Friday, December 16, 2011

Genealogy sites remove Social Security numbers of deceased

Another move aimed at decreasing the availablity of Social Security numbers on the internet.

Read more here. 

And more news, Rootsweb has now removed the SSDI altogether. What is next?

Read more here.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Reprint: A Note from the Editor: Preparing for the Opening of the 1940 Census

Source: Lynn Betlock, "A Note from the Editor: Preparing for the Opening of the 1940 Census," The Weekly Genealogist, Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 07 December 2011, 14:49.

A Note from the Editor: Preparing for the Opening of the 1940 Census
by Lynn Betlock, Editor

The online debut of the 1940 census is now only four months away. At 9 a.m. on Monday, April 2, 2012, the National Archives will make the census available for research.

The 1940 census will provide some challenges for researchers used to typing a name in a search box and immediately locating an ancestor’s place of residence. There is no index to the 1940 census. The National Archives FAQ page on the 1940 census reports that in lieu of an index, “You can locate people by identifying the enumeration district in which they lived in 1940 and then browsing the Census population schedules for that enumeration district.”

If you don’t know where an ancestor lived in 1940, you can follow the suggestions on the Start Your 1940 Census Research Page:

1. Make a list of all the people you want to look for in the 1940 census

2. Determine their addresses using sources such as city directories, 1930 census information, and World War II draft records.

3. Identify the enumeration district for each address. Follow the steps provided online to search 1940 census maps for enumeration district numbers and descriptions. You can also try the search utilities, which allow you to convert 1930 EDs to 1940 ones and search for 1940 EDs by using addresses or locations.

You can view a clock that is counting down the days, hours, minutes, and seconds until the census opening — and a wealth of information on the 1940 census on the National Archives website.

Steve Morse's 1940 census information page contains numerous strategies for locating ancestors using his free One-Step tools and a source checklist that might yield 1940 addresses. Mr. Morse also provides useful background on the 1940 census. For instance, “There were several new and interesting questions in 1940. Some examples are name of informant (so you can see if the information was provided by someone knowledgeable), highest school grade completed (to see if education level affected whether or not a person had a job in this recessionary period), country of birth as of 1937 borders (because the borders of Europe were changing fast and furiously in 1940), place of residence in 1935 (to see how migratory the population was due to the recession and great dust bowl of the 1930s), and income.”

On his website, Mr. Morse speculates that a complete name index to the 1940 census will be available about six months after the census is released. So if some of your ancestors prove elusive, other search options will become available over time.

I am looking forward to finding my family members, most specifically my grandparents, in the 1940 census. Both sets of my grandparents were married in August 1940, so at the time the census was taken, on April 1, all four of them were single, and my grandmothers were still living with their parents in Little Falls, Minnesota. I also particularly want to locate my immigrant ancestors and find out whether the information provided tallies with what I think I know now. I’m not expecting great revelations in this census but I am looking forward to a new genealogical resource — one that connects me a bit more to my grandparents and older generations of my family that I knew and now remember.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Origins of the Republican Party

What were the origins of the Republican Party?[1]

In 1854, the issue of slavery was on everyone’s minds. At the time, many political parties presented their own views on the matter, including the Whigs, Free-Soilers, and Democrats. In Ripon, Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin, the concerns came to a head, inaugurated by A. E. Bovey [Alvan E. Bovay], a prominent member of the Whig party. He called for a meeting, and on the last day of February, the citizens met in the Congregational Church. Persons of both sexes from the town and the surrounding country attended the meeting. Their purpose was merely to compare their principles and views. After a great deal of discussion, they adopted a resolution that, if the Nebraska bill, then pending, should pass, they would “throw old party organizations to the winds, and organize a new party on the sole issue of the non-expansion of slavery.”
They held a second meeting on March 20 for the purpose of organization and for the adoption of such preliminary measures as the inauguration of the new party required. By formal vote, the town committees of the Whig and Free Soil parties were dissolved, and a committee of five, consisting of three Whigs, one Free Soiler and one Democrat were chosen. A. E. Bovay, J. Bowen, Amos Loper, Abram Thomas, and Jacob Woodruff comprised the committee. Henry Wilson, former Vice President of the United States, wrote this account:

I remember every word and act, as if the time but yesterday. The election of that first Republican Committee…was a solemn act. Every man present fully believed that he was helping to make a permanent piece of history. And he was. Yes; that point ought to be clearly understood. This was no blind, unconscious movement, of which the human family make so many. We did not build better than we knew; and there stands the edifice. Look at it. It will bear examination. It was no fragmentary movement. It contemplates the combination in one grand organization of all shades of anti-slavery sentiment in the country in one grand organization to resist the encroachments of slavery, under the name Republican.

Soon, neighboring sections accepted this combination and it quickly spread throughout the entire state. In July, they held a State Convention and their candidate, Free Soiler Charles Durkee, gained election to the Senate of the United States.

How is all of this relevant to my family history?

A quick review of my journey to this discovery starts with a pursuit of descendants of Timothy Bemis, of Malone, New York. When Mr. Bemis wrote his will in 1844, he divided his estate among his children. Included in that list was his daughter, Eunice Strong. By the time Timothy died in 1848, Eunice must have died because the executors of the estate posted a notice naming: “Harriet Strong, Henry Strong, Ann Eliza Strong, Alice Strong, and an infant child of Eunice Strong, deceased, whose name is unknown, and cannot, upon diligent enquiry, be ascertained, severally residing in the town of Ceresco in the county of Fond du Lac and the state of Wisconsin.”
To find out more about Eunice Strong, I did some research into the history of Fond Du Lac County and came across a biography of William D. Strong. The following description provides the link:

In 1824, when our subject [William Strong] was a youth of sixteen years, the family removed to Franklin County, N. Y., where he engaged in farming. In his twenty-first year, he was united in marriage with Miss Eunice Bemis, celebrating Independence Day of 1829 by that important event. The parents of Mrs. Strong were Timothy and Lois Bemis. Ten children graced the union of our subject and his worthy wife, and the record is as follows: Phoebe M., the eldest, died in infancy; Judson also died in infancy; Harriet married Peter Gore and departed this life in December, 1878; Angeline died at the age of five years; Henry V., who served his country as a member of the 5th Regiment Wisconsin Infantry, married Sabrina Bailey, and is now living in Emmett County, Iowa; John W. died of smallpox when an infant; Ann Eliza, wife of Henry Bates, is living in Cooper County, Missouri; Cynthia A. died at the age of five years; Alice A. married Edgar Loper and is living in Madelia, Minn.; William A. died in infancy. [2]

Finally, on a recent trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake, I obtained death certificates for Alice (Strong) and Edgar Loper. Edgar’s certificate identified his father as Amos Loper; and research into Amos Loper provided the critical link to the founding of the Republican Party: Amos Lopers’ daughter-in-law, Alice Strong, was the granddaughter of Timothy Bemis, my 4th great grandfather.[3]

[1] History of northern Wisconsin : containing an account of its settlement, growth, development, and resources, an extensive sketch of its counties, cities, towns and villages, their improvements, industries, manufactories, biographical sketches, portraits of prominent men and early settlers, views of county seats, etc. (Chicago: Western Historical Co., 1881), 852-856; digital image, Heritage Quest Online ( : accessed 03 December 2011).
[2] Acme Publishing Company, Portrait and biographical album of Green Lake, Marquette and Waushara counties, Wisconsin:  containing full page portraits and biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens of the counties, together with portraits and biographies of all the presidents of the United States (Chicago:  Acme Publishing Company, 1890), 355.
[3] Minnesota, Division of Vital Statistics, Certificate of Death, No. 11543, 25 March 1922; Edgar A. Loper, died 13 March 1922 at New Avon, Redwood, Minnesota, age 85 years, 7 month, 13 days; microfilm of original records at the Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul; FHL microfilm 2,218,075.