Sunday, June 04, 2017

New Facebook Group: Historical City Directories

I've just created a new Facebook group, Historical City Directories, for those genealogists and historians who are interested in learning about and sharing resources for historical city (and other types of) directories.  It is a closed group, and I encourage you to join. You must have a Facebook account, of course, and you will be asked a question before being admitted to the group. This will help cut down on spammers.

The reason for the creation of the group is to give more interaction for those following my Online Historical Directories site than its companion blog allows.  It's a great way to learn about and share resources, both off line and online.

I look forward to "meeting" you over there!

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Saturday, May 27, 2017

Anthony Fredenburg: Civil War Veteran?

Anthony Fredenburg, my 4th-great-grandfather
This Memorial Day weekend, I want to focus on a man that I recently learned was likely my ninth Civil War soldier ancestor.  Each one of my direct ancestors who fought in the Civil War is on my dad's side, as my mother's ancestors were either too young or too old to serve in that conflict.

In February 2014, I visited Salt Lake City, Utah for my very first genealogical research trip there.  It was part research trip, part conference, as I was attending RootsTech, an annual event focusing on information technology as it relates to genealogy.

Sylvester Fredenburg, my 3rd-great-grandfather
I had several ancestors whom I had "targeted" to be the focus of my research while in Salt Lake City, and one of them was my paternal 3rd-great-grandfather, Sylvester Fredenburg.  He did several "tours of duty" during the Civil War, enlisting first in 1861 in Company A, 50th New York Engineers; then in both the spring and fall of 1862 in Company I, 33rd New York Infantry; and finally re-enlisting in the 50th New York Engineers in 1864, this time in Company L. In 1998, I ordered his pension file from the National Archives, which gave me the above enlistment information, as well as his death information: 20 March 1879 in Riley Township, St. Clair County, Michigan. A now-obsolete website on the 33rd New York Volunteers provided me with a burial location in Romeo, Macomb County, Michigan.  I contacted the webmaster to determine the source of this information, but never heard back.  I also have had several volunteers try to track down exactly which Romeo cemetery Sylvester is buried in, without success.  Although he has a memorial page listed on Find A Grave, I have yet to see any record or other documentation that actually lists his grave as being in that particular cemetery.

Before leaving on my trip to Salt Lake City, I searched the Family History Library catalog for books and films that might provide answers to where Sylvester was buried. One of them was Indigent Soldiers Burial Records, Volume I and II, Abstracted from the Original Books in the Lapeer County Clerk's Office, Lapeer, Michigan.

As I paged through the book, my eye caught the name "Fredenburg." But it wasn't Sylvester listed on the page.  It was Anthony, his father!

Private, Co. L?, Heavy Artillery Regiment, New York; also enlisted in -----(?) -----(?) New York Volunteers
Died: 15 June 1891 in the 1st district, Lapeer city
Buried: 17 June 1892 in Mt. Hope cemetery
Expenses: casket - $30.00, undertakers attendance - $2.00, hearse & ice - $5.00, sexton's charges - $3.00
Occupation: laborer; No property real or personal; Had been for sometime previous to his death partially supported from the county poor fund
Record dated at Mayfield, 13 June 1891 [sic - probably 23 June 1891, given the death and burial dates]
Signed: Oscar A. WILLIAMS

While I never did find Sylvester's burial information in this book, I did gain a new Civil War soldier ancestor!  When I returned home, I looked through my notes and records of Anthony.  This had been staring me in the face for years, and I never recognized it.  Long before the 1890 Census of Civil War Veterans or Widows was available online, I had copied a page from a book with a printed index that listed:

Fredenburg, Anthony, Mi, Lapeer [County], Lapeer

Of course, at that time, I had no easy way of determining if this was my ancestor. Now that I had more information, I looked him up on Ancestry:

1890 Veterans Census
(click to enlarge)

Detail from above page
(click to enlarge)
Unfortunately, the regimental information given about Anthony does not coincide with that found in the Indigent Soldiers Burial Records.  I believe this may be an error made by the enumerator; if you look at the entry directly below Anthony's, for Robert White, it is nearly identical to Anthony's.  There is no information given for Post-Office Address, Disability Incurred, and Remarks, for any entry after line 34.  This suggests that entries 35 through 37, including Anthony's, may have been written in later, and could explain why his regimental information is basically a duplicate of Robert White's.

I have done multiple searches in Ancestry's military databases with a variety of spellings of Fredenburg(h) and Vredenburgh (the original name), and cannot find Anthony listed anywhere.  I did find an Andrew Fredenburg serving in Company L, 2nd Regiment, New York Heavy Artillery, but other searches lead me to believe this was a young man, born 1844 in Broome, Schoharie County, New York, who originally enlisted in Eldrige in 1863 in the 9th New York Artillery.  I have also looked through lists of pension records, but it seems that Anthony did not apply for a pension.  His wife, Hannah (Fox) Fredenburg, died nine months before he did, so there is no widow's pension application.  This makes sense, given that Anthony was living off the county poor fund in the months before he died (why weren't his eight or nine surviving children supporting him?  Hmmm....).
So, what we have is a bit of a mystery: did Anthony actually serve in the Civil War? I believe he did.  Besides the two documents above, this family photo is telling:

Some of the Fredenburg family, c. 1861
(click to enlarge)
On the left are Anthony and his wife, Hannah.  On the right is my ancestor, Anthony and Hannah's second son, Sylvester, with probably his first wife, Mary Jane [--?--] behind him.  In the middle is Abram, Anthony and Hannah's oldest son, with his wife, Myra (Chidsery) Fredenburg behind him.

This photo is significant, because it appears to show the Civil War soldiers in the family, although Anthony is not in uniform, as Abram and Sylvester are.  If Anthony did enlist, it was likely after 1861, when Abram and Sylvester enlisted in the 50th Engineers.

Meanwhile, I'll keep digging until I can find out for certain when and in what company Anthony enlisted.

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Sunday, January 01, 2017

With Best New Year Wishes

(click to enlarge image)
Postcard to Miss Rena Lerfald in Glendive, Dawson Co., Montana from Sophia [unknown - possibly Lerfald] in unknown location.  No postmark or stamp. Circa 1914-1915.  Westaby-Lerfald Postcard Collection.  Digital image privately held by Miriam Robbins, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Spokane, Washington.  2016.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Marriage Record of Albert Francis CHAPLIN, Sr. and Emma Alice LYTON

Recently, I discovered that Ancestry had added the Iowa, Marriage Records, 1880 - 1937 database to its collections. While I don't have Iowa ancestors, my children do on their paternal grandmother's side. I was hoping to confirm marriage information for their great-great-grandparents, Albert Francis CHAPLIN, Sr. and Emma Alice LYTON. A family history written by an aunt of their grandmother lists Iowa as their marriage place [1], but no date is given. Their eldest child was born in 1892 in Surprise, Butler Co., Nebraska, but the next two children were both born in Fremont Co., Iowa [2], as was Emma [3], so I figured that was the likely location of their marriage.

A year and a half ago, my children's aunt received the Chaplin Family Bible [4] from a relative, which gave Albert and Emma's marriage date, but not the location:

I was able to locate the marriage record on Ancestry [5] with no difficulty:

The record is written across the top two lines of the register. I've enlarged and cropped the image to facilitate reading it on this blog. You can click on any of the images in this blog to view an enlargement; then use your "Back" button to return to this post.

As you can see, both Albert and Emma were living in Percival, Fremont Co., Iowa and that is where they were married on 18 March 1891 (confirming the Bible entry) by the Justice of the Peace, D. Lumm. It is interesting to me that no witness names were recorded on this register page for any of the marriages recorded here. That's too bad; I would have liked to have known who the witnesses for their marriage were.

From other research I've done, I know that their parents' names were not quite recorded in full or with accuracy here. Albert's parents were Gideon CHAPLIN and Susan W. HAINLINE. Emma's parents were Henry LYTON and Maria(h) Emily DAILEY. Henry's name was an alias. He was born George TURK in Ottawa, Ontario and came to the U.S. to serve in the Union Army during the Civil War. He changed his name at that time, although it is not clear exactly why.


     1. Southard, Velma Chaplin, The History of the Chaplin Family as of December 1970, p. 4.
     2. Ibid., p. 2.
     3. Ibid., p. 4.
     4. Albert and Emma (Lyton) Chaplin Family Bible, 1867-1922; The Holy Bible Containing the Old and New Testaments (undated, no publication information); privately owned by Mary Duncan [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], Washington State, 2015. Dates from 1867 to 1919 appear to have been written in the same hand and at the same time. One marriage entry, dated 15 February 1922, appears to be written in the same hand, but at a later time than the other entries.
     5. Fremont County, Iowa, Return of Marriages, 1880-1922, vol. 36, p. 483, Albert Chaplin-Emma Lyton, 18 March 1891; digital images,, “Iowa, Marriage Records, 1880-1937” ( : accessed 24 November 2016).

Disclosure: I am an affiliate for, and as such, receive compensation for products advertised on and linked from this blog.

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Monday, November 21, 2016

Mug Book Monday: Frank L. BISSELL (1828 - 1902)

"Mug books" are collections of biographical sketches usually found within county histories of the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-centuries, particularly in the United States. On Mondays, I'm highlighting ancestors or relatives who were featured in these mug books.

This biographical sketch is actually about the son-in-law of a couple of my ancestors, my adoptive 4th-great-grandparents, Dennis CONCIDINE, Jr. and his wife, Honora "Nora" GILLIGAN. I include it here, because in several sentences mentioning his wife's family, it mentions this couple, as well as a third ancestor, Dennis' father, Dennis CONCIDINE, Sr. It's another good example of expanding your search beyond your direct ancestors, and looking at siblings, cousins, and in-laws.

The Concidine name has a variant spelling of Constantine in this biography; understandable considering Concidine and Considine (another variant) both mean Constantine.

     "Frank J. Bissell was born at Montvale, Conn., October 4, 1828, a son of Abel and Mary (Vallett) Bissell, of Hebron and Montville, Conn., respectively. Abel Bissell, born in 1785, was a clothier by trade. In early life he run [sic] a carding and woolen factory. In 1848 he came to Bergen being 18 days coming by canal from New York. He reared children as follows: John, Calvin, Jeremiah, Frank, Lucy A, Phebe, and Rachel. He died August 30, 1861, aged 75 years. His wife was born April 1, 1786, and died January 14, 1879, and was a daughter of Jeremiah Vallett, a farmer of Connecticut, whose children were John, William, Jeremiah, Mary, and Nancy. Frank J. Bissell was reared in Connecticut, worked in a carding-mill and a tannery, and after coming to Genesee County became a farmer. He came to Le Roy in April, 1863, locating where he now resides, and where he owns a fine farm. He married, April 18, 1854, Mary Ann Constantine, a native of Java, Wyoming County, and a daughter of Dennis and Honora (Gilligan) Constantine, who were born in Ennis and Durah, County Clare, Ireland, and came to the United States in 1811, with two sons and a daughter, locating first in Rochester, and finally in Java, where he settled on a farm of 100 acres. His children were John, Patrick, Bridget, Margaret, Mary A., Ellen, Catharine, and Elizabeth. Mr. Constantice died in 1861, aged 74 years. He was a son of Dennis Constantine, of Ireland. Mr. and Mrs. Bissell's children are Mary L., now of Wichita, Kan., Francis E., and Catherine G. They have liberally contributed to the erection of the Roman Catholic Church for which he purchased the bell at a cost of $500."


I did not have a death date for Frank or a birth or death date for Mary Ann. I did find their graves (here and here) on, which gave me that information. A biography of Frank's brother-in-law and Mary Ann's brother, John D. Concidine, was featured on an earlier Mug Book Monday post here.

This biographical sketch was taken from Gazetteer and biographical record of Genesee County, N.Y., 1788-1890, edited by F. W. Beers and published in Syracuse, New York by J. W. Vose & Co., June 1890. Frank's sketch was found on page 515. This county history, along with many other ones, can be found at the Internet Archive.

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Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Online Historical Directories Site One of Family Tree Magazine's 101 Best Websites for 2016!

I'm thrilled and honored to announce that Family Tree Magazine has selected my Online Historical Directories site as one of its 101 Best Websites for 2016! The Online Historical Directories site was listed with four other sites in the "Best Cemetery and Directory Sites for Genealogy in 2016" category.

To view all 101 Best Websites for 2016, which will be featured in the September 2016 issue of Family Tree Magazine, visit

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Saturday, July 16, 2016

Researching Michigan Roots

I often tell people I have Michigan roots, but I think it’s often not conveyed as to how deep and wide those roots grow. I am the first generation of my family in five full generations and eight partial generations to not have been born, married, lived a significant part of my life, and/or died in Michigan, although I have had extended (months’ long) visits. Here are some statistics about my Michigan roots:

  • Both my parents grew up and married in Michigan. My mom was born in Michigan; my dad was born in Alberta, Canada only because his dad was stationed there during World War II.
  • All four of my grandparents were born, married, and lived most of their lives in Michigan. My paternal grandfather was the only one of the four who died in a different state (Texas). He and my paternal grandmother were Michigan-Texas snowbirds for much of their retirement years. Grandpa and Grandma Robbins are two of only five of my ancestors buried west of the Mississippi River, in Texas.
  • All eight of my great-grandparents were Michiganders. One of my maternal great-grandfathers was the only one not born in Michigan; he was born in Illinois and his family moved to Michigan when he was three. All of my great-grandparents married, died, and were buried in Michigan.
  • Of my 16 2nd-great-grandparents, all lived a significant part of their lives in Michigan. Six were born in Michigan, 12 were married in Michigan, 14 died and were buried in Michigan. The two ancestors of this generation who did not die in Michigan are another two of my five ancestors buried west of the Mississippi River, in Oregon.
  • Of my 32 3rd-great-grandparents, 24—all (16) of my dad’s ancestors, and half (eight) of my mom’s ancestors—lived a significant part of their lives in Michigan, with two actually living their entire lives in the state. This is about 72% of that generation.
  • Of my 64 4th-great-grandparents, I have been able to identify 62 of them. It’s not likely the two unknown ancestors of this generation lived in Michigan, but it’s not impossible. Of the 62, 17 of them lived in Michigan for part or most of their lives. They were all my dad’s ancestors, and none of them were born in Michigan, but were immigrants from other states or countries. This is almost 27% of that generation.
  • Of my 128 5th-great-grandparents, I can identify 88 of them. Of these 88, seven—all my dad’s ancestors—were known to have lived in Michigan in their elder years. This is 5% of that generation. The earliest ones came around the time of Michigan statehood with their adult children to pioneer.
  • When I tally the number of direct ancestors from my parents to my 5th-great-grandparents, I get 78 out of 254 people in seven generations who lived all or part of their lives in Michigan, or about 31%.
  • None of these figures include my grandmother’s adoptive family, or my mother’s step-father’s family, both of which I research as if they were my own. It doesn’t include hundreds of collateral families, which include thousands of individuals who are other children, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins, step-parents, step-siblings, in-laws, and second (or more) spouses of my direct ancestors.
  • Michigan counties in which my direct ancestors live include (in alphabetical order): Allegan, Antrim, Clinton*, Genesee*, Gratiot*, Houghton, Ingham*, Kalamazoo*, Kent*, Lapeer*, Lenawee, Macomb*, Muskegon*, Oakland*, Oceana*, Ottawa*, Newaygo*, Saginaw, Sanilac, St. Clair*, Tuscola, Washtenaw*, and Wayne. I’ve marked the counties with an asterisk if I had more than three direct ancestors living there at one time or another. The top six counties with the most direct ancestors who lived in them are Kent (21), Ottawa (15), Lapeer (13), Muskegon (12), Genesee (10), and Newaygo (9). Some ancestors are counted more than once, because they may have lived in more than one of these counties.
  • Of my 57 ancestors who came to Michigan from another state or country, the highest number were born in New York State (18), the Netherlands (12), and Canada (7). Four each were born in New Jersey and Pennsylvania; three each were born in Ohio and Vermont; one each was born in England, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Minnesota.

Because of all this, I've learned a lot about Michigan genealogical resources and historical records over the years. There's always more to learn, however!

Do you have ancestors from Michigan? Or do you have numerous ancestors from another state or province that causes you to be an “expert” in genealogical research in that location? Tell me about it in the comments below, or write a blog post and link it here.

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