30 January 2008

FreeBMD and the Unsolved Case of Ann Loader

Several years ago, I was reading a brief history of a branch of the Loader family. The history stated that Ann Loader, born 19 April 1825 at Kingston, Oxfordshire, immigrated to the United States in 1855 with her son, William Loader. According to the history, she was the widow of Charles Loder. The writer stated that no one had successfully located the marriage of Ann Loader to Charles Loder. What a challenge for a genealogist!

All births, marriages, and deaths were registered with the government beginning in 1837 in Britain. Indexes to the British Civil Registration records are available on microfiche, however, the British researcher now has access to a searchable index through the website, freebmd.rootsweb.com. The index provides the year the event was registered, the quarter—March, June, September, and December of the event, the district, volume and page number of the registered information. With this information, a certificate of the event can be ordered. The certificate provides the names of the individuals involved in the event, address, exact date of the event, and the name of the person who registered the event. This information varies depending on the type of event.

I quickly logged on to freebmd and proceeded to conduct a search for Charles Loder or Loader in the Thame registration district. I found no entry for a groom of that name in the appropriate time period.

Next, I searched for Ann Loader or Loder in Thame. An entry was found for Ann Loader married in December quarter of 1846, registered at Thame. I clicked on the page number to see the name of others recorded on that page—this will usually show the groom, however the names often appear randomly, not consecutively. There was no Charles Loder/Loader.

I ordered the certificate to find the name of the groom. After several weeks, I received the certificate from England. There was Ann Loader, the daughter of James, from Aston Rowant, married 19 Nov. 1846 at Aston Rowant to James Coleman.

Further, I searched for the birth of William and located his birth. I sent for that certificate and discovered that Ann Loader Coleman gave birth to a son, William Loader Coleman, 4 Oct. 1849 at Ewelme, Oxfordshire. No father was listed on the certificate.

In the 1851 census of Aston Rowant, I located Ann Coleman, a married lacemaker, and her son, William Coleman. James Coleman was not listed, nor was Ann listed as a widow.

What a mystery. Ann was clearly married to James Coleman, her son was named William Loader Coleman, but no father was recorded on the birth certificate. No member of the Loader family recorded any information concerning this first marriage of their sister, Ann. Why did Ann drop the name of Coleman when she immigrated in 1855? Why did William Loader (Coleman) believe that his father was Charles Loder? Some mysteries just cannot be solved.

28 January 2008

More Skeletons: Jail and Prision Records

A recent reader posed the following question: "Do you know how I can find out whether my grandfather served time in a federal prision? There are some years none of us can account for in the 1920s-30s, and we have reason to believe he may have been in jail. Is this a matter of public record? How can we access the information, if so?

Access to records found in the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) is limited to law enforcement agencies. However, your ancestor pre-dates that agency. For Federal Prisions, you should contact the Bureau of Prisons, 320 First St. N.W., Washington, DC 20534. Be sure to state your relationship and interest in the individual as well as his birth and death dates. If that agency is unable to assist you, consider contacting the agency specific to the region where your ancestor lived. For the Western Region, the address is 7950 Dublin Blvd., 3rd floor, Dublin, CA 94568.

Local criminal case files are available to the public. They may be found on the state or county level. Check with the state archives of the appropriate state--you may be able to do this on-line. You should also consider searching the local newspaper archives for information.

For additional Federal Prision regional address, consult your local public library or Family History Center for a copy of "The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy," edited by Loretto Dennis Szucs and Sandra Hargreaves Luebking. This valuable resource book includes addresses for federal agencies and institutions, military agencies, and state and local agencies. (All of this information comes from "The Source" as cited above.)

21 January 2008

English Paleography

Genealogy research requires many different skills including the ability to read old documents. Several web sites offer excelent tutorials in reading Old English handwriting. My favorites are the paleography course offered on the Cambridge University web site and Beginners Palaeography available through The National Archives (TNA).

The Cambridge course is available at www.english.cam.ad.uk/ceres/ehoc. Select "course lessons" and practice transcribing Old English documents. The document appears on the upper half of a split screen, your transcription on the lower half. When you finish, you check your work by comparing your transcription with an accurate transcription.

Access the course available through TNA at www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/palaeography (note the unusual spelling of paleography). Select "Gam - ducking stool" for a little fun checking your skills with a game similar to hangman. A single word appears on the screen for you to transcribe. If you transcribe the word incorrectly, a little figure moves closer to the surface of the water. Enough errors and the figure is ducked and the game is over.

I hope you will find these websites useful in improving your skills as a paleographer.

09 January 2008

Parent Search and the International Genealogical Index

If you haven’t discovered the wonders of a “parent search” to locate missing children in the International Genealogical Index© (IGI) you should. This search can locate missing children in extracted records or patron submitted records. I used this method to find the children of Abel Loder.

All family records indicated that Abel Loder (b. 1791) married Sarah Legge, in 1813 at Adderbury, Oxfordshire, England. They had one child, George, christened in 1817 at Aston Rowant, Oxfordshire, England, home parish of Abel. There was no other information on this family.

A search of the Aston Rowant parish records revealed a christening record for Abel in 1791 and a christening record for a son, George in 1817. There were no burials or additional christenings for Abel and his wife, Sarah. With a four year gap between the marriage and the only known child, I suspected that additional children were christened in other parishes.

A first child was commonly christened in the mother’s home parish. I went to the Adderbury parish records to look for christening entries for this couple, but without success. Next I searched the parish chapelries. While searching the records of the Chapelry of Bodicot, I located an entry for a son, John christened in 1813. No other entries were found.

I next searched the IGI using the “parent search” method. I quickly located entries for a son, Henry, born 1820 in London; a daughter, Louisa, born 1825 in London; a second daughter, Ann, born 1827 in London; and a third daughter, Sarah, born in London in 1829. The last three children were christened at All Souls Church, Marylebone. No child was located born between 1820 and 1825.

I searched the All Souls records and located a marriage for Abel Loder to Jane Thorpe in December of 1829. The microfilm record of the marriage indicated that Abel was a widower. Evidently Sarah died shortly after the birth of her daughter, Sarah in July of 1829. No burial record was found for Sarah.

Another “parent search” of the IGI located the following children born to Abel Loder and his wife Jane. A son, George, born 1834 in London, a daughter Maria and another son, William, christened in 1837 in London. No other entries were located for this family.

Abel’s death certificate recorded that he died 4 February 1858 in Clerkenwell. His daughter, Maria was the informant.

So how do you perform a “parent search?” First select the “Search” tab in familysearch.org. Next, select “International Genealogical Index©”. After the screen changes, enter the names of the parents in the parent fields. You must have the father given and surname, but need only the mother’s given name (if her name is common, add her surname). You will also need to select a region. I select the country, but only include the County if I am sure that the family never lived in another county. The search results will include all children born to couples with those names. Consider the location of the christenings to narrow the list down to those who might belong to your family. If the record is an extraction of a parish record or Bishop’s Transcript, the Batch number will start with a “C,” marriage records start with an “M.” Once you have a Batch number, you can click on the Batch number and search the extracted records by surname.

Good luck, as you discover the marvels of a “parent search” of the IGI.

03 January 2008

Skeletons in the Closet and Other Family Secrets

Several years ago, I was verifying family records to complete a class assignment. I began to search county marriage records, to locate the marriage of my maternal grandparents. My records indicated that they were married, 11 December 1919 in Provo, Utah, Utah, but a careful search of the county records for that date produced no results. I began to search a month before and after the recorded date, but found no listing for the two individuals. My mother suggested that I should check Juab county records, but again no entry was located for this marriage.

I was intrigued by this mystery. A quick check of the 1920 census for Eureka and Goshen located both of my grandparents. My grandfather was living in Eureka with a younger brother. Grandfather was listed as a single male. My grandmother was living in Goshen with her parents and was also marked as single. Census records are often faulty, but it would be very unusual to find the same error in two individuals located in two towns. Another phone call to my mother produced the following response, “Oh, Mother must have been visiting her parents.” I didn’t believe a word.

So, according to available records, they were not married in 1919, and were in fact, single in January 1920 when the Federal census was taken. Back in the library, I pulled the marriage records for Utah County and began a careful search for the months following the date of the census enumeration. Finally, I found the entry for the marriage dated, 11 March 1920.

So, why the deception? It seems that the first child was born in September 1920, only six months after the wedding. Did Mother know that her parents were not married in December? I believe so. The dates on the marriage certificate have been changed—the handwriting just does not match. Clearly, a family secret perceived by some as a bona fide skeleton. So, who changed the dates on the certificate?