Thursday, March 30, 2017

Errors in Original Records and an Example of How to Deal With It...

As all seasoned Genealogists know, even original records are not completely infallible. Sometimes through human error mistakes are made, and while some are quite challenging to discover, some are not, if a person is willing to just simply study the document closely. This is the case with the 1900 Plymouth, Sheboygan, Wisconsin Census.

In researching my family roots, I discovered that I am distantly related, through marriage, to the Washington F. Wright family. It matters not to me that Washington is the “father-in-law of the nephew of the wife of my 3rd great-uncle, Thomas Barrington Casson”. What matters is that we are connected through our family history. So, that is why I am discussing the Wright family here, they are family.

Anywhoo…back to the subject at hand.

Here’s the background:

Washington F. Wright married Elizabeth Osstock on Feb. 28, 1878 in Sheboygan, Wis., (Wisconsin, Marriage Index, 1820-1907). They had four daughters; Mabel in 1879, Florence ‘Flora’ in 1881, Harriet ‘Hattie’ in 1886 and Fanny in 1890. Elizabeth died in 1898. Washington never remarried.

However, I’ve seen Washington listed in other Family Tree’s as having two wives, named Elizabeth and Flora. Also, the girls are often listed as Elizabeth being the mother of Mabel and Florence, and Flora being the mother of Hattie and Fanny. None of these are correct. And here’s why…

The original 1900 Census was incorrectly transcribed by the Enumerator for that district, a Mr. Carl Strune. As proof, I am including images of the original census. I’ve enlarged them. Let’s begin our discussion…

Under Name:
You can clearly see underneath the name Flora, is written the name Elizabeth. Obviously, someone came back and wrote ‘Flora’ over the original name, the ink is darker than the rest of the page.

Under Relationship:
The original entry is clearly written ‘daughter’. As in the name entry, the word ‘Wife’ was added at a later point. Again, the ink is much darker than the rest of the page.

Under Birth Date:
The original month and year are illegible, except for the first two numbers, 18. Clearly, again, the Enumerator wrote ‘June 1851’ over the top of it.

Under Age & Marital Status:
You can see that the original age was written over to read ’48’, and the letter ‘M’ was added later, in heavy ink. 

Under Years Married:
The number ‘22’ was obviously X’d out for both Washington and Elizabeth/Flora, then it was added back in, but only to Washington’s line. (22 years would place the marriage year at 1878, the same year that Washington married Elizabeth.)

Under Mother To & How Many Children Living:
Again, with that heavy black ink the numbers ‘2’ and ‘2’ were added at a later time, presumably with the rest of the additions. (Which explains why some Family Tree’s list Hattie and Fanny as Flora’s children.)

Under Birthplace:
The original place of birth was clearly written ‘New York’, which matches Elizabeth’s birthplace in the 1880 Census for Plymouth. And again, ‘Wisconsin’ was written over the top, which matches her daughter Flora’s birthplace.

Full Picture:

So we are left with the following questions…What happened? Why are there two sets of information for presumably the same person? What happened to their daughter, Florence?

Let’s answer them, shall we? Here’s what I think happened, based on the description above.

First off, let’s give poor old Washington Wright a break. His wife Elizabeth died just 2 years prior to the 1900 Census, and since he never remarried we can safely assume that he was still grieving. When he and his girls reported for the Census, and he was asked for his family information, I have no doubt that he answered as he had previously. Naturally, after his own information, he spoke about his wife, Elizabeth. Realizing his mistake, he corrected it, and told the Enumerator his daughter Flora’s name. For some reason, most likely to save space, the Enumerator wrote Flora’s name over the top of Elizabeth’s instead of crossing the wife out and placing the daughter on the next line, (which would have been the best option and saved future Genealogists the headache of trying to figure it out. Just saying…)

Because of this mistake I believe it created a bit of confusion, and the Enumerator ended up mixing the mother/daughter information. At some point, perhaps later that day, Mr. Strune, or someone else, came back to it and ‘fixed’ the entry, using a heavier black ink to rewrite his entries. As you can see from the full census page, theirs was not the only entry to be ‘fixed’ in this manner. Whatever happened, the end result turned a daughter (Flora) into a wife.

“But,” you’re probably asking, “how can you be so certain? What about Flora? What about Mabel, she wasn’t listed in the 1900 Census either?”

I’m glad you asked that!

As to Mabel, she married a man named John Sippel in 1897, and they were living in Neva, Langlade, Wis. in the year 1900, so she wouldn’t have been listed with the family. (she went by the name Belle)

As to Flora (Florence), she was still living with her dad and her two younger sisters, Hattie and Fanny. She didn’t marry her husband, Peter Faas, until the year 1903. This places her on the 1900 census, with the family, she would have been just about 19 years old.  (It’s not her fault that the guy writing down the information couldn’t get it right. In his defense, it was probably hectic and hard to keep all that information straight.)

So, there it is.

While we can’t be 100% positive about what happened, and why, based on the evidence contained in the original 1900 Census I am confidently secure in the simple fact that Washington Wright only had one wife, her name was Elizabeth, and they had a daughter named Flora.

The Lessons Learned…

Always double check the information contained in other people’s Family Tree’s against the original document, if you can. 

If you can’t get a hold of the original document, use as many other resources as you can to find the information. Google it, find biographies, and check out genealogy blogs. 

If that fails, be hesitant about adding the information to your own Tree until it can be confirmed, and be willing to change/correct the information in your Tree if you find out at a later date that the information is incorrect.

And most of all, remember that digging up those roots in your Family Tree can take time, but the thrill of making a new discovery is well worth the effort!

Happy Digging!

Monday, December 5, 2016

FamilySearch...the Pros and the Cons.

Hey there!

Can you believe it's already December??? It seems hard to imagine, doesn't it?

I just wanted to pop in here and let you know that I am still digging into my family history, but it's been I've been a little slow as far as getting things uploaded to the Blog.

Have you heard of

Today's post is exploring the world of Genealogy using the website,

I gotta say, this site is one of the best when it comes to digging up your family history! You get access to actual records and data without a fee...that's right, it's FREE! However, as it usually happens, there are some issues you need to be aware of. So let's get started...

The Pros

  1. First off, did I mention that Family Search is FREE! That's right, there is no cost to you. Simply register your FREE account, click on "Family Tree", type in your name, and you are all set to go!
  2. Access to thousands of real records, without a cost! And for those records that are offsite, FS will warn you before you click on that link, and even tell you if the site you are heading off to requires a subscription. But here's the great part, even if the record is stored on another site that requires money, it still provides you with a summary of what's contained in the record itself.
  3. Editing, updating, and maintaining your Family Tree is actually quite easy. There are tutorials, but I've found that most of the tools are pretty basic, and FS has a common sense approach to using their features.
  4. Being able to store your records in your Source Box! In your Source Box, you can create folders and organize to your hearts content, making this site truly a personal experience. You can find your Source Box in the drop down list attached to your name.
  5. Because this is a 'universal' tree system, other people adding to 'your' tree can help you find family members, dates, and other information that you were never aware of!
  6. Family Search can be used in conjunction with software, RootsMagic.

The Cons
  1. Family Search is a 'universal' tree...meaning, that your Family Tree is not private, and can be edited or altered by anyone, or everyone, whenever they want. Trust me, this is the one aspect of this site that I love and hate.
  2. Duplicates - Unfortunately most people are not as careful to take the time needed to research before they  "Add" someone to the tree. This results in duplicate profiles of the same exact person they just created. Instead of merging an existing person into 'their' Family Tree, they create a duplicate. This is why often you will see one person linked to 2, 3, or 6 identical spouses with a different child attached to each spouse. People just don't take the time to do it right the first time.

Despite the cons, I do use this site frequently, in fact, daily. It's one of my favorites, and the Pros, in my opinion, far outweigh the Cons.

Do you have any other insight, whether favorable or not, that you'd like to share about Family Search? Post them in the comments, I'd love to hear what you think!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Just a Little Update...and a Tip on How to Search!

Hi there!

It's been a bit since I last 'officially' updated the Blog, so I thought I would drop you a note to say that I am still here and working behind the scenes.

Currently I am in the midst of updating the Obituary sections, am working on the Fritchen family at the moment, for which I have many entries to log in.

Also, I am updating my Casson family tree line on FamilySearch, which is a bit time-consuming to unravel all the duplicates and misinformation there.

In regards to the Casson family...over on Ancestry they've opened up a new source for the records, "North America, Family Histories, 1500-2000". Since I am not currently a paying member of the site I am unable to view the actual records, which is a bit frustrating because I LOVE new record information!  However, I just wanted to share with you the simple fact that often you can work around such hindrances by simply doing a google search.

I used the the name of the publication, added the name of the person I was looking for, and searched Google. Happily, I managed to find the source for the source Ancestry opened up for this particular ancestor, and the best news is that it was totally FREE!

Once I've got it all organized I will list the source on the Source Page on the Blog, but I just wanted to give you the following Tip...

Use Google (or your favorite browser) to find free information! I type in just the name, sometimes the name with the source, I add dates and spouses or family members, or occupations...anything that might help narrow the searches. I don't use punctuation either.

Example:  obituary for donald fritchen in 1999

I have found obituaries, biographies, family links that I never would have found without doing a random search.  Sometimes the information for the exact family member doesn't come up, but it brings up family members that are related.

So, while this Search Tip isn't the most unique, and most of the more experienced genealogists are well aware of the power of doing browser searches, I hope that for those of us who are new to Genealogy this little bit of information will help.

See you soon!