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

- Tennessee Death Index for 3 Counties - Jackson County 1914-1946, Putnam County 1908-1946 (except 1913), White County 1926-1946

- 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