Saturday, May 01, 2021

Tip: How can I find my ancestor who was an orphan?

Records of orphanages can be difficult to locate.  As many were private institutions, their records may not have survived.  Local genealogical and historical societies may have some of those records. If you know the general location of the orphanage, there is a listing of those in Illinois at http://www.formerchildrenshomes.org.uk/illinois.html.  On the Census, the orphans may have been listed as “orphans” or “inmates” which helps locate these homes.

If your ancestor was born after the 1880’s, when most counties were recording births, AND they were adopted, it may be possible to obtain their original birth certificate through the Illinois Department of Public Health at  https://www.dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/birth-death-other-records/adoption

If your ancestor came to Illinois on an Orphan Train, there are a few additional resources to check.  Between 1854 and 1919, over 100,000 children came from New York city and were sent west for adoption and hopefully, a better life. The National Orphan Train Depot Museum has a lot of information on these children.  Their website is https://orphantraindepot.org .  ISGS also has reprints of the book “Children of Orphan Trains from NY to IL and Beyond” for sale on website at www.ilgensoc.org.   

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Note: This was originally published in the "Tips from the Genealogy Committee" column in the Illinois State Genealogical Society Newsletter (May 2021).  While these tips were written for those researching Illinois ancestors, many of the principles can be applied to other locations.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Spotlight on Carroll County, Illinois

Carroll County is located in northwest Illinois.  It was formed in 1839 from Jo Daviess county. It was named for Charles Carroll, a Marylander who signed the Declaration of Independence.  Although Mr. Carroll never set foot in Illinois, many of the county’s early settlers were from Maryland.  The county itself remains fairly rural and they boast of only one stoplight in the entire county.

Birth and death records have been kept since 1877.  Marriage records, Probate files and Land Records date to the founding of the county.  Unfortunately, few records are accessible on FamilySearch.  There are some early vital records online at  https://carroll.illinoisgenweb.org, along with some obituaries and cemetery information.

The courthouse is located in the county seat of Mt. Carroll and their website is  https://www.carroll-county.net/clerkrecorder.  Some vital records may also be found at the IRAD depository at Northern Illinois University. Other county records housed at the IRAD are land, probate, and naturalizations records.


The Carroll County Genealogical Society has some church records online as well as records of naturalizations, and county poor farm records. They may be reached at http://homepages.rootsweb.com/~haliotis/index2.html.

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Note: This was originally published in the "County Spotlight" column in the Illinois State Genealogical Society Newsletter (March 2021).   

Thursday, April 01, 2021

Tip: How can land records help me find my ancestor?

Land records are often overlooked by the beginning genealogist.  This is unfortunate because they may contain clues to family relationships.  Often, a deed will contain language specifying a relationship. For example, “I deed to my son for love and affection”.  Even better is “to my daughter, wife of so and so”.  After a landowner’s death the land is often divided and sold by his heirs, also indicating family relationships.

Unlike birth and death records which have only been kept in Illinois since the 1870s, land records were kept from the date of formation of a County.  Land records are kept with the County clerk or County recorder in the County Courthouse. Many have been digitized and can be found online on sites such as familysearch.org.

It is important to know whether that County was formed from another County because there may also be land records at the parent County. The Newberry Library has an interactive map showing County boundaries at https://newberry.org/atlas-historical-county-boundaries.

In addition to searching for the actual deed records, it is often helpful to look at maps of our ancestors’ land.  These maps help show the so- called FAN club - that is, the friends, associates and neighbors who may have interacted with our family and potentially be related.  A map may also give clues as to the geographic terrain that may have affected where our ancestors did business or worshipped.  You may find that a town in a neighboring County was closer than their own County seat.  A good online source of maps is at the Library of Congress – www.loc.gov/maps.

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Note: This was originally published in the "Tips from the Genealogy Committee" column in the Illinois State Genealogical Society Newsletter (March 2021).  While these tips were written for those researching Illinois ancestors, many of the principles can be applied to other locations.

Monday, March 15, 2021

Spotlight on Vermilion County, Illinois

Vermilion County is located in east central Illinois.  It was formed in 1826 and has been its present size since 1859. It was named for the Vermilion River which passes through the county on its way to the Wabash River.

Birth and death records have been kept since 1877 (some earlier birth records still exist).  Marriage records, Probate files and Land Records date to the founding of the county.  Many of the early records may be found on FamilySearch.org.

The courthouse is located in the county seat of Danville and their website is vercounty.org.  Vital records may also be found at the IRAD depository at Illinois State University. Other county records housed at the IRAD are school records, police dockets and Justice of the Peace dockets.

The Danville Public Library in Danville contains many genealogical records relating to Vermilion County and surrounding areas.   https://danvillepubliclibrary.org/genealogy-resources-online/ .  The Illiana Genealogical and Historical Society may be reached at ighs@sbcglobal.net 

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Note: This was originally published in the "County Spotlight" column in the Illinois State Genealogical Society Newsletter (January 2021).  

Monday, March 01, 2021

Tip - How do I find my ancestors who lived in the city?

 

One good place to look is in City Directories.  These were usually published annually and contain information about residents of a given city.   While most large cities had directories, often smaller towns would publish one as well.  Occasionally, a county would publish a similar type of directory.

Information in a city directory often included the address of the person, their telephone number (in later directories), and their occupation.  While all included the name of the head of household, some also listed the wife’s name.  City directories were often arranged in both an alphabetical and a geographical listing.  Thus, it was easy to tell who the neighbors were.  Businesses were also listed in the geographical listing.  Often, local businesses would advertise in the directory, so be sure to look in the advertisements if your ancestor owned a business. 

Because directories were published yearly, they can be helpful in tracking people between census years.  If someone “disappears” from a directory, they may have moved to another location or died. 

City Directories can be found online at Family Search, Archive.org or Ancestry.  Again, they could be for a large city such as Chicago, or smaller cities such as Peoria, Moline, Princeton or Shelbyville.  Another good place to find city directories is at the local library in the city of interest.  Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library also has a large collection of directories from around Illinois.

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Note: This was originally published in the "Tips from the Genealogy Committee" column in the Illinois State Genealogical Society Newsletter (January 2021).  While these tips were written for those researching Illinois ancestors, many of the principles can be applied to other locations.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Spotlight on DeWitt County, Illinois

DeWitt County is located in central Illinois.  It was formed in 1839 from Macon and McLean Counties. It was named for the seventh Governor of New York, DeWitt Clinton, and the county seat is the city of Clinton.

Birth and death records have been kept since 1878.  Marriage records, Probate files and Land Records date to the founding of the county.  Many of the early records may be found on FamilySearch.org.

These records may also be requested in writing from the County Courthouse at 201 W. Washington St., Clinton, IL  61727.  Records are also found at the IRAD depository at Illinois State University.  In addition to vital records, the IRAD has naturalization records and Justice of the Peace dockets.

The Vespasian Warner Public Library in Clinton has some collections of local genealogical interest.  These include yearbooks, newspapers, and civil war diaries, among others. They can be found at https://www.vwarner.org/local-history-genealogy.  This library also holds the collection of the Dewitt County Genealogical Society.  More information about this society can be found at https://dewittcountygenealogicalsociety.com.

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Note: This was originally published in the "County Spotlight" column in the Illinois State Genealogical Society Newsletter (November 2020).  

Monday, February 01, 2021

Tip - Where can I find old newspapers?

Q. Where can I find old newspapers?

A. Old newspapers can give us so much information about our ancestors’ lives.  In addition to major life events such as birth announcements, marriage notices, and obituaries, we can learn everyday details.  Newspapers often reported on social happenings, such as which family members were visiting from out of town.  Court proceedings ranging from land transfers and divorces to criminal cases were frequently newsworthy.

A good place to start to find a newspaper of interest is at the library in that town.  They often have microfilmed copies of their newspapers.  The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield has a large collection of microfilmed newspapers from around the state.  Their holdings are listed at: https://www2.illinois.gov/alplm/library/collections/newspaper/Holdings/Pages/default.aspx.

There are several online collections for Illinois newspapers.  The University of Illinois has an Illinois Digital Newspaper collection at http://idnc.library.illinois.edu.  Several libraries around the state have also digitized area newspapers, such as Marshall Public Library at .http://marshall.advantage-preservation.com/.      More sites are going online all the time.

There are also several online repositories for newspapers from around the country.  Many are subscription sites but there are free sites as well.  The Library of Congress has the largest free collection of US Newspapers at http://ChroniclingAmerica.loc.gov.  And some digitized newspapers can be found on Google at https://news.google.com/newspapers.


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Note: This was originally published in the "Tips from the Genealogy Committee" column in the Illinois State Genealogical Society Newsletter (November 2020).  While these tips were written for those researching Illinois ancestors, many of the principles can be applied to other locations.