St Clair Cemetery, Mt Lebanon, Allegheny Co, PA

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

1911 Irish Census Available to See-- for Free!

The 1911 census of Ireland is one of two surviving censuses open to the public. Thanks to the National Archives of Ireland for making it available online at no cost.

In the event your Irish roots were still in Ireland at this time, genealogy buffs will find the proverbial pot of gold.

Here is the link:

Note: As my Irish luck would have it, my lines came over to the colonies much too early for this census to benefit me. Instead, we fought for the independence of America. Yep, my Irish grandpa sacrified it all as he turned against the tyranny of the English government and stepped over the line in to freedom. His Irish blood has been visible in American mayors, senators, TV (Think of Davy, the little clay guy), genealogy (the Henry System- now defunct due to advances), and countless others now in all walks of life.

Call to Save the Old Stone Tavern

The Old Stone Tavern in Pittsburgh has a few fans of its history. Built cicra 1783 by Daniel Elliott, it has proudly stood testament as to the early history of Pittsburgh. Why don't we genealogists join in and try to save this historic landmark?

I wonder if this Daniel Elliott is part of my Pittsburgh Elliott roots? Was he part of the George Elliott family?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Great News for Swedish Researchers!

Anyone who has ever tried to dig deep into their Swedish ancestors knows what a trick that can be. In my genealogy story, my maternal great grandparents were the proverbial just off the ship types, even though they didn't marry until they were in America. Tracing their families back has proven to be difficult, but wildly satisfying. With the help of an American friend, whose ties go back to my "family" cemetery in Pittsburgh, I've found family and learned so much of the early naming customs and history of Sweden. I've also been rewarded with new Swedish cousin penpals through this search and enjoy learning more about my Swedish roots.

I hope some of these new records will be transcribed into English for those of us who don't read Swedish!


The following article is from Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter and is copyright by Richard W. Eastman. It is re-published here with the permission of the author. Information about the newsletter is available at

Volunteers to Bring Historic Sweden Church Records Online

The following announcement was written by FamilySearch:

FALKÖPING, Sweden—FamilySearch and Svensk Arkivinformation (SVAR), a division of the National Archives of Sweden, announced today the launch of the largest online indexing initiative undertaken to-date. The two groups unveiled plans to engage Swedish volunteers throughout the world to help create a highly searchable, free online index to the historic parish registers of Sweden—200 years of recorded Swedish history as documented in the Sweden church records—comprising over 400 million names.

In 1608 the Archbishop of Sweden asked the clergy to begin making records of births, christenings, marriages, and burials of all the residents of Sweden. By 1686, they were conducting regular examinations of the population of each parish. The church records (often called “parish registers” or “church books”) span over two centuries and chronicle the vital life events of an estimated 418 million people who moved in and out of parishes in Sweden.

“The church records are a key source for genealogists seeking Swedish ancestors because nearly everyone who lived in Sweden was recorded in a church record,” said David Rencher, FamilySearch chief genealogical officer. “The challenge now is to make those records, which are written in Swedish, available to researchers worldwide,” concluded Rencher.

“We are very pleased with the excellent cooperation we have enjoyed for many years between FamilySearch and the National Archives to microfilm and scan the Swedish church records. Now we are going to create an index that will revolutionize the genealogy research in Sweden. The simplicity of finding and reading about one’s ancestors on the Web in the millions of scanned records will attract many beginners of all ages,” said Anders Nordström, director of SVAR. “To the academic researcher, this is an entirely new means. It makes it possible to do research within disciplines on a micro level, an extent that was never possible before now,” added Nordström.

The way Swedes passed on a family name throughout the centuries is another reason why the indexing initiative is so important to family historians. “Imagine being in a Swedish community 200 years ago and 10 out of 100 people have the same first and last name as you. That’s how small the naming pool was in Scandinavia,” said Jeff Svare, FamilySearch Scandinavian collection management specialist.

If you were Anders Andersson, your father could have been Anders. Your brother could have also been named Anders, as well as your uncle. To help distinguish which Anders Andersson you were referring to at the time, locals added the name of the farm (residence) of an individual to keep them straight. “Otherwise, when you’re trying to search for Anders Andersson today, your ancestor falls into the proverbial fog of same-named people and you don’t know who they are without the additional context,” added Svare. The FamilySearch index will include the residence or farm name from the individual’s vital record. This information has been extracted to assist patrons in identifying their Swedish ancestor.

The goal is to engage the Swedish community in creating a highly searchable, free online index to the Sweden church records. When complete, the index will be the single largest point of access to information contained in the historic parish registers of Sweden. The free index will link to images of the original records hosted by the National Archives of Sweden (SVAR). In addition to the free public index that will be made available, SVAR might charge a nominal fee for public patrons who want to view or print the images.

FamilySearch is the global leader of online indexing. It launched its online indexing program in 2008, and tens of thousands of volunteers recently helped reach another major milestone by indexing their 250 millionth name. FamilySearch currently has 65 online indexing projects underway.

For this project, FamilySearch will create digital images of the Sweden church records provided by SVAR. Volunteers worldwide will then use FamilySearch’s Web-based indexing tool to view the digital images and extract only the desired information from the image. That data will then be processed and published online in searchable indexes linked to the digital images.

Volunteers need only Internet access and the ability to read Swedish to contribute to this historic effort. A unique quality control process ensures a highly accurate, finished index. Each document is transcribed by two different indexers, wherever they are in the world. Any discrepancies in their two extractions are then forwarded to a third volunteer—an arbitrator—who makes any needed corrections between the two interpretations.

The project will start with records from Örebro, Uppsala, and Södermanland counties. Indexing will begin with the earliest year available for each parish and continue through 1860. A typical downloaded “batch” (group of records) will take a volunteer about 30 to 40 minutes to complete. The indexing utility has built-in tutorials and helps. Anyone interested in volunteering for the Sweden Church Records project can do so at

Monday, August 17, 2009

Monday Madness: Who is Cousin Elizabeth Troech?

Who is she? And why don't I know of her?

After many years of searching for more information on the McClain family who moved from Blair Co, PA, to Allegheny, Co, PA, between 1850 and 1870, more information has finally arrived via snail mail.

I knew of Austin McClain Brendel (1873-1935) as he is buried in the same plot with his mom, Henrietta McClain Brendel and his cousin and spouse, Charles Edward Simmons and Isabel Patterson Simmons, in Southside Cemetery in Allegheny Co, PA.

One of my cousins who knew Austin had told me years ago that Isabel buried Austin in her plot as there was no place else for him to go.

Austin also had a daughter, Marie, by an unknown wife. Marie later leaves Pittsburgh with her husband, Floyd Taylor to Akron, Ohio. We have followed Marie for a time and then we appear to have lost her and her descendants.

But, back to Elizabeth Troech? Who is she? Austin's memorial book from his funeral has finally made it in my direction. Happily looking through the details of the book, I see an unfamiliar name. There are many names in the book and only one listed as a cousin that I don't know.

Cousin Elizabeth Troech is listed under the name of Dr. Frank Caldwell and above the names of Frank's married chidlren. Elizabeth is named as "cousin." Who is she?

There is no Elizabeth Troech listed in Allegheny Co, PA, from the 1900-1930 Federal Census. There is no Troech. So what is the real name or have the census people truly botched it?

She is also listed as "Mrs." I checked my files for mention of an Elizabeth during the timeframe of Austin's life that could be a candidate for this cousin. None. No Elizabeth, whatsover.

Who is Mrs. Elizabeth Troech? How is she related to either the Caldwell or McClain family in Pittsburgh, Allegheny Co, PA?

Wondering family genealogy members want to know-----

Friday, August 14, 2009

More Time Announced to Tour the World for Free

World Vital Records has extended the free access to their records until August 18. See you next week after I surface!

Today in American History- Japan Surrenders to End World War II

Just thought you'd be interested in seeing the headlines from August 14, 1945, as the New York Times announced:

Japan Surrenders, End of War!

Washington, Aug. 14 -- Japan today unconditionally surrendered the hemispheric empire taken by force and held almost intact for more than two years against the rising power of the United States and its Allies in the Pacific war....

Those genealogy buffs among us who love finding out about our past also have a deep seated interest in history. When in doubt about the times our ancestors lived, spend some time looking at old newspapers. Not only is it fun, it's educational!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

National Archives Launches NARAtions Blog

Note: NARA wants to hear from us who have an interest in genealogy.

/PRNewswire/ -- On Wednesday, August 12, the National Archives launched the NARAtions blog to begin a discussion with researchers on the future of online public access at the National Archives. The public is invited and encouraged to share opinions on ways to enhance the online researcher experience and to increase access to archival materials.

This online community will continue to be a work in progress as we develop new features and content. Questions will be posted to invite discussion, and the blog welcomes feedback and suggestions for new questions to raise. The blog will also inform researchers about newly available online records descriptions and digitized archival materials.

We would like to hear from you! What sort of things would you find valuable from NARAtions?

-- Should we allow the public to tag descriptions in our online catalog?
Why or why not?
-- What groups of photographs should we post on Flickr next, and why?
-- Do you have a favorite NARA photograph or document? Is it already
available in our catalog or on our website?

The URL is Please visit often and share this web address with others.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Looking for African American History? New Digital Library Launched

Just passing this along for those genealogy buffs who may be interested.

African American History Digital Library Launches
by Nicole Kidder

A two-year project to assemble a digital online collection that will capture the rich cultural history and educational legacy of the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) was recently launched to promotes access to previously unknown artifacts that have helped to preserve the cultural heritage of these institutions that were founded in the midst of struggle with a special mission to education former slaves and free Blacks.

This unique collection of more than 7,000 images exemplifies the HBCUs as cultural, social and political institutions that have contributed to the historic legacy in the education of Black Americans from the early 1800s until today.....

Travel the World for Free- until August 13

Sometimes, free offers can be fun for genealogy buffs. Today and tomorrow,, is offering unlimited free access to their databases.

According to the company, this unprecedented offer is in celebration of their biggest release of new records in a single day.

I went to the site and checked it out. It works. So I'll be traveling around the world for the next couple of days.

See you in England, or Ireland, or ???

Monday, August 03, 2009

Monday Madness: Finally! I've Caught a Fish

I've caught a live one, or rather, a dead Fish, and I'm so very happy about it.

For quite some time, I'd heard of the Rev. FISH who was the minister way back in the early to mid 1900s at the Millsboro Presbyterian Church in Washington Co, PA. He was our family minister and held in very high esteem. He even baptized my dad when my dad was a young adult.

Jump time---
Jump place back to Union Twp in Allegheny Co, PA

I had also been researching the family of Edward Johnston YOUNG (1835-1905), son of Captain James YOUNG (1810-1869) who married Sara Smith HENRY (1814-1888.) As my great grandfather appears to have been named for this Edward Johnston Young, my curiosity was high. To date, I have yet to determine why. Perhaps, he was just a favorite nephew of my great great grandparents William S SIMMONS and Margaret HENRY.

I found EJ Young's wife's name listed as Elizabeth MATTHEWS, daughter of George MATTHEWS (1791-1860) and Ann CAIRNS (c. 1808-1860). Is this the Elizabeth MATTHEWS listed in the Civil War Diary of my great great uncle Addison? They did live in the same neighborhood and it is possible she wrote to her friend (and first cousin to her beau.)

More interesting to note was that EJ and Elizabeth had a daughter Harriet MATTHEW YOUNG who married a BULFORD who is also kin to me. Hmm. Did these people ever go out of the neighborhood to marry? Ah, another tale for another day. Today is FISH day.

I stumbled on the little fact that George MATTHEWS and Ann CAIRNS also had another daughter, Margaret P MATTHEWS (1828-1912) who married a William FISH.

Ok- so look further around this little neighborhood in the census records and there they are-- with a son named Frank FISH. Follow this Frank, and wham, I've got a trail.

I followed Frank as he first married Elizabeth Nichol CALDER (1868-1932) and then the widow, Cassie COULTER, nee McCAULEY, in 1935. While I could find death dates for both his wives, there was none for the good Rev. I searched and searched for a number of years. Since I live so far away, I have to do so much of my research through local genealogy groups.

Just this summer, a kind genealogy buff up in Washington Co, PA, sent me a history on the Vestaburg United Presbyterian Church in which the Rev. Frank FISH's death date is mentioned. He died in 1951.

Reel it in. Finally, another small mystery solved. I would like to know more of his family history as it is mine as well. Both sons of Frank FISH preceded him in death, but they did leave children.

So, if there are any FISH types out there, let me know. In the meantime, I'll just keep on casting lines and waiting for more fish to bite.