January Genealogy Notes -- Next Meeting Feb. 19
- A few quick items before the January notes ... Root Cellar, the Sacramento
Genealogical Society, is hosting a day-long spring seminar on Saturday, March
25. The featured speaker is Dr. John Phillip Colletta, author of "They Came in
Ships" and other books. If memory serves, Lester Smith has heard him speak
at several conferences and raved about his presentations.
Cost for the seminar is $27 if you sign up before March 1 ... complete
details and a registration form are available online at www.rootcellar.org.
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And here's a Web site I discovered today that may have information on your
family members. You may recall learning about the Homestead Act of 1862
providing up to 160 acres of land. The federal Bureau of Land Management has a name
index to homestead claims from 1820 to 1908 at www.glorecords.blms.gov. Click
on "Search Land Patents" at top left. I typed in only a last name and found
two relatives with 1883 and 1891 purchases in California. Although an
electronic image wasn't available for these, I understand some are and apparently you
can get the extensive application the claimant filled out. I've included the
text of a Vancouver, WA newspaper column on this at the end of this e-mail.
Notes from January 22, 2006 JGSS Meeting
Vice President Burt Hecht called the meeting to order and asked members and
guests to introduce themselves and their areas of research. President Mark
Heckman was in Los Angeles, where he had been invited to present talks on
choosing genealogical software and making your own family history video.
Allan Bonderoff presented the treasurer's report -- with the recent
collecting of 2006 dues, there is now $1,234.58 in our account.
Burt gave an overview of upcoming meetings: Barbara Leak will speak Sunday,
February 19 on the GenSmart software program which allows you to organize data
and photos. It can apparently be added on to any Family Tree-type program.
On March 19, we'll have a genealogy "round robin," giving everyone a chance
to bring their questions, roadblocks and successes to the group. Take advantage
of our members' expertise and join our "share-athon."
In April, David Hoffman will talk about the Grand Duchy of Lichtenstein.
It was noted that longtime member Lester Smith had recently suffered a stroke
but was now recovering at home. Calls and cards would be appreciated.
January Speaker: Joyce Buckland
Joyce Buckland, area genealogist, was our January speaker. Her topic was
the British and Canadian censuses. She said she has greater familiarity with
the British data but will share information on both with us.
For England, the Internet is the place to do the research, she said. But
just because you find something, it doesn't mean it's so, unless it's the
original record. You want to prove that the information you find is accurate.
In England and Wales, they handed out census forms to families, who were to
record everyone in the household that night. If they didn't fill them out, the
census enumerator would do it for them. The government then had the forms
transcribed and the original forms destroyed.
The major censuses now available to the public begin with 1841 and continue
every ten years through 1901, although there are some censuses that were taken
before 1841. The census has to be 100 years old to be released. The censuses
are at http://census.pro.gov.uk/ ; Ancestry's Web site (ancestry.com) has those
from 1851 to 1901, completely indexed. (Joyce noted that most were indexed in
India or Pakistan, which has led to some errors she's found in her own family
Joyce said British census records can be obtained by interlibrary loan from
the Family History Center in Salt Lake City, and the FHC in Los Angeles has a
complete collection of census records except for 1901. The records are sorted
Except for 1841, the same census questions were asked in each of the census
years, Joyce said. "It's kind of like British food, a little boring."
Joyce said when you search a village, search the whole village. You're
likely to find other relatives. And you can use the census records to go further
back -- she found the grandfather of a relative listed along with his place of
birth, allowing her to go back two generations.
Family Records Center, London
1 Myddleton Street
London, EC 1
Since 1997, all civil registration records and census records are located
here. There is also access to Scottish archives. Among the records is an 1881
index for those on vessels at the time of the census.
Joyce makes use of the CD collection of British census records at the Family
History Center, which she accesses through Family Search. This can also be
done through Ancestry.com for a fee. (These Ancestry records are indexed and
you can view and print out the original documents. Ancestry also allows you to
click on "view other family members.")
Joyce said Rootsweb (www.rootsweb.com) also has a census site, FreeCEN. They
are seeking volunteers to help transcribe census records and put them on line.
Joyce distributed a list of 20 Web sites for English and Welsh genealogy
With regard to emigration from England to Canada, they didn't keep passenger
lists until 1890. There is a Web site for immigrant ships --
With regards to the Canadian census, various early censuses are available
depending on the province or territory. For example, a census from 1666 and
1167 is available for Quebec; the western provinces didn't have censuses taken
Through the National Archives in Ottawa, you can obtain film of the existing
censuses, also available through interlibrary loan.
Joyce said the most recent census to become available, that of 1911, is "a
nuisance to search" and very difficult to read. It is found at
http://data4.collectionscanada.ca or you can simply do a Google search for the 1911
Canadian census. The version on Ancestry.com is apparently slightly enhanced. It
lists everybody else in the household and you can save the document images to
file to work on enhancing them.
Joyce also mentioned that there was an agricultural census taken in 1861,
which includes interesting information such as what the individuals grew, what
kinds of possessions they had on hand (62 yards of flannel, etc.).
The 1871 census is the only more recent one to be indexed, but only for the
province of Ontario.
Border crossings are another source of records. Often called the St. Albans
records, for the St. Albans crossing from Canada into Vermont, there are also
records from other areas filed under that name. Joyce suggests also checking
records for Detroit and Vancouver crossings.
Joyce also mentioned three books of interest:
"My Ancestors Were Jewish," by Isobel Mordy
"Jewish Ancestors -- Beginner's Guide to Jewish Genealogy," by the Jewish
Genealogical Society of Great Britain (and in our library)
"Genealogical Resources Within the Jewish Home and Family, " Rosemary
Judy Persin mentioned that the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) records
for Great Britain might be another source of information. Burt Hecht noted that
city directories in Canada are also a useful tool.
Art Yates mentioned that many of the county names in Canada have changed
since 1911, becoming amalgamated counties, so researchers should be aware of that.
Joyce noted that along with the National Archives in Canada, there are
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In business items, Art Yates noted that he attended the recent Sacramento
council meeting of genealogy groups -- Barbara Leak (our February speaker) will
remain as president, vice president is Pam Dallas. He also mentioned that
there will only be one bus trip organized in 2006 to the Sutro Library/San Bruno
National Archives; it will be sometime in October.
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President Mark Heckman passed on the details below regarding the annual
awards given by the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies.
Deadline for this year's nominations is April 1.
Since 1998, the Jewish genealogy community has=20 acknowledged contributions
by individuals and=20 groups with the annual awards presented by the
International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies. The names of some of the
awards have=20 changed over the years, but the idea remains constant: to give
credit and honor where it is due.
The distinguished list of past winners appears below. To find out how you can
play a part in choosing this year's winners, see the Call for Nominations at
(Please be sure to click on each award category for criteria for that award.)
Lifetime Achievement Award
2005 - Susan King
2004 - Warren Blatt
2003 - Miriam Weiner
2002 - Stanley Diamond
2001 - Peter Land
2000 - Sallyann Amdur Sack
1999 - Arthur Kurzweil
1998 - Gary Mokotoff
Outstanding Contribution to Jewish Genealogy via the Internet, Print or
2005 - Yad Vashem's Central Database of Shoah
2004 - Alexander Beider, for his contributions
to the study of the origins and forms of
proper names and surnames
2003 - Stephen Morse, in recognition of his
One-Step research tools
2002 - JewishGen, in recognition of the Yizkor
Outstanding Programming or Project
that Advances the Objectives of Jewish Genealogy
2005 - JGS of Los Angeles for events and programs
marking the Society's 25th anniversary
2004 - David Fox in recognition of the Belarus SIG
2003 - JGS of Montreal for the Drouin Project
(indexing the Jewish entries among the
vital records of Quebec)
2002 - JGS of Ottawa, in recognition of their
Chernivtsi Cemetery Project
Outstanding Publication by an IAJGS Member Society
2005 - JGS of Greater Philadelphia for its
2004 - JGS, Inc. (New York City) for _Genealogical
Resources in New York_
2003 - JGS of Palm Beach County in recognition of
their Beginners and Intermediate
2002 - JGS of Los Angeles in recognition of
2001 - Asociacion de Genealogia Judia de Argentina
in recognition of TOLDOT
2000 - JGS Society of Michigan in recognition of
its journal, GENERATIONS
1999 - Israel Genealogical Society in recognition
of SHARSHERET HADOROT
Plus in these older award categories...
Outstanding Contribution via Print
2001 - Dan and Rosanne Leeson for their indexes
of Alsatian Jewish census and vital records 2000 - Miriam Weiner for
her book _Jewish Roots in
Ukraine and Moldova_
1999 - Miriam Weiner for her book _Jewish Roots in
1998 - JGS of Great Britain for its journal, SHEMOT
Outstanding Contribution via Electronic Media
2001 - Nancy Goodstein for the Index of Jewish
Records in the Family History Library
Outstanding Contribution via the Internet
2001 - Michael Tobias for Jewish genealogical
2000 - Litvak SIG for the All Lithuania Database
1999 - Jewish Records Indexing-Poland
1998 - Susan King
Outstanding Programming Award
2001 - JGS of Palm Beach County, recognizing its
extensive local publicity of Jewish
2000 - JGS of Greater Washington
1999 - JGS of Michigan
Outstanding Project(s) Award
2001 - JGS, Inc. (New York), recognizing its
indexes of Brooklyn naturalization records
and NY area burial societies, and more 2000 - JGS of Canada (Toronto)
for the Jewish Youth
1999 - JGS, Inc. (New York) for initiating the
Jewish Genealogical Family Finder
Genealogy Today: Filing claims for land yield plenty of info
Wednesday, February 8, 2006
CONNIE LENZEN for The Columbian , Vancouver, WA
In the very early years of the United States, Congress declared it would sell
or grant the unclaimed lands in "the West" for the common benefit of the
The states created out of the public domain lands were Alabama, Alaska,
Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa,
Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana,
Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota,
Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
Numerous acts of Congress disposed of land in the public domain. There were
acts for cash sales, donations, homesteads and military warrants for military
service. In addition, people could apply for land for timber culture and
The Homestead Act of 1862 allowed native-born or naturalized citizens to
settle up to 160 acres of public land. They were required to cultivate and to
reside upon the land for five years. This requirement was later reduced to three
years. Subsequent acts permitted cash purchase of homesteads.
The name index to homestead claims is on the Internet at the Bureau of Land
Management (BLM), www.glo records.blm.gov. From time to time, the Web site goes
down, but it is up as I write this. If you try the URL and can't get through,
The land claim files created under the Act of 1862 are a gold mine of
genealogical information. The claimant (called entryman) answered 44 questions.
These included age, post office address, description of the tract and house,
date of first residence, number and relationship of family members,
citizenship, crops and acres under cultivation. A copy of the naturalization papers was
included if the entryman was foreign born. Two witnesses, usually neighbors,
had to answer 28 questions about the applicant.
The National Archives is the custodian of land files and will make copies. A
request must be made on a form called "National Archives Order for Copies of
Land Entry Files." By mail, request these from Textual Reference Branch-Land
(NWDT1), National Archives and Records Administration, Seventh and Pennsylvania
Avenue N.W., Washington, DC 20408. An e-mail request for the form can be made
to: inquirenara.gov. Include the number of the form (NATF Form 84), your name,
and your mailing address.
When you send the form to the archives, the minimum information that you must
include is: name of claimant, state where land was located, approximate date
of entry, and legal description (township, range, and section). It is ideal to
have the serial patent number, final certificate number, and name of land
office. All of this is found on the BLM Web site.
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