Category Archives: Research

Newspaper Archives Great Source for Family History

In my last post I mentioned finding surprising news about my grandfather, James R West, in newspapers from New Mexico in the early 1900s.  I have done many newspaper searches before, but never using NewspaperArchive.com.

I found dozens of articles that I had not find searching other newspaper sites. Although there is a subscription fee, I am finding this source invaluable. So far, I have saved twelve articles about James West from the site with many more still to review and save.

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Interestingly, although I have never heard him referred to as Jim except by my cousin John, seeing his name as Jim West, as well as James West, in one of the articles that I found led me to start a new search under Jim West. Many more articles came up that were clearly about James. Remember to search in many ways for your ancestors in all document and newspaper searches.

Conducting more research on Newspaper Archive is my top genealogy goal at the moment. It is taking a lot of discipline to not start entering every ancestor’s name to see what I can find. However, I am determined to first pull every article about my grandfather that I can find and this in itself will take several sessions.

Happy searching!

Kathy

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James R West – Man of Many Complexities

Finding out more about James R West, my grandfather, was one of the reasons that I started my genealogy research. James married my Cherokee grandmother, Eliza Crittenden, in 1903. I knew only broad strokes about their life together.

They married in Oklahoma Indian Territory in 1903. Sometime shortly after that they moved to Roswell, New Mexico where they lived until about 1917. I knew that James left the family in 1922 and, except for a one day visit to Tulsa in 1929, he never contacted my grandmother or his children again.

James R West

James R West

Since starting my research I have found out more about their life together, but I still have so many holes in their story.

Based on some correspondence with the Dawes Commission regarding my grandmother’s land selection, I had a feeling that James was not in the household during their last years in Roswell. In October of this year,  I finally made my way to Roswell to see what I could find.

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Chaves County Court House – Roswell

I started with the Historical Society and their very helpful volunteer. Janice found a newspaper article that led me to do some research in the property file archives at the Chaves County Recorders Office. I found many land transactions in which James was involved, ending with charges being filed against him regarding some of those transactions. This mirrored activity by James that I had found several years ago in Wagoner, Oklahoma. Pages of land transactions concluding with him being sanctioned by a judge.

So, I went back to the newspaper archives. I found two more interesting articles about charges being filed against James for various crimes. My next stop would have been the court house to find out more about these charges and their resolution, but sadly I had to depart Roswell and my travel plans could not be changed. The wonderful Historical Society volunteer is going to see what she can find at the court house.

This week I decided to conduct a more intensive newspaper search and was overwhelmed by what I found, coverage of multiple charges and trials involving James R West, including horse smuggling, jury tampering, and attempted murder!

Clearly, my research will continue. I know that I will find out more facts, and hopefully find the court records regarding these cases. However, will I ever know the story surrounding the facts? What led James, who appeared to have a successful livery business at the time, to his actions? How did it impact my grandma, Eliza?

JamesRichard.4thfromleft.Roswell.NM.ca.1912 (2017_08_30 07_25_36 UTC)

James R West – second from right in black hat

Some of James’ story can be attributed to the fact that much of Oklahoma and New Mexico were still the Wild West in the early 1900s. Yet, that is not enough of an explanation for me.

I fear I will always be left wondering about so many details and nuances of my grandparents’ lives. It is the search and the uncovering of surprises that keep me going. I know that there will always be something else to find out.

This trip also reminded me that there is nothing like feet on the ground when following your family’s story in many diverse locations.

Do any of you have family that resided in New Mexico in the early 1900s? I would love to hear your stories. Who knows, maybe yours cross mine somewhere in Roswell.

 

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Patience is the Key When Researching Family History

In Ireland researching my Moore family history from the 1600s I was reminded again that there are no shortcuts in discovering your genealogy and family history.

On my father’s side I am very fortunate to have an 850 page resource researched and written by a cousin, Timothy J. O’Rourke, in 1973.  “Maryland Catholics on the Frontier”, traces my Moore family lineage up the paternal line starting with Nicholas Moore born in Maryland in 1712. His father is listed as “possibly” William Moore.

This very complete and well documented history amazes me every time I go back to it. In 1973 there were no quick answers via the internet and digital images. The book represents years of on the ground research and document searches.

Since I started my quest to find more about my mother’s ancestors, Crittenden and West, I have also been able to add to my knowledge of the Moore family with online digitalized copies of birth and death certificates, marriage licenses and other documents verifying the research already done.

Our family’s oral history tells me that our ancestors immigrated to the United States in the Maryland area from Ireland in the 1600s. Not finding any definitive information online I got it into my head that a visit to Dublin (I was going to be in Europe already) and the genealogy department of the National Library of Ireland might provide some clues.

I was blown away by the antiquities available to research in their manuscripts sections, land documents from the 1500s and 16oos and even earlier.

1622 Mortgage Ireland.JPG

!5th and 16th Century deeds.JPG

However, I quickly realized that I was trying to make a very difficult leap from Maryland back to Ireland without enough information. I had thought maybe studying manuscripts with Irish Moore genealogies from the 1600s would provide me the clues that I needed. I did indeed find some genealogies with similar family naming patterns but none that mentioned family members moving to the United States in the correct time period.

I found documents with given and family names that could be a match to my family, but without enough detail to make a connection.

It this one of my ancestors - 1675.JPG

I met with a genealogist in at the National Library. She reminded me of what I really already knew. I was trying to skip a step. If I could not find what I needed about my Maryland ancestors online I needed to start in Maryland, on the ground, visiting libraries, court houses, churches and scouring documents in person.

In my quests for more information in both my Crittenden and West lines I already knew that my key links, when I was stuck, were found by going to Oklahoma and Arkansas and spending weeks examining papers that I could only access in person. Hours, sometimes days, spent finding nothing only made the reward that much greater when I would find a key piece of the puzzle of my family’s history when I was least expecting. Often when I was on the last piece of paper after four to five hours in a library or court house I would find my great reward.

I am already scheduled to go to Oklahoma, Arkansas and Alabama in the fall of 2016 for the next step in Crittenden and West research. I now know that what I need to schedule next is a trip to Maryland to immerse myself in the Moore history of the 1600s and early 1700s.

I am confident that by remembering that I have to go back one step at a time, and that skipping a generation can lead to false assumptions, I will find the next missing piece in the link from Maryland to Ireland for my Moore ancestors.

Once I find that link I will go back to Ireland and search once more through hand written Moore family trees and land documents, like the one below with its awesome seal. When I do, I hope to be able to piece together the story of my family in Ireland.

Look at this seal from the 1600s.JPG

 

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Fort Smith, Arkansas, Criminal Case Files, 1866-1900

This will be a brief entry as I am currently traveling outside of the United States.  It is difficult to tranfer images and post while traveling. However, I am still researching whenever possible while I am traveling.

So, for now, I can only tantalize readers with a note about a blog to come, in the next few weeks. I have just located some newly indexed records of Fort Smith, Criminal Case Files, 1866-1900. Included in these files are court proceedings from the late 1860s involving Moses Crittenden and a charge from the United States that he had provided “spirits” to an “Indian”.

Once I am somewhere where I can download and study the many pages of documents I will post an article about what I find.  I think I may be close to an answer as to the timing of why Moses relocated from Arkansas to Oklahoma when he did. This is one of the many research questions that have puzzled me and for which I did not think I would ever have an answer!

More info to come as soon as I have the ability to download and post.

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Filed under Cherokee History in Arkansas, Cherokee Roots, Journal, Research

Discoveries in Polk County Arkansas

Last week I wrote about finding a copy of the land patent for the land my great grandfather, Moses Crittenden, purchased in 1860 in Polk County, Arkansas.

As soon as I held the description of the land in my hand I knew I would find my way to Arkansas and stand on that land.

On November 1, 2014 I fulfilled the promise made to myself and drove into Mena Arkansas, county city for Polk County. It was too late in the day to visit the court house or library. So, after a great meal at the Skyline Café in the center of town, I checked into my motel for a good night’s sleep in anticipation of a full day of researching starting early the next morning.

I was waiting on the court house steps the next morning anxious to find a map that matched the legal description on the land patent.

Description of Moses' Property

Description of Moses’ Property

The clerk was able to provide me with a map that had the current owner’s names written on a plat map for the appropriate township and range.  Using a map hanging on the wall of the county clerk’s office she pointed out some landmarks that would help me know when I reached the property.

Current Owner of Moses' Original Polk County Homestead

Current Owner of Moses’ Original Polk County Homestead

The clerk also provided me with a plat map showing the current owners of the neighboring land.

Current Owners of Neighboring Homestead Property

Current Owners of Neighboring Homestead Property

I wrote in the location of Moses original homestead and a few of his relatives on the plat maps and started my drive.  When I reached the curve in the road that I thought signified I was at Moses’ property I was very glad that I had the map with the current owner’s name.  The last name of the current owner is Huff.  At the entrance to the farm that I thought was on Moses’ old homestead was a large iron gate with a large “H” on it.  Obviously H for Huff. I was in the right place.

Cherokee Homestead Land in Arkansas

Cherokee Homestead Land in Arkansas

Coming later this week, the surprising discoveries I made later that day at the Polk County Library in Mena.

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Tracing Cherokee Roots in Arkansas

My search for Cherokee Roots in Arkansas began with the 1850 and 1860 census data that showed my great grandfather Moses Crittenden residing in Freedom Township, Polk County, Arkansas.

Moses was born in Cherokee Nation Georgia around 1825 and moved to Arkansas with his father William some time before 1837.  I knew that he was living in Going Snake District in Cherokee Nation, Oklahoma Territory by 1875 when my grandmother was born.

I was determined to find out more about those years spent in Arkansas.  In the 1850 census Moses is listed as a farmer, and in 1860 as a merchant.  Many of his neighbors were in-laws of his sisters Lydia and Sydney Crittenden. One thing that caught my eye on the 1860 census was that Moses was shown to have real estate valued at $2000.

After much searching on the web I found my way to the Bureau of Land Management website where you could search land records by state going back to the 1800s.  I selected Arkansas state and Polk County, entered Moses Crittenden and hit the search button.  I hit pay dirt!

Search Results on Bureau of Land Management Web Site

Search Results on Bureau of Land Management Web Site

I clicked on the link highlighted in blue and was able to view a full description of the property.

Description of Moses' Property

Description of Moses’ Property

Next I clicked on the tab “Patent Image” and was able to view a printable PDF version of the land patent. I added that item to my cart and for $2.00 was sent a certified copy of the patent on parchment paper.

Using the description of the land and current land records I was able to determine that Moses’ land was near the current town of Mena, Arkansas. I knew that I had to see and stand on that land.

Next week – the discoveries I made on my trip to stand on my great grandfather’s land in Arkansas.

 

 

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Dawes Census Cards for Five Civilized Tribes

The Dawes Census Cards are an excellent source for working through complicated family connections.

At Ancestry.com the census cards can be found in the data base under; Oklahoma and Indian Territory, Dawes Census Cards for Five Civilized Tribes, 1898-1914 

This data set contains the citizenship enrollment cards, sometimes referred to as census cards, which were prepared by the Dawes Commission. Individuals were enrolled as citizens of tribes according to the following categories:
•By blood
•By marriage
•Newborns, by blood
•Minors, by blood
•Freedmen (former black slaves of Indians)
•Newborn freedmen
•Minor freedmen

The census cards list information about the enrollee, and sometimes also include information about other family members.

You will need to have done your homework before you search these cards. I have found when I try to look up someone using only their name, I do not get a good return. If you are prepared with the Dawes Census card number, or the Dawes Enrollment number, and tribe you should not have any problem. It is helpful to also know the category (options listed above), although that may be one of the pieces of information that you are trying to locate.

If the person you are researching is not on the final rolls, you can use the following instructions, provided by Ancestry.com to try to locate them.
To locate an individual’s doubtful or rejected enrollment card, use the following steps:
1. Choose a tribal category, indicated as “doubtful” or “rejected”, from the browse table.
2. Choose an enrollment card number range.
3. Use the “next” and “previous” buttons on the image viewer to navigate yourself through the images.
4. Check the names listed on each image for the individual(s) you are looking for.

So, what can you find on these cards? If a person is mentioned on the card, even if it is not that person’s census card, they will still come up in your search.

I have been concentrating on one branch of my family, the descendants of my grandmother’s half-brother, Anthony Crittenden. One of my Crittenden cousins, Anthony’s great granddaughter, provided me with a search she had done on census card numbers for Anthony’s mother, Emily Crittenden Weaver. I started pulling up cards using those numbers.

Emily Crittenden Weaver Dawes Census Card

Emily Crittenden Weaver Dawes Census Card

Emily Crittenden Weaver Dawes Census Card 2

Emily Crittenden Weaver Dawes Census Card 2

Why have I been concentrating on this branch of the family? Throughout the years there was a lot of intermarriage between families related through blood or marriage to my great grandfather, Moses Crittenden.

My great grandfather died in 1899, before the interview process started for Dawes applicants. The Crittendens were a close knit family and a look at census data shows that many of the families often moved together from place to place. Through reading the interview packets of his relatives, I have been able to piece together a significant amount of information about locations and dates of moves from one place to another.

The Dawes application packets have a lot of information about spouses and children of the applicants. There is seldom any information about parents for applicants who are no longer minors. Siblings of adults are also seldom noted.  However, this information is often listed on the census cards.

Mary Weaver Crittenden Dawes Census Card

Mary Weaver Crittenden Dawes Census Card

The census data cards have been useful in putting together family connections, especially when trying to clarify details of two relatives with the same given and surnames born around the same year. The cards almost always list the mother and father of the applicant, along with spouses and children.

Mary Weaver Crittenden Dawes Census Card 2

Mary Weaver Crittenden Dawes Census Card 2

The cards also have a lot of notes on them, including cross references to other census cards.

Mary Weaver Crittenden Dawes Census Card 3

Mary Weaver Crittenden Dawes Census Card 3

Of course, the information I have found has led to many more research questions, and hours browsing through even more Dawes applications. More about that in a future blog!

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