Monday, December 24, 2007

Saturday, November 17, 2007

A Small Collection of Online Genealogy Records

Over the last few years my various websites have accumulated a messy pile of transcribed genealogy records :) Most of these are ship passenger lists, but there are one or two other records as well. Many of the names are German and Irish, but other nationalities are also included. Even though these transcriptions are scattered around the web in a seemingly haphazard way -- there really is a method behind all of it I think, or I thought there was at the time :) -- you can search all of them from one place. Right here:

Search Some Cool, Obscure, Weird Genealogy Records and Passenger Lists

You can search by name, surname, keyword or name of ship. You can also search by topic - for example typing in naturalization records will return a list of webpages with information about how to find naturalization records. Try typing in census records or death records, that sort of thing.

Here's a list of many of the transcribed records included in the search:

About 150 New Orleans passenger lists - most from the 1840s (2 from the 1850s)

Some Baltimore passenger lists (and lists of ships to Baltimore) - from the 1830s

14 New York passenger lists - from the period 1820-1867

List of Passenger Ships from Ireland to America 1732-1749 (a few have names of passengers)

Antelope and Welcome reconstructed passenger lists (of William Penn's Fleet)

23 Pennsylvania German Pioneers Passenger Lists - from the period 1736-1807

List of Palatines from Germany to England in 1709 (most went on to America)

Passenger Arrivals in the US in the 4th Quarter of 1819

Passengers to Norfolk and Portsmouth, Virginia in 1823

Assorted Passengers to Savannah, Georgia 1866-1867

Some German Passengers Missed by Germans to America

Arizona World War One Alien Registration Index (partial)

Assorted Putzig, West Prussia Genealogy Records 1660-1890

Assorted Zarnowitz, West Prussia Genealogy Records 1800s

Hegensdorfer Auswanderer 1824-1893 (Emigrants from Hegensdorf, Germany)

None of this is comprehensive or amazing or anything, but a few people have found their ancestors in these records, maybe you will too, or maybe you'll find some useful tips if you search by topic.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Newly Added Online Death Records Indexes

Links to the items listed below were recently added to: Online Searchable Death Records Indexes and Obituaries. It's quite a long list this time - I hope you find some good stuff...

- Boone County Cemeteries
- Carroll County Cemeteries
- Newton County Cemeteries

- Los Angeles County: Green Hills Memorial Park Cemetery Burials (Rancho Palos Verdes, CA)
- Sacramento County: Fair Oaks Cemetery Burials (Fair Oaks, CA)

- Arapahoe County Probate Cases 1902-1937
- Lincoln County Probate Records 1890-1931

Fairfield County Newspaper Databases and Obituaries, includes...
- Obituaries from the Ridgefield Press
- Wilton Bulletin Obituaries Index
- Norwalk Hour Newspaper Index

- Georgia Death Certificates 1919-1927

- Coles County: Dodge Grove Cemetery Records (Mattoon, Illinois)
- Logan County Cemeteries

- Dearborn County: Lawrenceburg Public Library Obituaries Index

- Iowa Gravestone Photo Project -- has over 300,000 entries
- Davis County Cemetery Records
- Dickinson County Cemetery Records
- Poweshiek County Obituaries

- Crawford County: Pittsburg Morning Sun Obituaries Index 1975-2004
- Lyon County Vital Records and other Genealogy Indexes -- includes indexes for newspaper death notices, funeral home records, census mortality schedules and some cemeteries
- Wyandotte County Cemeteries (PDF files for 6 cemeteries)

- Macomb County Funeral Home Records Master Index
- Wayne County: Grosse Pointe Public Library Obituary Database

- Cooper County Genealogy Records (includes cemeteries, death records and some obituaries)

- Douglas County: Index to Obituaries and Death Notices in Omaha Newspapers 1901-1977 -- over 90,000 entries

North Carolina
- Cemeteries of Some North Carolina Counties -- includes some cemeteries in the following counties: Alamance, Caswell, Chatham, Durham, Granville, Person, Sampson, Surry, Vance and Wake

- Ohio Obituaries Index (update: more counties added)
- Burials in 2 Cuyahoga County Cemeteries -- Strongsville Cemetery (Strongsville), and St. Adelbert's Cemetery (Middleburg Heights)
- Cuyahoga Coroner Files 1833-1900
- Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County - Index to Local Newspaper Articles -- indexes some obituaries 1800s-present (not complete, but more comprehensive from mid 1990s-present)
- Franklin County: Worthington News Index - indexes some newspaper obituaries

South Carolina
- Southern Christian Advocate and South Carolina United Methodist Advocate Obituaries Index
- Greenwood County Library Obituary Index for Greenwood, SC Newspapers (work in progress)
- Richland County Library Obituary Index - Columbia, SC Newspapers (ongoing project)

- Tennessee Death Index 1914-1922 (update - 3 years added)
- Blount County: Index to Miscellaneous Obituaries 1867-1940 -- not complete, but has 11,000 entries
- Davidson County (Nashville) Death Records Index 1900-1913
- Davidson County: Nashville Obituaries & Death Notices Index for 1913

- Collin County: McKinney Obituaries Indexes

- Weber County: Ogden City Cemetery Burials Index

- Portsmouth USGenWeb Archives -- includes Portsmouth Deaths 1856-1895, some Portsmouth cemeteries and other records

- Monroe County Newspaper and Cemetery Indexes -- also includes other genealogy indexes
- Winnebago County: Omro Herald Vital Records Index, 1977, 1978 & 2002 to present -- includes obituaries

Friday, September 21, 2007

Ship Passenger Lists and Indexes You Can Find Online

One of the most popular webpages on my German Roots genealogy website is one called "What Passenger Lists Are Online?" It's a directory of Internet sources for some transcribed or digitized ship passenger lists or name indexes of passengers. These are for ships that brought immigrants and other passengers to the USA and to or from many other countries. There are also links to other finding aids for some ports.

The top half of the webpage is for USA arrivals and includes sub-sections for New York, Alaska, Baltimore, Boston & New England, Florida, New Orleans, Oregon, Pennsylvania, San Francisco & Hawaii, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia. About half way down the page you will find an international section with sub-sections for Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Cuba, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

Some of the items listed on the webpage are free to use, some are fee-based -- these latter are usually marked "requires payment" or something similar. You can find the passenger lists directory at:

What Passenger Lists Are Online? - Internet Sources for Transcribed Passenger Records and Indexes

Monday, September 10, 2007

Online Naturalization Records Indexes - Recently Added

Links to the items listed below were recently added to: Online Searchable Naturalization Records and Indexes

- Cerro Gordo County: Mason City Naturalization Index - Petitions and Declarations, 1942-1961
- Lee County: Keokuk - Index to Miscellaneous Records Pertaining to Naturalization, 1840-1888
- Union County: Creston Naturalization Index - Declarations and Petitions, 1930-1951
- Wapello County: Ottumwa Naturalization Index - Petitions and Declarations, 1916-1951

Assorted Kansas Naturalization Indexes - includes:
- Fort Scott Naturalization Index to Petitions and Declarations, 1915-1967
- Kansas City Naturalization Records Index, 1948-1970
- Topeka: Index to Declarations of Intention ("first papers"), 1852-1942
- Topeka: Index to Overseas Naturalization Petitions, 1943-1954
- Topeka: Index to Naturalization Petitions, 1868-1984

- 11 counties have been added to the Michigan State Archives naturalization indexes database (now has 32 total counties)

New York
- Clinton County Naturalization Records Index 1865-1906
- Essex County Naturalization Records Index 1836-1880
- Queens County Naturalization Records Index 1906-1957

- Summit County (Akron), Ohio Naturalization Records Search (includes images)

- Centre County Naturalization Records 1802-1929 -- includes digitized images of the records
- Chester County Naturalization Records Index 1798-1935 (Updated: previously went to 1906)
- Pennsylvania now has its own separate webpage - see: Online Pennsylvania Naturalization Records and Indexes

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Social Security Death Index Now Has 80 Million Entries

The online Social Security Death Index (SSDI) at Genealogy Bank has surpassed 80 million entries. It has been updated to include some August 2007 entries. The SSDIs at FamilySearch and Ancestry now include July 2007 entries. The Social Security Death Index at FamilySearch is free to use (with registration). For links to all three of these SSDIs see: The Social Security Death Index - Online Searching

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Los Angeles Death Records Indexes and Obituaries

The online death indexes directory now has a new separate webpage for Los Angeles County, California. Los Angeles County is the most populous county in the United States with over 9.7 million residents, and includes Los Angeles, Long Beach, Glendale, Santa Clarita, Pasadena, Torrance and many other cities.

Online Los Angeles Death Records Indexes and Obituaries

There you will find listings for online death indexes, obituary indexes for the L.A. Times and other Los Angeles County newspapers, some cemetery burial indexes, and ordering information for California death certificates.

For other California cities and counties see: Online California Death Records Indexes and Obituaries

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

New Online Death Records Indexes

Links to the items listed below were recently added to: Online Death Records Indexes, Obituaries and Cemetery Burials

- Catalog of Arkansas Resources and Archival Treasures (indexes some obituaries and other genealogy-related records)

- Santa Clara County Historical and Genealogical Society Website (includes a burial index for the Mission City Memorial Park Cemetery and 2 funeral home indexes)

- Idaho Death Index 1911-1956 (update: the years 1952-1956 added)

- Delaware County: Muncie Public Library Record Image Search and Obituary Index -- includes obituaries index 2002-July 2006, wills 1831-February 1975, and some funeral home and court records

- Johnson County Obituaries Index 1977-present (work in progress; presently includes surnames A-C)

- Ste. Genevieve County Cemeteries

- Montana Library Network Newspaper Index -- indexes various Montana newspapers; includes obituaries

New Mexico
- New Mexico Death Index Project 1941-1949 (1890-1940 also available)

New Jersey
- Burlington County Library Newspaper Notices Index -- includes birth & marriage announcements, death notices and obituaries

North Carolina
- Buncombe County Register of Deeds Index Search -- includes deaths 1913-recent (requires registration)

- Jackson County: Fairmount Cemetery Burials, City of Jackson (PDF file)

South Carolina
- Colleton County: The Press and Standard Newspaper Index 1873-present (Walterboro, SC)

- Fauquier County Cemeteries
- Richmond Funeral Home and Monuments Indexes (includes: L. T. Christian Funeral Home Records Database, and J. Henry Brown Monuments, Inc. Order Books Collection Index - partial)

Sunday, August 05, 2007

World War I Draft Registration Cards of Famous, Infamous, and Interesting People

This article was updated on 14 January 2019

While wandering around the National Archives website I came across several scanned World War I draft cards of a few famous and interesting people. I was fascinated by some of the details of the lives of these people, especially those who were not yet 20. Some were already well known. Some became famous much later.

The World War I draft card for legendary "Scarface" gangster Al Capone says the 19-year-old Alphonse Capone was a paper cutter for the United Paper Box Company in Brooklyn, New York in 1918.

World War I Draft Registration Card of George GerswhinGeorge Gerswhin's draft card, filed in New York City, gives his occupation as "actor - composor (sic)" at age 19. He would go on to write Rhapsody in Blue (1924) and Porgy and Bess (1935), among other great works. Another 19-year-old New York resident, Frederick Austerlitz Astaire, was already an actor. His place of employment in 1918 was "Winter Garden, Broadway & 50th St. NY." The Abba musical, Mamma Mia, once played at this theater. On the back of the famous dancer's draft card it says "legal name is Austerlitz but goes by name of Astaire." Fred Astaire would later star in George Gershwin's musical, Funny Face, in 1927, and the film version 30 years later with Audrey Hepburn.

The 19-year-old Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington was a Federal government messenger in the War Dept. in Washington, DC. Unlike Gershwin, his 1918 draft card gives no indication of his future as one of the 20th Century's greatest composers.

On his June 5, 1917 World War I draft card, Joseph Patrick Kennedy, age 28, lists his dependents as "wife and 2 children." His wife was Rose Elizabeth Fitzgerald (1890-1995). His children at the time were Joseph Patrick Kennedy Jr. (1915-1944), who died during World War II, and John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917-1963), who was elected president of the United States in 1960. JFK was born just a week before his father registered for the draft.

My favorite one is for master magician and escape artist Harry Houdini (1874-1926). On his 1918 draft card he put his middle name as "Handcuff," likely because he had become known as the "handcuff king."

World War I Draft Registration Card of Harry Houdini (detail)
These World War One draft cards of notable people at the National Archives website were scanned from the original cards, not microfilm, so you can get an idea of what the draft cards actually look like - they have been scanned in color and are reproduced fairly well. You can find scans of the cards mentioned in this article, along with draft cards of a few more famous people at: Notable Registrants of the World War I Draft at the National Archives at Atlanta

For help finding draft cards of your relatives and ancestors see:
How to Find World War One Draft Registration Cards 1917-1918

Saturday, July 21, 2007

New Mexico Death Records Index Updated

A group of great volunteers has finished transcribing an index for New Mexico deaths from 1941-1949. An earlier index they previously transcribed covers 1890-1940. For links to both indexes, along with some individual New Mexico county death indexes see:

Online New Mexico Death Records Indexes and Obituaries

Saturday, July 14, 2007

California Vital Records Indexes Online

Ancestry has recently added indexes for California marriages (1960-1985) and divorces (1966-1984) to their subscription-based collection of online genealogy databases. They also have indexes for California births (1905-1995) and deaths (1940-1997). For links to these and some other California genealogy indexes see:

Directory of Online California Vital Records Indexes - Birth, Marriage, Divorce and Death Records

Monday, July 02, 2007

Recently Added Online Death Records Indexes

The Online Death Indexes and Records Directory has recently been updated with the following links...

- Walker County: Davis Cemetery Burials to 1994 - Dora, Alabama

- Arizona Death Records Index 1878-1956 & Birth Index 1887-1931 (update: 1956 added to the death index; 1931 added to the birth index) includes downloadable digitized copies of the death certificates

- Jefferson County Cemeteries - includes Mount Lindo Cemetery (near Morrison) and Golden Cemetery (in Golden)

- Highlands County Obituaries Index - early 1982-mid 2006

- Cook County: Wilmette Online Vital Records Indexes - includes a Death Certificate Index 1913-Oct. 1953 and other indexes
- Kankakee County: Kankakee Area Obituaries Index

- Hendricks County Obituary Database and Card File from the Plainfield-Guilford Township Public Library
- LaGrange County Index to Death Records 1882-1924

- Greenwood County: Records of the J. S. Maben Mortuary, Severy, Kansas 1901-1952
- Wilson County: W.A. Rankin Memorial Library Obituary Index ca. 1870-present (ongoing project)

- Boyd County Cemeteries

- Wayne County: Assorted Cemetery Listings for Plymouth, Michigan -- includes Civil War Veteran Burials, Old Baptist Cemetery, Presbyterian Cemetery, Riverside Cemetery, Shearer Cemetery
- Wayne County: Plymouth Historical Museum Archives -- includes mortality schedules and funeral home records

New Mexico
- Grant County Death Records and Obituaries

North Carolina
- Craven County Death Index 1914-2005 - also includes births (1914-2005) & marriages (1964-recent)
- Moore County Death Records Index 1987-present - also has indexes for births and marriages

- Hamilton County: Walnut Hills Cemetery Burials (Cincinnati)
- Jefferson County: Steubenville Herald-Star Newspaper Obituaries 1987-1999
- Scioto County: Gravestone Inscriptions from Greenlawn Cemetery pre-1900
- Summit County: Akron-Summit County Public Library Genealogy Indexes -- includes: Mount Peace Cemetery Interment Records 1880-1916; Springfield Township Cemetery Transcriptions; Akron Beacon Journal Obituaries Index

- Greene County Genealogy Records - includes indexes for births, marriages, obituaries, wills and deaths

- Denton County: Denton Record-Chronicle Obituary Indexes - Assorted Years (PDF files) also has birth & marriage indexes

- Norfolk City - Assorted Cemetery Listings

See: Online Death Indexes and Records for Canada
- Nova Scotia Historical Vital Statistics - indexes Births 1864-1877, Marriages 1864-1930, and Deaths 1864-1877 & 1908-1955

Thursday, June 07, 2007

World War II Database of Missing U.S. Service Personnel Now Online

The U.S. Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office has compiled a database of service members still unaccounted for following World War II. The database contains more than 70,000 names and was derived from records from the National Archives and the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command. You can access the database online here:

Service Personnel Not Recovered Following World War II (MIA)

Names will be removed from the database as remains are recovered and identified.

For a directory of more online World War II databases see:

World War II Indexes, Records and Databases on the Internet - USA

Monday, June 04, 2007

Recently Added Online Passenger Lists and Records

Links to the items listed below have been added to the Directory of Online Ship Passenger Lists and Records

Boston and New England section
- Maine Passenger Lists Index 1820-1867 (coverage varies by port)
- Assorted Pilgrim and Great Migration Ship Lists 1602-1638

New York
- Andrea Doria - Genoa to New York, July 1956 - list of passengers for the Andrea Doria, which collided with the Stockholm on 25 July 1956 near Nantucket, Massachusetts

- Tasmania Passenger Lists - Index of Convicts Transported to Tasmania - 19th Century & Index to Departures 1817-1867

- Memorial do Imigrante - Sao Paulo, Brazil (pre-1907 Brazil passenger arrivals) website is in Portuguese

- Quebec & Halifax Passenger Lists Indexing Project - currently indexes Quebec ports (including Montreal) from Nov. 1907-Oct. 1910 with some gaps; this is an ongoing project
- Port of New Westminster, British Columbia - Register of Chinese Immigration 1887-1908
- Canada Passenger Lists, 1865-1922 - can be searched by date, port and ship only - not searchable by name of passenger - time frame varies by port

- Assorted Passenger Lists to and from Cuba

United Kingdom
- Passenger Lists Leaving the United Kingdom (UK) 1890-1960 -- presently available online for 1890-1919 (more years are being added) searches are free - full results require payment

Friday, May 18, 2007

Minnesota Vital Records Indexes and State Census Records Online

Minnesota State and Territorial Census Records
Ancestry has recently added a database for Minnesota Territorial and State Censuses. These censuses were generally taken between the Federal census years. Ancestry's database contains Minnesota territorial and state censuses for 1849-1850, 1853, 1855, 1857, 1865, 1875, 1885, and 1905. It is presently free to search with registration. See the Minnesota section at: Genealogy Research Guides - State Census Records

Minnesota Vital Records Indexes
The Minnesota Historical Society has an online death index that covers 1904-2001, and a recently updated online birth index from 1900-1934. Ancestry has an online Minnesota birth index that covers 1935-2002. They also have indexes for Minnesota marriages 1958-2001 (excluding 1996), divorces 1970-1995, and deaths 1908-2002. Ancestry's indexes are part of their subscription-based service. For links to all of these indexes see: Online Minnesota Vital Records Indexes

Monday, May 14, 2007

Gregory Peck in the Social Security Death Index and his SS-5 Form

In 2003 when I first heard that Gregory Peck had died, my reaction was, oh no, we've lost Atticus Finch. Harper Lee may have created the Atticus Finch character in her beloved novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, but Gregory Peck made him real in the equally beloved film version. It seemed as though he wasn't playing a role at all, but putting his own sincerity and feelings about racial inequality onto the screen. So when he died it wasn't that we had lost a great and popular actor. It felt like we had lost America's kind and noble grandfather. He was one of those rare Hollywood celebrities who you seemed to know and respect even if you had never met him.

Here is Gregory Peck's listing in the Social Security Death Index (SSDI):

Birth: 05 Apr 1916
Death: 12 Jun 2003 (V)
Last Residence: 90077 (Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA)
Last Benefit: (none specified)
Social Security Number: 547-16-9811
Issued: California

Using the information from an SSDI listing, a copy of the person's SS-5 form can be obtained from the Social Security Administration for a fee. The SS-5 is the form a person filled out when they applied for a Social Security Card. Here's a copy of Gregory Peck's SS-5 (click on it to see a larger view).

Gregory Peck - Social Security SS-5 form

As you can see it gives all sorts of information about the person that can be useful for further genealogy research. The SS-5 for Gregory Peck shows his full name (Eldred Gregory Peck), his date and place of birth (April 5, 1916 in San Diego, California), and the full names of his parents (Gregory Pearl Peck and Bernice Mae Ayres). Note that the maiden name of his mother is given. (There are restrictions regarding the release of the parents' names -- see the link below.) This SS-5 also shows the name and location of his employer, and his address in San Diego when he applied for his Social Security Card in 1937, which is about 6 years before he made his first film.

While putting this article together I asked my mother what her favorite Gregory Peck movies were. Here is her list: Keys of the Kingdom (1944, his second film), Duel in the Sun (1946), Gentleman's Agreement (1947), Twelve O'Clock High (1949), Roman Holiday (1953, with the great Audrey Hepburn, who became a lifelong friend), and To Kill a Mockingbird (1962). During his film career he received five best actor Academy Award nominations, and won the Oscar just once. That was for To Kill a Mockingbird. I think it's fitting that he will likely be remembered for the role of Atticus Finch. Gregory Peck may have died in 2003, but thanks to him and Harper Lee, Atticus Finch will live on in the film and novel.

Helpful Links
Social Security Death Index - Online Searching

How to order a copy of the Application for a Social Security Card (Form SS-5) of a deceased person Note the restrictions given there regarding proof of death and the release of parents' names.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Ancestry Adds Mexican Border Crossing Records 1903-1957

Just in time for Cinco de Mayo, Ancestry has added a database of Mexican border crossing records (1903-1957) to their subscription-based U.S. genealogy records collection. This database contains more than 3.5 million entries and includes images from the National Archives microfilm of these records. Many of the later records include a photograph of the person.

See the Mexico Border Crossings section at US Ports of Arrival and their Available Passenger Lists 1820-1957

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Happy First Birthday, Genealogy Roots Blog!

I've been doing this crazy genealogy blogging thing for a year now. I started this blog a year ago today. The original idea was to list updates to my various directories of online genealogy records. But then I started adding all sorts of unexpected things. And I made some new online friends from this.

So the Genealogy Roots Blog is now a toddler, just learning to walk...

I hope you've found some helpful genealogy sources from reading this blog. And thanks for stopping by.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Newly Added Online Military Records Indexes

Links to the items listed below were recently added to the Directory of Online Military Indexes, Records and Rosters of Soldiers

Revolutionary War
- Sons of the American Revolution - Revolutionary War Patriots Index and Graves Registry
- List of 8000 Prisoners on the Old Jersey Prison Ship
- Georgia: List of Loyalists Banished from Georgia - 1783
- New Jersey: Official Register of the Officers and Men of New Jersey in the Revolutionary War
- New York: Index to New York Revolutionary War Invalid Pension Records 1801-1815
- New York Revolutionary War Pension Lists of 1792-1795

Mexican War
- Pennsylvania Soldiers in the War with Mexico, 1846-1847

Civil War
- Kentucky: Records of Death and Interment at Camp Nelson, KY, 1864-1865
- Michigan Civil War Principals and Substitutes Index
- Mississippi: Beauvoir Soldiers Home Veterans
- Missouri: Index to Descriptive Recruitment Lists of Volunteers for the United States Colored Troops for the State of Missouri, 1863-1865
- Pennsylvania Civil War Era Newspapers - Digitized and Searchable - a project of Penn State University

World War One
- Colorado: Fallen Heroes of World War I from Denver, Colorado

World War Two
World War II Prisoners of the Japanese, Data File (AAD)

American Merchant Marine Databases:
- Names of WWII Merchant Marine Killed
- Names & Fates of WWII Merchant Marine POWs
- Names of U.S. Naval Armed Guard Killed and Wounded

Vietnam War
- Names of Vietnam War Merchant Marine Killed

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Illinois Genealogy: the Musical - Well, Sorta

Come on Feel the Illinoise!
Some thoughts on the great state of Illinois, having Illinois ancestors and an album called Illinois (this is actually a wacky CD review with a bit about genealogy - yeah, sneaky, I know)...

In 2005 a rather obscure musician/songwriter named Sufjan Stevens released an album called Illinois that is slowly making its way toward underground classic status. Apparently Mr. Stevens would like to make 50 such albums, one for each state, but he has quite a ways to go. In 2003 he released one for Michigan. And now just 48 states remain between him and immortality.

Illinois CD by Sufjan Stevens album coverThe first song on the Illinois album is called "Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois." And now you know that Highland is the Roswell of Illinois. My great great grandparents, Frank and Mary Appel, came (separately) from Germany and settled in Highland, Illinois in the middle of the 19th Century. Frank was briefly on the first Highland city council, but he didn't like it that pigs were roaming around everywhere, so he and the other councilmen passed a law banning livestock from the city limits. The local farmers didn't like this at all and Frank was not re-elected to the city council - he received a mere 6 votes in the election. Let this be a lesson to all you politicians out there who do stupid things. Instead he opened a saloon, which was probably frequented by space aliens and drunken pigs.

My favorite song on the Illinois CD is "Chicago" which is about the city where my brother was born. Ok, he was actually born in Cook County, in a place called Des Plaines, which is also where Ray Kroc started building his McDonald's restaurant chain.

The best thing about the album really, aside from all the melancholy songs and quirky arrangements, is the weird song titles. Here's one: "They are Night Zombies!! They are Neighbors!! They Have Come Back from the Dead!! Ahhhh!" That's really one of the titles. It's an Illinois thing. You'll understand if you once lived there or live there now. Or if you have saloon-keeping great great grandfathers from Highland, Illinois, who were not liked by zombie pig farmers.

And if you're going to rhyme "Decatur" with "alligator" like Mr. Stevens does, well, I'm going to think you're cool. And I'm going to write a non-sensical genealogy blog post that has nothing to do with genealogy, but actually kinda does...

-former Cook County resident, Joe B.

You might be interested in...

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Canadian Border Crossing Records Now Online

Ancestry has added a database of Canadian border crossing records from 1895-1956 to their collection of online genealogy records. (Note that these records are not available prior to 1895.) Sometimes you may find that your immigrant ancestor arrived by ship at a Canadian port and then later crossed over from Canada into the USA at a land port - you might find their arrival details in these records. You can also find U.S. and Canadian citizens who crossed over the border. More than 100 land ports of entry are included in Ancestry's database.

For more details see the Canada Border Crossings section at U.S. Ports of Arrival and their Available Passenger Records

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Iowa State Census Records Collection Now Online

Ancestry has launched a collection of indexed and digitized state census records for Iowa. These are censuses that were taken between the federal census years. Coverage in this collection varies by county and year as some records have not survived and some censuses were only taken for specific counties. But the collection does include all counties for 1885, 1905, 1915 and 1925. See the Iowa section at:

Genealogy Research Guide - State Census Records

The 1925 Iowa census, included in Ancestry's collection, asked for the names, ages and birthplaces (state) of the parents of each person, including mother's maiden names. It also asked for the place of marriage for the parents.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Newly Added Online Death Indexes

The links listed below were recently added to the Directory of Online Death Records and Indexes

- Benton County Cemeteries - Index of Burials

- Connecticut Jewish Ledger Obituary Database 1975-2002 (not complete)

- Broward County, Florida Cemetery Records - ongoing project
- Collier County: Naples Daily News Obituary Index 1927-1936 & 1947-2005

- Quitman County Deaths 1919-1930
- Seminole County Death Index 1923-1931 & 1942
- Stewart County Deaths 1919-1930
- Terrell County Deaths 1919-1930
- Twiggs County Deaths 1919-1930

- Winnebago County Cemeteries

- Jay County, Indiana Cemeteries

- Jones County Death Register 1880-1897, and Cemetery Records

- Middlesex County: Gravemarker Data from the South (Main Street) Burying Ground and the Old Hill Burying Ground, Concord, Mass

- Scott County: Calvary Cemetery Burials, St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, Jordan, MN

- Missouri Death Certificates Index 1910-1956 (udpated: 1956 added to index; more images added)
- St. Louis: Westliche Post Obituaries Index 1880-June 1881 (St. Louis German-language newspaper)

New York
- new webpage introduced for New York City Death Records

- Allegany County Cemeteries
- Orange County: Middletown Thrall Library Obituary Database, Jan. 1983-March 1988
- Schenectady County: Indexes to Vital Records in Newspapers of Schenectady County and the Capital District Area (for assorted years)

- Lorain County Cemeteries
- Toledo-Lucas County Public Library - Blade Obituaries Index 1990-present

- Harris County: Houston Jewish Herald-Voice Database 1908-1992 (updated: 1933-1992 added)

- Assorted Virginia Cemeteries -- includes burial databases for some cemeteries in: Augusta County, Bath County, Fairfax County, Highland County, Rockbridge County, and Rockingham County

Friday, March 02, 2007

Memories of McDonald's

When you were a kid or perhaps when your children were kids, McDonald's restaurants looked a little different than they do today. Back then the Golden Arches were part of the design of the building. Today they're just a logo, something you see on the sign or the doors.

photograph of a retro McDonald's
The first McDonald's I ever went to was on Broadway near Orchard in Littleton, Colorado (just south of Denver). It looked kind of like the picture above, but it didn't have a dining room - you ordered your burgers at the counter and ate in your car, or brought the food home. I'm convinced the basic McDonald's hamburger was the same then, although I'm sure they've made changes. It came with mustard, ketchup, a pickle slice, and some chopped-up onions, just like today. The Big Mac hadn't been invented yet. But the biggest difference has to be the French fries. Back then they left the skin on the potatoes - today's fries just don't compare. The cool McDonald's on Broadway later moved down the street and now it looks just like any other modern McDonald's.

I took the photograph at a retro McDonald's on Alameda near Federal here in Denver in January, 2007. You can click on the photo for a larger view. Or click here for a nighttime view: the Golden Arches at night

Thursday, March 01, 2007

New York City Death Records Indexes

The online death indexes directory now has a new separate webpage for New York City. All 5 New York City Boroughs are included: Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island...

Online New York City Death Records Indexes and Finding Aids

There you will find listings for online death indexes, some cemetery and obituary indexes, offline finding aids, death certificate ordering information, and a short list of other helpful New York genealogy resources.

For New York State see: Online New York Death Records Indexes and Obituaries

Monday, February 12, 2007

Death Records Indexes for Canada on the Internet

Here you can find a directory of some online death records indexes for some Canadian provinces - many of them are free to use...

Online Canada Death Records Indexes

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Recently Added Death Records Indexes

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

- Jefferson County: Birmingham Area Newspapers Obituary Index - August 1957-December 1976
- Jefferson County: Red Mountain Cemetery Record of Interments, 1888-1906 (4711 burials of indigent dead)
- Alabama Episcopal Church Registers Database 1830s-1970s -- includes 16 parishes in Baldwin, Dallas, Jefferson, Macon, Marengo, Mobile, Monroe and Walker Counties (14,000 people are listed)
- Alabama Coal Mine Fatalities 1898-1938

- Colorado Obituary Project Index 1970s-1990 (does not include Denver - see the separate Denver section on the website)

- Indian River County: Obituary Index 2002-2005 in Excel format

New Hampshire
- Belknap County: New Hampton Village & Rural Cemetery Burials - downloadable PDF files

New York
- NYC/Queens: Mount Judah Jewish Cemetery Burials - Ridgewood, NY

North Carolina
- Catawba County: Index of Obituaries in the Hickory Daily Record 1915-1963
- Catawba County: Index of Obituaries in the Hickory Daily Record & Observer News Enterprise 1993-2004

- Nashville Christian Advocate Death Notices circa 1830s-1919 & 1929
- Knox County Death Records 1914-1925

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Origin of the "Wee-Monster" Genealogy Website

Update: The "Wee Monster" genealogy website has moved. It is now at: German Roots - German Genealogy Resources

Some popular pages on the Wee Monster genealogy website with links to where they are now:

Online Birth and Marriage Records Indexes (USA)

Genealogy Records, Indexes and Databases on the Internet (USA)

What Passenger Lists Are Online?

Online Searchable Naturalization Indexes and Records (USA)

The Origin of the "Wee-Monster" Genealogy Website...
A bunch of genealogy bloggers are "tagging" other genealogy bloggers (as in "you're it") to get them to write a blog post where you list 5 things about yourself that your blog readers probably don't know. I've been tagged 3 times (!), first by Randy Seaver, then by George Morgan and Rick Crume. Since the main purpose of this blog is to help people find their ancestors I see no point in boring you with this sort of silliness.

But! I did come up with one thing you may not know about me that might indirectly help you find something about your ancestors: I used to have a dog named Monster.

So how is that going to help you find your ancestors? Well... when I first signed up for some web space back in 1998 I named it "wee-monster" after my dog. The website is actually called "German Roots," but the URL originally had the phrase wee-monster in it. Here's where the wee monster website is now: German Roots - German Genealogy Resources

The idea for the website was to help Americans with German ancestors find their roots, but the site soon went a little off the original topic, and it now has a few sections devoted to American genealogy in general. My Death Indexes and Records website was originally a single webpage on the German Roots website that got out of hand. Same thing happened with my Military Indexes and Records website. The Online Passenger Lists webpage is still there on the German Roots website. See? Maybe my dog was able to help you find something about your ancestors (insert smiley face here).

Here's a picture of the wee Monster contemplating her legendary status. As you can see, she was a totally ferocious beast so you better be afraid (insert another smiley face here).

The wee Monster, genealogy dogNow go find some ancestors!

This article was updated on 9 September 2010.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

A Book About Researching World War II Army Service Records

Book Review: Finding Your Father's War - A Practical Guide to Researching and Understanding Service in the World War II US Army by Jonathan Gawne

Finding Your Father's War - A Practical Guide to Researching and Understanding Service in the World War II US Army book coverIf you have an ancestor or relative who served in the Army during World War II here is an entire book about researching records of individual soldiers and Army units. The book is divided into five distinct sections.

The first section, "Introduction to Army Units," discusses rank, branches of service and unit size. Don't know the difference between a squad, a platoon, a battalion, etc? Here's where to find out. A subsection on rank covers enlisted men, technicians and officers. For each rank (private, sergeant, etc) the insignia is shown along with the base pay.

Section two describes the types of records kept for an individual soldier and explains the Army's serial number system. There's even an illustration of a soldier's dog tag, explaining what each line and code means. Section three describes organizational records for army units.

The fourth section, "Finding Records," tells you where to look for many of the records discussed in the book. Here you can learn about using the Freedom of Information Act, the 1973 fire at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, the National Archives, Veterans Affairs records, and other topics. The author lets you know that some records are only available to next of kin, while others may be public domain and available to anyone.

The last section has all sorts of useful information and illustrations of insignias, badges, uniforms and medals - things you might find in the attic and are wondering what they mean. Insignias for WWII Armies, Army Groups, Corps, Major Army Commands, the Army Air Force, and Divisions (Infantry & Airborne, Armored, and Cavalry) are shown in appendices. Most of the book's illustrations are in color.

Overall this book contains a wealth of information about a soldier's World War II Army service and how you can find many of the records that have survived. I found it to be a nice resource for U.S. Army WWII genealogy research.

The book can be ordered from Amazon:
Finding Your Father's War: A Practical Guide to Researching and Understanding Service in the World War II U.S. Army revised third edition from Amazon

Advertising Disclosure: The owner of this website/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

May also be helpful: World War II Records and Indexes on the Internet

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Hamburg Passenger Lists Now At Ancestry

Ancestry has recently added online images and a partial index to the Hamburg, Germany passenger departure records from 1850-1934 (except: 1 January--14 July 1853, which are missing, and the WWI years of 1915-1919). The years 1890-1913 have been indexed so far. These lists can be helpful if you have an immigrant ancestor who left from Hamburg because they usually give the place (town or city) of residence for the passengers.

For more information see: Hamburg Passenger Lists 1850-1934