Monthly Archives: January 2012

Census Records Provide More Great Clues

A few days after I created this blog; just about 3 weeks ago; I wrote about a great find I had made; all because of clues from a census record. This morning; I made another great find; that started all because of a clue in an 1880 census record.

The subject here was a woman by the name of Minerva Lichty (also found as Lighty). We knew that she was the mother of Roscoe Spotts; who was born in Wayne Co., IN, in 1887. Roscoe was found in the household of his father, Charles Spotts/Spatz, on the 1900 census of Wayne Co., IN. Charles was a widower by that time. Charles’s mother, Adeline; and a couple of sisters of Charles, were living with him. There is little doubt that Adeline and the sisters of Charles must have played a very large part in raising Roscoe.

Charles “Spatz” had married Minerva Lichty, in Wayne County, IN; 14 Dec. 1886. Since Roscoe was born in 1887, he was no doubt the first child. Roscoe was 12 years old at the time of the 1900 census; and was the only child in the household. So… one must wonder if Minerva had died soon after the birth of Roscoe; he apparently having been the only child.

In attempting to locate the parents of Minerva; I first searched the 1880 Wayne County census. Minerva Lichty was found in the household of Ephraim and Eliza Wolfgang. She was 15 years old; and was listed as a “niece”. This was the first clue. Because she was listed as a niece of Ephraim; I knew that either Ephraim was a brother to Minerva’s mother; or; his wife Eliza, was a sister of Minerva’s father.

Since I now knew that Minerva must have been born about 1865; I moved on to the 1870 census; expecting to find Minerva with her parents; and knowing she would be about 5 years old. The search was not going well. I could not find a Minerva Lichty/Lighty on the 1870 census of Wayne County. After spending some time, trying various spellings; trying all of the tricks I know; and still unable to find her; I finally decided to try searching for her only by her first name and her approximate birth year. So…. I put “Manerva” in the first name field; and nothing in the field for the last name. I put “1865” in for the birth; with a plus or minus of 5 years. None of those results matched. I then tried again, using “Minerva”. Again; I did not put a last name. I did put the birth year of 1865 (plus or minus 5 years) and “Wayne County, Indiana” in the place field. To my surprise, I found a Minerva in the household of Ephraim Wolfgang. She was 6 years old. Apparently, the census taker must have assumed Minerva’s last name was also Wolfgang. Of course I already knew that was not the case. But…. I had found her.

I knew this family had lived in near or in the town of Cambridge City, IN (Wayne County); and also knew that (A subscription based site) had some old Cambridge City newspapers on their website. Since I knew there wouldn’t be many Wolfgang’s listed; I decided to search those Cambridge City newspapers for Wolfgang. I found the obituary of “Susan” Wolfgang; who was the wife of Ephraim. Of course the 1880 census gave her name as Eliza. But…. that wasn’t really an issue. Eliza may have been her middle name. At any rate, the obituary of Susan Wolfgang; stated that she was the wife of Ephraim Wolfgang. But… it did a lot more than that. It also provided me with her maiden name; which was “Lighty”; and gave her parents names.

Since I now knew that the “Eliza” Wolfgang whom Minerva was living with in 1870 and 1880 was a apparently a sister of Minerva’s mother; and then knew to look at the household of Susan (Eliza’s) father in earlier census records. I was then able to easily find Susan’s parents on the 1850 Wayne County census. Long story short; this census shows that Susan had 5 brothers. They were John, Daniel, Henry, James and George.

So…. this puzzle isn’t completely solved. However; I now know that George Lichty/Lighty (mother of Susan and the boys I just mentioned) was the grandfather of Minerva; and that one of his son’s was apparently the father of Minerva. So… the search for Minerva’s parents has certainly been narrowed down. And… all because I found her listed as a “niece” on that 1880 census; in the household of Ephraim and Eliza Wolfgang.

I cannot emphasize how important it is to carefully read and analyze all of the information on those census records. They often times hold great clues. It’s not just the names and dates were want to look at.

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Posted by on January 30, 2012 in Census


Be Creative When Searching

It’s been a few days since my last post; so I thought I would try to take a little time today. I received a phone call this morning; from a new client. While speaking with her; I had brought up the subject of using an asterisk (*) when searching This was something she was indeed familiar with. However; I frequently mention this to folks that are not aware of the power of the asterisk. So…. for the benefit of those who are not familiar with the use of the asterisk when searching ancestry; and the many benefits of it; let me try to explain a little.

When doing any search in ancestry; ancestry only requires you to enter the first three letters of a name (first and/or last). Following the first three letters with an asterisk, will return all results that begin with those first three letters. I use this all of the time when searching ancestry; especially in census records. Allow me to use an example; and then I will explain why I search with an asterisk.

Let’s say that I am trying to locate my 5th great grandfather, Barnbabus Branham, in the 1830 census. I have seen his first name as Barnaby, Barnabus, Barney, as others. His last name is often found as Brannum, Branum, Branham, Branom; as well as others. However; there are parts of his name that are pretty consistent with all spellings. His first name always begins “Barn”. His last name always begins “Bran”. Instead of having to search using each of the possible spellings of his name, Ancestry only requires that I use the first three letters; followed by an asterisk; which will return results of all names that begin with those same letters. So….. I enter “Bar*” into the first name field. I then enter “Bran*” into the last name field. I then enter any other information I choose; such as the state and/or county I wish to search. This will find any first name beginning “Bar”; and any last name beginning “Bran”. Doing the search this way, makes it so much simpler to find my Barnabus Branham.

This is an especially great tool for finding those people whose last names were often spelled different ways. Additionally; many of the names in the ancestry records, were indexed incorrectly. The name may be spelled correctly on the original document on ancestry. But; they were often times transcribed incorrectly. If they are transcribed incorrectly. Using the magic of the asterisk; you can often times find those folks whose name may have been transcribed incorrectly.

By using the asterisk; there is no need to try to search for our ancestors using various spellings of the name. Just enter in the first three (or more) letters; followed by the asterisk. You may just find someone that you had previously been able to find on one of those census records; or some other record on Ancestry.

There are other good search tips as well. But, the asterisk is something I use everyday, when searching Ancestry. Give it a try.

I genuinely hope someone finds this tip useful. Happy searching.


Posted by on January 25, 2012 in General Genealogy


Please let others know about my new blog

I hope everyone will let others know about my new blog here. I am excited that there have already been over 200 hits on the page, since I started it; just a few days ago. There are also 20 followers already! I love it! So… please let your genealogy friends know about the blog; and ask them to enter their email address on the page to receive email notifications of new posts. Share it via email to your genealogy friends. Share the link on facebook. Share it however you can. The more followers I have, the more ambitious I will be to keep adding new posts and keep this new blog active.

Thanks to those of you who have read my blog and/or become followers. Feel free to comment on any of the posts.


Posted by on January 21, 2012 in General Genealogy


Very Creative Census Search

I was thinking yesterday about a recent find I made in the census records, when researching a couple of months ago for a client. So…. thought I would write a little about it. Make no mistake about it. I would have never found this fellow in the 1880 census; without some very creative searching.

This fellows name was Richard Guest or Guess. I had him and his family on the 1860 and 1870 census. I also had his widow living with a son and a couple of daughters in 1900. I knew, based on the 1900 census, that Richard had not died until sometime after 1890,; when the youngest daughter was born. In 1860, 1870 and 1900, the family was always found in Nashville, Davidson Co., TN.

I had tried everything in order to find this family in the 1880 census. I knew they should have been there in Davidson Co.; but just could not find them. I tried searching the children’s names. Tried searching the Wife’s name. Tried the various spelling of the last name. I probably spent 2 or 3 hours trying to locate the family in 1880. I was getting very frustrated!

After thinking on this for a while; a thought came to me. In 1860 and 1870, Richard’s occupation was listed as that of a “Fisherman”. I thought….. How many fisherman could there be in Davidson County in 1880? Surely there could not be more than a few. So… back to the 1880 ancestry census records I went. I go to the 1880 census search. I put absolutely nothing in for first of last name. I enter “Davidson County, Tennessee” into the “Lived In” field of the search page. Then; I put “fisherman” in the “occupation” field of the search page. There were 33 matches that came up.

I browsed through those 33 matches, and found 2 of these men whose first name was Richard. There was a Richard Copeland; and a Richard Johnson. I looked at both families. The wife and children of Richard Johnson did not match that of my client’s Richard Guest. However; Richard Copeland’s wife and children were a perfect match!

I was sure I had found the right man. I began searching some Davidson County marriage and death records; trying to locate records of the children of Richard. Interestingly enough; I found the death certificate of his son, Albert. His death certificate listed his name as Albert “Copeland” Guest! Although Copeland had been entered on the death certificate, where the middle name was meant to be; it still confirmed that the Richard Copeland and family; which I had found on that 1880 census; was the right family.

Later; I found a couple of marriage records of the daughters of Richard. Although the widow of Richard; and his children, were listed with the last name of “Guess” on the 1900 census; a couple of those daughter who married right before and right after 1900; had married under the last name of Copeland.

Ironically; in spending so much time to finally answer the question of where Richard and family were in 1880; I had also created a new question; that I am not sure will ever be answered. Why was Richard’s last name Copeland in 1880. The 1860, 1870 and 1900 census records all list the family as Guess/Guest. However; the 1880 census lists the last name as Copeland. The death certificate of a son, listed his name as Albert Copeland Guest. Also; I had found marriage records of a couple of the daughters; which listed their maiden name as Copeland.

Looks like I answered one question; and created some new questions by doing so!


Posted by on January 21, 2012 in Census


Great Things Found in Deed Records

Good stuff!  Yep.  I found some really good information in 1792 deed record today.  Many genealogists don’t realize just how valuable deed records can be.  They are probably one of the most overlooked sources of genealogy data.  Yet; I probably rely more on deed records, than anything.

A find I had a couple of days ago is a great example.  So… I thought I would talk about it a little.  First; allow me to back track a little with this story.

A couple of weeks ago, I began some research for a client; in an attempt to break down one of her brick walls.  Her ancestor; Michael H. Martin; was known to have resided in Washington Co., TN.  In fact, he married there, in 1823.  In order to get to the point about the value of deeds; I will skip ahead a bit, and shorten this portion of the story.  So…. long story short; I was able to find Michael H. Martin, named in his father’s will; in Washington Co., TN.  His father was Joseph Martin.

Joseph’s will was dated in April of 1823.  Since there is not an 1820 census for Washington County, I really don’t have an estimate as to when he was born.  However; I did know that his son, Michael, was born about 1790, per his census records.

Since Joseph never appears on any census records; I had to rely on other records in order to learn more about him.  So… I started digging into the Washington Co. deed abstracts, which have been transcribed and published.  I found Joseph had several land transactions that were witnessed by other Martin’s; and some in which he had purchased or sold land to/from another Martin.  These are always good clues; since land was frequently bought and sold between family.

During the search of these deed records; I had seen a couple which referenced me to Greene and Sullivan Counties; which both border Washington County.  So…. of course; I knew I also needed to check records in Sullivan and Greene Counties.  In Green County deed records, I found the following deed abstract:

A deed of conveyance from Ann Martin, Thomas Martin, Sarah Martin, James Martin, Eleanor Martin, Ephraim Chidester, Isabella Chidester, James Moore, Thomas Boyd, Ann Boyd, John Galbreath and Mary Galbreath to Joseph Martin.  Dated 20th of March 1792 for 68 acres and allowance & 32 & allowance.

This deed provides lots of great clues into the family of Joseph.  This type of deed was very typical.  I find them often.  These folks were all likely selling land that they had inherited, to Joseph.  The Martin’s named in this deed, would most likely have been siblings of Joseph.  One of the Martin women named, may have been the mother.  In the case of Ephraim and Isabella Chidester; Thomas and Ann Boyd; and John and Mary Galbreath; these wive’s would have been Martin’s; and would have been heirs of the father of this family.  The husbands are named because these daughters are married.  In other words; although the females in these cases would have been the heirs; their husbands would have been party to this sale of land also.

I must admit that I am a little stumped as to the James Moore mention in the deed.  No wife is mentioned for him; so it does not appear that his wife was an heir.  He is also not a Martin; so he would not have been a sibling to Joseph and the others.  It “could” be that he was a grandchild of the deceased Martin; whose parents have already died; thus he would have received that parent’s share.

Bottom line…. Because of this deed, I now have several siblings of Joseph; as well as husbands names for 3 sisters.  Because Ann Martin is named first in this deed; she may have been the mother.  So… I also have the name of a possible mother of Joseph.  I also have all these other names now, that I can search for; in order to help me find Joseph Martin’s father.

I usually have to look at microfilmed deed indexes; and then search for deeds of the surname of interest.  Those indexes give me a grantor and grantee’s name; along with a deed book number and page number.  AT that point, I am able to obtain the necessary microfilm which contains that deed book.  I am then able to locate the original deed; and analyze the data in it; in hopes of obtaining some information about the family I am after.  In this case, I was fortunate to have books of transcribed deed abstracts.  That made it easier in this case.

A great tip.  When searching deeds to try to find siblings and/or parents of an ancestor; look for “et al” in the deed indexes.  “et al” stands for “and others”.  If a father owned land at the time of his death; that land was normally inherited by his wife (if she was still alive) and children.  Most of the time, those children would all sell their share of the land; wither to a sole sibling, who wanted the land; or to another person altogether; that may not have been related to the family.  Although the siblings are “collectively” selling their portions of the land; and this is all done in a single deed record; only one of those siblings’ names would appear in the index.  As an example; you might find the grantor (seller) listed as Joseph Martin et al”; and the grantee (purchaser) listed as John Doe.  Because the “et al” is there; I know that Joseph Martin “and others” are selling this land.  the “and others” are very often siblings.  These are often cases such as I have mentioned, where siblings are selling land in which they have inherited.  These types of deeds will give us names of the siblings; and will normally give us married names (and husbands names) of the daughters.  They will also often refer to the name of the person the land was inherited from; thus giving us the name of the father.

Be sure to think about deeds when you are researching your ancestors.  You don’t have to know a father’s name in order to find a father’s name in the deed records.


Posted by on January 20, 2012 in Deeds


Time for me to blog

Well…..  although I have had my own web domain ( for about 10 years now; I have never really done a blog.  That is, until now.  I decided it was time for me to start blogging about some of my genealogy adventures.

A little about me.  I began my personal genealogy journey about 15 years ago.  It didn’t take me to long to find out that I lived only about 2 hours from the world’s second largest genealogy library; the Allen County Library, in Fort Wayne, IN.  I started making frequent trips there; leaving my house early in the morning, so that I was there before they opened the doors at 9 am. Often times, I remained there until closing time; at 9 pm, on weeknights.

At the time, I made my living as a karaoke host; running karaoke several nights a week.  Of course this left my daytime hours free for genealogy.  I spent many hours, every day, researching my ancestors; and developed a huge passion for it.

I was very fortunate to be able to make several trips to the States and Counties which my ancestors had come from.  I traveled to many Court Houses, Libraries, Graveyards, State Archives, etc.  I have always loved standing on ground that my ancestors had once stood; or, being able to stand at the grave of a great-great grandparent.

Most of my ancestors had immigrated to Maryland in the 1600’s.  They eventually made their way to North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky; and eventually to Indiana.

About 10 years ago, I moved to my present home, in Redkey, IN.  This put me much nearer to the Allen County Library; and afforded me even more opportunities to visit the library there.  Being only about 50 miles from the library; I decided that I wanted to try my hand at genealogy as a profession; and began doing so, on a part time basis.

As I got very tired of hosting karaoke; I decided, about 6 years ago; that it was time for me to take a leap of faith, and made genealogy my full time occupation.  I was a little nervous in the beginning, since I would no longer have my regular karaoke jobs to support me.  However; I was also pretty confident in my own abilities as a genealogist.  I never looked back!  The past few years have been very good to me.  Although I know that I won’t likely make a lot of money as a professional genealogist; I am able to make a living at it; and love my job!  I have had the great pleasure of helping hundreds of people over the years; and have broken down many brick walls.

Most of the research I do for clients, is “brick wall” research.  All of us run into one of those walls in our genealogy research; and I love being able to help folks gets past those points.  I have had many interesting cases over the past 10 years; and never get tired of it.  This blog will give me a chance to share some of those interesting stories that I come across in my research.  I also hope to be able to share some genealogy research tips here as well.

Until next time…..


Posted by on January 18, 2012 in General Genealogy