21 March 2012

Tech Tuesday ... US City Directories for Columbus on Ancestry

You may or may not have known this but Ancestry.com just updated their US City Directories. I've looked at a few of the directories for Columbus, Ohio on Ancestry.com but I stopped. The reason was that I could not connect the images to the people on my tree in the same fashion as I could Census records, and the like.

Finally, Ancestry has indexed the Columbus City Directories from 1862 to 1960. That's HUGE! I have worked with only one family and it will take a long time to connect every record to just the Hoppe and the Brown families. I haven't even started connecting Geiszler families. Let's just say, I'll be busy.

Just a word of caution, it is in Beta form. I think I've discovered what this means. It looks like Ancestry.com used an OCR (optical character recognition) to index their records. In many cases, this has worked splendidly. In other cases, not so much. For instance, There are farm more Brown persons in the 1920s and 1930s directories. The directories use ditto marks rather than list Brown for the hundreds of persons with the name. That makes a lot of sense pre-computer era. Unfortunately, the OCR interprets the ditto marks as the letter M. Sometimes my Samuel Brown relative will be recorded as M Samuel (first name M) or Samuel M (last name M). I make adjustments in the index entry easily and attach the record for Samuel to my tree.

The other problem I see is when a person (or series of persons) are not indexed at all. Some names are skipped over, and it seems to always be August Hoppe for some reason. Some groups of names seem to occur on the Brown pages when an odd character is found and the OCR will cut of its interpretation for a series of names until it understands another entry further down the page. Perhaps there was something wrong with the paper for this cluster of names which made the OCR technology not work exactly. Again, it's Beta and I'd expect strange errors like this.

My only complaint, and it's a small one, is there is no way to report the second 'error.' I can report when an image is of poor quality or the like. However, there is no way to report that a name or group of names is not indexed. I haven't found a way to insert an index entry for the missing name either. So, if Ancestry.com would create an option on their 'report problems' for missing entries, then I could let them know and feel like I'm helping them move out of the Beta testing phase.

In any case, I'm having a blast with the ability to connect the US City Directories database entries for my family. I don't even mind that I have to do the hard work (meaning there are no shaking leaf hints). See you in about two months as I go through each person in the directories and all of the possible years they can be found. It's going to be a fun, long while!!!! ;)

17 March 2012

Surname Saturday - Joseph Geißler, A Difficult Man

In a previous post, I shared how difficult it was to find my grandfather Joseph Geißler in Columbus, Ohio between the years of 1850-1865. The more records I find about him, the more frustrating he becomes.

Let's review the first signature I noticed.

This one is on his marriage license in 1856.

(Interesting note: The 1856 marriage certificates in Franklin County, Ohio don't have much information about the person other than name, if they are of age, and the dates for the licenses. However, they do have the groom's signature which I find completely fascinating.)

This one is from the deed he signed in 1856 for property in Franklin County, Ohio.
This is an entry in the Holy Cross Catholic Church records regarding the death of his young son in 1857.
not his signature, (You'll have to click on it to enlarge it)
St James Lutheran Church Book of Life, entry regarding his son's death in 1857
not his signature

St James Registry

Note: The record says signatures from the constitution of 1847, but these families weren't in the United States until 1854, so it is believed that the signatures of members were added when they joined the church but no date was specified.
The name on his naturalization certificate of 1858. not his signature


Because of his many name variations, I have trouble deciding if I've found something pertaining to him or not. For instance, I have found a possible entry for Joseph Keizler or Keezler in the Consolidated Lists of Civil War Draft Registrations, but I can't prove that it is him.

I have had no luck finding him on a passenger list to determine where he came from. His naturalization certificate has him born in Baden. However, I can not find the paperwork that proceeded the certificate. Only the certificate that was has been passed down through the generations.

Joseph, dear Joseph, Where are you???? Where are you buried? When did you come to America and who are your Geißler family members?

Additional information:
b: abt 1836, Baden
1856, purchased property in Franklin Co, Ohio
m: 19 Feb 1856, married Caroline Mack in Franklin Co, Ohio
11 Oct 1858, naturalization certificate signed
26 Jul 1860, appeared in 1860 US Federal Census, in Franklin Co, Ohio
d: 5 Jul 1863, potential death date if church records are about him, otherwise, death is prior to remarriage of his wife 19 Sept 1863

08 March 2012

Thankful Thursday... German Research Prompts New Questions


It's good to be a genealogist these days. My cousin contacted a Lutheran church in Gillersheim, Hannover.  He made inquiries regarding our Mack relatives and their friends, the Puseckers, who traveled together to Columbus, Ohio on the Anne Lange in Nov 1854.

He received a wonderful letter in response to his queries. A sweet woman spent about 7 hours looking through the Kirchenbuch for the church and seems to have pushed our family back a few generations and supplied names for a wife we had not previously known. I'm very thankful for this wonderful woman's efforts.

Here comes the challenge. How, oh how, do I document this information? And is the letter of a person willing to do research enough 'evidence' to include these new names on my family tree? She says she looked through the Kirchenbuch and found this information. Since I'm so unfamiliar with German Genealogy, I'm stumped. I really want to be excited and claim new relatives. On the other hand, I feel a desire to have 'proof.'

What do you think? What have your experience in these situations been? And, would you ask for further proof (i.e. copies of the books or photos) or would you let it accept it and celebrate the discoveries?


02 March 2012

Surname Saturday... Hoppe, Grener, Puesecker, Brown


I wanted to catalog some of my research as a way to help remind myself of steps that I've taken. In so doing, perhaps others can either a) learn from what I've done or b) help me know the next steps or other secrets I've missed.

The majority of my nearest relations lived in Franklin County, Ohio. I have used RootsMagic to organize the information from my family. I have used FamilySearch.org connect to other family trees as well as researching records they have made available (for free). After exhausting their records, I've paid for a membership to Ancestry.com research more records for these individuals.

For individuals who died between 1867 and 1908 in Franklin County, Ohio, their death records are not currently available on either website. However, the FamilySearch.org catalog has a listing for the index to the Death records, 1867-1908. They have an index split between two microfilm reels and death records split between two other reels.

I ordered one index reel to look for death records. Perhaps I should have ordered the death records and bypassed the index. Since I haven't done microfilm research in this area before, I thought an index search would be best. Unfortunately, I didn't pay attention to the fact that I really needed both index films to cover all the years in this series. When I loaded the index film, I only saw the years 1899-1908 and didn't know where the 1867-1908 years were. Oops! I'll have to order the first part of this series. But I've learned the lesson of paying close attention to what the films actually will contain.

In any case, I was searching for the following individuals who I believe died in Columbus, Ohio based on other information that I have on these individuals.

  • Ludwig Pusecker b. 1844 d 1905
  • Conrad Grener b 1822 d 1899
  • Conrad Grener b 1853 d 1905
  • Samuel Curtis Brown b 1821 d 1900
  • Martha Gordon Brown b 1827 d 1901
  • Christian Christopher Hoppe b 1859 - 1900

Results:
I was able to locate both Conrad Greners in the death index. I'll want to look up their death records on the film from Salt Lake City. I might have found the record for Samuel Curtis Brown. I will look that record up as well.

I was unable to find Ludwig Puescker (possible alt. Lewis Pusicker), Martha Gordon Brown or Christian Christopher Hoppe.

I decided to take a peak into the final three. Ludwig Puescker's death date of 14 May 1905 was obtained through FamilySearch.org's Ohio Deaths and Burials, 1854-1997. This index was derived from some county and church records but also from individual submissions to the LDS Church. Since his death doesn't appear in the death record index, I'm curious as to why. I suspect several possible reasons a) he didn't die on that date or in Franklin County or b) it wasn't reported to the proper officials. It's possible the name was indexed as something else. So, I'm a bit stuck with verifying this person's death.

Martha Gordon Brown... Martha's death date was recorded in a family bible. When church or government records are not available, a family bible can represent a primary source. I'm still not sure why her death was not recorded in the Franklin County death index. I'll have to see if the Samuel I found (her husband) is truly the Samuel I seek. Perhaps that may or may not give me clues.

Finally, Christian Christopher Hoppe. He is a tricky young man to track down. I received his death information from the family records of a cousin who also does genealogical research. I'll have to ask for the source information next time I think of it. I also have Mr. Hoppe (he used both names without consistency, so I'm not sure which one to refer to him as) found Mr. Hoppe on a website that lists the names of people who are buried at Green Lawn Cemetery. It's not the official cemetery record, so I'll have to see what the cemetery actually has on Mr. Hoppe.

I have seven more names to look at in the 1867-1899 film. At $5.50 a film, that's kind of pricey on a per name basis. So perhaps I'll just order the full records and hunt rather than spend $11 for the index and then the actual records. Hmmm... decisions, decisions.

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