Sunday, November 12, 2017

Christmas Greetings from 17th Balloon Company, Fort Mills, Corregidor, PI, from 1921

In 1920, Joe Wolff was in 17th Balloon Company Fort Omaha, Nebraska. His job is listed as timekeeper. Also included in the memorabilia stash were pictures of a balloon and what I believe to be pictures taken from a balloon.  My cousin-by-marriage and I have identified the balloon as a Coquat Type R Observation Balloon. I'll save those pics for another post. The star of the show today is this booklet dated inside as 1921. As of this writing, that's 96 years ago, folks. I believe this was sent from Private First Class Joseph Wolff while stationed in the Phillipines to his sister, Adele Wolff, in Chicago. I don't have the original here. This beautiful artifact is with family in Arizona.

I wonder if this is why oyster dressing was and is so popular with the Wolff menfolk?

At some point, I will attempt to transcribe all the names here.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Not in Italy?

Lichfield, Crawford, Kansas

Maggie Corgiat Arnaudo on the 1910 census and on the Kansas state census is described as being born in Italy. According to her family when she dies of cerosis of the liver at age 52, she was from Leitchfield, Kansas. Only one problem. There is not record of such town, but there is a record of a Litchfield in Crawford County-- where she grew up.
This could be why I have never found her birth in Italy and also why I have been looking for arrivals way to *late*.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Old Skool Reels

I want to know Dominic Corgiat Loia and Mary Ruo Redda were. I want to know where they got married, who were their sisters and and brothers were. I want know about their lives. But my 
letters to Torino, Italy government and religious offices had gone unanswered. I don’t think my stilted Italian is so bad it offended the entire nation. 

I needed a recharge. I needed new way to come at the problem. I  looked around for ways to circle back that didn’t feel merely like chasing my tail. To the beginning I went. Not to the beginning of the paper trail but rather to to the beginning of of the search. I needed to refresh my skills and tune them to be more Italy specific.

I started on the training area. I watched a great video on records available in Italy with a wonderful section on civil registrations. (Ironically, I cannot find that video right now.) While the records I need are not online, the reference to them are online. FamilySearch has microfiche of statutory registrations of Corio, Torino. 

  • Film Number: 2096348 
Items 1 - 2
Registri dello stato civile di Condove (Torino), 1866-1929
Condove (Torino). Ufficio dello stato civile
Matrimoni 1900-1910 -- Morti 1866-1910

Item 3
Registri dello stato civile di Corio (Torino), 1866-1929
Corio (Torino). Ufficio dello stato civile
Nati 1866-1880

  • Film Number: 2096349
Item 1
Registri dello stato civile di Corio (Torino), 1866-1929
Corio (Torino). Ufficio dello stato civile
Nati 1880-1907

  • Film Number: 2096351 *backordered*
Items 1 - 2
Registri dello stato civile di Corio (Torino), 1866-1929
Corio (Torino). Ufficio dello stato civile
Matrimoni 1869-1910 -- Morti 1866-1878 

Since the death and marriage records are backordered, I’ll only have 1866- 1907 births. Still pretty exciting. I’m not sure how much copies are going to cost. It has been 20 years since I have used a microfiche reader. While I wait for them to arrive at my local family history center I plan to make an an inventory and checklist of what I expect to find. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

::RECORD NOT FOUND:: but appears

Despite having the month, year, and names correct, my repeated requests to the Detroit,Wayne county, Michigan vital records office went unfulfilled. I had an undated photo from the day. But very own grandparents, the rare people in my family tree that I actually knew when they were alive apparently had married in stealth in another location = a location where no records we kept. It was odd that living family recited the same exact day one year prior the couple's first son’s birth as their wedding date. Was that a easy to remember lie because in truth the wedding was much closer or even after the wedding? All I had were theories. Honestly,  I wouldn’t judge them at all if there was comfortable shifting of events to make things easier on them but it certainly wasn't making easy on me as the family historian. Folks did and still have a lot of pressure to “keep up appearances”. Considering my possibilities, I began research what counties and states around them had the laxest laws and the shortest wait times. More records requests from likely candidates came back empty handed as well. I finally decided to step way from it and wrote it down on my “if I ever travel to Detroit list…". I have been looking since at least 2006.

L-R: Marvin Corgiat, Unkown, Leola Corgiat, Ray Dancy

I moved on to other things and even in that time let my subscription lapse. I was looking and using as many other resources as I could for other efforts. Then in February this year, Ancestry published their latest collection “Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952". And, without any cajoling of names and squinting to make things line up, the leafy hint popped up and there the record of their marriage was…in the right month and in the right year that I had provided to the clerks so many times. Leola Corgiat was spelled incorrectly twice (CORGAIT), but Ray's was just fine. 

Is there a moral? I am not sure- because if was so badly misfiled that the clerks familiar with the records couldn’t find it, what makes me think I could find it during a costly journey to the records office? It was only through an exhaustive one-to-n scanning and uploading process that caught the record like a fish in a net. Then, it was through extensive indexing, a brute force effort by many folks that the record became known to me. I am well aware how no part of this was automagical. 

Michigan Marriage record for Mr. Ray Dancy

I learned my grandmother was once a stenographer, I had only known about her days as a bookkeeper. Perhaps now I can identify the second woman (Evangeline Monacheim??) in the photograph. Overall, I'm of course pleased as punch the record finally came to light, but I can't say I have a reproducible strategy since "simply wait" is what got the job done in the end. 

Citations Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2015.
Original data: Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867–1952. Michigan Department of Community Health, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Cascade Effect

I have made a cascade of small breakthroughs these last two months.

I needed to find out much more about my 3rd great grand-parents John and Dora Bickel. I looked back through the records to reconfirm names and such or find anything I had missed. I verified names and relationships for Elizabeth Bickel's parents.  They are her parents only by deduction. I do know she had a brother Gus. Living cousins confirm this. I do know where she lived. But, oddly, I cannot find this woman's death certificate. I am still working on that, but it is bugging me I cannot find that. I wrote to the cemetery to see if they had any records. No reply. I'll try again with a phone call. But, in lieu of that route I was combing what I had to see if I confirm their identities another way. In my scrutiny, I discovered there was in in indeed something I had missed. 

On John C. Bickel's headstone there was a symbol of some sort. Even when I zoomed in I couldn't be sure of what it said. I searched for grave markers symbol websites- there were several that told me I was looking at the the symbol of the Grand Army of the Republic on his side of the tombstone. It was a fraternal organization for men who fought and were honorably discharged from the Union Army during the Civil War.  I don't know why, but I had never considered that this particular immigrant would have been been in the war.

Although my subscription at fold3 has run out, was I was about to scout around enough to find that although there was more than one John Bickel (its its variations) that had served in the Union Army, there was only one who had a widow of Johanna. Now, I knew from death records that are referenced on her find a grave entry (that I only know about 3rd hand-- have to get the originals someday), that even though she was called Dorothea after marriage, her name was in Johanna Dorothea. Maybe Johann didn't like calling his wife the feminine variant of his name, Johanna. I don't know. But armed with the pension number Infantry Regiment, I could keep going.

John C. Bickel card from General Index of Pension Files

On (while in bed on my iPhone, I must admit) I found a large, beautiful record from the Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers. The highlights of this record are that he was Lutheran, had a son in Frontenac, Kansas, and joined in Ohio etc.  Well, Frontenac is a good sign, the rest pretty good. Only problem is other than this record, I cannot find a record of him having a son Christoph. Maybe a son in law? Maybe a grandson? Maybe one of his son's middle names? In any case, I have to admit the discrepancy.

John Christopher Bickel, 1901; citing p. 11859, U. S. National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers
And a hernia, poor guy.
With that pension number in hand and the details in two forms of handwriting, I ordered his pension record from the National Records and Records Administration ($80!!) even though I was not 100% positive this was my guy. It arrived so quickly (which was not the case when I got the record of Wojciech Witkowski aka George Wolff). I have not combed through it all yet, but I have learned the nature of his wound in the Civil War. He took a musket ball in the left calf during the Battle of Cold Harbor in Virginia.

In this pension record, I got to see a murky maiden name. At first blush it looked like Bairr, but looking at his two styles of  letter E, I went to bed that night thinking Baier. With the her name and the date of the marriage and now the exact town of marriage, I felt like I was cooking with gas.

Extract of John Christoph Bickel Pension Record
Luckily, I get another shot at it in another part of the pension record.
Widow's Pension of Johanna Dorothea Baier Bickel

I can't recall how I searched first, but I was flopping around looking for Lutheran churches and just generally not being smart (maybe because it was before 5 a.m on a weekday). I set it aside and started fresh with a better technique and found what I needed right away. First off the knowledge that the "German United Evangelical Church of Etna in 1852" was the same church as the modern day First Congregational Church (Etna, Pa.). From there, found their archives of marriage, burials, and
baptisms taken from a microfiche and made into pdf files on the University of Pittsburgh Library website.  Right where it should be, was the record of the marriage in German. Now I got my IB (International Baccalaureate) sticker on my high school diploma for German and I am not bad with the old style script; however, this text is so very faint. I had my guesses but I brought it to a friend who is a master German linguist and familiar with Pennsylvania area to boot. She did do better than I and I felt good to get confirmation on my guesses. We think the places names are Lengenfeld (but which one we don't know) and Magdeburg. Someday maybe I will make my way to the church for the original and hope it is not as faded. It's a gamble.

Extract from First Congregational Churches Kirchenbuch
And of course I am now on to finding the families in Magdeburg and Lengenfeld. Look at this lovely panorama of Magdeburg.
"Blick von der Johanniskirche 11" by Diwan - Own work, Magdeburg: Blick von der Johanniskirche. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

  • National Archives and Records Administration. U.S., Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2000.
  • "United States National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, 1866-1938," index and images, FamilySearch( : accessed 23 January 2015), John Christopher Bickel, 1901; citing p. 11859, Leavenworth, Kansas, United States, NARA microfilm publication M1749 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 260; FHL microfilm 1,579,075.
  • U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2012.
  • NARA citation for the pension will go gosh its another multi page document on how to cite...
  • First Congregational Church, Etna, Pa. Records, AIS.1989.11, Archives Service Center, University of Pittsburgh

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Art serves as inspiration

Like many of us, I am on a budget. It is with judicious care that I purchase and use  credits on Scotland's People website. If I had more money I might merely get the wrong answer faster. I have much to learn about Scotland's records and geography, but I think I have done fairly well so far. I was so excited when I found the name of my my fourth great grandfather in Scotish marriage records but was surprised to learned he came from Ireland. With a name like John Bright and the gross region of Ireland wasn't going to be enough to trace him. Despite already having one marriage record, I circled back and re-grouped- which gave me his full name, John McCammon Bright.  That was the key I would later come to understand but I wasn't inspired to try again in Ireland records until two things happened. One- I joined an online genealogical community, Dear Myrtle on Google+.This group shares interesting tips and resources and recently linked to an article about new Irish resources that had gone online. Two- My husband and I began watching old seasons of a BBC show- Balleykissangel. With all the shots of dark stout, the parish politics, the fairly thick accents to this naive American's ears I of course thought of my ancestors and how it was time to give it another go. I used some of the links provided in the group and paid my credits for one birth record for John McCammon Bright, son of John Bright and Eliza McCammon- baptized in Seapatrick Church of Ireland, Ballyvarly, County Down, Ireland. If I would have tried to push the process earlier, prematurely, I think I'd be writing about about being stumped by a brick wall. :)