Friday, July 25, 2008

Friday Findings: Many Marriages, A Hay Press, 1891 Canadians, and the FBI

I thought I would summarize my findings for the past week. There were some amazing discoveries online from a variety of websites and databases.

Many Marriages
Last week's Wordless Wednesday featured the marriage certificate of my husband's maternal grandparents. This week, I found three marriage certificates for his grandmother's twin brother, Lee Joseph "Mick"MARTIN, at the Washington State Digital Archives website. The fact that he had been married three times wasn't news to me, and I had the women's names, but these records gave me marriage dates and locations, full names of the women, and a previous marriage for his third wife. Also, an older MARTIN brother, Steven Charles, was a witness at two of the weddings, as well as "Mrs. Steve MARTIN." Steve himself was married three times (one marriage was to a sister of Mick's second wife), and I had hoped to find his marriage records in the WSDA as well, but no luck (not all the counties have had all available marriage records uploaded to the database yet). I've looked in other online marriage indexes for other Western states for Steve, without success so far. But I was very happy to find this information on Mick!

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A Hay Press
Remember Alice Teddy, the rollerskating bear? The same gentleman, Michael Kirchmeier, who sent me her amazing photograph has been sending me tidbits, now and again, from newspapers from Cottonwood Co., Minnesota about my ROBBINS ancestors and CRAPSEY relatives. A while ago, he had sent me the news articles of how my 3rd-great-grandfather, Charles H. ROBBINS, had his hand crushed in a hay press in February 1880. This week, he sent me an article describing the proprietor's hay press establishment, and Charles is listed as an overseer. Mr. Kirchmeier speculates that my ancestor was given the job as overseer because of his injury in that hay press, which is probably true. The article was written in January 1881, and ran several times in subsequent issues. (It reminds me of the articles that Lidian features on her blog!) It also establishes that my ROBBINS family did not return to Michigan until after February 1881.

I'm also happy to report that Michael Kirchmeier, who started out working as a historian by avocation, has recently become the director of the Jackson County Historical Society in Lakefield, Minnesota. Congratulations!

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1891 Canadians
As you may have heard, Ancestry released the 1891 Canadian Census this week, available to its Canadian or World Deluxe members. I've been attempting for some time to find information that will give me parents' names for my brickwall ancestors, Mary (TERRY or LAMOREAUX) and Richard WILKINSON, who lived in Whitchurch Twp, York County, Ontario in 1871 and 1881. Early last year, I found Mary's death record, but I have been unsuccessful in finding Richard's so far. The Ontario Cemetery Finding Aid has not been helpful, either.

I did find Mary living with her widowed daughter and married grandson and his household in Markham Twp., York County, as well as finding all three of the other known children of Mary and Richard still living in Canada (son John, my ancestor, was in Michigan). These records established certain facts for me, including narrowing Richard's and son-in-law John GILLIAN's death dates to the 1881 - 1891 range, stating Mary's parents were born in Nova Scotia, and providing two more names of children of son William.

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The FBI (and My Great-Great-Grandfather!)
In honor of the 100th anniversary of the FBI, Footnote this week released the FBI Case Files collection from the subscription area to the public area; translation: free access! Descriptions of the records of these files can be found here. I had been reading some other genea-blogs and noticed a reference to the Old German Files, 1915-20. Wait a minute! I had a German immigrant ancestor who lived in Michigan during those years. Could he have had an FBI file?

BINGO! This was not only my best Find of the week, but one of my Best. Finds. Ever. My poor great-great-grandfather, John D. HOLST, had had to fill out an "Application for Exception from Classification of Enemy Alien." This could only have been slightly less humiliating than filling out his registration as an Enemy Alien in 1917. A man who had been a hard-working farmer and involved member of his communities for 35 years was suddenly looked upon with fear and contempt. His request to finalize his naturalization process had been postponed. Fortunately, he had residents of his community who agreed to vouch for his character, including the village doctor. I realize that John's experience was no different--and perhaps less intimidating--than those of thousands of Germans, and later Italians and Japanese--during our country's involvement in the World Wars, and those of certain political affiliations during the Cold War. These continue today in the American communities of Middle Eastern immigrants.

The bonus side of my ancestor's experience was that it created paperwork that has given me information on him and his wife that I had been unable to find thus far: a photograph; his signature (multiple times); his middle name; his complete date of birth; his wife's middle name; her specific birthplace in Sweden; the fact that he had a sister; his sister's married name and address. This is only the tip of the iceberg; there is much more information in these seven pages of documents, but most of it I have discovered elsewhere. My one regret is that in the area where he was to fill out information on his parents, he simply lists "Deceased."

If you have an ancestor--especially an immigrant one--who came from a WWI-era enemy country, you need to check out this database!

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