Letters

While researching your family, have you ever stumbled across something very precious — but not for your ancestor? That was my experience today when I made a truly wonderful find.

As mentioned in my post, Evaluating ThruLines, I am researching descendants to verify the ‘Evaluation’ line suggested by ThruLines, Today, I’m working on a ThruLines suggestion for Phillip Andrew Mentzer that goes thru his daughter, Sarah A. Mentzer.

According to FamilySearch, Sarah was married three times. Her first marriage was to Henry Oman. In 1860, Sarah and Henry are living in Kewanee, Henry County, Illinois. By 1870, Sarah is back in Massachusetts and is listed in the census as Sarah Stiles. Sarah’s second husband was Henry Stiles. Also listed in the 1870 census were two Oman children: Alice and Henry. In 1880, Sarah is again living in Massachusetts, but this time she is listed as Sarah Green, wife of Edward Green. The Oman children are not listed with Sarah and Edward on the 1880 census.

Thanks to Ancestry’s collection of marriage records for Massachusetts, I was able to find all three of Sarah’s marriage records. My next step was to learn more about Sarah’s husbands.

Thus, I turned to FamilySearch to see what it would tell me about Henry Oman. According to the record for Henry Oman (LZP4-NZC) on FamilySearch, he died on 1 Aug 1863 at Vicksburg, Mississippi. FamilySearch also indicated that he was buried in the National Cemetery at Vicksburg. Thinking I would be able to use a record on Find a Grave to document Henry Oman’s death and burial, I searched for the record on that site.

When I couldn’t find Henry Oman’s burial on Find a Grave I decided to do a quick Google search to see what I could find. And that’s when I hit the jackpot!

Not only did I have links to the sites with the Vicksburg National Cemetery burial information but I had a link to Henry Oman‘s papers. These ‘papers’ turned out to be 10 letters written by Henry Oman to his wife, Sarah, between 1862 and his death in 1863.

Knowing that I would want to be told about such a find for one of my great-grandfathers, I shared this information with my DNA match. I’m praying that she is active enough on Ancestry to read my message!

Shhh! It’s a Secret!

As a genealogist, do you do most of your research online? I have to admit that I tend to concentrate on sources that are online and don’t take the time to see what I’m missing by relying on online sources.

Since I happen to live a few hours from the Midwest Genealogy Center and since my husband is also hooked on the genealogy habit, we try to visit this fabulous genealogy library at least once a year. Usually, my pre-trip plans center around creating a list of localities I want to research and not a specific list of sources.

This time, I had a book that I wanted to find: Descendants of Alexander and Mary McPheeters Crawford. According to WorldCat, this book was supposed be in the collection at the Midwest Genealogy Center. However, it wasn’t listed in their catalog. Thus, I knew I would need to ask for help to verify that they did not have the book.

I am SO GLAD I asked for help! The librarian verified that the print copy of the book was missing. However, she didn’t stop there. In our conversation, I told her that there was a copy on microfiche at the Family History Library. She immediately looked the book up on FamilySearch and then with some computer magic, told me they had the book on microfiche!

Not only did they have this book, but they had drawers full of microfiche and microfilm from the Family History Library.


When the Family History Library stopped their loan program, they ended up with a lot of rolls of microfilm and a lot of microfiche that had been used in that program. Since this media duplicated what was in the Salt Lake library, they offered it to genealogy collections. And the Midwest Genealogy Center accepted all of this film.

The Midwest Genealogy Center does not have a copy of all of the film collection of the Family History Library — but they have a lot! Since some of the resources on FamilySearch have not been digitized and others are only available at a Family History Center, this collection of film and fiche will be very helpful to genealogists using the Midwest Genealogy Center.

To figure out whether the Midwest Genealogy Center has a desired resource, one must do a little of preparatory work. First, one has to locate the FILM number for the resource on the FamilySearch website.

The next step is to see of Midwest Genealogy Center has that particular film.

  • On the Browse Resources page, scroll down a bit to locate the heading MGC Microforms Holding Guide
  • Click on MGC Microfoms Holding Guide to expand the menu
  • Locate Family History Library Microfilm on Indefinite Loan to MGC and click to open the PDF file
  • The PDF is just a list of numbers — the FILM NUMBERS
  • This is where one needs the film number from the FamilySearch website. Search the PDF file for the film number.
  • Since my film number (6110842) was on the list, that meant that the microfiche of the book was in the Midwest Genealogy Center.

Midwest Genealogy Center has a room devoted to microfilm. Until yesterday, I assumed that a large share of this microfilm was the census microfilm that I used when first starting my genealogy research. Now, I know that there’s a who lot more hidden in these large cabinets of microfilm.

I had also assumed that the microfiche collection of the MGC were the UMI collection of genealogy resources. I had used some of this collection in the past, but was not aware of the quantity of resources available. 

In addition to the UMI microfiche, MGC has a collection of microfiche from the Family History Library. It was in these cabinets that I found the microfiche of the Crawford book.

Not only does the MGC have all of these resources, they have a wonderful room fully equipped with the technology to not only read the microfilm/microfiche but to also create a digital copy of the images.

Even though I’ve used this wonderful genealogy library several times over the past few years, I was not aware of all of these wonderful resources. 

Now, the secret is out! 

I wonder what secrets are hidden in other libraries. Let’s work together to discover and expose these wonderful gems in the collections of our libraries, historical societies, genealogy societies and archives!

Scavenger Hunt

Do you ever find in your own research that leads you on a scavenger hunt? That’s how I felt this morning when I was trying to figure out some of my ‘bad’ citations attached to James Crawford on my Ancestry tree.

Fortunately, when I clicked on the top Entry citation, it opened up a window that provided enough information about this erroneous citation to help me locate my original research.

Since the document number, Crawford.KY.099, managed to stay with the citation in the move from The Master Genealogist to Roots Magic, I had enough information to find a copy of my paper notes.

Again, fortunately, there was enough information in these notes to locate the original source – which had fortunately been digitized. The genealogy journal, Kentucky Ancestors, has been digitized and is available on the Kentucky Historical Society website. From this site, I was able to open a PDF copy of the October 1979 issue and find my James Crawford information on page 71.

Since this information was continued from the July 1979 issue, I had to go to that issue to find out more about these records.

This information will tie James Crawford of Jefferson County, Indiana to the James Crawford of Garrard County, Kentucky. It also provides a possible date for the move from Kentucky to Indiana.

Since I would like an original copy of this record versus the transcription, I turned to the Bureau of Land Managements to see if I could access these certificates thru their site.

Unfortunately, my searches, by both surname and the certificate numbers, did not locate these certificates on the BLM site.

However the information at the start of the article provides a clue as to where these certificates might be found: The Archives at the Indiana State Library. So far, I haven’t found where these records have been digitized. However, I did find information about the collection of land records in the Indiana State Archives.

I need to continue my trek on this ‘scavenger hunt’ and locate these certificates. Then, I will likely need to add the Indiana State Archives to my travel destination list.