Family Found in 2 of 75

When the  Milwaukee County Historical Society celebrated its 75th Anniversary in 2010, the staff chose 75 items from the collections that they considered “both unique and enlightening” and told a story about Milwaukee County’s past or about the Historical Society. Imagine my surprise recently on discovering that 2 of the 75 items have a direct connection to my own ancestors.

First, you can view the entire collection of 75 items ranging from a red A. O. Smith Flyer to Christopher Bach’s violin to Increase Lapham’s bookcase to Arthur McArthur’s desk to Old Settlers Club albums. These items and collections help illuminate Milwaukee’s history and people. Each is worth exploring to learn more.

Second, as noted, 2 of the 75 items have family connections.

One consists of a pair of  daguerreotypes featuring Byron Kilbourn, one of Milwaukee’s founders, and his wife  Henrietta. The main connection is that these pictures for some years were on display at the Benjamin Church House or Kilbourntown house built by my ancestor Benjamin Church and now a museum. Another connection is that Benjamin was an early Milwaukee settler, arriving in 1835 and living in Kilbourntown on the west side of the Milwaukee River. He was a political associate of Kilbourn’s in early Milwaukee.

The other is the William George Bruce Collection featuring family chronicles from 1916 to 1948. A Milwaukee publisher, historian and civic leader, William George Bruce was the oldest brother of my great-grandfather Martin P. Bruce.

These two members of my extended family are featured in a recent blog post I did on writing and posting biographical sketches on Wikipedia about selected ancestors.

There are other family connections to 75 items in the anniversary collection, but they less specific. Benjamin Church was a member of the Old Settlers Club and may be mentioned in one or more of the Old Settlers Club Albums while several family members have documents in the collection of Naturalization Papers.

When working on your family history, keep a look out for materials from the historical society where they lived. You too may be pleasantly surprised!

Please follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/BBPetura

Why not check out my helpful Genealogy Resources webpage: http://bit.ly/GenealogyResources

Please join my group Finding Family for Free at GenealogyWise:
http://www.genealogywise.com/group/findingfamilyforfree

Thank you! And good researching!

Ancestors on Wikipedia

Do you have an ancestor who has made a significant contribution to his or her community, field of business or profession? Were they an inventor or artist or civic leader of note? Then consider developing a biographical sketch for them — using encyclopedia format — and add it to Wikipedia.

Why is this a worthwhile step in your family history? First, you will need to organize many details about your noted ancestor in a thorough and coherent way to share with others. Second, it will go onto the website well known for being the place to turn for information on all important topics.

Of course, most of our ancestors are not likely subjects for Wikipedia, no matter how good they were as citizens and family members. But if there are distinctive and influential features to their lives and careers, you should consider taking this step. To do this, you should sign up for a Wikipedia account and learn the basic formatting steps for a Wikipedia entry. Or find someone to help you.

Some years ago, I visited the Benjamin Church House that today is a pioneer museum in Estabrook Park, Shorewood, north of Milwaukee. It was built in the early days of Milwaukee, 1843-1844, not far west of the Milwaukee River by my third great-grandfather for his family. He used the distinctive Greek Revival style for the house, one of the reasons it was rescued and turned into a museum. I wrote a Wikipedia article about the Benjamin Church House because it is on the National Register of Historic Places and is open to the public in the summer.

Sometime later, I wrote a Wikipedia entry about Benjamin F. Church himself. He was one of the earliest white settlers in Milwaukee, was a carpenter and builder, filled several public offices in the early city — and of course built the Benjamin Church House that still stands today.

Recently, I had time to write a Wikipedia entry on William George Bruce, a Milwaukee publisher, historian and influential civic leader. I had done considerable research about him as he was the oldest brother of my great-grandfather Martin P. Bruce. I had the details on his career, public service contributions and family, as well as his many recognitions and awards including being called “Public Citizen No. 1” for Milwaukee. I also had many sources, very necessary for the References or Notes section of a Wikipedia entry. Luckily I had found a copy of the book I Was Born in America: Memoirs of William George Bruce that helped me with my family genealogy as well as the Wikipedia entry.

Of course there are other places to post such biographical sketches, including your own family history website. But if you have an ancestor whose contributions are influential and distinctive — and if they don’t yet have a Wikipedia entry — consider doing it. You will add to the store of knowledge we all share through Wikipedia.

Please follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/BBPetura

Why not check out my helpful Genealogy Resources webpage: http://bit.ly/GenealogyResources

Please join my group Finding Family for Free at GenealogyWise:
http://www.genealogywise.com/group/findingfamilyforfree

Thank you!

Online Genealogy Courses

Genealogists and family historians enjoy the quest of adding more generations to their family trees. We always face the key questions: But who were their parents? And what was the woman’s maiden name? Where did the family come from, where did they move, and why?

If you’ve been doing genealogy research for some time, you know that solving those genealogy brickwalls takes not only new online databases and books, but also new insights on how to approach our research. Here’s where free online classes and lectures can be a big help. They’re a great supplement to workshops presented by genealogy societies where you can ask the experts face to face.

Today I watched the three video segments of an excellent presentation by Bernie Gracy, founder of AncestralHunt.com. In them, he discusses how understanding place and geography and demographics can help you find key relationships among your ancestors. Locations – whether a small rural village or a city neighborhood – often influence the selection of marriage partners, and thus genealogy and family history. Proximity in an ancestral location in Europe may well determine proximity in America, for example.

These short videos are among the best genealogy lessons I’ve seen and heard. They add depth to the insights I gained from Donna Potter Phillips, a genealogist from Spokane, Washington, who gave a very fine workshop on using place in family history research. [See story.] She gave it recently for the Whitman County Genealogical Society.

You can watch these three helpful video segments from Bernie Gracy free on YouTube here: http://www.youtube.com/user/ancestralhunt

There are many other sources of online genealogy classes, often free. Some are videos, some are text only. Consider using these to help you advance your own research:
Introduction to Genealogy
85 lessons at Genealogy.com
Genealogy Research Classes Online from FamilySearch

Links to other free classes and tips on improving your genealogy research can be found on the Genealogy Resouces page at my website: http://www.workingdogweb.com/Genealogy-Resources.htm

Or try a Google search for the words “genealogy on youtube” with or without the quotation marks to find more classes and videos for genealogy. Or search for genealogy on the YouTube site itself. Here are examples of what comes up:
Genealogy Gems: http://www.youtube.com/user/GenealogyGems
Genealogy Guy: http://www.youtube.com/user/GenealogyGuy

Some important topics include using Flash drives to back up all your genealogy documents and pictures including how to find your computer’s USB ports; organizing and preserving your genealogy papers materials and resources; and much more.

Here’s to great success in finding your family’s ancestors by learning new research skills and strategies!

Published in: on November 26, 2010 at 8:02 pm  Comments (2)  
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City Directories and Genealogy

Whether your genealogy research emphasizes family trees and dates or expands into the realm of family history, you will find that city directories are an essential tool. While the United States Census records provide family insights in 10-year increments, city directories can fill in many of the years in between. The older ones typically included an address, occupation and often spouses.

You can use city directories to add details and color to your family history, or use them to determine where your ancestors lived in the years between the census.

You also may make discoveries as I did when researching my great-grandfather’s uncle John Bruce who we knew lived in San Francisco and worked in the ship building industry starting before the Civil War. What a surprise to find in the 1856 directory that both John and his brother Martin had arrived, were working as ship caulkers and living at Isthmus House. [See story]. The directories helped me picture John’s life through 1905, the final entry that I can find for him. And added a brief yet exciting chapter to Martin’s life as well.

Where can you find city directories that you can search via the Internet?

There are websites that can guide you to the city directories you need, both free and subscription:
> Cyndi’s List: http://www.cyndislist.com/citydir.htm
> Online Historical Directories: http://sites.google.com/site/onlinedirectorysite/
> US City Directories: http://www.uscitydirectories.com/

I am excited about the many directories online and easy to use, free, at Internet Archive: Digital Library found online here: http://www.archive.org/

That’s where I found dozens of San Francisco directories, helpful to my search for the life of John Bruce. I have found a good number of Atlanta and Chicago directories there as well, helpful for filing out details on other branches of my extended family. And checking now, I find city directories for Boston, Brooklyn, New York City and more.

While no Milwaukee directories are found there, the Internet Archive does have the 1891/1892 Wisconsin Gazetteer and Business Directory that can be helpful. And Caspar’s guide and map of the city of Milwaukee: directory of streets, house numbers and electric car lines for 1904, a treasure for understanding city locations before many street names were changed so they matched east and west of the Milwaukee River. With engravings and listings, this guide also provides a lively look at Milwaukee 106 years ago.

You may find transcribed city and town directories on websites for those locations. Especially helpful to me are the early Milwaukee directories transcribed and posted at Links to the Past: http://linkstothepast.com/milwaukee/ctydir.php

Also invaluable were the transcribed directories for New Holstein and Calumet County, Wisconsin. These include:
> 1893 Patron Directory: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~calumet/14.htm
> 1905 City and Rural Directory: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~calumet/cd1905.htm

Finally, there are many city directories on subscription websites such as Ancestry.com, and I use those as well. You also can find them the old-fashioned way, in microfilm format from your area Family History Center. It was the 1866 Milwaukee Directory read on microfilm that finally confirmed a link in my Bradley family lineage that seemed to be correct. [See story].

No matter how you obtain them, make sure city directories are a key part of your genealogy research strategy. Best wishes for your family history research, and Happy Thanksgiving!

Please follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/BBPetura

Please join my group Finding Family for Free at GenealogyWise:
http://tiny.cc/GWFindingFamilyforFree

Thank you!

Bradley Genealogy Puzzle Solved

On April 2, 2010, on Facebook, Ancestry.com posted this: “For centuries April 1st has been a day when pranksters rule, leading friends on a wild goose chase. Some of our ancestors do that year round. Have you found an elusive ancestor who took you on a path full of twists and turns? How did you finally solve the mystery?”

Several of my ancestors took me on paths of twists and turns to find them.  Here is one of my favorites, with a successful solution to the mystery, as I replied on Facebook:

Definitely! My 2nd great-grandfather Sherman A BRADLEY came to Milwaukee , Wisconsin, from Connecticut about 1857. I was led on a merry chase by the 1900 Census that said his father was born in England, his mother in Scotland. No matches in any immigration records!

So I worked to link him to the right Bradley family in Connecticut – and there are a great many. In Wisconsin marriage records [he married twice], his parents were recorded as Leming H Bradley or L. H. Bradley and Mary Simons. I found a likely match for his father’s birth as Leaming Hawkins Bradley in Litchfield, Connecticut, and a marriage there of Seyming Bradley and Mary Simons, both via the Barbour Collection of Connecticut Vital Records. [Note: Capital L and S are often misread for the other one, and Leaming is often misspelled.] No birth record for Sherman was found there, however.

An 1850 census entry with Leaming’s father Horace Bradley and two brothers John and Clark in Dodge County, Wisconsin, suggested I was on the right track. A genealogy book on Ancestry.com had this Bradley family, but only said Leaming Bradley and Mary Simonds “had several sons.” But I knew then that Seyming [Leyming] WAS Leaming – and he had sons.

The final link? Milwaukee City Directories – on microfilm, borrowed  from the Family History Library –  had entries from 1862 to 1872 for L. H. Bradley or Leming H. Bradley and one spelled correctly as Leaming H Bradley. YES! He had the same occupation as son Sherman A. Bradley, and lived just a few blocks from Sherman, his wife Hannah and their son Jesse, born 1866.

With the link finally made – using many sources and records –  I have my Bradley ancestors all the way back to the arrival of Stephen Bradley in New Haven CT from Yorkshire, England, about 1645.  So yes, English ancestors. And Leaming Hawkins Bradley’s grandfather, Aaron Bradley, married Lorrain Abernethy, and her ancestors were Scottish, of which they were quite proud.

One last confirming clue. A family tree from my uncle showed that there was a Revolutionary War soldier in the Bradley line. In fact, Aaron Bradley, L. H. Bradley’s grandfather, served in the Revolutionary War when a teenager, working in the artificer’s shop and as a guard for prisoners held in Litchfield. And so the many genealogy puzzle pieces finally fit together!

Please follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/BBPetura

Please join my group Finding Family for Free at GenealogyWise:
http://tiny.cc/GWFindingFamilyforFree

Thank you!

SNGF – Ahnentafel Roulette No. 2

Note: After reviewing my Ahnentafel with greater care, I found that Jane Ebrey is No. 23 on my ancestor table while Marianna Stocker is No. 19. See Saturday, September 19,  for Ancestor 19.

This week’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun is Ahnentafel Roulette, a game played using your father’s age and a quick formula to find a number in your Ahnentafel or ancestry table.

My father was born in 1919 so would have been 90 this year. The figure 90 divided by 4 is 22.5, rounded up to 23. Ancestor 23 is a second-great grandmother on your paternal side.

My Ancestor 23 is Jane Ebrey, born about October 1839 in Prees, Shropshire, England. I say “about” because the many records I have for her show her birth year ranging from 1837 to 1855!  I suspect the 1837-1839 period is right, as census records give her age as 14 in 1851 and 22 in 1861.

To date I have not found a birth record for her, either through IGI or FreeBMD. I’ve even searched the latter for the name Jane in Shropshire, September 1837 through December 1840, hoping for a unique surname spelling, but no luck.

Research by a cousin showed Jane’s parents were Thomas Ebrey and Anne, and her uncle was Robert Ebrey, a widower for whom she kept house as we know from the 1861 Census in England.  While many records are available about Robert and another uncle, John Gilchrist Ebrey, Jane’s father Thomas Ebrey is illusive in the records. There is enough evidence to know these people are her family, but more research is needed!

The happy and romantic story for Jane Ebrey is her marriage to Benjamin Booth in the second quarter of 1866, perhaps in May or June,  the same time that her cousin Henry [Robert’s son] married Sarah Booth, sister to Benjamin.

Then Benjamin and Jane sailed for America on their honeymoon, according to family lore, coming to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where they established  family and career. They had two sons and four daughters including the oldest daughter, Grace, who is my great-grandmother.

Relative Musings:  Jane and Benjamin arrived in 1866, just 31 years after the building of Milwaukee had begun in the woods and swamps at a harbor on Lake Michigan and just 20 years after incorporation as a city. Benjamin’s carpentry skills played a role in the building of what has become a great city on a Great Lake!

NOTE: What is an Ahnentafel? The word is German for Ancestor table. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahnentafel

Thanks for the SNGF, Randy! http://www.geneamusings.com/

Please follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/BBPetura

Please join my group Finding Family for Free at GenealogyWise:
http://tiny.cc/GWFindingFamilyforFree

-o0o-

Published in: on September 20, 2009 at 5:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
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SNGF – Ahnentafel Roulette

Note: After reviewing my Ahnentafel with greater care, I found that Marianna Stocker is No. 19 on my ancestor table. See the posting for Sunday, September 20, for Ancestor 23.

This week’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun is Ahnentafel Roulette, a game played as follows:
> Determine how old your father is or would be this year
> Divide that number by 4 and round up
> Find the ancestor in your own Ahnentafel chart who fills the slot with that number
> And then tell us three things about that ancestor.

My father Donald Custer Bradley was born in 1919 so would be 90 this year. The figure 90 divided by 4 is 22.5, rounded up to 23. Ancestor 23 is a second-great grandmother on your paternal side.

My ancestor 23 is Marianna Stocker, b. 18 Jun 1826 near Zweisimmen in Canton Bern, Switzerland, one of 11 children of Jacob Stocker and Magdalena Werren.

A family tree notes that Jacob and many of his children came to America, with other evidence showing their arrival about 1852-1854. Marianna settled in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin.

On 31 March 1857, Marianna married Joachim Speich, who had come in 1847  to Wisconsin from Luchsingen, Glarus, Switzerland, and they had 2 sons and 3 daughters, the youngest being Caroline Belle Speich, my great-grandmother.

Relative Musings:  Both Marianna and Joachim came from German-speaking regions of Switzerland so would have felt at home among the many German immigrants in mid-19th century Milwaukee. On the other hand, they surely missed the beautiful high mountains of Switzerland, their native home, as they lived in a pioneer city on Lake Michigan in the flat Midwest of the USA.

I am grateful for the research done by cousins on these Stocker and Speich ancestors and graciously shared!

NOTE: What is an Ahnentafel? The word is German for Ancestor table. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahnentafel

Thanks for the SNGF, Randy! http://www.geneamusings.com/

Please follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/BBPetura

Please join my group Finding Family for Free at GenealogyWise:
http://tiny.cc/GWFindingFamilyforFree

Genealogy Queries Work

Using queries in genealogy and family history research goes way back, but how they’re published has changed dramatically.  All for the better!

In the past, queries were mailed to genealogy newsletters and magazines, waited in line for space, and eventually went out the subcribers of the particular periodical. They must have worked as the query method remained popular.

Today, queries go via emails to genealogy discussion groups or onto Web pages tailored for queries. They’re organized by surname or geographical area or unique topic of interest. And the posting is either instantaneous or as soon as a moderator reviews and approves the query.

And many query sites allow the search engines to spider their content, so a surname search in Google or Bing can turn up queries your cousins have posted on your own family. How exciting is that!

Here are some good places to post queries online, for free:

GenForums – This is a very large collection of forums for surnames, countries, regions of countries and special topics. Post a query both in a surname forum and location forum. These work!

Message Boards – an integrated system for RootsWeb.com and Ancestry.com, free for all to use whether you access them from RootsWeb or Ancestry. See article about them.

CousinConnect – This site lets you post queries as well as browse and search them.

Progenealogists Free Queries – Post and search queries.

For many more resources about on this topic, visit the Queries page at Cyndi’s List here.

As you work on a surname or ancestor, post queries on all of the places relevant to that person or family. You may strike the proverbial pay dirt. I have so I know these work. Happy searching!

This is one in a series of genealogy and family history research articles with ideas to help you find your family and ancestors at little or no cost. Please follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/BBPetura

Published in: on September 17, 2009 at 1:48 am  Leave a Comment  
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BBPetura on Twitter

Using Twitter is a fun way to meet genealogists, get tips on new family history resources and record research progress.  And also to follow news media, experts on archaeology and gardening, and more! Unique diary! Here are some of my recent tweets:

9/12/2009

Wisconsin 1875 Census on FamilySearch with index & scans is great! Ancestors Benjamin Church & Sherman A. Bradley in Milwaukee!

RT @Palaeogeek Thirty thousand year-old colored twine found in Georgia: http://is.gd/37AYC | Europe that is!

Beautiful day so I enjoyed a visit to Living in the Garden north of #Pullman for fall #flowers, food treats: http://tiny.cc/LvngInGrdn9

RT @Cherryteatime Condense #genealogy w/geography – Suffolk, Shropshire, Yorkshire ENG, Glarus SWISS, Pomerania, Holstein, Trier GER, more!

My http://books.google.com/ search – ancestor Ferdinand Hachez did weather observations 1865, helped found a hail insurance company 1870

#Genealogy tip: At least once a year, search for your ancestors in old books & documents at http://books.google.com/ Great finds possible!

Great idea: search anew for ancestors’ info on their birthday. Thanks @mjnrootdig for #Genealogy tip of the day: http://tinyurl.com/Bdays9

9/9/2009

RT @jefferymartin Skull has been found that rewrites the history of man — http://bit.ly/ypKRY | And woman we presume!

9/7/2009

Try to be a generous genealogy volunteer and help others find their families! See an example at Relative Musings: http://tiny.cc/RMsng939

Labor Day #genealogy – Ancestor Sherman A. Bradley was a carpenter, then pumpmaker, owned Badger Pump, Milwaukee. Pumps then made of wood!

Labor Day #genealogy – Ancestor John Nicholas Luehr was stonemason & farmer in late 1800s. His hard work meant two sons could go to college!

Labor Day #genealogy – Ancestor Benjamin Church, pioneer carpenter in 1835 in Milwaukee, from Ulster County, NY: http://tiny.cc/BnjChurch35

Labor Day #genealogy – Both of my grandmothers, Beatrice and Lucille, were teachers before marrying: one home ec, one elementary school.

Labor Day #genealogy – William Henry Luehr was a newspaper publisher, a school teacher & principal in Wisconsin: http://tiny.cc/WHLuehr

Labor Day #genealogy – Martin Friedrich Bruss came to Milwaukee from Cammin, Pomerania, to continue family tradtion of ship building, 1839.

Labor Day #genealogy fun: tweet about the labors of your ancestors – any of their occupations a suprise? a family tradition? Please RT!

9/6/2009

Amazed at my Hachez ancestors’ migrations: Brugge, Belgium, to Bremen, Germany, to village of New Holstein, Wisconsin, in 1854!

Just finished replying to a distanct cousin in Germany about the Hachez family of 3 who came to Wisconsin in 1854: http://tiny.cc/FHHachez

Note: The hash # tags and at @ tags you see above don’t work outside Twitter! You can find those tweeting by putting their Twitter handle after http://twitter.com/. Mine, for example, is http://twitter.com/BBPetura.  Please follow me!

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.

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