I love Google – again!!

I’ve been having fun lately using the Google Earth overlay feature to map where my ancestors lived in various townlands in Ireland during the 19th century. By referencing Griffith’s Valuation records, it’s possible to determine with a great deal of accuracy where they lived and what land they were leasing.

While doing U.S. research last weekend on my great great grandparents Lewis Blacker and Margaret Rebecca (Loury/Lower) Blacker, I wondered if it might be possible to map where they lived in 1850.

Here is the family in the census record – Lewis and Margaret living with their two daughters Elizabeth and her husband Nathan Pierce and Sarah and her husband Alonzo Ford – living in Ward 1, City of Dayton, Miami County, Ohio.

I started by searching Google for an historic map related to that location and time period but the closest I could find was this 1875 map from historicmapworks.com.

Looking again at the 1850 U.S. Census record, I was hoping to find some reference to an address, or at least a street name – but was quickly disappointed when I realized there were none. The only reference is the “dwelling house” number (column 1) and a number indicating the order in which each family was visited (column 2).

Never one to give up easily, however, I wondered if maybe, just maybe, there might be some other notation or reference to a landmark that might give me a clue. So I decided to go through the record, page by page.

Luckily, I didn’t have to go far. The very first listing on page 1 was for a group of people who lived in a hotel. A rather large group of people – 27, to be exact. That could be good, right? A rather large hotel possibly owned by the first person listed – a “hotel keeper” by the name of Francis Ohmer.

Next, I searched Google for Mr. Ohmer’s name, plus a few additional identifiers like “Ohio” and “1850” – and soon came across the American Antiquarian Society web site, with a reference to the Richard P. Morgan Indexes. Included there is a searchable database of the “Ohio Name Index, 1796-1900”, which includes “Odell’s Dayton Directory and Business Advertiser, 1850”. And Mr. Ohmer is in that database.

It appeared at first that the directory was a listing of business people so I began by searching the database for other individuals listed in the 1850 census that looked like they might have owned a business . . . a distiller, a moulder, a grocer, and a cooper. By mapping the addresses of those businessmen, I might be able to ascertain the direction in which the census taker was moving, which would ultimately help me determine where the Blackers lived.

And my idea seemed to be working. And then, quite by accident, I realized there were some “laborers” listed in the directory.

Since Lewis Blacker was listed as a “laborer” in the census, I searched his first and last name in the database but nothing came up. Remembering that “Blacker” is often misspelled, I tried searching on his first name alone – and I got lucky. There was only 20 names in the result, one for a “Lewis Blicker“. A laborer who lived at “Third North Side East of Old Canal, Dayton, Ohio”. And since “Blicker” is an alternate spelling that comes up over and over again (which will be the subject of a blog post in the near future), I believe this is my guy!

I was unable to find a digital image of the directory online but did discover several locations where I could order a reproduction, at a very reasonable price. So I placed an order – and it came in the mail yesterday. Hooray!

Here’s an image of the page where Lewis Blicker appears.

And so now I know he lived on the “north side of Third east of old canal.” Well, at least that’s where he lived according to the Dayton directory.

As a double-check, I decided to continue mapping some of the other folks referenced in and around the Blacker family in the census and it actually appears they lived in a different location at the time the census was taken in October of that year. If my calculations are correct, they lived on First Street between Madison and Sears – just a few blocks north of the Third Street location – at the time of the census.

I still believe the “Lewis Blacker” in the census record (October 1850) and the “Lewis Blicker” in the Dayton directory (published in August 1850) are likely the same individual, as it seems entirely plausible that the family might have lived in two different locations in the same year.

Shown below are the two different locations on the historical Dayton map . . .

And here are those same two locations shown on a current Google map . . .

Obviously, none of this information answers my ultimate brick wall question, which is . . .

Where in Germany were Lewis and Margaret born??

But while driving in my virtual car up and down Third Street, I noticed a church in the block just on the other side of Madison St. I zoomed in on the church sign and saw that the name was St. John’s United Church of Christ. I then located the church website and learned the following:

  • St. John’s was established by a group of German Evangelical Protestants in 1840 as the “German Evangelical Congregation”
  • The original meeting location was in the old courthouse located at 3rd Street and Main
  • The East 3rd Street site was built in 1865
  • That building was destroyed by fire in 1899 and construction on the new church was completed in 1901

So that’s some good information. The church was not in that location in 1850 when the Blacker family lived down the street, but it was in existence at another location. So that’s definitely worth further investigation for possible records.

And once again, you never know what you’ll find on Google!!

Featured Image attribution: By Google Inc. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


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My trip to RootsTech 2017: part 1

What a trip! What a week!!

I’ve been back home a week but still feel like I’m floating on air a bit. I thought I had prepared myself but really – I think that’s impossible where RootsTech is concerned.

Note: The original post was getting long so I decided to split it into three parts. This post covers Monday and Tuesday, February 6th and 7th.

Another Note: Proceed reading at your own risk! After I wrote this post, I thought about cutting it back. But then realized I might enjoy looking back on this at some point in the future. So there it is.

MONDAY February 6th

Standing in line on Monday morning outside the Family History Library. Photo from author’s collection, taken February 6, 2017.

Having arrived the evening before, I was up early, had a quick breakfast, and then took the light rail to the Family History Library (“FHL”). I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, but having never been to the FHL before, I was a little teary-eyed while waiting in line for the doors to open. Wow. What a genealogy geek!

I did a little research and then headed to DearMyrt’s “Mondays with Myrt” Google hangout, which was recorded live at the FHL. (“DearMyrt” is the non de plume of Pat Richley-Erickson – author of the DearMyrtle Genealogy Blog. I highly encourage everyone to follow the link over to her blog where you’ll find lots of great info and all the links for her weekly live and archived hangouts.) And oh yes, Myrt is the reason I went to RootsTech this year, thanks to the free pass she gave away last October.

The week before RootsTech, Myrt invited any of us who wanted to sit in on the hangout to drop by. I really didn’t know what to expect, and I was a little nervous to participate – but since I’m trying to step outside my comfort zone a little more these days, and I wanted to thank her personally for the RootsTech pass, I decided to give it a try.

A few days ago, I finally worked up the courage to watch the recording – and since I don’t think I embarrassed myself, or any of my family members too much, I’ve included the video below. It starts where I have a short chat with Myrt.

After the hang-out, it was back to researching my brick wall. I finally took a lunch break and met up with a new Facebook friend, Yvonne Demoskoff – author of Yvonne’s Genealogy Blog, and her husband Michael. One of the highlights of the week was meeting other genealogy bloggers – what a treat!

Then it was back to researching for the remainder of the afternoon. Sad to say I didn’t have much luck that day.

I had dinner that evening with a cousin who lives in Salt Lake. It was fun to catch up and share family stories.

TUESDAY February 7th

Up early again and back to the FHL. More dead-ends that morning and then lunch again with Yvonne and Michael.

One of the rows where microfilm is kept inside the Family History Library. Photo from author’s collection, taken February 7, 2017.

Back for more research in the afternoon, which included looking through several old microfilm reels of German birth records, hoping to find a reference to my ancestor LEWIS (Ludwig?) BLACKER, born about 1806 in Germany. No luck.

So I decided to turn my attention to all the wonderful books they have at the library. I randomly picked some of the states related to my family history – since many of those books are not digitized or available anywhere but the FHL. The first state I picked was Kansas. Thought maybe – but probably not likely – I might find a reference to my great great grandfather John Buchenau.

In recent years, I narrowed down his death to some time between 1900 and 1910 in Kansas, but had never been able to determine an exact death.

Bingo! I located his death record!! I’ll write a blog post specifically about this topic in a few days. But suffice it to say, I was pretty excited!

It was a great way to end the day, so I headed back to the hotel, looking forward to Wednesday – Day 1 of Rootstech!

Click here to read part 2 . . .

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Från Sverige till Nordamerika: Part 2

[This series on Brita’s trip from Sweden to North America begins here.]

In Part 1 of this series, Brita Johansdotter left her home in Hudiksvall, Sweden for the last time on Sunday, January 22, 1893.

Four years after her husband emigrated to America.
Nine months after her son Johan died.
Five days after taking her daughter Helena to live with another family.

The first leg of her journey – from Hudiksvall to Göteborg – can only have been filled with sadness and anxiety.

And so I found myself wondering about her trip to Göteborg. What was her mode of transportation? And how long did the journey last?

After doing some research, it seems most likely she would have made the trip by train, since rail lines were well established by that time.

This map illustrates the rail lines in place by 1910. I outlined in red the route she might have travelled.

By Nordisk Familjebok (Nordisk Familjebok) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The trip from Stockholm to Göteborg took 14 hours via express train . . . so perhaps we can assume the trip from Hudiksvall to Göteborg took about 24 hours.

Twenty-four hours to remember all that had gone before and ponder what might lie ahead.

Depending on when she left Hudiksvall on January 22nd, Brita would have probably arrived in Göteborg on either January 23rd or 24th – assuming there were no overnight or lengthy stops along the way.

We know that her ship sailed on Friday, February 10th. So what did she do for two weeks while waiting to continue her journey?

In Part 3 of Brita’s trip from Sweden to North America, I’ll cover what I’ve learned about how she might have spent her time in Göteborg and give some detail on the next leg of her trip.

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Från Sverige till Nordamerika: Part 1

On Tuesday, January 17, 1893, twenty-nine year old Brita Johansdotter1, wife of Anders “Andrew” Dalin2, and mother of two children, Johan and Helena, awoke knowing that the following Sunday she would leave her home in Hudiksvall, Sweden – for the last time.

Her first destination would be Göteborg, a seaport on the west coast of Sweden, where she would board a ship headed for North America.

After four long years, she would finally join her husband who emigrated in January of 1889.

But I suspect that her very first thoughts that morning were of her two children. Johan would not make the trip because he had died nine months earlier at the age of 4. And little Helena, who had just celebrated her first birthday only a few weeks earlier, would not make the trip  . . . because she was not Andrew’s daughter. And now the day had finally come when Brita had to face that reality head on.

Four years earlier, on January 5, 1889, Brita’s husband Andrew and his brother Eric left Hudiksvall to emigrate to “Nordamerika”.3 Prior to that date, Andrew and Brita had been living with Andrew’s parents, Lars Andersson and Brita Anderssdotter,4 since the time the couple married on October 30, 1887.5

On December 27, 1887, a son – Johan – was born to Andrew and Brita.6

Brita continued living with her in-laws after Andrew left. And several years later, she became pregnant – and obviously, Andrew was not the father of the expected baby.

Screenshot of record showing Brita living in the home of her in-laws, with her two children Johan and Helena

Surprisingly, Brita stayed on with her in-laws during that time 7 and her daughter Helena was born on December 31, 1891.8

Screenshot of baptismal record (part of birth record) showing names of baptismal witnesses

The new baby was baptized several months later on February 27th and the “Dopvittnen” (baptismal witnesses) are listed as Per Olof Olsson, his wife Karin, son Johan Olof, and daughter Emma Christina – the same family with whom Helena went to live when her mother emigrated a year later.9

Johan Lars Anders Dahlin

Three and a half months after Helena’s birth, Brita’s four-year-old son Johan died on April 1, 1892, of a lung inflammation.10

And now the day had arrived – January 17, 1893 – when Brita had to face the reality of leaving her one-year-old daughter behind. The emotional pain must have been unbearable.

Most of the information above was discovered during research I conducted over several months last year, primarily from records located at ArkivDigital.

The records I discovered regarding Johan were not a surprise, as my father told me about him years ago. But he did not tell me about Helena – and I suspect he never knew about her.

Once the pieces of the story came together, I had many questions . . .

  • Who was Helena’s father?
  • How did her in-laws react when they found out Brita was pregnant by another man?
  • Why did they let her continue to live with them after she became pregnant?
  • Is it possible that one of the three males living in the same house with Brita was Helena’s father?
  • Is it plausible that one of the three males living in the same house with Brita was Helena’s father?
  • Did Brita stay in touch with Helena, or anyone else who might have been willing to tell her about Helena?
  • What happened to Helena? And does she have any surviving descendants?
  • Did Andrew know about Helena?
  • Other than the relatives in Sweden, did anyone in the family know about Helena?

Many questions.

In Part 2 of this story, I’ll cover Brita’s overland trip from Hudiksvall to Göteborg.

  1. Even though a married woman, Brita went by her maiden name JOHANSDOTTER while in Sweden. Once in the United States, she took on her husband’s surname.
  2. According to Swedish records I have located to date, Andrew’s surname was most often spelled DAHLIN in Sweden. Once in the United States, however, the spelling became DALIN.
  3.  Hudiksvall (Gävleborgs län, Hälsingland, Sweden), “Household Records, 1881-1891,” AI:19d; Regional Archives, Uppsala; digital images, “Swedish Church Records,” ArkivDigital (http://www.arkivdigital.net/sources/3099 : 20 March 2016), for Hudiksvall AI:19d (also numbered 135594.b1), image 241.
  4. Hudiksvall, “Household Records, 1881-1891,” AI:19d.
  5.  Hudiksvall, “Household Records, 1881-1891,” AI:19d.
  6. Sweden, Indexed Birth Records, 1860-1941, digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com), Gävleborg County, Söderhamn Parish, year 1888 (image 26 of 26), Johan Lars Anders entry on right-hand side page, item 2, which page is actually part of Hudiksvall Parish.
  7. Hudiksvall (Gävleborgs län, Hälsingland, Sweden), “Congregation Records, 1891-1900,” Alla:1c; Regional Archives, Uppsala; digital images, “Swedish Church Records,” ArkivDigital (http://www.arkivdigital.net/sources/3099 : 20 March 2016), for Hudiksvall Alla:1c (also numbered 35600), image 90.
  8. Hudiksvall (Gävleborgs län, Hälsingland, Sweden), “Birth and Christening Records, 1879-1894,” CI:5; Regional Archives, Uppsala; digital images, “Swedish Church Records,” ArkivDigital (http://www.arkivdigital.net/sources/3099 : 20 March 2016), for Hudiksvall CI:5 (also numbered 135624), image 280.
  9.  Hudiksvall, “Birth and Christening Records, 1879-1894,” CI:5; also see Hudiksvall (Gävleborgs län, Hälsingland, Sweden), “Congregation Records, 1891-1900,” Alla:1c; Regional Archives, Uppsala; digital images, “Swedish Church Records,” ArkivDigital (http://www.arkivdigital.net/sources/3099 : 20 March 2016), for Hudiksvall Alla:1c (also numbered 35600), image 316.
  10.  Sweden, Selected Indexed Death Records, 1840-1860 and 1878-1942, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com), Gävleborg County, Hudiksvall Parish, year 1892 (image 3 of 16), Johan Lars Anders Dahlin entry on left-side page, item 34.

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