Category Archives: Genealogy

Chain Migration

Chain Migration
from the introduction to Covered Wagon Women, volume 5

If you think chain migration is a new thing, or that it’s a bad thing, you’re mistaken. It’s how people have moved the world over, forever and ever.


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Adventures in Genealogy

A few years ago, I photographed a cemetery in rural Owen County, Indiana (a bunch of them, actually).  I uploaded the photos to Flickr and to Findagrave, and for the headstones that didn’t already have Findagrave memorials, I created them.

Easy peasy, if a bit time consuming.

So I occasionally get messages from people to correct information (mistakes happen!), add information, or to link spouses or children and parents, or even to transfer memorial ownership to them if they’re descendants. It can be a little time consuming, but it’s time well spent. And most people are really nice, which helps.

Every once in a while, you’re contacted by someone who is rude as hell, which can be disheartening. Or you get a request that seems reasonable on the face of it, but when you think for two seconds, you realize it’s totally bonkers.

Today was a totally bonkers day. I checked my mail to find the following request:

The picture connected to this is NOT Catherine McNaught. That is a picture of Martha (Wooden) McNaught (1765-1835), wife of George McNaught (1761-1789). I have the original picture with both of them in the picture. George and Martha came to America from Ireland.

Seems legit, right? Only no, not so much. My response:

You messaged me about an incorrect photo on the Catharine McNaught memorial I created (memorial number 50363862). I did not add that photo, and I cannot delete it. You will need to contact the person who added the photo, to ask them to remove it.

That said, if the person you say the photo is actually of died in 1835, there is no way this is a photograph of her, as the first photograph depicting a human wasn’t made until 1838. The first known portrait photo was in 1839.

I don’t know who the photo is of, and I don’t care. I didn’t add it, so it’s not my circus and not my monkeys. As it stands, it seems to me that it’s more likely that the person who added it knows what they’re doing than the person who contacted me to remove it.

The memorial in question is here.

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A Little Credit, Please?


I took this photo of my great great aunt Margaret’s grave marker in 2010. I uploaded it to Flickr, like ya’ do, with a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license. I also have given blanket permission for people to use my cemetery photos for their own family trees, family histories, and to even upload them to their family trees on commercial sites like Ancestry. But that CC license requires crediting the creator.

So then this happened.

Margaret DeSales Basquille

I don’t know the person who added the photo. I know they are not a descendant of Margaret, though, because Margaret did not have any children. So why this person is editing Margaret’s info is a mystery to me. It’s possible she’s related to Margaret’s husband, since she also added a photo of his grave marker to his FamilySearch tree entry (again, taken by someone else and uncredited).

Don’t do that. Even if you have permission to use someone else’s photo, you still need to credit them.

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Disappearing Collections

Genealogy tip: ALWAYS download document images you find online. ALWAYS. You never know when a collection will disappear. It can happen for a variety of reasons, and you will be given no notice.

Example: The Catholic Parish Registers for Ireland. They were (and still are) available via the National Library of Ireland’s website, but those images are unindexed. Likewise FamilySearch filmed the registers years ago, and unindexed images are available via their website (access unindexed films through the FamilySearch card catalog).

A few years ago, Ancestry and Findmypast entered a joint agreement to index the images and make them available for free via their websites. The searchable index and images are still live at Findmypast (and presumably free, though that part of the agreement may have an expiration date). They have disappeared from Ancestry’s website. I noticed that searches that should return hits for that collection didn’t, so I looked at their card catalog, and the title is entirely missing.

In this case, no real harm is done, because those images are available elsewhere. But what if they weren’t?

A similar issue occurred a few years back, with the Drouin Collection (Catholic Parish records from Canada). They had been available, largely unindexed, on Ancestry’s website. Then one day they disappeared. Turns out, the licensing agreement required Ancestry to index the images, which they hadn’t done, so the collection’s owners told Ancestry to pull the images until they were indexed. It took a couple of years to finish the project, but one day the Drouin Collection magically appeared again on Ancestry. Thankfully I’d downloaded the images I’d managed to find, so I wasn’t affected. And since Drouin Collection 2.0 is mostly indexed, I have found even more images.


Also, you can see from this screen shot that FamilySearch (top) imaged the registers independently of NLI (bottom). It pays to check both sets of images, because in some cases NLI’s images are better, and in others, FamilySearch has better images. The images available at Findmypast (and formerly at Ancestry) are NLI’s images. And in fact, Findmypast includes the direct link to the image at NLI’s website, in the index page. And note at the bottom of the index page below, from Findmypast? The copyright statement for the transcript credits Ancestry.

Index Page from Findmypast

I mention all of this because it pays to find out this information–how collections get digitized and who owns what. It can help you track down information when it goes AWOL, and it can help you cut through multiple layers of crud that gets attached with every iteration. And ultimately, you may find that a lot of the collections at pay sites are licensed and repackaged from sites that provide the info for free.

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A Gruesome Death

This is yet another Bridget Agnes. This one was the sister in law of Bridget Agnes Groark. She was the daughter of John Basquil and Mary Haran, born 25 May 1871 in Kilbride, County Mayo, Ireland. She emigrated to the US in 1893 and settled in Troy, New York, where she married twice. First to Thomas Hanrahan in 1910, then to Richard Allen in 1914 (no idea what happened to poor Thomas. Presumably he died young).

I had the year of Bridget’s death, because a photo of her headstone has been uploaded to Findagrave. I didn’t have the exact date, though, or the cause of her death. I tried searching at, but struck out. The Fulton History website had what I was looking for, though. And now that I have more information, I was able to find a similar article in a different paper, at However, the scan there is terrible and the article almost illegible, so I’m using the Fulton History image.

Woman Burned to Death in Fire at 808 Fifth Avenue

Mrs. Richard Allen’s Clothing Ignited From Gas Stove Flame

Mrs. Richard Allen, 70, of 808 Fifth Avenue, died at 10:20 p.m. yesterday in the Leonard Hospital of burns suffered yesterday afternoon when her clothing apparently caught fire while she was cooking on the gas stove in the kitchen of her home.

Mrs. Allen was alone in the house when the accident occurred. Mrs. Kenneth Wheeler, who resides across the street, went to visit Mrs. Allen and found her lying on the floor, police said. She was conscious and practically all her clothing had been burned from her body.

A call to police quickly brought the police ambulance with Driver John McGraw, Central Station, to the Allen residence. Mrs. Allen was wrapped in blankets and taken to the hospital by Officer McGraw and Hoseman Patrick J. Byrne, Central Fire Station.

She was attended at the hospital by Drs. John J. Curley and Albert Diamante. Hospital attendants reported she suffered third degree burns to the chest, arms, hands, abdomen and back, second degree burns to the face and first degree burns to both legs below the knees.

The woman’s husband was at work at the Watervliet Arsenal when the accident occurred. Upon his arrival home he was told of the accident by Patrolman Arthur Quinlan and John Kelly, of the Fourth Precinct radio patrol, and taken by them to the hospital.

Coroner Charles J. Cote was notified of Mrs. Allen’s death by hospital authorities.

Mrs. Allen, formerly Agnes B. Basquall, was born in Ireland and came to this country at an early age. She first settled in Waterford and while a resident there attended St. Mary’s Church. About forty years ago she moved from Lansingburg where she attended St. Augustine’s Church and was a member of the Sacred Heart Sodality. She also was a member of Court St. Rita, C.D. of A.

Besides her husband, survivors include a sister, Mrs. Mary Horan of Troy and a brother, Michael Basquall of Chicago, Ill.
The funeral will be from the residence Monday at 9 a.m. and from St. Augustine’s Church at 9:30 a.m. where a requiem high mass will be celebrated. Interment will be in St. John’s Cemetery.

(Source: “Woman Burned to Death in Fire at 808 Fifth Avenue,” The Times Record (Troy, New York), 2 Dec 1944, [n.p.], col. 4; digital images, Old Fulton New York Post Cards ( : accessed 14 Nov 2017). Rec. Date: 14 Nov 2017.)

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William Basquill

1911 England Census
Source: 1911 census of England, 5 Nicholas Street, Stockport, Cheshire, England, William Basquill; digital images, Ancestry, Ancestry ( : accessed 5 Nov 2017); citing RG 78 PN 1271, RG 14 PN 21367, registration district (RD) 443, sub district (SD) 4, enumeration district (ED) 19, schedule number (SN) 263. Rec. Date: 23 Sep 2017.

William Basquill

I’ve written about William before. He was the son of John Basquill and Ellen Gillen, born in Ashton Under Lyne, England in 1872. The family moved to Stockport, England, and at the age of 14 William was signed up as an apprentice on the training ship Indefatigable, in Liverpool. He left after a couple of years and was indentured to the Peter Iredale company, to serve as a deck hand on the HMS City of Carlisle. While crossing the Atlantic, William was struck in the head with a clew iron and seriously injured. When the ship made port in Portland, Oregon, he sued the shipping company and the ship’s captain in U.S. District Court. He was ultimately awarded $1530 (about a tenth of what he’d sued for).

All that is background information. He returned to England, where he joined the British Army in 1891. He was a life-long soldier. In 1904 he married Catherine Cohen, and they had two children, William and Mary. I found the family in the 1911 census, where William and Katherine are listed as the aunt and uncle of the head of household, George Bowen.

Now, it may seem like that would be a simple relationship to sort out, but it was not! I spent the better part of a weekend tracing the various families of those present in 1911. I thought maybe the link was on William’s family’s side, which would make it worth pursuing, as I’m doing a one name study of the Basquill name. But no, it turns out that William was an uncle by marriage. The relationship was on his wife’s side. Catherine was the aunt of George Bowen’s wife, Bridget Melia. So I spent a weekend pinning down information that isn’t of much use to my own research, but too often that’s how it goes.

Also this is a good reminder that sometimes you just have to get out the graph paper and pencil, because trying to mentally visualize the connections isn’t very helpful. And? I should mention that even though I had the relationships all sorted the weekend before last, I didn’t realize I’d actually made the connection until I put it on paper last Saturday morning.

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Great Disorder

The pages are in great disorder.

You can’t say they didn’t warn you.

Baptisms Aglish (Castlebar) Parish 1845
Diocese of Tuam, Parish of Castlebar, Baptisms Jan. 2, 1838-April 17, 1855
Castlebar | Microfilm 04214 / 02 / page 1
Image from NLI

This is how these two facing pages appear on the National Library of Ireland website. That’s where I originally viewed them, and that’s where I originally downloaded them from.

Baptisms Aglish (Castlebar) Parish 1845
Diocese of Tuam, Parish of Castlebar, Baptisms Jan. 2, 1838-April 17, 1855
Castlebar | Microfilm 04214 / 02 / page 79
Image from NLI

And this is how they appear in the FHL films at FamilySearch. First, the left-hand leaf, which corresponds to the left-hand leaf below.

Baptisms Aglish (Castlebar) Parish 1845
Diocese of Tuam, Parish of Castlebar, Baptisms Jan. 2, 1838-April 17, 1855
FHL film 007732604 image 1695

And now the right-hand leaf, which corresponds to the right-hand leaf below.

Baptisms Aglish (Castlebar) Parish 1845
Diocese of Tuam, Parish of Castlebar, Baptisms Jan. 2, 1838-April 17, 1855
FHL film 007732604 image 1731

I believe this is what kids these days call a hot mess. According to WorldCat, FHL created their films in 1984. NLI didn’t digitize their microfilms until 2010, but I can’t find any indication on their website of when they filmed the registers. Was it before or after FHL? And who touched the volumes in between? This volume and a couple of others are in such a mess that it’s sometimes impossible to tell what year an event happened in.

I really want to smack whoever is responsible for the “great disorder.”

Let this be yet another reminder that it’s important to cite where you viewed the image, because all images of a given document are not necessarily identical to one another. Different institutions may have filmed an item independently, and clearly those differences are sometimes more than just cosmetic.

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Reality Check

John Basquinn in 1920 United States Census
1920 U.S. census, population schedule, Manhattan Assembly District 16, New York, New York, enumeration district (ED) 1127, sheet 11A, p. 243 (hand written), dwelling 16, family 290, John Basquinn; digital images, Ancestry ( : accessed 17 Sep 2017); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T625, roll 1214. Rec. Date: 8 Oct 2016

Here’s another tip: Before disregarding a record because it has the wrong name on it, consider if that name makes any sense. Basquin/Basquinn is not a name you’d find in Ireland. It simply doesn’t exist. If you search the Irish census records, you won’t find the name, period. If you search Ancestry globally for basquin* born Ireland, you will find a handful of records, all of which are either transcribed incorrectly or you can see that an enumeration mistake was made and the country of origin was France.

For example: In the 1860 US census there’s a Kate with no last name given, born Ireland, working in New Orleans as a servant in the home of a French family named Basquin. I’d bet money her name was not Basquin, but whoever the informant was had no idea what her surname was and likely didn’t care. She was just a servant, right? Then when the record was transcribed, the blank was interpreted to mean that her name was Basquin, too.

So. Here we have John Basquinn, born Ireland about 1873, living in New York City, and working as a construction laborer. I guarantee you this is Walter Basquill and Mary McHugh’s son, John. How his name was recorded as Basquinn will remain an eternal mystery.

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Ancestry’s Image Enhancement

Manifest from Ancestry with Enhanced Images Turned On

Manifest from Ancestry with Enhanced Images Turned Off
“Pennsylvania, Passenger and Crew Lists, 1800-1962,” database and images, Ancestry ( : accessed 17 Sep 2017), manifest, Westernland, 29 Oct 1906, roll 54, image 316, line 6, John Basquill. Rec. Date: 22 Sep 2017.

I posted this in one of my genealogy groups, but I’m going to repost it here as a general warning, using John Basquill again.

This was prompted by an earlier discussion in one of my genealogy groups on images at Fold3 vs Ancestry, and how the Fold3 images were darker and, to some eyes, contained less information. I stated at the time that the opposite was true, and that I’d recommend turning off image enhancement at Ancestry, because you can lose valuable information if you don’t. Here’s an example.

One image with Ancestry’s image enhancement turned on (top), and one with it turned off (bottom). If you leave image enhancement turned on, you’d never know that there were contract ticket numbers in the left column of this manifest. You may not find those numbers important, but I’ve been able to use them to track an individual (and in the process fill in knowledge gaps) through multiple manifests where she failed to board the ship. Some of those manifest entries are crossed out, but the information in them helped me connect her to two different sisters living in the US and also to the townland she came from, which led me to her birth register entry and her parents’ names. All because I noted the contract ticket number and used it to collate several manifest entries.

The image on top may be prettier, but it is missing valuable information.

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Compare and Contrast

Baptismal Register 1873, image from FamilySearch
image from FamilySearch

Baptismal Register 1873, image from Ancestry
image from Ancestry

Roman Catholic Church (Ireland), “Diocese of Tuam, Parish of Aglish (Castlebar), Baptisms 22 June 1872 to 28 Dec 1880,” page 9, number 3, John Basquill baptism 6 Jan 1873; FHL 007732604, image 2105; National Library of Ireland, Dublin. Rec. Date: 1 Apr 2016; Sponsors John Cannon and Bridget Cannon

I’ve been working on this guy all day. John Basquill was the half-brother of my great grandma, Nell Basquill. He was born in 1873 in Hollyhill, Ballyhean Civil Parish, County Mayo, Ireland. I’ve got him fairly well traced (still missing the 1930 and 1940 censuses), but it’s been nagging me that the image I had from the baptismal register had part of the baptism date obscured. That image originally came from National Library of Ireland (also used by Ancestry and Findmypast).

It occurred to me that I should check the images at FamilySearch. They aren’t indexed, but if you know what you’re looking for–and I do*–then it’s pretty easy to find the image you want. I did, and lo and behold, they lifted the torn interior corner of the page to image it, revealing the full baptism date: 6 Jan 1873. But then if you look at the place of birth on the FamilySearch image, that’s obscured. You just can’t win. But at least, with both images, you can get at both pieces of information.

So that’s the lesson for today: it pays to check multiple collections to see if they have independent images of a document.

*If you look at the citation, you’ll see the FHL number and an image number. If you go to FamilySearch, search the catalog, and plug the FHL number into the fiche search box, you’ll find the film containing the image. Then just plug the image number into the image number box, and you’ll be taken directly to the above image.


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