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Friday, May 30, 2014

Finding a Home of Ancestors in Lincoln, Nebraska with Today's Technology

Today I checked a family tree that I had listed on my,,  member page.  A "shaking leaf" was hovering over the name my husband's great grandmother, Lizzie Hessler Reif.  My heart always leaps when I see one of those leaves, even though I have conditioned myself to keep calm, because most of the time the referenced information does not belong to my specific family member.  Hate when that happens.

I took a deep breath and clicked my way to the hint that thought should be attached to Lizzie.  Well, this time they were correct.  It referenced a listing in the Lincoln, Lancaster County, Nebraska City Directory of 1929.

1929 R. L. Polk & Co., Lincoln City Directory,  page 444

So, I see that the home address was listed as 3093 Vine, and Lizzie was correctly noted as the widow of H. J. (Henry Jacob Reif).  Now that I have an address, I can use today's technology to find the location of this house.  I used,,  to find the location by typing in the address on the home search page.  The location of the home quickly appeared on my computer screen.  This address is on a corner lot.,-Lincoln-NE_rb/
I noticed that the home was currently not for sale, but the statistics of the home were available, including the number of bedrooms, number of baths, square footage of the home and the lot, and it's current value (according to Zillow statistics).  

On the right side of the page, a general information box repeats the same information, but lists the date that the home was built....1910.  OK, now this is getting interesting.  

I clicked on the "County Website" link and was able to view the current information from the Lancaster County Assessor / Register of Deeds.  There is a GIS tab to view the current photo of the home:

3093 Vine Street, Lincoln, Lancaster, Nebraska as of 2014
close up of the home address, 3093 Vine Street

Wonderful! What a great looking house.  But, I wonder what it looked like in years past.  After all, it was built in 1910, and I'm sure that it didn't always look this good.  Let's see what I can find by reviewing more information from the County Assessors website.  

Property image dated 2005 - 9 - 7
So this is what it looked like in 2005, before the latest improvements were made to the property.  The owner did a fine job of rehabbing this home, and should be very proud of their efforts.  

The property was last sold in 2009, and the County Assessor has posted the recent sales history of the property.
By selecting the instrument numerals by sales date, you will be able to see the details of the sales, from both 2009 and 2005, which include the names of Grantors and Grantees.  I won't post those on this blog, due to my personal feelings about privacy, but they are a matter of public record and can be viewed by the public, free of charge from the Lancaster Assessor report. In addition, the Lancaster County Treasurer has posted the tax payments for this parcel by the owners since 1998, and can be viewed at  I guess you can't hide anything anymore.  

A property status sheet is included by the County Assessor, which shows a history of building permits and inspections for this property :
All of this information about the home of Lizzie Hessler Reif, which started from a shaking leaf on the family tree from has given me a glimpse into the neighborhood of this woman who was the great grandmother of my husband.  Hmmm. I wonder what he will think when I show him what I've uncovered for his family tree.  

Lesson : check each shaking leaf.  And, take what you have to the unlimited resources on the Internet.  You just might uncover some really neat stuff.  

Saturday, May 24, 2014

In Honor of All Those Lives Lost For Our Freedom

Memorial Day 2014...thanks to God And All Those Lives Lost, the day is upon us.  This weekend, when the rain clouds roll in, take the opportunity to put down the meat tongs and put out the flame on your grill.  Do what every American was meant to do on this National day of Observance.  Pay tribute to those who served in our armed forces, especially those who never got the chance to return home alive.

This weekend, there are some subscription online services that are taking this weekend to provide their collections of military records and photographs free of charge to anyone who wishes to view them., Fold3,.com and are but a few of these online websites that will afford you the opportunity to read, observe and learn about those who lost their lives fighting for your right to a life of freedoms here in America.

You know the drill by now.  Take off your hats, put your hand over your hearts, gaze upon the American flag that flew over every American battlefield where soldiers lost their lives so that you can live free.  Not sure of what freedoms you have?  Read the Bill of Rights.  Then think of what your life would be like without just one of those rights.

By the way, don't let your hamburgers and hotdogs burn.  Remember to turn them over.  God bless the U.S.A.

Friday, May 16, 2014

What is FamilySearch Wiki and Will it Help My Research Problems?

You may have heard about Wikipedia ( )....a free on-line encyclopedia where topics can be searched using a wide variety of international languages.  FamilySearch has a similar learning webpage entitled FamilySearch Wiki ( ).

 FamilySearch Wiki answers the question, What is the Wiki ?

 The Wiki is about finding records that may have been generated about your ancestors and the places in which the records might be found. It is a vast record depository of the paper trail that people leave behind long after they are gone. The Wiki has records from the United States as well as from 244 countries.  Here you will be able to find documents such as census records, marriage records, birth records and death records and much more. Probate documents are often very informative and may help you in your search.  There is an extensive list of United States military records on the wiki .    

Search by place or topic by clicking on a map, as seen below:

OR learn how to search your family history, simply by choosing from the many research helps offered, from getting suggestions about organizing your family history, choosing a database to file your family facts or learn about basic research principles to keep you on track.

Using the Wiki Tools, you can view many articles written regarding online library catalogs, international websites, and internet repositories, just to name a few topics.  

Most importantly, there are links to contact research help specialists at FamilySearch.  I have never contacted them....yet.  But, sometime in the future if I am unable to break down a brick wall in my research, I just might take advantage of these specialists.  I suggest that you do, too.

You can also share your information and suggestions regarding research in a particular topic or country.  Adding your own "user page" could help to keep yourself more organized, too,  There are Talk Pages to share your ideas, or communicate with a specific user.  Sign up for a Watch List, and be notified when new content has been added to topics that interest you.  Browse the WikiProjects lists and join one if you'd like, or establish a new one yourself.  Submit an article regarding a particular topic in which you have expertise, or add to the content of articles already featured. 

Ever have trouble with geographic places with the same name?  The category "Ambiguous Place Names"     ( can be a big help for you.  I searched for the location "Georgia".  The result made me pleasantly satisfied :

Georgia may refer to:
  • Georgia (country), formerly Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR) 1921-1991; and Democratic Republic of Georgia 1918-1921.
  • Georgia (state), a state in the southern United States, and formerly one of the British colonies in North America.
Georgia may also refer to other local jurisdictions:
And, of course there is the wonderful topic : Family History For Beginners
From evaluating the family history that you know, to starting the research for the information that you want to know....this is the ultimate in self-learning, step-by-step instructions to get you started in your quest to find your ancestors and their life stories.  Learn how to properly document and cite the sources of your research results. And, don't forget to review the genealogy and legal terminology categories.  It helps to know what you're talking about, right?  

I can go on, and on, about FamilySearch Wiki.  But, I won't be able to cover everything in this blog.  Try it yourself, and see what you can learn, and maybe contribute, to this FREE resource.  It's just waiting for you to experience the fascinating world of learning.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Where to Find Family History Books

Wouldn't it be nice to find that someone had already researched your family history, cited all sources, and published it in a book?  Sure would save you a lot of time, right? Well part of that wish just might come true for you.

Where would you look for such a text, if it does indeed exist?  Several places are available to you, without leaving your home.  Curl up with your computer and come explore a few websites with me.

Internet Archive : is a digital library of internet sites, and they provide FREE access to the general public. Research videos, texts and audio files.  Very cool.

FamilySearch :
Eight libraries that hold 100,000 family history and genealogy books are connected to this website.  This site is also FREE.

New England Historic and Genealogical Society :  has many texts to discover, however it is a PAY SUBSCRIPTION site.  Some of the texts are linked to another site:
Hathi Trust Digital Library : with is free to the general public.

Look through your family history notes and find someone that you know was involved in an important job, took part in a historic event, made the newspaper, etc.  If you can't find one, just pick a surname and go with it.  Search each website with the term "_________ family"  and that should get you started.  Be sure to read the search suggestions from each site.

I chose to search the BATES family.  This family is from my husband's ancestry, and I know that they lived in New England, and some of the members participated in the Revolutionary War.  Let's see what I can find.

Internet Archive search resulted in 16 texts regarding BATES family, including many publications of the Bates Family Bulletin. I did not want to browse through these yet, as none of the titles seemed to jump at me, but I will return to them.  Bookmark that!

FamilySearch results included 412 returns.  Wow, too many to look through, so I narrowed the search, this time looking for "Joseph Harrison Bates" (who I had known served in the Revolutionary War).  This time 2 results appeared, from the Daughters of the American Revolution Lineage Books, Volume 162. Now, this looks more promising.
Lineage Book of the Charter Members of the Daughters of the American Revolution
After browsing the index for the BATES name, I was directed to page 23 to follow a notation for James BATES.  Here is what I found :

A Mrs. Elizabeth Bates Tyler had provided her ancestry lineage to a James BATES, who had served in the Continental Army, in the Virginia Line.  This is very helpful to me. I saw the name Joseph Harrison Bates, and highlighted it.  I did not have the name of the father of Joseph Harrison BATES.....until now.  Very cool.  Note that it provides that birth and death years, places of birth and death, and the wife of James BATES.  These items may not be fact, but certainly, clues that I can follow up with a little more research.

Finally, a New England Historic and Genealogical Society search  for Joseph Harrison BATES, provided me with the result of a link to make my heart leap :
search result from NEHGS Library website, Jossph Harrison Bates

Note that there is a link to "Online Version of Book in Hathi Trust Digital Library".  Yes! I clicked on that and voila!....I was able to download this non-circulating book right onto my computer within seconds.
Bates, Madison C., A Brief History and Genealogy of Joseph Harrison Bates, 1915, The Galesburg Printing Company, Galesburg, Ilinois

A few pages into the book, there is a photo of Joseph Harrison Bates, the great, great, great great grandfather of my husband. Could this get any better?  Yes, it can.  

Well, I have about 50 pages of reading to do this weekend.  After browsing this text, I find that Madison Bates tells his recollections of his father and mother, their families, and everyday life in central Illinois.  Of course, nothing printed in books is absolutely valid, but it appears that there will be much   information in this book to follow up, and prove, or disprove, what he has written as the truth.  But for the moment, let's just relish in the fact that this man look the time to write this wonderful book about the BATES family.

  Do you plan to search for your possible family history books?  If this hasn't piqued your interest, I don't know what will.  Good luck, and share your findings, too.

Friday, May 2, 2014

County Maps and Family History Books - Where to Find Them

When researching your family history, there is a need to review the social, political, economic, geographic, religious and educational history of the area where your family lived.  Where can you find this sort of information?  Well, one place is right at your fingertips...

This website has been one of my favorite for years, and evidently the favorite of many other researchers, as it has been mentioned as one of the Family Tree Magazine's 101 Best Websites for several years.  

Found at , you can have access to county histories, family biographies, genealogy references and county map images.  Did I mention this website and it's listings are FREE?

Family biographies are now available for the states of Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.  This website is constantly growing.  You can subscribe to a weekly newsletter, in which you will be advised of the new listings added periodically.  Browse the site for biographies by surname to see whether your family was mentioned in texts in more than one state.

I did a quick search for the BRYAN family name, knowing that it was quite important in the history books of Kentucky, and in the ancestry of my husband.  One of the returns was exactly what I was looking for :
This excerpt is wonderful for me, because it just added more information to my husband's family tree which I did not have before now.  Try searching your family tree surnames, and see what results you can find.

Historical County maps are available to view for the states of Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Oklahoma and Indian Territories, Tennessee and Texas.  More maps will be added in the future. State maps showing the location of each county can also be viewed.  

I searched for Fayette County, Kentucky maps to see if there would be something of interest regarding the BRYAN family.  Unfortunately, they do not have maps for the county, yet.  When searching for Jefferson County, Kentucky, there was only one from 1905, but with a note that there were more to come in the future.  Please check back again, soon.  

  Additional genealogy links are also listed, which include State county division maps, Articles about life in the United States prior to 1900, How to obtain a death certificate, Various genealogy and history news articles and Genealogy research in Missouri.  Also, there are links to various websites that may be of interest to family history buffs. 

Hearthstone Legacy Publications provides My Genealogy Hound for free.  However, Hearthstone Legacy Publications sells CD/DVD and digital downloads for county histories and genealogy titles for a wide variety of states. Census records and plat map books are also available.  Visit their website at to review the extensive list.

My Genealogy Hound is a growing website.  Be patient with them.  And check back periodically, or, sign up for their free newsletter and keep abreast of their new content.