Friday, September 12, 2008

10 Essential Genealogy Books That I Have Or Wish I Have

For this carnival edition, we have to list ten genealogy books that we believe are essential to doing genealogy research, where it is how to do genealogy or for research in a specific location. A few of the books in my list below are books that I own; however, several of the books listed are books that I wish I owned. So, here is my list of the essential ten:

Books That I Own
  • Unpuzzling Your Past by Emily Anne Croom - The book is a general how-to-do genealogy in the United States book. This book is the very first book that I read on how to do genealogy, and I still believe it is an excellent book for beginning genealogists to read. I will still occasionally go back to the book to get ideas for possible records to research. The edition I bought was the third edition, and it included a workbook with the book. (I happened to buy it at a bargain price.) Even though some of the information on ordering records from the NARA might be out of date, I still believe the book is very useful. Besides, one can find more up-to-date information on the internet.
  • In Search of Your British & Irish Roots: A Complete Guide to Tracing Your English, Welsh, Scottish & Irish Ancestors by Angus Baxter - At least I think I have an edition of this book, or a modified version of it. The edition I have is not the fourth edition. My edition has lots of pictures, large print, and comes to be about 200 something pages long. (Either way, it was on sale, so I bought it.) This book is a how-to-do genealogy research in the United Kingdom, and it gives an overview of the different types of records a person could use to trace his or her ancestry. It is a good reference guide for the genealogist who is being to do research in the United Kingdom.
  • A Genealogist's Guide to Discovering Your Germanic Ancestors by Chris Anderson and Ernest Thode - Again, I think this is another how-to-do research on German ancestors for those who are just beginning to do research on their German ancestors. Since I am just starting to get into German research, I have found this book to be very helpful, especially when it comes to being able to decipher German handwriting.
  • Family Tree Resource Book For Genealogists: The Essential Guide to American County and Town Sources by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack - I realize that most of the information in this book could be found on the internet, but I still think it is an essential book for genealogists to have. Personally, I think it is nice to have a resource where I could look up information without having to get on the internet, and I also think it is nice that the book gives web addresses for different sites, so that I don't have to go searching through page after page of results for the site I want.
  • Your Guide to Cemetery Research by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack - As you can tell from the book's title, this book is a how-to-do research in a cemetery with plenty of tips on how to read tombstones and interpret tombstones.

Books I Wish I Owned

  • Michigan Genealogy: Sources and Resources (2005 edition) by Carol McGinnis - If you are interested in finding out what resources or sources that are available to do genealogy research in Michigan, this book is probably the best guide on Michigan genealogy. Some of the most important information in this book would be on the different laws passed on keeping vital records, and the years that more information is required. As someone who has had ancestors residing in Michigan for over the past 150 years, I have found the information on the vital records laws to be especially helpful, especially when it comes to the recording of marriages. I did do a brief review of this book over a year ago, and more recently, Miriam also reviewed this book. Jasia also mentions this book in her list as well.
  • Following the paper trail : a multilingual translation guideby Jonathan D. Shea - This book gives information and how to transcribe documents used by genealogists in several different European languages. Since there are multiple languages listed, I think this book would useful for the genealogist who potentially have ancestors from different areas of Europe. Since I have some ancestors from Central and Eastern Europe, I know this book would come in handy in my research.
  • Deciphering handwriting in German documents : analyzing German, Latin, and French in vital records written in Germany by Roger P. Minert - Again this book is a how-to transcribe German records, and since the book only focuses on German records, and the three possible languages the records might be in, this book has multiple examples of handwriting to help the genealogist transcribe the records central to his or her research. Since I am still learning how to read the handwriting in German documents, I know I would be using this book frequently.
  • A genealogist's guide to discovering your Scottish ancestors : how to find and record your unique heritage by Linda Jonas - This book is a book I need to read. I have started to work with Scottish records in my research, and since I am inexperienced and unfamiliar with doing genealogy research on Scottish ancestors, I think this book would probably be helpful for me. (Again, the book on British genealogy that I mentioned above, does cover a little bit on doing research on Scottish ancestors, but most of the book is focused on English records, with only a few pages covering the other parts of the British Isles.)
  • What did they mean by that? : a dictionary of historical & genealogical terms old & new by Paul E. Drake - Again, this is another book that I have not read, but I am sure it would come in handy only because I have already come across terms in my research that I did not recognize. I am sure many other genealogists would find this book or a book like this one useful.

So, as you can see, I have made some suggestions of possible useful books, although I have not read through two of the books listed. These are just a few of the books that I either know about or are familiar with, and it is very possible that there are other books out there that would be much better resources than the ones I recommended. Either way, I hope someone will find one of the books on this list to be useful.

22nd Shades Of The Departed Guest Column Posted!

The 22nd Shades of the Departed guest column has been posted! The author of this week's column is Joe Bott, and you can read the article here. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

My School's September 11th Memorial

In the years that I have been at my college, my school memorializes September 11th by putting flags, in the ground of the school's park, for each person that died on that day. Most of the flags are U. S. flags, but there are also flags from other countries that represent those who died who were from other countries. I did not take pictures of the flags this year, but I did take pictures from last year. To see what I am talking about, here are pictures from September 11, 2007:

I think there is a flag for every person that died, but you can't see them all since I was unable to capture of all of the flags in one picture. (I realize the quality of the pictures are poor, but I have a cheap digital camera. )

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Military History Reading Challenge: Book Review 2

For the second military history book that I had to read, I chose Because Each Life Is Precious: Why an Iraqi Man Risked Everything for Private Jessica Lynch by Mohammed Odeh Al-Rehaief and Jeff Coplon (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2003). Although I am not completely sure if this book would fit into the military history category, I chose to read this book primarily because I had wanted to read this book for some time and because this book is a recounting from a civilian's point of view an event that occurred a few years ago during the Iraq War.

This book, though, is just more than about why Mohammed Odeh Al-Rehaief chose to help Private Jessica Lynch; it is also a book about his life under Saddam Hussein's regime, Iraqi culture and his experiences of life during the three most recent wars Iraq had been involved in. In short, the book is part autobiography and part memoir. Additionally, his description of how life was under Saddam's government does make it very clear that his decision to help Private Lynch was putting whole family at risk; his wife, daughter, siblings and father also could have faced reprisals for what he did. And even if he did have some legitimate grievances against Saddam's government, I did not feel that that was his main motive in wanting to help Private Lynch. From my reading, I gather that he was motivated more by compassion and humanity than anything else.

Of course, this is just my opinion of the book. I think it is a very good and interesting book, and I enjoyed reading it.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Carnival of Central and Eastern European Genealogy: Still Searching For A Host And A Reminder

I just want to remind everyone that I am still looking for a host for the October edition of the Carnival of Central and Eastern European Genealogy. I have hosts for September and November's editions, but I don't have anyone for October. I am allowing the hosts to choose the topic for the edition they are hosting, and the deadlines for submissions and posting of the edition. If anyone is still interested, please contact me at jess_history at yahoo dot com. Thanks.

Also, I want to remind everyone that submissions for September's edition are due by September 21. The topic for this upcoming edition is on unusual given names. The edition will be hosted by Stephen Danko, and will be posted on his blog on September 24.

The Wives of the Two Henrys ...

Do I have any Canadian ancestors? Well, at the moment I do not know of any. I did have a couple of ancestors who lived in Canada before coming to the United States, if that counts. (And who knows, I might have still have cousins living in Canada. A few years ago, my grandma mentioned about some cousins who lived in Canada, and I think they were on my grandpa's side. I do not remember off hand the exact facts, but since I wrote it down, I'll have to check my notes.) Of course, I also have two of my ancestors' siblings who married women who were from Canada, which is not surprising since Michigan is so close to Canada.

The name of the men who married these women was Henry. In two different branches of my family, my ancestors had brothers named Henry who happened to marry a woman who came from Canada. (Hence, the title of my post.) And interestingly enough, these two Henry's also happened to live at about the same time as each other.

The first Henry who married a woman from Canada was Henry Oswalt. Henry was Adam Oswalt's second son, and he was born in November of 1862 (according to Adam's pension file). In 1887, he married Harriet A. Collacott (I've also seen her surname spelled Callacott, Collicott, and Collicut as well) in Kalamazoo, Michigan. At the time of his marriage, Henry was living in Decatur, Michigan. (An interesting fact, which I'll get into in a moment.) According to the marriage register, Harriet was born in New Castle, Canada, and that she was residing, in what appears to be from the record, in Indiana. When I looked at the listing for residence, I was surprised to see that Harriet listed her residence because I had found her (or at least believe I have found her family) living with her parents living in Decatur, Michigan in the 1870 and 1880 censuses. (Of course, I realize that she could have been living in Indiana after 1880. I just had not noticed where she listed her residence was when I looked at the record for the first time.) As for when Harriet and her family came to the United States, it had to be between the 1860 and 1870 U. S. censuses since the Collacotts are not listed in the 1860 census.

Between 1887 and the 1900 census, I do not know where Henry and Harriet lived, but in the 1900 census, I found both of them living in Rockford, Illinois. I have yet to find out why they chose to move there, but I think it is interesting to note that Henry's father resided in Rockford from the late-1880s to the late-1890s. (I can only speculate at the moment, but the reason either father or son choosing to live in Rockford might be due to that one of them moved there for a time.) Sometime between 1900 and 1910, Harriet must have died since Henry is listed as a widower in the 1910 census. I do not know where or when she died, but my first guess would be in Rockford only because Henry was still living there as of April 1910. (He would later on in the year move to Clinton, Iowa, as that was the residence listed for him in his father's probate record.) As for Henry, he would eventually return to Michigan by 1920, where he is listed in the 1920 census for Kalamazoo as Henry J. Oswold, and he would die in Three Rivers in August of 1927. At the moment, I am unsure as to where exactly he is buried, but a note card in the Three Rivers, Michigan Public Library suggested he was buried in Decatur. (I have yet to confirm this information.) As far as I have been able to determine, Henry and Harriet did not have any children.

The second Henry was Henry Klippel. He was the son of Friedrich Klippel and Emilia Kees, and he married Ida L. Ramsey in Bay City, Michigan in 1898. At the moment, I am unsure as to where exactly Ida was born since she only lists Canada as her birthplace in the marriage record, but I did find her living with her parents in Alleston, Ontario in the 1881 Canadian Census. Although I have not found out exactly when Ida and her family came to the United States, they had to have been living in Bay City, Michigan by 1891 when Ida's father, David Ramsey, died.

As for Henry and Ida, the 1900 census gives their residence as Bay City, Michigan. At that time, Ida and Henry did not have any children. On the other hand, family tradition states they had a daughter, and that she was taken away from her father after her parents divorced. I have not yet been able to confirm or disprove this family tradition. (Part of my problem is that I have been unable to find Henry in the 1910 census, and that birth records in Michigan that are 100 years old or less are closed to the public.) What I do know is that Ida died in Bay City, Michigan in 1905 from tuberculous, and that Henry moved to Cleveland, Ohio by the 1920 census. (Henry would also remarry in Cleveland, according to the 1920 census.)

Although I have done some research into the families of Harriet Collacott and Ida Ramsay, I still have holes in my research that I need to fill. I have not fulled traced back either family's ties in Canada, and I still do not know where in Canada Ida was born. Hopefully, I'll be able to do more research in the future.


(Again, this is mostly an abbreviated form of citations due to the fact that I do not have all of my sources with me at the moment.)
  • 1870 U. S. Census, Michigan, Van Buren County, Decatur Village, household of Thomas Collicutt.
  • 1880 U. S. Census, Michigan, Van Buren County, Decatur Village, household of Thomas Collacott.
  • Marriage registration of Henry J. Oswalt and Harriet A. Callacott, Michigan Marriages, 1868-1925, FamilySearch Lab's Record Search, accessed 21 May 2008,;t=searchable;c=1452395
  • 1900 U. S. Census, Illinois, Winnebago County, Rockford, household of Henry J. Oswalt.
  • 1910 U. S. Census, Illinois, Winnebago County, Rockford, (At the moment, I do not have with me the name of the family he was living with in that census listing.)
  • Civil War Pension File of Adam Oswalt.
  • Probate File of Adam Oswalt, Saint Joseph County, Michigan Probate Office, Centreville, Michigan.
  • Death registration of Henry J. Oswalt, Saint Joseph County Michigan deaths, Book 3, page 307, record number 49.
  • O Surnames, Michigan Room, Three Rivers Public Library, Three Rivers, Michigan.
  • Marriage of Henry W. Kleppel to Ida L. Ramsay, Michigan Marriages, 1868-1925, FamilySearch Lab's Record Search, accessed 21 May 2008,;t=searchable;c=1452395
  • 1881 Canadian Census, Ontario, South Simcoe, Alleston, household of David Ramsay,'s 1880s Censuses Indexes,
  • Death registration of David Ramsay, Michigan Deaths, 1867-1897, FamilySearch Lab's Record Search, accessed 21 May 2008,;t=searchable;c=1452402
  • Death registration of Ida Klippel, Bay County, Michigan deaths, Book ? (I do not have the complete citation for this source.)
  • 1920 U. S. census, Ohio, Cuyahoga County, Cleveland, household of Henry Klippel.