 2, 2012
One of the most common Probate documents that was often overlooked is the Guardianship files. If you had a male die with minor children living in the household the court even with out a will would create a guardianship for the care of the children. Guardianship were a common form of care that was administered to children when still minors in the event that the father passed away. The normal cut off age was eighteen. This was always done. This was the counties way to make sure that the children were being properly taken care of in the community. This would not happen in the event that the mother died. The perception was they had to be watched if a male was not in the picture. The courts would first establish the date of death for the deceased. They would make attempts to provide care for the children by another male family member or a trusted member of the community. Paying attention to this name is important, because you need to establish this persons relationship with the family prior to the death of the man. The court would detail the full names of the children along with the date of birth. The court would review the case each year until the child was no longer a minor. It is fascinating when reviewing a case file to see all the receipts for the purchases that were made for the care of the children. Reviews were done in the county of death when the children may have moved elsewhere. In a case I researched in Lima, Allen Co., Ohio the father passed in the county and left three minor children. The mother had proceeded him in death. Care for the children was done by family members back in Knox Co, Ohio. Records for there care can be found in both Allen and Knox counties. Provides a fascinating insight into the care of children during the 19th century. Review your male family members to determine if they still had minors in the household when they died. If this is the case make sure to consult the Guardianship records. Probate often does not tie the Will or Administration to the Guardianship. Information found in guardianship is a place that often Vital records are not being kept. Always review for these types of records.