The big accomplishment in September will be my trip to Salt Lake City and the Family History Library (which, yes, I am really looking forward to!). I will spend the time in September before the trip adding to and refining my plans in terms of what I want to accomplish. I start out the month with a spreadsheet (very incomplete) that lists my direct relatives, what vital record is missing, and a film number that I think will contain the image of the certificate or register I want to look at and copy.
Number one on my priority list is to get as many pieces of direct evidence for the missing births, marriages, and deaths as I can. This will include my husband’s family lines as well. I know there are some images available at the Library that are not indexed or even browseable online yet (and I would have requested them using the old photocopy request form in the past, but the Library doesn’t do that anymore).
Along with film numbers I need to refresh my knowledge of when various jurisdictions started requiring registration for vital life events. Some of my missing information is likely to take more creativity to find the evidence.
My second item is to gather similar information for my English Denman line and for the Titus Salt line I am exploring.
My third item is to look at other materials (e.g., compiled genealogies, local histories, etc.) to see what I can add to my knowledge base.
Oh dear, as I look at my spreadsheet today, I realize how much more work I need to do before the trip. So I am going to stop writing about it (or talking about it) and go do it. Yes, I will.
This is a work in progress as I work to track the Riddner family that my mother-in-law was part of. [I have written a couple of past posts about Sarah and her family, here and here.]
Sylvia, Sarah, and Tillie, 1922
In 1974 my sister-in-law started researching her mother’s (Sarah Riddner) early life. She wrote a lot of letters to all the related people she knew about and asked them what they knew about her mother as a young girl or young woman..
In November 1974 one of the Field cousins answered her letter and provided 2 and a half typewritten pages of what she knew about my mother-in-law and the Riddner family. This cousin was one of the children of Clara Riddner Field, who was the younger sister of Ben Riddner (Sarah’s father). Ben Riddner and his second family lived in Ft. Wayne Indiana as did the Field family. Sarah had been born and raised in Milwaukee so the Fields only saw her occasionally, however this cousin had been closer to her in adolescence and spent time with her in Chicago.
Sometime between 2002 and 2011 I had conversations with my sister-in-law about the family history, and she finally found the letters she had gotten and let me read and copy them. The tidbit I first followed was the Field cousin saying that her mother had cousins in West Hartford, Connecticut names Leah Portner and Helen Seltzer. So I went looking for census records and – bingo! – found Helen (Ellen) and her husband Isidore Seltzer living in West Hartford in 1920 with Leah and Abraham Portner’s family, and listed as cousins. I also found the Seltzer family in the 1930 census in Hartford. This was 2007 and that was about as far as censuses would take me. In 2011 I did some more internet searching, having connected a family picture tentatively with the Portners, and I continued some searching on the Seltzers as well. The Connecticut Death Index showed me that Helen Seltzer’s maiden name was Rudner. .At that point I dropped the ball and did not pursue the likelihood that Rudner and Ridner were the same name. I didn’t make the connection. In 2013 when the 1940 census became available, I found both the Portners and the Seltzers living in Hartford or West Hartford but again didn’t pursue them further.
Then this summer I started again trying to put the pieces together and discovered some new sources. Of course there are many more online databases to search and I have found some useful evidence. The research question I am focusing on now is: how is Helen Ridner related to Benjamin and Clara Riddner? I have gotten Isidore Seltzer’s naturalization papers and his World War II military service record from the State of Connecticut which both give Helen’s name and a date of birth, with the place of her birth given as “Russia” with no town given. So far none of the evidence gives a clue about where in Russia she came from or was born.
I have a list of places I need to look for information (and more will likely occur to me as I look). I need to comb the Steve Morse and Ellis Island sites for Helen’s entry to the U.S. A passenger list might just give me the name of the town she came from. I have looked quickly and did not find her, but haven’t yet dug deeper. I also have the name of her mother who was living with her in 1930 so I can look for her migration. I think I have to go to the Town Clerk’s office to look at/obtain a copy of her death certificate, which might provide some information. I will pull her marriage license and certificate from the microfilm in Salt Lake City in September when Judy and I go. I have made a first attempt to contact the cemetery where she is buried to see what information they might have.
I’m hearing choruses of locusts on my morning walks these days and being transported back to my childhood days in the middle of Indiana. The weather has felt a lot like my childhood memories as well: hot and very humid. Thankfully I now have air-conditioning which we didn’t when I was a child. And it is certainly a nice contrast to the very cold and snowy winter just past. I am reminded to slow down and pay attention to my surroundings.
It feels like I need to change my monthly title and theme for these posts. I don’t seem to follow the goals I set very faithfully. This makes me think that I need a reboot or “do-over” of this idea as well as of my genealogy. I don’t know yet what I might try or even what I really want this regular post to accomplish, so it will be a work in progress.
August is shaping up nicely as a relatively quiet month, broken most noticeably by a visit from my sister-in-law and her grandson. This is a major deal around here! I also have a visit to the National Archives at Boston again with a friend planned toward the end of the month. I am working to make connections in my husband’s family tree with three families in Connecticut who might have been cousins on his mother’s side. Since this is a line we know very little about I am excited to try to find out more. I did get the naturalization papers for each family from the Archives and need to find out what other resources are available.
Judy and I have locked in a week to go to Salt Lake City to the Family History Library and I am very excited! I have a picture in my mind about how I want to organize my planned research. Now to see if I can make it real. I have started to list the different areas I want to research (e.g., missing vital record for my direct lines) and am collecting film numbers from familysearch.org. I am using Evernote for this collection. I envision creating a spreadsheet or list that includes the person’s name and the record to be found and the film number. Maybe I need the location of where the record was created (like state and county). I think if I can at least start with a spreadsheet I can then sort and see where I have more than one item from the same film. Sounds good, right? Doing this is my major goal for August, since we’re planning to go in September.
As I said a couple of weeks ago, I am putting up a page that is a list of various books I have read over the last few years in my search for information or education about something related to genealogy and my family lines. The page is called Pat’s Book List and you can find it here. This post is a brief introduction to my list.
I have thought about making a list of useful resources, websites, or genealogy and reference books that I use but decided to start that I would make a list of the books about an aspect of history and the fiction that have felt educational to me. I often look for a book to help fill in some of the context of a person or line I am researching.
Several of the books on my list were written by journalists who were interested in a topic for one reason or another. These are difficult to categorize as non-fiction or fiction, being based in historical materials but often extended to imagined conversations. Some of the other books are straightforward fiction but I think are based in enough reality to be helpful in providing some picture of what a situation might have been like.
I know that there are at least a couple of books I have left off this list, so I will be updating it periodically. If you have any suggestions about something I should read, or have comments about any of the books already on the list, please leave me a comment. Here’s to summer reading!
Fireworks on the Charles River By Pablo Valerio (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
June was a busy month with not a lot of very focused genealogy work taking place. I read a packet of materials I inherited from my father about Titus Salt and more about Titus’s work and Saltaire. I put a couple of techniques together and came up with a way I can fairly satisfactorily digitize my daguerreotype collection (as described in the post before this one). I had a lovely long telephone chat with my youngest brother. I sent my male Denman cousin a short article by Elizabeth Jones who runs a One-Name
study for the Denmans and also a DNA study. I am hoping he’ll eventually be interested in participating in the DNA study. (It could answer several burning genealogical questions about our Denman line.) I’m always reticent about approaching cousins to do testing (which gets in the way). I also got a good start on what I am going to put up here as a new page (rather than a post) with a list of books I have found interesting and educational in my genealogical research.
In July I will write a short post about this and publish the page at that time. I’m looking forward to adding to the list over time too.
I will decide how I’m going to organize my research goals for a trip to Salt Lake City later with Judy. We have agreed that we will try to pull off a trip in September, so I need to get going!
I will continue to enter the birth records I have for each family into my RootsMagic database if they’re not already entered, and attach any digital images. I will make sure to share the fact with anyone else on the record, and make sure that the metadata on the image is filled in (where I found the image, etc.). I will try *not* to chase down the always-attractive rabbit holes as I verify the source of the image if it isn’t already there.
Leaving for a vacation and will be back in the middle of the month. Happy summer, everyone!