Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Ancestry Library Edition

Hello! It's me again, Lisa Rienerth, Kathy' co-worker.  I just presented this topic at our Genealogy Lock-In and Kathy thought it would be a good idea to cover it on her blog...and I agreed!

How many times have you been doing online genealogy research and one of the links you were hoping would lead to your ancestor's birth record led you to Ancestry.com and you needed a subscription to view it? Frustrating...I know.

I have an alternative to the free 14 day trial! The Medina County District Library (MCDL) has access to the Ancestry Library Edition (A.L.E.) database which is only available if you are in the library, but many of the records which are on the subscription Ancestry.com are available through Ancestry Library Edition and it's FREE!

Let me show you how to get to this database if you are in one of the MCDL branches. If you are using one of our computers you will automatically open up to our home page. If you are using your laptop, you will need to put in our web address: www.mcdl.info.

On the left hand side of the page you will see a list of "Quick Links". In that list click on Online Resources & Databases. 

This will take you to another page where you will scroll down to the bottom until you see the Medina Library's databases and a tab marked "History & Genealogy". If you click on this tab it will show you a list of databases with Ancestry Library Edition listed first.  Click on this and you will be taken to Ancestry Library Edition.

The first thing you will see is the lovely historical photos and the title of what type of records you can search.

However, you can also use the tool bar at the top. If you click on the "SEARCH" tab, you will see a drop-down menu which also lists the different topics you can search.

I like using the drop-down menu because this search provides more information. For example, if you click on "Census and Voters List" you will be able to search a wider variety of census records then you would if you clicked on the photo box of the couple that says "Search Census". These census records will only be from the U.S.

If you want to search all of the records A.L.E. has all at once, then click on "SEARCH" and then "ALL CATEGORIES".

There is a  SEARCH box where you click on "Show more options" to see the advance search box.
Advance Search Box

 Scroll down the page to see how you can narrow your search by a specific country, state or area.

On the right hand side you will see a listing of the Special Collections which are available on A.L.E.

The SEARCH box is pretty self-explanatory. You put in as much or as little information you have and hit SEARCH. I like to start out with just a little information, such as, Name, birth place & gender. Some people like to start by putting as much information they know and then narrow it down if the information they are looking for doesn't come up. Either way is fine!

When you hit search a list of the records will come up that your search prompted.

On the left hand-side of the page there is a list of Search Filters which can help you narrow down your search.

When doing this search you may even bring up a Family Tree that has been put on A.L.E. by a member.

WARNING: Do not accept the information as complete truth! Look for sources and I mean sources other than another person's family tree. You can use this information as a stepping stone for further research not as a replacement for research.

Another warning is on the HOME page it states "Receive Records at Home" and "Send Your Find Home". Please know that if you do not have a subscription to Ancestry.com, you will NOT be able to view the records you email yourself from A.L.E. What happens is that it sends you a link, which when you click on it, it will only open up if you have a subscription at home.

If you are looking for a specific type of record you can click on SEARCH and then the type of records  you would like to search.


For example: if you want to only research Census Records & Voter's List, click on this and it will take you to the Search Page.


You will see a SEARCH BOX....



The layout of this page is the same for all of the source collections.

Take the time to check out all the categories and read the collection Information. There is a lot of important and interesting information. For example, if you click on U.S. Federal Census Collection under NARROW BY CATEGORY, it will list all the different types of U.S. Census records and if you click on the different ones it will give you a brief history and some search tips.

After filling out the Search Box, click on search and a list of records that best match your data input will be shown.

Scroll over View Record on the left of the person's name and it will give you a synopsis of the record and below this a source citation and more information on the source.

 Click View Record and a digital image of the record will download for you to see.

This viewer has great search aids. If you are looking at a census record and need to scroll down the record, the heading titles will follow the page so you will know what information should be in that column.

 If you scroll from left to right, a left hand scroll will follow with your ancestor's name so you don't forget which line is his/hers.

The tools on the right hand side of the viewer are as follows:

The open box will put the screen in full screen mode.

 The arrow will list  information on the person.

 The Hammer and Wrench icon is for settings, such as, Printing, rotating, inverting, etc. The

Plus and Minus will enlarge or reduce the image.

The other categories: Birth, Marriage, Death; Military and Immigration; and Travel, all have similar tool aids when viewing the record.

The tool bar at the top also shows the topic MESSAGE BOARDS. You can use this to help find others who are researching the same topic or surname. It is helpful if you have run into a brick wall with your research, because sometimes you can get in touch with who has either faced this problem or is researching the same surname.

There is also the LEARNING CENTER where you will find search aids, maps & Wikis on all types of genealogical information.

You can also download and print blank charts & forms to help organize your research.

Remember, you must be in the library to access this database and if you have any questions about searching on this site, you can always ask any one of us at the Reference Desk to help you! The information you can find on Ancestry Library Edition is worth the trip!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Time is running out to sign up!

There are still a few spots open for the Lock-In!

(Click on the Lock-In link toward the bottom of the page.)

The April Genealogy Lock-In is scheduled for the 22nd, Friday, from 6:30-10:30 p.m.

If you have never been to one of the Library's lock-ins, let me explain. The Lock-Ins are an after-regular-library-hours genealogy program where we bring in special speakers and spend the night talking about and researching genealogy. The Medina Library co-hosts them with the Medina County Genealogical Society, twice a year, once in April and once in September.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     This April, we are pleased to be offering a session on Researching your Polish Ancestry. Ben Kman of the Polish Genealogical Society of Cleveland will be our speaker. This is part of the Library's efforts to provide training on Eastern European roots, which Lisa and I do not have a lot of experience in. We know there is a need for it from the questions we get at the Reference Desk and during our sessions as the Genealogist is In! This presentation will run from 7-8 p.m. 
After a brief intermission to re-energize with some of the light refreshments provided by the Library, we resume at 9 with a second educational session.

This April, Lisa will be talking about Ancestry Library Edition (ALE), the library subscription database that is the sister site to Ancestry. com  ALE is very similar to the commercial database with some of the personalized options not available. And it is FREE from inside any of the Medina County District Library branches.

You do not have to stay the whole 4 hours.You do not have to come to the educational sessions.  You do have to be present to claim your door prize. You could spend the whole evening doing genealogy research using library computers and databases. Genealogical  society members and library staff will be on hand to help you. 

April Genealogy Lock-In

22 April - Friday
6:30-10:30 p.m.

You can sign up to attend it here: 


Door prizes, provided by the Library and the Medina County Genealogical
Society are awarded during the intermission. You must be present to win.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

NEW Medina County History Book

Established author and historian, Joann King, is launching her new book this Thursday April 7th, 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm at the Medina Library.

Medina County Coming of Age 1810 – 1900

A long-awaited NEW history book on Medina County that chronicles its earliest history. Uncovering new stories and including previously ignored segments of Medina's history, i.e. women and minorities. Joann will present her research, her findings and discuss the book at the event.

Guests should come to the Quiet Reading Room on the second floor of the Medina Library, located at 210 S. Broadway Street, from 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm for the open house style event.

King is past president and curator of the  Medina County Historical Society. This is her third book about Medina County. She has also written:
  • “Building a Firm Foundation. Medina County Architecture 1811 – 1900”
  • “Letha E. House: From Foundling to Philanthropist”.

If you have not read her earlier books, you will enjoy her smooth easy reading style. As I have often told her, "Your history books read like fiction, they are so entertaining."

Remember: April 7 5- 8 p.m. Quiet Reading Room on the second floor of the Medina Library.
No registration required.

See you there!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

An Adventure in Researching Birth Records

At the beginning of the year, I mentioned that one of my goals for 2016 was to work on my MASON family surname. And one of the first items on my "to-do" list for the MASONS research was to organize the information. This is a great way to discover what information is missing.

After organizing my files, I quickly discovered that a LOT of documentation was missing for some of my closest relatives. The birth, marriage & death dates were listed. But no documentation. This was because I couldn't afford the price of obtaining the documents for collateral lines, cousins, aunts and uncles. Until more recently.

No, I did not get a huge raise at the library, win the lottery, or inherit a fortune. It is just that a lot more information is more available. Ancestry Library Edition and FamilySearch.org helped fill in some of the gaps. But some of the information was too recent to be available online, for privacy reasons. Specifically, I was looking for the birth certificates for my mother's siblings; two brothers and one sister.

Luckily, here in Ohio you can obtain birth certificates for anyone born in Ohio after 1908 from your local health department. A certified copy costs $22. But, if you don't need a certified copy, and I didn't, you can request to see the certificate and then take a picture of it!

Example of a certified birth certificate.
Example of an "uncertified" Ohio birth certificate.
Look at all the information that is left off the certified copy!

So armed with their three names, dates of birth, places of birth and their parents names, I headed over to the Medina County Health Department on Ledgewood Drive (right next to WalMart).

Medina County Health Department, 4800 Ledgewood Drive, Medina.

The clerks in the Vital Statistics division of the Health Department are always very friendly and helpful. When you fill out the paperwork to request to see the copy of a birth certificate, write "For Genealogical Purposes" across the top. The clerks then know to not make a certified copy, but to just print it out. In Medina, they stamp "View Only" across the copy.

However, they could only find one of the birth certificates. The one for my Mom's younger brother, Charlie. They couldn't find the certificates for John Jr. nor Dixie. After their mother died, Dixie had been adopted by a family named Roberts. The clerk said I would have to know the adoptive mother's name to find her certificate. But John?  Why wasn't his certificate showing?

In certain places and times, compliance with the law to register births wasn't consistently followed. But during the 1930's compliance in Ohio was pretty complete, even in the cases of home births. Both my mother and Uncle Charlie had been born at home.

Elated at having at least one of the certificates, I went home to review my files to see if there was a piece of information missing that might help locate Uncle John's birth certificate. In all of the siblings' files was a printout from Ancestry Library Edition for the Ohio birth indexes. Uncle John's printout listed a file number. I checked Uncle Charlie's printout with the picture of the certificate and noticed the certificate number and file number were nearly identical!

Now armed with the certificate number, I made another trip to the Health Department. BINGO! They easily found Uncle John's certificate. Perplexed as to why it did not show up during the first search, the clerk looked in the index and found that he was indexed under the name Raymond Sherwood Mason, instead of John Sherwood Mason, Jr.!  Bizarre!

If not for the persistence of the clerk and myself, and using multiple sources, we wouldn't have found it!

Oh, and the clerk promised to fix the index.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Family Treasures

The Orpheus Clock: The Search for My Family's Art Treasures Stolen by the Nazis by Simon Goodman. 

One of the wonderful  benefits of working at a public library is finding and sharing all of the really great books. My co-worker, Cheryl, recommended this book to me and for that, I thank her!


From the topic, Nazi confiscation of artwork from Jewish citizens during World War II, I was skeptical about how "readable" the book would be. I am not a Holocaust scholar, and am often intimidated by the horror of the topic. Nor am I any kind of art expert. I had one Art History class in college that I did manage to pass, over 30 years ago! I have been fortunate enough to visit several major art museums (Cleveland, New York, Florence, Venice) and stand open-mouthed in front of some truly incredible masterpieces. But I didn't think that would get me through this book.

But I was wrong! Within the first pages, I was captivated  by the author's easy, warm, almost casual style. 300+ pages and I couldn't put it down. 

It is the story of Simon and Nick Goodman, who received boxes and boxes of paperwork after their father died. Their father, Bernard, was a quiet, perhaps depressed, man who didn't connect with his sons. Living in England while growing up, the sons would often accompany Bernard on his trips to Europe. They always assumed that the trips were connected with their father's work as a travel agent. Only when they were teens did the boys learn that their grandparents were victims of the Holocaust.

Without telling you the whole story, know that the author carries you along as the men rediscover their father in the boxes of paperwork that contained his painstaking research and efforts to recover the family's stolen artwork. They encounter personal connections to the coldness and brutality of the Nazi preoccupation with stealing the great art of all of Europe. Throughout the 90's, they suffer when governments, museums, and art collectors refuse to acknowledge that art in their possession was stolen during World War II from the Goodman/Gutmann family. We celebrate along with them when a turning point comes, records open up, compassion prevails, and they are able to start recovering their family's art treasures.

But this excerpt is why I wanted to share this book with you. It appears on the very last page of the book:

"As I embarked on this quest to find my family's lost treasures, a solution to my underlying grief emerged. The more I traced our hidden artworks, the more my family's buried history resurfaced. As I placed yet one more piece of the shattered jigsaw puzzle back together, the lost lives became tangible once more. With each piece came a little renewed pride. Today I am comforted by knowing my place in all this. I no longer suffer from an isolation of rootlessness. My roots are deep and wide, with ancestors that go back many centuries and relatives on four continents."

These words are true for all of us who research our family's history. The treasures we are searching for aren't gold or silver. They are the family Bible, the needlework sampler, the military records and wills of our ancestors. They reconnect us to our ancestors in the same way. All of roots are "deep and wide" if we look for them.

Simon Goodman, author, with his family's Orpheus Clock
If you were a fan of the movies, Monuments Men or The Woman in Gold, or the books, My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me: A Black Woman Discovers Her Family's Nazi Past or 
The Family: A Journey into the Heart of the Twentieth Century you will enjoy this book.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Robert Whipp

Whipp's Ledges of the Cleveland Metroparks near Hinckley.
Named for Robert Whipp.

Most Medinians, indeed, most residents of northeast Ohio, have at least heard of Whipps Ledges in the Hinckley Metroparks. Many have clambered over the rocks and ledges. Some more adventurous types have climbed the cliffs. But how many of them know the story of Robert Whipp for whom the Ledges are named?

Robert Whipp was born in Lancashire England around 1822. He came to Ohio around 1852. It is said that while in England, he lost a herd of cattle due to disease and that is why he came to America. He worked for someone for a few years, but soon he was on his own again.

Robert Whipp

In 1854 he married a widow, Mrs. Mehitable Waite in Medina County. In the 1860 Census, she is 12 years older than Robert. Apparently, the couple never had children. While Robert registered for the draft during the U.S. Civil War, there is no indication that he ever served. Robert was again dealing in cattle and investing in real estate.

By the 1870 Census, his real estate was valued at $47,900! His personal property $7,200. A wealthy man by the standards of the day.

On July 27th 1876, his wife, Mehitable died. Things went sour after that.

He had a housekeeper named Mrs. Spensley. She had a young widowed daughter, Rachel Kuder. She was just 24 years old, to Robert's 55. He asked her to marry him, but then stood her up at the altar. Twice. But as they used to say, Rachel was "in a delicate condition" and threatened to ruin him if he didn't do right by her. So on August 13, 1877 the couple were married.

From the start, they both knew that they had made a bad marriage. Rachel was confiding that she only married Robert for his money. Robert was threatening divorce.

You wouldn't think that things could get much worse, but they quickly did. In the early morning hours of 15 September, Robert awoke to the smell of chloroform in his bedroom. There were two men in the room and they quickly tried to put a rope around Robert's neck. From the voices, he recognized one of the men as his brother-in-law, Lonsdale Spensley. Robert fought them off and ran into the night to one of the neighbor's farms where the authorities were notified. Spensley was quickly arrested.

By October, indictments were handed down against Lonsdale Spensley, Rachel Whipp and Alfred Taylor for assault with intent to kill. The plan had been to chloroform Robert and then hang him by the neck with the rope, hoping to make it look like a suicide.

The trial started in January of 1878 and was quite sensational. Alfred Taylor asked for and was granted a separate trial from Rachel and Spensley. The trial last for 11 days. The jury decided they were guilty.

The judge sentenced them both, Rachel & her brother, Lonsdale, to seven years in the penitentiary.

Rachel pleaded with Whipp to visit her in jail before she left. He went to see her, asking if she understood that her current circumstances were all of her own doing, that he was not responsible for her being in jail. She ignored his questions and crying uncontrollably, she asked him to use his influence to make sure she didn't go to the pen. Robert replied there was nothing he could do now.

In February of 1878, while serving her time in the penitentiary, Rachel gave birth to a son, named Eddie.

Meantime, Robert filed for divorce in May of 1878 and it was granted in September of that year.

From these two articles we know that Rachel spent a little over one year in prison:

Medina County Gazette 3 January 1879 p. 2

Medina County Gazette 3 January 1879, p. 7

In the 1880 Census, Rachel is living with her mother in Granger Township with her young son, Edward Whipp.

In 1881, Rachel, now divorced and free from prison, married Alfred Taylor. Alfred had successfully petitioned for a change of venue to Lorain County. His case was thrown out by the Lorain Courts in November of 1878. Perhaps this information influenced the governor to pardon Rachel?

Robert Whipp continued to deal in cattle and be involved in small legal claims with his neighbors.

He died September 24, 1890 after years of sickness, dying blind, helpless, and cared for by his hired hand.

Robert had made out his will in August of 1878. It went into probate in October of 1890. The will makes no mention of Rachel's child that was born in February of 1878. But the probate record does list Eddie Taylor "otherwise known as Eddie Whipp" as his son!

(The Library's resources do not reveal the amount, if any, of Robert's estate young Eddie inherited.)

Ancestry Library Edition
History of Medina County and Ohio (1881) Baskin & Battey, pp. 616-617.
Medina County Gazette
-- 5 Jan. 1877 p. 8
-- 21 Sep. 1877 p. 1
-- 5 Oct. 1877 p. 5
--18 Jan. 1878 p. 1
-- 25 Jan 1878 p. 1
-- 1 Feb 1878 p. 4
-- 8 Feb. 1878 p. 2
-- 26 Apr. 1878 p. 4
-- 24 May 1878 p. 7
-- 3 Jun 1881 p. 3
-- 3 Oct. 1890 p. 1

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Using Maps in Your Genealogical Research

Have you been using maps in your genealogical research? Hopefully, your answer was a resounding "Yes!" If it wasn't, it will be after you read this blog!

One of the most basic uses of maps is to show the location of a place in relationship to other places. For example, most Americans' knowledge of English geography is limited, so when saying that my TAGG ancestors emigrated from Kettering, Northamptonshire, England, I include a map that shows Kettering's distance from and location in relationship to London, England.


A map like this one gives relative distance to other major cities and general location within the country. From this we learn that Kettering is not on the coast and not very near London.

Maps showing boundary changes.

Another important use of maps is to show boundary changes. The above map shows some of the major boundary changes in 20th century Europe. You have to know what the place was called and who ruled it to find the records of your ancestors. Last fall, we learned that many of the Slovakia records from the 1800's are in Hungarian, because that is who ruled the area for most of that century.

Boundary Changes for Medina County 1800-1840

1810 Medina County exists but is
administered by Portage County
1800 Medina County doesn't exist

1820 - Medina is very rectangular!
Starting 1818, they administered themselves
1830 - Medina County lost western land to
newly formed Lorain County

1840 - Medina lost eastern lands to
newly formed Summit County.

Above image excerpts taken from Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Censuses 1790-1920 by William Thorndale and William Dollarhide. Keep boundary changes in mind when looking for family records.

Maps can help illustrate how our ancestors moved from one place to another. I used a modified version of the map below to show how my TAGG ancestors got from the piers of New York Harbor, to Rootstown, Portage County, Ohio via the canal systems of the 1830's. Such visual aids helps us to understand the hardships they might have encountered on the way as well as when we find a couple's children born in multiple states, along the migration route.

From the FamilySearch website:

Maps can also show how an area changes over time. Just think about the changes in streets and housing developments you have witnessed in your lifetime.

 A local example is the creation of Reagan Parkway, linking Route 3 on the northeast of the city, with Marks Road on the northwest. 30 years ago, this street didn't exist. The Elsie Northrup school didn't exist. Jefferson Street did not extend to Stonegate Drive, which also didn't exist.

How many of you remember when the area that is the KMart Plaza was just open fields?  All of these changes would be reflected in maps of the area.

1981 Map for Medina. Location of Reagan Parkway is marked in red dashes
Notice how little development is in the area

2009 Map of Medina with Reagan Parkway highlighted in yellow.
Look at all the development!!

Topographical maps show landscape features and can explain ancestor's behaviors and occupation. If an ancestor lived near a major river, it is understandable if he appears as a stevedore in the census records.


This detail of a tropographic map of Gallia County, Ohio, shows the hilly terrain where my ancestors had farms. With this information, I understand why their farms emphasized cattle and sheep and not grain farms. The creek running left to right in the middle of the picture is called Williams Creek after my 3X great grandfather, John Williams.

This detail from the 1885 Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps shows the intersection of Washington and Broadway in the city of Medina. Notice the "dwelling" at the corner. These maps can show how close different structures and often show materials used, for the purposes of insurance...

Notice in this detail from the 1932-1940 Fire Insurance Maps, that now, the Franklin Sylvester Library occupies that spot.

If your ancestor participated in military engagements, maps illustrate their involvment in time periods lacking any photographic evidence.

This map shows Fort Montgomery, New York. My ancestor Christian Young served here during the Revolutionary War. He helped construct the Chevron-de-Frise, shown as "chain" in the map, across the Hudson River. It was a failed attempt to keep the British from sailing up the Hudson. The American forces, holding Ft. Montgomery were attacked by the British, simultaneously from ships in the Hudson and nearby Fort Clinton. The Americans escaped on foot across the rough terrain into the nearby woods.

Plat maps and atlases can show land ownership. County atlases, directories and plat maps can show land ownership, as does this example for a 1991 Plat Map of Medina.
Plat maps show land ownership. Also listed here is the acreage of each portion of land.

Do you have any research stories of how maps solved a family mystery for you?

Please share below.

References and more information: