Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Obtaining Chicago & Cook County Vital Records On A Budget

Vital records for Cook County, and specifically Chicago, are available on microfilm for a significantly reduced cost, compared to requesting the documents through the Cook County Clerk or Vital Records. Below you can find details of what is available and how you can order copies of these records. Copies of these certificates and licenses are only $6.50, compared to the $15-17 per document through Cook County.

The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 destroyed a majority of documents and registers, so no vital records exist prior to then. Both birth registers (certificates exist post-1878) and marriage licenses began again in 1871, whereas the death certificates didn't begin again until 1878.

Image source: Hearst's Chicago American, January 2, 1902, Page 8
(Click to enlarge)
Cook County also didn't require the official registration of births until January 1, 1902, once a bill in the Illinois State Senate passed and became law. Along with the new law to urge Chicago residents to register their children's birth, was allowed "25 cents for every baby born and registered." By the second day the County Clerk had received more than 80 applications. However, the County Clerk neither had the actual certificates to issue nor the money to provide to applicants for the registrations. The County Clerk at that time, Mr. Knopf, explained he would issue certificates but they had not been supplied to him by the secretary of the State Board of Heath. Mr. Knopf furthermore stated that the County Board would need to supply the money.

How To Order Copies:

Birth certificates and registers are available on microfilm from 1871-1922 and can be ordered through the link here.

Death certificates are available on microfilm from 1878-1945 and can be ordered through the link here.

Marriage licenses are available on microfilm through 1871-1920 and can be ordered through the link here.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Center for Research Libraries in Chicago

An example of three death notices from the Chicago
Polish newspaper, Dziennik Związkowy, 1940.
The Center for Research Libraries, CRL for short, holds many ethnic newspapers on microfilm for viewing and copies. The CRL is located on the south side of the UC campus, in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago.

One particular item of interest is the Chicago Polish newspaper, Dziennik Związkowy, which began in January of 1908 and is available up to 1992 (catalog title: http://catalog.crl.edu/record=b1336327~S1). Many death notices were published in this daily newspaper and should be a must-reviewed resource for Chicago Polish research. The CRL has already digitized the first ten years of the newspaper and those can be searched for free at their website at the following URL: https://dds.crl.edu/crldelivery/15857

A fantastic death notice index for Dziennik Związkowy has also been created, covering 1930-1949, by James J. Czuchra. It can be found at the following URL: http://polfamily.info/dziennik-zwiazkowy-search

The CRL is open to researchers, Monday to Friday & 9am to 2pm, but one must request an appointment. You are allowed up to 12 microfilm a day and they must be ordered when you make your appointment. One day of research will cost $25 and copies (printed or digital) are $.10 each; you pay when you've finished research. I personally reviewed 12 microfilm and made 16 digital scans, with the trip totaling $26.60

There is more to the CRL's collection than Polish publications. They have ethnic newspapers from across the country: Arabic, Chinese, Croatian, Czech, Danish, German, Greek, Hispanic, Hungarian, Jewish, Norwegian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Swedish. Give the catalog a search!

Anyone requiring research assistance with the resources within this library can request help through my Genlighten offering here.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Genealogy Resources at the Harold Washington Library in Chicago

The Harold Washington Library, in Chicago, Illinois, has a collection of material that could aid in genealogy research. They can be found in the Microfilm Room, on the third floor, where you will find rows of microfilm cabinets containing newspapers, city directories and telephone directories. Over the past six months, I have created inventories of what is currently available on microfilm for these collections and you can find them below.


The newspaper collection is by far the largest, taking up most of the space. The inventory I created was focused on newspapers from the Chicago area, although the library has many other newspapers on microfilm from around the world. The earliest available newspaper is the Chicago Democrat, beginning on November 26th, 1833.

You can view the inventory here: Chicago’s Historic Newspapers On Microfilm At The Harold Washington Library

City Directories

The library's collection of Chicago city directories ranges from 1839 through 1917, in 1923 and finally in 1928-1929. City directories contain the name of an individual, their occupation and address of residence. You may also come across a second address, an address of business, if the individual was a business owner. This collection is helpful in placing your ancestor at an exact addresses in Chicago between the censuses, as well as determining if they owned a business.

You can view the inventory here: Chicago City Directories On Microfilm At The Harold Washington Library

Telephone Directories

Where city directories end, the telephone directories pick up. The earliest telephone directory for Chicago was published in 1878. They are available for both the city of Chicago and Suburban Chicago up to 1971. The directories had separately published the Alphabetical (residential) and Classified (business), from 1914-1971. The library has directories from other localities throughout the entire state of Illinois: Algonquin, Alton, Altonwood River, Beardstown, Beecher, Big Rock, Cairo, Canton, Centralia, Champaign, Champaign-Urbana, Clinton County, Collinsville, Crown Point (Indiana), Danville, Decatur, Delavan, Dwight, Edgington, Edwardville, Elburn, Forest, Galina, Gibson City, Gilman, Greenville, Hampshire, Harristown, Harvey, Huntley, Ipava, Joliet, Kankakee, Kendall County, Kinmundy, Lake County, Lasalle, Lewistown, Lilly Lake, Lockport, Loves Park, Lowell, Manteno, McHenry, Momence, Morris, Mt. Vernon, Nashville, Oglesby, Olive Branch, Onarga, Oswego, Ottawa, Peoria, Peru, Petersburg, Plato Center, Quad Cities, Quincy, Rock Island, Rockford, Seneca, Springfield, West Suburban Exchange and Zion.

You can view the inventory here: Chicagoland Telephone Directories On Microfilm At The Harold Washington Library

Friday, September 05, 2014

Adas Family Medical History

Ever since my father had his stroke last February (2013), I've been increasingly curious about my family's medical history and causes of death. Digging into my paternal grandmother's family revealed some scary and shocking information. My own grandmother, Mary Lou (Adas) Gombash, died from a massive heart attack and from what I understand, her brother had some heart and possibly stroke issues. They are the children of Edward Robert Adas, Sr. I've created a family tree to highlight the causes of death in the Adas family, going back to our immigrant ancestors who came over from Putzig (today Puck, Poland). The text in red is the cause of death on their death certificate. You'll notice that every single one of them died from heart related issues.

(click for larger image)

Monday, January 20, 2014

Revolutionary War Land Grant of Samuel Hays - Neighbor of Andrew Jackson & Col. John Donelson

North Carolina Revolutionary War Land Grants
Roll 10: Book G-7
Page 15
State of North Carolina
Grant No. 35
Know ye that we have Granted unto Samuel Hays six hundred and forty acres of land in Davidson County on the North side of Stones or Clover creek a branch of Stones River, Beginning at the spanish oak on the North bank of the Creek a corner of the land reserved for Stones lick, running thence along the line of the said land, West one hundred and twenty two poles to a large white oak, corner to Col. John Donelson, thence with said Donelson line North three hundred and twenty five poles to a hickory and hackberry, East three hundred and sixty eight poles to three small poplars, South one hundred and sixty nine poles crossing Clover Creek twice to a sugar tree and ash on the north bank thereof, down the same as it meanders to the Beginning. To Hold unto the said Samuel Hays his heirs and assigns forever dated the 17th day of April 1786.
R. Caswell
J. Glasgow, Sec.

*A little background information: This land grant is for the land between what is now know as the area of Donelson and The Hermitage. My ancestor, Samuel Hays, was a neighbor of both men: future-president Andrew Jackson and Col. John Donelson (father-in-law to Andrew Jackson). Samuel Hays' brother, Robert Hays, was also the son-in-law to Col. John Donelson. When Samuel Hays was murdered in February 1793 during an Indian massacre just outside Col. John Donelson's home, the future-president Andrew Jackson adopted the minor children of Samuel Hays.

Ancestry.com. North Carolina and Tennessee, Early Land Records, 1753-1931 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2013.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

My Genealogical Goals for 2014

With the new year quickly approaching, I decided to make a list of genealogy goals I am going to strive to achieve in the coming year. With having begun researching my family tree well over thirteen years ago, I still have a lot to research. I've intentionally left different branches of my family un-researched, so that I'd continue to have research to do as the years went on. With how much research I have completed on my Hungarian ancestry (the majority of my research), I am far from done. A vast majority of that consists of nobility resources; there's a wealth of information to be found, and I'll likely need to conduct that research on-site in Hungarian archives. With all that being said, here is my list of goals for the new year:

1. Write more. I need to write more. A lot more. I've sorely neglected my several blogs during the year due to medical issues within the family. Things have gotten much better, and I'm regaining the time I'll be able to devote to writing. Apart from my blogs, I'm going to be dedicating a very large majority of my time to writing two books. They're going to be related to Hungarian genealogy, my area of expertise, and completely unrelated to one another. I can't go into much detail about what the books will be about yet, but know that both will be extremely helpful to any research being conducted within the former Hungarian empire.

2. The most important family for me to research this year, is the family of my 3rd-great-grandmother, Martha Ann Miller. She was the wife of James Andrew J. Costilow and died fairly young; 45 years before her husband passed. I was fortunate enough to have found a record that was a crucial breakthrough in Martha's family, which then lead me to her parents and half of her grandparents. I plan to focus a lot of attention on researching these new families.

3. I plan on indexing far more records relating to Győr city and county. It's the sixth largest city in Hungary, and the largest and most important city in northwest Hungary. It's very close to the borders of both Austria and Slovakia and is situated on one of the most important roads in Central Europe. Because of this, it was a large hub for migrants and immigration. There were six Roman Catholic parishes in Győr, comprised of 27 microfilms of data. So indexing marriage records for this city would be extremely beneficial for those researching in this area.

4. There are a handful of military organizations I would like to join. The main ones including the SAR (Sons of the American Revolution), General Society of the War of 1812, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War and Sons of Confederate Veterans. My goal is to obtain all the documentation required to apply for membership within these organizations. I could easily piggy-back other applicants with their membership numbers and previous documentation, but I want to do it on my own.

5. My Polish roots are aching to be discovered. I'm more Polish than anything else, yet the majority of the records aren't readily available for research. My lines from Barycz and Osobnica will be extremely difficult, as I'll have to physically write to the church and request information. It's a hit or a miss and I won't make much progress. Hence why I haven't touched at all in all the years I've been researching. Two sides that I do need to focus on, are my Adas and Domagalski families. The Adas' came from the Putzig parish and I've been able to research the family back to the 1750's so far, but the records began in 1593.. so there's LOTS to be discovered! I also need to figure out the collateral line to the Adas family, the Pletzke's. They're from a neighboring parish and there's also lots to be found.

6. I need to research my Stümpges line. Previous researchers had traced the family line back to the 1540's, but I'm not content. I need to research the family in the church records myself, and verify that the direct Stümpges line is correct. Almost all of the maternal lines are completely blank, also. Those need to be researched and known. There's so much information to be found here!

Monday, June 17, 2013

FamilySearch Find Of The Day: 1803 Will of Levi Long

Winton County Barnwell District
In the Name of God Amen, I Levi Long of the Distrct & County aforesd. being in a low state of health tho sound of memory do constitute and order this my last will and testament, first I desire I may have a decent burial, after that I desire that all my just debts be paid and the residue of my property I leave as follows: to Israel Andres five children Harriot, James, Juliot, Nancy and Sidney, I give three hundred acres of land lying on Toomers bay to be equally divided between them, also I give and bequeath to the above mentioned five children five cows and calves to be equally divided between them & to my son Fashaw I give and bequeath ten cows & calves also one hundred acres of land next adjoining the land where I now live and to my daughter Fanny I give and bequeath one negroe girl named Patt, also one hundred acres of land including the house and plantation where I now live, also ten cows & calves and to my son Nathaniel Long I give and bequeath one hundred acres of land joining the above mentioned land and ten cows & calves and to my daughter Sara I give and bequeath ten cows & calves and one hundred acres of land adjoining the above mentioned lands also I give unto James, Levi, Valentine, Jonas, David and Alford Rowel two hundred and ninety acres of land to be equally divided amongst them the land adjoining the above mentioned land also I give and bequeath to the above mentioned James, levi, Valentine, David, Jonas & Alford Rowel six cows & calves each or the value in breeding cattle. Also, I give to my daughter Sarah Long's two children Mahala and Mark Lazarus two cows & calves each and to Hardin Blalock wife Mason I give and bequeath one hundred and fifty acres of land lying on Cypress Creek and to Richard Blalock wife Martha I give and bequeath one hundred and fifty acres of land lying on Cypress Creek adjoining the above land on said Creek. Also I give and bequeath my daughters Mason Blalock and Martha Blalock six cows and calves each and to my son Lewis I give and bequeath one hundred acres of land lying on Cypress Creek and one hundred acres of land laying in the south side of Coosawhatchie also on hundred acres of land lying on the ** (page crease; illegible) ** wife I give and bequeath all the residue of my property to her lifes end _____. I leave as my last will that all that part of my property that is left to my beloved wife be equally divided between my own four children Sarah, Nathaniel, Fashaw & Fanny Long & the six sons of Elizabeth Rowel deceased, James, Levi, Valentine, David & Alford Rowel, except my negro boy named Jack him I leave to be equally divided between my four children Sara, Nathaniel, Fashaw & Fanny at the decease of my beloved wife Sarah Long and I doe nominate and appoint my wife Sarah Long Executor and Thomas Long Senr. & Thomas Long Junr. Executors to execute this my last will and testament. Given under my hand this 16th day of March, 1803.

Levi Long, his mark

Signed & Sealed in the presence of us
Simon Bryan
Frederick Bryan
Mary Parmer, her mark