My grandfather, Joseph Marschall/Marshall, a.k.a., Big Paw Paw, was a bigger-than-life character who had some really rocky relationships. Though not well-loved nor fondly-remembered by many (that I can find), his story and his family's story seem to demand to be found and told.
I've been reviewing some older research I did previously on Big Paw Paw so I can unearth his parent's and grandparents' stories. Basically, I've been exploring as many of the details of his life I can possibly find in the two places he lived in Texas — Galveston and San Antonio.
In doing so, I researched a little more about his marriage to his first wife, Emma Rosin, who also happened to be his sister-in-law — his oldest sister's husband's youngest sister. (Emma wasn't my grandmother. My grandmother was Big Paw-Paw's Wife No. 4. What can I say? My Big Paw Paw was a complicated man, but his complications have left me records. So there's that.)
St. John's maintains their own records and archives on-site and it's partially online as well. Their church records date to their founding in 1857. Here is a list of what can be found on their website:
Pretty nice, huh? Online and free — magical words that make a genealogist's heart beat faster. Makes their pulse race. Gets their blood pumping ... well, you get the picture.
Big Paw Paw's and Emma's marriage record was not online but a quick email sent to their office yielded, within a few days, a copy of the church marriage record entry that provided the names of the witnesses to their ceremony.
Since its founding in 1857, St. John's Lutheran Church served the German-Texan community in the San Antonio area. And it's still an active church. If you have German-Texan ancestors who lived in the San Antonio area, checking these records just might help you with your family story just as it has helped me find a few more research avenues for discovering more about my Big Paw Paw, his parents, and his grandparents.
And his wives.
And his mistresses.
I told you he was complicated.
This tip goes under "Things I Wish I'd Known To Do Then When I Started." Or something similar. But for some (or maybe many?) organizing is something we realize we need after we are already in the middle of our mess. We stop and realize, "Hm. I thought I'd remember this or that, but I've done so much, I don't even know what day it is."
And that pretty much sums up a lot of things pertaining to life. And it certianly sums up all of our data, searching, and researching when it comes to family history. At the beginning you're in the "I got this" mode and pretty soon you're smack dab in the "Good Lord, who IS this person and didn't I look him up 5 months ago on such-n-such site" mode.
You need to know who you've looked for, where you've looked for what it is you're looking for, what you've looked at, and you need to jot it down at the time you looked at everything. And that's where a Research History Log comes in handy. It's not a complete analysis of what you looked at because that should be in your research report or summary or notes (whatever you like to call it). It's a list or table that can quickly help you know what the particulars are for a specific piece of evidence that you've already looked at, and it can certainly make writing that research report (that comes from your research plan) much easier to write.
Previously, I've provided some research plan templates for OneNote users, Evernote users, etc. So, I decided to provide a template for the Research History Log that I use for my personal research and for my client work. Personally, I prefer OneNote to Evernote but I've made templates for both. In and of itself, it's not earth-shattering, but like many things in life, just having the discipline to use it can work wonders on your family history pursuits. It's not magic, but it works. I did not make versions for Word or Excel because this is pretty simple to replicate.
And here's an example (from OneNote) of what one looks like (the first page) already filled out. Basically, after finding a record that I was looking for (from my research plan), I added it to this log under "Record". Then I created the citation for the record (Your future self is really going to love you for this.) and logged it under "Source". Then I added notes to each one briefly explaining or summarizing what I found in regards to how it may or may not fit into the puzzle (question) I'm trying to solve (answer).
Manually doing this really forces you to stop and really take a look at what you are, well, looking at. Also, if the record doesn't help, I log it too. That way I know I've found and looked at it. I also log a search for a record that I thought would be where I was looking and wasn't. That's important to remember too and the log helps you to remember. (Not finding it where you thought you'd find it also may be helpful for finding the solution to the problem.)
Also, remember that just because I'm giving templates for specific technologies, the most important thing is that you use a research history log in whatever manner you want to. Handwrite it on notebook paper and put it in a binder or folder. The point is to get it done.
So, below are the freebie templates. Enjoy!
OneNote Research History Log Template Versions 2010-2013 (For those who use the current version of OneNote. Download the file and open in OneNote. Then you can save it as a template in OneNote. See my OneNote page and videos on how to do this.)
OneNote Research History Log Template for OneNote 2007 and earlier versions (Download the file and open in OneNote. Then you can save it as a template in OneNote. See my OneNote page and videos on how to do this.)
Evernote Research History Log Template (Links to a shared public Evernote folder with other free templates; just copy and paste from there into a note in your Evernote. For more detailed instructions, visit my Evernote page and watch my Evernote video.)
Decorative Printable — PDF Version of the Research History Log Template (Download and save to your computer, print it out, and fill it in manually.)
Selected Resources For Your New Mexico, Arizona, & Mexico Ancestors Inspired by the New Mexico Episode of PBS' Genealogy Roadshow
Last week's episode of PBS' Genealogy Roadshow was jam-packed with all sorts of genealogical and historical topics of the American Southwest and shared heartwarming family stories. What sets Genealogy Roadshow aside from some of the other genealogy television shows is that they research the family histories of non-celebrities while sharing a wide variety of research resources and tips. While they give some research tips on their website, I thought I'd throw together some selected resources for those who have New Mexico, Arizona, and Mexico ancestry. It's not exhaustive but it's quite a bit to get you started with finding your own heartwarming (and sometimes surprising) family stories.
Databases & Research Guides
Ancestry (Some $$, some free)
US GenWeb Archives (Free)
Genealogy Trails (Free)
Researching Your Ancestors Who Went Out West
Newspaper Links & from The Ancestor Hunt (Free)
TheAncestorHunt.com has the biggest and most up-to-date listing of online newspapers. Plus, he has tons of tutorials and videos to show you how to find your ancestors in newspapers — all for free!
Cyndi's List (Free)
Various present-day maps showing counties, rivers, etc.
Various present-day maps showing counties, rivers, etc.
Various present-day maps
Selected Genealogical, Historical, & Lineage Societies
These are just a very selected few. Links go to Amazon, but they are not affiliate links.
Selected Facebook Groups
Meet and collaborate with others in Facebook Groups!
Links to Other Topics Covered on Genealogy Roadshow
So, do you have any resources you'd like to add? Share in comments below! And don't forget to watch the next episode of PBS' Genealogy Roadshow in Miami on Tuesday, May 24th at 8PM ET / 7PM CT on your local PBS channel.
Other articles you might like:
Catch-up with recent records and resources added to online genealogy & history databases & websites with this handy list! Are your ancestors revealed in these records?
This is a FABULOUS video from Buzzfeed Video where people recreated photos of their immigrant ancestors and also tell a little bit about their stories.
So, which immigrant ancestor photo, if you have one of them, would you like to recreate? Or even if you don't have a photo of them, which one would you like to dress up as if you could? Which one inspires you the most? Why?
For me, it'd have to be my 2nd great grandmother, Annie Josephine (O'Brien) Vaughan. She came from Ireland in 1872 to just visit her maternal Lennon cousins in New Orleans, Louisiana. And then stayed after meeting and marrying my 2nd great grandfather, Daniel Rook Vaughan. Family lore says she fell in love with Daniel, a carpenter, while he had been remodeling her cousin's house in New Orleans while Annie was visiting from Dublin.
I'd love to recreate her look below.
School Censuses Provide Great Clues To Reveal More About Ancestors
Having problems finding your ancestors in a particular time or place?
Having problems learning who their parents were?
How about confirming their date of birth?
All of these clues/answers (and more) might be found in school census records. In many areas in quite a few states, school districts would take a census of their students to help them properly allocate funds for each school. They did them in various time periods and are incomplete, but if your ancestor was attending a school in a school district where it was taken *and* in a time period they took it, they can be a gold mine of information.
At the very least, a school census record may place your ancestor in a time and location which can lead to more records and more answers. (And possibly more questions to answer because genealogy. ;) )
TIP: You will want to read each school district's instructions to the enumerator to make sure you fully understand the answers.
Okay, so let's take a look at and break down the following example of a school census record for Matagorda County, Texas from 1939. (1) [Click on the image for a larger view]
Breaking Down a School Census Record
A — To Census Trustees: Read Carefully — The census trustee's (enumerator's) instructions. [Hint: The census trustees were the enumerators and understanding what their instructions were will help you to understand all of the information in this record. So, you need to read this carefully, too.]
B — Race — Schools were segregated based on race in this time period.
C — School district information; in this example, it was left blank.
D — Phone No. of school district.
E — First and last name of students of the same family household who would be six and under eighteen years of age on April 1st. All were to be listed even if they had different surnames, as long as they were in the same family.
F — Birthday of listed students.
G — Age the listed students would be when they would be starting school 1 September 1939; also gender is indicated by the column the age was put into.
H — Handicap designation: Census trustees were asked to indicate if each listed student had any of the following specific handicaps: blind, partially blind, deaf, partially deaf, speech defect, feeble minded, and/or crippled. For the ones who were characterized as crippled, the trustees were also asked to indicate whether the crippled student had a curvature of the spine, club feet, infantile paralysis, leg amputation, arm amputation, or if they were in a wheelchair.
I — Name of county in which family resided last April 1st.
J — How long has this family lived in this District?
K — Nationality (Indicate by language spoken in home)
L — Parent/Guardian Certification made by the parent that the information given was correct; that they were a resident of the District as of April 1st; that they had custody or charge of the listed children; and that they had not already been enumerated in this State for the scholastic year 1 September 1939 through 31 August 1940.
M — Names of parents.
N — Signature of Parent, Guardian, or person rendering child [Hint: I would be careful with this information, or at least, I would be careful of the parents names listed before this as that explicitly asks for parent's names while this requires the signature of a parent, guardian, or one in charge of the child. Are they the same? Are the answers the same?]
O — Address (In this example, the trustee only listed the city.)
P — Give name of farm, if on farm (Hint: While left blank on this example, one cannot infer that this meant the family/household was not living on a farm because the trustee left other blanks empty on this form.)
Q — Date subscribed and sworn.
R — Signature of Census Trustee (enumerator).
So, is any of this type of information found on this record the type of information you are looking for when researching your family's history? Could it be useful to your research? You betcha! Not all school districts collected the same information unfortunately. Below are a few more examples of school census records in different states. (2), (3), (4)
How to find these records? Try these techniques and places: 11 Places To Look for Your Ancestor's School Records.
So, are you using school census records to find more information about your ancestors? Will you use them?
(1) "Texas, Matagorda County, School Census Records, 1923-1946." Database with images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 11 August 2015; citing State Board of Education. Matagorda County Judge, Bay City.
(2) "Minnesota, Clay County, School Census Records, 1909-1962." Database with images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 11 March 2015. Citing State School Superintendent. Auditor-Treasurer, Moorhead.
(3) "Mississippi Enumeration of Educable Children, 1850-1892; 1908-1957." Database with images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 11 August 2015. Citing Department of Archives and History. Government Records, Jackson.
(4) "South Dakota, School Records, 1879-1970." Database with images, FamilySearch. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QK73-CQJ6 : accessed 11 August 2015), McCook County, 1939. State Historical Society, Pierre.
Findmypast has just announced it will finally integrate its sister site, Mocavo, into its subscription database site. However, they will also be maintaining Mocavo's pledge to remain free forever. That means if a particular collection was free to access before, it will remain free on the Findmypast site. Making both sites' collections searchable from one site, will make searching more convenient for users. Additionally, Findmypast mentions adding more unique US collections during 2016 as they expand into the US market. It will be interesting to see what they add this year. Read the Findmypast release below for more details.
Leading family history website Findmypast, has today announced that sister site Mocavo will be incorporated into Findmypast to create a single experience for customers interested in discovering more about their family history.
The move forms an important part of the US growth strategy set out by Annelies van den Belt, CEO of Findmypast, and will bring the best aspects and features of both sites into one place.
The two websites are currently working together to transfer Mocavo’s strengths and expansive record collections over to Findmypast.
The transition will begin immediately and is expected to be completed within the next few months.
The move is part of Findmypast’s continued expansion and growth in the US market. By merging the two brands, Findmypast will create a more focussed and efficient business that will offer a more comprehensive experience to US customers while continuing to offer the industry’s best British and Irish collections.
In 2016, Findmypast will also be publishing hundreds of millions of new and exclusive US records to further enhance the experience for US family historians.
As part of Findmypast’s commitment to sustain Mocavo’s ‘free forever’ promise, Mocavo subscribers will continue to enjoy free access to all of the same records that were previously published for free on Mocavo. In addition, they will be invited to take advantage of a subscription to Findmypast equivalent to their existing Mocavo subscription. Mocavo customers can easily import their family trees onto Findmypast and can immediately start to receive hints opening the door to new discoveries that they never knew existed. A subscription to Findmypast will allow them access to the site’s entire collection of records, containing over eight billion names, as well as the thousands of new records released by Findmypast every week.
Annelies van den Belt, CEO of Findmypast, said; “A key part of our 2016 US growth strategy is to centralise our efforts on one core brand, Findmypast. Combining Mocavo’s strengths and Findmypast’s massive collection of British and Irish data will allow us to provide a richer and more comprehensive experience to family historians all over the world."
As I've been getting my daughter situated to go back for her second semester at college, I've been thinking about school records. She will be switching majors and switching to the main campus of her university after this next semester, and her records are completely digitized and handled online.
A stark contrast to our ancestors' school records, for sure. A smidgen are online for us to peruse once we know where to look, but many of them are not. So, as with all records, trying to find what entities created the records and thinking about where they might be stored — online and offline — is the first step in trying to find your ancestors in them.
And just why would you want to find your ancestors' school records? Well they can, at the very least, put your ancestors in a time and a place — very helpful when you can't seem to find them in more-used records like the federal population census. And even when you can find them in population census records, where were they in between the censuses since they were only enumerated every 10 years? Another good reason to try and find your ancestors' school records is that they may reveal their parents' names or siblings.
So while not an exhaustive list, the following 11 places may yield school records for your ancestors.
Additional reference links:
Like I mentioned, this is not an exhaustive list, but enough to get you started. Have you found school records for your ancestors? What and where did you find them? Share in comments below.
Did your ancestors make these records?
Today Findmypast added over 2.3 million UK records and newspaper artilces to their collections. Most notably, are the over 62,000 Pollbooks and Directories for England that span 1830-1837, making them a great census substitute for family history researchers with roots in England in that time period. Also, they have added an additional 2.25 million articles to their historic British Newspapers collection. Check out all of their recent updates with brief descriptions below from Findmypast.
England, Pollbooks and Directories 1830-1837
England, Pollbooks and Directories, 1830-1837, contains over 62,000 records. Each record includes both a transcript and an image of the original source material. The information recorded may vary depending on the source and date, although most will include your ancestor’s name, details of the event that was being recorded and were it was recorded. In many cases, Pollbooks will also include details of their residence and occupation, as well as the names of eligible voters who did not vote. In this collection, you will also find The Quaker Annual Monitor. The Monitor is a list of all the British Quakers who died within the last twelve months. For many of the individuals listed, obituaries with short biographies including causes of death were printed. In some cases, the obituary or memorial is several pages long and details the individual’s dedication to the faith. The Monitor is an excellent source for family historians as the obituaries may include the names of other relatives.
Surrey, Southwark, Newington Apprentice Register 1891
The Newington Apprentice Register 1891 lists the details of apprentices who trained in the Newington district of Southwark. Each record consists of a transcripts created using the original apprentice records held at the Southwark Local History Library. Each transcript will reveal an individual apprentice’s name, age, the name of their master, where their master was based and the names of their parents.
Hertfordshire, Parish Registers Browse, 1538-1988
A browse function has been added to our collection of over 1.9million Hertfordshire Parish Registers. It is now possible to browse through over 1,600 register books from cover to cover. The books contain records of baptisms, banns, marriages and burials conducted across 400 years of the county’s history.
British Newspapers Update
Over 2.25 million new articles and 8 brand new newspaper titles have recently been added to our collection of historic British newspapers. The latest additions cover the cities of London and Glasgow as well as towns in the English counties of Devon, Lincolnshire, Shropshire, and West Sussex. Significant updates have also been made to 45 existing titles.
Did your ancestors make these records?
Check out the latest records FamilySearch added to their collections — more US GenealogyBank Obituaries, Supreme Court case files from North Carolina, more death certificates for Utah, and naturalization indexes for Rhode Island Plus, more updates to international collections.