Monday, July 30, 2018

Writing Reports to Yourself

How many of us regular write research reports to ourselves? Elizabeth Shown Mills' reports, normally available on her web site which is offline at the moment, are legendary! Other genealogists such as Elissa Scalise Powell champion "writing as you go."

Writing the research as I go made me a better genealogist. I immediately spot the facts that need better evidence or which are missing. I can include these "problems" in my "Suggestions for further research" section until I can seek the needed document or address the problem some other way. If I send for a document, I can make a note of that and follow up in the future, if needed.

It is easy to create your own research report template in a word processing program. You'll find examples of research report formats at the Board for Certification of Genealogists web site. Templates are also available for purchase from Brent Chadwick that include macros for commonly used citations.

Last night I looked at an Ancestry DNA autosomal match who had a tree with names for himself and his father but no dates and no other persons. As I looked at the "shared matches," it was apparent he was matching on my paternal father's line. As I began doing "quick and dirty" work on his tree to see if I could identify the match, I found his ancestors living next to persons with the surname I suspected was the match. Both my match's surname's lines and the surname of interest seemed to follow the same migration trail. I also noted another name in close proximity which could explain something I've seen in my DNA matches--where the match appears to be on my maternal grandmother's line, but that it matches my Dad also, even though GEDmatch says my parents are not related. The matches are probably cousins to Dad but Dad is matching them on his paternal father's line rather than on the name from my maternal grandmother's line.

I immediately knew I needed to document all that quick and dirty research and work my way back to the point where we may connect. There are some hints which may lead me to connect a dot or two to reach the ancestor we are fairly certain is ours from Y-DNA matching. Today I began writing that report. I didn't have a lot of time to do so because I had a couple of appointments that took up part of my day. However, the report is now twelve pages long and documents a couple of generations pretty well. I made one note for further research, but I was able to document most births, marriages, divorces, and deaths. I included censuses for the older generations. Much of the research I performed today was on living individuals and as such cannot be shared. I may work a little more this evening, but I'm happy with what I achieved for the day.

I'm conscious of my goals and research questions as I'm writing it. The report format helps me stay focused on my goal instead of following tangents. As I write each individual's paragraph(s), I ask myself what documents are missing or which things need better evidence.

The missing document I sought today was a birth certificate. I have plenty of other evidence of the birth date with no conflicting evidence, but the birth certificate would be a better source.

Friday, July 27, 2018

GRIP 2018

Today is the last day of the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh session for which I enrolled. I took the Fundamentals of Forensic Genealogy course. I really enjoyed the course with Catherine Desmarais, CG, Kelvin Meyer, Michael Ramage JD, CG, Judy Russell JD, CG, CGL, CeCe Moore, and Amber Goodpaster Tauscher. I gained a better understanding of the work of forensic genealogists and how I might prepare for supplementing my income with forensic cases in retirement should I choose to pursue this line of work.

My advice for persons attending GRIP in the future is to stay in the Fairfield Inn or Homewood Suites nearby rather than the dorms. The beds were not comfortable, and we had to bring a lot of extra things (extra towels and wash cloths, mattress pad, extra quilt, wireless router which was advised but not needed, lamp, hair dryer, etc.) I did not enjoy the foods. They tended to put at least one ingredient in things which ruined dishes for me. For example, they ruined a perfectly good pork loin with mustard. They ruined other dishes by adding mushrooms (fungus).

If you are used to the breaks at IGHR (Institute for Genealogical and Historical Research), these do not compare favorably. The same foods were out every day at break. Because I had a temporary crown, I was unable to eat any of them because they were all hard. Break food consisted of animal crackers, pretzels, M & Ms, and trail mix.

However, the course itself was excellent, and that's why I attended. We'll receive our certificates before lunch, load the cars, and leave for home. I'm looking forward to seeing my cats!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018


Comptometer, photo by Daderot [CC0], from Wikimedia Commons

As I indexed some World War II Registration cards for FamilySearch, I came across someone employed by the N. B. Davidson Comptometer Company in Indianapolis. I decided to Google "comptometer" to see what one was. I discovered an image similar to the one above and knew I'd seen these before and just assumed they were an early form of an adding machine. It pretty much was. Dorr E. Felt patented it in 1887, and it became the "first commercially successful key-driven mechanical calculator."1

At one time Comptometer Correspondence Instruction Courses existed.2 [The history of comptometer education, as recorded by Felt himself, appears in the same issue.]3

The publication Comptometer News appears to be a rich source of genealogical information (and photographs) if one's ancestor worked with the devices. Many issues from volumes one through ten (1926-1938) are available online at Internet Archive. The Felt & Tarrant Company produced the publication which appears to report news from comptometer schools across the nation, as well as a few international locations.

1 "Comptometer," Wikipedia ( : accessed 19 July 2018).
2 C. Vebeck, "Instruction Service Department," Comptometer News 3, no. 1 (January 1929), page 5; PDF, Jaap's Mechanical Calculators Page ( : accessed 19 July 2018).
3 Dorr E. Felt, "The First Comptometer School," Comptometer News 3, no. 1 (January 1929), page 7; PDF, Jaap's Mechanical Calculators Page ( : accessed 19 July 2018).

Monday, July 23, 2018

A Few Thoughts on Albion's Seed

Fischer, David Hackett. Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991.

This is not a formal review of the classic work Albion's Seed. It's more a few comments and reflections from reading it.

Why did I wait so long to read the entire book? I lived in Cincinnati when the book was published. The public library there was wonderful. They had a copy, but like most books of a genealogical nature, it didn't circulate. I used it several times in the library, but I would only read a small bit each time. I see they own additional copies which circulate now. If they owned them at the time, they were always checked out or in the closed stacks, and I just didn't ask for them. I really should have purchased my own copy. I suspect it was because I didn't want to spend the time it would take to get through a 972 page book packed with information. Fortunately a study group organized by Miriam Robbins was just the thing to make me take the plunge. We'll be concluding our discussion this Saturday evening.

With which culture do I most identify? That's a tough question. There are certain elements of each with which I identify, but I think the Cavalier Culture wins overall. I descend from all four cultures. Surprisingly, although I live in the "Backcountry South", I identify more with the Puritans, Cavaliers, and Quakers. I see some of the Backcountry spirit in some ancestors, but I do not strongly identify with it. I was also surprised at not understanding about half the expressions used in the section. I understood far more Cavalier and Quaker expressions. I even recognized more Puritan expressions than Backcountry ones. Isn't that strange? I'll be happy to sample foods from all four cultures, but there are good things and disgusting ones in each!

My reading list just grew immensely. Fischer's footnotes always included works that captivated my attention. I want to read many of those now.

I don't really enjoy reading about politics that much, but Fischer's conclusion included quite a bit about the ancestors of the United States presidents, the regional cultures from which they came, and how that influenced the president. I found it quite interesting. I know politics played a role in our ancestor's lives. The treatment of politics in a cultural setting is much more appealing than reading about elections and politicians without the context.

One more thing . . . if you haven't read this book, don't delay! Order a new or used copy or check one out from your library and begin reading it! You will not regret the decision. You may choose to read it quickly, but you'll probably want to take your time to digest what you are reading. Obviously if you own your own copy, you will be able to take more time than if you rely on the library's copy.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Indiana Village for Epileptics and Andrew Lantz

As I researched a very distant line of the Lantz family, I came across Andrew who died in 1943 at the Indiana Village for Epileptics.1 I found it interesting such a place existed. Rounding up people with a neurological disorder to live in the same place with other sufferers seemed a little strange. Apparently it was created in 1905 by Indiana's legislature and was considered "progressive" at the time.2 Dr. Walter C. Van Nuys served as the village's superintendent until his retirement in 1952.3 It was not Dr. Van Nuys, but Dr. J. H. McNeill, who signed my relative's certificate.4

Indiana Village for Epileptics, Colony No. 2, New Castle, Indiana, 1919; uploaded by Historic Bremen to Sauer-Schurr Family Album, Flickr ( : accessed 17 July 2018), CC BY-NC 2.0 license) 

An Indiana marriage law, passed 15 April 1905, the same year the legislature created the village, specified "no license to marry shall be issued where either party is an imbecile, epileptic, of unsound mind, nor to any person who is or has been within five years an inmate of any county asylum or home for indigent persons, unless it satisfactorily appears that the cause of such condition has been removed and that such male applicant is able to support a family and likely to so continue, nor shall any license issue when either of the contracting parties is affected with a transmissible disease, or at the time of making application is under the influence of an intoxicating liquor or narcotic drug."5 Andrew married Nannie King and fathered two sons and three daughters before the law was enacted.6 The children were Mary, Pearl, Elmer, Dora, and Henry.7 Andrew's institutionalization broke up the family before 1920.8  How lonely Nancy must have felt, forced to provide for her children without her husband's assistance! She survived him, dying 16 September 1956.9 Both are buried at Mast Cemetery near Kokomo, Indiana.10

Because treatments differed from those when the community was established, the Indiana Village for Epileptics expanded its mission to treat other neurological disabilities, becoming first the New Castle State Hospital and eventually the New Castle State Developmental Center.11 It closed 15 August 1998, and its buildings were demolished in 2002.12

1 "Indiana, Death Certificates, 1899-2011," database with images, Ancestry ( : accessed 17 July 2018), Andrew Lantz (1867-1930), 1930, Howard County, reg. no. 15212.
2 Rebecca L. Loufburrow, The Indiana Village for Epileptics, 1907-1952: The Van Nuys Years (M.A. thesis, Indiana University, 2008), page 1; PDF, ScholarWorks ( : accessed 17 July 2018)..
3 Ibid.
4 "Indiana, Death Certificates, 1899-2011," Andrew Lantz (1867-1930).
5 "State Laws Regulating Marriage of the Unfit," Journal of the American Institute of Criminal Law and Criminology 4, no. 3 (September 1913), page 424; digital image, JSTOR ( : accessed 17 July 2018).
6 Andrew Lantz, obituary, Gospel Herald 36, no. 12 (17 June 1943), pages 246-247; online, Mennobits (>, accessed 11 Jan 2003). While the obituary states they married in Spring 1896, Edward A. Mast performed the marriage 22 December 1895 in Howard County. See: "Indiana Marriages, 1811-2007," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 17 July 2018), Andrew Lantz Or Lautz and Nancy King, 22 Dec 1895; citing Howard, Indiana, United States, various county clerk offices, Indiana; FHL microfilm 7,032,686.

7 1910 U.S. Federal Census, Howard County, Indiana, population schedule, Liberty Township, SD 9, ED 146, page 135B (stamped), dwelling/family 150, Andrew Lantz family; digital image, Ancestry ( : accessed 17 July 2018); citing National Archives microfilm publication T624, roll 355.
8 1920 U.S. Federal Census, Henry County, Indiana, population schedule, Prairie, Indiana Village for Epileptics, SD 6, ED 77, page 37B, line 76, Andrew Lantz; digital image, Ancestry ( : accessed 17 July 2018); citing National Archives microfilm publication T625, roll 438. He was also enumerated with Nancy, but it says he is "working out." Since he was working on the farm in the village, we can assume this was where he was working out. See: 1820 Census, Howard County, Indiana, pop. sch., Liberty Twp., SD 9, ED 153, p. 247A (stamped), dwelling/family 82, Andrew Lantz household; digital image, Ancestry ( :  accessed 17 July 2018); citing NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 438. He resided in the village during the 1930 and 1940 censuses, with the 1935 residence marked as same place. See: 1930 U.S. Federal Census, Henry County, Indiana, population schedule, Henry Township, Epileptic Village, SD 9, ED 33-25, page 167B (stamped), line 95, Andrew Lantz; digital image, Ancestry ( : accessed 17 July 2018); citing National Archives microfilm publication T626, roll 593. Also: 1940 U.S. Federal Census, Henry County, Indiana, population schedule, Henry Twp., SD 10, ED 33-40, page 408A, line 16, Andrew Lantz; digital image, Ancestry ( : accessed 17 July 2018); citing National Archives microfilm publication T627, roll 1052.
9 Nancy Barbara Lantz, death record, 16 September 1956; Indiana History and Genealogy Database, Marion Public Library, Marion, Indiana ( : accessed 17 July 2018); citing book 14, page 151, reel 9.
10 Find A Grave ( : accessed 17 July 2018), Andrew Lantz (1867-1943), memorial no. 30731178, Mast Hensler Cemetery, Kokomo, Howard County, Indiana; ( : accessed 17 July 2018), Nancy B. Lantz, memorial no. 30731179, Mast Hensler Cemetery, Kokomo, Howard County, Indiana. Although Find A Grave calls this "Mast Hensler Cemetery," most death certificates, including Andrew's, include only "Mast Cemetery" for burials. See 
"Indiana, Death Certificates, 1899-2011," Andrew Lantz (1867-1930). 
11 "Other Indiana Hospitals for the Mentally Ill and Developmentally Disabled," Indiana Archives and Records Administration ( : accessed 17 July 2018), New Castle State Developmental Center (1907-present; formerly New Castle State Hospital and the Indiana Village for Epileptics.
12 "New Castle State Developmental Center," Asylum Projects ( : accessed 17 July 2018).

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

What Cheer

As I was indexing for FamilySearch, I came across a couple, both of whom were born in the town of What Cheer, Iowa. I borrowed a little curiosity from cats and decided to learn something about the town with the odd name.

The United States Geological Survey's database states the town's name came from an English or Welsh greeting. The town's name was adopted in 1879. It is located in Keokuk County.

A Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from 1893 is available.

Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from What Cheer, Keokuk County, Iowa. LOC sanborn02871 002-1
Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from What Cheer, Keokuk County, Iowa. Sanborn Map Company, Jun, 1893. Map.

Friday, July 13, 2018

The Gypsy Gene

I grew up in a Mississippi home with slightly older parents and brothers who were fourteen and sixteen years older. With brothers graduating high school at ages two and four, I spent most of my childhood and youth pretty much as only child would.

My parents loved to travel. I remember making long trips to visit Aunt Daisy in Iowa. On trips like that one, we usually stayed in motel rooms along the way.

The vacations we really enjoyed were spent camping. We started out in a tent when I was about five. We went to a family camp in the Kiamichi Mountains of Oklahoma. Mom and Dad found a spot on a hill near the bathhouse. It rained quite a bit that week. Our next camping trip was made in a pop-up camper. We stayed in that camper a year or two. It really only had room to sleep with maybe a tiny storage space. We cooked meals outside on a camp stove. We graduated from that to a Starcraft which had a table where we could be comfortable when it rained as well as an indoor stove and sink. We made trips to Bull Shoals Lake and Eureka Springs in Arkansas, to Guntersville Lake in Alabama, to the newly opened Walt Disney World in Florida, to the Smokies, to Virginia, and many other places I've long since forgotten. We took it to Sardis Lake just for the weekend many times. It took only two and a half hours to make that trip. 

Eventually the Starcraft was replaced with a Coachman travel trailer. I was probably in the last couple of years of middle school then. They replaced the Coachman with an Allegro motor home sometime when I was still in high school. It was a very large rig and more than they really needed so they downsized after I was in college. I think the first smaller motor home was a Midas. They finished their camping in a Minnie Winnie which they purchased on the road in Florence, South Carolina. I think there was one other motor home in between those. Dad who was two years older than mom retired at 62; she retired at 65. When she retired, they spent a lot of time camping. They often made long trips, being gone for several months at a time. They made a trip to New England and a trip out west. They made many other trips as well. They had campground memberships which made it very affordable. They only paid $1 to $5 a night, depending on the agreements between campgrounds. Their favorite camping spot was in the Smokies at their "home" campground, Mill Creek Resort in Pigeon Forge. 

I lived in Cincinnati part of the time and often drove down on weekends when they camped there.When I moved to East Tennessee, they rarely stayed at my house, preferring to stay in the RV in Pigeon Forge. As they grew older, Dad's comfort level driving diminished, so they did most of their travelling during my breaks so I could drive.

The Minnie Winnie parked at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park in Florida

Mom and Dad at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park in Florida

Mom called her love of camping and traveling "the gypsy gene." I remember telling her about all the places Levi Lantz lived. He was born in Mifflin County, Pennsylvania. He moved to Wayne County, Ohio, where he married Barbara Yoder. They moved to Knox County, Ohio for a brief time before returning to Holmes County, Ohio, which adjoined Wayne, to care for some of her aging relatives. They moved near Oak Grove, McLean County, Illinois, where my grandfather Abraham met his wife Laura. Levi, however, moved on to Howard County, Indiana, where his wife died. He then moved to St. Joseph County, Michigan, back to Oak Grove in McLean County, Illinois, to Johnson County, Missouri, and eventually to McPherson County, Kansas where he died in 1887. After I'd recited all his moves, Mom declared, "That's where I got my gypsy gene."

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

A Woman Named Anarchy?

I spent several hours Tuesday researching at the Calvin M. McClung Collection in Knoxville. I followed my plan to use published abstracts for Bedford County, Tennessee to help me trace my Mosely and related lines forward and to find things missing from my ancestral line research.

As I checked the index of a volume, I came across an unusual name. Turning to the page, I found the entry summarized thusly:

Marriage Volume A, page 438
Couple: Clifton Neill and Anarchy Moseley
Security: B. M. Tillman
Marriage Date: 29 July 18661

As I read the entry, I wondered who would name a child Anarchy. This record appears in the section for colored marriages so I assume Anarchy recently enjoyed her first taste of freedom from slavery. Another section in Volume A records marriages of free persons of color. Of course, by 1866, former slaves were free. I located the marriage record's image at Ancestry to verify the abstract's information.2

The mulatto couple resided in Bedford County's fourth district in 1870 with ten-year-old Jim. Clifton was enumerated as Cliff Neil and Anarchy was enumerated as Anica. Both were age forty-five.3 It is unknown if Jim was the natural son of both Cliff and Anica or if only one "parent" belonged to him. Many African-Americans married in the years following the Civil War, and Bedford County's marriage register is filled with multiple entries on each day, with many of the grooms serving as securities for another groom marrying on the same day.4

I was unable to locate the family in 1880. Is the woman's name Anarchy as the marriage record suggests or Anica as the 1870 census suggests? Without further evidence I may never know. Perhaps I'll run across a record with additional evidence for the name. I certainly hope it turns out to be Anica.

1 Helen C. Marsh and Timothy R. Marsh, Official Marriages of Bedford County, Tennessee (Greenville, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press, 1996), volume 1, page 66.
2 "Tennessee, Marriage Records, 1780-2002," database with images, Ancestry ( : accessed 10 July 2018), Clifton Neill to Anarchy Moseley, 29 July 1866, Bedford County; citing marriages available at Tennessee State Library and Archives, Nashville.
3 1870 U.S. Federal Census, Bedford County, Tennessee, population schedule, 4th District, Shelbyville post office, page 177B (stamped), page 22 (written), dwelling and family 140, lines 27-29, Cliff Neil household; digital image, Ancestry ( : accessed 10 July 2018); citing National Archives microfilm publication M593, roll 1514.
4 Marsh and Marsh, Official Marriages of Bedford County, Tennessee, pages 51-77/

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Why I Dislike "Smart Matches"

My Heritage trees offer users "Smart Matches" when matching persons are found. It is designed to help improve or fill in gaps in your tree. A recent match for me yielded some additional information about my ancestor Martha Horn (d. abt. 1761). (I am not citing the specific tree it matched because I do not wish to call out the person who placed the information online.)

The tree owner provided a middle name for Martha in her tree. Martha was born before middle names were common. The person also provided the middle name of "Asbury" for Martha's husband. Since Francis Asbury was not born until after my ancestor William, this seems rather unlikely unless William's maternal grandfather, or possibly a great-grandparent, bore the surname "Asbury." However, men born during William's time only possessed a single given name. I definitely do not want to add either middle name to my tree without good documentation.

The next reason I do not like to add smart matches relates to place name information provided. The individual provided a birth date for Martha of 1719. (I lack a birth date, but it seems a likely date since the youngest known child was born about 1740. I need better documentation before I add a qualifier such as "abt" or "est" to the date.) However, the birthplace given is Bertie County, North Carolina, United States. The last time I checked my American history books, North Carolina was a colony at the time, the Revolution had not been fought, and the United States had not been birthed in 1719. Bertie County (or Precinct) was divided from Chowan in 1722, so even the birth location is incorrect. The tree owner also places "USA" at the end of the death date, which occurred before the birth of the United States.

The tree owner provides parents for Martha. I do not wish to add those until I establish the fact through my own research.

I want to be fully in control of the data entered on my tree, and "Smart Matches" do not provide that opportunity. The default is that all new or improved information is added. While I like the idea of connecting with others researching an individual through some sort of confirmation, I do not want to be forced to accept their data in order to do so. Until accepting data becomes optional, I simply peruse the smart matches for clues, avoiding acceptance of questionable data. Of course, my tree at My Heritage is simply skeletal for DNA matching purposes in the first place. I like being able to see matching trees Ancestry without being forced to accept their data. I always ignore the trees, but I can still see those ignored hints if I click on hints. With MyHeritage, I want to be able to consult the tree but the only options on the review page are to confirm the match or reject it. At least by not confirming or rejecting the matches, I can still view the matching trees by looking at the pending smart matches.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Blood on the Tracks

Edwards, Martin. Blood on the Tracks: Railway Mysteries. Scottsdale, Arizona: Poisoned Pen Press, 2018.

An uneven, but mostly enjoyable collection of short stories compiled by Martin Edwards.

"The Man with the Watches" by Arthur Conan Doyle - A mysterious death on a train is solved when a letter from abroad arrives.

"The Mystery of Felwyn Tunnel" by L. T. Meade & Robert Eustace - The death of a signalman casts suspicion upon a railway worker. Before investigators arrive on the scene, they find another corpse in almost the same location. Science solves the mystery.

"How He Cut His Stick" by Matthias McDonnell Bodkin - A thief gets off a train traveling at full speed. Dora Myrl figures out how.

"The Mysterious Death on the Underground Railway" by Baroness Orczy - A look back at an unsolved murder about a woman poisoned on a train.

"The Affair of the Corridor Express" by Victor L. Whitechurch - The son of a wealthy Londoner is kidnapped on a train while in the care of a school official, disappearing before the destination is reached.

"The Case of Oscar Brodski" by R. Austin Freeman - Forensic evidence helps solve the crime.

"The Eighth Lamp" by Roy Vickers - More suspense than mystery. A signalman sees a circle line train running after hours. Still enjoyable, even if the mystery element is not strong.

"The Knight's Cross Signal Problem" by Ernest Bramah - A signalman performed his duties but an oncoming train sees a "go ahead" resulting in a crash. A blind detective figures out what happened.

"The Unsolved Puzzle of the Man with No Face" by Dorothy L. Sayers - A corpse with a mutilated face appears on a beach with no clues to the victim's identity left. While riding a train, the detective overhears Lord Peter Wimsey's theory, leading to the victim's identification.

"The Railway Carriage" by F. Tennyson Jesse - Solange Fontaine boards a train headed for London in Merchester. The occupants of her third class car speak of the execution of a young man that morning. The train crashes. With the next car aflame, a young man appears urging them to get out, but then he disappears.

"Mystery of the Slip-Coach" by Sapper - A bookmaker's corpse lies in a railway coach with egg splattered upon the door. A bullet killed him. One passenger's luggage contains a firearm, but the bullet doesn't match.

"The Level Crossing" by Freeman Wills Crofts - After a stock deal, a man is found dead at a railway crossing.

"The Adventure of the First-Class Carriage" by Ronald Knox - A Sherlock Holmes mystery written by someone other than Doyle.

"Murder on the 7.16" by Michael Innes - ***SPOILER***"Not a real murder" on "not a real train."***END OF SPOILER*** Different!

"The Coulman Handicap" by Michael Gilbert - A woman under surveillance gives her tail the slip in a case involving precious jewels.

This review is based on an advanced electronic copy received from the publisher through NetGalley with the expectation of an unbiased review.