Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Your Family Left England and you can't find evidence of them arriving....

Finding your cousin's family...

 is the newest addiction after you master your own line.  Finding them on a Ship Manifest in the 1800s will guide you to the port where they settled.  You can check census data from that point on in the neighboring counties of the port.  Many times, families lived within the same "ward" or neighborhood.  You might see two families with the same last name on the same block.

But here is a puzzle.

   What do you do when you can't seem to locate the ship manifest showing what port?  It is possible that they arrived NOT at Ellis Island, which opened Jan 1, 1892, but Arrived in Louisiana?  Stranger things have happened!  That is what happened to me.  I kept looking on the Eastern Seaboard and came up with vague facsimiles of my family, close names, close ages, but I wasn't convinced that was them.  Since my tree is public, a distant cousin of mine had the answer.  They had landed in New Orleans on December 5, 1883.

But what if you can't find it?  Then you can follow what you DO know.  You see them embarking from London, on the RMS Atlantic, so research the SHIP, not the people


The Steam-ship "Atlantic," Wrecked on Mars Head on the Morning of April 1, 1873, a wood engraving published in Harper's Weekly, April 1873

"RMS Atlantic was a transatlantic ocean liner of the White Star Line that operated between Liverpool, United Kingdom, and New York City, United States. During the ship's 19th voyage, on 1 April 1873, it ran onto rocks and sank off the coast of Nova Scotia, killing at least 535 people. It remained the deadliest civilian maritime disaster in the Northern Atlantic until the sinking of SS La Bourgogne on 2 July 1898 and the greatest disaster for the White Star Line prior to the loss of Titanic 39 years later."
 - from Wikipedia, re RMS Atlantic

For passenger searches, pictures of ships, etc., including the items listed below, try this site for a great deal of knowledge!


  • Photoship
  • local images (formerly      KinshipsPrints)
  • TheShipsList
  • GreatOceanLiners
  • Palmer
  • GreatShips
  • OceanLiners
  • NorwayHeritage
  • Ancestry (subscription required)
for a picture of the ship named

For the "Ellis Island" site you must enter the complete name of the ship.
For the other sites, you can enter a single letter or possibly nothing at all and get a list of available ships.

Steven Morse has put a great deal of work into this research and is to be commended.

So questions to ask yourself - did those cousins end there on the rocks in Nova Scotia?  Did they settle there and now you know why?  Did a rescue ship take them to a port in New York? (Check port manifests)

I'd say you have quite a story to write about your family.  Get Busy!

To learn more about Ellis Island try this site


Sunday, January 22, 2017

Stuck in 1846-1866? Here are some ideas you might not have thought of...

Breaking through a wall of non-information

Scenario:  Father, Mother and 5 kids all 2 years apart are together in 1840, however, living in 1850 only the Mother and 3 younger kids appear on the census.  

Possible answers - Older sibings have married and moved out.  Family still seems to live in the same area of Ohio, but there is no information on the Father, just the Mother living alone with 3 kids.

You have checked death records for 
1...County of the last census. - no father
2....Checked the surrounding Counties and wards near the county borders.
3.... Checked the Obituaries and death records in all surrounding counties.
4....Checked county of Mother and kids for Probate Records and Wills of the Father
      check for nicknames of the father or middle name.
5....Checked Ancestry for journals, stories and pictures.
6....Checked prison records?  http://www.ancestorhunt.com/genealogical_prison_records.htm
7....Look at his profession
Sutter's Mill 1849

Hint -in the case that he was an 1840, miner - perhaps he ran off and went to the Gold Rush in California - 

1846 - Check handcart companies
Check census data for Fort Sutter, and foothills of Stockton.   In 1848, there were already 2,500 people, so it is possible that he was there

Here are some other options:
1.  Check history channel to see what else was happening in the Area out west where his profession may have led him.

2.   LUMBER - Check Washington State and Oregon

3.   MINER - GOLD - Sutter's mill, Stockton, Pasadena, hills of Pasadena (still today people pan for gold there)

4.   MINER - SILVER - New Mexico and Denver

5.   MINER - COAL - West Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania

6.   OIL - Los Angeles - Long Beach, Venice Beach
7.   OIL - Texas

With no internet or cell phones or television, the theater and live actors was a very good way for people to make their money.   After working all day, it was refreshing to get to go see a play or musical.  So search for names of Play Bills, List of Actors in Acting Troups.  Try using combinations of his name or relative's names to get the new name.  You won't know the stage name any other way other than the net picture
Most Mining Camps had a Theater so let's say he was an Actor and "ran off to join the circus! " The state of Washington check content.lib.washington.edu 
Most Actors had stage names not because it was more glamourous, it was to keep one step ahead of the law as they traveled from camp to camp, from state to state.
There is an amazing collection of pictures at digital.collections.lib.washington.edu
Also check Google Images

CENSUS.GOV   Fast Facts
1840 - 
1853 - New Mexico was bought - Silver Mine
1860-1865 - Civil War Records
           1.  Pension Records      
           2.  Land owners
           3.  Prisoner of War Records - South and North
           4.   Land ownership:
1867 - US bought Alaska from Russia - 
           See Oil - Alaska
           See Gold - Alaska
1869 - Promontory Point -  RAILROADS -  Check various sites on google to see who was an employee at that time.

        An in dex of Old Occupations can be found at:  rmbb.co.uk   Not sure what your ancestor did for a living?  Sometimes you will see very strange names for occupations.  For example, the name "ankle beater" was a REAL name of an occupation in the UK.  It means, "One who chases cattle down the street and leads them down the street, guiding them to market by beating their ankles with a whip."  

More descriptions of occupational codes can be found at
Deciphering Occupational Codes - stevenmorse.org

Have fun!

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