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  • Census Clarification

    Friday, Oct 07, 2011

    During Fort Wayne Ancestry Day's Ask the Experts Panel, we received so many questions that we were unable to answer them all during the event. The following are questions asked and The Genealogy Center staff's responses.

    Is there a way to search census records by specific address/locator?

    The answer is yes and no. To my knowledge, there is no way to “plug” a specific address into the search boxes in or to find a particular household. However, if your target family lives in a small town, you can use the browse option to the right of the search box in to narrow down your search to state, then county, then township or town, then (if applicable), enumeration district. Then you can browse page by page, looking at the street names written on the left sides of the enumeration sheets and matching those with the house numbers in the far left column of each household’s information. For 1880 through 1930, there are enumeration district (ED) descriptions and maps available on microfilm that describe the boundaries of the enumeration districts and which streets were included in which ED.

    Is there a way to correct a spelling of a name on the census?

    Sites such as FamilySearch and Ancestry have a system in place for you to submit an alternate spelling of names in their census indexes. If you are hoping to alter the spelling of a name on the actual census record, no changes can be made to the legal document itself. The books for the 1790-1930 federal censuses were destroyed after the records were microfilmed, so there are no documents to alter at this time.

    What will become of family history when the census now are available, from 1980 to 2010?

    There is a 72-year waiting period before a census can be released, due to privacy laws. This means that the 1980 census will be released in 2052. The census was recorded on cards and was mailed to the Census Bureau. These cards have been retained and presumably will be published in some form at that time - presumably in some electronic format.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Elusive War of 1812

    Tuesday, Oct 04, 2011

    During Fort Wayne Ancestry Day's Ask the Experts Panel, we received so many questions that we were unable to answer them all during the event. The following is a question asked and The Genealogy Center staff's response.

    What does this mean: Bounty land is returned by widow of 1812 Soldier and assigned to another man on one deed?

    It often happened that land speculators bought the vouchers for War of 1812 bounty land from soldiers or widows who could make more use of money than land. In that case, the person who bought the land may be listed as the seller on the deed when he sold that piece of land, and it may be noted that the soldier or widow “assigned” it to him. Another possibility may be that the soldier or widow has appointed someone to act for him or her, such as an attorney.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Our Immigrant Ancestors

    Saturday, Oct 01, 2011

    During Fort Wayne Ancestry Day's Ask the Experts Panel, we received so many questions that we were unable to answer them all during the event. The following are questions asked and The Genealogy Center staff's responses.

    Can you cross reference a visa number?

    At this point in time, the Ancestry database does not have a spot for visa numbers. However, the later passenger lists does indicate whether the person has a passport, visa, or other document, such as a transit certificate.

    Border crossing from Canada to New England records? Early Canadians -did they have to naturalize?

    Immigrants were never compelled to become naturalized citizens. However, if they were Canadian-born, after 1790, they would have had to become naturalized if they wanted to be American citizens capable of voting. Your question does not state when your ancestors came from Canada to New England. If they came before the Revolutionary War, they would not have needed to naturalize. Assuming that they came later, there are two sets of Canadian border crossing records available from the National Archives: "Index to Canadian Border Entries, St. Albans, VT, 1895-1924, and 1924-1952. I am not aware of crossing records before 1895.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Genealogy Center History, part 8

    Friday, Sep 30, 2011

    Less than 20 years after the new building was constructed at 900 Webster Street, the Allen County Public Library was already feeling that it needed more space. The Genealogy Department has moved many materials into subbasement storage and seating was limited. It needed more than its 6000 square feet.

    Plans were made to tear down several buildings along Wayne Street (including the old YWCA), and a new wing added to contain more storage in the two lower levels, expansion space for the Young Adults Department and a new auditorium on the first floor, with all of the new space on the second floor to be the Genealogy Department's new home. Construction began in August 1979. The next year, the library system became the Allen County Public Library. The department was closed to the public December 1, 1980. The move itself took only one day and 125 volunteers. Book carts were labeled with color codes and lines to follow were taped to the floor. The department reopened January 19, 1981 with more seating and a light-controlled room for reading microfilm.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • All Aboard for Passenger Lists

    Wednesday, Sep 28, 2011

    During Fort Wayne Ancestry Day's Ask the Experts Panel, we received so many questions that we were unable to answer them all during the event. The following are questions asked and The Genealogy Center staff's responses.

    In a passenger list, what is a "2" number and how can we use that in our search?

    In the earlier passenger lists, the number "2" could mean the number of luggage or even possibly the compartment where the passenger has been assigned. To double check what the number could be, go to the very first page of the passenger list and check the heading of this column.

    Castle Garden Immigration Records – How do we find them? What information is available on the records?

    Records for Castle Garden cover the port of New York in 1855-1890. The records are accessible for free on either the Castle Garden site or Steve Morse’s website or on commercial sites, such as Questions asked in these records were minimal, but includes port of departure, ship name, arrival date, name of passenger, age, sex, occupation, and place of last residence.

    How do you find complete list of passengers on ship’s logs? I found person’s name with 4 family members, but no names for them.

    First, verify that you are looking at a passenger list rather than a transcription or abstract. Passenger lists beginning in 1820 were maintained by the federal government and are now sourced as National Archives (NARA) records. If you’re not looking at an actual passenger list, trace the source of your information back to the original record. If you are viewing the passenger list and it does not provide names, use other records such as emigration records from the home country to determine the family member’s names. For example, German immigrants had to file papers to leave Germany in the late eighteenth century, in which these records are indexed in the Wuerttemberg Emigration Index.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Revolutionary Societies

    Sunday, Sep 25, 2011

    During Fort Wayne Ancestry Day's Ask the Experts Panel, we received so many questions that we were unable to answer them all during the event. The following are questions asked and The Genealogy Center staff's responses.

    What info can I get from an SAR application?

    A Sons of the American Revolution application, like many lineage society applications, provide the applicant’s name and current address, his children, lineage back to the Revolutionary War ancestor and that ancestor’s service, and who is sponsoring the applicant to become a member of what chapter.

    I need to find information on men who fought in the Revolutionary War for DAR.

    Most states have books that include lists of men who fought from that area in the American Revolution. Revolutionary War soldiers’ and widows’ pensions are available on microfilm and are digitized on the subscription database In addition, there are unit histories for many units, books listing the burial places of Revolutionary War soldiers, websites, and the various record book series published by the National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution, including the Patriot Index and the DAR Lineage Books. The DAR website has many helpful features. If you don’t know how to begin researching your Revolutionary War soldier, or if you are stuck, you might contact your local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution for personal assistance.

    As a member of the DAR, I’m always looking for more info to connect my ancestors, male and female, to the Revolutionary effort. What are some of the best ways to research non-military support to the Patriot effort?

    Michael John Neill addresses this question in an article on the website. You also could use keywords in your general browser to find more information. To find additional articles or record abstracts that may have been published on this topic, search the PERiodical Source Index (PERSI), a subject index to periodicals published by genealogy and local history societies. PERSI is available at

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • DNA Matches

    Thursday, Sep 22, 2011

    During Fort Wayne Ancestry Day's Ask the Experts Panel, we received so many questions that we were unable to answer them all during the event. The following are questions asked and The Genealogy Center staff's responses.

    The four DNA matches for my brother said that it didn't match their lines. Where do I go from here? (My brother has passed away).

    This is hard to answer. I presume you had a Y-DNA test done, but I don't know how many markers were tested. Depending on what company has the sample, you might consider having the maximum number of markers tested and then look for possible comparisons. I have found 37 and 67 marker matches to be useful - anything less than that is not significant. It may be that no other male under your last name has provided a sample or that you are a close match to some other surname.

    DNA Testing. After getting a test result, where do we go to get help in interpreting and follow-up. My results seemed very generic and didn't give me a good point to continue on.

    I presume that you tested with Ancestry. Most testing companies have a tech support area to answer further questions and provide guidance. You should call 1-800-ANCESTRY and ask to be directed to someone who can help.

    Recently did the DNA Maternal and Paternal. Have a couple of matches for one family and zero for the other set. Now what? Where do we go with DNA info we match and with family we don't have matches with?

    There are two different types of DNA tests available for genealogists: Y-Chromosome tests, which examines Y DNA passed from father to son and allows males with that chromosome to match other males. The other so-called female test is a Mitochondrial DNA test, which compares DNA found in the cells of women and passed down through their daughters. Sons inherit their mothers' DNA but do not pass it down. Currently, there is no way to develop matches to other surnames through mitochondrial DNA. The tests will show what large Haplogroup you belong, and what subgroup within that group. If you think you and a cousin share the same maternal line, you can do a comparison. Otherwise, the data from a mitochondrial test is too general to be meaningful genealogically. Y-Chromosome testing is different and offers more promise for a match. This is because there are a number of fast-moving markers on a Y-chromosome (by "fast-moving," we mean that there are mutations that can occur within a genealogical time frame of a few hundred years or less). So for genealogical purposes, I recommend the Y test, and that you test other male relatives who share the same unbroken male line, and I would recommend at least a test involving 37 markers (anything less is too likely to create a false positive match). A 67-marker test is even better. If you have a match, you can be assured that you have a common ancestor. A very close match, say 65 out of 67 markers, means that you may have a common ancestor in the last 100 or 150 years (scientists are still trying to work out the mutation rates of various markers). If you don't match another male-line descended relative with whom you share a common male ancestor (and it has to be an unbroken male line), then something called a "non-paternal event" has occurred. This means that somewhere in either your or your cousin's line, an adoption or pregnancy occurred where the paternity was different than what was believed. Ideally, results should be compared with a group of male-descended cousins or people with the same surname.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Family History Month

    Sunday, Sep 18, 2011

    The Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, IN is once again hosting its annual Family History Month classes in October. With 31 genealogical offerings ranging from technology classes on Footnote and Family Tree Maker to ethnic programs on Irish and African American resources, plus record searching census and immigration, and more. It will be a grand celebration of family history! Details and descriptions of the classes are provided in the Family History Month brochure. Please call 260-421-1225 or email at Genealogy@ACPL.Info to register for these programs.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • More Revolutionary Soldiers

    Friday, Sep 16, 2011

    During Fort Wayne Ancestry Day's Ask the Experts Panel, we received so many questions that we were unable to answer them all during the event. The following are questions asked and The Genealogy Center staff's responses.

    Are there any collections of British/Scottish muster rolls for units’ service in the colonies during the Revolutionary War?

    Wikipedia, of all places, has a list of British units (including some from Scotland and Wales) that were involved in the Revolutionary War. Many of these units have hotlinks from the general page to additional pages of information. You will want to do additional research to substantiate what you find on this general website, but the links and source notes at the bottom of the page may be a launch-pad for your research. Regarding your specific question about muster rolls for these units, the website of the On-Line Institute for Advanced Loyalist Studies has this to say: “Only those regiments that received pay and clothing for their services were mustered. As a result, there is an absence of muster rolls for many of the militia and other irregular units that served during the war.” Most of the muster rolls that were taken still survive, however, and are located in three places, the National Archives of Canada, the Public Record Office in Kew, Richmond, Surrey, United Kingdom, and the British Library in London. The website of the On-Line Institute for Advanced Loyalist Studies gives in-depth detail about these records.

    Unable to find a marriage record for circa 1780 in Pennsylvania for a Revolutionary soldier discharged from Fort Pitt around that time. Ideas to search? I have the pension application; no mention of marriage.

    With the exception of the Philadelphia area, early Pennsylvania civil marriage records are extremely rare, particularly for western Pennsylvania. You may find a church record for the marriage or the returns of a roving (circuit riding) preacher that have been published or donated to a local historical society or library. In the absence of an actual marriage record, you can formulate a good estimate of when the nuptials took place by preparing a timeline for the individuals using all records you can find, including records that indicate their approximate years of birth, their oldest child’s year of birth, etc. Deeds may help you narrow the time period of the marriage, if your ancestor sold land. Usually if a man was married, his wife was included as a grantor when he sold land. Deeds where your ancestor is a grantor but no wife is listed may have been written before his marriage took place.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Evaluating Sources

    Tuesday, Sep 13, 2011

    During Fort Wayne Ancestry Day's Ask the Experts Panel, we received so many questions that we were unable to answer them all during the event. The following is a question asked and The Genealogy Center staff's response.

    How do you verify information that contradicts other information you’ve found in multiple sources?

    Compare the sources. How many primary sources do you have to support either theory? You may have many sources for one statement, but one of those sources may have pulled erroneous information from another source that obtained it from a misinterpretation of yet another document. Make your judgment by separately determining the reliability of each source.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Curt Witcher Honored

    Saturday, Sep 10, 2011

    Curt Witcher, Manager of The Genealogy Center, was presented the Genealogy Tourism Award at the FGS Conference on Thursday, September 8. He was recognized for his work in promoting genealogy collections as a tourist attraction. Notably, The Genealogy Center is visited by more than 100,000 visitors a year and brings in millions of dollars to the local Fort Wayne community.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Hessian Soldiers

    Saturday, Sep 10, 2011

    During Fort Wayne Ancestry Day's Ask the Experts Panel, we received so many questions that we were unable to answer them all during the event. The following is a question asked and The Genealogy Center staff's response.

    What records are available regarding Hessian soldiers who stayed in America after the Revolution?

    There are a number of excellent published lists of Hessian soldiers. Probably the best is the Hetrina, known also by its full name, Hessiche Truppen im amerikanischen Unabhangigkeitskrieg, published in multiple volumes. If you have identified the Hessian's name, you should have some idea where he settled. Many settled in Virginia after the Revolution, because a large number of Hessian prisoners of war were held there. You should check the county records for the place where your family lived: wills, deeds, court records, etc. I know of no specific source listing specifically Hessians who remained behind - only lists of the soldiers and their military units. Once they decided to stay, they became German-Americans, and they should be found in standard genealogical sources.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Free Database Additions

    Thursday, Sep 08, 2011

    More that 66,000 entries have been added to our Free Databases page since August 15, including Indiana cemetery transcriptions, Allen County records and additional Evangelical Messenger obituary citations. There were also more than 600 additions to the Our Military Heritage portion of the free databases, so if you haven't checked these databases recently, it's time to take another look. Remember, you can search ALL of our Free Databases at one time by using the federated search box, which says, "Search our Free Databases," on our Home Page.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Now Open Sundays!

    Tuesday, Sep 06, 2011

    Beginning this Sunday, September 11, the Genealogy Center starts Sunday hours (12 noon to 5 PM). So come on in for a nice afternoon of research!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • What's in a Name

    Sunday, Sep 04, 2011

    During Fort Wayne Ancestry Day's Ask the Experts Panel, we received so many questions that we were unable to answer them all during the event. The following are questions asked and The Genealogy Center staff's responses.

    Where in a married woman’s name should her maiden name be placed?

    Currently, a woman’s legal married name will be as she decides, i.e.: Jane Maiden Married or Jane Married (nee Maiden). But if you mean in an article of book about a family, either Jane Middle Maiden Married or Jane Middle (Maiden) Married would be best, just as long as there is consistency.

    Census record search for Blunt returned "Blunk." If German heritage, should I keep looking for Blunt in Germany and Blunk in the U.S.?

    German names can be misrecorded in many ways, especially when there was a language barrier between the respondent and the census taker. I would never use a single census record to conclude how a name was spelled, since there are so many ways that it could be spelled wrong. First, I would do Soundex searches for other censuses using both Blunt and Blunk. You should also attempt to locate other records for the family in the locality where they lived: vital records, church records, newspaper obituaries, cemeteries, city directories, etc. and note how the name is spelled in those sources. Comparison from multiple sources is one of your greatest tools. That said, many Germans did change the spellings of their names in America, and you may find it consistently one way in America and something different in Germany. Search the passenger lists carefully and note how the name is spelled there. If you know the specific town in Germany, you can order civil and parish records from the Family History Library (if available), and search for records in those sources. Use all the variant spellings you can find. Names can vary even in German sources.

    In other countries, will the ancestors be in our spelling or the original spelling? Example: (Welsh) Gryffyths or (USA) Griffiths.

    When researching in the country your ancestors lived before coming to the U.S., I would look for the original spelling, but be prepared for various spellings of the surname due to the type of language the records were written. For example, early Catholic Church records were written in Latin. Surnames changed because the clerk or the person wrote down what they heard. Other times, the surnames could have been changed when the ancestor wanted to Anglicize the name in order to get a job and/or fit into a community.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Genealogy Center History, part 7

    Wednesday, Aug 31, 2011

    In January 1971, the Fort Wayne Public Library Board of Trustees renamed the contents of the Genealogy Department as the "Reynolds Historical Genealogy Collection," in honor of Fred Reynolds, the library's Director and the driving force behind the creation of the collection.


    Fred Reynolds remained Director until retirement in 1979, and died in 1995. There is a bust of him in the Genealogy Center's Orientation Center.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • October 4th Consultations Closed

    Tuesday, Aug 30, 2011

    One-on-One Consultations for October 4 have filled. If you're interested in scheduling an appointment for a 30 minute consultation, held on the 4th Wednesday of the month, or other Tuesdays during Family History Month in October, please call 260-421-1225 or email Genealogy@ACPL.Info.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Adoptions or Orphans

    Monday, Aug 29, 2011

    During Fort Wayne Ancestry Day's Ask the Experts Panel, we received so many questions that we were unable to answer them all during the event. The following are questions asked and The Genealogy Center staff's responses.

    How can I track down someone placed in an orphanage or adopted?

    Adoption and orphan research depends greatly on location and time period. One might want to first contact the local library in the area where the event took place. The local librarian may know where (and if) institution records survive and where the records are located, although the library will probably not have the records. If you are searching a modern case (post 1930), you need to discover if the state has some type of contact-exchange program. In these programs, you register your information and if someone on the “other side” of the adoption has filed, they will facilitate contact. After that, contact the local Child Protective Services and ask what is and is not possible. For older adoptions and ward situations, check probate records in the counties in question. Probate records hold guardian, adoption and apprentice records which may help you to locate these children. You might also learn other tips from our Adoption Research Guide.

    Are there sources for names from Catholic Charities-foster home placements in New York City about the 1940s?

    That time period is still covered by privacy laws, but contact Catholic Charities in New York City.

    Who am I? My father was adopted. He never knew who his real father was. My father has passed now, and I do not know who his father was. I hate to think if I die, I will never know who I really am.

    The first step is to identify when and where your father was born and whether there is a birth certificate on file with the correct name of his birth father. If he was adopted, you need to determine who handled the adoption - a social agency, a lawyer? Since your father is deceased, enough time may have passed that the adoption record can be unsealed by a petition to the court in the county where he was born. Different states have different laws regarding access.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Labor Day Closing

    Saturday, Aug 27, 2011

    On Monday, September 5, 2011, The Genealogy Center, like the rest of the Allen County Public Library facilities, will be closed for Labor Day. We will be open that weekend only on Saturday, September 3, 2011, our regular hours of 9 AM to 6 PM, and will reopen Tuesday September 6, 2011 at 9 AM. Labor Day also signals the end of the summer Sunday closings. Beginning Sunday September 11, 2011, The Genealogy Center is open Sundays, 12 N to 5 PM.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Don't Miss Early Registration

    Friday, Aug 26, 2011

    Don't miss out on extended hours at The Genealogy Center, book signings, a gospel choir and classes on family health history, foundations of genealogical research, a librarians track, and information sharing. The National Black Genealogy Summit will have it all, including presentations by Tony Burroughs, Damani Davis of the National Archives; DNA expert, Roberta Estes; Jim Ison; Shamele Jordan; Lisa Lee; Timothy Pinnick; and Angela Walton-Raji.

    The Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library is proud to partner with the African American Genealogy Society of Fort Wayne (IN) to host the National Black Genealogy Summit on October 20-22, 2011. The conference website (http://www.BlackGenealogyConference.Info) contains much information about the details of the Summit as well as a registration form.

    Don't wait to enroll for this event! Take advantage of the early registration discount by sending in your form before Labor Day.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center