Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Genealogy Crossword Puzzle

I enjoy doing crosswords and genealogy research so I decided to try my hand at combining the two. I started with a free program on the internet, but could only include up to 49 clues. That didn't make a very good puzzle so I used the framework and added onto it, with some help from my husband. It is not as compact as most puzzles you find, but I did my best to make it solvable. It was fun, but time consuming. I hope you find it amusing.

Note: I'm a novice at creating puzzles (this is my first one) and don't have a program to provide me with obscure words to fill in the blank spaces. For this reason, I gave myself permission to include two-letter answers, which are not customary in standard crosswords. Let me also say that when you have to add the numbers manually it is a royal pain in the neck. I used a fair amount of white out in the first iteration before I came up with an easy way to do it for the second.

I'll post the solution in about a week.


1) One of a pair in a household.
5) Abbr. in a date.
6) Classification of a crime we hope none of our relatives committed.
10) Mason's tool.
12) Snow may pile up in this, especially this winter.
13) Egyptian sun god.
14) A crop your ancestors may have grown.
17) Color of many old photos.
18) Help.
19) Color or kind of wood.
22) One who delivers babies, in brief.
23) The first person enumerated in a household is listed as this.
25) Implement used in the field, generally pulled in the old days by a 15-down.
26) European height.
29) Family events may be recorded in one of these books.
32) “Ready, ___, fire.”
33) If you have many paper records you should do this so you won't lose them.
34) You may be eagerly awaiting the next one of these for Downton Abbey.
36) You'll be asked to create one of these when adding a marriage event.
38) Who else you should trace to find out more about your ancestor.
42) Everyone on a flight meets them at the airport.
43) Company head.
44) Defunct device to enhance a TV signal.
45) You'll make at least one of these during your wedding ceremony.
47) “I ___ You, Babe.”
48) One of these is rumored to have nine lives.
49) Male deer.
50) A damp basement may grow this.
52) “You've got mail!” provider.
53) A milk alternative is made from this.
54) Intro for -zoic, -lithic and -america.
55) Watch out for this danger when swimming at the beach.
61) Cleverness.
62) Fairy tale collector Andrew.
64) Vitamin bottle abbr.
66) TV manufacturer.
67) Sore.
68) When records almost magically fall into our hands we call it this.
71) What happens if there is no 158-across.
73) Difficult to trace surname or occupation.
76) A squeaky door may need one of these.
77) You may see big rolls of this in the field.
78) For general info. on recent deaths you can't beat this free resource.
81) Census milestone year.
85) Some have this kind of sense of humor.
87) If your morning quaff makes you jittery, better switch to this.
88) Many a one of these moved because of the Dust Bowl.
89) Mate for a 49-across.
90) Clotho, Lachesis or Atropos.
91) Look here to find information on injured military men in your family.
97) Personal item genealogists would love to have for every ancestor. A famous one was written by 52-down.
101) West. state.
104) Difficult to trace surname likely derived from an occupation.
105) The Mormon church is known as this, in brief.
106) Shampoo may be designed for this hair type.
107) Sally Field movie, “Norma ___.”
108) It is easier to find a record if a database has one of these.
111) Beware of the many unsourced ones online.
113) Type of infection or video.
114) “Born in the ___.”
115) Virtually every American's ancestors came here in one of these.
116) Morsel.
118) Spiced tea.
121) You'll find MDs here with at least one 135-across.
123) If you are dehydrated at the 121-across you will likely receive one of these.
124) Where you might find a divorce record.
129) Kind of old photo.
131) It's difficult to find for some females.
134) Start of -itis and -algia.
135) This person works with MDs in the 121-across.
136) This invention transformed transportation. See also 153-across.
137) Contend.
138) Many immigrants applied to become this.
139) Get the scoop on your ancestors here.
142) What every genealogist hits sooner or later.
145) Mandela's homeland, abbr.
147) After the Civil War, soldiers may have been members of one of these posts, abbr.
149) Frost wrote that a good one of these makes good neighbors.
150) There's usually one of these colorful characters in every family.
153) Alternate name for 136-across.
155) Important component of genealogical time points.
158) You'll find heirs here.
161) What our families sometimes wish we'd never discovered.
164) Import tax.
166) A Pope or zodiac sign.
167) A Federal Gov't. agency on whose website you can locate original property titles.
168) Many an ancestor served in this conflict.
169) Ger. manufacturer of a 136-across.
170) Exertion.
171) Kreskin's ___, game.
172) Sadly, most old family photographs are in this state.
176) Someone not clearly related to household members may be enumerated this way.
181) Phone provider or ISP.
183) Old Norse letter.
185) “Rub a ___, ___.”
186) Hobo.
187) Salty delicacy sometimes found in sushi.
188) Some immigrants helped dig this canal.
189) Court.
191) Slowly, in music.
193) State located between MO, OK and MS.
194) Long ago.
195) ___ at Joe's.
196) Not curly or straight.
197) __B, the three additive primary colors.
198) Detroit's county.
200) Storage spot or elephant part.
201) Opponent of 8-down in the 122-down.


1) You may be able to narrow your city search to one of these when looking in the 55-down.
2) Tyrant Amin.
3) Young newt.
4) Arena animal in Madrid.
7) Some people may call their grandmother this.
8) He served for the CSA in the 122-down.
9) Shrub from which breast cancer Taxol is made.
10) One way to date old photographs.
11) 20th century place you might find a man's signature.
12) You may find your family in a city or county one.
15) You can ride this or hitch it to a 25-across or 179-down.
16) Biblical pronoun.
17) A farmer may have this under the nails.
19) He will inherit under primogeniture.
20) You might drink this at home or in a 141-down.
21) What you should do for pedestrians.
24) OTC painkiller that works well for arthritis.
25) ___ Beta Kappa.
27) Cooke of podcasting.
28) Your ancestors may have landed here.
29) You may find this in a county history.
30) Are for one.
31) Kind of constrictor.
35) Start for hen, coat or brain.
37) Found in 139-across, this is a good place to find details of someone's life.
38) Chicago to St. Louis direction.
39) This is a good form of cousin bait.
40) One of many official groups for genealogists.
41) Tape may leave this behind.
46) Nighttime flier.
49) Feared Nazi paramilitary group.
50) Unmarried girls and women may be addressed this way.
51) Female branch of the family.
52) Dutch writer Frank who penned a famous 97-across.
56) What genealogists want for every fact in their databases.
57) Titles are often written in this type.
58) Discourage.
59) Winter month in Espana.
60) Rupture.
63) Probably one of the most commonly cited records.
65) Gamblers' cubes.
69) Angry people may fly into these.
70) Clan.
72) Start of -nary, -lateral, and -focal.
74) You can get bleary-eyed reading this for too long.
75) Hasten.
77) Pres. Obama's birthplace.
78) Drunkard.
79) You may find one of these in the closet.
80) Start for -urnal and -ameter.
82) Charged particle
83) How many it takes to tango.
84) A bit.
86) Scottish denial.
87) If you aren't handy you shouldn't attempt this kind of home project, abbr.
92) Not feeling well.
93) “I am ___ a crook.”
94) Type of Christmas tree.
95) Elba to Pierre.
96) Alkaline substance used in soap-making.
98) Jackie's second.
99) Uncommon.
100) You may find your schooled ancestors here.
102) Carte de _____.
103) Free, volunteer-based internet resource with links to every U.S. state.
109) United States military branch.
110) Affectionate term for the Atlantic.
112) Archaic numerical term in the Gettysburg address.
113) There are three basic types of this.
117) New tech. way to examine your heritage.
119) Dog to Wolfgang.
120) See 193-across.
122) Many an ancestor fought in this conflict, including 8-down and 201-across.
125) Homophone of a near relative.
126) New in N├╝rnberg.
127) Mongrel.
128) Victorian or Edwardian, for example.
130) Metallic element that gave it's name to a coin, abbr.
132) Mid-American state.
133) What a genealogist needs after an all-night research session.
140) Source citation guru.
141) Where you might drink 20-down.
142) Abbr. in a date.
143) Grant of “Arsenic and Old Lace.”
144) TV show popularizing genealogy, in brief.
146) Structure to keep track of ancestors.
147) This can help you navigate roads or state your genealogical case.
148) Fit for a king.
149) Principle of tracing unrelated people when you have hit a 142-across.
151) One place to find a genealogist.
152) One place to find a genealogist.
154) To find out what your ancestors grew on the 165-down, look on this special decennial sch. 1850-1900.
156) Per, abbr.
157) Smallest U.S. state.
159) Where cattle may roam.
160) Tennis shot.
162) Some people would like to trace their lineage all the way back to this person.
163) Tool used in wood working or leather work.
165) The majority of Americans lived on one of these in the nineteenth century.
172) You'll want to know which one your ancestor served in to learn specifics of what he did in the military.
173) Born.
174) Hard to trace surname or a color.
175) A good place to look for artifacts that have been separated from the family.
176) Common nineteenth century mode of transportation. Used with a 15-down.
177) Japanese sash.
178) When going from Chicago to LA you can get your kicks on this.
179) Cart used for delivering loads, sometimes of 18-down.
180) ___ a living.
182) Homophone of 83-down.
184) Russian mountain range.
185) Lineage society based on Rev. War service.
190) Tall shader.
192) The 1900-1930 censuses ask householders if they rent or this.
199) Probably the coldest U.S. state.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Calendar Clues

Do you still use a wall calendar? Do you use it to keep track of your engagements for the year? Do you keep your old calendars or throw them out when the year has been spent? If you do use them and have some lying around you might consider scanning them for your heirs. They can provide insight into your life.

I am one of those people who uses a paper calendar to keep track of things beyond just birthdays. I also have kept a lot of my old calendars, primarily because they had pretty pictures that I thought might be useful for a craft project someday. It just occurred to me that I should scan the pages into the computer as part of my Genealogical Legacy.

concerts/plays – interests
doctor/dentist – health
visits to/from people – who you keep in contact with
birthdays – who is important to you

In an age when more and more people use online calendars, this information will eventually be lost. It may not seem like much, but wouldn't you like to have even one calendar with events included for some of your ancestors? You can give your descendants that gift.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Let Me Count The Sources

A while back, James Tanner blogged about how to tell if someone had progressed beyond being a beginning genealogist (Getting Past the Introductory Stage in Genealogy).  One of his indicators was if a person had begun to use more than just census and vital records. Naturally, this made me curious to roughly quantify the different sorts of documents I have used since I began my genealogical quest around 2001.

There are still record types I haven't used very often (or at all) either because there are lower hanging fruit, they are more difficult to use (no index, for example), I don't have ready access to them or I just haven't had the time to delve into them. Just for fun, I decided to come up with a list of all of the different records I have used.

Place Records
Census: Federal population, agricultural, industrial; State population,
City Directories
Land Records: deeds (just starting to scratch the surface of these)
Plat Maps
Tax records (just a couple so far)

Life Event Records
Cemetery Records
Coroner's Inquest Records
Family Bibles
Grave Stones
Vital Records (SSDI, state and local)

Legal Records
Chancery Records (Non-Divorce)
Civil Suits (sometimes called Law cases from what I understand)
Criminal Court Records
Divorce Records
Incarceration Records (so far only Michigan Reformatory)
Probate Records (just starting to scratch the surface of these)

Military Records
Military Draft Registration Records (Civil War, WWI, WWII)
Military Enlistment Records
Military Pension Application Files (gold mines of information, see what you might find in Why Everyone  Should Use Military Pension Files)
Military Regimental Returns
Old Soldier Home Records
Pension Payment Cards

County Histories
Interviews with family
Naturalization Records (just a few so far)
Newspapers (current and historical, another gold mine)
Old letters, journals, etc.
Old photographs
Published family histories
Ross Coller File (a Kalamazoo and later Battle Creek newspaperman who left behind a card file with basic information on people decades before he began his career. Learn more about Ross Coller records)
Ships' Passenger Lists

I'm sure there are a few more obscure documents from which I've extracted some morsel of information, but that's all I can think of right now. While many of the record types are useful for placing a person in space and time, I have to say that my favorites are the ones that add flesh to bone, so to speak, like newspapers, pension and divorce records.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Why Everyone Should Use Military Pension Application Files

They are a gold mine of information. It is as simple as that. Yes, yes there are lots of doctors' reports which often don't contain genealogically important information, but dig into the depositions and other documents and you generally won't be sorry.

The pension files I have seen (fourteen of them) fall into three categories:
Invalid pensions: for men injured during their service.
Widows' pensions: for women whose husbands either died in service or were injured during their service and died later.
Mothers' pensions: for mothers of soldiers who died in service. In these cases the mother relied upon the soldier at least in part for support.

While two of the files I have examined have been disappointingly short (twenty pages or fewer) most have been seventy-five or more pages. Buried in these files you may discover birth, death and marriage records. Even the doctors' statements may prove useful in explaining your relatives ailments as I recently found (Medical History Revelation).  Beyond these things you will usually find much more. You'll gain insight into your claimant's life that you might find nowhere else. Among other information I have found:

1.  The name of a soldier's deceased father that I had not found anywhere else.
2.  Confirmation of the identity and marriage of my ancestor's sister.
3.  A brothers' feud in which one brother stole the other's wife.
4.  Detailed lists of where some people lived and for how long.
5.  Descriptions of events in a man's military service (marched from X to Y, etc).
6.  Depositions by family members who were previously unknown or that narrowed their time of death.
7.  Confirmation that one of my relatives was indeed a bigamist. The pension examiner did a long investigation to ferret out the whole story.
8.  A description of the food produced one season on my ancestor's fruit farm.
9.  A deposition providing the only known piece of evidence that three brothers briefly lived together after the Civil War.
10. Evidence of a previous marriage and death of the first wife when no other records were found.

While viewing the records in person is an amazing experience because you are actually touching the same pieces of paper as your ancestor, a trip to Washington, D.C. is not feasible for everyone. Fortunately you can order pension files online through NARA's website here after filling out form NATF 85 (for federal service through 1903). If you already know the unit your man served with you can search the Civil War and Later Pension Index available here at Unfortunately, the actual images from the Family Search index are hosted by so the only free option is to access the records at a library with Ancestry Library Edition.

There are three reasons for finding the pension card: 1) so you know if your man actually applied for a pension, 2) to better identify your soldier when there are several men with the same name (such as by finding a widow's name on the card), 3) to obtain the pension application number for inclusion on the form. You don't actually need to include all of the requested information, but the more you do the better chance you have of obtaining the specific file you want, especially if your soldier had a common name. I encourage you to download form NATF 85 to can see what information you should try to locate.

Once you are ready to order you have a couple of options. You can choose the complete file (up to 100 pages) for $80 (for Civil War and later, $55 for pre-Civil War files) or for $30 you can receive a packet of eight genealogically relevant documents (death, marriage and birth certificates, if present). As tempting as it is to try to save some money and go for the documents packet, I would highly recommend selecting the full file because otherwise you risk missing the details found in the depositions. For more information about the process, download form NATF 85 here which has additional information.

I don't remember how long it took to receive my copies, but I believe it was 3-6 weeks, 3-6 long weeks when I was anticipating wonderful findings. However, if one of the files you requested wasn't found and you know for certain from the pension index card that your man filed, don't despair immediately. Wait a year or two and submit another request because the record could simply be misfiled. I once received a file on my third request. Some files, sadly, are MIA. The file I most wish to peruse is unaccounted for. Philo Brown is the only one of my soldiers who was wounded in battle, when a minie ball tore through his forearm. The only reason I know this is because of information I found in his compiled military service record. I may try again, but after three strike-outs I'm losing hope it will ever turn up.

Overall, I would have to say that I've had good luck. Of fifteen pensions I have requested, I have received fourteen, all but one on the first attempt. In all but two cases the files included information through the death of the claimant. I'm glad I discovered these wonderful resources early in my genealogical adventure. Once you look through your first one, you may find it difficult to stop at just one. 

Note that the Civil War pension records held by NARA are for men who served in the U.S. military for the Union. For records on men who served in the Confederacy you will need to contact the appropriate state archive. Contact information is available on NARA form NATF 85.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

MI Naturalization Index 1907-1995

Family Search just posted a new Michigan database:  Michigan, Eastern District, Naturalization Index, 1907-1995.  Before you get too excited, this database has not yet been indexed, but you can browse through the cards.  It is arranged by Soundex code so you'll need to determine the codes for your surnames. 

You can determine the soundex code using the Rootsweb converter here.

While this index is too recent to help me with my people, I took a look at a few of the cards to see what information is on them.  The answer is not much.  You'll find the name of the petitioner, the birthdate, the date of the petition and either a number or Vol/Pg to locate the actual record.