I have to say that between the new “Pennsylvania Church and Town Records, 1708-1985″ Collection on Ancestry.com and the “Pennsylvania County Marriages, 1885-1950″ on FamilySearch.org I have been filling in so many “blanks” that I’ve lost count! I’ve been finding exact birth, marriage and death dates, names of parents and maiden names of spouses! I’ll probably blog about some of my specific finds soon, but for now I wanted to post a quick tip on searching the Church and Town Collection on Ancestry.
So, I started out doing a search for “Daniel Ecker.” The following is a screen shot of a portion of the results that were returned: (hint: if a screen shot is too small to read, click on it to see a larger view)
I then click on the top result and view the image. It turns out to be Daniel’s marriage record in the church register of Christ Episcopal Church in Pottstown, Montgomery Co, PA. Now I’m thinking I want to see what else I can find in that particular church register. Unfortunately, there’s no direct way to search just that register – the best you can do is limit the search to the entire “Pennsylvania Church and Town” collection. But there is a way to get almost what you want by setting the search parameters appropriately.
First, limit the search to the “PA Church and Town” collection. You can do this through the card catalog feature, but I find it a lot easier to do by clicking on the banner as shown in the image below.
Now you will get the following search box:
The key thing here is to use the advanced search, then on the “Any Event” option, set the location of the church and “restrict to exact.” You could also set the year and range and click “Exact only” to further limit the scope of the query. As I have the query set up, Ancestry will only return results from Pottstown, PA. This limits the number of churches to only those in Pottstown and greatly increases the chance that the results returned will be relevant.
Tuesday’s Tip is another one of the daily prompts suggested by members of Geneabloggers (see link in side bar). My tip for this week is one that I use often. If I can’t find an individual or family (say, in the census or on a passenger list, etc), I try saying the last name out loud in my best imitation of what I think is the appropriate accent. The idea being that how you hear it may help you come up with alternate spellings that may not be obvious.
Many of my ancestors and relatives were (or intermarried with) the Pennsylvania Dutch variety of Germans. Some of the common letter exchanges I find are B changing to P (or vice versa) and a hard C or K changing to G (or vice versa). There are probably others, but these are the ones that come to mind as I sit here and write this. Other types of accents may turn J into H or W into V.
Basically, it’s just another way to come up with alternate spellings that might be too far off for Soundex or some of the other “fuzzy” matching algorithms used by some search engines. And even in the case where these alternatives are returned by the “fuzzy” search, if you type the alternative in directly it may pop the individual or family you are seeking closer to the top of the returned list, saving you the trouble of wading through all the “wrong” results to get to the “right” one.
Hope this helps!
I love reading obituaries – particularly old ones! Okay, in terms of the general population, I guess that’s a little strange. But for the average genealogy buff/family historian, it’s probably normal. In fact, if you visit my genealogy website, you can find many obituaries that I have transcribed for my various family lines.
Obituaries written in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries are often very different than the ones written now. I love the phrases they used – “worthy and useful citizen,” “interesting child,” “much esteemed,” and the somewhat jarring “[insert name here] is no more.” Continue reading