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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Using Civil War Pension Files, Part III - The case of Ernst Reif

Our last post about Ernst, we reviewed the letters of the Adjutant General, and assistants, regarding the death of Ernst, and the extent of his wound.  He was injured by gunshot wound of the thigh, while engaged in combat at the Battle of Stone River, which developed into Erysipelas :

an acute, sometimes recurrent disease caused by a bacterial infection. It is characterized by large, raised red patches on the skin, especially that of the face and legs, with fever and severe general illness.


We continue with the War of the Rebellion Widow's Pension (Original With Increase)  page 103/220

Chicago Pension Office, case 184.488

Catherine Reif now Geeting, widow of Ernst Reif, Priv., Company H, 34 IL Vol.

Resident of Ogle County, State of Illinois, Post Office of Forreston,
Attorney, JP Jones, Rockford, Winnebago County, Fee of $ Twenty-five. having been filed Feb. 19, 1872

Rate of pension $ Eight per month, commencing October 20, 1867, day after soldier's death, (ending June 6, 1875 the date of widow's remarriage) and two dollars per month additional for each child as follows:

Child : Mary   Born August 2, 1867                                 Commencing October 20, 1867
                        Sixteen on August 1, 1883

Admitted and approved by Examiner, June 5, 1879 and Reviewer June 12, 1879

Dates Shown by Papers :

Enlistment Sept , 1861
Muster into pensionable rank Sept 7, 1861
Discharge June 4, 1863
Death Oct 19, 1867
Invalid app. filed  Oct 13, 1863
Invalid last paid to Sept 4, 1867
Widow's app. filed  Oct 28, 1878
Right accrued Oct 19, 1867
Claim completed Oct 28, 1876
Former marriage of soldier  NONE
Death of former wife  NONE
Claimant's marriage to soldier Oct 4, 1863
Claimant's remarriage June 6, 1875

Handwritten comment : Minor's claim heretofore allowed
Cause of death Erysipelas result of GSW (gunshot wound) Place of Death  House - after discharge

Page 104/220  Incidental Matters

Handwritten :

Minor in receipt of pension from the date of widow's re-marriage.

Widow's claim formerly rejected, on the grounds that it was barred by limitation.

Atty. JP Jones made inquiry Dec 19, 1878, relative to the date of commencement of pension which is regarded equivalent to re-opening the claim.

Page 105/220 Summary of Proof, No Former Marriage of Soldier

as shown by declaration of widow

Marriage of Soldier to Claimant

The marriage of Ernest Reif to Catharine Foy
is shown by certified copy of Public Records
Re-Marriage to Simon Geeting, June 6, 1875,
    by certified copy of Public Record

Dates of Birth of Children

By the affidavit of attending physician

Dates of Deaths of Children


Page 106/220     Proof As To Death (of Soldier)
Reports and Testimonies of Adjutant General, Surgeon General Officer, Fellow Soldiers Army Surgeon, Attending Physician, Certificate of Disability, Other Testimony

Soldier was pensioned at rate of $4 - contraction of left leg

Surg. Gen. USA March '78 : Reports soldier admitted to Hospital with GSW of the thigh and discharged  from service on June 4,  or 6, 1863 by reason of GSW

Certificate of Disability, July 2 '63 shows the same as above as  to cause of disability

Lieunt. Hanselods (sp?) Nov. '63  shows that wound was received in line of duty while advancing under the fire of the enemy

Dr. Frazey, Oct 28, 1876  Soldier was sound at enlistment, was his physician after his return home to date of 
death - Oct 19, 1867, cause of death was the result of GSW

Same Physician, Feb 19 '77 and May 23 '78  Soldier a constant sufferer from said wound prior to his death, died Oct 19, 1867 of phlegmonous erysipelas, the result of long continued suffering and low vitality which continued from the time of his return from the army until his death, entirely incapacitated for labor.

Same Physician  Oct 26, 1878 writes direct to this office that in his opinion the erysipelas was caused by the wound in the leg or hip, - Am positive that the erysipelas was developed by the condition produced by the wound, (For full particulars see Minor's Brief)

To Be Cont.

UP NEXT : It is revealed that Catherine Foy and Ernst Reif married before the War in 1861, but the license was never filed


Catherine remarried to Samuel Nietz, who deserted her and her child, and she filed for divorce, two years later.....

A Soap Opera Indeed

Friday, December 2, 2016

Using Civl War Pension Files, Part II : The Case of Ernst C. Reif

Continued....The Pension File of Ernst C. Reif, US Civil War Veteran, 34th Illinois Reg. Vols.


Question: What were the requirements for an injured, invalid person who served the nation, to be able to obtain a government pension for support, in the event he could not support himself because of that injury?

Answer:  The War of 1861. Act of July 14, 1862

Under the act of Congress approved July 14, 1862, pensions are granted to the following classes of persons.
I. Invalids, disabled since March 4, 1861, in the military or naval service of the United States, in the line of duty.
II. Widows of officers, soldiers, or seamen dying of wounds received or of disease contracted in the military or naval service, as above.
III. Children, under sixteen years of age, of such deceased persons, if there is no widow surviving, or from the time of the widow's remarriage.
IV. Mothers (who have no husband living) of officers, soldiers or seamen, deceased as aforesaid, provided the latter have left neither widow nor children under sixteen years of age; and provided, also, that the mother was dependent, wholly or in part, upon the deceased for support.
V. Sisters, under sixteen years of age, of such deceased persons, dependent on the latter, wholly or in part, for support, provided there are no rightful claimants of either of the [???] last preceding classes.
Ernst C. Reif applied for his invalid pension on the 12th day of September 1863 in Ogle County, Illinois. The County Clerk, Albert Woodcock, filed the paperwork, with witnesses, Cyrus Billig and Robert Crunkleton, both residets of the county.  Ernst was 24 years old, sworn to testify the true answers to each question.  He confirmed that he was a volunteer of the 34th Regmt. of Illinois, and entered service at Mount Morris.  His company H was commanded by Capt. Miller, and the 34th Infantry was commanded by Col. Kirk, Bristol(?), etc.  He confided that he was discharged while in Louisville, Ky on the 4th of June in 1863.  Further, Ernst told his story of being engaged at the Battle of Stone River in Tennessee on the 31st of Dec in 1862.  He was shot in the front side of the left thigh, with the ball going through and seriously injured the bone so as to produce lameness, which still existed, and no prospects of improvement.  He refers to the Surg. Certificate that shows he was discharged and the certificate of Doctor Colescott of Louisville, the resident surgeon. He returned to Forreston, Illinois, and has been resting himself, not being able to labor on account of his disability.
Prior to his injuries, he was of good health and had good tempermant.  Now he is considered three fourths disabled and not earning wages.  He wishes to be placed on the Invald Pension Roll.  His represented attorney, C C Tucker, of Washington DC, said he will issue his pension certificate.  He agreed to have his pension mailed to the Post Office at Forreston, Ogle County, Illinois, because his place of abode is in this town, and it is a small place without numbers on the houses. He signed his name as the applicant, (and quite nicely, I might add)  
The two witnesses and the Clerk of Ogle County signed the form, and it was notarized.
On February 8, 1864, Ernst Reif was allowed a pension of $4 per month, commencing June 4, 1863.
A brief was written in the case of Ernest C. Reif, Priv, Co H 34th Ref. Ill Vols.
He reported that his post office address was Forreston, Ogle County, Illinois, along with his dates of enlistment and discharge.  
The brief asked for proof exhibited for Ernst to claim for an invalid pension.  The points written were as follows:
1  Discharge for gun shot wound of  left thigh rec'd at Battle of Stone River.
2. Adjutant General reports him wounded at the Battle of Stone River
3.  1st Lt. certified claimant became disabled Dec 31/62, that his Co. was ordered to advance under fire of the Enemy, and in so doing claimant rec'd a gun shot wound in the front side of left thigh, ball going through and injuring the bone so as to produce lameness & unable to walk without crutches. 
4.  Attndg Surg. certifies June 12/63 to gun shot wound of left thigh, Some contraction & adhesion of parts injured, cannot straighten limb at knee, walks on toes of injured limb, Disability one half and permanent.  Exm. not ordered.
Disabled by Contraction of left leg 
His Cert. No. 34.340, was paid to him, through the Chicago Illinois pension office from 1863 ending 1867.
The Report of the Death of a Pensioned Veteran :

A very yellowed form from the Department of the Interior, Pension Office, dated Nov. 29th, 1876

"Sir : Your respectfully requested to furnish official evidence of the enrollment, must, service duty, and discharge of death of Ernest Reif, who was a private in Company H, 34th Regiment of Illinois Vols. reported died October 19th 1867.

If the above name is not found on the rolls of said Company, will you so state, and report as to enrollment, in the case of any man bearing a similar name, whom you have good reason for believing to  the soldier inquired for.

Please, also, to furnish any evidence on file that may enable this Office to decide whether the soldier's death resulted from injuries received or disease contracted in the service and line of duty."

Please return this circular with your report. Claim No. 228.542
Very respectfully, signed JA Bentley, commissioner pensions
Adjutant General, U.S.A.

The reply is as follows:

The Adjutant General's Office has an acknowledgement of the receipt for the Pension Application
No. 228.542, (widow and child pension application)  dated Dec. 18, 1876, Washington, D.C.

They are repeating what had appeared in the Rolls on file in the Adjutant General Office :

"Ernest C. Reif, was enrolled on the 7 day of Sept, 1861, at Mt. Morris, in Co. H,
34th Regiment of Illinois Volunteers, to serve 3 years or during the war, and mustered into service as
a Priv. on the 7 day of Sept., 1861, at Camp Butler, in Co. H, 34 Regiment of Illinois Volunteers
to serve 3 years, or during the war.  On the Master Roll of Co. H, of that Regiment, for the period
from muster in to Feb. 28, 1862, he is reported present.  So reported until roll for Nov. & Dec 1862,
reports him.  Taken prisoner at Murfreesboro.  Subsequently reported wounded in Battle of Stone
River Dec 31/62.  In hospital at Nashville, until roll for May and June, 1863 reports him Discharged
June 3 1863, for disability.  Regt. was in action at Murfreesboro, Tenn. Dec 31/62.
Prisoner of war records furnish no information.
Certificate of disability reports him dischd. at Louisville, Ky.
June 4th 1863, which date is accepted as correct."

I am, sir very respectfully,
your obedient servant,

S N Benjamin, Assistant Adjutant General


Additionally, this letter...

On 4 Jan 1877, a form letter sent by the Department of the Interior, Pension Office, requested the full medical history as possible on the soldier, Ernest Reif, Co. H,34th Regt. Ill. Vols.
     Enlisted  Sept 7 1861
     Discharged June 4/63

Allegations of Claimant in regard to Fatal Disease or Injury,
     Wounded at battle of Stone River Dec. 31st 1862

Report of the Adjutant General U.S. Army
     Enlist.d Sept. 7/61 Pm. Co. H. 34th Ill Vols
     Wounded in battle of Stone River Dec 31/62
     In hospital at Nashville until June 1863
     Roll for June reports him dischgd. June 3 1863
          for disability

     Cert. of disability reports him dischgd. at Louisville Ky
     June 4, 1863

No comments on Death
No comments on Miscellaneous Statements

Please return this circular with your report.

Signed : J A Bentley, commissioner, pensions

The Surgeon General, U. S. Army
Claim No. 228.543

To be continued...Catherine Reif and her daughter, Mary, file for support as a widow and child of the deceased Ernst C. Reif

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Using Civil War Pension Files, Part I : The case of Ernst C. Reif - Part I

Recently I received the full pension files for two Civil War soldiers, and I have never been so 
excited to read the information that has been revealed to me.  Outstanding!

The pension files belong to a great great uncle of my husband who served as a volunteer in the 
Union Army, and an African American Civil War Veteran who served one year in the USCT.  
These were both obtained from the company Twisted Twigs on Gnarled 

US Flag of 1861, public domain photo,

19 April 1908 c. 147 35 Stat. 64

An Act To increase the pension of widows, minor children, and so forth, of deceased soldiers and sailors of the late civil war, the war with Mexico, the various Indian wars, and so forth, and to grant a pension to certain widows of the deceased soldiers and sailors of the late civil war.

In the days of the Civil War, the Pension Office was overseen and part of the Department of the Interior (now oversees the National Parks Service), and the Veterans Administration of today was not formed until much later.

This is the story of veteran Ernst (Ernest) C. Reif of Forreston, Ogle County, Illinois.

Ernst Christian Reif arrived in the United States in 1854, along with his father, stepmother, and some younger siblings.  Being the oldest of the brood, I suspect he had to help his father with the support of this Reif family.  They settled in northern Illinois, the county of Ogle, later moving to Stephenson. Ernst was a carpenter by trade, as well as his father, George Reif.

Ernst enlisted into the Union ranks in 1861 upon the opening of the Civil War.  He served in the 34th Illinois Infantry, where he was wounded at the Battle of Stone River, near Nashville, Tennessee, on 31 December 1862.  He was shot through the thigh and had become so lame that he could not walk without a crutch.  Having been taken prisoner, and later recuperating in a Union hospital, he was discharged in June of 1863. He returned back to Forreston, Illinois and his betrothed, Catherine Foy.

This is where the story of the pension begins for Ernst Reif.  According to his pension papers, he was wounded and taken prisoner.  Having been exchanged with other prisoners, he was able to be tended to and then sent home upon his discharge.  The Examining Surgeon's Report states that he was discharged from Louisville, Kentucky. Later, in August of 1867, he would die from the effects of this permanent damage from the gunshot wound to his leg. One document from the surgeon states that he was subsequently promoted to 1st Lient. This is the only reference to this promotion.

He was admitted to General Hospital 21 in Nashville, Tennessee, (most likely Cumberland hospital, but not proven yet) 13 Feb, 1863. His wound was described as : "gunshot of left thigh, ball entered anterior inner face of thigh, 2 inches below groin, just internal of sartorious, part directly backwards and outwards, behind and internal to femur, and out  on posterior face of thigh, below gluteus maximus, through belly of biceps. Some contraction and adhesion of parts injured.  Cannot straighten the limb at knee, Walks on toes of injured limb."
Signed by the examining surgeon, 12 June 1863, Louisville, Kentucky. Many Union soldiers, sick and wounded, were treated at one of the several Nashville military hospitals, before being transferred to Louisville for further treatment.

Ernst was transferred to Louisville from Nashville in April of 1863, to General Hospital 7.  This is where he was cared for until June of that year, and was sent home with a certificate of disability and eligible for an invalid pension. Hospital 7, also known as Brown  General Hospital, built by the Union Army in Louisville, the largest of six general military hospitals in Louisville.

To be continued.....

Sunday, September 18, 2016

What's So Special About Following Newsletters and Blogs?

Post box,

Why Follow Blogs and Newsletters for Genealogy?

Do you read many blogs and newsletters from individuals and associations?  No?  You should!!!

Online newsletters can tell you about things that you ordinarily would not know about.  Wouldn't you like to know when someone has published a book on the subject that you have been wondering about? What about finding a new database that just might have the information you have been needing to break down a brick wall in your research? These are just a few things that you will benefit from when you subscribe to newsletters and follow blogs.

Just a few of the many newsletter and blogs to check out:

Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter, by Richard Eastman.  Specific to genealogy, Richard tells you about all that is new in the world of genealogy research.  And, if he misses something, just send him a line and he will look into what you have suggested for his mailing.  Check it out at 

Genealogy Today, has articles, search tools and database links to the newest sites for online data sources.  There is also a Marketplace, Memberships and Database listing on their home page.  See what its all about at

Ancestry's Genealogy Newsletter, a portal to the Learning Center,, lets you follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Ancestry Blog in just a click away.  It also has links to tips, census and record information, new additions to the Ancestry community of databases, and an opportunity to subscribe.

GenealogyBlog,, is available as a free daily online magazine. It has a catagory search list on the home page so that you can find just the topic that you'd like to read about.  And there are so many topics listed.  I can't imagine what is not listed there, because it covers everything, and I mean everything.  Try this out.  You just might find something that you have been wondering about, or learn about a new topic.  Endless possibilities.

Geneabloggers, headed by Thomas MacEntee, and, Cyndi's List, have great collections of blogs related to history and genealogy.  Sit back, and click away.

Do you have some favorite Newsletters and Blogs that you follow?  Tell us about them, and share what you learn from them, and why you follow them.  Thanks in advance for your replies.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Genealogy OnLine : How to Get Started

Getting Started in Genealogy ONLINE, W. Dollarhide, 2007 reprint,

So you want to do some family research?  Where do you start?  Right here, is a good beginning place.

William Dollarhide has been writing some of the best books on research.  This is one of our favorites.
If you are looking for a how-to book that is easy to read, right to the point and not too cumbersome, then this is the book for you.

At just about 64 pages (including master forms for family data, pedigree and family group sheets), this publication has all that you need to start your journey. Just be careful.  This journey will never end.  You have been warned.  Once you get bitten by the genealogy bug, you are hooked for quite a while.

Mr. Dollarhide starts from the beginning...with yourself, your immediate family and extended family.  Conducting interviews is the first step to get the oral history started.  Then there is the task of getting first hand documents (or secondary copies of first hand documents) to back up all the stories that you have been told.  Death records and death certificates can certainly start the collection of information that you will need.  And, using the Federal and State Census records to track the locations and persons in your family is an essential step.

The Family History Library Catalog has a nice, and easy, search engine to see what has been copied, and or documented.  Don't forget,,,,it's FREE.

The author goes on to announce how nice it is to be able to search for book titles on the Internet.  We think so, too, since is a place that we like to start (we own the company)!  Lots to choose from, and we offer help in finding just the right publications for you, whether we carry it in our catalog, or not. Books are great!

Further into this book, the search for those special websites that seem to offer the pot-o-gold is discussed.  Every little bit of information helps, so don't turn you nose up at any site.  Bookmark those that seem promising.  Some websites are  lineage-linked, and others are sponsored by software companies, archives, libraries, cemeteries, societies and organizations.

There are several resource centers located across the United States.  Search those out, and plan field trips or family vacations and make a visit...even though the kids will roll their eyes.  Get them involved in the search, and add an award to the kid who finds the best bit of information.

When all else fails, you get too tired, or just don't have the time to do the search and legwork, contact a professional researcher.  Or, subscribe to the many genealogy magazines, newsletters and blogs. Many are listed in this book.

Finally, browse the top twenty Reference Books for Genealogists, of which  has many listed in our catalog.

Document...Document...Document every piece of information you collect.  The Master Forms sheets at the end of this book, kindly provided by William Dollarhide, are just what you need.  Make copies, keeping data and images stored online, in a cloud, and yes, paper is good, too.

You can get a copy of Getting Started in Genealogy ONLINE, at
and purchase at a 15% discounted price.  Looking for a nice gift for someone who wants to dabble in the hobby of genealogy and family history?  This is a very good, and affordable, idea.

Thanks for reading, and HAPPY HUNTING

Fannie, Black Lab Mix and History Buff Mutt

Monday, June 20, 2016

It's Showtime : Ancestors in the Entertainment Business

Lights    Camera    ACTION

Do you have any family members that were employed in the entertainment or broadcast business?

It might be interesting to learn about them and their professions.  There are several ways to look up what they might have been up to.

My Uncle Bennie....Horse Trainer, Circus Actor, Western Film Stuntman; public  domain,  accessed 20 June 2016
As little kids, our mother often told us of our Uncle Bennie, who worked in Los Angeles in Western genre films.  I never met the man, but my siblings had.  I only saw photos of him.  After years of hearing about our cowboy relative, I decided to find out a little about him and his career.

Aunt Ethel, wife of Uncle Bennie, often called our home to let us know what films Bennie would be appearing in, and later her son, Carl, also took up the "reins" and followed in his father's footsteps.  He also appeared in films and television shows.

Visiting Aunt Ethel when I was a teenager, I asked her how she and Uncle Bennie met.  She said that she and her brother left their home when teenagers and toured the country in a traveling Wild West Circus Show.  They were from Montana, and had lots of experience around horses.  When the show appeared in the town where Bennie lived, he went to see the performances.  His eyes met hers, Her eyes met his, and "the rest is history", she said.  They traveled with the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show.

The family that Uncle Bennie came from was very involved in Italian fruit marketing.  Obviously he did not go into this business like his father and siblings.  I looked into the 1911 old phone books and found Bennie listed, living with his parents and siblings, but he was listed as "theatrical" at the age of 19.  The rest of his male siblings were listed as fruit dealers.

Bennie married Ethel, had their son, Carl, in 1916, and at WWI he registered with the draft.  His draft card states that he was employed a performer with the Ringling Bros. Circus.

Several family photos were produced by various persons showing Bennie with western star Tom Mix, who appeared in westerns, most of which were silent films, from 1909-1935.

Many newspaper articles, most of which were from the early 1950s, made mention of Bennie and his touring of the nation in traveling western shows.  Also, there were mentions of his training of movie stars in the western movie business. He was very adept in lassos, knife throwing, hatchet throwing, horse  whip tricks and shooting performances.

He was mentioned as a personal assistant to Will Rogers as a chauffeur, and a very good friend of Will Rogers, Jr.

In his obituary of 1955, it states, "a famed western showman, a long time western film  horse trainer and stuntman, close friend of the late Will Rogers, a double for many famous stars in western films, owner of a ranch formerly owned by Will Rogers, Jr., and appeared  on the television show "You Asked For It" where he performed a knife-throwing act with his wife and partner, Ethel."

There was so much more found in newspapers and ephemera regarding Uncle Bennie.  Too much stuff to mention here. But, at least I found several ways to learn about him, and now you can research your Entertainer Ancestor, too.

from the collection of Mrs. Louis Busalaki Stepler, 1917-2002.

Friday, June 3, 2016

World War II : D Day Research

Do you have relatives or friends that participated in the D Day operations in Europe during World War II?

There have been many viewpoints written about this epic day in history.  So many died on the beaches during this unprecedented invasion. And, yet, so many were fortunate to survive.  For them, it was a memory that I am sure they never wanted to repeat.

There are some great publications written by many of these survivors.  And, many researchers are now able to find information about the behind the scenes actions since many of the files have become declassified. One of these books is written by Kenneth H. Garn, The Secret D-Day, 2004., available for sale through
The author was part of a defense platoon in Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion of the 531st Engineer Shore Regiment.  He unravels the truth behind the D-Day invasion.

This book is highly recommended for those who enjoy reading first hand accounts of war. sells at a discount off of list price, and is giving FREE SHIPPING to customers when they buy 3 Military Catalog items until June 13.  You might want to take advantage of this offer.  It would be a good savings to anyone.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Researching Ancestors While Reading Biographies and Historical Accounts

Not very many people are so lucky as to have ancestors with published biographies on the shelves of every library in town.  In fact, not too many people have ancestors mentioned in history books. I should know....I've been researching our families since 2002.  Seems like yesterday when I picked up an old photo in a relative's box of belongings and wondered...Who are these people, and why do I look like them?

And so you start to wonder a bit about family of long ago, those that you have never met.
But that is where life gets interesting.  It's time to do some investigative reading.

Looking into the lives of our ancestors, we need to pick out every place that they lived, every school that they attended, the churches that they visited on Sundays with family and any military and occupational experiences they had.

Look at all the possibilities that you have to gather more information into their lives.  Research the schools that they attended.  Google books on their churches.  Find histories written about the towns, villages, counties and townships in which they lived.  Research the  history of the military units in which they served.  Find the places of employment and read about the history of the company or corporation.

Besides reading books on all of the above, search for news articles in newspapers and periodicals that may have stories about those schools, churches, companies, etc.  Your ancestors probably knew many of the people who are named in all of these sources.  Now you know a little more about your ancestor. is a good place to start.  Our newly purchased company has gone through quite a change in the past 60 days.  Redecorated website, blogs, social media....yes it's all been a lot of work.  But we are not done with the changes yet.  We will begin to write newsletters to our subscribers FREE of charge on a monthly basis.  If interested, go to our website,, and sign up for the newsletter...we will send you a FREE 15 Generation Chart (two-sided) when you leave your address on the subscriber sheet.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Website is new and improved...ready to take your orders

Sunday, March 13, 2016

State by State Research : Colorado

Continuing with my review of state history and genealogy research, let's explore Colorado.

Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection

Wow, over 200 newspapers are searchable at this site.  That is impressive.  Let's see what I can find.

The years range from 1859 to 1966.  Not too shabby.  You can search, browse by title, name or place. There is also a topics page, listings are  alphabetically arranged, which helps a lot when you looking for that certain event that could have dozens of articles written and posted.  The articles are arranged by newspapers and date of publication.  Now that makes things easier.

I looked up "Knife Throwing", and 20 articles suddenly appeared.  Cool.  Of course these are all from Colorado newspapers, but that is the neatest thing.  You can get much closer to a specific geographic area.

There are "Help" and "Forums" to help you with search suggestions.  But let's be honest, isn't it fun to just fumble around and do some hunting without help?  OK, ask for help if you want to.

Colorado State Archives

Looking for birth and death registers?  How about divorce indexes?  Probate, yep.  Other documents of naturalization, teacher licenses, tax lists, Supreme Court case files, etc. This site is for you if you have Colorado research  ambition...

Want Probate information? Go to Menu tab, scroll down to Public Records (or Genealogy....all roads lead to Rome you know), then scroll to Legal Records....scroll down to Probate. There is a list of Counties and the years that are held at the state archives. Only those cases prior to 1985 are listed.  But, not all of these records are at the archives.  You can order document copies.

Did I forget to mention Military records?  How about Penitentiary records? School records?

Folks, there is just so much on this website that I can't possibly write about all of it.  You will just have to visit it yourself.  But I promise you, you won't regret it...ever.  It would be nice if every state have such a  comprehensive collection such as  this.

Job well done, Colorado!

And let me remind you, Family Tree Magazine published an fantastic article about the many state websites available...I still have mine from December of 2011.  Be sure to visit Family Tree  A great publication!

Monday, March 7, 2016

California : Research State by State


Have some family ties in California?  There are a few websites mentioned by Family Tree Magazine.

California Digital Newspaper Collection

This site, a project by the University of California at Riverside, has newspapers that cover 1846 through the present.  They have a search feature, so I decided to use it.  Looking for my great uncle and information on his career as a stunt man in western films.

I didn't find him, or his son, Carl.  Better luck next time.

I did a search for Reagan....guess what....over 12,000 hits.  Go figure.

California Genealogical Society and Library

This site seems more promising to me.  It talks about membership, research, look ups, libraries, etc.

I used the California Names Index.  Just as before, after entering the surname of my great uncle, no results appeared.

There is a free manuscript database, so once again I looked for the surname.  No luck.

In the Members section, there are many databases to explore.  I am not a member, but there seems to be a sizable list of subjects to browse :

Church membership listings
Marriage listings for Brides and Grooms
Vital Records listed in the San Francisco Newspapers
Enrollment of the Association of Territorial Pioneers
Archives of the CGS news and The California Nugget

Under the tab Research, you can find how to hire a researcher, tip for researching in California, Name Look ups for $10, upcoming classes and events.

Under the tab Library, you can find many recommended links for further research in California.
Links to libraries, newspapers, societies and groups are plentiful.  I might spend a bit more time in this section of this site.

Under the tab Publications, you can find about a dozen or so books that are for sale.  Of course, members get a better deal than non members.  Seems to be quite a variety here, so take a look and there might be something that you want to order.

There is a lot more to this site than I have just mentioned.  I think that this could be a very good resource for those who have an interest in the history of California.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Research State by State : Arkansas

Continuing with research in the States, I have a source for Arkansas.  The Arkansas History Commission, found at,  has many sections to search.

The News and Events tab shows a chronological list of general messages regarding special hours for research on various holidays, but also posts of interesting articles regarding Arkansas history.  There is an article dated from 6 January 2016, which reports a story of the desegregation of Little Rock School.  The Black History Commission of Arkansas will partner with the Arkansas History Commission in this presentation to be held on 6 February 2016.

The Northeast Arkansas Regional Archives has a tab that directs you to their page, which features "One Hundred Fifty Years Ago Today in Arkansas".  This is an on- line exhibit regarding Arkansas in the Civil War.  Selected images and articles are showcased to give a glimpse of the extensive collection held by the Commission. This is a searchable database to allow inquisitive persons to explore various subject matter of the Civil War in the South. There is also a feature entitled "Today in Arkansas History".  I found that on today, 30 January , the southern boundary line was completed in 1831, as well as by the act of the state legislature, the Apple Blossom became the state flower in 1901.

Another tab, entitled CARAT, allows the researcher to browse various collections by title.  Some of the topic collections include:


  County Records


  Military Records, just to name a few.

The most interesting and valuable records about land ownership, Confederate Pensions and WWII discharge papers will probably attract anyone who wishes to research their Arkansas kin.

Looks like the data in  CARAT is worth your time to review.

The Black History tab sends the researcher to the page for The Black History Commission of Arkansas.  Although they have a collection , they are continually seeking donations of letters photos, business records, and other documents of the Black History of Arkansas.  The Curtis H. Sykes Memorial Grant Program is available to help fund projects related to Black History of Arkansas.

Lastly, there are databases to help the researcher find more information like these topics:

  African American legislators

  African Americans manuscripts

  African American yearbooks

  African American newspapers,  and several others.

Furthermore, there are resource guides to aid teachers in their classroom plans to study the above listed topics.

Although I have no family connections to Arkansas,,  I will browse this website just because it holds such interesting information.  Just the thing for a ho-hum rainy day.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Research by State : Arizona

Hello again.

I just reviewed two sites that are incredible.  Who knew that Arizona would have such great research guides?  Need some birth and death information?  Arizona has a searchable database that is fantastic.

Let's start with Arizona Genealogy Birth and Death Certificates found at

Currently on this site, you can search births to 1939 (at least 75 years ago) and deaths to 1964 (at least 50 years ago

Images are in pdf format for both birth and death certificates.  Fantastic? You betcha!

The Arizona Memory Project found at

I found this site to be really neat for that information that you never learned in school.  There are collections covering a variety of topics and subjects....Architecture, Education, Maps, Military, Native Americans, Photographs, ....just to name a few.

I love to read about people who have a whole different taste of life....usually for the absurd or purely wacky (not to be critical or anything like that). So, I did some browsing in the Crime and Law section.  There was a topic called Murder and Mayhem.  Just what I like to read. Look what I found...

Murder & Mayhem - The Strange Saga of Winnie Ruth Judd

This is the story of Winnie Ruth of Indiana.  At the age of 19, she married Dr. Judd, a man 22 years her senior.  While living in Los Angeles, her husband became a drug addict.  She was diagnosed with TB and decided to move to Arizona for the drier air.

Winnie got a clerical job at a clinic, and soon made friends with two other women.  They became roomies.  She began dating a new man in her life....and yes, she was still married....and, oh, by the way....he was married too.  She moved out of the girls place and got a place of her own.  However the three women still met up each week to socialize.

Well, one day, Winnie went to visit the ladies.  An argument ensued, someone pulled out a gun, and all three were shot.  Winnie was injured in the hand, but, unfortunately, the two other young women were fatally wounded.

The body of one of the young gals was stuffed into a suitcase.  The other was too large to fit into a case, so her body was dismembered, and she was stuffed into multiple suitcases.

Winnie left Arizona with the suitcases, headed back to Los Angeles.The trunks began to smell and leak body fluids while on the train ride through California.  The train inspectors asked Winnie to open a trunk.  She told them that only her husband had the key, and with that, she ran off.
Train inspectors forced the suitcases open and the bodies were found.  

Winnie's trial began in 1932 in  Phoenix.  The "Trunk Murderess" claimed self defense.  That idea didn't work.  She was found guilty and sentenced to death.  However, not long after, she was found to be insane, as was sent to the state mental hospital for 38 years. She escaped seven times from the hospital, and managed to get as far as northern California where she found employment as a nanny.

Police finally caught up with her, and she was extradited back to Arizona. In 1969, she demanded to be reexamined to determine her sanity. Her parole was denied, but in 1971 the governor signed her pardon.  She returned to California, now going by the name of Marian Lane.

Marian died in California in her sleep, at the age of 93, in 1998.

Now, where else can you find a story like this?  Newspapers!!! My favorite research resource....until I reviewed this Arizona Memory Project site...which is running a close second place.

I hope that you take the  time to browse these Arizona sites to help you with your family research, or just to read about the lives of people who do strange things.

Speaking of that, don't forget to visit my other blog...Friday's Fallen Acorns and Other Nuts found at

Friday, January 15, 2016

State by State Research : Alaska

Last week I mentioned the Family Tree Magazine  listing of state archive websites for genealogy and historical research.  The state of Alaska is one of their entries, and I'd like to review it for you.

The Alaska Division of Libraries, Archives and Museums, found at , is just what one needs when researching historical Alaska.  Databases include newspapers, naturalization and probate records, in addition to a gold rush pioneer index.

How many glaciers are in Alaska?  I don't know for sure, but there is a section in the Alaska State Library tab that shows the location of each glacier, it's common name and it's elevation .  The Library also mentions the newspapers that are featured in full-text, most of which are pre 1923.

Alaska free clip art is also a feature of this library.  Much too many topics to mention here.

In the Genealogy section of this site is Finding Your Gold Rush Relatives.   Links to repositories, societies, resources, books, cemeteries, etc. are plentiful.  Your could sit all day and still never cover every one of these.

Alaska and Yukon Vital Records are in PDF form, and volumes cover 1898 through 1936.

The digital archives include collections of the State Library and the various campuses of the University of Alaska, in addition to several museums.

Researchers can be employed if you don't have the time to do it yourself.  Just ask.

Although I don't have any family members who lived in Alaska, this is a site that I'd like to revisit simply because the history of Alaska is just so different from  the other 49 states.  I hope that you, too, will take some time to see what this site has to offer.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

State By State Research : Alabama

I want to tell you how wonderfully the writers of Family Tree Magazine fill their pages with such useful information.  For those of us who need that extra help with researching the archives of individual states, they have published a listing of websites that can be the portals to helping you with your historical and genealogical research.  I am going to review each of their picks by state.

Let's start with Alabama.

The Alabama Department of Archives and History

This site has a search feature to look for names in the Civil War service cards.  It also has a search feature for the 1867 voter registrations.

Interested in microfilmed newspapers?  Well, they are listed in the catalogs, and some are available through interlibrary loan.

There are also links to find church records, local and county records and maps.

The Alabama History Timeline is quite fascinating.  It has quips of what was in the vicinity of Alabama going back to 10,000-7,000 BC.,,featuring information on Russell Cave in Jackson County which is a fine example of prehistoric geology.  Going forward, several Spanish explorers made their mark in the area, and the development of the Native American Creek Nation, along with other tribes formed from the earlier Mississippian peoples. There is information on schools, cities, forts, legislature, et. al.  Truly a go to spot for Alabama history.

Multi Media is not lacking on this website.  You Tube videos are abundant and cover a wide range of subjects.

This is certainly a website that I will bookmark, and I hope you do, too.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

A New Blog By Me : Friday's Fallen Acorns and Other Nuts


I am so sorry to those who anxiously await my new posts.  You see, I have not posted here since August of 2014.  Terrible, just terrible.  I am so embarrassed.

But, since the new year has arrived, it's time to make those resolutions.  Yes, I do plan to lose weight, just like 50 percent of the American population.  I might join Weight Watchers....Oprah says its OK.  I also want to continue writing on this blog, and not skip a month ever again.  We will see if I hold up to that commitment.  News flash : I decided to start a totally new blog entitled Friday's Fallen Acorns and Other Nuts.

In this new blog, I will share stories and research that I find regarding persons from my family, my collateral relatives  connected to me through marriages and friendships, and any other persons that I come into contact with this year.  I chose this subject because I happen to have an overabundance of persons in my research that have made news in the past, but not very pretty stories.

Murder, kidnapping, extortion, firebombing, assault,'s all there.  Some persons are the instigators, and some are victims, and then there are those guilty of associations with these activities.  Sound interesting?  I think so.

Stay tuned for my first posts will be written every Friday....Friday"s Fallen Acorns and Other Nuts will be entertaining, if not just plain useful to others who are afraid to publish their own stories of unsavory and unfortunate characters.

See you on Fridays