Ruth's Genealogy

“And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.”

This WordPress.com blog is now a WordPress.org blog!

Yes, I took the rather inexpensive leap to a self-hosted WordPress site and also set up my genealogy database online using The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding (TNG) program created by Darrin Lythgoe.

I’d love to have you stop by!

Ruth’s Genealogy Blog

Ruth’s Genealogy TNG database

Please excuse the unpacked boxes, un-hung curtains and un-eaten McDonalds Happy Meals (too much fun playing with the toys!) scattered about. Not quite settled in just yet! :)

HatLStanley1I was watching TV on Monday afternoon, enjoying another re-run of MASH, when a text alert flashed across my phone: Robin Williams had died. How sad, I thought. He wasn’t that old, way he? A heart attack, or maybe an accident. Yes, sad.

But as I was sending a text message about Robin Williams to my daughter at work, another alert appeared. I saw only one word on it… and I sat up straight on the couch and stared, simply stared at the screen with my mouth open.

How could this have possibly happened? I have been a fan since Mork & Mindy. And not only was Robin Williams a hysterically, incredibly, amazingly funny man, but he loved to laugh. He always seemed to enjoy his own humor as much as we did. He was always so happy. I just couldn’t believe, couldn’t grasp what I was reading and seeing.

The press conference the next day brought me to tears. This poor man was so desperate; he must have felt so totally and completely alone. Absolutely heartbreaking.

Robin Williams and my great-aunt Hattie Lee Stanley never met. I’m pretty sure of that. Robin was born in Chicago and lived most of his life in California. Hattie was born in Texas and lived most of her life here. Robin was in high school in California when Hattie died in New York.

No, they never met.

But they shared one decision, one act, one consequence.

My Aunt Hattie Lee Stanley also killed herself.

I have a vague memory of being in my grandparent’s living room that night in 1966. My older brothers and younger cousins and I were all playing while the adults spoke in tears and hushed tones. We kids were told simply that Aunt Hattie had died. I was 8 years old.

I barely remember Aunt Hattie. I remember going to visit her at her house in Fort Worth. That’s about it. I don’t recall if she was cheerful and carefree or dark and unhappy. 

So I really don’t know what could have been going on with her, what left her feeling like she had no options, no alternatives. 

I only know what she did. And I know how my great-grandmother cried.

Families have secrets. Things they don’t talk about.

We as genealogists spend our days picking our ancestors’ lives apart, trying to learn every detail. Where did they live? Where did they work? Who did they love? How did they die?

But can we ever know what they were thinking?

My Aunt Hattie has been gone 48 years, Robin Williams just a few days. I hurt for them both.

∗∗∗

If you or someone you know is struggling, help is out there:

*National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

*American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

*Suicide and Crisis Center of North Texas 24-hr crisis hotline: (214) 828-1000

This Genealogy On A Budget series presents links to free online genealogy databases, software and other items.

***

Do you have ancestors from Georgia? If so, there is a massive amount of original documents just waiting to be found at Georgia’s Virtual Vault:

This is your portal to some of Georgia’s most important historical documents, from 1733 to the present. The Virtual Vault provides virtual access to historic Georgia manuscripts, photographs, maps, and government records housed in the state archives.

Collections include:

A couple of documents that I have found recently include the marriage license for my second great-grandparents Harrison Wardlow McBurnett and Margaret C Brown, from 2 Dec 1875,

HarrisonWMcBurnett (9)and the Confederate Pension Application (a total of 18 pages) of my second great-granduncle James McBurnett from 1897.

James McBurnett Confederate Pension

“Sirs, you have no reason to be ashamed of your Confederate dead; see to it they have no reason to be ashamed of you.”
Robert Lewis Dabney, Chaplain for Stonewall Jackson

 

 

This Genealogy On A Budget series presents links to free online genealogy databases.

***

Do you have ancestors from Georgia? If so, there is a massive amount of original documents just waiting to be found at Georgia’s Virtual Vault:

This is your portal to some of Georgia’s most important historical documents, from 1733 to the present. The Virtual Vault provides virtual access to historic Georgia manuscripts, photographs, maps, and government records housed in the state archives.

Collections include:

A couple of documents that I have found recently include the marriage license for my second great-grandparents Harrison Wardlow McBurnett and Margaret C Brown, from 2 Dec 1875,

HarrisonWMcBurnett (9)and the Confederate Pension Application (a total of 18 pages) of my second great-granduncle James McBurnett from 1897.

James McBurnett Confederate Pension

“Sirs, you have no reason to be ashamed of your Confederate dead; see to it they have no reason to be ashamed of you.”
Robert Lewis Dabney, Chaplain for Stonewall Jackson

 

 

Need a census page but don’t have a subscription to Ancestry.com or other pay site? It’s 1 am and the library is closed?

The Internet Archive has the entire 1790-1930 US Census set, available for free. But there is no index to help you find the page you want.

So, how can you quickly and rather painlessly find the page you want? This is my method:

1) I want to find the 1910 census page for my 2nd great-grandfather, Miles F Stanley, so I go to FamilySearch.org and the 1910 US Census collection:

FamilySearch.org>Search>Records>Click on US map>United States>United States Census, 1910

2) I locate 2GGF Stanley using the Search function

3) I go to 2GGF Stanley’s search results page:

MFS IA 1

4) I then scroll to the bottom of the page to “Citing this Record”:

MFS IA 2

Here I note the state, county, enumeration district and page number, as I will use these to find 2GGF Stanley!

5) Next stop is  the Internet Archives United States Census page, where I scroll down to and click on the 13th Population Census of the United States-1910 link:

MFS IA 3

6) I click on the Texas link:

MFS IA 4

7) And locate and click on the link for Palo Pinto County :

MFS IA 5

8) At the bottom of the page, I use the little hand to scroll through the pages, looking for the Enumeration District, then Page Number (usually in numerical order, sort of). I tend to scan by 1/2 to 1 inch increments across the slider to find the ED, then search page-by-page (I prefer Full Screen, Single Page to view the images):

MFS IA 6

And here is my 2nd great-grandfather, Miles F Stanley, located in ED 191, on Line 1 of Sheet 17a:

MFS IA 7

I simply right-click my mouse, select Save Image As…, save the page to 2GGF Stanley’s file, and now I have that census page, for FREE!

This entire process took less than 5 minutes.

 

This Genealogy On A Budget series presents links to free online genealogy databases.

***

The Portal to Texas History is a wonderful resource for researchers studying Texas ancestors:

The Portal is a gateway to Texas history materials. You may discover anything from an ancestor’s picture to a rare historical map. From prehistory to the present day, you can explore unique collections from Texas libraries, museums, archives, historical societies, genealogical societies, and private family collections. The Portal continues to grow as additional partners contribute digital versions of their collections. We hope you’ll return often to discover our latest additions.

Portal to Texas History

This is a vast site, so be prepared to spend some time just looking around and getting the “feel” of the place. The search function is a bit difficult to master, but be patient. There is a wealth of genealogical data to be mined at The Portal to Texas History.

Some of my findings include 1909 and 1920 city directory pages listing my 2nd great-grandfather Miles Francis Stanley I and numerous 1800’s newspaper articles mentioning my 4th great-grandfather John Hamilton.

 

 

This Genealogy On A Budget series presents links to free online genealogy databases.

***

An ancestor’s census enumeration sheet is probably one of the very first documents a budding genealogist learns to look for. The United States Federal Census had been recorded every 10 years since 1790. These records have been carefully stored by the National Archives and Records Administration and are available for free to researchers through the 1940 edition, with the exception of the 1890 census, the majority of which was destroyed by fire.

There is, however, a catch. The records are available for free, but if you want access to online indexes and a search function so that you may more easily find your 4th great-grandfather, then you might have to pay to view these documents.

Ancestry.com has the complete set, 1790-1940 (only a very few of the 1890 records survive), with the 1880 and 1940 records available for free at this time. To see the rest, you must have a subscription.

FamilySearch.org also has the complete set, but only the actual images for the years 1850, 1870, 1900 and 1940. For the other years, the data is available and searchable, but you have to hope that whoever transcribed them was correct, as you can’t view the documents themselves.

There is a third alternative, and it is the Internet Archive.

The record of the population census from 1790 to 1930. Scanned from microfilm from the collections of the Allen County Public Library and originally from the United States National Archives Record Administration.

The Internet Archive United States Census complete set 1790-1930 is available to view and download for free, but there is no index or ability to search.

But, if you know where to look, the images are there!

FamilySearch.org can provide you with the location (state, county, enumeration district, page number), which you can then use to find the sheet you want in Internet Archive’s census collection.

Here is an example. I have an image of the 1910 census sheet for my great-grandfather, William Earl Hall. I downloaded it from HeritageQuest many years ago. But, as you can see, it’s not a very clear image.

WilEHall 1910FC

So tonight, armed with the state, county, ED and page number of that document (information which I knew from my old image, but which is also available from FamilySearch.org), I went to the Internet Archive US Census collection and within about 10-15 minutes was able to locate and download my great-grandfather’s 1910 sheet.

13thcensus1910po1542unit_0141

And the second image is actually of a much better quality than the first.

For free!

My great-grandfather William Earl Hall is one of my brick walls. I have 3, and only 3 confirmed pieces of evidence that document his life: his marriage license from Indian Territory, (now Oklahoma) in 1906, a newspaper article discussing said marriage (my great-grandmother was under-age at the time and lied about it! Oh, the scandal!), and his entry in the 1910 US Census from Gainesville, Texas. After than, he has vanished. The family lore goes that he died in some sort of railroad accident (he did work for the railroad.) Since my great-grandmother remarried in 1913, I can assume he died between 1910 and 1913. And that’s about all I know for sure.

According to the 1910 census, William was born in Kansas, about 1887. So I did a general search of the 1900 census, looking for a William Hall, born ca 1887 in Kansas. Lots of William Hills popped up, of course. But the one who seemed most promising, mainly because of his location, was William Hall living on Cherokee Nation land in Indian Territory, now Oklahoma.

Now comes the “tricky” part. This census image shows William at the top of what looks to be page 22A. He is listed as “son”, with 6 siblings and parents from Iowa and Indiana. Wouldn’t you think that his parents would be found at the bottom of the previous image, page 21B?

William Earl Hall 1900 US Census

Not so!

Here is the previous page (labeled as 19B), no Halls to be seen!

William Earl Hall (previous page)

But if you move on the page after William:

William Earl Hall, Sr

Here, at the bottom of the page (labeled as 20B), are William and Minnie Hall, from Iowa and Indiana, with 6 kids (the group of six children showing William, Jr as the oldest child on the previous page.)

Hummmmmmmmmmm…

So what you see on a census page is not always 100% true and correct? Oh, myyy….

This Genealogy On A Budget series presents links to free online genealogy databases.

***

If you have ancestors from the Republic of Texas, before it became the 28th state to join the Union in 1845, then you might want to check out the Texas General Land Office Land Grant Database:

The Land Office Archives contains documents issued by the new Republic of Texas after winning independence from Mexico in 1836. Some of the most popular documents in the Archive relate to the land grant certificates issued to Texians who rendered military service in battle during the Texas Revolution, including William B. Travis, David Crockett and Sam Houston.

After annexation by the United States in 1845, Texas retained control of its public domain, unlike other western states, and continued to distribute its land. Prior to 1900, Texas was a cash poor state, and used land to secure and pay off debt, reward veterans, encourage economic development, finance public education and even in building the State Capitol.

I have one such ancestor: my 4th great-grandfather, John Hamilton, Jr, born in Ohio about 1810 and “arrived in this Republic in April 1836 as a Vol and has served a tour of duty in The Army of Texas…”

This document, dated 2 Apr 1838, notes John Hamilton’s arrival in Texas, his service with the Army of Texas, his subsequent entitlement of land… even his marital status.

148390_01

Priceless!

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