Wednesday, June 28, 2006


The Rheinland-Pfalz:

Rheinland-Pfalz (Rhineland-Palatinate) Genealogy Links:

Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany WorldGenWeb Project:

Hessen GenWeb:

Cemeteries of Rheinland Pfalz, Germany:

Pfäzisch-Rheinische Familienkunde:

Electorate Prince-archbishopric of Trier:

Trier Familienbücher index:
(Click on "ABC-Listen")

Westdeutsche Gesellschaft für Familienkunde:

Institut fuer pfaelzische Geschichte und Volkskunde: A museum of Palatine history and culture including emigration; has a card file with about 300,000 emigrants. You can email to find out if your emigrant is there (Thanks to David Velten for this information). From Mary Ellen Wilmoth - The Institut für pfälzische Geschichte und Volkskunde (formerly known as Heimatstelle Pfalz), 67653 Kaiserslautern, GERMANY. Phone: 0631-3647-303. email: Hours: Mon-Thurs. 9-12 and 2-4; Fri 9-12. Pre-registration recommended. Huge index of emigrants from and immigrants to the Palatinate (about 750,000 names) and large library with genealogical and local history holdings.

State, municipal and church archives at Speyer, including central archives of the Evangelical and Catholic churches of the Palatinate:

An 1852 emigration scheme of Otterstadt (near Speyer) to send their 30 poorest families to Quebec:
   Thanks to Patti on the Pfalz list who posted this link

Protestant Archives in Pfalz (Evangelischen Kirche der Pfalz): Email:

Archive in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland - Rheinland-Pfalz:

Trier-Roots Mail list:

Trier Tourism:

List of Rhineland (Rheinland) and Saarland Auswanderer (emigrants):
   Click on "ABC-Listen" then Auswanderer

Joe Miller's Westphalia Genealogy Website (English & German):

Thomas A. Pick's Eifel Germany Birth and Marriage Data:

Pirmasens Genealogical Study Group:
  Which towns and villages belonged to which parishes?


The history of Saarland:

Veröffentlichungen des Heimatkundlichen Vereins Warndt:


Merzig-Wadern area - Vereinigung für die Heimatkunde im Landkreis Saarlouis e.V.:

From Etienne - Hefersweiler (zipcode 67753) is in the region called Palatinate (Pfalz), not far from the town Kaiserslautern. This region belongs to Germany, but was part of the French "Departement du Mont-Tonnerre" from 1801 to 1816.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Pfalz:

What is a Palatine?:

Official sites of the Cities & Towns of the Rheinland-Pfalz:

German Mail Lists:

Arbeitsgemeinschaft Pfalzisch-Rheinische Familienkunde (genealogical society of the Palatinate), Rotstr. 17 (Stadtarchiv), Ludwigshafen: Hours: Thu 2-6 or upon appt. (call 0621-523857). Membership includes quarterly, and 20% off society publications. Comprehensive collection of genealogies, family books (Ortssippenbucher), and local histories.

Landesarchiv Speyer, Otto-Mayer-Str. 9, Speyer. Pre-registration recommended. The central library of the Palatinate (Pfalzische Landesbibliothek) is housed in the same building; catalog: Useful local history bibliographies for towns and villages in Rheinland-Pfalz:

Landeshauptarchiv Koblenz:

Village Life in Kreis Saarburg, Germany:

Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently. - Henry Ford

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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Scottish Cowans Googlegroup

Rather than each of us writing to one another individually, I thought it would be a good idea to set up a Googlegroup for us. We can bring to the group whatever we find, and help each other sort out these Scottish Cowan lines. Once we have something coherant, we can bring that back to Cowan-L. Perhaps we can find enough male Cowan descendants from the various lines to get some excellent DNA data. To join up, see: If you know someone who should join, please pass the word along. See the group archives for some of what we already know, or think we know.

Google Groups
Browse Archives at

If you have made mistakes, there is always another chance for you. You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call 'failure' is not the falling down, but the staying down. - Mary Pickford

EmergingTech list has a wiki!

Friday, June 23, 2006

William Cowan settled in Delaware County, New York about 1825

Excerpt from Long Papers, posted on the Delaware County, NY - Genealogy and History Site

The poster says, "This book once belonged to my Grandfather Cecil Sanford, so I would like to dedicate this book not just in his memory but the memory of all my Grandfathers mentioned within this book. ... With regards, Tamara Sanford, December 12, 2002." It is not made clear whom the writer was, nor exactly when the papers were written - perhaps around 1925.


THIS WEEK I VISITED another farm where the family line has been continuous, and the land is still occupied by one of the direct descendants. There are four such families tip that branch of the valley: the Thomsons, the Cowans, the Archibalds, and the Millers. My visit was to the Cowan farm now owned by Andrew Cowan (presently owned by Harold Mead).

The homestead lies adjacent to, or is cut by, three roads and is one of the two farms which looks particularly smooth and well adapted to its purpose and it has been well farmed. With abundant water, it is naturally adapted to dairying, and the records of the testing association for the past year (1924) show that the business has been well followed.

The original lease or deed was from General Hermance, which particularly interested me as I had come across the name in the records and have been wishing to know what lands he might have held in this section. So far I have found that he probably owned the farms now possessed by Harry O'Connor, Thomas Ingles, and Andrew Cowan. The O'Connor farm was sold to Archibald Elliott in 1837 by Sally Hermance of Rhinebeck, who doubtless was the widow of General Hermance and probably one of the Livingston line.

The Cowan farm was settled by William Cowan about a century ago. We figured out the date from the children of Thomas Cowan, Thomas having taken the farm a few years afterward from his father. There were ten children, the youngest being the only one left, and he gave me the facts to figure with. The oldest one was Hannah Cowan, born in 1830 or 31, and as there must have been at least five or six years before Thomas Cowan could have married and settled on the place after it was cleared by his father, the first trees must have been cut as early as 1825.

Thomas Cowan came across from Scotland after his father, if I remember correctly. The ship in which he came drifted from its course, and he was compelled to winter in Prince Edward's Island just north of Nova Scotia. The following summer he came on to New York State and found employment at Catskill in a tannery, until his father transferred to him the farm he had started to clear.

The value of the incomers from the little island across the sea to our great country is well illustrated by this line. Strong, energetic, intelligent, whether in this immediate valley or in Weaver Hollow or the "Turnpike," they have "made good." I have "sponged" many a meal at their tables ending for the time just the other night when I sat at the board while I got material for my story. I shall not be sorry to try it again, especially if they have some more of the dried beef of the old-fashioned style, the kind I used to whittle off with my jackknife as it hung by the stove of course, when the housewife was not looking.

The older one of the family the last of the next older generation told me about how they used to "dip" candles. He said his mother used to fasten several pieces of wicking to a long stick, each long enough for a candle. Then she would melt up the tallow in the boiler as that was the only thing deep enough. The wicks would be well greased by hand so they would hang straight down, and then the whole line of them would be let down into the melted material and drawn out again. Then she would hand the stick with the candle beginnings to him to take into the cellar to cool for another layer while, I suppose, she dipped another string of them. Thus after several dippings enough grease would accumulate to make a good sized candle.

I remember hearing years ago that sometimes they had water in the boiler beneath the melted tallow, and asked him why, as I could never understand it, unless in some way the water helped to harden the tallow. "Why," said he, "that was because they had not enough tallow to fill the boiler, which would take an enormous quantity." And then I saw it plain enough and wondered why I had not guessed it before.

After supper I slipped up to the top of the ridge where the Roxbury road runs across to see if I could set my surveying compass on the old Desbrosses line and get its bearings. And coming down again I was charmed with the view which seemed like looking through an open door at the valley below and the mountains far beyond. It is quite unique and worth seeing.

And then after a look at the dairy and a good-bye, I jumped into the Ford and started for home, but was not able to forbear running out to where the two roads come together to see if I could get a better "squint" at the old line surveyed in 1776. And it seemed there in the hill quiet that I almost slipped back into the old days and was with the surveyors who ran the line 148 years ago this summer. I listened, but heard no sound, not even the tinkle of a cow bell to break the silence. And then there came suddenly a loud barking sharp and insistent. What could it be? Wolves? No, it was just "Neely" Sanford's milking machine and said to me plainly, "You are needed at home where there is a similar barking," and I "turned on the juice" and hustled.

There are many other interesting stories and mentions of some of the families the Cowans intermarried with on this page; well worth the time.

Hector Cowan Biography

Delaware County, NY Genealogy and History Site:

BIOGRAPHICAL REVIEW; 6th Section - pages 252 through 300

HECTOR COWAN, who died on July 4, 1878, at his home in the town of Stamford, N.Y., where he was an influential and valued citizen, was born here on October 2, 1824. His father, John Cowan, was a Scotchman, was born in the old country on June 4, 1798; and his mother, Helen Grant Cowan, was born two years later, September 15, 1800, in Stamford.

John Cowan's father, whose name was Hector, came to America with his wife at the beginning of the century, while John was only two years old, and settled in Stamford, on what is now known as the old Cowan farm, which he reclaimed from the wilderness, building a frame house, wherein he resided till his death, at ninety-three years of age, in 1843. The children on the emigrant Hector were as follows; James Cowan, born June 29, 1794; William, on August 3, 1796; John, in 1798; Isabella, on June 14, 1800- all before the emigration. Afterwards, in Stamford, came Mary, March 12, 1803; Agnes, July 1 1805; Andrew, December 13, 1808. Grandfather Cowan was an Elder in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian church in South Kortright. Politically, he was a Whig. He lost his wife when she was sixty years old, nearly thirty years before his own demise.

John Cowan grew up on his father's farm, and attended the district school, his educational opportunities being, however, very meager. In the course of years he purchased the homestead from the other heirs, and added thereto so largely that finally he owned six hundrend acres, and stood at the head of the agriculturists of this neighborhood. Not only was he his father's successor as a farmer, but as an Elder in the Kortright Parish. His marriage to Helen Grant took place on New Years's Day, 1824; and Grandfather Hector Cowan was greatly pleased the next autumn, when they named their first child after him, Hector. On September 18, 1826, came a sister Ann Eliza, and on December 11, 1830, another sister, Marietta; but all three have joined "the innumerable caravan," Ann Eliza on February 21, 1843, the same year with her grandfather, as above mentioned. Hector died in 1878, and Marietta in April, 1893.

Young Hector went to the local school, like his father before him, and likewise worked on the home farm, devoting himself wholly to agriculture. In 1851, November 5, at the age of twenty-seven, Hector Cowan married Helena Jane Rich, who was born on the Rich family homestead at South Kortright, the daughter of James and Helena [Marshall] Rich; and more particulars concerning her family may be found in the sketch in the volume of Mrs. Sarah Rich. Like his progenitors, Mr. Cowan took an active part in church affairs, and succeeded them as an office-bearer, holding the position of Ruling Elder. As they had been Whigs, so was he in sentiment, and cast his first vote for Taylor and Fillmore; but a few years later the Republican party arose, and he at once joined its fortunes. He was also influential in town affairs. At his death he left a widow and eleven children, eight of whom are still living.

The eldest of these, John A. Cowan, born in 1854, is a Stamford farmer and an Elder in the Presbyterian church in Hobart. Helena Cowan, born in 1856, married Dr. F. H. McNaught, of Denver, Col. Of James Rich Cowan more will be said presently. Robert F. Cowan, born in 1860, ia a Stamford farmer. Hector William Cowan, born in 1862 amid our Civil War, and named for his father and great-grandfather, is a Presbyterian clergyman in Lawrence, Kan.

Henry Marshall Cowan, born in 1864, resides on the ancestral acres. Charles Cowan was born in 1868, and lives in Stamford, unmarried; and so does Frank B. Cowan, born in 1870. The children no longer living in this world are: Thomas Rich Cowan, who died at the age of twelve; Stephen, at age seven; Annie, at four. Since the death of their father the large farm has been carried on by his widow, who owns it.

Of course she is aided by her efficent sons, but is herself a very capable manager, as well as a bright and intelligent woman. She is especially proud of her son, the Hon. James Rich Cowan, who bears her own family name.

The Hon. James R. Cowan was born on May 22, 1858. He was educated in the local school, like two generations of his ancestors, and then went to Stamford Seminary. He lived at home till his majority, and did not give up farming till the year 1891, having six hundred acres under his control. Like other farmers in the region, he gave special attention to cattle, having from seventy-five to one hundred. In politics he has been active being commissioned a Justice of Peace. In 1889 he was made Town Supervisior by the Republican party, and acting as chairman of the board the latter part of the time. In 1891 he was elected to the State Assembly, and served a term at Albany. The same year he was chosen President of the National Bank of Hobart, which has a capital of fifty thousand dollars; and this place he still fills, the Vice-President being Oscar I. Bennett, and the Cashier J.A. Scott. Mr. Cowan is still unmarried, and gives his main time and attention to finance. In religion, as well as politics, he retreads the inherited foorsteps, and ia a member of the United Presbyterian church in South Kortright. The Cowan homestead is a noble old place, the house standing amid fertile fields not far from the village of Hobart.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Cowan Burials in Bovina, Delaware Co. NY USA


Thanks, Jessica! I'm hoping that some of this information can allow us to find a y-DNA line to compare with my dad's test results. These should be descendants of James COWAN b. c1747 SCT d. ? through his son Andrew 1767-1836, b. Whitefield, Parish of Yarrow, County of Selkirk, Scotland, who came to the US in 1818, and settled in Fall Clove, Cabin Hill, Delaware Co. NY in 1819. Andrew is a brother of my Walter Cowan, who went to Upper Canada (Ontario, Canada) in 1832.

Delaware County, NY Genealogy and History Site

BOVINA BURIALS - 2006 Update Feb 8


New UP-05-11-04: DOIG, Isabella Gibson King. 1872-07-00 - 1914-09-02. KING, John Gibson; COWAN, Catherine Isabella. Robert William DOIG

Old UP: DOUGLAS, Adam . 1788-09-18 - 1880-06-08. DOUGLAS, ; . Elizabeth COWAN - 91y9m b.Scotland

New UP-05-26-05: DOUGLAS, Adam Cowan. 1868-07-08 - 1938-00-00. DOUGLAS, James; AINSLIE, Anna. Lillian C HARBY

Old UP: DOUGLAS, Elizabeth Cowan. 1794-12-21 - 1852-08-21. COWAN; . Adam DOUGLAS - 57y8m b.Scotland

New UP-05-26-02: DOUGLAS, James . 1823-01-18 - 1896-06-18. DOUGLAS, Adam; COWAN, Elizabeth. Anna AINSLIE

New UP-04-10-04: ELLIOTT, Jennet Douglas. 1835-03-05 - 1903-08-25. DOUGLAS, Adam; COWAN, Elizabeth. John E ELLIOTT

New UP-03-36-02: BIGGAR, Robert . 1838-09-03 - 1901-09-15. BIGGAR, Walter; COWAN, Janet. Isabella J MILLER

New UP-08-05-04: BIGGAR, Walter A. 1842-05-11 - 1910-02-06. BIGGAR, Walter; COWAN, Janet. Esther McEACHRON

New UP-06-42-03: COWAN, Addie Coulter Russell. 1870-08-15 - 1951-01-24. COULTER, James A; ROTERMOND, Mary. Frank A RUSSELL/Thomas COWAN - ? Gr 02

Old UP: COWAN, Isabella . 1839-08-10 - 1853-03-29. COWAN, Thomas; SCOTT, Margaret. x - 13y7m19d

New UP-10-32-04: COWAN, John J. 1846-00-00 - 1900-12-25. COWAN, ; . Mrs SHIELDS

Old RP: COWAN, William . 1762-00-00 - 1855-09-27. COWAN, ; . - b. Scotland

Brush: COWEN, Elisha . 1833-04-02 - 1834-08-09. COWEN, ; . x - 1y4m7d

New UP-05-11-02: DOIG, Catherine Mabel King. 1881-09-05 - 1944-04-02. KING, John Gibson; COWAN, Catherine Isabella. Robert William DOIG - Inter- Mabel King

Old RP: FRASER, Alexander . 1785-03-27 - 1862-09-07. FRASER, ; . Christina COWAN - 77y5m11d b.Scotland

New UP-04-37-03: GORDON, Mary J Oliver. 1850-04-12 - 1897-01-07. OLIVER, John; COWAN, Margaret. Thomas GORDON

New UP-08-20-01: MAYNARD, Archibald Falconer. 1829-11-14 - 1900-02-14. MAYNARD, Isaac; FALCONER, Jane. Jennie J COWAN

New UP-08-20-03: MAYNARD, George C. 1878-05-24 - 1881-02-01. MAYNARD, Archibald F; COWAN, Jennie J. x - 2y8m8d

New UP-08-20-05: MAYNARD, Infant Daughter. x - x. MAYNARD, Archibald F; COWAN, Jennie J. x - Infant

New UP-08-20-05: MAYNARD, Infant Son. x - x. MAYNARD, Archibald F; COWAN, Jennie J. x - Infant

New UP-08-20-04: MAYNARD, Jane I Cowan. 1849-01-29 - 1914-07-24. COWAN, Hector; NESBIT, Esther. Arch F MAYNARD

New UP-08-21-01: MAYNARD, William H. 1876-06-06 - 1937-00-00. MAYNARD, Archibald F; COWAN, Jennie J. Eva Belle SCOTT

New UP-02-27-03: MILLER, Kate Oliver. 1839-05-12 - 1892-07-22. OLIVER, John; COWAN, Margaret. Berry Shaw MILLER

New UP-02-02-04: RAITT, Mary A King. 1875-02-16 - 1926-11-17. KING, John Gibson; COWAN, Catherine Isabella. Thomas Andrew RAITT

New UP-02-41-02: RUSSELL, Elizabeth J Forrest. 1859-02-25 - 1932-00-00. FORREST, Robert J; BIGGAR, Elizabeth. William Cowan RUSSELL

New UP-02-41-01: RUSSELL, William Cowan. 1855-09-25 - 1934-05-04. RUSSELL, William; ORR, Jennett K. Elizabeth Jennie FORREST

New UP-03-07-03: STORIE, Alexander. 1814-03-20 - 1896-02-07. STORIE, William; McCUNE, Mary. Esther A COWAN

New UP-05-42-02: STORIE, Alexander Fremont. 1854-11-28 - 1915-08-15. STORIE, Alexander; COWAN, Esther A. A HASTINGS/Alice GREGORY - 61y

New UP-03-07-04: STORIE, Esther Cowan. 1821-11-01 - 1903-10-11. COWAN, James; MAYNARD, Miriam. Alexander STORIE

New UP-03-45-04: STORIE, John W. 1863-12-02 - 1944-02-04. STORIE, Alexander; COWAN, Esther A. Jennie LAIDLAW

New UP-03-07-01: STORIE, Myriam E. 1851-12-12 - 1862-10-29. STORIE, Alexander; COWAN, Esther A. x - 11y

New UP-03-07-02: STORIE, William . 1853-00-00 - 1862-10-21. STORIE, Alexander; COWAN, Esther A. x - 9y

Friday, June 16, 2006

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Service Members Memorial

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Service Members Memorial

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Service Members Memorial was established to honor and recognize those service members who have lost their lives in the line of duty. Gay service members make significant contributions to this country without due recognition, those who make the ultimate sacrifice deserve a place where their service and honor can be celebrated without denial or exclusion.

If you have lost a lesbian, gay or bisexual loved one to military conflict, consider adding their name to this memorial. If you have lost a dedicated soldier in service to their country, recognize not just their sacrifice but the fact that they were also gay. If you lost a partner in action add their name here where your grief will be duly recognized.

Contact us at or (805) 893-5664 to submit the name of your loved one to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Service Members Memorial.

Sponsored by the Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military and the GLBT Historical Society. CSSMM is an official research unit at the University of California, Santa Barbara and its mission is to promote the study of gays, lesbian and other sexual minorities in the armed forces.

More information is available at: .

The GLBT Historical Society collects, preserves, and interprets the history of GLBT people and the communities that support them. They sponsor exhibits and programs on an on-going basis. The archives of the GLBTHS is one of the world's largest collections of primary source materials about GLBT history.

Allison Lusero Hoffman
Assistant Director
Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military University of California, Santa Barbara
Phone: 303-458-0592
Fax: 720-941-3968

Sunday, June 11, 2006

World War Two Aerial Pictures Go Online

According to an article in Eastman's latest newsletter,
Online RAF Photos of the U.K.:

(The following article is from Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter and is copyright 2006 by Richard W. Eastman. It is re-published here with the permission of the author. Information about the newsletter is available at: offers an opportunity for genealogists, historians and others the ability to track down an ancestor's now demolished neighbourhood or learn how their area has changed and developed.

The imagery derived from RAF photographic sheets that were previously subject to censorship - with many military sites removed or clouds painted over secret installations - can be seen in their entirety thanks to the efforts made into uncovering the MOD sites and replacing the censored material. This extensive research, undertaken by's partner, The GeoInformation Group, means the records now provide a breadth of detail not accessible via traditional offline resources.

Spokesperson, Christine Bool, says: "The growing interest in local history and genealogy has given us added impetus to make this fascinating historic photography available to a wider audience, and provide an insight into wartime and postwar Britain. For example it is possible to see military bases in certain city parks, docks full of steam powered shipping and northern factories belching out smoke from brick chimneys. The comparison with modern Britain is startling."

Users can search by town, village, postcode or map grid reference. Imagery can be previewed for free, with more detailed photos available to purchase.

You can see the aerial photos at

Do you have comments, questions or corrections to this article? If so, please post your words at

According to this Guardian article,
Unique aerial photographs of the some of the key events of the Second World War are to be made available for the first time over the internet.

The entire archive of more than five million aerial reconnaissance photographs, shot by the RAF over Western Europe during the conflict, is going online.

They include American troops landing on the Normandy beaches on D-Day, the seizure of the Pegasus bridge by British paratroops, the aftermath of the first 1,000 bomber raid on Cologne, and the German battleship Bismarck as the Royal Navy hunted her down.

There is also a photograph showing thick clouds of smoke pouring from Auschwitz concentration camp during the final months of the war." The site, called The Aerial Reconnaissance Archives, can be found here:

Related material: German Aerial Reconnaissance Maps 1940-1944 (US Captured) at "NARA II" (that's NARA "2"), Address: National Archives and Records Administration, Third Floor, 8601 Adelphia Rd, College Park, MD 20740. Email:

Captured Still Photographs (reconnaisance)
Address: NARA II at College Park: Special Media, 8601 Adelphia Road, College Park MD 20740-6001
Phone: 301.837.3530. For additional information, fill out contact form at, and provide the names of shtetl, town or village with the country name.

Perhaps the real reason the modern liberal so disdains the 2nd amendment, and so loves the 1st, is that the 2nd protects our right to take action in defense of liberty, while the 1st protects our right to talk about it. - Phil Nelson, quoting Steve Tell

Friday, June 09, 2006

Vital Records

England & Wales
FreeBMD - Civil Registration index of Births, Marriages, Deaths (England & Wales) - images now available!:


Queensland, Australia: Birth, Marriage, and Death Records 1829-1914:

United States

InfoAviator is a way to access free online public records, from the Federal to local level. Search by locality, not surname.

US Social Security Death Index:
    Ancestry's SSDI:
Family Tree Magazine says: "Pearl Street Software, the makers of Family Tree Legends, launched a new free Social Security Death Index (SSDI) search engine at The SSDI, generated by the US Social Security Administration (SSA), holds valuable genealogical information—including name, birth and death dates, Social Security number and last-known residence—for all Americans who possessed Social Security numbers and whose deaths were reported to the SSA after 1936. Like other online SSDI search engines, Family Tree Legends' version lets you look for relatives by name and social security number and last residence. It also boasts two unique—and especially useful—features: an age-at-death search and a year-range search, which means you don't have to know the exact year someone died." (

New England Ancestors is now keeping a FREE up-to-date SSDI available:

Steve Morse makes it possible to search 5 different versions of the SSDI here:

Rootsweb's Guide to Tracing Family Trees -- Using the SSDI:

Public Records Online Directory is a Portal to official state web sites, and those Tax Assessors' and Recorders' offices that have developed web sites for the retrieval of available public records over the internet. For example, some Recorders' offices have marriage and birth records available online. Although not every county and parish has data online, many have home pages, and where neither is available a phone number has been provided:

Early Birth Records (197225 births):

Arizona births 1887-1928, deaths 1878-1953, certificates as PDF files:

California Births 1905-1995, 24 million records:
   (Username vitalguest, password enjoy, or use:
San Francisco, California Genealogy:
Nice gateway to Northern CA research:
Early California Population Project (ECPP) - sacramental register index (baptismal, marriage, and death records) from California's 21 missions, 110,000 Californians between 1769 -1850:

Colorado State Archives: Online Indexes - unique items, such as voter registrations, Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Enrollment Index, inheritance tax, and old-age pensions. Indexes and search:

Indiana Marriages through 1850 (and much, much more):

Western States Historical Marriage Record Index:

Early Utah Marriages (1851-1884):§ionid=9&id=56&Itemid=82

Death Records Search:

Arizona Deaths 1878-1953:

California Deaths, 1940-1997:
   Los Angeles County Burial Permits 1870-1892:

Illinois Death Certificates, 1916-1950:
  Genealogy in the Illinois State Archives:

Kentucky Deaths, 1911-2000 (2,921,383 records) :
Kentucky Vital Records Project (79,869 death records; actual D.C.s online):
Also see Kentucky Vital Records Index which also has divorces:

Maine Deaths, 1960-1997:

Maryland Deaths 1898-1944:

Massachusetts Death Index 1841-1910:

Michigan Genealogical Death Indexing System, 1867-1897:

Michigan Marriages (Dibean Michigan Marriage Index):

Minnesota Birth Certificate Index 1900-1907:
Minnesota Death Certificates, 1907-1996:

Missouri Birth & Death Records Database:

Montana Deaths:

New Mexico Death Index 1899-1940:

New York City Death Records Search 1891-1911:
New York State Vital Records:

Ohio Death Certificates, 1913-1937:

Oregon Historical Records Index:

South Dakota Birth Records:

Tennessee Vital Records:

Texas Deaths 1964-1998:
  Texas Vital Records FAQ:

Utah Death Certificates 1905-1954 (250,000+ records):

West Virginia Vital Records:
   Registration is required, but free; actual records can be examined

Wisconsin Vital Records before 1907:

US Vital Records Information:

Public Record Locator:

It's always worth checking with your county or state of interest in USGenWeb, Often volunteers have births, deaths, marriages, cemetery, divorce, and other records.

Evidence and Sources--And How They Differ:

Vital Records in the United States:

Beware of Secondary Sources!:

Tombstones are Secondary Sources:

Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, these ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance. - Robert F. Kennedy

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Monday, June 05, 2006

Death Records - Obituaries, Biographies & Tombstones

Online Searchable Death Indexes USA:

The Virtual Cemetery:

Find A Grave: - Cemetery Transcription Library:

US Genweb Tombstone Transcription Project:

Obituaries & Biographies:

Obituary Daily Times:

$$$ GenealogyBank is digitizing the U.S. Congressional Serial Set, which contains obituaries of naval personnel who passed away in the previous year:

Farber Gravestone Collection:
Over 13,500 images documenting the sculpture on more than 9,000 gravestones, most of which were made prior to 1800, in the Northeastern part of the United States. The late Daniel Farber of Worcester, Massachusetts, and his wife, Jessie Lie Farber, were responsible for the largest portion of the collection. This online version of the Farber Gravestone Collection is sponsored by the American Antiquarian Society.

Jewish Cemetery Association of Massachusetts has placed 55,000 burial records of the association's more than 100 cemeteries online:
   Click on "Services," > "Genealogical Search," enter the name (or first four letters of surname), then SEARCH. If available, name, burial location, name of cemetery, street name, and date of death will be displayed for each successful match. Of course, this is only an index!

$$$ Obituary Collection & Obituary Hunter:

Obituary Search Engines:

Chicago Tribune Historical Archive:

Index to 250,000 Sandusky County, Ohio obituaries, 1830s-now: (obits are for sale, however, it can be used as a free index)

America's Obituaries & Death Notices:
  The login "guest" no longer works. I have free access through my public library, however. If you do not, and would like a lookup, please contact me at valorie dot zimmerman at gmail dot com.

Seventh-day Adventist Periodical & Obituary Index:

Pages of the Past 1895-2001 - Toronto Star:
   Pay site; search for year and surname to find obituaries or death notices

Ontario Obituaries:

WWII Casualty lists (also Guion-Miller Roll Index & Index to the Final Rolls (Dawes):

Genealogical research at NARA:

Political Graveyard: - American political biographies; 120,948 politicians, living and dead.

Looking for a famous person, but you don't know if they are still with us? Dead or will answer your question.

Eventually I'll sort these all out better, into separate posts, but until then, also see: Obituaries (keep scrolling down, there is more!), and Vital Records.


How beautiful the body is .... How terrible when torn. The little flame of life sinks lower and lower and, with a flicker, goes out. It goes out like a candle goes out. Quietly and gently. It makes its protest at extinction, then submits. It has its say, then is silent. - Dr Henry Norman Bethune, Thoracic and Military Surgeon and pioneer of blood transfusion on the battlefield

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Friday, June 02, 2006

Create a Surname List

Why would you go to the work of creating a surname list, for a rare surname? I feel that it is worth the work, especially if there are few other resources available. I've googled for some of my rare surnames, and found hardly ANYTHING. Imagine a brand-new researcher in the same position; they might just give up. Newbies don't know how important the locality is; they just know the surname, and hopefully, some dates. I started with two lists, for my mother's father and my mother's mother's surnames. Once I had my feet wet, and felt these lists were well started, I couldn't wait to start more! Now, look at all my lists: If you are there for your cousin researchers, whenever they happen along, they will be there for you, too. And they may just have the key to your locked door somewhere in their attic.

Start a Message Board as a companion for each list, as well. More people will find the boards than will ever find the lists. The boards I administer:

How do you start a list? Decide on exactly what your list will cover, and write a concise description. Look at the description of some of your favorite surname lists here: Of course, be sure that the list you want doesn't already exist! If it already exists, but seems "dead" -- no posts in the archives for months or even years, perhaps its listowner has lost interest, or even died! Write to '' (with the actual name of the list, no -L, no -D) and ask what's going on, and if you can help in any way. If that email bounces, ask the HelpDesk to find out for you whether that list should be "orphaned." Once it is orphaned, you will be able to 'adopt' it, rather than creating a new one. But you've checked, and there is no list for Schnicklefritz, so request it at You will hear back in a week or two, depending on staff workload. Once your list has been created, you will get an email from John Fuller, asking about how your list should be described. Remember that list description? Make sure his suggested text matches what you had in mind, and be sure to answer that email. He will make sure that your list is 1) announced in Rootsweb Review, 2) Listed on his website, Genealogy Resources on the Internet 3) correctly described in the List Index, and 4) announced on the New-GenList-L. Those four listings will get you your first subscribers, plus of course you will want to write to any fellow researcher-cousins you already know. Make a wonderful invitation letter, because you'll be sending it out a LOT. And make sure you keep track of whom you invite -- people do NOT list to be spammed! They may not have time right now to subscribe, but perhaps will file your invitation for action at a later time. Don't take it personally. Your list will eventually have just the right number of people subscribed.

Once the first flood (or trickle) of new subscribers has slowed down, though, what's next? How about challenging your members to post data to the Message Board? When people think hard, they realize that they have Bible records, Pensions, Wills and so forth already transcribed and in text files. When I point out that 1) posting them to the boards is a great back up and 2) will help them find cousins, they usually pitch right in and start posting. Ask them to write good clear subject lines, and index the surnames in each post. They can attach scans of the document to the MB post, so that others can help figure out bad handwriting and the like. The boards are gatewayed to the lists, so everybody gets to see the data this way, even people who have not yet subscribed to the list. Those how have access to good databases of obituaries, might search for obits and post them on the board. Again, good surname indexing is important. Often wills, pensions, old newspaper articles, county history biographies and obituaries have been put into the USGenWeb Archives. These can be posted to the boards too, with a proper link to the original file.

One of the best way to get a list going is to find some new subscribers. You can find prospective list members in the RSL (Rootsweb Surname List:, and through web searches. Finding new members was the reason I created webpages for each list -- to find the ones who are using the search engines. I use the search engines too, and when I find suitable content, I write to the webmaster to ask permission to post all or part of one of a page, and also invite them to check out the list (I include a link to the page for each list), and invite them to either subscribe or at least post on our Message Board. I usually add their site to the appropriate Resource page at Rootsweb too, if one exists for that surname.

The webpages for each list have a link to my List Rules, which are a bit long. I figure not many people read them when they are sent out in the Welcome Messages, but they can always be referred to later. I can still point to them as THE list rules.

If you have a REALLY rare surname, you may get discouraged. Sometimes you can't find any subscribers, and sometimes your list members just won't post. However, the only list that is DEAD is the list where nobody posts -- nobody at all. If the listowner or other single poster is the only one posting, it isn't dead -- it's just lonely. :-)

Never give up on your list as long as you are doing research. Every time you come across an exciting new resource on the web, tell your list about it, and maybe even list all of that surname you find there. Remember to use the Message Board The MBs are great in their own right, but are simply tremendous used in conjunction with a list, especially a rare surname list. You will have folks posting data and queries on your Message Board that will never subscribe to your list, because the information they have to offer is tangential to their main research.

If you have the MB gatewayed to your list, however, all of your subscribers get the queries and data from the board, as well as what they contribute on the list alone. You can cruise the web looking for births, marriages, burials, Bible transcriptions, wills, pensions, biographies, and so forth, and post them to the boards.

It may seem lonely, being the only person posting, but eventually, you will build up such a rich archive of material, ALL of the researchers of your surname will be drawn to your list. None of that effort is wasted. All I research is rare surnames, and I have lists and boards for most of them. I've followed my own advice, and believe me, it really does work. Almost all of my lists are GREAT, and have a solid base of researchers doing very high quality research. They are not afraid to challenge one another by posting yet another piece of data, and we are really making progress on some very obscure lines.

Never give up! Inspire yourself by finding a new database somewhere, and share your good news with your fellow researchers. Eventually you will wake them up.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Immigration and Emigration

Emigration & Immigration Research Outline at

Ellis Island: has the records online for 1892-1924. 22 million immigrants, passengers, and crew members came through Ellis Island and the Port of New York. Use Stephen Morse's forms to search if you can't find them with the standard search engine. These sites are free and open to all.

NEW! I've just found about a wonderful way to extend your use of the site. Megan Smolenyak says that to the left of the certificate, at the bottom of the menu are "View Annotations" and "Create an Annotation." She says:
If you click on "View Annotations," you'll find yourself in the Community Archives, which includes the annotation I contributed. By clicking on my name, you'll see a number of additional details I entered.... All of these are pre-set fields, so all you have to do is a little typing.

At this point, there is no field for your e-mail address, so I suggest making use of the fields you would otherwise leave empty to provide this information. For instance, I used the "religious
community" field to indicate how I could be contacted.

Eventually, the annotations themselves will be made directly searchable. That's not the case at present, but anyone who does a conventional search for the passenger arrival records of the same
people as you can find your notes appended.
   Stephen Morse's One-Step Ellis Island Search Forms:

Megan Smolenyak's case history using the EIDB - Finding Knute Rockne in the Ellis Island Database:

Before Ellis Island, there was Castle Garden. The records from 1830-1892 are now searchable; 10 million records:

The best way to search Ellis Island, Castle Garden, and other ports of entry, is through the forms at

The Massachusetts Archives is indexing a million immigrants who came through Boston 1848-1891:

Finding Passenger Lists 1820-1940s (arrivals at US Ports):


Passenger Ship Arrivals:

CIMO - Cimorelli Immigration Manifests Online:

Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild (ISTG):
   More than 5,000 ships' passenger lists, citing over 1/2 million passenger arrivals.

NARA - Immigration Records (Ship Passenger Arrival Records):

Coming soon - Records of 30 million passengers on thousands of ships sailing to destinations worldwide., in association with The National Archives, is proud to present Ancestorsonboard, a new database featuring BT27 Outward Passenger Lists for long-distance voyages leaving the British Isles from 1960 right back to 1890. With Ancestorsonboard, you can search for records of individuals or groups of people leaving for destinations including Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, South Africa and USA featuring ports such as Boston, Philadelphia and New York. Passengers include not only immigrants and emigrants, but also businessmen, diplomats and tourists. Images of the passenger lists will be available to download, view, save and print. This will be a pay site, but inexpensive.

Finding Irish - the Missing Friends database:

The St. Louis Naturalization Index Cards 1816-1906:

The project has a great collection of Immigration links on their Cool Links system:
   Be sure to check the subcategories, too: Harbors, Algeria, Canada, France, Germany, Hungary, Mexico, Russia, USA

Emigration from/through Bremen and Bremerhaven 1820-1939 - Deutsche Auswanderer-Datenbank (DAD):

Bremen Passenger Lists, 1920-1939 -about 635 000 passengers are listed. Can be searched by name, date of departure, destination harbors and home towns of the passengers:

Hamburg passenger list partly online here: and at Ancestry. may search some other websites too; his site should be your first stop.

Die Maus - Familienforschung in Bremen:

French Emigration Indexes:

Olive Tree's Ship Passenger Lists:

Immigration & Ships Passenger Lists Research Guide:

Passenger Lists on the Internet:

Ship Samuel Intro Page:

Mariners Museum in Newport News, VA (ship photos):

British National Maritime Museum in Greenwich:


Emigration / Ship Lists and Resources:

Passenger List for the Winthrop Fleet of 1630 (11 ships); the Lyon 1632; the Griffin, 1634; the Planter, 1635; the Angel Gabriel, 1635 (partial); the Confidence, 1638; the Martin, 1638:

Ship Passenger Lists: Immigrants from Alsace (and Elsewhwere) to America 1820-1850:

Jacques de Guise's Virtual Tour on Emigration (emphasis on emigration from the Alsace):

New! Immigration to Canada from early 19th century to the Second World War:
   Includes passenger lists, loyalist research tool, and 11,400 files on Jewish, Ukrainian and Finnish immigrants who came to Canada from the Russian Empire.

Canadian Immigration: Also see: - searchable database that collects and analyzes migration data:

Immigrant Ancestors Project:
Work in progress, sponsored by Brigham Young University's Center for Family History and Genealogy, uses emigration records in emigrant home countries to locate the birthplaces of immigrants which are missing on many port records and naturalization documents in arrival countries. Volunteers working with scholars and researchers at Brigham Young University are creating a database of millions of immigrants based on these emigration records. Available in English, Spanish, Italian, German, Portugues, and French.
Sometimes the Naturalization record can lead to finding the immigration record. See

Books - They Came In Ships: A Guide to Finding Your Immigrant Ancestor's Arrival Record by John P. Colletta, PH.D. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, Third Edition, 2002. ISBN 091648937X.

Queens of the Western Ocean by Carl C. Cutler. History of ship-building and its evolution in the United States. Tables of specific ships, captains (masters), dates and ports of arrival.

Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago. - Bernard Berenson

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