Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sunday Morning Frustration

This week, Randy's Saturday Night Fun wasn't so much fun for me. Of course I could have saved myself some frustration if I read read his instructional post a little more closely. I have used the FHL catalog before but I guess I just wasn't awake yet.

Here is the "assignment" for tonight's SNGF:

1. Identify one "elusive ancestor" family (perhaps one you just found, or one you've not found any information about), and the county/state that they resided in. Tell us the family name and the county/state.

I decided to look for James Madison Graham.

He was born between 1825 and 1826 in Ohio, possibly in Licking, Pickaway or Ross Counties.

Between 1830 and 1840 he moved to Delaware County, Indiana.

By 1850 he was in German, St. Joseph, Indiana. He left there in 1852 and headed west to California.

In 1860 I found him in Vacaville, Solano, California.

By 1870 he had wandered off. He may have been in Chillicothe, Livingston Co, MO or Northern Reese River Valley, Lander Co, NV. Then again, maybe not.

In 1880 he may have been in Nebraska City, Otoe Co, NE.

I can place him in Hoyle (now Ames), Wood County (now Major), Oklahoma (still Oklahoma!) by 1895. He died there in October 1897 and is buried in Ames Cemetery.

I have a lot of places to look for James in!

2. Go to the FHL Catalog, find the resources for that county/state.

I'd really like a peek at his will or probate record. So I put "Major, Oklahoma" into the search box and it returned No matching places found!

Next I put in just Oklahoma and was given three choices, Oklahoma; Oklahoma, Oklahoma; and Oklahoma, Oklahoma, Oklahoma City. I clicked on the first.

Oklahoma - Court Records - Indexes looked interesting so I clicked and learned that it was an index of Oklahoma Ministers licenses. I'm pretty certain I won't find James there.

Oklahoma Emigration and Immigration looked interesting and it is, covering various Indiana and Russian/German topics but again I wouldn't expect to find James there.

Oklahoma - Land and property - Indexes might include him, however I found his record on the BLM site.

I finally worked my way down to the Probate listings. There are some DAR collections of old will transcriptions. Probably not what I'm looking for but I could order them. Probate records 1892-1904, Northern district Cherokee Nation looks like it covers Indians only but I could take a look to be sure.

So I finally started to wake up a little I guess, because I went back to the search and put in just "Hoyle" for which I got "No Matching Places Found" GRRRR I put in Syracuse just to see what would happen and since that worked fine I went back and put in just "Ames" and clicked on Oklahoma, Major, Ames. Here it told you that it used to be called Hoyle!

There are only two topics, Newspapers and Vital Records. The VR link has BMD for 1901-1905, too late for me. Both topics list the Gloria Zerr Collection of Oklahoma Records. They cover 1893-1896 and 1901-1905. Of course James had to die in a year not covered!

I won't bore you with the other searches I did but I went back and looked at Solano, California.

3. Identify at least three items from the FHL Catalog that you need to look into in an effort to further your knowledge about that family's history. Tell us about them.

There are some films I would like to look at for Solano, CA. James' brother-in-law, Thomas Newton Buckles and some of his family were also there along with a Martha Graham I have yet to identify but who was living with both Thomas and James.
  1. Solano County, California State census index (979.452 x22c). Since this is the year that James and Thomas supposedly went to California I would really like to look at this one
  2. Solano County marriages/divorce, ca. 1823-1923. I know Thomas Buckles remarried and I would like to know if James divorced Elizabeth and remarried. There was not number on the page so I clicked on film notes and there was a break down by alphabet so I guess would need to order both Bay - Cri (2073285) and Gay - Jom (2073318)
  3. California, Solano - Land and Property; Deed Books, 1848-1920; Deed Books. There are several and they span just a few years each so I don't see a grabtor/grantee index film I guess I would start with the first couple and then order more and keep working through them
  4. Solano County Genealogical Society Pioneer file, 1860 -1910; Bro - Det (2051991) and Gor - Kil (2073166)
  5. There are several others that I could order, but the above look the most promising.

4. Do you know where your nearest Family History Center is? If not, go here and look for it. Tell us where it is.

I live between two FHC's. One is in Liverpool, NY and the other, slightly closer to home is in Pulaski, NY. Neither is convenient (I live in Snowville which is located in the middle of Nowhere) and they have very different hours. If I were to go during my break it would be closer to go to the one in Liverpool but I could make it to Pulaski and back. To go in the evening the distance to the Pulaski location would be more convenient but they are only open one evening per week and I generally have a conflict.

5. Are you willing to make a commitment to go to the FHC and rent microfilms in order to pursue that elusive ancestral family? If so, tell us about your commitment.

Commit? Getting to a FHC has been on my to-do list for a very long time. Family and work commitments have thus far kept me from getting there but as my schedule changes I hope to make my first visit later this spring.

I would like your opinion as to whether I might have a better experience going to a FHC in a busy metro area or one in a large village, but with fewer open hours?


Janet Iles said...

Hi Apple
Although I have only used the local FHC, I know that each is little different. Each will have a different base collection that is always there - microfilm, microfiche, CDs, books etc. What eqipment do they have? - computers, readers, printers, etc. Do you have to book equipment in advance. These are all things that you need to consider.

It may depend on what you need in your research, if one is better than other. If neither has what you need, you will have to bring in the microfilm then I would go to the one that is most convenient for you. You may have to make a visit to each to explore what they have or give them a call.

I have made use of our local FHC regularly and have brought in Scottish, English, and German records.

Good luck in your research.

Ginger Smith said...

Hi Apple, thanks for sharing this post about your Saturday night "fun" exercise! You are right, learning our way around the FHL website can be a challenge in itself. Actually going to the local FHL can be another challenge. One time I ordered deed records for Perry Co., IL but the film I received was not for the right deed records. I sometimes get confused about the films that begin with letters - do the letters represent the last name initials or the book volumes????
This last time I ordered deed records for Putnam Co IN where several heirs were selling off land they had inherited from their father. I learned that two cousins were married to each other, but it was not the husband who was the heir of the deceased - it was actually his wife!
You just have to keep trucking. But once that committment is made, you will want to see it through till the end because it does tend to be quite a bit of work and sometimes leads to dead ends. But you won't be disappointed, I promise :) Great post!

Charley "Apple" Grabowski said...

Janet - Thanks! I hadn't thought about having to reserve equipment. I imagine that they would have some of the same state records but since they are in different counties there would undoubtedly be some differences too.

Ginger - I guess I'll have to see how steep the learning curve is! The FHC in Pulaki may have some people on staff that I know and that might be helpful in getting me oriented.

I guess I'll try to visit them both and call ahead to see when is the best time for a newbie to visit.

footnoteMaven said...


Here's how I'd make my decision.

Go through the FHL catalog and get the numbers of the Microfiche or Microfilm I'm looking for.

Check to see if the FHC has placed a list online of the Fiche & Film they own or that has been sent to them. If not online, Call all the FHCs and see if they already own those that I'm looking for.

The one who already has the most films I'm looking for is where I'd go.

Our FHC encourages us to call. They don't have the Fiche & Film online.It has saved me time and money in the past.

See if yours will do the same!