CRASH! BANG! That’s the sound of another brick wall breaking down! Last evening, after clicking send on an email to two cousins who also descend from Thomas Dilliplane and his wife Mary, I went to my GoogleReader and saw the Genea-Musings post from Randy Seaver on a new database available on the FamilySearch.org website [link]. I was absolutely stunned to see that Pennsylvania Probate Records are now online since the email I had just sent was regarding getting a hold of the Berks County, PA estate file of Adam Swavely. We were suspecting that Mary was a daughter of Adam and were hoping that she would be named as such in the file.
Talk about pay dirt – this was the genealogy equivalent of hitting the lottery! Despite the Probate Records being browse-only, it was fairly easy to locate Adam Swavely’s file – all 25 pages! And yes, we now know that Mary Swavely, daughter of Adam and Esther, was indeed the wife of Thomas Dilliplane. (See my previous post on this topic [here].) And as if that wasn’t enough, since Mary died before her father, we also know the names of all of Mary’s children. There were actually twelve — which was a few more than previously identified.
And the best part is that with these probate records now available online I am positive that additional brick walls and uncertain linkages will be confirmed and sorted out!
If you also have PA ancestors, you are going to love having these records online! Here’s the [link].
Thank you FamilySearch for hosting these records and thank you Randy Seaver for posting about them the first day they went online!
By now I think everyone must know about Find-a-Grave. It’s the go-to site for death/burial data and potentially even biographical information. But suppose the person for which you are searching has no memorial on find-a-grave — yet. If he/she served in the military or was a dependent of a military vet, you may want to try the Nationwide Grave Site Locator hosted by the United States Department of Veteran Affairs [link].
I stumbled upon this site a couple of days ago and found missing death and/or burial information for several people in my genealogy database. I was originally looking for confirmation that my Mom’s cousin was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. After finding him, I ran a few more searches on some of the surnames I search. I was lucky enough to find several more (distant) relatives in various cemeteries throughout the U.S. – especially those who died relatively recently.
According to the Grave Locator website, here’s what you can expect to find: “burial locations of veterans and their family members in VA National Cemeteries, state veterans cemeteries, various other military and Department of Interior cemeteries, and for veterans buried in private cemeteries when the grave is marked with a government grave marker.”
So if you haven’t already, here’s another site to add to your genealogy research tool box.
For a very long time had I nary a clue as to the maiden name of my third great-grandmother Mary Dilliplane. Even learning her first name was hindered by the fact that she presumably died before 1850 and so was never enumerated in the US Censuses by name. The only record of her first name that I have found is contained in the death record of her son Joshua (presumed brother of my ancestor William). This is also the only source cited in “The Delaplaines of America” by Marvin G. Delaplane – which also only provides her first name.
But now I have a working theory as to her maiden name and parents – a hypothesis. I think that there is a chance that she might be Mary Swavely, the daughter of Adam Jr. and Esther. So far, the facts I’ve found regarding Mary Swavely are consistent with what little is known about Mary Dilliplane. (For more details see my website [link].) I am hoping definitive proof – one way or the other – lies in the estate file of Adam Swavely Jr. He died in November of 1842 and the Berks County, PA Register of Wills online index shows that there is a 25 page estate file. My next step in this process is to check out that file.
Genealogy webinars seem to just keep growing and growing in popularity – and I have watched quite a few over the last year or so. The folks over at Millennia, makers of LegacyFamilyTree, have an ongoing series in which the live broadcasts are free. Then, depending on the presenter, recordings are free with no expiration or free for a limited time, after which you can purchase a CD. I’ve watched quite a few of the Legacy webinars and almost always pick up at least one or two tidbits (or more!). But I have to say that yesterday’s webinar “Researching Your German Ancestors” by Kory Meyerink was one of the most informative and relevant to my research. I have many German-speaking ancestors who arrived in America throughout the 1700s. If you do too, you really should check out this webinar. It’s available to view for free until June 18 at this link.
I have to say that after a rocky start I made out pretty well yesterday – which was Day 1 of the 1940 US Federal Census release. I started pretty much at 9:oo EDT on the dot trying to access the ED where both my sets of my grandparents lived from the NARA website. After several hours of no luck — meaning the site was too busy and I was not even able to view one image – I tried Ancestry.com. Luckily for me, the state of Pennsylvania was near the top of the queue. By mid-afternoon, some of Chester County was available so I starting looking at North Coventry and South Coventry townships for some “cousins.” I hit the jackpot finding several families.
In the evening Montgomery County, Pennsylvania came online and I was able to access the ED for the 6th Ward of Pottstown. On one of the very first pages was my maternal grandparents with my mom as a little girl!!! A couple pages later I found my dad and his family!! There were really no surprises – everyone in the immediate families were right where they were supposed to be, working in the jobs I knew they had. But it was so cool to view their families and their neighbors and to actually recognize names of people I knew or had heard about!!
If you weren’t as lucky as I was on Day 1, don’t give up. Ancestry is continuing to load the states and seems well-equipped for the volume of people wanting access. (Currently, I have a subscription, but it is my understanding that the 1940 census images will be available for all to view thru 2013.) FamilySearch doesn’t have images for quite as many states uploaded, but they’ll get there — plus they have a small army of indexers! And, of course, since images are becoming available on these other sites, there will probably be fewer people trying to access directly from the NARA site. So you may have better success with access there too.
Good Luck and Happy Researching!