Archive for the ‘Locating Records’ Category
If you have followed my Chicago Family History blog, you know the story of my missing Kokoska child. Initially her birth certificate said Emilie Kokoska. A death certificate shows her name as Ana Kokoska. I discovered she is buried in Row 18 No. 1 at Bohemian National Cemetery. I knew she died at 699 May Street although there was a discrepancy between that address and the address on her brother’s birth certificate. But I determined the birth certificate address never existed according to old Chicago street maps and other sources.
I feel this child is the one I am looking for based on evidence I explained in prior posts. And I found out where her grave is this weekend.
I asked at Bohemian National Cemetery where to locate Ana’s grave and who owned the plot. Turns out Ana had a term grave. This means her parents bought it and when the time limit was up, someone else was buried over her. She was never disinterred and moved into the Kokoska plot. There was no stone allowed because it was a term grave. So Ana is buried in Bohemian National Cemetery and someone else is buried over her. No one even knows she’s there. Very sad.
This post serves as one of the testaments to her very short life. She was only over a year old when she died. She lived, was loved, died, and has been found, not to be forgotten by me. She is remembered.
Last week I posted a few great research files from the PBS website. There was another fantastic resource you should know about. It is called the Ancestors How to Select a Record to Search.
This four page document outlines information on record types and where to find information for that type. For example, if you are looking for a birth date of an ancestor, look for sources like cemetery records, military records, town records, and census records. These are just a few of the records listed.
Not only does the sheet outline where to find records but also background information on a place, group or subgroup. Examples include the history of a place or group or record repositories.
The sheet ends with a glossary of genealogical terms. These are all terms every young family historian should learn.
Download the sheet and print it out for your research file. I think you will find it very useful.
Following up on our discussion of census records, did you notice some censuses provide the occupation, or job, of the individuals? How do the jobs of your ancestors compare to the jobs your parents and grandparents do today?
Rootsweb provides a great list of occupation titles and what they mean. For instance, did you know an Accountant used to be called an Accomptant? How about a bar tender as an Ale Draper? A parish man or what we might call a minister or priest was referred to as an Amen Man.
Look through the list and see if you can find the occupations of your parents and grandparents. What are their jobs called today and what were they called? Have fun with this.
It’s Monday! Are you ready to add something new to your genealogy file? Let’s talk about the U.S. Federal Census.
What is the census? It is a count of all the people living in the United States, town by town. The government uses this information to decide where to build more schools, more roads and where to provide more money and resources.
Ok, you are probably saying to yourself, “I understand what the census is but what does the census have to do with Mappy Monday?” One of the great things about the census is it provides an address for your ancestors, depending on what year it was taken. How do you know if an address is provided? Let’s look at the information below to see.
The census was first taken in 1790. Until 1850, the census listed the head of the family and a count of others in the household. In 1850 and future censuses, the names of all individuals were added. By 1880, the street name was added with a house number. These addresses are important to keep track of in your notes. They can help you locate people in other records or help prove the person you found is the one you are looking for.
You can take these addresses for a family and put them on a map. You can see the migration, or movement, of a family from place to place, whether it is in a city or across the country.
Where can you find the census? Sites like Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org have census records. Repositories like the National Archives and local research libraries also carry the census on microfilm. Sometimes local genealogy societies will transcribe the records and publish them in journals.
What else is on a census and what does it look like? After 1880, the census provides a lot of clues about a family. You will find things like the individual’s birth place (state or country), month and year of birth, year of immigration, naturalization status, occupation and whether or not they attended school if they were too young to work.
The census can provide a lot of information about your family so add it to your list of records to search. Take a look at the 1900 census for my great-great-grandfather, Joseph Kokoska, starting on line 60.
In my last post we looked at birth certificates. Today we will explore marriage certificates.
Marriage certificates can sometimes tell you a lot about a family, depending on when and where they were created. Some certificates will have additional documents attached indicating who the parents of the bride and groom are, the bride and groom’s dates of birth and places of birth, names of witnesses and their ages. This information can sometimes help prove or disprove a marriage license is for your family.
Let’s look at a Chicago license from 1892. Ask your parents to show you their marriage license or your grandparent’s license if they have it. How are they the same? How are they different? What information do they contain that you can add to your family history notes? Finally, how do they compare to one from 1892?
One thing that strikes me in this license is how Liddie’s name is spelled. In other records it is spelled Lydia. Keep in mind that names are not spelled the same in every document you will encounter. In some early census records for my immigrant ancestors I find they use the formal spelling of their children’s names. Joseph, Charles, Elizabeth, and so on. Then in other censuses, the kids are Joe, Charlie, Bessie. Watch for name variations and nicknames.
Note where James and Liddie were married. Were they married by a minister or a judge (Justice of the Peace)? When was the license issued and when did they marry?
Add the additional information from the documents your parents show you to your tree and note the source. Again, you want to write down what type of document it is, the number assigned to it, who it is for, the date, and where it is held.
How was Valentine’s Day? Fun? Did you interview your parents? What did you learn?
Today we will start diving into record sources by starting with the birth certificate. Ask your parents to show you your birth certificate and theirs. How are they the same? How are they different? How do they compare to this one from 1882 and 1886?
One thing to remember when you look at records is what they say is not always the truth. Do not always believe what you read. The records provide clues that will help you prove an individual is or is not part of your family so it is important to note everything.
For example, the first certificate is for Frank Kokoska, my great-grand uncle, brother to my great grandfather, Joseph Kokoska. Looking this certificate over, knowing what I know about the family, the first thing that sticks out as incorrect is Majdalena’s maiden name. The certificate says Skryvan. In fact, her maiden name was Priban.
Look at the second certificate. It says it is also for Frank Kokoska, but the midwife, or whomever wrote the information down, wrote down the wrong name. The child is actually Charles. This is proven through additional records such as Census, Death Certificates, and World War I Draft Registration Cards.
The midwife is the same for both births, yet lists Majdalena’s maiden name differently for Charles’s birth, as Trivan.
This child is also listed as the 5th child born to this family. Based on all my research the children up to Charles were Joseph, Frank, Unknown, Charles. So he would have been the fourth child. I later discovered who child number three was. Her name was Emilie.
Explore these birth certificates in more detail. Do you notice anything else different about them? Did you compare them to yours and your parent’s certificates? If you learned new details from your parent’s birth certificates that was not already in your notes, be sure to add it and add the source. This means to write down what the record is, the number assigned to it, the date, who it is for, and where it is held.
Did you start writing a diary? Have you added any pictures to it? Nothing is off limits for how you design and write in your diary. Make it yours and let your personality shine.
Let’s talk about a few more Hidden Sources.
Are there any medical records lying around the house? What about baby books with your parents immunization records and illness records? Do you have a baby book with that information? My kids have baby scrapbooks and I recorded their immunizations in there. Thankfully they have not had any major illnesses. One of my kids had heart surgery when he was four months old. I have pictures of him in the hospital and a story about his surgery and stay.
Did your parents save their report cards? What do they look like compared to yours? What kinds of grades did your parents get? What were their favorite subjects?
Ask your parents if they saved any newspapers or news articles from important events in their lives. Events such as the astronauts landing on the moon, the assassination of John F. Kennedy, major events in their city or state, and articles about themselves.
This article is from the Chicago Daily Tribune and shows men who died during World War I from Chicago. The man in the left column, second down, is my great-grand uncle Michael Kokoska. I do not have the physical newspaper but was able to download the page from an online newspaper database through my library.
Be sure to check your library for online databases. You never know what you will find there. Most libraries offer access to a few major newspapers free to patrons.
Related to newspapers are obituaries. Obituaries are death notices in the newspaper. They usually contain the name of the person who died, the names of their living (and sometimes deceased) family members, where the funeral will be held and when, and where they will be buried. Obituaries can tell you a lot about your family.
Let’s talk more about those hidden sources around your house.
Ask your parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, if they kept a diary or journal. I still have all of mine from grade school through high school. I was not good about writing in them every day but they provide a (somewhat funny) review of my life. Funny reading them as an adult. The things I felt were so major as a kid, like thinking I would just disappear if “that” boy didn’t fall head over heels in love with me, do not compare to the things I worry about as an adult. But that’s what happens when we grow up.
My first diaries were filled with tidbits about my life and lists of all those cute boys. By high school they included entries about band and different musical contests in which I participated. There are entries about vacations and friends, fights with my parents and the usual growing pains. When you are older and re-read a diary from your school days, the entries may take you back to a wonderful time and place when you fell in love for the first time or got your driver’s license or accomplished that one big goal you had in high school. Nice memories.
I found several pieces of my old jewelry in a box when I was sorting and organizing my treasures recently. The picture shows a Holly Hobbie pin, necklace and what was a pin that we put a hole in to put it on a necklace. There is my little wobbly ears bunny necklace, a ring with flowers, a mouse pin (I don’t really remember wearing this) and a pain with my baby picture in it. My mom used to wear that pin.
The butterfly pin I believe was my great-grandma Brouk’s. I need to confirm this and label the photo correctly though.
My grandfather, Joseph Holik, joined the U.S. Naval Armed Guard during World War II. This Bluejacket’s Manual dated 1940 is an item I have of his from the War. It has his name, Company, dates of service and where he trained, written inside.
The book cover is coming apart – the inside layer of the cover has detached somewhat and the book was definitely used. Joseph wrote HOLIK J in pencil on the outside pages of the book. When the book is closed you can see his name.
This book doesn’t contain any other genealogical information about Joseph, but tells me what he had to learn when he entered the Navy in 1943.
There is a great book called Hidden Sources Family History in Unlikely Places by Laura Szucs Pfeiffer. The point of the book is to briefly describe additional sources of records you might find around the house. Let’s look at a few sources that are not the usual vital records and census documents.
Artifacts are memorabilia passed down through the generations. These artifacts usually contain a story and some clues about the ancestor who first owned the artifact.
This artifact was just sent to me from a woman named Ginny. She married my cousin, Robert Brouk. Robert was a Flying Tiger in China 1941-1942. I just wrote a book about his brief life which included his war diary. Robert died three weeks after he and Ginny married. Ginny helped me fill in parts of Robert’s life and after I sent her a copy of his book, she sent me a few artifacts he brought home from China. This wooden box was one. It is an artifact I will treasure always.
Body Transit Records
Did your family have someone who served in World War I, World War II or beyond, and died during his service? My great-great-uncle Michael Kokoska served in World War I. He was killed in France. This letter is an example of a body transit record. It tells his father where his remains will be shipped.
This record came in a Burial File. The Burial File tells a lot about the soldier’s service, how he died, where he was buried, and even has letters from family members.
Dictionaries and other books
Last weekend I was sorting through some of my artifacts and came across the cover of a dictionary my mom passed to me. Most families write family information inside the cover of a family Bible and list the person’s name, birth date, who they married, and when they died. My grandmother listed these items on the inside cover of a dictionary! Always check the inside of old books before getting rid of them. You never know what you will discover!
Yesterday we looked at Home Sources such as Bibles, photographs, military records, and newspaper articles. Today let’s look at other documents that might be around your home.
This is a marriage license for my great grandparents, Joseph Kokoska and Bessie Zajicek. It was issued in Chicago and has their marriage date and location on it. Marriage records are a good source of information. Sometimes they have variations of name spellings which can be helpful when searching for records.
Death certificates are another good source of information. Many list the names of the person’s parents, the person’s birth date and place, death date and place, sometimes an address, spouse’s name and other information. Always keep in mind that you may find a birth date listed on a death certificate that does not match the birth date you found in the family Bible or a birth certificate. In these cases, look for other documents that have the person’s birth date on it to try to figure out which is the correct date.
Mass cards or funeral cards are good sources of information. Some contain birth and death dates and burial location. Others may only contain the death date. Regardless, it is a good source of information.