Follow Friday – 1940 U.S. Census-Looking for Grandmother Seaver

As I said yesterday, I am interrupting my series on making a research plan for Little Eddy (Edward Dwyer) in the Civil War to search the 1940 Census. recently made new states available, including Missouri.  Some of my great-grandparents have been eluding me and I have been impatiently waiting for Missouri to be searchable in hopes of finding them.  After spending much of the day looking for various relatives, I was glad to read a post by Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings about his search for his grandmother.

When the 1940 Census images were made available in early April, I easily found both sets of grandparents.  Of my great-grandparents, five died before the 1940 Census.   Of the three remaining, there were two great-grandmothers, Martha Gahr and Emily Cowan, and one great-grandfather, John A French (he had remarried when his children were young so I count his wife as a great-grandmother, too, even if not by blood).  I found Martha Gahr in April by browsing the images; she was in the county where she was supposed to be.  The others I could not find.

With the indexes, John A French and his wife Vernie were easy to find.  They were in Kansas City, Missouri, but not where I had thought.  All of their information was correct, including John’s birth in Indian Territory and his attending one year of college (at Drury, in Springfield).  Vernie had attended two years of college, which I did not know.  I’ll have to ask my mother about this.

Emily Cowan was not in the small town in Missouri that I had supposed when I first looked at the images.  My mother then told me that Emily had moved to Saint Louis to live with her younger son Claude (my mother’s uncle).  I could not find Claude without an index, but with the index he and his family came right up.  But Emily is not there!   As Randy did in his search for his grandmother, I tried all of my census tricks.  She is not to be found.  Perhaps she is one of the names mangled by the enumerator and/or indexer.  I expect FamilySearch to have the Missouri index available soon so hopefully I will be able to search there before long.

Otherwise, I guess Emily will be like Randy’s grandmother, “…one of the 3% that were missed in the 1940 U.S. census.”  Perhaps she was visiting a sister.  I will have to look and see if she turned up with any of them.  For the past several hours (Thursday evening) Ancestry searches have not been connecting very well — lots of spinning.  Maybe everyone was happy with the states that were added and has been searching like crazy.  I hope that tomorrow will be a better day! Problem Loading Page


Thrifty Thursday – new states added to 1940 Census at has added twelve more states which can be searched for free.  I found out about it from today’s genealogy insider’s blog post.

So I’m interrupting my research plan for Little Eddy to look for my Missouri relatives!  Hopefully I can find my elusive great grandparents:  3 of them have been hiding from me!

The genealogy insider also has links to the full list of states available on as well as on Ancestry.

Hope you enjoy this great information which is available free!

What Do You Mean It Isn’t Free – My Response

Last week Thomas MacEntee wrote a week-long series Genea-Opportunities – 2012 Update where he discussed not only opportunities to earn a living in the genealogy field and their issues but also the perception that everything should be free when it comes to genealogy  [see What Do You Mean It Isn’t Free?].  Because of my present circumstances, my journey of Genealogy in the Recession, this made me a little uncomfortable.  It’s not that I think that everything in genealogy should be free, it’s that right now I need to find the things that are.  I think that this situation presents itself to one degree or another to many researchers sometime during their life.

I have presented many links to websites where the information is/was free.  Sometimes a subscription site is offering access to certain record collections for a limited time.  This is a loss leader for the company, i.e., they are hoping to attract new customers who discover the wonderful information available in those collections, and by extension in the rest of the collections that company offers, and sign up for a subscription.

Many times Webinars are presented as a form of marketing for their presenters and sponsors.  Legacy is a prime example of this.  They have weekly webinars on a wide variety of subjects that offer them an opportunity to promote their Legacy software and the presenter an opportunity to showcase his/her knowledge and professional offerings.  A CD and handout are then available for purchase.   The Illinois State Genealogical Society offers free webinars, charging only for the handouts, because it has found that the cost is covered by new memberships generated.

Sometimes the information is made available by the government and in this case it is funded by the taxpayers.  In the case of federal websites, this is all of us.  In the case of state websites, it is courtesy of that state’s taxpayers (and perhaps all of us, I suppose, if there is a federal grant of some kind involved).

Many times the information is free because of the dedicated efforts of volunteers.  This is the case on findagrave, The US GenWeb Project, RootsWeb, Genealogy Trails, and many others.  I wrote about findagrave on Tuesday’s Tip – Websites for Death Information–Free, of course; I will write about the other sites on Thrifty Thursday.

The tremendous amount of information on FamilySearch, in the Family History Library and in local family history centers is available because of the LDS Church and also because of many volunteers around the world who index, add to the wiki and more.

In the past, I have had subscriptions to Ancestry, fold3, NEHGS and memberships in local genealogy societies.  I certainly hope to again.  At present, I am very grateful for the wide availability of resources available to me at no cost and very appreciative of all the work that goes into making these resources available.

I am taking the opportunity to give back in any way that I can.  I have done quite a bit of indexing for FamilySearch, including the 1940 Census [and the 5 million name day that turned into 10 million!].  I have taken photos and posted memorials on findagrave.  I have responded to many queries on my Ancestry tree, offering information and guidance.  I have taught a class and I have researched and built trees for several people — all free.

And, I hope in some small way that this blog provides some useful information to the genealogy community as well.  Maybe it will even provide inspiration to someone else to give back a little.  I think that there will always be free resources available because genealogists tend to be very helpful people, people who like to volunteer and to help others become passionate about family history.  This doesn’t mean that we always expect a free lunch – just that we are grateful for it when it comes.

Thrifty Thursday – The Free Part of NEHGS

The New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) was the first genealogical society established in the United States.  Millions of documents, manuscripts, records, books, microfilms, photographs, artifacts, and electronic resources are housed in its library, and there are 500 searchable online databases available to members.  What many people don’t know is that there are also Free Databases available to everyone.  All you have to do is complete a guest registration on their site,

A membership in NEHGS includes many valuable benefits, and they sometimes offer discounts on the $79.95 annual membership fee.  The NEHGS Library catalog is searchable online, and you can determine if their holdings include items of interest to you and your research.  However, if you are like me and your genealogy budget is $0, then free databases are a wonderful find. recently pulled the Social Security Death Index from RootsWeb, the free site, leaving it available on its paid site.  It is quite nice to find that it is still available free at NEHGS.

Another database which I have found useful is New York Wills.  I have Dutch ancestors who were in New York in the 1600s so I love this Calendar of Wills.

The Irish Immigrant Advertisements is from The Boston Pilot “Missing Friends” column with ads from people looking for “lost” friends and relatives who had immigrated to the U.S. from Ireland.  I haven’t found any of my Irish family yet, but I hope that someday I will see a familiar name.

You can also sign up for NEHGS’ weekly newsletter, The Weekly Genealogist — it’s free, too.  I highly recommend it.  My favorite part is the weekly survey.  Last week’s survey asked if any of your ancestors were living in the thirteen American colonies on July 4, 1776.  This week’s survey wants to know if your research has debunked a family myth.  I look forward to the answers each week and to finding out what the new question is.

I hope that you find the NEHGS as helpful as I have.  There is a lot more on the website to explore (as there always is in genealogy).   It’s so much fun to find that some of it is free!

Tuesday’s Tip – Stop and Summarize

With the free access of Revolutionary War Records available recently on as well as currently available on,* I have been accumulating quite a bit of information and images.  It is a challenge in racing through to find records while the databases are available to strike a balance in using your time efficiently.  How much of the information do you need to incorporate into your own tree right now?  How much can wait for later?

With my journey in Genealogy without a Budget, I am still working to find that “perfect” balance.  I try to put the pieces together, at least in my mind, to figure out what additional information might be available from these free databases.  A Research Log would probably be helpful with this, but I have not been good about using them.  I am looking forward to the free Legacy webinar “Plan Your Way to Research Success” by Marian Pierre-Louis on Wednesday, July 18.

However you go about deciding what to look for in the free databases, at the end of each day, or each session, you need to summarize what you have done, what you have found, what you are still looking for.  When the free period has ended, summarize again.  This time, make sure that you have a to-do list of what you need to do with all the information you found.  For example, you may need transcribe the images, add dates and places to your tree, determine how this new information fits with what you already know, determine what information you still need.

At the very least, before you take a break to recover from your sprint through the free databases, make sure you know what you have found.  List the databases that you searched, list the records you found in each one, make sure you have the proper sourcing.  In Windows Explorer (Windows 7), look in your Recently Changed folder and make a list of images that you have saved and any documents that you may have created from the information.  Evernote is a good place to keep your lists.

It is tempting to say, wow, that was a lot of work, I need a break — and walk away from all of your new-found goodies.  But you’ll be glad that you took a little time to summarize your work.  Then when you come back to it, you will be ready to tackle your to-do list, find out what amazing breakthroughs you made and write a narrative about your ancestor.  Then those free databases will truly have been worth the wait!


*Access to’s Revolutionary War Collection is free through July 15.

HAPPY 4th of JULY: offers Free Access to Some Records

——— Forwarded message ———-
Subject: SEARCH FREE: 65 million records from the 13 colonies

Search now


Celebrate this opportunity to enjoy Genealogy without a Budget by searching these databases now through midnight ET July 8.  Hopefully, you can find some time in between fireworks, picnics, carnivals, whatever you are doing to celebrate Independence Day.  Remember to save the images and then you can go back and work with them after the free offer expires.

Featured Collections

Using the free New York databases on

If you read any blogs yesterday, you couldn’t miss the news that has released the indexed 1940 U.S. Census for New York.  In addition, they have made several of their New York databases free to New York residents.  As of today the New York Census for 1892, 1915 and 1925 seems to be free to everyone.  I don’t know how long that will last so yesterday I took full advantage of it

And I got to spend the day with some of my favorite people – on paper, at least

One of my maternal lines is from the Albany, Schenectady, and Montgomery County areas of New York.  Their roots go back to the early days of the Dutch in Albany. My 3rd great grandmother, Rachel Dorn (1803-1853), is a descendant of the Egmont family.  She married John Jay French (1796-?), who is one of my greatest puzzles.  With the Dorn, French, and Schuyler families, I had plenty to look for in the newly available New York data.

Going through the names gave me another opportunity to see the holes in my knowledge. has the 1892 New York census available and I had that information for most of my New Yorkers.  Adding the 1915 and 1925 time periods, as well as 1940, filled in some more, and gave me so many clues for further research.  I was able to narrow the time frame for deaths and marriages, add children I didn’t know about, and see how the families’ lives changed.  I can use this information to look in newspapers, books, etc. to fill out their lives even more.

The Schuyler family I find especially intriguing.  Many of the children are named after brothers-in-law.  Rachel Dorn French also followed it for son Jeremiah Schuyler French, who was born a few years after Rachel’s sister Jemima married Jeremiah Schuyler.  The Schuyler clan seems especially close, with many going into business together, adding those brothers-in-law, and, particularly for the childless couples, keeping nieces and nephews in their lives and in their wills.  This is a good time to mention that we should all be researching these sibling lines because you never know who you are going to find living with an in-law or a cousin!

Much detail can be found in the New York newspapers available free on, AKA Old Fulton NY Post Cards.  I’ll go into a little more detail about this site in tomorrow’s blog.  For now, suffice it to say that I found articles on the Schuyler, French and Dorn families ranging from obituaries to a family trip in the Packard!  Talk about living vicariously – and all at a price that fits my genealogy budget:  free!

So take advantage of these databases on, while they last.  Remember to save the images — then later you’ll be able to study your new information, integrate it into your tree(s) and use it to determine additional research goals.