Sparks High School photo 1937

With my mother’s move to Florida I inherited a bunch of family “stuff”.  I got several pieces of furniture, an old trunk, glassware and even my 2nd great-grandmother’s spittoon.  I also got newspaper clippings, framed pictures and photo albums.

One of the pictures is a class photo of Sparks High School in 1937.  Sparks High School was located in Sparks, Baltimore County, Maryland.  The original school, which opened in 1909, was named Agricultural High School.  Around 1920 the name was changed to Sparks High School and in 1953 the school was converted to an elementary school and Hereford High School opened.

Sparks High School photo – 1937

My maternal grandmother Margaret Adelina Pisani is in the 3rd row, 4th from the right (she was 16, and depending on exactly when the photo was taken, perhaps pregnant with her first child).  The defiant looking lad in the middle of the front row is my great uncle Charles Angelo Pisani (age 17).

The back of the cardboard photo frame has a handwritten list of everyone in the photo.  All names below are spelled as-is from the photo.

From left to right, back row: Frances Eicholtz, Rose Mary Wier, Ruth Shelly, Mary Jane Sattler, Esther Wisner, Nell McGraw, Rosalie Nash, Dagmar Monson, Gladys Foster, Margot Robinson, Irene Thompson, Louise Hale, Armide Chilcoat, Virginia Bortner, Dorothy Peregoy

From left to right, 3rd row: Dorothy Ensor, Amelia Skipper, Irene Childress, Elaine Carr, Elizabeth Whiteford, Harry Fehl, Charlotte Bond, Harry Ryan, Elva Miller, Aileen Mays, Muriel Fuller, Adelina Pisani, Agertha Swam, Frances Wilhelm, Angela Wilson

From left to right, 2nd row: Jean Kerr, Edgar Thompson, Lillian Miller, Harry Stilz, Ferne Rodamar, Bernard Forbes, Miss Litsinger, Virginia Garrett, Kemp Beaumont, Mary Miller, Josh Ensor

From left to right, front row: Jack Wier, Charles Cross, Jim Coburn, Edward Ryan, Charles Pisani, William Hurst, Gordon Cumming, John Calhoun, Eugene Sattler

 

New On-Line Database for New Cathedral Cemetery in Baltimore

Thanks to a demo last night at one of the genealogy group I belong to I learned of a great new resource for Maryland.

If you have ancestors in New Cathedral Cemetery in Baltimore, there is great news for you!  There is now a burial database available for FREE!

Let’s take a really quick tour.

To access the burial database head over to https://www.newcathedralcemetery.org/.  Next, on the top menu bar on the right side of the page, select Genealogy>Research Your Past.

NewCathedralSearch

Next, scroll down to the Free Basic Search.

NewCathedralSearch2
Free database search at http://www.newcathedralcemetery.org

Now you are ready to search.

NewCathedralSearch3
Search box at http://www.newcathedralcemetery.org

Plug in your names and see the results.  In this example I just searched on the Last Name Henry and got the following results:

NewCathedralSearch4

Some things to mention:

  • You will notice in the image above the first name in the list is Edward L Henry.  In reality the first listing is for Albert J Henry.  However, the column headers are static, they do not move when you scroll the list.  So, when scrolling, be sure to scroll all the way up!
  • Notice there is more information to the right.  I know that because of the scroll bar.

NewCathedralSearch5

NewCathedralSearch6

  • Currently it does not look like wildcards work when searching.
  • You can only search by name, not by Section, Lot, etc.
  • It looks like you can copy the results and paste them into a spreadsheet (YAY!)

Remember to pay attention to those in the same lots, even if they have a different name.  Maybe a search of the Baltimore Sun for those people will yield some new information.

Although I have not spent an extended amount of time searching the database (yet), I am excited to get in there and dig in.

So, search the new database and have fun!

 

Plotting My Ancestor’s Land on a Current Map

As I have mentioned before, much of my research is in Maryland.  In Maryland, all land records are on-line.  That makes finding specific locations for my ancestors’ homes and businesses a little easier since it can be done from home.  There are a lot of tools out there, free and paid, to help plot the information found in the deeds available on-line.  But for my 5th great-grandfather Joshua Whitaker, someone else did much of the work, I just reap the rewards of his hard work!

If you have an early landowner in Baltimore or Harford County, Maryland you may want to check this out as well.

Below is the final result of my search, then I will talk about how I got there:

Map of Joshua Whitaker’s property generated in Google Earth

Step One – Finding THE Land Records

My original search involved searching https://mdlandrec.net/main/ for land records for Joshua Whitaker.  Joshua was born in 1761, probably in Baltimore County, Maryland since Harford County was not formed until 1774.  Joshua married Ruth Howard in 1781 at about aged 20, so I assumed I should start searching for him in the Harford County land records around 1780 or so.  I found several deeds for Joshua Whitaker and I attempted to plot them out.  Earlier land records are harder to plot (in my opinion) because the property line references are defined very differently than today.  Many times the property lines are defined as a tree line or the edge of a stream, not necessarily as bearings and distances like they are now.  So my progress was S-L-O-W.

Along with the MDLANDREC site, the Maryland State Archives has also made plats available on-line.  So I also headed to plats.net and searched “Whitaker” (in the Advanced Search) to see what came up.  Two of the records caught my eye:

  1. A Patented Certificate in 1819 for “Whitacres Invitation”
  2. An Equity Record from 1825 for “Property of the late Whitaker, Joshua”

My Joshua died in 1818 so the 1819 certificate was a head scratcher.  But it was possible that the Equity Record could be for him.

Time to look at the actual documents.  The document contained 9 pages but I will highlight 2 of them here.

Looking at the 1st image of the Patented Certificate it was possible that this was my Joshua. It was surveyed in 1815 and passed in 1816.

Source: Harford County Circuit Court (Certificates, Patented, HA) Patented Certificate 878, MSA_S1199_892, page 1 of 9.

And page 3 had a plot of the land:

Source: Harford County Circuit Court (Certificates, Patented, HA) Patented Certificate 878, MSA_S1199_892, page 3 of 9.

Then I looked at the Equity Record.  I know from Joshua’s will that his property was to be divided between his wife and several of his children.

Source: Harford County Circuit Court (Plats on Microfilm, HA Index) Equity Record ALJ 18, p. 279. MSA_S1540_1495.

Cool!  The basic outline of the 2 records match.  And, referring back to the will, this is my Joshua.

So now I have a plot of the land that Joshua Whitaker owned but it will take a lot of work to put Joshua’s land on a current map to see exactly where this land was.

Step Two – Locate on today’s map

For a while I tried using the land records going forward in time to plot Joshua’s land in today’s landscape.  It was frustrating and I was mostly unsuccessful.

And then I stumbled upon a simple looking ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL website.  One of the pieces of software I use to plot land is called DeedMapper from Direct Line Software.  Besides the software, their site includes a Research Directory (so you can see others researching land records in an area) and a Deed Data Pool (customer contributed deed files).  In looking at the Deed Data Pool I found a Baltimore County and a Harford County file contributed by Mike Pierce.  Clicking on the Harford County file led me to a page containing the Deed Mapper file for Harford County.  This was great because it allowed me to download the file and open it in the DeedMapper program with a background map.

But the really great part was when I went back to the base web address http://map-maker.org/ and saw everything Mike Pierce’s “The Happy Map-Maker’s Website”.

This site includes searching aids for Baltimore County and City, his aforementioned DeedMapper files, information on leases and land grants in Baltimore and Harford Counties and an animated progression of land grants in said counties.  GREAT resources.

But the pièce de résistance is a Google Earth version of the Baltimore and Harford County leases and land grants. AAAAHHHHH!  Since Google Earth is one of my most favorite tools, this is awesome!

So I opened the Harford County patents, downloaded the file and opened the KML file in Google Earth.

At first look the file is very busy and looks hard to navigate.

Harford-patents.kml file from map-maker.org loaded into Google Earth

But by using the tools available in Google Earth I was able to isolate Joshua’s 1819 land patent.

Harford-patents.kml file from map-maker.org loaded into Google Earth with Whitaker’s Invitation isolated

This allowed me to export just Joshua’s land as a KMZ file and create  standalone map placing Joshua’s land in today’s world.

THANK YOU MIKE!!

I scream, you scream!

I had a little bit of genealogy serendipity happen today.

Back story – Recently while doing some collateral research on a line on my maternal grandmother’s side, I found a 1st cousin 5 times removed, a man named Jacob Fussell, Jr.  Jacob, a Quaker, was the first ice cream manufacturer in the United States.  His business started in Seven Valleys, York County, Pennsylvania in 1851 after an older Quaker asked him to take on a business that he had acquired by way of a defaulted loan.  In 1854 Jacob moved his business to Baltimore City, Maryland and eventually expanded to several cities in the U.S.

Two weeks ago I did a presentation at a local genealogy discussion group that I belong to that included some information on Jacob.  On my slideshow I included a picture of Jacob Fussell’s ice cream wagon that I had found on Google.  During the presentation, some discussion ensued about the ice cream cart and where was it today.  After saying that I had gotten the picture from Google and hadn’t actually taken it, a few people speculated on where the cart may be.  Someone said that they thought they had seen it at the Baltimore Museum of Industry.

Also, on an unrelated but related note – I belong to the Maryland Historical Society, with a joint membership to the Maryland Genealogical Society.  I needed to renew my membership and while in the process of renewing on through the internet the other evening I was interrupted and never completed the process.

Now on to this morning – I work 3 days a week in downtown Baltimore, about a half mile from the Maryland Historical Society.  Since this morning was so nice and I usually try to get a lunchtime walk in on nice days AND I hadn’t renewed my membership, I decided to kill 2 birds and walk to the Historical Society and renew in person.

I walked in the door and look what was parked in the lobby:

Jacob Fussell Ice Cream Cart at the Maryland Historical Society

WOW, I had chills!  I also lost my head because in my excitement I failed to read the placard that you see in front of the cart.  I found out that the cart had in fact been at the Museum of Industry, on loan from the Historical Society.

Luckily I will have the opportunity to go back (probably tomorrow) to read it and snap a picture or two.

On a side note, in 1951 the Historical Society erected a plaque at the site of his factory at Hillen and Exeter Streets.  In looking at Google Street View I couldn’t locate the plaque on any of the buildings that still stand at the intersection.  So, I am trying to find out if the building is still standing and if it isn’t, what happened to the plaque??  I talked to a couple people at the society today and the consensus is that it unfortunately probably ended up in a dumpster.  I hope not.

Now, if Jacob’s ice cream cart could lead me to his father-in-law’s burial location I would be eternally grateful!

This Week’s Genealogy Craze – "Place" Pedigree Charts

There is a fun little exercise going around many of the Facebook groups this week.  I’m calling them “Place” pedigree charts because I’ve seen them for birth places, death places and marriage places.  The idea is to create a pedigree chart that color code your ancestors locations for births, deaths, or marriages.  Basically, you could do it for anything you wanted, cause of death, burial locations, etc.

This morning I did two of them, one for births and one for deaths for five generations.  I knew that mine would not have the colors of the rainbow like some I’ve seen but mine are BORING!!!

Here is my five generation birth place pedigree chart:

Birth Place Pedigree Chart

Four boring colors.

And here is my five generation death place pedigree chart:

Death Place Pedigree Chart

Two boring colors.

I created my charts using Excel.  I used conditional formatting to easily color code the cells.

Go ahead, give it a try.

Are You Using Chronicling America? If You Had Germans in Baltimore, MD…You Should!

One FREE resource that has been very valuable to me is from the Library of Congress, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers site.  This post will cover some basic information for the site and an example of the value of using the site.

If you aren’t familiar, Chronicling America provides information and content for historic newspapers in the United States.

Information about newspapers – One of the cool things on the site is the U.S. Newspaper Directory, 1690-Present.  This allows you to identify U.S. newspapers by locations and dates AND how they may be accessed.  As of the writing of this post, there are 153,913 newspaper titles listed.  The directory search allows you to search by various fields such as state, date, language, keywords, etc.

For example, I want to find information on what German newspapers were published in Maryland.  I have a lot of German ancestors that immigrated to Maryland and many remained in Baltimore.
I fill out the search form as such:

Chronicling America Newspaper Directory Search for German Newspapers in Maryland

Pressing “Search” gives me a list of results:

Chronicling America Newspaper Directory Search Results for German Newspapers in Maryland

Clicking on any of the newspapers in the list will provide a page with tabs that have information on when the paper was published, where it was published, how often it was published and where it can be found:

About Täglicher Baltimore Wecker. (Baltimore [Md.]) 1867-1877 
Libraries that Have It: Täglicher Baltimore Wecker. (Baltimore [Md.]) 1867-1877

Content – The other cool thing on the site is the content.  They have free, yes FREE digitized historic newspapers from 1836 to 1922.
Disclaimer:  They do not have all newspapers, nor do they always have entire published date range for a particular paper.  As of the writing of this post, there are 10,610,118 digitized pages available.

For example, I want to see what digitized German newspapers are available for Maryland on the site.
I fill out the search form on the “All Digitized Newspapers 1836-1922″ tab”

All Digitized Newspapers 1836-1922 search

The results show that there are 2 newspapers available:

All Digitized Newspapers 1836-1922 search results

Next, we will look at an example of why I LOVE this site for my research.  Let it be noted that I am lucky in that “Der Deutsche correspondent” covers the location and time period that I am interested in.

As I said previously, I have many German immigrant ancestors that came into Baltimore and decided to stay in Baltimore City, so it is very possible that “Der Deutsche correspondent” may have articles about my ancestors.

So for my example we are going to look at my 3rd great grandfather Heinrich Bensel.
I first found the exact death date for Heinrich in June of 2004.  I narrowed his death down by searching using the U.S. Federal Census and the Baltimore City Directories and headed to the local library to search microfilmed newspapers starting in 1898.  Finally in the July 19, 1898 edition of the “Baltimore News“.  I found 2 articles.

On page 1 was a simple death notice that read:
BENSEL – Died. Monday, at 6:15 P.M., after a short illness, HENRY BENSEL, aged eighty years and five days.
The funeral will take place from the residence of his daughter, Elizabeth Enders, Wednesday, 20th inst., at 3 o’clock.

On page 11 I found a more extensive obituary that read:
Henry Bensel
Mr. Henry Bensel died yesterday morning at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Elizabeth Enders, 2120 East Fayette street. He was born July 13, 1818, in Germany. He emigrated to this country in 1847, two years later marrying Miss Mary Stocker. He was a skillful carpenter, at one time being in the active service of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad until he was put on the pension list. His wife died on April 2 of this year. Two children survive him. They are John Bensel and Mrs. Enders.

A few months later I went to the Maryland State Archives and got his death certificate.  There wasn’t much more information except that his “short illness” was thermic fever that he had for 4 days.

That is all the information I knew until I decided to search “Der Deutsche correspondent”. I searched Maryland papers for “Heinrich Bensel” and came up with several results around the date of his death.
The first one was on July 19, 1898, page 6, column 4:

“Der Deutsche correspondent” July 19, 1898, page 6, column 4

Well, the first problem is that I do not know German,  Luckily, the site allows several options for seeing the page:

First, I saved and filed the PDF file to my computer.
Next, to try and “read” what this says I used the “Text” option.  This displays the page in OCR text:

Then I searched the page for “Bensel” so I could find the section that had the article:

Next I highlighted the area of the text I wanted and did a Ctrl +C to copy the text.
Now I head to Google Translate and paste my OCR text and see what happens:

Google Translate results

You will notice that because of the line breaks in the original, some of the translation doesn’t work.  By editing the German side and taking out the breaks I get a better result:

Google Translate results after editing

You will see that this article does not give me any more information than I already had.  Actually, there is some conflicting information.  Did he come to Baltimore in 1842 like the German paper said, or 1847 like the American paper said?
Further searching found an article about his funeral in the July 21, 1898 edition on page 6, column 8:

“Der Deutsche correspondent” July 21, 1898, page 6, column 8

I tried the same process for translating the article in Google translate and no matter how much massaging I did I just couldn’t get a good translation.  Since I don’t read German, I cannot recognize all of the OCR mistakes that the article may contain.

No worries, there are plenty of resources to help with the translation.
My first stop will be social media.  In my case, that worked.  I took a screenshot of the article and headed over to the Genealogy Translation group on Facebook.  This is a closed group but it has been so very helpful to me in translating documents.
I posted my request at 4:40 PM on March 14 and had a translation at 8:13 PM:

The burial of Mr. Heinrich Bensel, who passed from this life on Monday at the age of 80 years in the home of his daughter, Mrs. Elisabeth Enders, 2120 East Fayette St., occurred yesterday afternoon from the mortuary to the Loudon Park Cemetery. Pastor/Reverend John Hörr from St Martus Church on Broadway and Fairmount Avenue officiated, and six grand children of the deceased acted as pallbearers: Friedrich, Johann and Wilhelm Enders and Harry, Johann and Louis Bensel. Mr. Bensel was born on 18th July 1818 in Lobenhausen near Ulrichstein, Grand Duchy of Hessen and came to New York in 1847, and shortly thereafter to Baltimore. Two years later he married Miss Marie Stocker. The marriage produced 8 children of which two, Mrs. Elisabeth Enders and Mr. John Bensel, are still living. Also surviving the deceased are 21 grandchildren. His wife died on the 2nd of April of this year.

This gave me so much more information to start looking at.  I now have a church name to search records for, children to double-check to make sure I have them all, grandchildren to check (names and number of grandchildren).  I also have an immigration city and and location of birth.  I always assumed he came directly to Baltimore and I could never find his immigration information,  Now I know I need to check New York.  This article is the only place that gave me an exact location of birth.

Had I not been able to get an answer within the translation group, my next step would have been to reach out with local societies that I belong to to see if anyone within the society could help.  I have had success with that in the past.

So, in summary:
1. Check out Chronicling America.
2. For your immigrant ancestors, take some time to investigate foreign language newspapers.
3. See if Google Translate can help with foreign language translation.
4. Seek help with translations from social media or local societies.

Happy searching!!

Mappy Monday: Maryland Map, City Directory and Land Resources

Maps and Land Records are my favorite records to search.  Since I had many ancestors that lived in Baltimore City, Maryland, city directories are invaluable for me as well.

If you are researching in the state of Maryland, you may not be aware that there are several on-line resources (mostly free) for Maryland.  This list is not all inclusive, but a list of my favorite and most helpful resources.

https://mdlandrec.net – Maryland Land Records
All land records are available with a free account.  There is a learning curve.
**Once you get your account and log in, be sure to read the “Help” menu for hints on using the system.

http://planning.maryland.gov/finderOnline/finderonline.html – FINDER Online
Web based GIS system hosted by the Maryland Department of Planning.  Provides property maps and parcel information.  Also links to the Real Property Data Search (below).

http://sdat.dat.maryland.gov/RealProperty/Pages/default.aspx – Real Property Data Search
Provides current property information from the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation.  Very helpful when tracing a property backwards from the present day.
**Read the “Guide to searching the database”

plats.net – Digital Image Reference System for Land Survey, Subdivision, and Condominium Plats
Access to various plats (many times referenced in deeds from Maryland Land Records.
**Read the “Beginners Guide”

http://mdhistory.net/msaref07/html/index.html – Papenfuse Map Collection

http://www.prattlibrary.org/research/database/ –  Enoch Pratt databases
An Enoch Pratt library card is required for access to Sanborn maps through ProQuest.

https://www.fold3.com/browse/232/hdGkjD9D9 – Fold3.com Baltimore City Directories
Requires a fold3.com account.  (If you do not have an account, be sure to check your library or society to see if they have institutional access.)

http://baltimorecityhistory.net/baltimore-city-directories/ – Baltimore City Archives listing of Baltimore City Directories (electronic or otherwise).

http://publications.newberry.org/ahcbp/ – Newberry Library Atlas of Historical County Boundaries
**Unfortunately the interactive maps are currently unavailable but the site does have a downloadable KMZ file that can be used with Google Maps and Google Earth.

As always, please be sure to read the copyright information for usage restrictions.  If you find a resource particularly helpful, also look for a “Donate” button.  This helps get more of these great resources on-line.