Posted by: Laura Aanenson | December 19, 2014

Chicago Woman Died of Alcoholism

A 32 year old woman died of alcoholism at the county hospital according to the front page of the December 20, 1894 issue of the Chicago Daily News:

Chicago Daily News December 20, 1894 pg 1

Chicago Daily News
December 20, 1894 pg 1


Posted by: Laura Aanenson | December 17, 2014

12 Horses Die in a Chicago Fire

The following tiny article from the December 20, 1894 issue of the Chicago Daily News made me cringe. Those poor animals!

Chicago Daily News December 20, 1894 pg 1

Chicago Daily News
December 20, 1894 pg 1


Posted by: Laura Aanenson | December 16, 2014

6 Easy Steps to Find Cousins on Ancestry

2014 12-16This is the time of year that makes us think about our family members. I’m not just talking about the live ones, although living relatives can be helpful.

Family history researchers know there is no better time than now to connect to the dead through the living.

Whether you’re enjoying your last few 2014 vacation days or you’re stranded inside because of snow, consider connecting with cousins who are related to your ancestors with these six easy steps:

Update your Member Profile

  • This is your public face on Ancestry. When prospective cousins seek you out, this is the first page in the Book of You. Was it written by e.e. cummings? You don’t have to be a Rhodes scholar, but in genealogy, attention to detail is kind of important. Do run-on sentences, lack of punctuation and spelling errors abound? Worse yet, do you have NOTHING on your profile page? As a prospective cousin, what am I to think? There is a person (gender unknown) on Ancestry that posted some AMAZING things about a direct line ancestor about which I would LOVE to talk with him/her. The member name is a code of some kind and the entire profile page is blank. If you want to connect with cousins on line, put out the welcome mat.

Keep your online trees current

  • This is a time-challenge for me too, so I empathize. There’s only so much time in the day for this hobby of ours. But in the same way your Member Profile reflects your interest in and knowledge about your family history research, your trees provide that link to others hanging on the same branch. I try to check on one or two ancestors every time I log on to Ancestry, making sure the information online matches that on Family Tree Maker. Think of your online tree as cousin bait – the fresher the bait, the better your chance of snagging a new family member.

Visit message boards

  • The genealogical world has become a tech-savvy place of late, but we do still need to connect with other people. Especially those researching the same geographic areas in which we’re interested. I got caught up in several lengthy conversations recently (as a lurker – remember those Rootsweb mailing lists?) about the connection between two countries in Western Europe and learned a few new tidbits that will come in handy later on. Browse a little when you have a moment, you may be surprised at what you find. Like this interactive map I recently acquired. Lurking can pay off in bigger and better ways too. When I recently saw another researcher interested in the same surname, in the same place and at the same time as my ancestors – I knew I had a cousin connection.

Visit the Learning Center

  • You probably already know everything about everything genealogy-related, but I found some helpful information about reading old handwriting on the Help-FAQ page of the Learning Center tab here. In the Learning Center, you can Ask the Community which connects you with other researchers and prospective cousins. Watch for mentions of geographic areas of interest and surnames that are also in your family tree. At the bottom of the page are links to “Answers others found helpful”. Check out the side bar and the box that allows you to Visit the Ancestry Learning Center.

Click on Every Shaking Leaf

  • One of my favorite cousin connections started with a shaking leaf on a collateral ancestor about whom I already knew everything. :)  Seriously, I didn’t learn anything new about the person with the shaking leaf, but holy cannoli!  I learned a ton about one of his collateral lines. And that lead me to a cousin with pictures. PICTURES! Don’t shake a stick at shaking leaves – at the very least, take a quick peek and see if there’s anything new.

Watermark your photographs

  • It’s possible other researchers on Ancestry find my blog address stretched across my pictures annoying, but how else can I make encourage those prospective connections to contact me? If you are interested enough to put my photos in your tree, we must be related in some way. Why else would you want those pictures? And if we’re related, however distantly, I’d really like to compare notes with you.

After all, isn’t connecting with cousins what genealogy is all about?

Posted by: Laura Aanenson | December 15, 2014

Funeral at Chicago’s Rose Hill Cemetery

“Prominent business and professional men from all parts of Chicago and from several other cities were present” at the funeral of John Worthy according to this article from the December 15, 1894 issue of the Chicago Daily News:

Chicago Daily News December 15, 1894 pg 2

Chicago Daily News
December 15, 1894 pg 2


Posted by: Laura Aanenson | December 14, 2014

1894 Obituaries: December 10

The following deaths were mentioned on page 2 of the December 10, 1894 issue of the Chicago Daily News; John Lawrence Conley, John J. Egan, Johanna O’Connor and Edward Wegforth:

Chicago Daily News December 10, 1894 pg 2

Chicago Daily News
December 10, 1894 pg 2


Page 9 of the same paper contained part two of two of the obituaries reported in the December 10, 1894 issue of the Chicago Daily News; Ida Allers, Joseph Bechmier, Mabel Clifford, George Conrad, Phillip Dorsheimer, Mrs. Robert Elliott (nee McCane), Bryan Ginley, C. H. Henry, Barbara Junius, John Kane, Margaret Laflin, Richard Moll, Addie Ferry Neely, Catherine Sullivan, William Steiner, Catherine Springsguth, Thomas Schanstien, Charles O. Von Berner and Mary Byron Walsh:

Chicago Daily News December 10, 1894 pg 9

Chicago Daily News
December 10, 1894 pg 9


Posted by: Laura Aanenson | December 13, 2014

Surname Saturday: Tolf

Surname Saturday - TolfI come from a long line of Tolfs. And that’s quite an accomplishment for a Swede!

You see, genealogists researching in Scandinavian countries generally encounter the patronymic naming practice early on. Since Tolf was the first name I added to my family tree, I was fortunate not to have the extra challenge of ever-changing surnames.

According to, Tolf was not a common name in America in 1920:

2014 12-13 Tolf on Ancestry Map

There are 12 generations of Tolf ancestors in my family tree beginning with:

  • My maternal grandmother Harriette Kathlyn TOLF born 1909 in Chicago, Cook, Illinois to
  • Harry Willhelm TOLF (and Julia Christine THOMPSON) born 1884 in Batavia, Kane, Illinois to
  • Peter August TOLF* (and Augusta Sophia LANDSTROM) born 1858 in Svenarum, Jönköping, Sweden to
  • Carl TOLF* (and Helena Christina ÅMAN*) born 1824 in Svenarum, Jönköping, Sweden to
  • Carl Jonas TOLF (and Maja Lisa LIDSTROM) born 1795 in Lindefors bruk, Svenarum, Jönköping, Sweden to
  • Carl TOLF (and Helena Jonasdotter WIDERBERG) born 1767 in Svenarum, Jönköping, Sweden to
  • Johan Carlsson TOLF (and Ingrid CARLSDOTTER) born 1744 in Byarum, Sweden to
  • Carl Carlsson TOLF (and Sara Lisa JACOBSDOTTER) born 1713/14 in Sweden to
  • Carl Persson TOLF (and Karin BENGTSDOTTER) born 1676/7 Svennevad parish, Narke, Sweden to
  • Per Larsson TOLFEN (and Karin NILSDOTTER) born about 1640 in Sweden to
  • Lars TOLFSSON (and Karin) born about 1600 in Sweden to
  • Kolare TOLF (and Sigrid) born about 1575 in Sweden.

*my immigrant ancestors settled in Batavia, Kane, Illinois in 1878

Does the surname TOLF appear in your family tree? Perhaps we’re related!
Please email me at where2look4ancestors [at] gmail [dot] com

Surname Saturday is a blog prompt suggested by Geneabloggers.

Posted by: Laura Aanenson | December 11, 2014

Chicago Marriage Licenses Issued in 1894

26 marriage licenses were issued recently in the city of Chicago. The December 10, 1894 issue of the Chicago Daily News listed the names of the soon-to-be-married on page two:

Chicago Daily News December 10, 1894 pg 2

Chicago Daily News
December 10, 1894 pg 2


Posted by: Laura Aanenson | December 9, 2014

Late in Life Lovebirds

John Glader and Mrs. Louise Haase found love late in life as reported on page 1 of the December 10, 1894 issue of the Chicago Daily News.

Chicago Daily News December 10, 1894 pg 1

Chicago Daily News
December 10, 1894 pg 1

Posted by: Laura Aanenson | December 7, 2014

1894 Obituaries: December 5

The following names of recently deceased persons appeared on page 13 of the December 5, 1894 issue of the Chicago Daily News; Ella Quill, John William Berg, Ella Blaney, Patrick Cotter, Bridget Daly, Bridget Kearns, Annie V. Kane, Ida Mueller, F. Mahlman and Eliza Spence. See the image below for complete obituaries.

Chicago Daily News December 5, 1894 pg 13

Chicago Daily News
December 5, 1894 pg 13

Posted by: Laura Aanenson | December 5, 2014

Fun with Genealogy Files Part 2

I recently told you I had taken the first step in an enormous and overwhelming home office reorganization project.

My goal is to have all my genealogy files organized before the end of 2015. As I mentioned in Fun with Genealogy Files Part 1, space is of the essence. Smaller spaces work best when as the saying goes, there is a place for everything and everything is in its place.

And, surprisingly, I have already reaped results from Step One! That definitely inspired me to take another step toward my lofty goal.

Remember my first step? I created place holders (hanging files and manila file folders) for each of my direct line ancestors. This established a specific place toward which all loose papers could be directed.

Better, but far from done.

Better, but far from perfect.

But the goal isn’t to just shuffle those loose papers around. I need to establish long term storage for every family tree-related document that is worth saving.

Toward that end I’ll make liberal use of cloud storage. Both my hard copy files and my cloud storage have to house my genealogy records in such a way that I can retrieve any item in mere minutes. And immediately know the next step to take when researching each ancestor.

So, I would need to decide which documents are worth saving. And for whom. And then figure out how to save them.

I started by revisiting my Genealogy at a Glance spreadsheet.

Genealogy at a Glance spreadsheet sorted alphabetically by maiden name

GaaG spreadsheet sorted by maiden name

As you may recall at the end of Step One, I felt Step Two was obvious: I needed virtual place holders for each of my direct line ancestors that matched my hard file place holders.

No problem I thought, I already have those folders started.

Oh no, it's another project!

Oh no, it’s another project!

But when I opened my Family Tree folder in Dropbox, my shoulders sagged. I was faced with a mess created years ago while merging old and new computers. That included naming folders with crazy suffixes to avoid inadvertently deleting important files. To make matters worse, I had also created folders that shouldn’t exist.

Folders that shouldn’t exist? Allow me to explain.

If you’ve been involved in family history research for any length of time, you know one clue equals at least ten pieces of paper. Resource notes, letters, documents, hints, clues, dead ends, false starts, records and more accumulate in mere seconds. Some will need to be reviewed at a later date. Sometimes the later date brings a different thought process, and soon there are multiple files that all basically serve the same purpose.

But ultimately every piece of paper boils down to a specific leaf on the branches of your family tree, right? When I think about my genealogical next steps, they nearly always stem from a particular ancestor.

Which meant that “Correspondence” file pictured above housed many unrelated items. Items like a form requesting copies of a probate file, a congratulations-on-the-new-baby-please-send-vitals letter to a cousin, a follow-up letter regarding photos loaned to an uncle. Their only similarity is that they all relate to someone in my family tree.

So… the probate file request, the new baby vitals, and the photo-related letter should each be filed with the person to whom the form relates. The person is the reason I’ll think of those items. “When did I request the probate file for Jacob Mueller? What address did I put on the letter to cousin Sue? What photos did I lend to Uncle Tim?

At this point in the process I have to ignore files that don’t bear a direct line ancestor’s surname. It’s hard to do because I really want to clean up the mess I created!

FIRST I needed to create virtual place holders for each of my direct line ancestors to match my hard file place holders. I started with the alphabetical list of maiden names on my Genealogy at a Glance Spreadsheet.

One by one I created a folder for every name on my spreadsheet. It went faster than you might think and the finished product looks so pretty!

Such pretty folders!

Such pretty folders!

Okay, okay – I know only the top row looks pretty. :) But real progress is being made, I’m another step closer to my goal, and I know what I have to do next.

I’ll share that next step in an upcoming edition of Fun with Genealogy Files!

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