Twitter for Genealogy

If you are not yet using Twitter for genealogy, now is the time to start. And the cool aspect of Twitter is that you can use it to connect with family, friends and folks in your other hobby interests all at the same time. And all in 140 character micro-blog posts called “tweets” that make connecting quick and easy.

So how can you possibly learn very much in 140-character postings about genealogy or family history? The key is to combine a sentence or meaningful phrase with a link to a Web site that might be your blog or genealogy resources you recommend.

You’ll get many ideas for research from other genealogists on Twitter. You’ll enjoy other researchers’ success stories or learn of their brickwalls. Today Dick Eastman shared his success story using DNA to confirm his connection to the Roger Eastman who arrived in Massachusetts in 1638.

And you’ll get updates on genealogy news. The new genealogy social network called GenealogyWise was out on Twitter from the day it was available to join — and spurred a flood of new members. [Meet me via my page at GenealogyWise.]

One helpful resource that Twitter genealogists share are listings of top or favorite family history research tools and Web sites. One individual just shared the list of 89 Genealogy Resources at the well known RefDesk site. While many of the resources are well known, there’s bound to be something new to help my research. And perhaps yours as well.

And you can participate in Surname Saturday, posting the surnames you’re researching and where they were from, to connect with others researching to same names.

To get started, head over to http://twitter.com/ and click on Get Started – Join! Choose a user name [it will appear in all of your tweets] and password. Then join the fun, finding others on Twitter to “follow” to get their messages.

I post about geneaology and family history, so would love to have you follow me at  http://twitter.com/BBPetura.

Then use the Twitter advanced search here that you can find here: http://search.twitter.com/advanced and put the word genealogy in the space called Hashtag. Up will come all the recent “tweets” about the subject that have #genealogy in them.  You also can search using the #familyhistory hashtag.

Pick a few folks to follow by clicking on their name — and then click the Follow box under their picture. Your home page will immediately have the most recent messages from everyone you follow. Enjoy reading and then posting ideas and resources you want to share. Soon you’ll have some people following you too. Enjoy!

This is one in a series of genealogy and family history research articles to help you find your family and ancestors, often for modest or no cost.

GenealogyWise Networking

One of the best ways to learn more about your ancestors is to network with others researching your surnames. But finding those genealogists and family history researchers isn’t always easy.

Now, the new GenealogyWise Social Network is making it possible for you to find people interested in your family surnames, your family locations, your Y or mtDNA Haplogroup, and much more. And membership is free.

In keeping with the spirit of this blog — Finding Family for Free — we encourage you to visit the GenealogyWise Web site. If you like what you see, and we think you will, please join and get into the conversations underway.

The site has not yet been officially launched, but as of July 10, 2009, it had more 1,600 registered members who had created more than 450 special interest groups.

GenealogyWise reported that among the most active groups at that time were such groups as:
Germany and German Ancestry
Ireland and Irish Ancestry
Genealogy Tips and Links
The Genealogy Guys Podcast
— Scotland and Scottish Ancestry

Of course you’ll want to join groups. And, if you are researching a surname or location, you’ll want to create a group if one doesn’t exist.  I’ve created these groups:

> Bradley Genealogy
> Conger Genealogy 
> Haplogroup U – for all in mtDNA U Haplogroup

You can post your queries, invite and make friends, help other members, find out about upcoming genealogy events and much more.  You’ll enjoy genealogy networking as never before.

And if you join, please invite me to be a Friend. You’ll find me at:
http://www.genealogywise.com/profile/BarbaraBradleyPetura

This is one in a series of genealogy and family history research articles to help you find your family and ancestors, often for modest or no cost.

Misspelled Names in Genealogy

Records used for genealogy research are, unfortunately, riddled with errors, especially the spelling of names. These incorrect names create major challenges for family historians as they search for earlier generations.

Name errors occur for varied reasons. Sometimes names have variations and individuals were not concerned which version was used. Sometimes names were written down incorrectly in the original record. Also, handwriting on old records is often hard to read or in old-fashioned script, leading to errors when the names are transcribed for a census or name index, for example.

Genealogists learn to spot names in the records that might be the ancestors they are seeking — even when outrageously misspelled –and then work to prove or disprove their theory.

My search for my paternal third great-grandparents — parents of Sherman A. Bradley — is an instructive example. To celebrate Father’s Day 2009,  here is a look at my quest for my Bradley forefathers, focusing on the challenges of misspelled names!

When my paternal second great-grandfather Sherman A. Bradley married in Milwaukee on 6 Jan 1859, he was recorded as born in Connecticut “near New Haven” with parents Leman H. Bradley and Mary C. Bradley. When he married for a second time on 11 Jan 1882, the official asked for a maiden name for his mother, so Sherman’s parents were listed as L. H. Bradley and Mary Simons.

An exhaustive review of all Leman, Lemon, Leming and Lyman Bradley men of the right period to have a son born in or about 1835 in Connecticut turned up no relevant results. Nor could an 1850 Census record with Leman, Mary and Sherman be found — anywhere.

Two intriguing records turned up, however, in Litchfield, Litchfield County, Connecticut, a place about 40 miles from New Haven:

> Leaming Hawkins Bradley b. 10 Oct 1808 in Litchfield to Horace Bradley and Hannah Hawkins
> Seyming Bradley m. 18 Sep 1830 in Litchfield to Mary Simons.

The name Leaming could be mistakenly recorded as Leman — and there was a middle name starting with H. And if those who created the Barbour Collection of Vital Records for Connecticut towns misread the capital L as a capital S, then the marriage record could be Leyming Bradley m. Mary Simons.  Leyming is yet another way a clerk might think to write down Leaming, and marriage at age 22 was typical in those days.

This was the closest I had come to a match for the names Sherman gave as his parents. But could I prove this was right? Several records and books kept me focused on this family.

First, Leaming H. Bradley turned up in the 1840 Census in Washington Township, Litchfield County, Connecticut, with two sons in the 5-9 age range. Sherman would fit in that family.

Second, a Pedigree Resource File at FamilySearch.org for Leaming’s younger brother John showed that he, another brother Clark and father Horace were in Dodge County, Wisconsin, not far from Milwaukee, in the 1850 Census. Here was an exciting Wisconsin connection with a date not long before Sherman arrived in 1857-58.

Third, among the books on Ancestry.com I found one with the genealogy of this Bradley family line going back to New Haven in the 1640s. It showed that Leaming Bradley, the first child of Horace Bradley and Hannah Twitchell [her correct surname], had married Mary Simonds and they “had several sons.” Here was good confirmation of the Litchfield marriage record and a match to the two young males in Leaming’s household in the 1840 Census.

[The book is Genealogical and Family History of Central New York, Vol. III, by William Richard Cutter. See page 1224.]

Attempts to find a birth record for Sherman A. Bradley were not successful, even with efforts by the Litchfield Historical Society and the Town Clerk for Washington, Connecticut. Such a record is always the best proof. I was pretty sure I had the right family, but felt I need some added records for confirmation.

I turned to the Milwaukee City Directories for the 1860s and 1870s to see if Sherman’s father or parents might have come to Milwaukee as well. In the microfilms of those directories, on a day not long ago, I found the proof I was looking for: Leaming H. Bradley had come to Milwaukee where his son Sherman was married and working. You can imagine my excitement!

His name was recorded in various ways in the directories, and I share them all to show again the challenge of misspelled names:
> 1862: L. H. Bradley
> 1863: Leming H. Bradley, proprietor of L. H. Bradley & Co.
> 1865: Seamey H. Bradley, same address as Leming H. in 1863.
> 1866: Leaming H. Bradley, his name spelled correctly! 
> 1867: L. H. Bradley
> 1871-1872: Lyman H. Bradley

Leaming’s consistent use of his middle initial H. helped identify him, no matter how his first name was mangled.

The home address for all but one of these entries was on 8th Street, helping show that these are  listings for the same man, just various spellings of of his name.  And the location was about four blocks from the home of Benjamin Church where his daughter Hannah lived with her husband Sherman A. Bradley.

Also, in many of these years his occupation listed was pumpmaker, including the final listing when his name was spelled Lyman. Sherman A. Bradley had the same occupation. [Note: In that era, water pumps were made out of wood, so Sherman’s career move to pumpmaker from carpenter makes sense.]

Two more clues helped confirm that Leaming Hawkins Bradley and Mary Simons were Sherman’s parents. Written on a Bradley family tree were two notes: one, that Sherman had an ancestor in the Revolutionary War and, two, the ancestral name Abernathy, connection unclear. Books showed the parents of Horace Bradley as Aaron Bradley — who served in the Revolution as a youthful blacksmith and guard — and Lorrin Abernethy, daughter of Dr. William Abernethy.

All the pieces of the genealogical puzzle fell into place, at last.

But why was a Bradley male child born in 1808 given the first name Leaming? That name honors his great-grandfather Leaming Bradley who first brought the family to Litchfield from Middletown, Connecticut, and also his third great-grandmother Jane Leaming, daughter of Christopher Leaming and Hester Burnet, who married the first in the line of men named Abraham Bradley. But those are stories for another day.

Using the surname Leaming was a given name did indeed honor our Leaming ancestors, but also created a genealogy brickwall that was very strong, but has finally tumbled down!

This is one in a series of genealogy and family history research articles to help you find your family and ancestors, often for modest or no cost.

Benjamin Church House – Milwaukee

benjamin-church-house-front.jpg Photograph by Barbara Bradley Petura

An exceptional way to be in touch with your family history is to visit locations important to your ancestors’ lives.  July 2007 gave me an opportunity to do just that. 

The place was the Benjamin Church House, located since 1938 in Estabrook Park, Shorewood. The house was built about 1844 in an area then known as Kilbourntown. That name came from Bryon Kilbourn, land owner and founder about 1835 of the pioneer town just west of the Milwaukee River.

Kilbourntown was one of three towns that merged in 1846 to create the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  The others were Juneautown east of the river and Walker’s Point to the south.

In those days, the Church house was on Fourth Street at the intersection with Court Street, between Cherry and Galena streets. The site in the pioneer era is described as up a hill overlooking a tamarack swamp near the river.

Benjamin Church, my ggg-grandfather, was one of the earliest settlers in Milwaukee. He arrived in November 1835 via Chicago from his birthplace in Ulster County, New York.

A pioneer carpenter and master builder, he brought the Greek Revival style from the East Coast to the young city of Milwaukee — and applied it to construction of his own family home. With its four graceful columns on the front and other distinctive features, the house gives the feeling of a small Greek temple.

That Greek Revival style, combined with the use of hand-hewn lumber and Cream City bricks stamped with the date 1844 and initials of the brick maker, made the house worth saving, restoring and moving to a new location. The house today is an intimate museum of life in Milwaukee in the 1850s, with the furnishings giving a sense of what life was like in those days.

Standing in the cozy house, I imagined Benjamin Church returning home, up the hill to the house, climbing the steps to the porch and enjoying the modest elegance of the Doric columns, then entering the house right into the small living room.  A fire crackling in the fireplace and the sounds of his children would have greeted him at the end of a day’s work.

His wife Permilia would likely have been in the kitchen cooking dinner, helped by oldest daughters Ann Maria and Ann Augusta. I imagine the younger children doing their chores, or their studies, or perhaps playing.

Known to her family as Hannah, Ann Maria married Sherman A. Bradley on January 6, 1859. They too lived in the Church House and their son Jesse Charles Bradley was born there June 22, 1866.

A special treasure awaited me in the back room of the house, where a display board told the history of house and of Benjamin Church himself. There on display was his photograph! See it on the page with his biography.

The Benjamin Church House, also called the Kilbourntown House, is open to the public free during the summer. A docent or guide is on hand to talk about the house, its history and its significance in conveying a vivid snapshot of early Milwaukee history.

Check with the Milwaukee County Historical Society for the hours the house is open. It is worth a visit!

Essay and photograph by Barbara Ann Bradley Petura, July/August 2007.

Published in: on August 13, 2007 at 4:42 am  Comments (1)  
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Finding Family for Free, Part IX

Genealogy and family history research are aided greatly by the generosity of volunteers. They know the importance to people of finding their ancestors.

These volunteers transcribe old documents such as census records, city directories and genealogy books. They develop and maintain Web sites, and find still more volunteers to contribute information. They own valuable books and documents and offer free look-ups.  They are the heroes and heroines of genealogy.

A remarkable network of volunteer genealogy Web sites is the USGenWeb Project which aims to have a useful — and free — genealogy site for every county in every state in the USA. From the home page, you can find the state sites, and at state sites you’ll find links to county sites and other helpful resources.

Let’s use Wisconsin as an example.  At the WIGenWeb Project site, you’ll find a brief description of Wisconsin history, a history timeline, a state map showing the counties and a link to the County List of county sites.  There is also a Wisconsin Archive of historic documents and a search engine for them.  In addition, there is a big page of Wisconsin resources.

But if you know your ancestors’ county, you’ll likely find the most useful information on the county site.  For example, I visited Calumet County where New Holstein is located. One-quarter of my ancestry has its roots in New Holstein and back to Holstein, Germany.  The Calumet County page is helpful, but the treasure trove for me was the Calumet County Genealogy Page.

For example, in searching for my Hachez ancestors, I found the obituary of Nicholas Boie that listed his many daughters and sons. Among them was Mrs. Ferd. Hachez. I now had the maiden name for my great-great-grandmother, unknown until then.

Then, in searching for Boie, Hachez and Luhr/Luehr ancestors, I found them all in the 1860 census transcription. There were Nicolaus Boie, Ferdinand Hachez [the elder], and John, Margaretha and Peter Lühr, later spelled Luehr.

Transcriptions from the New Holstein Cemetery provided more family details including for many of the Boie family members, including Nicholas Boie and his wife Cecilie Tonner Boie. The online cemetery plot owners listing  shows listings for Nic Boie, Ferdinand Hachey [Hachez] and John Luehr.

The 1893 New Holstein Patrons Directory had a business listing for Ferd. Hachez [the younger], and the transcribed newspaper clippings revealed that William Henry Luehr, son of John and Anna, was at the University of Wisconsin during 1888-1889.

Thanks to this excellent site, I found details that helped fill in the family story. In return, I have transcribed and donated the obituary for Anna Margretha Groth Luehr, another of my great-great-grandmothers, and will donate others soon.

Check out USGenWeb and consider the parallel WorldGenWeb for your own research.

This is one in a series of genealogy and family history research ideas to help you find your family and ancestors for modest or no cost.

Published in: on November 19, 2006 at 12:35 am  Comments (1)  
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Surnames of My Ancestors

My own ancestors will turn up in Relative Musings occasionally as I illustrate points or seek to explore their lives and influence.  This listing will track of those references, which can also be found via the search engine. Surnames I am researching include:

  • Father’s paternal side: Abernethy, Baker, Bradley, Church, Leaming, Simons, Speich, Stocker, Twitchell
  • Father’s maternal side: Becker, Booth, Bruce (Bruss), Ebrey, and Stiemke
  • Mother’s paternal side: Conger, Cram, Morey, Palmerton, Sharp and Woolverton
  • Mother’s maternal side: Boie (Boje), Carstens, Groth, Hachez, Luehr (Luhr), Suhr, and Tonner

Mentions of family discoveries in my Finding Family for Free postings or other entries and the date they appeared include:

Abernethy/Abernathy, paternal lineage

Baker, paternal lineage

Boie, maternal lineage

Booth, paternal lineage

Bradley, paternal lineage

Bruss / Bruce, paternal lineage

Church, paternal lineage

 Groth, maternal lineage

Hachez, maternal lineage

Leaming, paternal lineage

Luehr (Luhr), maternal lineage

 Sharp, maternal lineage

Stiemke, paternal lineage

Tonner, maternal lineage

 Woolverton, maternal lineage

Women are recorded with their maiden and married names, where available, but are indexed primarily under their maiden name. Click on the date to go to and read the entry.

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