Saturday, January 10, 2009

Friday Findings: LEWIS, TUINSTRA, Lookups and (Maybe) a Bigamist

I had hoped to post this last night, but was too exhausted after a long day to finish up the details. This has been a completely weird week, so I don't feel like I got much accomplished. Things happened in fits and starts, so to speak. School was supposed to start on Monday, a return from Winter Break, but we had a snow day and started on Tuesday, instead. It was odd coming back to work after seven weeks, but good to see everyone again. Then school was closed Wednesday and Thursday because rain and warm temperatures had our 76 inches of snow melting all over the place and causing flooding. There was no place for students to walk to school, as sidewalks were still covered with mounds of frozen, melting snow and the streets were filled with slush and standing water. Friday morning we all returned yet again!

I started adding information from the LEWIS e-mails and MyHeritage family site that were shared with me from my newly-found cousin. It's taking a while, since I'm being very careful to cite my sources correctly. My Great-grandmother Robbins, Marie LEWIS, was one of 13 children, and although only ten made it to adulthood, marriage, and parenthood, when you start adding their descendants to a family tree, it grows quite quickly!

I also heard from a TUINSTRA cousin this week, with whom I've been in contact previously, but haven't had time to look closely at her e-mail other than to note that she has some documents she'd like to share with me.

There were three lookup requests this week; two for records from Muskegon County, Michigan and one for Newaygo County. I'm not sure when I'm going to be able to get to the Family History Center, because although the roads are clearing up, I'm starting my next Beginning Online Genealogy Class Thursday night, the day I normally set aside for research at the FHC. I also had a request for lookups in the record books for Park Hill Cemetery in Vancouver, Washington. These records are now available online, but many people don't realize it. I choose to keep my lookup service for Park Hill available so that I can direct requesters to the website when they contact me.

My husband has a third cousin--Holly--who is attempting to find out about the ancestry of her paternal grandmother, Fidelia (ORTIZ) MIDKIFF. This woman was married to Holly's grandfather, William Mason MIDKIFF. They had four children. When Willie became blind in one eye due to violent headaches, Fidelia left, taking the youngest child, Sam. Attempts to determine what became of her or their son has been futile. Willie died when the remaining children were teenagers and they were placed in foster care.

I knew from some research another distant cousin had done that Willie and Fidelia had been married in Trinidad, Las Animas Co., Colorado in 1937. Our records indicated that Fidelia had also been born in Trinidad. I started with the 1930 Federal Census and believe that I found her living with her parents and siblings. They were all born in New Mexico, not Colorado. By the ages of her parents and the information given on how old they were at their first marriage, it was easy to determine that this was not a first marriage for this Fidelia's father. Tracing back into 1920 and 1910, I also determined that the age given for this Fidelia on the 1930 census were incorrect, and that this Fidelia would have been 10 or nearly 11, not 12 as stated. I also made an interesting find: it appears that this Fidelia's father may have been a bigamist. Without going into tons of details too long for this post, anyone curious enough with access to the Federal Census collection at Ancestry can trace this Fidelia's father, Francisco ORTIZ and her mother Telesfora [--?--] ORTIZ, along with Fidelia's older half-sister's mother, Venerada [--?--] ORTIZ to possibly come up with the same conclusions.

I wrote Holly and said that the only way we could know with certainty that the Fidelia ORTIZ I found in the 1930 census was her grandmother was to order a copy of her grandparents' marriage record, a tricky task, since Colorado has such stringent privacy laws. Holly would have to prove she is descended from Fidelia and Willie, but since Holly's father died young and her step-father adopted her, she does not have access to her birth certificate with her MIDKIFF surname. She does have an aunt, the one known surviving child of Willie and Fidelia, so perhaps the aunt can fill out the application and provide the evidence needed to obtain the marriage record. From that record, we could hopefully ascertain that this is indeed Holly's grandmother Fidelia in 1930. From there, perhaps we can obtain a birth record from New Mexico and then see if the birth date matches any women with the same name in the Social Security Death Index to discover what happened to her. It's all very "iffy," of course, but it is fascinating and I hope that I'll be able to help Holly, and in turn her siblings and cousins. (Holly was amused by the bigamist possibility.)

This week I renewed my subscription to Footnote for the year and actually got 15 months out of the deal, instead of only 12. I also started another trial subscription to GenealogyBank when I saw on their blog that they have recently added the Grand Rapids (Michigan) Press, 1901 - 1922. I have found some little treasures that I will probably post later. I do know from using the obituary database at the Western Michigan Genealogical Society's website that my ancestors preferred placing notices in the Grand Rapids Herald while it was still in publication. However, GenealogyBank only has three years of the Herald available at this time.

I also found a blog template that I really liked, but wasn't having success downloading it. I finally used Internet Explorer instead of Firefox and was able to download it just fine. I also uploaded it to a private sample blog, but there are some backgrounds I want to change and I'll have to save and tweak all my widgets. It will take some uninterrupted time (!) to accomplish, but at least I'm headed in the right direction in my New Year's resolution to redesign my blog and make it look less cluttered.


Charley "Apple" Grabowski said...

Three snow days in one week! I hope due to the extreme weather they will be forgiven at the end of he year. You guys really need a break and I hope you get it soon!!!

I'm looking forward to your new look here. I know my widgets all scattered all over the place and it took a bit of time to round them back up. I hope your transition goes smoothly.

Unknown said...

My name is stephine medkiff and my fathers name is Alfred Medkiff .. he is one of the living sons of fidelia ... William Nathan Medkiff appears as the father on his birth certificate although he is not my fathers dad. There are 5 other living childern of Fidelia... in Trinidad colorado... I would be more than happy to try and help since my Cousin Darlene and I have been trying to get more info on Fidelia

Please email me at and we can chat some more