Monday, September 30, 2013

How To Handle Residence Facts

I have a dilemma. I thought blogging about it might help. From time to time, I struggle with how to include Residence facts in my RootsMagic database. Within the RootsMagic program, there is already a built-in fact type called Residence and one called Residence (Family). It's very helpful to use this fact type because it can help you trace a family from town to town or state to state over a given period of time.

Being able to trace a family's locations helps one to find additional records in a location one might not have already considered. For instance, I was always told that my dad's maternal uncle, Bill Mertena, and wife and children moved from Lake Charles, Louisiana, to Washington well before I was born. I knew that he lived in Olympia, Washington, when I was a teenager and up until the time he died in 2001. However, I did not know that in between Lake Charles and Olympia he had actually lived in Seattle, and possibly Spokane, as well. I was reading his obituary and read that he had worked for the Associated Press in Spokane, Seattle, and Olympia between 1963 and 1987. I then found a birth announcement for his youngest daughter in the Seattle Daily Times at GenealogyBank, which gave his address in Seattle in 1966.

So what exactly is my problem? Well, some sources, such as a city directory or the birth announcement, list an exact street address. Some sources, such as a sibling's obituary, list only a city and state as the residence, and some only list the state as a residence. If the source does not specifically give the street address of the residence, but other sources in the same timeframe do, can I use the source that does not give the address as a citation for the residence fact that includes the street address? In other words, can I create a residence fact that states "Person A lived at 123 Main St. in Seattle, Washington" and cite the 1930 and 1935 city directories giving the address, as well as the person's sibling's obituary from 1933, which lists the residence only as Seattle, Washington?

I think it is reasonable to think that if the person lived there in 1930 and 1935, then surely he lived in the same house when his sibling died in 1933. However, we don't know for certain, because there is always a chance that the husband and wife had separated and maybe were living apart temporarily, or that the family owned multiple houses that they moved between frequently.

Currently, this is what I have as residence facts and source citations in my RM database for Uncle Bill (as both of his spouses are still living, their names have been removed to protect privacy):

1956: 102 East Beech St, Sulphur, Calcasieu, Louisiana (Source: Lake Charles City Directory) (This was the home of his parents)

1957: Westfork Rd., Westlake, Calcasieu, Louisiana (Source: Lake Charles City Directory)

1958: 102 East Beech St, Sulphur, Calcasieu, Louisiana (Source: Lake Charles City Directory)

1959-60: 914 S. Division St., Lake Charles, Calcasieu, Louisiana (Source: Lake Charles City Directory)

1963-2001: Washington (Sources: 1) 2001 obituary published in The Olympian, which listed three cities of residence in Washington from 1963 until 1987; and 2) his brother Tony's obituary published in the Lake Charles American Press in 1998, which listed his residence simply as Washington state)

Jan 1966: 637 N.W. 84th St, Seattle, Washington (source: daughter's birth announcement published in the Seattle Daily Times)

1967-2001: Thurston County, Washington (Sources: 1) Death certificate listing his length of stay in Thurston County as 34 years; 2) His mother's obituary published in the Lake Charles American Press in 1986, which specifically lists his residence as Olympia; and  3) His father's obituary published in the Lake Charles American Press in 1989, which specifically lists his residence as Olympia)

Oct 1986: 113 E. 18th, Olympia, Thurston, Washington (Source: Divorce certificate)

Oct 2001: 4931 Sunrise Beach Rd. NW, Olympia, Thurston, Washington (source: Death certificate)

It looks like I have been using separate facts to cite each event more precisely, but that causes a little bit of clogging on the Edit Person screen and Individual Report. As you can see, lots of these dates overlap with other dates. Hmm...what to do?

I think the facts for 1957-1960 are fine, since there is a one-to-one correlation between the fact and the source. Each source lists the exact street address. When we get to 1963, it gets a bit more complicated. We know from his obituary that he worked for the Associated Press in Spokane, Seattle, and Olympia from 1963-1987. However, we don't know exactly what years he lived in each city. He likely moved to Olympia around 1967 and stayed there until his death, according to the death certificate. This means that he likely lived in Seattle and Spokane between 1963 and 1966. We know he lived in Seattle in January 1966 when his daughter was born.

One option would be to delete the facts that do not list specific addresses, but then we lose a lot of quality information that may get buried in the source documents. It's good information to know that he moved to Washington in 1963. It's also good information to know that he moved to Thurston County around 1967. It's good information because it helps narrow down the search for other types of sources, such as vital records, newspapers, city directories, church records, etc. My plan is to delete the fact types for the general residences, but then put the information about dates moved to Washington and specifically to Thurston County in the Notes section of the fact types listing specific addresses.

This is what I have added to the notes of the residence fact from January 1966:
His obituary states, "From 1963 to 1987 he wrote for the Associated Press in Spokane, Seattle, and Olympia, with most of that time spent reporting from Olympia on state government." This means that he likely moved to Washington in 1963. It is not clear exactly what city he moved to in 1963. His daughter's birth announcement states that he lived in Seattle in January 1966.
 This is what I have added to the notes of the residence fact from Oct 2001:
His death certificate lists his length of stay in Thurston County as 34 years, which would suggest that he moved there in 1967. This makes sense, as his son's marriage license lists his birthplace as Olympia, Thurston, Washington. His son was born in March 1967. His daughter's birth announcement published in the Seattle Daily Times in January 1966 lists his residence as Seattle. Therefore, it makes sense that he moved to Olympia sometime between his daughter's birth in 1966 and his son's birth in 1967. His divorce certificate from 1986 lists his residence as Olympia, as do both his parents' obituaries from 1986 and 1989. His brother's obituary from 1998 lists his residence only as Washington state, though it is likely that he lived in Olympia, since he still lived there at the time of his death in 2001.
 I think this will work for me for now, but I am open to other suggestions. Please let me know if you have any ideas!!!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

SNGF: How Many Children/Grandchildren in Your Birth Surname Line?

Randy over at GeneaMusings has given us another Saturday Night Genealogy Fun Challenge.

1)  Consider your Birth Surname families - the ones from your father back through his father all the way back to the first of that surname in your family group sheets or genealogy database.  List the father's name, and lifespan years.

2)  Use your paper charts or genealogy software program to create a Descendants chart (dropline or graphical) that provide the children and their children (i.e., up to the grandchildren of each father in the surname list).

3)  Count how many children they had (with all spouses), and the children of those children in your records and/or database.  Add those numbers to the list.  See my example below!  [Note: Do not count the spouses of the children]

4)  What does this list of children and grandchildren tell you about these persons in your birth surname line?  Does this task indicate areas that you need to do more research to fill out families and find potential cousins?

5)  Tell us about it in your own blog post, or in a comment to this post, or in a comment on Facebook or Google+.

1) My TRAHAN surname line is:
  • Michael David Trahan (1955- ) has 3 children and 2 grandchildren.
  • Benford Maurice Trahan (1935-2009) had 4 children and 7 grandchildren.
  • Bienvenue Trahan (1908-2006) had 1 child and 4 grandchildren.
  • Oscar Trahan (1889-1962) had 1 child and 1 grandchild. 
  • Theoville Trahan (1852-1915) had 22 children and ??? grandchildren.
  • Delphin Stainville Trahan (1826-1865) had 10 children and ??? grandchildren.
  • Michel Trahan (1785-????) had 13 children and ??? grandchildren.
  • Athanese Trahan (1753-1835) had 11 children and ??? grandchildren.
  • Michel Trahan (1728-1784) had 4 children and ??? grandchildren.
  • Rene Trahan (1693-1733) had 7 children and ??? grandchildren.
  • Jean Charles Trahan (1668-1727) had 12 children and ??? grandchildren.
  • Guillaume Trahan (1611-1682) had 7 children and ??? grandchildren.
  • Nicolas Trahan (1570-1669) had 8 children and ??? grandchildren. 
 2) See my Descendant List below for Nicolas Trahan. I created it using RootsMagic 6. You can see that I do have some grandchildren for Nicolas listed, but I did not include grandchildren in my counts in the list above beyond those of my gr-gr-grandfather. This is because I have not fully completed research on the extended branches of my TRAHAN ancestors.

3)  See counts of children/grandchildren in list above.
4) The person with the most children is my 3x gr-grandfather, Theoville. He had 2 wives and one mistress. The list really shows me that I have a lot of research to do on the siblings of my direct line TRAHAN ancestors. I do not know all the grandchildren of many of my direct line ancestors. They did not seem to start slowing down with the number of children until the early 1900s with my gr-gr-grandfather, Oscar, who only had one child, who only had one child. I believe that my 7x great-grandfather, Michel, probably had more than 4 children, but the Acadian deportation makes it hard to follow family lines during this time period.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

SNGF: Semi-Random Research

It's time for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun! This works out well for me, as my husband is with his best friend and goddaughter at the LSU vs. Kent State game across town. I'm hanging out here at the house catching up on genealogy research. Randy Seaver's mission over at Genea-Musings is to do semi-random research. His instructions are as follows:

1)  We're going to do a little bit of Semi-Random Research tonight...what is your first name? [This is the easy part!] My first name is Jennifer.

2)  Go to your family tree database of choice (you know, like RootsMagic, Reunion, Ancestry Member Tree), and determine who the first person in your alphabetical name index is with a surname starting with the first two letters of your first name (e.g., my first name is RAndall, so I'm looking for the first person with a surname starting with RA).  [If there are no surnames with those first two letters, take the surname after that letter combination.] The first person in my alphabetical name index who has a surname starting with the first two letters of my first name is August JEAN.

3)  What do you know about this person based on your research?  It's OK to do more if you need to - in fact, it's encouraged! All I know about August JEAN is that he was the father of Leo Ralph JEAN and husband of Mary RALPH and that he was possibly born in Canada.

4)  How are you related to this person, and why is s/he in your family tree? I am not related to August JEAN. He was the father of Leo Ralph JEAN, who was the second husband of my second cousin 3x removed, Alberta A. BASNEY. Alberta was the daughter of Burton Eugene BASNEY and Essie Anna PHELPS. Essie was the daughter of Joseph Putnam PHELPS and Agnes Emma PEMBERTON. Agnes was the younger sister of my 3x great-grandfather, John PEMBERTON.

Although August is a VERY collateral relative, I will do a little semi-random research at and FamilySearch to see what I can find on him. First, though, I need to evaluate what I already know about him and his associates. His son Leo's marriage record lists Leo's parents as August JEAN and Mary RALPH. The 1920 and 1930 census records list Leo's father's birthplace as Canada. The 1930 census specifically lists his birthplace as Canada French. The 1920 census listed his father's native tongue as English. Leo's mother's birthplace is listed as Michigan in 1920 and Canada French in 1930.
Leo's entries in the "Michigan Death Index, 1971-1996" database at and the SSDI state that he was born 21 Nov 1897. His WWI draft registration states that he was born 21 Nov 1898. His marriage record states that he was born c. 1897 in New York. The 1920-1940 census records all give him an estimated birth date between 1897 and 1898 and a birthplace of New York. All in all, his birth is stated pretty consistently throughout all of his records. He married Alberta A. BASNEY on 25 Oct 1919 in Detroit. They are found in city directories through 1921 in Detroit. In 1930 and 1940, they are found in the northern suburbs of Detroit in Macomb County. Leo died 20 Feb 1971 in Pontiac, Oakland, Michigan. His residence in the death index was listed as Walled Lake, Oakland, Michigan.
Since Leo was born likely born in 1897 in New York, I decided to start looking for August and Mary in the 1900 census.  BINGO! There was an August and Mary A. JEAN living at 268 Lafayette Ave. in Buffalo, New York, in 1900. August was a 43-year-old lake captain who was born Oct 1856 in Canada French. I'm presuming "lake" captain must mean a boat captain on Lake Erie. Mary was listed as age 37 and born April 1863 in Canada English. There were 5 children enumerated: Mary Ethel, age 13, b. Jul 1886; Marie Elvia, age 10, b. May 1890; Augustin E., age 8, b. Jan 1892; Elizabeth A., age 4, b. Mar 1896; and Leo Ralph, age 2, b. Nov 1897. The three oldest children were born in Michigan, while the three youngest were born in New York. There was also a 25-year-old servant in the household named Sophia G. Izemburg. The family rented the home.

In the "Suggested Records" column of the 1900 census page, I clicked on a link for Capt. August Jean at Find A Grave. I discovered that Captain August Jean is buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Lackawanna, Erie, New York. A picture of his tombstone shows that he was born 28 Oct 1856 and died 14 Jan 1905. His wife is buried with him. Her name is listed as Mary A. RALPH on the tombstone. She was born 29 Apr 1863 and died 31 Oct 1900. This means she died just four months after the 1900 census was taken. Leo would have been barely 3 years old when his mother died and 7 years old when his father died.

I checked the Buffalo city directories at and found that August moved to 31 Greenwood Place beginning in 1902. He is listed here in all city directories until 1905, when his widow is listed as Mrs. August Jean. In 1906, she is listed at 31 Greenwood Place as Mrs. Mary E. Jean, widow of August. This tells me that August must have remarried sometime between his wife's death in 1900 and his death in 1905. It looks like he married another Mary! How confusing, but at least she has a different middle initial. 

I then remembered that I had been in contact with the spouse of one of Leo and Alberta's descendants about her tree on I visited her public member tree and found several photos of Leo and one photo of his father, August. One of her photos of Leo stated that he was 3 years old and it was taken at a convent where his stepmother sent him to live. Well, that certainly makes the story more interesting. 

At FamilySearch, I found that August JEAN and Mary A. RALPH were married 26 Mar 1883 in West Bay City, Bay, Michigan. I find it interesting that they went from Canada to Michigan to New York. I guess that was the life of a boat captain. Somehow Leo ended back up in Michigan as an adult.

The probate records for Erie County, New York, are available to browse at FamilySearch. In the index, I found that Mary Jean's probate was filed 12 Nov 1900 and her case number is 35604. August Jean's probate was filed 20 Jan 1905 and his case number is 35606. Unfortunately, the full estate case files for August and Mary were not available online, but I did find the letters of administration dated 14 Nov 1900 for Mary's estate appointing August as administrator.

I also found August mentioned in some Bay City newspapers in the 1880s and 1890s at Genealogy Bank. There was a church social held at his home; his cook stole $140 from him; he sold/bought property; he visited friends in Oscoda; and his boat was listed as having an accident near Buffalo in 1905. Oddly enough, it was several months after his death, but the article did not mention that he was dead. It just said the boat was owned by August Jean of this city. Maybe no one was notified that he had died in Buffalo. Or perhaps the boat belonged to his son, Augustin E. Jean.

Well, since August is a collateral, I think I will take a break now from researching him. It's always fun to take a new path, though!