Sunday, July 10, 2016

Will You Accept My Challenge to Index? Just Four Days to Go!

Once again FamilySearch is hosting a worldwide indexing event.  This year it's scheduled for July 14-17.  They hope 72,000 participants will index at least one batch of records each.  Think what that will do for our online searches at FamilySearch!  Will you accept my challenge to participate?

I index at least one batch every Sunday.  I got out of the habit a year or so ago and began again last month.  I think it's a good way to serve others.  Plus it's a gentle activity for the Sabbath.  (Or any other day, for that matter.)

I love this cute, little informational presentation about indexing (first image below) which you can access here.

If you want more information about indexing read Worldwide Indexing Event 2016.

Won't you accept my challenge and index at least one batch of records between July 14 and July 17?  You can RSVP in the comment section.


Saturday, July 9, 2016


Most people involved with genealogy and family history probably know what a GEDCOM is.  In case you don't, GEDCOM is an anacronym for GEnealogical Data COMmunication.  It is a computer text file with genealogical information that can be used by many different computer programs or at various websites.  Read more detail at Wikipedia.

Though I knew what a GEDCOM was I had never made or used one until the end of May when findmypast had an offer on their website:  the documents found by hints and that were for individuals on your family tree were free.   I have plenty of ancestors in England.  Why not take advantage of this special?  Of course, it necessitated uploading a family tree to findmypast via a GEDCOM.  Whether or not that was a good reason for making a GEDCOM and uploading a tree, that's what I did.  (I've never put a tree online before.  The only one that's available for my family is at FamilySearch, which is a community tree.)

Before I could make a GEDCOM, I had to look online to learn how to make one.  I found that my RootsMagic program would do it with a few clicks.

Here's how:

> Open RootsMagic.

> Click on <File> in the upper left corner.

> From the drop down list, click <Export>

"GEDCOM Export" will open in a box offering you options.

> Choose the options you'd like included in the GEDCOM.
> Press OK.

Another box will open in the RootsMagic program asking you to give your GEDCOM a file name.
> Name your file, remembering the name and where you saved it.

You're done!

At findmypast, Ancestry, or any other genealogy website that accepts trees, you can upload this GEDCOM to the website and your family tree will be online.

My family surnames in England include Armitage, Doyle, Hartley, Laws, and Ray/Reay.  I was pleased with the hints that appeared for my lines and found some helpful information.  I'll share in upcoming weeks.


Copyright ©2016 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Dashed Excitement and a Caution

Abel Armitage has been one of my elusive ancestors.  I have information about his birth, his marriages, his immigration to the U.S., and I know he was a coal miner.  But his death has eluded meduring the years I've been searching for him.  The fact is, I would be pleased to learn almost anything more about him.

When I typed his name in the search box at My Heritage two entries from the 39th annual mine report of 1875 turned up.  I was excited.  The transcribed info mentions Abel Armitage, mine boss.  Abel would have been 54 in 1875, within age range for the position.

I clicked on the first link and saw image 938.

Jefferson County.
Walnut Hill Nos. 1 and 2.
     Located at Yorkville, O.  Owned and operated by the O. & P. Coal Co., Cleveland, O.  Drift opening, 132 miners and 44 day men employed.  Wm. Neath, Yorkville, O., superintendent; Abel Armitage, same place, mine boss....

The entry continues with a report about the physical conditions of the mine including dates of other inspections, accidents, and repairs.  This report was on image 938 (of 982).

I was excited to think that my second great-grandfather was a mine boss (though always sorrowful that he was a miner at all).

The second link led to the same book, image 445/page 432.

Annual Report
Jefferson County.  Walnut Hill Nos. 1 and 2.
     Located at Yorkville on the C. & P. R. R.  Owned and operated by the O. & P. Coal Co., Cleveland, Ohio.  Wm. Neath, Yorkville, superintendent; Abel Armitage, same place, mine boss...

To the right was the information accompanying this source.  That's helpful but I always try to find the beginning pages of books at sites like MyHeritage and Ancestry so that I can create a more accurate citation that includes title, publication date, etc.  You would think it would be easy enough to go to the first image and page forward until you come to the cover page but it isn't always that easy.

When I arrived at image 7, I thought I found the cover of the book I'd been looking at.  Except it was the 34th annual report and the year was 1908.

But information on the link said the 39th report and the date was 1875.  The numbering was off or there was a transcription error.  I guessed there were two or more reports in this "document," so I began to page forward to see if I could find the 1875 report.

After more searching I found that another annual report was included in this "collection."  The report for 1908 is contained in images 7 - 475.  The report for 1909 is contained in images 478 - 974.  Despite the information in the link on MyHeritage, there is no report for 1875 in these images.  I don't know how they obtained the date but it is wrong.  Image 938, above, is from the 1909 report; image 445 is from the 1908 report.

So much for my excitement about finding more information about my second great-grandfather.  (Since my Abel was born in 1821 I strongly doubt he was a mine boss in 1908 at the age of 88.)  I believe this information is about his son, also named Abel, also a coal miner, also living in Jefferson County, Ohio, who would have been 40 in 1909.

My caution:  never accept as fact the source information in the links at MyHeritage, Ancestry, or any other website that transcribes and posts digital images.  Find the cover pages of the volumes:  county record books of births, marriages, and deaths; annual reports; deed books; will books, etc.  While it takes a little time to find the pages it may save you time in the end and prevent you from being led astray.


Copyright ©2016 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Ever Grateful

I believe the Founding Fathers of the United States of America were divinely inspired.  The Declaration of Independence, signed on July 4, 1776, was just the beginning of the move toward independence.  Then came the battles -- more than a dozen years' worth of battles -- to obtain freedom, and more battles to maintain it.  Thank goodness for men and women who were strong and brave, who were willing to stand for their ideals and to die for them, if necessary.  Thanks to those who continue to work and serve to maintain our liberties.  I am ever grateful.

As we celebrate this Independence Day let us remember how our freedoms were obtained and how they continue to be maintained. 

Happy Birthday, America!  Happy Independence Day, fellow Americans.


Copyright ©2016 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, July 1, 2016

July Celebrations Among My Relatives and Ancestors

Another month!  It seems like I posted the June birthdays and anniversaries just a few days ago.  How fast time goes these days!

July 6 is a record day among my relatives.  My grandmother was born that day and a few decades later my sister's twins were born.  And there are two other more distant relatives who were born on July 6.  July 10 is a big day for my brother and his wife, and for my brother-in-law.  And my aunt was born on the 19th.  Happy Days!

I wonder what it was like to have a July baby in the days before washing machines and dryers.  Think of the mounds of diapers, all washed by hand and hung in the sun to dry.  Work!  Because they didn't know about these labor-saving devices I know they took it all in stride.  Not that I have diapers to wash these days, but thinking of laundry in general and  how easy I have it makes me feel pampered.

Living Relatives
July   6   Holly S.
July   6   Jeffrey P.
July 10   Chuck P.
July 10   Bob and Eva
July 18   Ian D.
July 19   Doris D.
July 25   Seth D.
July 28   Jacob E.

July   6, 1893   Emma Virginia Bickerstaff, my maternal grandmother
July 24, 1872   Frederick K. Gerner and Elvira Bartley, my father's maternal grandparents
July 25, 1837   Henry Carl Meinzen, my mother's paternal grandfather
July 27, 1848   Jacob Thompson and Mary Richardson, my third great-grandparents

Among My Collateral Lines
July   1, 1873   Joseph A. Bickerstaff
July   2, 1920   Arnold L. Shotts
July   3, 1907   Evelyn Lengauer Leathers
July   4, 1893   Carrie Mack
July   4, 1923   Edward Calvin Bickerstaff
July   5, 1905   John Lengauer and Emma Doyle
July   6, 1921   Richard E. Davis
July   6, 1934   William Leroy (Butch) Schwab
July 10, 1890   Warren Franklin Gerner
July 11, 1906   William R. Henderson and Bertha Meinzen
July 11, 1907   Russell Sage Pugh
July 12, 1854   Christian Gerner
July 13, 1871   Margaret Doyle
July 13, 1893   Lucy M VanKirk
July 16, 1877   Edward G. Gerner
July 16, 1911   Helen M. Bickerstaff
July 19, 1916   Junior D. Gerner
July 25, 1858   John Laws
July 25, 1874   Alonzo J. Gerner
July 25, 1874   Alfonzo F. Gerner
July 28, 1902   Lina Proud
July 29, 1939   Joseph D. Candle
July 31, 1914   Sidney Eugene Harris

Happy Birthday, Happy Anniversary, dear relatives.


Copyright ©2016 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Sophia (Meinzen) Kropp's 1920 Ohio Death Certificate

Sophia (Meinzen) Kropp was a surprise when I found her obituary at MyHeritage, naming my great-grandfather, Henry Meinzen, as her brother.  I'll continue to research her and her family to confirm the relationship.  My first step was to find and transcribe her death certificate.  At the end of this transcription are comments and thoughts about what I found.
Death Certificate of Sophia (Meinzen) KroppBelow is the information I extracted from Sophia's 1920 Ohio Certificate of Death.

  1  Place of Death:     Cross Creek Township, Jefferson County
  2  Full name:     Sophia Kropp
      Residence:     West Market Rd.
  3  Sex:     Female
  4  Color or race:     White
  5  Marital status:     Widowed
      Husband:     Carl Kropp
  6  Date of birth:     Sept. 4, 1842
  7  Age     78 Years  2 Days
  8  Occupation:      Housekeeper
  9  Birthplace     Germany
10  Name of father:     Deidrick Meinzen
11  Birthplace of father:     Germany
12  Maiden name of mother:     Don't Know
13  Birthplace of mother:     [blank]
14  Informant     Mrs. John Spahn, Steubenville, O.
15  Filed     9/7, 1920      Registrar  Chas T. Beans
16  Date of death:     Sept 6, 1920
17  Cause of death:     apoplexy
18  Signed:  Thos. M. Kirk, Coroner, M.D. on Sept. 27, 1920, Steubenville, O.
19  Burial:     Union [Cemetery],  September 8, 1920
20  Undertaker:     D. F. Coe, Steubenville, O.

Comments, Thoughts, Observations

Sophia's father's surname was transcribed as Munzen at FamilySearch.  When I looked closely at the image this is what I saw:
I believe I clearly see a dotted "i" and "Meinzen."

As for Sophia's father's given name:  Henry Carl Meinzen's father's name was recorded as "Carl" (probably spelled Karl in German) in various records, including family records.  I know that in the German naming system it was not uncommon to give male children in the family the same first name and a different middle name and use the middle name as a call name.   Is it possible that Sophia and Henry are siblings and their father's given names were Carl Deidrick or Deidrick Carl?  If I depend on their fathers' names declared in various records in the U.S. I may never find enough information to solve this mystery.

I think it's interesting that the coroner signed the death certificate.  I have heard that when he does it often suggests that an autopsy was performed.  Some later death certificates have autopsy as a box to check but that was not a question in 1920.

Henry Carl Meinzen was born in 1837, Sophia in 1842.  Those dates align for them to be siblings, with another one or two between them.

I am very hopeful that Sophia is Henry's sister and that this information leads me to their parents and siblings.  My next searches will include:
  • Census records for Sophia and her family to see what information I can find.  Perhaps they lived near Henry and Elizabeth.
  • Naturalization records for Carl Kropp.  They may show Henry Meinzen as a witness to Carl's having living in the U.S. the required number of years.
  • Immigration information, including passenger lists
  • Newspaper articles.  They may show Carl and Sophia Kropp as guests at weddings and other family events.  Online searches may also reveal news articles about the Kropps.
  • Other resources?


Copyright ©2016 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.


Friday, June 24, 2016

Henry Meinzen's Sister? In Steubenville?

In a previous post I mentioned that I'd found a newspaper article in which Henry Meinzen, my great-grandfather, was listed as a brother.  (Henry is the one great-grandfather for whom I've been unable to find his parents or any siblings.)  The article was published in the September 9, 1920, issue of the Steubenville Herald.  Until reading this obituary I had no indication that Henry had a sibling living in Steubenville, or in the United States, for that matter. 

This is the obituary.

                  Mrs. Sophia Kropp
         Mrs. Sophia Kropp, widow of Carl
     Kropp entered into rest at the home
     of her daughter Mrs. John Spahn on
     West Market street, at 7:30 o’clock
     Monday morning, September 6.  She
     had celebrated her seventy-eighth
     birthday on Saturday.  Although a
     sufferer from heart trouble for some
     time past and in failing health for
     the past two years, her death came
     suddenly, she being fatally stricken
     on Sunday.  She failed to rally from
     this heart attack and slept peaceful-
     ly away at the hour above mention-
     ed.  The deceased was born in Ger-
     many and was married in that coun-
     try in 1861 to Carl Kropp.  They
     came to America in 1887 and settled
     here.  Her husband passed away about
     fifteen years ago since which
     time Mrs. Kropp has been making
     her home with her daughter.  She
     was a member of Zion Lutheran
     Church, was well known and held in
     high esteem in Steubenville and
     throughout the county.  She is sur-
     vived by two daughters, Mrs. John
     Spahn and Mrs. Minnie Schuetto and
     one son William Kropp, all of this
     city and one brother Henry Meinzen
     also of this city.

Notes, Thoughts, Comments

Granted, little family history information came along from my grandfather Meinzen's side of the family.  His older sister, Mina, was the one to whom he referred when anyone asked about his family.  But my mom visited Aunt Mina on a regular basis and you'd think some mentioned would have been made of Mina's father Henry having a sister living in the same city.  Even in Henry's obituary the only sibling mentioned is a brother, Carl, living in Germany.

Were Henry and Sophia close?  Maybe not.  Just three months before this obituary was published Henry lost his wife, Elizabeth (Armitage) Meinzen.

Zion Lutheran Church was the church Henry attended.  It had been a German language church until sometime in the late 1800s or early 1900s.

In a newspaper article about Isabella Meinzen's marriage I noticed that Mr. and Mrs. Carl Cropp attended as well as Messrs. Henry and Will Kropp.  Were members of the Kropp/Cropp family at weddings of Isabella's siblings?  I'll check any marriage announcements to see.

I found Sophia's death certificate.  I'll post that soon.


Copyright © 2016 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A Very Pretty Home Wedding - Wedding Wednesday

Isabella is the fifth child and second daughter of  Henry and Elizabeth (Armitage) Meinzen.  She was born in 1880.  It was a pleasant surprise to find an article about her wedding in a Steubenville newspaper.  While this article doesn't give me new information about Isabella it is an additional source for her marriage and it lists attendees at the wedding which may prove helpful in the future.

Isabella's name had several variations during her lifetime including Marie Isabella, Isabelle, Marie Isabelle, Marie Isabel, Marie Belletto, Marie B., and Belle.  To relatives she was Belle.

    A very pretty home weddding was sol-
    emnized at the home of Mr. and Mrs.
    Henry Meinzen on Wednesday, Nov.
    20, at 11:30 A.M., when their daughter,
    Isabella, was united in marriage to
    Benj. R. Hashman, of Calais, O.  The
    attendants were Misses Lena Dreyer
    and Hannah Meinzen, sister of the
    bride, and Messrs. Joe Hashman,
    brother of the groom, and Walter Mein-
    zen, brother of the bride.  The cere-
    mony was performed by the Rev. Aug.
    Bender.  The bride was attired in white
    Bedford cord, trimmed in chiffon and
    ribbon.  After the ceremony the guests
    retired to the dining room where an
    elegant repast was awaiting.  The bride
    received many valuable gifts.
    Those present were:  Mr. and Mrs.
    Carl Cropp, Mr. and Mrs. Henry
    Shuette, Mr. and Mrs. John Spahn, Mr.
    and Mrs. Koontz, of Steubenville; Mr.
    Chauncey King and Mr. Jacob Hash-
    man, of Calais, Ohio; Mr. and Mrs.
    Thomas Hardy, of Mingo, O.; Mrs.
    Thomas Hardy and sons Robert, Peter,
    William and Jacob, of Brilliant, Ohio;
    Miss Mary E. Hashman, of Wheeling,
    W. Va.; Mr. and Mrs. Henry Meinzen,
    Jr.; Misses Lena Woltjen, Kate Rock-
    lege, and Mrs. Bender, of Steubenville,
    O.; Misses Jennie and Anna Castner, of
    Wills Creek; Messrs. Henry and Will

Notes and Thoughts
A mid-week, 11:30 a.m. wedding seems unusual to me, but perhaps it's just the times in which I live when most weddings take place on Saturdays.

This gives me a good idea of Belle and family's friends, neighbors, and possible relatives.  It may be worth comparing who was at this wedding with who attended other weddings in the family.

I try to imagine hosting this many people to a sit-down meal in my home and can not.  It would have required immense effort considering that there was no refrigeration as we know it and cooking was probably done on a wood-burning stove.  How many women worked to prepare this meal?

The only siblings named as attendees were Belle's older sister, Hannah, and her brother and sister-in-law, Mrs. and Mrs. Henry Meinzen.  Belle's younger siblings included Walter, 18; Mina, 15; Lula, 14; Bertha, 13; Robert, 11; Jacob, 7; and Naomi, 2.  Did they attend the wedding?  Several of the girls were old enough to help with preparations, serving, and childcare. 

Once again, I wish I had a photo of the young Isabella in her wedding gown with her husband, her bridal party, and her parents.

This article, found at MyHeritage (but currently not available there) was published in the Steubenville Herald on November 29, 1901, page 6.


Copyright © 2016 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

When You Find It, Save It - Tuesday's Tip

When I began working on my family history in earnest in 2006 I used Ancestry at a local Family History Center because it was free.  The Center director showed me how to save images to a flash drive and move them to my desktop at home.

At some point in this education I questioned the need to save all the documents right now.  As a new researcher I found many each time I visited, so many that I was beginning to feel overwhelmed.  I assumed that since Ancestry was free then, it would continue to be free in the future and I could easily save the documents later.  In wisdom my friend suggested that what was available then may not always be available.  To myself I scoffed at the idea.  But within a year or two the Family History Centers no longer had free access to Ancestry.  My friend was right.  (Ancestry is once again currently available at no cost at the Family History Centers but that could change again at any time.)

It may not happen often but access to online collections comes and goes, whether at a paid site or free.  Some collections are removed never to return.  Some free-access collections move to paid sites.  We can't assume that next year things will be like they are today.

Save the image of any document you find online that furthers your family history research including
  • birth records
  • death records
  • marriage records
  • wills and probate files
  • property records
  • maps
  • tax records
  • newspaper articles
  • draft registration cards
  • military service records
  • pension files
  • and many more 

All of it!  Save every image!  If you see it now, save it now.  You may not have easy access to it again.  And don't forget to record citation information.

Additional suggestions from comments to this post
  • Right click on an image and click save to save an image to your computer, not just to your online tree.   If the company that hosts your tree goes south or you don't want to pay for a subscription any longer, you won't have the images of those documents.  From Linda Stufflebean of Empty Branches on the Family Tree.
  • When others give you documents, photographs, or any other family history information (either digitally or on paper), record who gave it to you including name and contact information.  If photographs be sure to record who's in the photograph if that's known.  We think we'll remember in a few years but we may not.  From Wendy of Jollette Etc.


Copyright © 2016 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved. .

Monday, June 20, 2016

Last Ditch Effort

In a last ditch effort to take advantage of the newspapers on MyHeritage before they go away on June 21, I spent some time yesterday and today searching for several ancestors.

I found this "blurb" for an article in a Steubenville, Ohio, newspaper where my great-grandfather Henry Meinzen lived.

You know how the text example is sometimes/often garbled.  It is in this, too, but there's a string of words that stood out to me, just before the highlighted "Henry Meinzen."  Here's a transcription in case you can't read it.

     "... of this llnson on an auto trip to Pittsburgh ' city and one brother Henry Meinzen
     to attend the golden wedding anni-' also of this city, versary of their parents, Mr.' and
     J. C. "Stills, congratulatings from a Dr..."

When I saw "one brother Henry Meinzen" my eyes perked up.  (Yes, sadly, I jumped to the conclusion that this transcription of four words appeared in the newspaper in exactly this sequence.)  You know how fast your brain works out a problem like this.  There were two Henry Meinzens living in Steubenville in 1920.  It took me only a second or two to know this was not the younger Henry Meinzen because he was a brother to 14 siblings, several of whom were still alive.  Had the article been about one of the younger Henry's siblings, the wording would have been different.

But the older Henry Meinzen?  I've been looking for his family since 2006 without success.  All I know about his family of origin has come from family information and his 1925 obituary that tells me he had one brother, Karl, still in Germany and that his father's name was Karl.  So what's this about "one brother Henry Meinzen?"

Could this be the long-searched-for family member I've been hoping to find, one of Henry's siblings?  Right there in Steubenville, too, since it's a Steubenville newspaper?  And how could Henry's sibling never have been mentioned among family resources/records/memories if he/she lived in Steubenville?  But perhaps this is an error in the newspaper, or in the "blurb." 

Don't you love OCR -- optical character recognition?  It would have taken me years of reading newspapers, both the paper kind or on microfilm, to find these four words in a string.  I can hope those four words are together in the printed newspaper.  I can hope this leads me to some helpful information.

I'm so glad I chose to spend time today on this last ditch effort.  Perhaps it will take me one step closer to Henry's family of birth.  Perhaps.


Copyright ©2016 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.
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