19 March 2014

Top 50 Genealogy Websites of 2013

I listened to Kory Meyerink's list of the "50 Most Popular Genealogy Websites" on the Legacy Family Tree Webinar. I was surprised that I haven't hear about all of these websites before. They are worth taking a look.

Here's the list...

50. ScotlandsPeople.gov.uk
49. IAGenWeb.org
48. Linkpendium.com
47. GenesReunited.co.uk
46. SteveMorse.org
45. HeritageQuestOnline.com
44. GenealogyInTime.com
43. USGennet.org
42. RootsChat.com
41. AncestorHunt.com
40. NewspaperObituaries.net
39. GenealogyToday.com - blog list too
38. MyFamily.com
37. JewishGen.org
36. GenUKI.org.uk
35. FultonHistory.com - upstate NY
34. ProGenealogists.com
33. FamilyTreeMaker.com
32. BillionGraves.com
31. Geni.com
30. SortedByName.com
29. DeathIndexes.com
28. Mundia.com
27. Archives.com
26. OneGreatFamily.com
25. DAR.org
24. AccessGenealogy.com - Native American Resource
23. EOGN.com - Dick Eastman's Blog
22. CyndisList.com
21. AmericanAncestors.org - New England Historic Genealogical Society
20. Interment.net - cemeteries
19. EllisIsland.org
18. FindMyPast.co.uk $
17. GeneaNet.org - European
16. Newspapers.com $
15. GenealogyTrails.com
14. FamilyTreeDNA.com
13. RootsWeb.com
12. WikiTree.com
11. USGenWebArchives.net
10. AncientFaces.com
09. FamilyLink.com/WorldVitalRecords.com $
08. NewspaperArchive.com $
07. GenealogyBank.com $
06. Fold3.org $
05. FamilySearch.org
04. Genealogy.com $
03. FindAGrave.com
02. MyHeritage.com
01. Ancestry.com $

If you missed the Webinar it should be available on the website for the next week for free. If you are not watching these Webinars you are missing out.

05 March 2014

John E. Carr - The death of a confederate soldier

While working on my genealogy research I came across an ancestor that was in my Legacy database but not found in FamilySearch. Long ago when I started using Legacy I entered in a family tree from the Carr family. The tree included some pictures and other data but I was new to the game and I blindly entered the information. I now know that this is not something I should have done but over time I have been able to tell the difference between the sourced material and the random family information I had blindly added to my tree.

John E. Carr was born in Pike County, Alabama in 1845, the oldest of six children, born to Richard and Mary Carr. John is enumerated in both the 1850 (age 5) United States Federal Census
Source Citation: Year: 1850; Census Place:  , Pike, Alabama; Roll: M432_13; Page: 250A; Image: 506.
and 1860 (age 14) United States Federal Census. (There are actually 3 Carr household on this census page.)
Source Citation: Year: 1860; Census Place: Eastern Division, Pike, Alabama; Roll: M653_21; Page: 379; Image: 379; Family History Library Film: 803021.

On 20 Aug 1863 John enlisted as a Private in Company A of the Alabama Infantry, 57th Regiment. (I know this enlistment form says 54th and 57th but later documents show just the 57th.)

Alabama, Civil War Service Records of Confederate Soldiers, 1861-1865," index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XXKD-DVR : accessed 06 Mar 2014), John E Carr, 1863

John's father Richard followed and enlisted 1 December 1863 also as a Private in Company A of the Alabama Infantry, 57th Regiment.
"Alabama, Civil War Service Records of Confederate Soldiers, 1861-1865," index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XXKD-DPN : accessed 06 Mar 2014), Richard Carr, 1864

In January of 1864 the Alabama 57th joined with the Army of Tennessee on its way to Atlanta. Casualties were minimal until the Battle of Peach Creek on 20 July 1864 in which almost 4,700 Confederate soldiers were killed. This was the first loss in the battle that led to the burning and fall of Atlanta 1 September 1864.

On 16 November 1864  General Sherman's Army of Georgia begins the "March to the Sea". At the time the Army of Tennessee had moved to Franklin Tennessee. On 30 November 1864 the Army of Tennessee is confronted by Union troops near Spring Hill, Tennessee. A massive frontal assault on the well entrenched Confederate line meets with disaster. The toll for Confederate forces is heavy including the loss of six of its generals. Union troops retreat in the direction of Nashville.

Flag of the 57th Alabama Infantry Co. A.

On 15 December 1864, Union Major General George H.Thomas defeats Confederate Lieut. General John Bell Hood at Nashville in a complete victory that finally eliminates the Army of the Tennessee as a fighting force. This is where both John E. Carr and his father Richard R. Carr are captured as Prisoners of War.The father and son are then sent to separate prison camps.

On 16 January 1865 Richard R. Carr is transferred to Camp Chase in Columbus, Ohio. He dies of Pneumonia 8 Feb 1865.

"Alabama, Civil War Service Records of Confederate Soldiers, 1861-1865," index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XXKD-DPN : accessed 06 Mar 2014), Richard Carr, 1864
John E. Carr meets a similar but drawn out fate. On 20 Dec 1865 he is quickly moved after his capture to Camp Douglas in Chicago, Illinois.

Much has been written and documented about Camp Douglas.

The above History Channel movie describes the camp as "80 Acres of Hell". There were few prison camps in the Civil War with worse living conditions than Camp Douglas. Punishments and torture were commonplace. As were prisoners being shot on sight for various offenses. Disease and illness were rampant throughout the camp causing the deaths of thousands of confederate prisoners. Newspaper accounts of how the prisoner's lived and died could not begin to describe the horrible conditions.

Based on the City Sexton's records up to 3,871 Confederate Prisoners of War were buried within Potter's field in the Chicago City Cemetery during the three years Camp Douglas was open. John E. Carr died of Pneumonia 18 March 1865, just three short months after his capture. As you can see in the below document he was buried in grave number 985, block 3 of the Chicago City Cemetery.

"Alabama, Civil War Service Records of Confederate Soldiers, 1861-1865," index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XXKD-DVR : accessed 06 Mar 2014), John E Carr, 1863

Sadly, that is not the end of the story for John E. Carr. On 21 October 1864, just before General Sherman began his March to the Sea, The Common Council of the City of Chicago passed an ordinance establishing a public park on the North end of the Chicago City Cemetery. They also declared, "That hereafter, nobody shall be buried in the Chicago Cemetery, except in the Lots, which have been sold by the City." On 15 Feb 1865, a month before John's death, the City of Chicago and the Rosehill Cemetery Company entered into an agreement to set apart the appropriate ground for the park.

On 17 Dec 1866, nine months after John's burial, the Common Council of the City of Chicago sends a letter to Chief Quartermaster stating they, "were appointed, by said council, to confer with you, and through you, with the War department of the government, in relation to the removal of the bodies of prisoners interred in our City Cemetery, during the Rebellion."

The bodies of most of the Confederate soldiers buried in Potter's Field in the Chicago City Cemetery were then disinterred over the next 20 years. The building of a parking lot in 1998 uncovered another 181 bodies from the field.

This monument in the nearby Oakwoods Cemetery reads;
"The Confederate dead here buried in concentric trenches were all private soldiers. The monument to their memory is of Georgia granite, stands forty feet from the ground to the top of statue and was erected in July, 1893, with funds mainly subscribed by liberal citizens of Chicago and Camps of the United Confederate Veterans. The bronze panels of the pedestal die represent: On the east face, - THE CALL TO ARMS; On the west face, - A VETERANS RETURN HOME; And on the south face, - A SOLDIER’S DEATH DREAM. The bronze statue surmounting the battlemented cap of the column is a realistic representation of a Confederate Infantry soldier after the surrender. The face expresses sorrow for the thousands of prison dead interred beneath. The cannon shot and shell ornamenting this Government lot, in which both Union and Confederate dead are buried, were furnished by the War Department under authority of an Act of Congress approved January 25th, 1895."

A tablet on the memorial lists John E. Carr's name.

Mary Polly Carr lost both her husband and son in the Civil War. She continued to live in Alabama for 20 more years until she moved to Bosque County, Texas with her son Joseph Madison Carr.

04 March 2014

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services History and Genealogy Program

I recently saw a post on Dick Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter about U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services to Hold Online Webinars. One of the link in his blog goes to the USCIS History and Genealogy Program. The program is a fee-based service providing family historians and other researchers with timely and accurate access to historical immigration and naturalization records.

I was surprised to find the the quality of records that are available through this website and I thought I would talk about the different types of records and what information they may contain. The USCIS has made five different sets of records available.

A-File example data includes: Post-WW II War Bride visas, Petitions for Relative Visas, AR-2 Registration Forms, Enemy Alien in World War II records, Consolidated A-Files report, Refugee Documents, Change of Address Cards, Application for Naturalization files, or duplicate of Certificate of Naturalization. A-File content is as unique as the individual it represents.  They may have only a few pages or contain 100’s of pages in multiple folders. A-File content depends on the history of interaction between the immigrant and the agency.

AR2 example data includes: Answers to questions about the registrants name, present address, date of birth, place of birth, the port, date and ship of arrival, dates for first and last arrival, usual occupation, present occupation, name and address of employer, membership in any organization in the last five years, prior military service, if they have ever filed first papers for naturalization, criminal record including police and court records, and their mark or signature. Requests for AR-2 Forms must include the A-number.  Researchers may find A-numbers on index cards to court naturalization records after 1941, on original alien registration receipt cards, or other of the immigrant’s personal papers.  If the immigrant registered as an alien in 1940 their A-number can be learned from an Index Search request.

C-Files example data includes: The immigrant’s name, date and place of birth, and port, date of arrival, names of spouse and children, occupation, and place of residence when naturalized. Declarations of Intention and Naturalization Certificates issued after July 1, 1929, also include a picture of the petitioner. Certificate Files, or C-Files, document naturalizations and contain copies of records evidencing the Granting of naturalized U.S. citizenship by courts between from 1906 to 1956; and the Issuance of Certificates of Citizenship to those who derived or resumed U.S. citizenship.

Registry Files example data include:  extensive biographical information, including the full and maiden names of both parents, details about the applicant’s arrival in the US, and specific data on their employment and residential history in the US. To prove residence in the US prior to July 1, 1924, some Registry applicants submitted employment records, character references from friends or employers, sworn affidavits from friends, neighbors, or co-workers; bank account or financial records, church records, and police or criminal background check records. The applicant’s eligibility was summarized in a “Findings” document recommending the application be granted or denied. The final document is a decision showing the application was granted or denied.

Visa Files example data include: Files for every immigrant admitted for permanent US residence between July 1, 1924 and March 31, 1944. The files consist of:
  • a large application document and all required documents submitted to support the application. Visa application form contains all information found on a ship manifest of the same date, as well as additional data.  Included are the names of any minor children, the full and maiden names of both parents, and listing of all official documents attached or shown to the US Consul prior to issuance of the visa. the back of the visa application form summarizes the facts of the Immigrant’s arrival (port, date, ship), whether admitted on primary inspection or by a Board of Special Inquiry (BSI), and whether the BSI decision was appealed to Washington.
  • a required certified copy of the immigrant’s birth certificate. If an official document was unavailable, the file will include an affidavit or some other substitute birth record.
  • a required health certificate showing the immigrant was free from contagious disease or any disability that would hinder their ability to make a living in the US. 
  • a criminal background check record from their home country.  These may be called “police certificates” or “morality certificates” or some other name depending on the country and date.
  • for men of military service age, especially if their home country required military service before emigration, will include a certificate of military service.

How to Make a Request
Requests may be submitted online using a credit card or by mail using a money order or cashier’s check. To make an online request, visit  “Make a Genealogy Request”. Please be sure to read all of the instructions before submitting a request. Send questions and comments to Genealogy.USCIS@dhs.gov or leave a toll-free voice message at 1-866-259-2349.

The USCIS Genealogy Program offers two services:
  1. Index Search - $20 - Using biographical information provided by the researcher, USCIS searches its historical immigration and naturalization record indices for citations related to a specific immigrant. The search results (record citations) are returned to the researcher, along with instructions on how to request the file(s) from USCIS, the National Archives, or local courts. To make an Index Search Request you will need to provide at least the following information about your immigrant ancestor: Name (aliases, maiden, and variations) and the Date and Country of birth (actual or estimated). You will also be asked to provide optional information, such as date of arrival in the US and places of residence. While this information is not required it is often essential for locating the correct index entries.
  2. Record Copy Request - $20 microfilm, $35 hard copy - Researchers, with valid USCIS file number, may request copies of historical immigration and naturalization records. The program can only fulfill record requests that include a valid file number, such as a naturalization certificate number. If you do not have a file number, or you are unsure whether or not USCIS maintains a file for your ancestor, please submit an index search request.