Jul 2021

Gold-Rush Wagon Trains

“Two events occurred in 1848 that forever changed the course of American history and the lives of tens of thousands of American families:” wrote Myrtle Stevens Hyde in NGSQ in 1988. “[T]he United States wrested California from its Spanish owners; and word leaked out that gold had been discovered there on the farm of John […]
Jul 2021

Using the NGSQ Online Index

When NGS rebuilt its website a few years ago, we lost the functionality of the online index to NGSQ. It was a difficult blow, but it’s part of the reality of non-profit organizations with limited resources when advancing technology leaves outdated technology behind. Now, thanks to NGS board member, Ronald V. Hodges, PhD, and the […]
Jun 2021

Unpacking Real Estate Abstracts

As more and more newspapers are being digitized and made broadly available, it’s worthwhile to pay attention to some of their more mundane sections. Take, for example, real estate notices: brief abstracts of public real estate transactions, including transfers or conveyances and mortgages. These abstracts often name the grantee(s) and grantor(s), locate the land, and […]
Jun 2021

Same Event; Different Stories

In this month’s first feature article, we discovered a fair amount about Luke Magee and his family. We even began to discover a bit about Luke’s son-in-law, Adolph Cooning, including the fact that more records than not call him Adolph Cooney. We could see that Adolph headed a household in 1892 that included his wife, […]
May 2021

War Department Errors Etched in Stone

The white stones of Cypress Hills National Cemetery in Brooklyn, as in other national cemeteries, are beautiful in their simplicity. Their uniformity and alignment form mesmerizing geometric patterns, just as the assembled soldiers they represent once did. The sheer volume is sobering. Whether you’re prepared for it or not, silence falls on you, along with […]
Apr 2021

Federal Census Indexing Woes and Cures

We’re fortunate in the 21st century to have various forms of genealogical help groups online, most accommodating a broad range of experience and skill levels. Facebook hosts a number of those groups, like some of my favorites: New York City Genealogy, Descendants of New Amsterdam Founders, and AAHGS NY – Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society. […]
Apr 2021

Genealogical Puzzle Solved: City Directories

In last month’s issue, I presented a puzzle involving a city directory.[1] It was particularly tough. I won’t pretend otherwise. To put it in New York Times crossword terms, it was definitely a Saturday puzzle, the toughest of the week. If you missed it or forgot some of the details, take a minute to revisit […]
Mar 2021

Filling the Inside Straight

Meet the Wallings. This early American family, migrating from one colony to another, left tracks so few and far between that only an approach from both directions sufficed to “fill the inside straight” and reconstruct the family through a chain of indirect and circumstantial evidence, all pointing in the same direction. Add to the situation […]
Mar 2021

Genealogical Puzzle: City Directories

Who was William Brown (abt. 1763–1827) of New York City? Given information: William Brown married 27 February 1785 at Trinity Church, New York City, Mary Ball.[1] Their children were William, Richard, John, Benjamin Moore, Samuel Provost, Nathaniel Marston, Eliza, James, and Mary.[2] His parents and siblings have yet to be identified. Differentiating men of the […]
Feb 2021

From Enslavement to National Leader
: Richard Allen (1760–1831)

Relatively few people have ever heard of Richard Allen, including myself until I stumbled across part of his story while conducting research in Philadelphia in 2008. The more I found out about him, the more I was stunned that he was not more broadly represented in history books. Discovering his story inspired me to find […]