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.