Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Finding Your Ancestors in City Directories

City Directories are a very helpful source of information. Let's say you know your ancestor's name and the town where he was living. You can find out specific information about his address and his job (if one was recorded).

Let's take this as an example. My great-great grandfather was Louis Kafka. I know he lived in the Chicago area. I found a 1910 Lakeside Directory, City of Chicago. I foud this entry:

Kafka, Louis J barber h 2103 W Division

This shows me he was a barber and lived on Division Street in Chicago. Obviously things change from year to year. It is interesting to see if the ancestor moved or stayed in the same house. Did he keep the same job or not?  I found a 1923 Chicago City Directory. This is the information I found from it.

Kafka, Louis J slsmn Utility Securities Co h1416 Bryn Mawr av

This shows me his job and where he lived. He was a salesman at Utility Securities Company and lived at 1416 Bryn Mawr Avenue in Chicago.  (H stands for home.)

Most of the people listed in the directories are men; however, widows are listed as are women who had jobs. So, what did your ancestor do for a living and where did he live? Look them up. Directories are still available today, so track yourself and see where it is documented that you lived or worked. It might surprise you!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

My Favorite Genealogy Tools

There are many tools that genealogists use to do their research. Some are good, some are mediocre, and some are just not good. Today I will discuss one of my favorite tools.

Census The census is a great tool. The only caveat with this is that the census only publishes a new census every 12 years. For example, 1940 is the latest census to be published. It is not fully indexed, at this writing, so you have to be creative in how you find someone. The census, depending on the year it was taken, has a lot of valuable information. The first recorded census was 1790. It only lists the name of the head of household, how many free white males and females were in the house (by age groups), and how many slaves. Not a lot of information here. The 1880 census starts telling you how old the person was. This is a great addition. It might help to weed out people with the same name. It tells their marial status, relationship to the head of household, if they were insane (ok, who would say yes to this?), and where they and their parents were born.

Most of the 1890 census were destroyed in a fire. But some information can be found in state census records. The 1900 census adds asking how long the person has been married and how many children were born along with how many are still living. It also asked about the person's occupation and whether the home lived in was owned or rented. So there is some really good information here.

As I stated, this is a good tool. We can find out education, family members, occupation, and nativity from the census records. We can also see neighbors (which might include future spouses) and relatives that live in the same neighborhood.

Yes, the census is a good tool. I just wish they would publish them quicker. I am not sure I can wait another 10 years just to find my mom in her house!

Next time I will review City Directories.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Back to the Basics

OK, so it has been a while since I worked on the Elzy family. The last couple days I have decided to fix my files rather than do more research.

I have looked through some Excel documents and have noticed that I have about 5 copies of the same information, just spread out differently. So I am combining all this into one file and throwing the others away. Dangerous, huh?

To make things easier, here is how I broke my research worksheets up: First, I have all those Kentucky relatives in one giant spreadsheet. I am keeping track of birth date and locations, death date and locations, marriage date and locations, burials, obits, and headstones. I think this file has about 520 give or take people on it. That is a lot of information! Then I took the descendants of my great grandfather, Edward Henry Elzy and put them into a spreadsheet. But I limited it to those who were born before 1970. Why? Because there are not a lot of records I can find on them.

I also look for census records for each of these people. Now, the census is only available for 1940 and before. So it is limiting to what I can find for those born after 1970.

I will keep trudging along and hopefully I will find something that I just do not have!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Similar Names

We all know families that have similar names. How many families do you know that have a Bob or a John or a Mary in them? I know several. In previous generations, it was common to carry names from one generation to another. Given that, I can see where one family could have a Phebe and the next might have a Phebe. (Girls' names being carried down from one generation to another was less common than boys' names being carried down, but it still occurred.) But, what about a family that had the following?

Elzy Elzy and Rachel Dodd had the following children: James, Silas, Phoebe, Sarah, Leven, and Nancy. All were born between 1810-1836. James had a son named Robert. In 1850, Robert lived with a woman named Patience (not sure if related). All this took place in the state of Kentucky.

In 1880, a household had the following: Robert (head), Sarah (wife), Major, Leven, Phebe, Job, Charles (grandfather), and Patience.

So, in both families there were: Robert, Sarah, Leven, Phebe, and Patience. A couple of the people were about the same ages. So, do you believe in coincidence? I do not. So the next step is to prove how these people are related, what the significance of the name is, and how they are all related to Elzy Elzy! That is the next step!