Posted by: Laura Aanenson | August 23, 2016

Applying Advanced Genealogy Research Techniques

It’s time to get serious about my family history research.

Particularly when it comes to breaking down a brick wall that is preventing me from getting across the pond.

51FHmpBfwoL._SX402_BO1,204,203,200_Toward that end, for the past few weeks I’ve been devouring reading George G. Morgan and Drew Smith’s book Advanced Genealogy Research Techniques. A book I highly recommend btw.

And now I’m ready to put some of their suggestions to the test.

First, please allow me to share the Reader’s Digest version of my dilemma:

My 2nd great-grandfather Jacob Koebe Mueller was born in Switzerland 11 Aug 1844. He immigrated to the U.S. in 1866, married my 2nd great-grandmother 28 Nov 1874, became a father 22 Sep 1879, had a second child 14 Sep 1882, and in 1891 he bought a newly constructed house in Chicago’s Englewood community.

Jacob’s wife Elise died 29 Dec 1901. He and daughter Alma remained in their family home until Jacob’s death 17 Oct 1910. He is buried in Section F-5, Lot 227 of Oak Woods Cemetery.

Alma was listed as the informant on Jacob’s death certificate. She and her brother Alfred [my great-grandfather] were named executors of Jacob’s will and as such sold the Englewood home shortly after Jacob’s death. Alma later married and moved to Elgin, roughly 50 miles northwest of her childhood home.

So I know a little about Jacob and his life, right?

Although I know quite a lot about Jacob after he was married to my second great-grandmother, I know almost nothing about his life before then. Did Jacob have siblings? Did they and/or his parents immigrate to the U.S. too? And from what town in Switzerland did Jacob hail? Until I learn the name of his birthplace, Jacob’s life in Switzerland will remain a mystery.

I could follow the research plan a member of the Swiss list on Rootsweb helped me develop:

2016 08-21 Research Plan for Jacob Mueller

But it would be a pretty challenging undertaking as not all the records I need to review are available online or through the Family History Library.

And while I was reading Advanced Genealogy Research Techniques [AGRT] it occurred to me that in my zeal to locate Jacob’s place of birth, I had done only rudimentary research on Jacob’s son Alfred. And Alfred you may recall, is my great-grandfather. Hmm, maybe it’s time to back up a little and get to know Alfred.

On pages 14 and 15 of AGRT, George and Drew suggest their readers “Gather All the Evidence You have Collected”, “Organize Everything Sequentially”, “Reread Everything” and “Compile a Timeline”.

I decided to sort of merge all these steps into one large project, culminating in a timeline for my great-grandfather’s life.

The example shown on pages 17-21 of AGRT begins before the beginning. Or rather, starts before the subject does, with the existence of the subject’s parents. So that’s where Alfred’s spreadsheet begins, with the marriage of his parents 28 Nov 1874, nearly five years before he was born.

Scan_20160821 (2)

Yay, already I have a sourcing “opportunity”! There is a story behind finding my second great-grandparents’ formerly elusive marriage certificate.

And I’ll share that story on the next Timeline Tuesday. See you then!

Posted by: Laura Aanenson | August 22, 2016

Happy Birthday Little Sister

Happy Birthday Liz

Posted by: Laura Aanenson | August 18, 2016

Not Buried Here

I come across something unique in nearly every cemetery I visit.

Cenotaphs (monuments erected in honor of a person buried elsewhere) exist in many graveyards.


The cenotaph above was particularly interesting to me because of the wonderful genealogical clues it offers.

A family historian may have stumbled upon this memorial, as I did, in Bluff City Cemetery in Elgin, Illinois. And assumed as I might have at first glance, that Mr. McCredie was buried there.

The message on this headstone tells us not only William’s final resting place, but also (just by it’s location) that he is in some way connected to the Fox River Valley area of Illinois.

Isn’t is nice when our ancestors so thoughtfully provide us with helpful clues?


Posted by: Laura Aanenson | August 15, 2016

Lily of the Flower Family

I’m a bit confused about Lily and her relationship to the Flower family.

flower, lily_8584

Lily is buried in the center of the Flower family plot in Jewish Graceland Cemetery on Chicago’s north side.

flower, family plot_8581

There is a record of her death on FamilySearch that seems to confirm her parents are the people named on the largest headstone in the same family plot.


But the birthdate on her headstone and the birthdate on the death record are different.

The 1880 census should help clarify which date is correct, but instead it adds to the confusion. There is no one in the family that fits the known facts about Lily who, in 1880, would be a six year old girl.


I wondered if birth records were available in Detroit in 1874 or 1875. FamilySearch came through here too, but again the plot thickened.


The possibilities for Lily’s date of birth have now risen to three.

If Lily was a leaf in your family tree, what would you do next?


Posted by: Laura Aanenson | August 14, 2016

Daily Inter-Ocean Obituaries December 28, 1874

Inter-Ocean BuildingThe Chicago Inter-Ocean was a newspaper published in the Windy City from 1879 to 1902*. The following notices of death appeared on page 8 of the Monday morning edition, December 28, 1874:

“MOORHOUSE-Dec. 26, Laura Pearl, only daughter of Wm. H. and Fannie Moorhouse, aged 8 years. Funeral from residence 872 Michigan avenue, Tuesday the 29th, at 2 o’clock. Friends of the family are invited to attend.

ANDERSON-On Friday, the 25th inst. at 10:15 p.m., Mrs. Bridget Anderson, aged 54 years, relict of the late George Anderson. Funeral will leave family residence, No. 421 West Taylor street, on Monday, Dec. 28, at 10 o’clock a.m., for the Holy Family Church, where requiem high mass will be celebrated, thence by carriages to Calvary Cemetery.”

*Some web sites list earlier start dates and later end dates.

Posted by: Laura Aanenson | August 7, 2016

Daily Inter-Ocean Obituaries December 24, 1874

The Chicago Inter-Ocean was a newspaper published in the Windy City from 1879 to 1902*. The following notices of death appeared on page 8 of the Thursday morning edition, December 24, 1874:

CaptureMcWADE-Tuesday. Dec. 23, 1874, Jeannette McWade aged 21 years 3 months and 23 days. Funeral from the residence of her parents, 490 Second street, Thursday, Dec. 24, to Graceland, at 12:30 o’clock p.m.

WILLIAMS-Dec. 23, at 3 a.m., the Rev. D. A. Williams in the 76th year of his age. The funeral will take place from his late residence, No. 233 South Sangamon street, on Friday the 25th. Services at the Welsh Presbyterian Church, corner of Monroe and Sangamon, at 1 p.m. Friends of the family are invited to attend. Milwaukee, Pittsburg[h], and Newark, Ohio papers please copy.

BRANDT-Dec. 23, David Franklin Brandt, at the residence of John Moore, 322 Maxwell street, of pneumonia, aged 21. Terre Haute and Zanesville papers please copy.”


*Some web sites list earlier start dates and later end dates.

Posted by: Laura Aanenson | July 27, 2016

Wednesday’s Child – Ruth B Thomson

Ruth’s headstone is no longer attached to its base. It lies in the soft grass near her parents’ headstones.

DSCF9390 watermarked

Ruth is buried at Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis and has a memorial on Find A Grave.

May she and her parents rest in peace.

Posted by: Laura Aanenson | July 19, 2016

The Last to Die

As you may already know, I visit a lot of cemeteries and I read a lot of grave markers.

I try not to make assumptions about the deceased based on the information on their headstones.

For example, sometimes the memorial lists more than one person.

I never assume a relationship between the people listed unless the marker clearly states “husband” and “wife” or “father” and “son”.

But sometimes everyone listed was born so long ago I can’t help but assume they couldn’t possibly still be living.


Forest Hill Cemetery Madison Wisconsin

And when just one person is missing a date of death I can’t help but wonder, were they the last person in their family to die?

Posted by: Laura Aanenson | July 14, 2016

Cemetery Plants

It must be challenging for caretakers to maintain cemetery grounds when plants grow around and between headstones.

Forest Hill

Forest Hill Cemetery Madison Wisconsin

But it certainly makes the cemetery beautiful.

Posted by: Laura Aanenson | July 13, 2016

Wednesday’s Child – Ella Louise Hankenson

A necklace around the top of Ella’s memorial caught my eye the first time I visited her at Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis.


And the second time. And every time thereafter.


Who, I wonder, it adding this piece of jewelry to a monument erected in 1888?


And why?

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