Eerie Happenings Occur When Researching Ancestors

Partial Clip from U.S., Army, Register of Enlistments, 1798-1914, Thomas Thompson, digital image; Ancesry.com:  accessed 17 July 2021, image 402 of 440; citing NARA M233.

One of the things I love about genealogy is the weird occurrences that happen.  I had planned to write about a local mystery but two strange events happened to me this week that I think you’ll find interesting.

Last week, I blogged about The Forgotten Ones project for the Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War.  While researching Thomas Charles Thompson I came across a document that may or may not be his father, Thomas Coke Thompson. 

These folks are my husband’s relatives and whenever I work on that line strange things happen.  The pattern continues…

The document I found is shown above.  Thomas Coke was known to be in the Albany, New York area at the time the document was made.  He married first, Elizabeth and had several children.  Only Thomas Charles lived to adulthood but died before Thomas Coke.  Census and death records state that Thomas Coke was born in New York City but I’ve never found a record for him or his parents.  The document above caught my eye because the same location, name used in other records (he never used Coke) and age.  What stood out to me was that he was a musician born in Great Britain. The Thomas Coke in our family tree was a ship’s carpenter when he moved to Chicago.

I forwarded the document to my husband’s cousins who I have met over the years through online research.  One stated she wasn’t interested.  Another thanked me immensely.  The third replied that she wished her mom was alive to see and ponder it – her mom’s birthday would be 2 days after I made the find.  I replied to the 3rd cousin that I had thought of her mom the prior week when I wrote to a colleague who wanted information for an upcoming book he was writing on cemetery re-internments.  In reviewing my notes I found an email from a cemetery that mentioned the 3rd cousin’s mother who had written to correct a mistake in the cemetery record. 

A few days after I emailed the 3rd cousin, she replied she wasn’t feeling that the document was for Thomas Coke.  After all, Thomas Thompson is a common name.  Although that is true, in the Albany 1830 US Federal census there are only 5 Thomas Thompsons in that area; 3 are Black, 1 is old and 1 is of the age of the man who enlisted.  What doesn’t fit is the name of the next of kin on the form (clip above not showing it).  No record of this individual anywhere and none of the cousins have heard of her.  Certainly more research is needed but for now it’s on hold until I’m able to revisit NARA next spring. 

The 3rd cousin decided to look through her records and found several photos from the 1860’s that she didn’t recall sharing with me.  One was of Elizabeth Williams, sister of Drusilla who had married 2nd Thomas Coke. 

At the same time 3rd cousin was emailing me the picture, I received another email that I had a message on MyHeritage.  I assumed it was a response for WW2 pictures as I had contacted a number of tree owners looking for photos for the Fields of Honors project in the Netherlands. 

I don’t know why but something told me to respond to the 3rd cousin after reviewing all my emails.  I logged onto MyHeritage and was astounded to discover a message from a 3 times great granddaughter of Elizabeth Williams.  She was thanking me for putting info on the tree. 

Before answering, I decided to check my personal email to read the 3rd cousins’ information.  That’s when I discovered the picture of Elizabeth.  I emailed both of my husband’s cousins to connect them and uploaded the picture to Ancestry, which is where my Main Tree is located.  That’s the tree I keep updated.

So, if that wasn’t enough of the eebee jeebees for you, two days later the following happened…

Summer is my family’s lean time as we don’t receive a paycheck.  Unfortunately for us, we’ve had some major expenses.  We had budgeted for the ones we knew about (replacing a deck, renovating the side yard) but not for others (reconstructing a coop, a plumbing issue we didn’t even know was a problem).  After shelling out a couple of hundred dollars to a pest control company to get rid of the varmints that had eaten the deck and coop and infested an appliance, a remembrance of my grandmother, Mary Koss, came to me.

When I was dating my husband in high school I was adamant I was never going to get married.  I had never seen a happy couple.  I’m serious – most of my older relatives were divorced or in miserable marriages.  One day after my then boyfriend left, my grandmother said to me, “You’d be a fool not to marry him.  You’ll never find anyone better.”  I know I though she was nuts at the time but you didn’t argue with Grandma so I didn’t respond.  She has proven to be right.

Grandma loved to be right and was not shy about making sure everyone knew she had predicted what was going to occur.  My thoughts of that day came about because my dear husband never ever has complained to me about spending money, even when it’s tight. 

This jogged my brain into calling our power company as I wanted to change our automatic payment method.  I tried to do this online but I was directed to call the company.  While waiting for a human, I decided to clean out my emails and I saw that Ancestry had sent me one with their latest record updates.  It happened to be for Ellis Island/Castle Gardens.

Since I had thought about my grandmother I decided to enter in her information which I’ve seen before. I just wanted to check if there was something new.  Coincidentally, the date my grandmother had arrived on Ellis Island just happened to be the day I was checking the record.

OHHH – weird – her birthday was coming up in 2 days and I hadn’t noticed before that she had made herself older on the form – claimed to be a teenager of 13 when she was still 12 for two more days.  That made me laugh.

But the weirdness doesn’t end there…The customer service rep came on the line and asked my name.  When I told her she responded by spelling my first name correctly.  No one does that as there is several ways to spell Lori.  I didn’t think much of that but as we got into the call she had to speak to my husband as she couldn’t find that I had access to the account.  This always annoys me but I put my husband on who told her he has given my information on several occasions and to please correct it for the future.  The customer service rep said, “There is someone else on the account, do you know who that could be?”  My husband asked me and then it hit me – it was probably my birth certificate name that I never use.  I gave the woman that name and she said, “Yes, that’s it.  I didn’t think you were the same person as my mother is named (with your birth certificate name) and my aunt with the name you go by.”  So, this explained how she could spell Lori correctly.  I told her that I always asked my mom why they named me as they had when they called me something else.  My mom’s reply was that she didn’t know, I was supposed to be named Patty Ann after her friend but when she looked at me after my birth the other name just popped into her head. She never met anyone with my birth certificate name and can’t explain why she thought of it.

After years of doing genealogy, I was shocked to learn that my father’s family was from a European province that is the same as my real name.  I doubted my mom would know that as she had always told me my father was Germany, English, Scotts-Irish and Welsh.  The province is not located in any of those areas.  I know he never knew of the province as he always told me his ancestry was German and British.

I  thought maybe my mom had heard the name and it was somewhere in her head where the euphoria of childbirth brought it forth. Now, because of what next occurred, I’m thinking that is a real possibility.

After using the Ancestry.com search for my grandmother, grandfather, great grandmother and great uncle I decided to try to find my great grandfather who had emigrated before his wife and two children.  I had a little trouble in that I was entering Croatia as his birth place.  I should have left that blank.  It finally dawned on me he would have said Austria as that was the country at the time.  My grandmother, a vocal almost teen ager and being for Croatia separation from Austria-Hungary, had stated she was from Croatia so I just didn’t think initially to change it.  It made sense he would have provided different information as he had been in the Austrian Calvary.  (HINT TO SELF-When searching, try to think like the individual that provided the record information and not what you know of the individual). His information  tells me he didn’t think of himself as Croatian first; he had allegiance to the governing country probably due to his military service..

When I found my great grandfather Josip Kos’ record I was astounded to see that the ship he sailed to America on was my birth certificate name.  Wow!

I had seen the document before but it never clicked. My great grandfather died during the previous pandemic and I had just thought about him when I got my pneumonia vaccine last week.  He got the flu but died of pneumonia.  Although my mom was a baby when he died, perhaps she had heard this ship’s name and recalled it for who knows what reason when I was born. 

Or, just maybe, he whispered it into her ear and she wrote it on my birth certificate. 

Who knows?!  All I can tell you for sure is that I just really enjoy these creepy coincidences.  Christmas in July? Nope, with my family I’ve got Halloween early!

Independence Day Memories

Happy 4th of July weekend!  Can you believe we are only 5 years from celebrating our sestercenntenial, aka 250 years?  Many of you may remember the 200 year celebration in 1976.  I can tell you what I wore when I picnicked in the city park and got a slice of a giant birthday cake donated by bakeries.  That was the start of our family’s now tradition of eating fried chicken with all the fixins’ instead of BBQing, which we had done when I was very young.

We began this year’s commemoration by attending our city’s First Friday celebration last night.  BC (Before Covid), our town had a street fair every First Friday evening.  Local bands play on the 3 blocks that our closed on the main street through the old business district, with a few side streets also blocked to traffic for the occasion.  It looked like rain so hubby and I decided to arrive earlier than we used to.  There weren’t quite as many vendors or visitors as before but it was early.  As soon as I saw one of my favorite Italian restaurants had reopened we knew that’s where we were eating.  It just happened that was the last restaurant we ate at on March 13, 2020 – our last day onsite at our worksites.  Our adult kids had chastised us the following day for risking eating out the night before but we had been cautious by dining at an outside table.  We got the same table last night and the experience was surreal.  I actually got teary eyed when the first course arrived.  

We’re hoping the weather holds up for us to have our traditional picnic tomorrow followed by watching the fireworks.  Independence takes on a new meaning for us this year as we reacclimated ourselves in our community.

In genealogy, we focus on the past without thinking much that our past was our ancestor’s present.  If you have a holiday custom, like our picnic food, it once was done first.  Spend some time researching when the first occasion was and why.  I know we weren’t allowed to bring portable BBQ grills to the park which was why my mother changed the menu.  We wanted to arrive at the park early as a spectacular firework show was planned to mark the bicenntenial.  We wanted a good parking spot and viewing location so we didn’t miss that special event.  

Next is the most important part of the story – WRITE IT DOWN!  It is wonderful that you made the discovery of the custom’s origin but it will be forgotten for future generations if you don’t record it.  You don’t have to write at length.  A brief note in your family tree program added as an event will commemorate your finding and/or memory.  A few family historian will certainly appreciate you took the time to save the memory.  

Resolving Genealogy Tech Issues

I abhor spending time on tech issues but that has been on my to-do list for awhile so I decided to spend this week taking care of needed updates. First on the agenda was to update my blog settings.  Typically, I just have to click a button and the settings are updated.  Last May, I got a popup that said I must update my PHP settings first.  I ignored it because I was spending 12 hours a day online and didn’t want to have to spend more time researching how to do that.  On Sunday, I decided I really had to figure it out. 

Trying to update PHP is a little like trying to find a genealogical document.  To put it simply, you just need to know where to look.  In actuality, it’s a whole lot more complicated.  I started by Googling and was directed to go to the cPanel.  Nowhere does it tell you where the cPanel resides.  One of my family members said it was on my hard drive, mistakenly thinking I was looking for the C Drive.  Another said I probably downloaded it somewhere on my hard drive from my Hosting company.  More Googling took me to YouTube but again, the videos do not tell you how to find the cDrive but do show you what to do when you find it.

This reminds me of desperately trying to locate an obit but you can’t find the newspaper. You know the time frame it should have been published but that particular issue is missing.  I decided to reach out to those in the know – I posted on a genealogical list serv.  Three folks quickly came to the rescue – they told me to go to my cPanel.  Umm, right, but where is the cPanel?  I was directed to contact my Hosting company.

The Hosting company was experiencing heavy contact volume so they recommended placing a ticket with my concern. About 4 hours later I got a response and ta da, it directed me to the same YouTube video that didn’t answer my question in the first place.

On Monday, I tried to chat with the company who was still experiencing high volume.  After a short wait I got a techie who sent me to the same YouTube video.  I was trying not to be rude but this was ridiculous.  I asked to be directed to the cPanel from the home page.  Instead, she took a pic of the page I should be on.  I told her my page did not look like her page and how did she get to her page.  Light bulb moment on her part – “Oh,” she responds – “you don’t know where to find the cPanel.  Click on Hosting and there it is.”  Two clicks later and I had the update done. 

Next I decided to tackle updating my Legacy Family Tree and RootsMagic tree to Ancestry.  I am embarrassed to admit it has been 2 years since I last did that.  The Legacy update took just a few minutes since there is no media.  I was dreading the RootsMagic as its been synching but the program makes you go into each person changed and update individually.  I toyed with the idea of just dumping what I had and starting fresh but I was worried that it would take up too much of my desk computer’s time and I wouldn’t be able to use it for anything else.  I also was concerned with power outages that might disrupt the synch and then, well, I’d be worse off than I was currently.  Years ago, I synched Ancestry to Family Tree Maker and then it just stopped working.  Each company blamed the other.  I never got it resolved and so I became a beta tester for RootsMagic when they were developing their synch. 

For those reason, I decided to just go for it – painstakingly checking every individual change.  Took me a few minutes to realize I needed to ADD all the new people first.  Wish there was a way to filter what the discrepancy is – new to RootsMagic? New to Ancestry? In RootsMagic but not Ancestry?  In Ancestry but not RootsMagic?  You can get in the zen by doing the same monotonous task over and over and it would really speed the process up.  Alas, that wasn’t the case so I spent all day Monday just adding new people from Ancestry to RootsMagic.  Tuesday I got throught the A surnames, I’m now up to G.  Every few minutes I have I update.  At this rate, it’ll be another week before I get everything where it needs to be. 

I have colleagues who have completely given up on the synching saying it is a waste of time.  I understand their time issue but I’m more worried about losing important info I saved to just Ancestry. 

Problem could be solved if I just saved everything in the first place to my hard drive but as I’ve mentioned, I’m awful with back ups and I’d hate to lose everything.  We’re supposed to be getting 3 full days of rain and I’m hoping so that not only will our drought end but that I have nothing else pressing to do but update RootsMagic.  Hope you’re upcoming week will be much more exciting!

Fantastic Photos! MyHeritage.com Does It Again!

Do you have DAMAGED PHOTOS that break your heart because you can’t appreciate the picture while fixating on the ugly part?  I do and I was never able to use the photos in family projects because I couldn’t restore them to their former glory.

Thanks to MyHeritage.com, it is now simple, quick, easy and free (some limitations apply) to return the photos to better than new.  Here’s how:

First, upload your photo to be repaired by logging into MyHeritage.com and click on Photos in the ribbon, then click the Upload box on the right.

Once uploaded, the photo appears with your media items.  Now, click the photo needing to be repaired.

Above the photo on the right hand side, the following options are shown:  Repair, Enhance, Colorize, Animate.  To correct the photo it’s recommended you select options from left to right.

Once I click Repair and MyHeritage.com does it’s magic, the photo will be shown as follows:

Much improved but still not perfect.  Sure, I can clip out the damage to the upper portions of the photo but I want to restore the picture to as close as new as possible so here’s what I’m going to do – On the upper left hand side of the photo, click on the gear icon which is the settings option.  The photos are first repaired Gently – that’s the default setting.  I’m going to click the box Extensive Repair Option and Preview. Now look at what it does:

Isn’t that AMAZING?! You can stop there but I wanted to make the photo even more defined so I next clicked on Enhance.  Here’s what the result was:

Due to the size limitation on my blog, the subtle improvements are not as apparent as on my larger computer screen but when you try it you’ll notice the difference.
Next I decided to go ahead and colorize it. I’ll be honest, I’m not a big fan of colorizing because I like to know FOR SURE if what I’m presenting in my research is accurate.  It is fun, however, to imagine what the original outfits looked like so I decided to click the Colorize button to see what the program would select:

I again used the Settings (gear icon) to tweak the saturation manually as the first colorization picture showed a pink hue on right side of the dress.  Knowing the individuals as I did, that wouldn’t have been the color choice.  The brown/silver grey was more in keeping with the time period (1917) fashion and the wearer’s preference.  
In my excitement to get the photo corrected I neglected to tell you who the people are!  This is a photo of my paternal grandparents, Edwin and Lola Landfair Leininger, and their oldest child, my dad, Orlo Guy Leininger.  He was born June 4, 1917 so I guess this must be a photo that commemorated his first Christmas.  Nothing was written on the photo back (of course).  I received the photo 5 years after my father’s death in a box that was kept in a damp unheated northern Indiana basement for probably at least 10 years.  I’m fortunate that the photo survived, albeit damaged.  I’m thrilled that it has been restored.  Thanks, MyHeritage.com for your new feature!
For the ethic minded, I also appreciate that MyHeritage.com acknowledges that the photo was altered.  You can see the After written in the upper left hand corner of the photo and on the bottom left, icons appear showing exactly what features were used to change the original picture.  
I’ve blogged before about the animation feature but it has since added many new features, too.  I couldn’t resist animating my Dad, I’m sure he would approve:

Genealogy Tech Tip: Gmail

If you have a gmail account you may have been getting notices from Google over the past few months that their terms are changing June 1st regarding storage.  You may have also gotten information that they would like to “offer” you, for a fee, extra storage space for your photos and emails through Google One.

I have a Dropbox account that I use so I don’t need to be paying for another storage space.  I haven’t successfully been able to transfer photos and emails from the gmail account I share with my husband to my desktop to then transfer to my Dropbox account, though I’ve followed online directions.  When the emails are on my desktop they appear as an Outlook file but I’m unable to open them, even though I do have an Outlook account.  

If you are having the same problem, here’s a temporary work around I discovered.

I like to keep my genealogy business separate from my personal research so my family related genealogy goes to my shared account and my second gmail account was set up to be business only.  However, these are difficult times and I’m now combining all of my genealogy in one place.  Since I so often blog about my personal research anyway, it only makes sense to keep all my genealogy related correspondence together.

By doing that, I’m freeing up valuable space in my shared gmail account without having to pay for extra storage.

Here’s what you need to do:

1.      Create a second email address if you don’t already have one.  It’s simple – here’s the directions.  https://support.google.com/mail/answer/56256?hl=en

2.      Next, go to the email address where you have too many saved messages.  In the search bar, type a term that will bring up messages that are similar.  Here’s an example; I typed in genealogy Williams because I want every genealogy related item for the Williams surname in my gmail inbox.

1.      If you  created labels, as I have, then click to open one of them (they are visible on the left side: 

When I click into the Genealogy label, I will use that  search box which appears under the header as it does on the main inbox page. To keep emails from the same sender or for the same surname, type in a surname, such as Williams or a person’s email address.  All of them will appear:

        Now click the check box next to the down arrow and checkmarks will appear in all the emails listed below:

       On the line where the checkmark next to the down arrow is, click the last icon, 3 dots:

The last option is Forward with Attachments.  Click it and all of the check marked emails will be placed in the body of a new email.  This can take a few minutes if you are sending many at one time. 

In the subject, list the surname and/or who the emails are from.  In my picture above, I’ve given an example as I typed Williams from Courtneys.  That’s referring to all my Williams surname correspondence that I received from the Courtney family.  Then, in the recipient box, type the email address where you will send the message. In my case, I’m sending it to my second gmail account. 

It will arrive in your new email inbox as a unit.  Just open the email and all the others are attached. 

I created a label I called Personal-followed by the surname.  This way, I can quickly find all emails sent to me over the years for a particular surname. 

Someday, ahh hum, I will go through these as I’m sure there are some gems in there that will spark a new clue to an existing research problem but for now, they are safe and I’m not out any money. 

We were at 99% used and by just removing my 12 pages of saved genealogy emails and a few pages of photos has allowed me to be at 90% capacity.   

What’s Up with Ancestry.com?

My clip – look at the 3rd image from the left side to see the red dot

Are you noticing some subtle changes on your Ancestry.com home page? I’m referring to the red dots on the right side of header above the leaf and sometimes the envelope.

What’s up with that? Clicking on the leaf I see that I have some Hints. Scrolling down the drop down Hint menu and clicking on “See all recent hints in” I still have the red dot. I also have a counter that is still not working:

All Hints= 1 & Photos=1 but I’m on the photo page and there are no hints!


Sometimes the red dot is showing above the envelope but it seems to clear away when I get a legitimate message from another member. I had a “1” showing for three weeks, even though I had read the message. I discovered that you must click in the “respond” box, even if you aren’t really responding, to make the counter reduce. That doesn’t work for Hints, however.

The dot seemed to appear about the same time that Ancestry changed the viewing of Hints but I’m not sure they are related. Seeing the information on the right screen side will take getting used to. I’m not complaining about it, just don’t see the need for that change when there are others that could be addressed.

I realize I am perseverating on a dot which is a picayune detail but as it’s time for me to renew, I am looking at the program with the price of an annual subscription in the back of my mind. How they can’t get it right after all these years is beyond me.

I blogged about the Newspaper.com free access a few weeks ago. I have Ancestry All Access Membership, however, over the last year, I’ve often clicked on Newspapers.com and received the message that the image isn’t accessible because I don’t have their premium subscription.

Here’s a little math since I love saving money! The Ancestry.com All Access membership for a year is $389.00 which includes Ancestry, Basic Newspapers.com and Fold3. Newspapers.com Access Everything membership is $74.90/6 months or $149.80/year. Their Basic membership is $44.95/6 months ($89.90/year).

If I select Ancesty.com World Explore membership for $149.00/6 months ($298.00/year) and purchase Newspapers.com separately ($149.80) and Fold3.com separately ($79.95/year) the total cost would be $527.75 annually. So, yes, I am saving money by going through Ancestry.com in order to access Newspapers.com and Fold3, however, I’m not getting full access to Newspapers.com which I sometimes need.

My local library has the full Newspaper.com subscription but it is only available at the library so that hasn’t been helpful. Here’s my work around – as I work on my personal genealogy, I’m making a list of any item I can’t readily access and then, will either check it out at the library someday or wait until the site has another free weekend. In a pinch, I’d use the Ask a Librarian option for a look up. For my research areas, Newspapers.com does not have the info that would be worth it for me to buy the Everything access. Your needs, however, might differ.

Newspapers.com Free This Weekend

John Koss was my Grandfather, Michael A. Milinovich was my God Father and Steve Milinovich was Mike’s brother. Typo in my Grandfather’s city- should be Gary, not Cart! 26 Dec 1956, c. 3 p. 2.

You may have a Basic membership through Ancestry.com to Newspapers.com but that’s doesn’t permit you to view all of the holdings. I spent a few hours yesterday rechecking my closest to me relatives to see if additional newspapers had been added since the last time I took advantage of a free special offer from the company.

I was delighted to find several articles that I didn’t know existed – such as:

Who knew that my grandmother Mary Koss had an obit in a Hammond, Indiana newspaper? I have the obit from the Gary Post Tribune but didn’t know about the Hammond Times. Likewise, my Uncle George also had an obituary in the Hammond Times. Must have been a deal hrough the funeral home I just wasn’t aware was in place. Funny as they rarely visited Hammond and to my knowledge, had not friends there!

Struck gold in the Zajenicar, a Croatian newspaper that my grandparents used to receive. I had been told that my name had once appeared in it. Evidently, back in the day, the Croatian Fraternal Union sold life insurance policies to the parents/grandparents of newborns and my grandparents had bought a policy for me that expired when I turned 18. I was told that the children’s names were printed in the newspaper so I searched for me but didn’t find myself. I decided to search for my grandparents thinking it might have been placed under them instead. Surprise, Surprise! Discovered that my grandfather, Kum (that’s God Father) and his brother had given $10.00 to the organization before my birth to help fund an Immigrant Museum to be built in Pittsburgh. Don’t think that goal ever materialized but it was a sweet find for me. I think they all would be pleased knowing I have tried to honor all of the family’s immigrants through my blog and family tree.

Interesting to me, I also understood why my Grandparents always paid for a lamb to be raised and slaughtered at Buncich’s Farm in Hobart, Indiana every year. Duh – they were sorta kinda related and I had no idea until I found an obituary that mentioned my aunt through marriage. One of her brothers had married the daughter of the owner of the farm. That would just be like my grandparents to support a family member if they could. I always thought they just liked the taste of the lamb!

Finding that obit was another aha! moment for me. I have one cousin whose name is “off” the naming pattern the family typically uses – we have a zillion John – George – Joseph – Nicholas – Michaels and those names move from first to middle so frequently it’s often hard to keep everyone straight. Since my cuz is still living and I don’t want to hurt feelings if he ever sees this I’m not typing the name but now I realize where he got it from – his mom’s brother’s middle name that had been a grandfather’s name. Who knew? ! I guess most of the family but me.

Since this weekend will be very cold in most parts of the states and we’ve had torrential rains already this morning in my part of the world – stay warm, stay safe and stay focused on your genealogy by taking the weekend to visit newspapers.com. No telling what you might discover!

A Sad Brick Wall Discovery


Certificate of Insanity, William Duer, May 1852; digital image, FamilySearch.org: Accessed 27 December 2020, citing Common Pleas Court civil records, 1825-1901 ; civil index, 1825-1900 Miscellaneous, 1846-1873 Miscellaneous (alphabetical), pre-1900 Depositions (chronological), 1886-1901. Film # 008271767, image 921 of 2904.

Usually, I’m happy when I climb over a brick wall but sometimes the find provides harsh reality of what the individual was experiencing. I recently had such a discovery and in all honesty, I put off writing about it for a month.

I’ve made a lot of progress on my John and Jane Duer line lately although several mysteries remain, like where is John buried, why does Jane’s tombstone say “wife of John Duer” when he was married to someone else at the time of Jane’s death and why does Jane’s youngest children, who were adults when she died, not tell their own children about Jane as evidenced by their death certificates stating mother is unknown?

My working theory is, among other reasons, because of the sad discovery I made regarding one of John & Jane’s children.

William Duer (1828-c. 1852) was the oldest son and oldest surviving child of John and Mary “Jane” Duer; he relocated with the couple from Trumbull County, Ohio where he was most likely born to Killbuck, Holmes, Ohio where he is shown residing with his parents and siblings in 1850. That census shows that William and his closest aged sibling, Thomas, was working on the farm with father John.

For years, I had difficulty discovering what became of William as he was not shown with the family in the 1860 census in Mercer County, Ohio where they had relocated, nor was he found in any census anywhere. He seemed to have disappeared in thin air as nothing was found for him anywhere. Until now and thanks to the images on FamilySearch.org.

I mentioned a few weeks ago how to access those images so click this link if you don’t know how.

My search for William took the usual path over the years – checking all the online sites, family trees and connecting with known relatives. I thought he had perhaps died in the Civil War which wouldn’t explain where he was in 1860, but I also had another missing brother from the 1860 census so I figured they may have been together somewhere and missed the enumeration. That brother, John B., eventually ended up in Adams County, Indiana. William was never found again. Until now.

I decided to look through the images for Common Plea Court Civil Records, 1825-1901, for Killbuck Township, Holmes, Ohio where the family lived to see if a record may exist for anyone in the family. That’s where I discovered the Certificate of Insanity for William Duer.

From the medical report, I learned that William was age 23 and free from infection. In March 1852 William complained of “feelings in his head” that lasted 1-2 weeks. He was last reported sane on 12 April 1852.

Apparently, insanity must have been shown for at least 30 days before the courts could be contacted. The physician diagnosed William with melancholy that was not related to hereditary or epilepsy. He was not violent. His past medical history showed bleeding and blisters but it does not clarify the cause.

Interestingly, the physician noted William had received “no education” and “worked hard” and had “no amusement” yet he was not “disappointed” by his life. The education information is verified by Historical Collection of the Mahoning Valley which stated “the public schools were few, with little interest taken in public education until 1840, when a new impulse moved the settlers” (p. 484). William’s early life was in Trumbull County which became Mahoning County.

The Justice of the Peace had also visited William at his home and found him insane. Since he was a resident of Killbuck, he was sent to the Ohio Lunatic Asylum to undergo treatment. His condition had been the case for less than 2 years. The reason cited for committing William was that “his being at large would be dangerous to the safety of the community.” Although this clearly conflicts with the physician report stating that William was not violent, father John Duer attested the same.

I do not believe William every survived the commitment. I suspect he is buried on the asylum grounds where there are numerous unmarked graves. I will be following up with an organization that holds the records which is currently closed due to the pandemic.

I hadn’t expected this would be the reason for the brick wall.

From searching through images, prior to this find, I discovered a letter to the courts regarding another community member’s request for an insanity hearing in the preceding year. The request was denied, not because the woman wasn’t insane, but because the county had already used up all of their bed space in the asylum. I have no idea from the records what the county’s allotted number was but it is telling that there were more community members who needed mental health assistance then there was available treatment for them.

This find leads me to a new working theory about William’s mother, Jane, that I will explore in more details next time.

An Unusual Source to Find a Deed

Timeline courtesy of INGenweb.org

What do you do when you’ve looked for a deed in all the usual places – county property appraisers office, FamilySearch.org or other online database of deed records, and even probate files but you come up with nothing? I was fortunate to find deed records in an unlikely place and you just might find this useful…

What do you do when you’ve looked for a deed in all the usual places – county property appraisers office, FamilySearch.org or other online databases, and even probate files but you come up with nothing? I was fortunate to find deed records in an unlikely place and you just might find this useful.

I wanted to locate a deed record for my John Duer (1801-1885) because I was trying to discover which wife might be named on it.  John married Mary “Jane” Morrison (1804-1866) on 29 July 1827 in Trumbull County, Ohio.  The couple would go on to have 11 children together and relocate first to Killbuck, Holmes County, Ohio by 1840 and then to Liberty, Mercer County, Ohio by July 1860 when they are found together living two residences away from one of their married daughters, Maria Duer Kuhn. 

The census does not state if the residence was owned or rented.  The couple owned property both jointly and separately when in Holmes County.  I’m not exactly sure when they relocated but the last deed of sale I find for them in Holmes was 27 April 1854.  

I began to look in Mercer County, Ohio for deeds between 1853 (when they sold another piece of land in Holmes-I figured they may have relocated then but couldn’t sell the other lot they owned until the following year) and 1864 when I knew John had remarried.  I tried all the usual places but came up with nothing. The property appraiser site found no John Duer.  The site doesn’t say how far back the records go but one of the options for age of buildings is 1800.  I then looked for old deed books at the various online genealogy sites and found nothing for Mercer County, Ohio.  I even tried the Familysearch.org image search that I blogged about two weeks ago but came up with a big zero.

Sometime after July 1860 and before 11 December 1864 John and Jane split up and John remarried widow Margaret Ann Martz Searight.  They had a child together, Charles Edward, born in February 1866.

Since emigrating from Germany, Margaret lived first in Hardin County, Ohio but relocated to Adams County, Indiana, perhaps after her husband, George Washington Searight died 8 April 1863.  John and Margaret, after their marriage, lived together in Adams County, Indiana.

My next search was for property in Adams County, Indiana as I knew, from John’s will made in August 1884, that he was leaving Margaret the property.  That meant she had not been a co-owner. He possibly bought the land prior to their wedding or for some other unknown reason, decided to buy land separately from his second wife as he had done in Hardin County, Ohio with his first wife.

His will states, in the case of Margaret predeceasing him, the property would go to some of his children (why he selected only 3 children in his will I do not understand.  He names the two children he had with Margaret and one of his children, Angeline, he had with Jane. Angeline had married and was living in Adams, Indiana.  What is odd is two of his sons, John B. and James William, were also living in Adams. Why he excluded them from his will I hypothesized in my last blog, Missing Tombstones.)

The Adams County, Indiana property assessor’s office website is not very user friendly and I got lost in the clicking. I eventually found that “NEW! Electronic Records” were available but there is no link to where.  Trying to click on what appears to be a link stating “Adams County is now ready to electronically record all your documents through e-recording.” also didn’t work.  In small print, there is a note that the records are from 1990 to present.  Oh well!

I continued to click and thought maybe “History” would be helpful but it was just a few facts about the 12 townships in the county. Under “Residents,” I decided to click on “Genealogy.”  I was taken to INGenWeb for Adams County.  I was so excited to find a search box so I entered “Duer” and found 59 items.

At this point I had to decide, did I want to derail my search for a deed, which I figured wouldn’t be placed here, or just get more info about the Duer’s who had lived in Adams County.  I decided to stay focused but to do a new search for “John Duer” hoping that it would eliminate all of the other Duers except for John’s son, John B., known to also be living in Adams.  I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the search results were for 53 items. 

What immediately caught my eye on the first page (10 items show per page) was “Estate of David Tressler2 – 1862.xls.”  Who was David Tressler – certainly no one in my tree and how/why was John Duer associated with him?  Intriguing!

The image (above) was a timeline followed by scanned documents of David Tressler’s estate from 1862.  Using the Find trick (hold down the Ctrl and F keys and type in the box) I quickly found that John made a deed to purchase Tressler’s real estate on 8 September 1862.  Yippee!  So John had purchased the property IN HIS NAME ONLY prior to his marriage with Margaret which explains why she was not on the deed.  This also tells me that either he and Jane were having marital problems/separated/divorced by this time since Jane was also not a co-owner. 

After doing my happy dance, I went back to explore the remaining Duer findings on the site.  I was surprised to find another deed record – on 28 June 1860 John Duer purchased from Benjamin Shafer, the estate administrator for John Tressler.  Interestingly, this purchase was made ONE MONTH BEFORE the 1860 census records showing John in Mercer County, Ohio, which borders Adams, Indiana.  Jane’s name was not on that deed, either.  It’s likely the couple was already having problems with their marriage at that time.  The property description matches the property he left Margaret in his will.

So John Duer planned to relocate to the next county over even before he and Jane divorced.  (Yes, it would be wonderful to discover their divorce document but I have been unable to locate it in either county.)  

Of course, every find leads to more questions.  Now I want to know where and when John met Margaret.  Her first husband died supposedly at age 35 but I don’t know where.  I checked to see if he had enlisted in the Civil War but did not find him.  I can’t verify his date of death; he’s not on Find-a-grave/Billion Graves.  The date is unverified and comes from online family trees.  He was last known alive in Dunkirk, Cessna, Hardin, Ohio in 1860. 

My guess is one of Margaret’s sisters or step-sister was living in Adams and as a widow with a young daughter, Margaret moved to be closer to family.   I will have to search them to discover if that theory is correct.

It appears from plat records I also found on INGenWeb that Margaret owned 20 acres of her own land in 1880 in Adams, Indiana.  I don’t know when that land was purchased – before her marriage to John or after.  More research is definitely needed. It’s now clear where John met Margaret; they were property owners in the same neighborhood.

Moral of the blog….when you can’t find what you are looking for check out the local genealogy sites.  Kudos to those at INGenweb.org as they have done a phenomenal job in preserving local records and uploading them for FREE.  I also love how they insert a timeline of the scanned original documents.  I am deeply appreciative of your efforts.

I wanted to locate a deed record for my John Duer (1801-1885) because I was trying to discover which wife might be named on it.  John married Mary “Jane” Morrison (1804-1866) on 29 July 1827 in Trumbull County, Ohio.  The couple would go on to have 11 children together and relocate first to Killbuck, Holmes County, Ohio by 1840 and then to Liberty, Mercer County, Ohio by July 1860 when they are found together living two residences away from one of their married daughters, Maria Duer Kuhn per the census. 

The census does not state if the residence was owned or rented.  The couple owned property both jointly and separately when in Holmes County.  I’m not exactly sure when they relocated but the last deed of sale I find for them in Holmes was 27 April 1854.  

I began to look in Mercer County, Ohio for deeds between 1853 (when they sold another piece of land in Holmes-I figured they may have relocated then but couldn’t sell the other lot they owned until the following year) and 1864 when I knew John had remarried.  I tried all the usual places but came up with nothing. The property appraiser site found no John Duer.  The site doesn’t say how far back the records go but one of the options for age of buildings is 1800.  I then looked for old deed books at the various online genealogy sites and found nothing for Mercer County, Ohio.  I even tried the Familysearch.org image search that I blogged about two weeks ago but came up with a big zero.

Sometime after July 1860 and before 11 December 1864 John and Jane split up and John remarried widow Margaret Ann Martz Searight.  They had a child together, Charles Edward, born in February 1866.

Since emigrating from Germany, Margaret lived first in Hardin County, Ohio but relocated to Adams County, Indiana, perhaps after her husband, George Washington Searight died 8 April 1863.  John and Margaret, after their marriage, lived together in Adams County, Indiana.

My next search was for property in Adams County, Indiana as I knew, from John’s will made in August 1884, that he was leaving Margaret the property.  That meant she had not been a co-owner. He possibly bought the land prior to their wedding or for some other unknown reason, decided to buy land separately from his second wife as he had done in Hardin County, Ohio with his first wife.

His will states, in the case of Margaret predeceasing him, the property would go to some of his children (why he selected only 3 children in his will I do not understand.  He names the two children he had with Margaret and one of his children, Angeline, he had with Jane. Angeline had married and was living in Adams, Indiana.  What is odd is two of his sons, John B. and James William, were also living in Adams. Why he excluded them from his will I hypothesize in my last blog, Missing Tombstones.)

The Adams County, Indiana property assessor’s office website is not very user friendly and I got lost in the clicking. I eventually found that “NEW! Electronic Records” were available but there is no link to where.  Trying to click on what appears to be a link stating “Adams County is now ready to electronically record all your documents through e-recording.” also didn’t work.  In small print, there is a note that the records are from 1990 to present.  Oh well!

I continued to click and thought maybe “History” would be helpful but it was just a few facts about the 12 townships in the county. Under “Residents,” I decided to click on “Genealogy.”  I was taken to INGenWeb for Adams County.  I was so excited to find a search box so I entered “Duer” and found 59 items.

At this point I had to decide, did I want to derail my search for a deed, which I figured wouldn’t be placed here, or just get more info about the Duer’s who had lived in Adams County.  I decided to stay focused but to do a new search for “John Duer” hoping that it would eliminate all of the other Duers except for John’s son, John B., known to also be living in Adams.  I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the search results were for 53 items. 

What immediately caught my eye on the first page (10 items show per page) was “Estate of David Tressler2 – 1862.xls.”  Who was David Tressler – certainly no one in my tree and how/why was John Duer associated with him?  Intriguing!

The image (above) was a timeline followed by scanned documents of David Tressler’s estate from 1862.  Using the Find trick (hold down the Ctrl and F keys and type in the box) I quickly found that John made a deed to purchase Tressler’s real estate on 8 September 1862.  Yippee!  So John had purchased the property IN HIS NAME ONLY prior to his marriage with Margaret which explains why she was not on the deed.  This also tells me that either he and Jane were having marital problems/separated/divorced by this time. 

After doing my happy dance, I went back to explore the remaining Duer findings on the site.  I was surprised to find another deed record – on 28 June 1860, John Duer purchased from Benjamin Shafer, the estate administrator for John Tressler.  Interestingly, this purchase was made ONE MONTH BEFORE the 1860 census records showing John in Mercer County, Ohio, which borders Adams, Indiana.  Jane’s name was not on that deed.  It’s likely the couple was already having problems with their marriage at that time.  The property description matches the property he left Margaret in his will.

So John Duer planned to relocate to the next county over even before he and Jane divorced.  (Yes, it would be wonderful to discover their divorce document but I have been unable to locate it in either county.)  

Of course, every find leads to more questions.  Now I want to know where and when John met Margaret.  Her first husband died supposedly at age 35 but I don’t know where.  I checked to see if he had enlisted in the Civil War but did not find him.  I can’t verify his date of death as he’s not on Find-a-grave/Billion Graves.  The date is unverified and comes from online family trees.  He was last known alive in Dunkirk, Cessna, Hardin, Ohio in 1860. 

My guess is one of Margaret’s sisters or step-sister was living in Adams and as a widow with a young daughter, Margaret moved to be closer to family.   I will have to search them to discover if that theory is correct.

It appears from plat records I also found on INGenWeb that Margaret owned 20 acres of her own land in 1880 in Adams, Indiana.  I don’t know when that land was purchased – before her marriage to John or after.  More research is definitely needed.

Moral of the blog….when you can’t find what you are looking for check out the local genealogy sites.  Kudos to those at INGenweb.org as you have done a phenomenal job in preserving local records and uploading them for FREE.  I also love how you insert a timeline of the scanned original documents.  I am deeply appreciative of your efforts.