Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Missouri Death Certificates Database Updated - New Images

The Missouri State Archives has added new images to its online Missouri death certificates database. Go to: Missouri Death Certificates Database 1910-1966

For more online Missouri death indexes see: Online Missouri Death Records, Indexes and Obituaries

This post was updated on 31 January 2018

Saturday, December 09, 2006

An Irish Christmas Tale

Christmas angel by Susan Ebertowski
Since it's the festive time of year I thought I would offer my blog readers a story about the upcoming holiday. Each year at Christmas time I send out a story instead of a Christmas card. You can read one of these online at...

To Hear the Angels Sing - a Dublin City Christmas Story

Enjoy the holiday season. -Joe

(illustration by Susan Ebertowski from the story)

Thursday, December 07, 2006

New Additions - Online Death Indexes

The following links were recently added to the Online Searchable Death Indexes and Records website...

- Archuleta County Mortality Schedule 1884-1885
- Ouray County Probate Index 1878-1919
- Teller County Inheritance Tax Record Index 1917-1936
- Teller County Will Records 1894-1971

- Gove County Cemeteries

- Jefferson County: Cave Hill Cemetery Burials - Louisville, Kentucky

- Bangor Maine Municipal Cemetery Interments (downloadable Word files) includes Pine Grove Cemetery, Oak Grove Cemetery & Maple Grove Cemetery

New York
- Albany County: Berne Historical Project - includes cemetery records
- Suffolk County: Mount Ararat Jewish Cemetery Burials (in Lindenhurst, New York)

- Lorain County: Amherst News-Times Obituaries Index (recent)
- Lorain County Probate Online Records Search 1990-present
- Stark County Probate Court Records Search

- Tennesse Death Index 1914-1918 (update: year 1918 added)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

New York Passenger Lists Online Database Updated: 1820-1957

Ancestry has updated their online New York ship passenger lists database. It now covers the years 1820-1957. The database includes a name index for the passengers as well as digitized images of the passenger lists from the National Archives microfilm. The Barge Office, Castle Garden and Ellis Island periods are included in the database. See: New York Passenger Lists Quick Guide 1820-1957 for a link to the database and basic NY ship passenger lists information.

For some information about finding passenger lists at other ports see: Finding Passenger Lists 1820-1940s - arrivals at US Ports

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Live Long and Prosper - How Symbols Influence Pop Culture

Cohen (Kohen) symbol - the Priestly BlessingThe Cemetery Symbols Blog has a recent post about the Jewish symbol of the Priestly Blessing, which can sometimes be found on tombstones of people with a priestly lineage. The Hebrew word for priest is Kohen (or Cohen). As a child, actor Leonard Nimoy saw the Priestly Blessing in a synagogue and later adapted it as the Vulcan hand greeting in the Star Trek television series. For more see: Kohanim or Cohanim Hands - Priestly Blessing at the cemetery symbols blog.

Monday, October 30, 2006

People Searching - Online Tools

Online Tools For Adoptees, Genealogists and Other Missing Persons Searchers

The directory of online people searching tools listed below has recently been updated. Included are telephone and address books, public records, vital records resources, and information about Area Codes, Zip Codes and the Social Security Death Index. You might find the directory helpful for locating old friends and family members, or for adoption related searches...

Finding Living and Recently Deceased People in the USA - Online Tools For Adoptees, Genealogists and Other Missing Persons Searchers

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Ancestry adds 1851 Census of Canada Index

Ancestry has added a name index and digitized images for the 1851 Census of Canada to its collection of online genealogy databases. The 1851 Canada census includes the areas of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Canada East (Lower Canada, or roughly Quebec), and Canada West (Upper Canada, or roughly Ontario). Not all of this census has survived. Some of this census was actually taken in 1852.

For links to the 1851 Canada census, and more online indexes for Canada census records see: Canada Census Records and Indexes

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

U.S. Population Now at 300 Million

Americans... today you are 1 of 300,000,000. The U.S. Census Bureau
has reported that the total population of the United States reached
300 million at about 7:46 (EDT) this morning. The U.S. reached the 200
million mark in 1967 and the 100 million mark in 1915. Presently in
the United States there is one birth every 7 seconds, one death every
13 seconds, and one international migrant is added every 31 seconds.
This adds one person to the U.S. population every 11 seconds. You can
see the Census Bureau's population clock at: U.S. Population Clock

What does it cost to count you?
This webpage lists what it cost the U.S. government to take the decennial federal census for each of the census years: The Cost of the US Census and Population Figures 1790-2000

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Autumn in the Cemetery

I thought I would add a bit of color to the blog today. What a beautiful time of year to wander through a cemetery...

Fairmount Cemetery in the Autumn by Joe Beine

Photo by Joe Beine, Fairmount Cemetery, Denver, Colorado, 1 October 2006 (click the image to see a larger view)

You might enjoy...
Cemeteries and Cemetery Symbols

Sunday, October 01, 2006

World War II Army Enlistment Records Database

If you have any ancestors or relatives who enlisted in the US Army during World War II, you might be able to find them listed in the Army Enlistment database provided by the National Archives (NARA). The original computer files for this database were created in 1994 by the Bureau of the Census at NARA's request. The Census Bureau used their "Film Optical Sensing Device for Input to Computers" (FOSDIC) system from a series of 1,586 microfilm rolls of computer punch cards. The original punch cards, which had basic information about enlistees when they entered the Army, were destroyed after being microfilmed in 1947. Unfortunately 212 microfilm rolls could not be converted to computer files because the card images were too dark. In 2002 NARA edited, merged and cleaned up these files, then later put them online. They can be searched from: Access to Archival Databases (AAD) Click on "World War II" when you get there.

Example of a World War II Army enlistment computer punch card
click the image to see a larger view

The Army Enlistment database contains 9,200,232 total records. You will find some errors in the database due to all the changes and editing the originals went through from punch card to microfilm to computer files. Also, about 1.5 million punch cards were not readable by the FOSDIC system from the original microfilm so the database is incomplete. NARA considers the database with its 9 million entries to be a "best guess" file. Note that the database is for United States Army enlistments, including the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC or WAC), and not other branches of the service. Despite the errors and omissions this is still a great tool for finding basic information about WWII Army enlistments.

The National Archives also has an excellent article about the creation of this database: The World War II Army Enlistment Records File and Access to Archival Databases

For more online WWII indexes see: Online World War II Indexes & Records

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Bob Marley in the Florida Death Index and a Look at His Roots

"When the root is strong, the fruit is sweet." -Katherine "YaYa" Malcolm (?-1956), Bob Marley's great grandmother

Acclaimed reggae musician Bob Marley can be found listed in Ancestry's online Florida death index - see: Online Florida Death Records Indexes and Obituaries. I've always found it a bit intriguing that a reggae legend, who lived most of his life in Jamaica and England, would be listed in an American genealogy database. Shortly before his death Bob Marley received treatment for cancer in Munich, but he wanted to live his final days in Jamaica. His flight home stopped in Miami where he received medical treatment. He died 40 hours after leaving Germany in Miami's Cedars of Lebanon Hospital. Here's the Florida death index listing...

Name: Robert Nosta Marley
Death Date: 11 May 1981
County of Death: Dade
Age at Death: 36
Race: Black
Birth Date: 6 Feb 1945

The middle name given in the death index contains a typo. The name should actually be Nesta - that's what Bob Marley was called as a child. The name Nesta, perhaps prophetically, means "messenger." Robert Nesta Marley was born in Nine Miles, St. Ann Parish, Jamaica on 6 February 1945, while the world was at war. His mother, Cedella Malcolm (now Booker), is descended from Jamaican slaves. She currently lives in Florida and turned 80 this year. Bob's Anglo-Jamaican father, "Captain" Norval Sinclair Marley (1881-1955), had little contact with his son. Norval and Cedella were married in 1944 when he was 63 and she was 18. Bob was their only child.

In the Time Will Tell video biography Bob was asked if he had prejudice against white people. His response: "I don't have prejudice against myself. My father was a white and my mother was black. Them call me half-caste or whatever. Me don't dip on nobody's side. Me don't dip on the black man's side nor the white man's side. Me dip on God's side, the one who create me and cause me to come from black and white."

Roots, Rock, Reggae
Bob's paternal grandparents were Robert Marley (1851-1885) and Ellen Bloomfield (1854-1952). His maternal grandparents were Omeriah Malcolm (c. 1880s-1964) and Alberta Willoughby (?-1935). Omeriah was a farmer, a "bush doctor," and one of the most respected residents of Nine Miles. According to Timothy White's book, Catch a Fire, Omeriah's father, Robert "Uncle Day" Malcolm, "was descended from the Cromanty slaves shipped to Jamaica from the Gold Coast (of Africa) in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries." Slavery was abolished in Jamaica in 1838.

Bob's mother moved from Jamaica to Wilmington, Delaware in 1962. Bob lived with her for part of 1966 and visited a few other times, doing odd jobs including one as a lab assistant for DuPont. He worked hard so he could save enough money to start his own record company. Before going to Delaware Bob had recorded solo and with his fellow Wailers, Bunny Livingston and Peter Tosh. He had also married Cuban born singer Alpharita "Rita" Anderson (b. 1946). When he returned to Jamaica he continued to pursue his musical career. Following a prolific series of Jamaican recordings and hits, the Wailers signed with Island records in 1972 and gained an international audience. Bob's landmark 1977 album Exodus was voted "album of the century" by Time Magazine in 1999.

"Won't you help to sing, these songs of freedom..."
In September, 1980 I visited New York City for the first time. I stayed at the Essex House Hotel at the southern end of Central Park. Bob Marley and the Wailers were staying at the same hotel. They were in town for a series of concerts with the Commodores at Madison Square Garden. I saw Bob and his entourage in the lobby one afternoon. Of course they looked a little different than the other hotel guests. Of course they all stood out. But Bob had a presence the others lacked. He was wearing a Rasta tam (knitted cap) over his dreadlocks. He was ill at this time, but I didn't know that then. His vibration, maybe dimmed by illness, still filled that lobby. Just standing in his presence you could feel it. He died less than eight months later. But his vibrations can still be felt in the music and spiritual philosophy he left behind.

Book: Catch a Fire - The Life of Bob Marley by Timothy White

Book: Before the Legend: The Rise of Bob Marley by Christopher John Farley

A family tree for Bob's father, Norval Marley, can be found online at: Norval Sinclair Marley Family Tree Chart

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Found: the Real Ellis Island Annie Moore

As some of you may know, the first person to be processed at New York's famous immigrant center, Ellis Island, was an Irish girl named Annie Moore. But what became of Annie Moore? Where did she live after arriving in the US? Did she marry? Have children? On July 17, 2006 Megan Smolenyak announced a genealogy contest to help find out. A $1000 reward was offered. In late August, Megan annouced that the contest was over. And on September 15, 2006 a press conference was held at the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society. The $1000 prize was split between two people, who will both donate the money to help buy a headstone for Annie Moore's presently unmarked grave in Queens, New York. For more see this Annie Moore Story in the New York Times (may require registration). And: Annie in the Echo.

Also check out Megan's blog post about her New York adventure - Annie Moore's Youngest Descendant.

Related Articles and Links
(This is an updated previous post.)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Recent Additions - Online Death Indexes

The following links were recently added to Online Searchable Death Indexes and Records ...

- Boulder County Cemeteries
- El Paso County: Pikes Peak NewsFinder - Colorado Springs Gazette Index 1872-2006 (includes obituaries)

- Porter County Obituaries and Death Notices Index, Pre-1900
- Wells County Cemetery Index, and Obituary index 1866-2000

- Neosho County: City of Chanute Cemetery Burials

Massachusetts Death Index 1841-1910 - gives year of death only (copies of death records may be ordered by mail for a fee)

- Christian County Cemeteries & Other Records
- Christian County Assorted Records - includes Chaffin Funeral Home Records 1917-1962 (PDF files)

- Montgomery County: Woodland Cemetery Burials - Dayton, Ohio - has over 101,000 entries

- Shelby County (includes Memphis) Death Records Search 1848-1955 -- "partial death records from 1848-1955" (includes some digitized images of the death certificates for the later years)

- Titus County Cemeteries

- Manitowoc County Cemeteries & Early Death Records
- Rock County: Janesville Gazette Death Index 1845-1889 - lists surnames only

Sunday, September 03, 2006

New Website about Cemeteries and their Symbols

A dreaded sunny day
So I meet you at the cemetry gates...

Have you ever wandered through an old cemetery and stumbled upon a mysterious symbol on a headstone? And wondered what it meant? If so you might enjoy visiting a new website I've been working on about cemeteries and their symbols. I designed it for genealogy sleuths, taphophiles and goths. (Feel free to look up "taphophile" and "goth" in Google.) You'll find the website filled with Freemasons, Templar Knights, Shriners, Rebekahs, Odd Fellows, Woodmen and lots of brooding angels...

Cemeteries and Cemetery Symbols

So we go inside and we gravely read the stones
All those people, all those lives
Where are they now?

I tend to visit cemeteries on cloudy days. I like the light - it's better for taking photographs - no shadows. And gray stones against the gray sky just look right to me. But Morrissey prefers the dreaded sunny day...

The lyrics quoted are from "Cemetry Gates" by the Smiths, written by Morrissey and Marr. If you recognized the lyrics you probably didn't need to look up "taphophile" and "goth." :)

Monday, August 28, 2006

Massachusetts Death Index 1841-1910 Now Online

The Massachusetts Archives has added a Massachusetts death index for the years 1841-1910 to their website. Each entry includes name, town or city, year, volume and page number. Note that only the year of death is given, not the date, but you can order copies of the death records from the archives.

Massachusetts Death Index 1841-1910

For more Massachusetts death indexes see: Online Massachusetts Death Records, Indexes and Obituaries

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Las Vegas Marriage Records Online Database

Do you know someone who was married in a drunken stupor by an Elvis look-alike? Or someone who ran off to Las Vegas and eloped? Well, the folks in Clark County, Nevada have an online marriage database where you can look up Las Vegas marriages. And it's even updated daily so you can stay current with your Las Vegas weddings curiosity: Clark County and Las Vegas, Nevada Marriage Records Index

A Hunka Hunka Burnin' Love - Celebrity Vegas Weddings
Remember on the TV show Friends how Ross and Rachel ran off to a Vegas chapel and got married in a (gasp!) drunken stupor? Ok, you won't find them in the database, cause they don't exist, but you can find Britney Spears listed. Yes, America's sweetheart got married for the first time in Las Vegas and then quickly had the marriage annulled. Oops, she did it again. Go ahead and look her up.

Here's a partial list of some other celebrity Las Vegas weddings: Demi Moore and Bruce Willis in 1987, Richard Gere and Cindy Crawford in 1991, W. Axl Rose and Erin Everly (daughter of Everly Brother Don) in 1990, Frank Sinatra and Mia Farrow in 1966, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward in 1958 - Paul and Joanne remained married until he died in 2008. Mickey Rooney got married in Las Vegas seven separate times (!) between 1944 and 1978, all at the same chapel. And don't forget Elvis - the real Elvis Presley married Priscilla Anne Beaulieu in 1967 at the Aladdin Hotel. No word on whether an Elvis look-alike serenaded them.

More Online Marriage Indexes
For a few more online marriage records indexes try this directory: Online Birth and Marriage Records Indexes for the USA

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Texas Death Index 1903-2000 (Updated)

Ancestry has recently updated their fee-based online Texas death index. Previously it covered the years 1964-1998. It now covers 1903-2000. For a list of links to online Texas death indexes (full state and by county), including obituaries and cemeteries, see: Online Texas Death Indexes, Cemeteries and Obituaries

Monday, August 14, 2006

Ports, Immigrants, and Passenger Records

Whether they arrived by ship from Europe, Asia or somewhere else, or whether they came across the Canadian or Mexican borders, our immigrant ancestors usually came to the USA through a port of entry. Beginning in 1820 (and much later for the land border ports) their names were usually recorded on some kind of record for that port. These records are sometimes called "ship manifests" or "passenger lists" or "immigration records" or "alien arrivals" or something similar. Many of these records or copies of them have survived and they are kept at the National Archives (over the years some have been lost or destroyed). Quite a few of them have been microfilmed and some of these microfilms have been digitized and put online.

Here are the twelve most popular ports used by immigrants to the United States from 1820-1920 based on number of immigrant arrivals...

  • New York, New York
  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • Baltimore, Maryland
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • New Orleans, Louisiana
  • San Francisco, California
  • Key West, Florida
  • Portland-Falmouth, Maine
  • Galveston, Texas
  • Passamaquoddy, Maine
  • New Bedford, Massachusetts
  • Providence, Rhode Island
But there are many more ports where immigrants arrived.

Four years ago I made a webpage that listed all the ports I could find that have published immigrant arrival records. The page has been updated several times. I've been spending the last three days updating the webpage again - I added more ports and updated others - because the National Archives continues to publish more records of immigrant arrivals at ports. And more continue to go online.

You won't find every port here, but you will find a lot of them. They're arranged alphabetically by state. Included are links to lists of microfilm or research guides or finding aids or online records or whatever I could find to help you find your ancestor's name in the records of that port.

U.S. Immigration Ports and Their Available Records or Passenger Lists 1820-1957

If you aren't sure where your ancestor arrived, you might find this guide helpful: Tips for Determining Your Ancestor's Port of Arrival

Monday, August 07, 2006

A Book About Cemetery Symbolism

Book Review: Stories in Stone - A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism and Iconography by Douglas Keister

Like many genealogists, I enjoy spending a lazy afternoon wandering through a cemetery, taking pictures or just looking around. I like the sense of meditative calm that you only get in cemeteries. And each grave marker has an interesting story carved in granite or marble or some other stone. Sometimes I come across a mysterious symbol engraved in a headstone or decorating a grave. These symbols almost seem like clues to add to the minimal information usually found on most gravestones. Two years ago author and photographer Douglas Keister published a book that discusses the meaning behind many of these cemetery symbols. He called it Stories in Stone.

Stories in Stone - A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism and Iconography by Douglas KeisterThe book is illustrated with numerous photographs and includes an alphabetical listing of acronyms and abbreviations of societies, clubs and organizations. A chapter on mortality symbols discusses everything from the skull and crossbones to the grim reaper. There are chapters on symbols of flora (plants), fauna (animals), and religions (Christian, Hebrew, Chinese and Japanese), including descriptions of different kinds of crosses. Angels, who seem to gather in cemeteries everywhere, get their own section called "Heavenly Messengers." I was especially impressed with the chapter devoted to secret societies and organizations such as the Masons/Freemasons, Woodmen of the World, Knights Templar, Knights of Columbus, Odd Fellows, Grand Army of the Republic, Shriners, and others. Each of these is illustrated with an example photograph.

The book is not only useful for helping to decipher some of the symbolism found in cemeteries, it's also just fun to look through. Recommended for genealogy sleuths and cemetery lovers. You might try your favorite local bookstore or a library.

For more information about Cemeteries and their symbolism see: Cemeteries and Cemetery Symbols

Thursday, August 03, 2006

New Orleans Ship Passenger Lists Database Updated

Ancestry's New Orleans passenger lists index has recently been updated to include the years 1820-1945. Previously it covered 1820-1850. The new database also includes digitized images of the passenger lists from National Archives microfilm publications M259 and T905. For more information see: New Orleans Passenger Lists, 1820-1945

For a fairly detailed guide to finding New Orleans passenger lists see: Finding New Orleans Passenger Lists

For information on finding passenger lists at other ports see: Ship Passenger Lists and Immigration Records

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Maria von Trapp in the Social Security Death Index

Maria von Trapp, Austrian-born matriarch of the famous singing von Trapp family of Sound of Music fame, passed away in Vermont in 1987, and she can be found listed in the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) ...

Birth: 26 Jan 1905
Death: Apr 1987
Last Residence: 05672 (Stowe, Lamoille, VT)
Last Benefit: (none specified)
Social Security Number: 009-32-2317
Issued: Vermont

Note that her surname lacks the "von" part and her death date is given as April 1987 without a specific day. Maria actually died on 28 March 1987 as can be seen in this listing from Ancestry's Vermont Death Index -- See: Vermont Death Indexes and Records ...

Name: Maria Augusta Von Tropp
Gender: Female
Death Date: 28 Mar 1987
Birth Location: Austria
Place of Death: Inpatient
Death Location: Morristown, Lamoille

You can view Maria von Trapp's death certificate online here from FamilySearch (requires free registration)

A typed index card of her husband's death record can be viewed here: Captain George von Trapp's death record from FamilySearch (requires free registration); Be sure to view the next image to see the back of the card.

While Maria died in a hopsital in Morristown, her death certificate shows her residence as Stowe, VT. Her usual occupation is given as "author" and her business or industry as "entertainment." The informant (person who supplied the information) was her son, Johannes von Trapp. Note the spelling of her surname in the index - Von Tropp) - it does look like Tropp, rather than Trapp, on the hand written death certificate.

When using the SSDI if you come upon a month and year only for the death date you can usually get the correct date from other sources such as the person's death certificate. Try the online death records directory for some online indexes and sources.

Also, when searching for surnames that contain more than one word you might try different variations like... Trapp, Vontrapp or von Trapp.

Photograph of Maria von Trapp of the Sound of Music fame, 1944.Maria von Trapp is buried in the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, Vermont, along with her husband, Georg Ritter von Trapp, who died on 30 May 1947, and Hedwig von Trapp (1917–1972), daughter of Georg and his first wife, Agathe. (The photo at left: Maria von Trapp, 1944.)

Georg and Agathe (Whitehead) von Trapp had seven children, all born in Austria: Rupert, Agathe, Maria, Werner, Hedwig, Johanna and Martina. Agathe von Trapp died in 1922 of scarlet fever. Georg and Maria (Kutschera) von Trapp, who married in 1927, had three children: Rosmarie, Eleonore, and Johannes. The first two were born in Austria. Johannes was born in Philadelphia while the von Trapps were visiting Pennsylvania on a singing tour. The family later settled in the United States.

Sound of Music Fun
In the Sound of Music movie, the real Maria von Trapp, along with one of her daughters and a granddaughter, did a "walk-on" and can be seen briefly in the "I Have Confidence" segment behind Julie Andrews.

More von Trapp Genealogy
For more information on genealogy records related to the von Trapp family see: Immigration Records for the Singing von Trapp Family

This article was updated on 18 April 2023.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Recently Added Naturalization Records Indexes

The following links were recently added to: Online Searchable Naturalization Indexes ...

- Jefferson County: Surname Index to Jefferson County, AL Naturalization Records 1887-1911 (includes Birmingham)

- Madera County Naturalization Records - has 20th Century (1907 and later) Declarations of Intent & Petitions for Citizenship (some gaps)

- Douglas County: Index of Declaration of Intention for Citizenship 1871-1938
- La Plata County: Durango Naturalization Records Indexes

- Cedar County Naturalization Records

New Jersey
- Atlantic County Immigration Index - Mostly Declarations of Intention - includes digitized images

New York
- Eastern District Court of New York Naturalization Project 1865-1956 (work in progress/not complete) indexes naturalization records of Eastern District NY Courts including Kings (Brooklyn), Queens, Richmond (Staten Island), Nassau & Suffolk Counties.

North Dakota
- Name Index to North Dakota Naturalization Records for federal courts - U.S. District and U.S. Circuit Courts, District of North Dakota

South Dakota
- Name Index to Naturalization Records from Dakota Territory and South Dakota... most listings are for federal courts

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Ellis Island? Castle Garden? Which One? And When?

This article was updated on 8 October 2020

From August 1855 to July 1924, millions of new arrivals to New York City went through an immigration processing center. The most famous New York immigration centers are Ellis Island and Castle Garden. The least famous is likely the Barge Office, which was used briefly just prior to the opening of Ellis Island in 1892, and again following a fire on Ellis Island in 1897. The Ellis Island fire broke out just after midnight on June 15, 1897, destroying the buildings there. After the fire, newly arriving immigrants were initially inspected on Manhattan piers, then the Barge Office was again put to use. In 1900, new buildings were completed on Ellis Island, and the immigration center was reopened there.

Here's a simple timeline for when New York's immigrant processing centers were operating:
  • Prior to August 1855 .... No central processing center
  • August 3, 1855 to April 18, 1890 .... Castle Garden
  • April 19, 1890 to December 31, 1891 .... The Barge Office
  • January 1, 1892 to June 14, 1897 .... Ellis Island
  • June 15-20, 1897 .... Immigrants inspected on Manhattan piers
  • June 21, 1897 to December 16, 1900 .... The Barge Office
  • December 17, 1900 to July 1, 1924 .... Ellis Island
On July 1, 1924 a new law went into effect which stated that immigrants were to be inspected at US consular offices in the immigrant's home country before coming to the US. Ellis Island continued to be used as an alien detention center until November 1954. The first person to be processed at Ellis Island in 1892 was a 17-year-old Irish girl, Annie Moore. The last Ellis Island detainee was a Norwegian merchant seaman named Arne Peterssen.

Four Ellis Island ImmigrantsThe Barge Office was located on the southeastern tip of Manhattan. Castle Garden, now called Castle Clinton National Monument, was located on a small island just off the southwestern tip. Later landfill has attached the island to Manhattan. Castle Clinton National Monument serves as a visitor information center for New York's National Parks and Monuments. You can also purchase tickets there for ferry trips to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.

The passenger ships to New York didn't actually land at Ellis Island -- they landed at Manhattan and the passengers were ferried over to the island for processing. Generally only steerage passengers went to Ellis Island for inspection. Most of the first and second class passengers were allowed to leave the ship soon after docking. All passengers, however, were (or should have been) listed on the ship manifest (or passenger list). However, from June 1897 to early 1903, New York passenger lists contain the names of steerage passengers only (with some exceptions). Most of the lists for first and second class (cabin class) passengers for that period are missing. After January 1903, (and from 1820 to June 1897), the lists should include all classes of passengers. (See Marian Smith's discussion on this topic at the Avotaynu link in the sources section below.)

The Ellis Island fire in the early morning of June 15, 1897 also destroyed some Ellis Island administrative records and the New York immigration passenger lists. However, separate New York customs passenger lists were kept elsewhere, and they have survived. So ship passenger lists for the early Ellis Island period (1892-June 1897) are available for research along with the rest of the New York passenger lists, beginning with 1820. These passenger records were later microfilmed by the National Archives (customs lists 1820-mid June, 1897), and the INS (immigration lists mid June, 1897-July 3, 1957), who gave the master copies to the National Archives. Over time many indexes and finding aids have been created to help locate individual immigrants on these lists. For information on finding New York passenger lists see...

Finding New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957

For help with other ports...

Thanks to INS/USCIS historian, Marian Smith, for her help with this article.

  • Castle Garden/Castle Clinton National Monument History from the National Park Service (https://www.nps.gov/cacl/learn/historyculture/)
  • Ellis Island Immigration from the National Park Service (https://www.nps.gov/elis/learn/historyculture/places_immigration.htm)
  • "Fire on Ellis Island," New York Times, June 15, 1897, page 1.
  • "Caring for Immigrants (New Arrangements in Consequence of Yesterday Morning's Fire at Ellis Island, Inspections on the Piers)," New York Times, June 16, 1897, page 1.
  • "The Immigration Service," The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 20 Jun 1897, page 7.
  • "Last Day of Castle Garden (Fun Begins at the Barge Office about Future Immigrants)," New York Evening World News, April 18, 1890, page 1.
  • Immigration Act of 1924: An Act to limit the immigration of aliens into the United States, and for other purposes, Library of Congress (https://www.loc.gov/law/help/statutes-at-large/68th-congress/session-1/c68s1ch190.pdf)
  • They Came in Ships by John P. Colletta, Ph.D., revised 3rd edition. Orem, Utah: Ancestry, 2002.
  • "Just How Were Passenger Manifests Created?" by Sallyann Sack-Pikus. April 1, 2009: Avotaynu.
  • 125th Anniversary of Annie Moore and Ellis Island by Megan Smolenyak (https://www.megansmolenyak.com/125th-anniversary-of-annie-moore-and-ellis-island/)

Monday, July 17, 2006

Annie Moore - Ellis Island's First Immigrant

New York's Ellis Island opened as an immigrant processing center on January 1, 1892. The first immigrant to be processed at Ellis Island was a 15-year-old Irish girl named Annie Moore. Her ship, the SS Nevada, arrived in New York from Liverpool, England and Queenstown (now Cobh), Ireland on December 31, 1891. Annie and her two siblings went to Ellis Island by ferry the next day.

You can see a scan of Annie Moore's passenger list (ship manifest) at FamilySearch (free with registration). Annie is passenger #2 on the list. Her siblings, Anthony and Phillip are passengers 3 and 4.

Annie Moore's Story in the New York Times The New York Times ran a story about the opening of Ellis Island and Annie Moore on January 2, 1892. You can read an excerpt from this article at: Annie Moore, First Ellis Island Immigrant - in the New York Times

Ellis Island? Castle Garden? Which One? And When? Here's an article about New York's three immigration centers: New York's Immigration Centers - Ellis Island, Castle Garden and the Barge Office

For more information on Annie Moore see: Found: the Real Ellis Island Annie Moore

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Civil War Pension & Service Records - Tips for Finding Them

This article was updated on 9 September 2018.

Civil War Service Records

For a guide to finding these records see:
Civil War Service Records Research Guide

To find a Civil War service record it is helpful to know the soldier's allegiance (Union or Confederate), and the regiment and state (example: 10th Missouri Infantry). You can usually find this information in the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System Online Database.

Civil War Pension Records

Most (but not all) Union soldiers or their widows (or other dependents) applied for and received a pension. Civil War pension records for Union soldiers are held by the National Archives, and can be ordered from them for a fee.

Confederate soldiers or their widows usually were only able to apply for a pension if the soldier was disabled or indigent (poverty-stricken). This varied by state. These records are usually held by a state archives (where the soldier was living at the time he applied for the pension) or similar repository.

For more information see: How to Find Civil War Pension Records & Indexes - Union & Confederate

Civil War Records and Indexes on the Internet

For online indexes to some Civil War service records, pension records, veterans census schedules, rosters of soldiers, and prisoners of war see: Online Civil War Indexes, Records & Rosters

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

New Additions - Online Death Indexes

The following links were recently added to Online Searchable Death Indexes and Records ...

- Placer County: Index to Deaths 1852-1885 from the Placer Herald Newspaper, Auburn, California

- African American Cemeteries and Obituaries - includes about 80,000 entries for Chattahoochee, Harris, Marion, Muscogee, Schley, and Sumter counties in Georgia and Russell County, Alabama

- Wayne County Cemeteries - scanned pages from the Wayne County, Kentucky Cemeteries book

- Jewish Cemetery Association of Massachusetts - Jewish Burials Search (55,000 entries)
- Plymouth County: Town of Middleboro Vital Records Index 1649-1945 (downloadable PDF files) also has cemetery listings and other records

- Isabella County: Chippewa River District Library Obituary Finder

- St. Louis: New Mt. Sinai Cemetery Jewish Burials 1850-Oct 2004 (downloadable PDF files)

New York
Monroe County...
- Rochester Public Library Life Records Database - indexes death notices from City of Rochester newspapers 1960-2006; also has birth & marriage notices
Queens County...
- Mount Hebron Jewish Cemetery Burials
- Mount Carmel Jewish Cemetery Burials
- Mount Zion Jewish Cemetery Burials

- Fayette County Genealogy Project (includes cemetery records - cemetery database has about 50,000 entries)
- Lawrence County: New Castle Public Library Marriage & Obituary Database

- Salt Lake County: Bingham City Cemetery Burials

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Book Review: The Source - A Guidebook to American Genealogy

You may not be aware that before Ancestry was a provider of online genealogy databases and family trees, they published genealogy books. In 2006 they updated one of their major reference works (and later put it online as a wiki -- see below). The Source - A Guidebook to American Genealogy (edited by Loretto Dennis Szucs and Sandra Hargreaves Luebking) is now available in a third edition. It has been expanded and revised to include both online and offline resources. The Source is essentially a guidebook through the vast maze of records created about people over time and place. We like to call these genealogy records.

The early chapters cover the basics of genealogy research, using offline records, and the Internet. Then there are separate chapters on the following types of genealogy records: businesses and other organizations, census records, church records, court records, city and other directories, immigration records, land records, military records, newspapers, and vital records. Special guides include: African American research, colonial English, colonial Spanish (for Arizona, California, Florida, Louisiana, New Mexico and Texas), Hispanic, Jewish American, Native American, and urban research (for finding lost people in large cities).

Descriptions of Two Chapters
Rather than try and cover this entire book - it's over 900 pages long - here's a brief look at two of the book's chapters...

Immigration Records... The chapter on immigration records has useful information about ship passenger lists, border crossings (from Canada), naturalization records, alien registrations and passports. This section was put together by some of the best experts in the field of immigration records, including Kory Meyerink and INS historian Marian Smith. Genealogy speaker and author Megan Smolenyak contributed a helpful four-and-a-half page guide to using the Ellis Island Database. And they even recommend a visit to my own online Guide to Passenger Lists on the Internet.

A section called "American Sources for Documenting Immigrants" suggests helpful places to look for records that document immigrants, some of which might name that all important place (village, town, city) where your immigrant ancestor came from. Knowing this can help you pursue further research in foreign records. A later section covers foreign sources that also might help determine immigrant origins.

Census Records... The chapter on census records discusses the importance of the census to genealogy research, and has tips for searching in census records online and off. Questions asked in each census are given for each census year, along with specific research tips. Two small sections offer "Suggestions for Microfilm Searches" and "Suggestions for Online Searches." There are also two helpful tables for dealing with census indexes - "frequently misread letters" and "phonetic substitutes." Microfilm and soundex are discussed for offline searching.

There is also a section on non-population schedules and special censuses, including mortality schedules, veterans schedules, state and local censuses, African American and Native American censuses, and others. A helpful table at the end of the chapter, "Potential Census Substitutes," offers suggestions for other types of records to look for.

This book is like having several specialized guides combined into one large work. You could build a fine genealogy reference library by starting here.

The Source: Book and Online Versions

Order a copy of the book from Amazon: The Source: A Guidebook Of American Genealogy

A digitized version of The Source can be found online at: The Source - A Guidebook to American Genealogy Wiki

Advertising Disclosure: The owner of this blog is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Veterans Affairs Adds to its Cemeteries Database

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has added 1.9 million burial listings to its cemeteries database. These are for military veterans buried in mostly private cemeteries, who have VA grave markers. The database already included more than 3 million graves in national cemeteries, bringing the total in the database to about 5 million graves.

VA has also added maps to show many of the grave locations for those buried in VA national cemeteries, in state veterans cemeteries, and Arlington National Cemetery. The Department of Veterans Affairs continues to add approximately 1,000 new records to the database every day.

The database is online at... Veterans Affairs Military Burials Locator

For more helpful military databases see... Online Military Indexes, Records and Rosters of Soldiers

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Paul McCartney at 64 - Liverpool and Irish Roots

"When I get older, losing my hair, many years from now..."

Beloved former Beatle, Sir Paul McCartney, is having a birthday today. He was born James Paul McCartney on June 18, 1942 in Liverpool, England.

Liverpool is one of Europe's most prominent ports. In the 19th Century millions of immigrants left from Liverpool to live in North America and other places. I personally have ancestors who left from Liverpool and arrived in Philadelphia in July, 1880. Liverpool is also where many Irish emigrants came after sailing across the Irish sea to England. John Lennon and Paul McCartney are both of Irish Liverpool stock.

In 1967 the Beatles recorded a little song called "When I'm Sixty-Four," which was written by Lennon & McCartney, but it's mostly Paul's composition. He actually based it on a melody he wrote back in Liverpool when he was sixteen. Now the maestro has made it to the magical age of his Sgt. Pepper song. Being age sixty-four must have seemed very far away in the Summer of Love.

"When I find myself in times of trouble, mother Mary comes to me. Speaking words of wisdom, let it be."

Paul's parents were James McCartney and Mary Patricia Mohin. Both are of Irish descent (Paul's maternal grandfather was born in Ireland). Paul's mother died when he was fourteen and Paul found solace in music, fueled by a newly acquired acoustic guitar. Paul wrote the song "Let it Be" in 1968 after having a dream about his mother.

"I read the news today, oh boy..."

Paul McCartney has been in the news quite a bit lately with all sorts of fuss being made over his separation from his second wife. But to me that's his personal family issue and really none of my business. I hope he sorts it all out and fares well. He has brought much inspiration and joy to many people.

"Birthday greetings, bottle of wine..."

"Of course, when [Beatles producer] George Martin was sixty-four I had to send him a bottle of wine." -Paul McCartney

Happy birthday, Sir Paul. May you live to be 164. And even if you don't make it quite that far, 100 years from now they'll still be talking about you and those other three lads from Liverpool. Cheers...

References and more information...
Paul McCartney - Many Years From Now by Barry Miles (book)

Irish Genealogy Guides and Resources

Finding Ship Passenger Lists 1820-1940s - Arrivals at US Ports from Europe

Friday, June 09, 2006

St. Louis Genealogy Records and Sources

This article was updated on 13 September 2020.

"Now you go through Saint Louie... Joplin, Missouri... and Oklahoma City looks mighty pretty..." (from "Route 66" by Bobby Troupe)

Photograph of the S.S. Admiral on the Mississippi River, St. Louis, MissouriSt. Louis is the home of Budweiser, the unbeatable St. Louis Cardinals, the Gateway Arch, and the S.S. Admiral (once upon a time a great way to take a cruise on the Mississippi, later a floating casino, now scrapped). And it's a hub on the fabled Route 66 from Chicago to LA.

Your host, the Genealogy Roots Blogger, was born in St. Louis. Here are some of my favorite online St. Louis genealogy sources that you might find helpful if you've got St. Louis ancestors.

Basic Online Guide
Here you can find links to online indexes and sources for military records, probate records, cemeteries, church records, ordering vital records, and more... St. Louis, Missouri Genealogy Resources

St. Louis Death Records
This webpage has more than thirty links to various online St. Louis death indexes, including St. Louis Post-Dispatch obituaries, Catholic, military and Jewish cemetery databases, and more... Online St. Louis, Missouri Death Records Indexes, Obituaries and Cemeteries

I've already blogged about this database, but here it is again... Missouri State Archives Death Certificate Database, 1910-1969

St. Louis Marriage Records and Marriage Licenses

Missouri Military Records
The Missouri State Archives has a searchable database where you might find some of your Missouri military ancestors: Missouri Soldiers Database: War of 1812 - World War I

For more military records see: Online Military Indexes and Records

St. Louis Naturalization Records
There are some great online indexes for St. Louis naturalizations, done in the federal court or local courts. For information on these see... Finding St. Louis Naturalization Records

To New Orleans and up the Mississippi - Finding Immigration Records
Some immigrants to Missouri (and other nearby states) arrived at the port of New Orleans and traveled by riverboat up the Mississippi River to St. Louis. This was more common prior to the Civil War. After the Civil War many train lines were built, making it easier to travel from the East Coast to inland cities. The New Orleans Passenger Lists Quick Guide is a helpful starting place for locating New Orleans passenger records. For help with other ports see: Finding Passenger Lists 1820-1940s

St. Louis Genealogical Society
St. Louis Genealogical Society Members get access to a collection of online databases, including a large collection of St. Louis cemetery burials, indexes to some St. Louis church records and more.

Two Libraries
Both the St. Louis City and County libraries have genealogy resources within their walls and on their websites.

Population Shifts from the City to the County
St. Louis City and County separated from each other on August 22, 1876. At this webpage you can see how the population of St. Louis has shifted from the City to the County over time: Population of St. Louis City & County, Missouri, 1820-2010

And... Our Beloved St. Louis Cardinals
St. Louis Cardinals Official Website

If you're just passing through, perhaps on your way from Chicago to L.A. on Route 66, be sure to stop at a Steak 'n Shake and order a Steakburger.

Happy Searching!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Searching for Death Records - A Brief Overview

Here's a brief guide to the kinds of genealogy records you might be able to find relating to a person's death in the United States.

Death Indexes and Records Online
For a directory of online death indexes (USA) see...
Online Death Records and Indexes

Death Certificates
Many states started recording and requiring death certificates in the early part of the 20th Century. Some states go back further.

Digitized copies of death certificates (or records) are available for online downloading for Arizona, Arkansas, California (Los Angeles and San Joaquin Counties), Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia. Coverage varies by place. For links to these see...

Online Death Certificates and Records

For information on ordering copies of death certificates at the state level see the "How to Order Copies of Vital Records" section at: Birth, Marriage and Death Records - Vital Records Research Guide

Newspaper Obituaries, Death Notices and Burial Permits
Obituaries can be helpful as they often give date and place of death and burial, and sometimes they name surviving and deceased relatives. In some cases you might find a death or burial notice instead of an obituary - these usually do not contain as much detail as an obituary. You will not always be able to find these kinds of newspaper listings for everyone who died. Local public libraries can be good sources for obtaining copies of obituaries. More recent obituaries can often be found online. For some tips see... Obituaries Research Guide

Cemeteries and Burial Indexes
If you don't know where someone is buried, death certificates often list place of burial. Some cemeteries have placed their burial indexes online, while others have been transcribed by volunteers.

Guide to Online Cemeteries and Burial Indexes

Probate Records and Wills
Wills and probate records can be helpful as they usually list a person's heirs - their spouse or children, or sometimes siblings or other relatives. Some counties now have recent probate indexes online. Try the death indexes directory or do a Google search for the particular county you are interested in. Some older probate records and wills can be found on digitized microfilm from FamilySearch. You might also be able to find probate records in the courthouse where the will was probated or a local or state archive or other repository if the records were moved there.

Social Security Death Index (SSDI)
Deaths reported to the Social Security Administration are listed in this useful index. It's available online at several websites and some of them update it each month. For a list of four online SSDIs (three of them are free to use) see...

The Social Security Death Index - Online Searching

Once you've found someone in the SSDI you can then order a copy of that person's Social Security SS-5 form - this is the form they filled out when applying for a Social Security Card, and it contains useful information about the person, usually including date and place of birth, and names of parents. (Names of parents may be redacted due to privacy restrictions.)

Census Mortality Schedules
Census mortality schedules are available for some states for 1850, 1860, 1870 or 1880. Basic details were recorded for people who died in the year prior to the census being taken. Be aware that some people who died in those time frames were missed, and these schedules are not available for all states. For more information see... U.S. Census Records Mortality Schedules 1850-1880

Happy Searching!
(article updated: October 2021)

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Ancestry adds some World War II Draft Registration Cards

Ancestry has put some digitized images of World War II Draft Registration Cards online, and they are indexed by name (this database requires a fee-based subscription). These draft cards are from the Fourth Registration, which was conducted on 27 April 1942 - this is the only registration currently available to the public. This registration was for men born 28 April 1877 to 16 February 1897 (and not already in the military). It is sometimes referred to as "the old man's registration." These WWII draft cards are presently available online at Ancestry for the following states... Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, DC, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, New York City, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

NOTE: the Fourth registration ("old man's registration") records for the following states were destroyed and are not available: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

For a list of links to free and fee-based World War II indexes and records, including Ancestry's fee-based WWII Draft Cards database, see: Online World War Two Indexes and Records - USA

For information on World War ONE draft cards see: World War One Draft Registration Cards 1917-1918

This article was updated on 2 March 2018.

Old New Jersey Marriage Indexes

The New Jersey State Archives has put two marriage records indexes online. They cover 1666-1799 and May 1848 through 31 May 1867. You can find them at... New Jersey State Archives - Searchable Databases

Some more online marriage records indexes can be found listed in this directory... Online Birth and Marriage Records Indexes

Friday, May 19, 2006

Immigration Records for the Singing von Trapp Family

"How do you solve a problem like Maria? How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?"

Over on the National Archives website you can find some reproductions of immigration records relating to Austria's famous von Trapp family who inspired the musical, the Sound of Music.

Photograph of Maria von Trapp from her naturalization record, 1944.The photograph at left is of Maria von Trapp, the matriarch of the singing family, taken from her "declaration of intention" to become a citizen in 1944. She was played by Julie Andrews in the beloved film. You can find more von Trapp family photographs, along with naturalization records and passenger lists at... Movie vs. Reality: The Real Story of the Von Trapp Family

For more von Trapp family genealogy see: Maria von Trapp in the Social Security Death Index

For help finding immigration records for your ancestors see...
Finding Passenger Lists 1820-1940s (for arrivals at U.S. Ports)

Finding U.S. Naturalization Records

And if you don't know what a "declaration of intention" is click on over to... Types of U.S. Naturalization Records

Monday, May 15, 2006

Passports of Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio

"Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio? Our Nation turns its lonely eyes to you..."

I'm sensing a new trend. Buddy Holly's passport was recently sold at auction. And now a sports memorabilia company has put passports for Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio up for auction. Marilyn Monroe's dates from 1954 and was issued to "Norma Jean DiMaggio known as Marilyn Monroe."

I'm no expert on memorabilia or auctions, but as a genealogist I like looking at old records and things like passports. You can have a look at these two famous passports at...

Joe DiMaggio's Passport - Auction Listing

Marilyn Monroe's Passport - Auction Listing

For information on obtaining passport records see the Passport Application Records section on the Finding Naturalization Records webpage.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Boulder's Jane Doe - A Colorado Mystery

This article was updated on December 12, 2014.

I drove up to Boulder this afternoon to visit Columbia Cemetery, where I met with Mary Reilly-McNellan, who is the Project Manager for Columbia Cemetery Preservation. I had emailed her last week to ask if I could photograph Jane Doe's grave marker, which has been put away for safekeeping. Mary showed me where Jane's grave marker was locked away and I took a couple of pictures. The grave marker is no longer on the grave because the cemetery's keepers are afraid of vandalism - the cemetery was badly vandalized earlier this year. And Jane Doe is well known in Boulder for being a mystery.

Grave marker of Boulder's Jane DoeIn April 1954 a young woman's body was found by hikers in Boulder Canyon below Boulder Falls. She was thought to be between 17 and 20-years-old. Despite many leads and tips, the Boulder County Sheriff's Department was never able to identify the body or find the killer. Boulderites contributed funds to pay for a burial plot, Howe Mortuary provided a casket, and a grave marker was donated by the Boulder Marble and Granite Works.

In 2004 Jane's body was exhumed. A DNA sample was obtained and her face was reconstructed. Numerous newspaper articles have been written about her and a website has been set up. In March of 2006, the Rocky Mountain News reported a theory by Boulder County Sheriff's Detective Steve Ainsworth that Jane Doe may have been murdered by serial killer Harvey Glatman, who was executed in 1959. An episode of TV's America's Most Wanted with a segment on Boulder's Jane Doe aired on July 8, 2006. This was the first time the reconstruction of Jane Doe's face was shown on national television. Fifty-two years after her death, her identity remains a mystery. However...

Update (November 5, 2009): From DNA, the Boulder County sheriff has identified Boulder Jane Doe as Dorothy Gay Howard. See: Mystery solved: Boulder sheriff IDs 'Jane Doe' as Dorothy Gay Howard

Photograph of Jane Doe's grave in Columbia Cemetery, Boulder, ColoradoHere is Jane Doe's grave in Columbia Cemetery with its missing marker (as it looked in 2006). Note the single rose someone has left on the marking post. (Click on either photo for a larger view.)

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Cemeteries and Cemetery Symbols

I like spending time in cemeteries because they're usually quiet and they're filled with all sorts of interesting things. I find it oddly comforting seeing all those rows of silent grave markers, each with a story behind it. I occasionally take photographs in cemeteries of things I like. In late April I purchased a new digital camera and I started a photoblog, which is pretty much a photo album, but online. A few cemetery pictures have already made it into the photoblog, which you can see here... Fair Angels Photoblog

Photograph of Symbol from Fairmount Cemetery, Denver, ColoradoI also like deciphering and learning about the symbols that can be found on some grave markers. I have a book called Stories in Stone - A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism and Iconography that explains the meaning of some of these symbols. In late April I visited Denver's Fairmount Cemetery and I photographed an angel sculpture that had an unusual symbol above it. I haven't been able to determine the meaning behind this symbol. If anyone knows what it means feel free to leave a comment. Just click on the comments link right beneath this post. Thank you.

Update: this symbol turned out to be a monogram with the initials FDW, which stand for Frederick Dearborn Wight (1837-1911), who is one of the family members buried in the plot. Thanks to all who contributed suggestions.

For more information about symbols found on grave markers see: Cemeteries and Cemetery Symbols

Monday, May 08, 2006

Last American Survivor of the Titanic Dies

Lillian Asplund, the last American survivor of the 1912 Titanic sinking, died on May 6, 2006 at age 99. She was five-years-old when she boarded the Titanic, and was the last survivor to remember the events. Two other survivors, both British, are still living.* Both were infants at the time of the Titanic. You can read more here... Titanic Survivor Lillian Asplund Dies - Obituary

For information on Titanic passenger records see the New York section at... What Passenger Lists are Online?

Here is Lillian Asplund's listing in the Social Security Death Index ...

Birth: 21 Oct 1906
Death: 06 May 2006 (V)
Last Residence: 01545 (Shrewsbury, Worcester, MA)
Last Benefit: (none specified)
SSN: 027-09-5906
Issued: Massachusetts

*Update: Titanic survivor, Barbara West Dainton of Camborne, England, passed away on October 16, 2007 at the age of 96. The last Titanic survivor, Millvina Dean of Southampton, England, who was a two-month-old baby at the time of the Titanic tragedy, passed away on May 31, 2009 at the age of 97. See: Millvina Dean, Last Survivor of the Titanic, Dies

Thursday, May 04, 2006

New Additions - Online Birth and Marriage Indexes

The following links were recently added to Online Birth and Marriage Records Indexes ...

- Shasta County Marriage Records Index 1854-1930

- La Plata County Marriage Records Index from 6/19/1877 through 7/2/1959

- Colorado Historical Records Index - includes...
-- Boulder County Birth Index 1892-1906
-- Denver (City) Birth Index 1875-1906
-- Elbert County Birth Index 1869-1906
-- Kit Carson County Birth Report Register 1892-1907

- Brevard County, Florida Marriage License Application Inquiry 1999-current - also includes historical marriage records 1938-1998

- Indiana Marriage Index 1993-2000

- Fayette County Kentucky Birth Index 1911-1930

- Caddo Parish Marriage Index 1937-present

- Howard County, Maryland Marriage Licenses 1860-1939

- Minnesota Birth Certificate Index 1900-1911 (updated)

New York...
- New York City Brides Index - various years (ongoing project)

North Dakota...
- Grand Forks County Marriage License Search, November 1875 - June 1914

- Multnomah County Marriage Records Index 1850s-1904

- Early Vermont Marriages from Berlin, Burlington & Montpelier

West Virginia...
- West Virginia Vital Records Indexes - includes birth indexes for 3 counties & marriage indexes for 6 counties; more are being added

- Wisconsin Pre-1907 Vital Records Index -- covers 1852 to September 30, 1907 (most entries date from 1880; includes some entries prior to 1852)
- Milwaukee County Marriage Records 1822-1876

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Pre-1907 Wisconsin Marriage Index

The Wisconsin Historical Society has updated their pre-1907 vital records index to include marriage records. Birth and death records were already included. While the index covers 1852-Sept. 30, 1907, most entries date from 1880. You may find a few entries prior to 1852. You can purchase copies of the records for a fee.

Wisconsin Pre-1907 Vital Records Index

Also helpful...
Online Wisconsin Death Records, Indexes, Obituaries and Cemetery Burials

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Ancestry Expands Their Florida Death Index

Ancestry has expanded their Florida death index to include more years. The index now covers 1877-1998 (previous coverage was from 1936-1998). Note that the entries prior to 1917 are spotty. You must be an Ancestry subscriber to get full results when using the database. See...

Online Florida Death Records and Indexes

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Buddy Holly's Passport

Buddy Holly's passport was recently offered for auction by his widow, Maria Elena Holly, and it sold for $26,290.00 (whoa!). If you want to see what a nearly 50-year-old passport looks like, or if you're a Buddy Holly fan, the auction house has some nifty scans on their website.

Buddy Holly's Passport at Heritage Auction Galleries
(scroll down on that page to the Buddy Holly Passport link)

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Looking Around at Genealogy Blogs

Since starting this blog I decided to look around the "blogosphere" (yeah, that's what it's called) at some other genealogy-related blogs. When I come across a blog I find interesting or useful I'll occasionally tell you about it here. I'm going to start today with "Megan's Roots World."

Megan Smolenyak is a genealogy lecturer and writer. Her specialties are tracing families of servicemen killed or missing in Korea, World War II and Vietnam, and exploring genealogy and DNA. But she also writes and speaks about a variety of topics to help further your research. Like mine, her blog is a relatively new. You can see what she and her cool contributors are up to at... Megan's Roots World

More genealogy blogs I like can be found in my Mini Directory of Cool Genealogy Blogs

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Online Canadian Census Records

Here you can find a nifty directory of some major online census indexes for Canada - some of them are free to use...

Online Canada Census Records

You will also find links to some online city directories for Canada there.

Friday, April 21, 2006

New Additions - Online Death Indexes

The following links were recently added to Online Searchable Death Indexes & Records ...

- Denver Death Index 1870-1905
- El Paso County: Evergreen & Fairview Cemeteries Burial Search - Colorado Springs

- Marion County: Indianapolis Commercial Newspaper Death Index 1925-1945 -- 40,000 entries (not a complete death index for this time frame)

- Kenton County Death Records 1852-1880 (incomplete) - also includes many other records for Kenton County & Northern Kentucky

- Missouri Death Certificates Index 1910-1955

- 1850 St. Louis County Mortality Schedule Index (June 1, 1849-May 31, 1850)
- St. Louis County Will Book Index 1875-1889 (does not include St. Louis City)
- Deaths of St. Louis Police Officers 1861-1899

- Harrison County Cemeteries
- Mercer County Cemeteries

New York
- Brooklyn: Canarsie Cemetery Burials

- Allegheny County: St. Clair Cemetery Burials (Mt. Lebanon, PA)
- Butler Area Public Library Online Obituary Database 1818-2000
- Cumberland County Cemeteries
- Lackawanna County Will Indexes 1878-1927

- Pennsylvania Necrology Scrapbook -- searchable digitized scrapbooks (from microfilm) of obituaries clipped from Pennsylvania newspapers from 16 October 1891 to 3 March 1904 - includes many Civil War veterans

- Hamilton County Cemeteries Thru 1937 (WPA)

- Rockbridge County Cemeteries

- Clark County Cemeteries
- Ferry County Register of Deaths 1899-1911
- Spokane County Death Returns 1888-1907

- Wisconsin Death Index Pre-1907 -- has entries from 1852 to September 30, 1907 (also includes birth records)

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Missouri Death Index 1910-1955 Now Online

Hello All,
The Missouri State Archives now has an online death index for 1910-1955...


They also have digitized death certificates 1910-1920 (so far), and put these online as well.

For more Missouri death indexes see...

Online Missouri Death Indexes, Records and Obituaries