13 November 2011

Checking "Unusual" Sources

I often hear genealogists say they never check books in a certain area because "my families never lived anywhere near there."

I was at the Belle Isle Library in Oklahoma City recently and looked at what was available at his small local library in its 929 (genealogy) section. I saw an interesting book: Over My Dead Body! The Story of Hillside Cemetery © 1996 by Freda Carley Peterson. Since cemeteries are just about my favorite places to visit, I thought I'd visit this one in Silverton CO via the book.

Now I have never had family that lived in this area. But for nearly 20 years I did publish the Beckwith Newspetter which covered all the US. I found an unlikely entry for one of the Beckwiths:

Beckwith, Alicia Phulura temporary marker- June 23, 1907-May 17, 1908- Age 11 Months- On a Sunday at Oschner hospital in Durango, Alice, the baby girl of Bart (Barzilla) and Ethel Beckwith, was called away from earth by the angel of death. She had suffered intensely from bronchial pneumonia. Alice was born in Silverton, was the second Beckwith child to died before reaching the age of a year. Fred Carter officiated at Alice's funeral, held in the home of her grandparents in Silverton, William J. and Elizabeth Redda Pearce,a nd burial was at Hillside Cemetery.

Years ago I found this family in Silverton, San Juan Co. CO, but that was before this book was published. Who would think to check the very small genealogy collection in a satellite library of a metropolitan library system. But there the information is! and look at all that is provided in the short entry: complete name of child and parents, birth and death date and burial place of child, names of mom's parents and where they lived. A gold mine of information!

Don't forget to check the 929.1 through 929.3 section of your local library. You may just find a gem like I did!

15 October 2011

Death Synonyms

In searching through various on-line scanned newspapers, I run into the problem of time. Do I look trough each page of each issue (like I do with microfilm)? Or do I use the search engine? Well...I have been using the search engine. BUT...I have found that in order to access the most death entries possible, I must use multiple searches. The following are most of the terms and phrases I have searched by:

casualty list
death report
eternal rest
funeral home
grim reaper
life eternal
passed away
report of deaths

07 August 2011

Works in Progress....

Current total of the database is just over 268,000 entries.

Current extraction "projects":

Beaver Herald (Beaver Co. OK) 1895-1919.
- Currently in late 1902.

Durant Weekly News (Bryan Co. OK) 1904-1919.
- Currently in mid-1914.

Wapanucka Press (Johnston Co. OK) 1902-1907.
- Currently in Aug 1904

Our People and Where They Rest ©1970s 12 volumes by Tyner.
- currently near end of volume 4.

All these projects are slow going. But I'm still averaging over 1000 entries per week. My goal for the year was to average 5000 per month, or 1250 per week. I have surpassed the "yearly amount" in 7 months, so hope to hit 300,000 entries by the end of the year.

26 July 2011

Choctaw County OK Obituaries

If you haven't visited the Choctaw County GenWeb site then you are missing out on some great collections. They have a fantastic listing of cemeteries, many with tombstone inscriptions and photos. They also have an obituary collection with separate links to each person that has an obit or death notice. It took me three weeks going through the links and identifying those who died pre-1920 and adding them to my database.

Tonight I added 954 entries to my Pre-1920 Oklahoma Death Index. The majority of these entries are from the obituaries at the Choctaw County GenWeb. Some of the entries (about 25) are extracts from Texas Death Certificates available at . Most of the 25 died in Texas but were returned to Oklahoma for burial. Some were former Oklahoma residents who died and wre buried in Texas.

Kudos to Ron Henson for his Choctaw County GenWeb site and for compiling the obituary list, and JoLynn Self for her work on Choctaw County cemeteries.

22 July 2011

The Tulsa Star

The Tulsa Star was a newspaper in Tulsa from 1913 to at least 1922. Copies have been scanned and scanned images are available at the National Archives "Chronicling Amearica" site.

For the past week I have been extracting notices of death from this newspaper. The unique aspect is that the paper was a Black/Negro/Colored newspaper, so the vast majority of local news articles were about Blacks in Tulsa. At least that is what one would think.

This paper served ALL of northeast Oklahoma and had regular "correspondent" columsn with local news from McAlester, Bartlesville, Okmulgee, Claremore, Boley, Sapulpa, Coweta, and many other towns in Oklahoma.

Most of the death notices simply contain the person's name, death date, perhaps a relationship, date and location of the funeral, and the name of the undertaker/funeral home. BUT...a great source for Tulsans not likely recorded elsewhere.

In all, I was able to find 288 different death notices from 1913 through the end of 1919. Only a few are for the prominent in the community. Many are for infants and those murdered. Many others are from correspondent columns from across northeast Oklahoma or for the Greenwood neighborhood and Gurley Addition in Tulsa.

The search "engine" on Chronicling America leaves much to be desired. In one case I was searching for all occurrences of the word "funeral". It brought up a page with the word funeral highlighted within a death notice. But it failed to recognize the word "funeral" in the headline for another death entry on the same page. So I'm sure I missed many death notices, but that will be the case for all papers I search on-line.

Also added to the index this week are pre1920 burials in Riverside Cemetery at Mangum OK, Fairview Cemetery at Tuttle, and more entries from Oklahoma's Confederate Pension Index cards.

18 July 2011

Darlington, Indian Territory newspaper

With Oklahoma Territory being opened to settlement in Apr 1889 I am always surprised to see records predating that date. However, all of Oklahoma was Indian Territory prior to Oklahoma Territory being established. And the US government had military posts and forts scattered throughout the Territory. One Indian agency was the Cheyene/Arapahoe Agency at Darlington IT.

This Agency published a newspaper called The Cheyenne Transporter. Copies have been scanned and are available for research at the Library of Congress' site "Chronicling America".

I searched separately for 12 key words/phrases related to deaths (death, died, murdered, suicide, etc.). In issued from 1880 through 1886 I was able to find 119 recordings of deaths in the bounds of current Oklahoma. These have now been added to the Pre1920 Oklahoma Death Index. The one thing that bothers me about extracting these records is that it takes so long. To get these 119 records, I spent approximately 20 hours of research time over a 10 day period.

One must realize that I skipped over about the same number of obits/death notices for people who died outside of Oklahoma and who had never lived in Oklahoma. Many were residents of southern Kansas and western Missouri, relatives of residents of Darlington IT.

Currently, I'm working on the Tulsa Star, a Black/Colored/Negro/Afro-American newspaper. Scanned issues are available at Chronicling America from 1913-1922.

08 July 2011

Chronicling America

The National Archives has available on-line digitized images of may newspapers from across the country. In cooperation with the Oklahoma Historical Society, several Oklahoma newspapers were included in the project. I have searched some of these papers for pre-1920 deaths. Papers searched so far are from Anadarko, Beaver and Durant. Today I added 325 deaths recorded in The Farmers' Champion of Elgin, Comanche Co. OK.

These newspaper images will be invaluable to researchers. So much history AND genealogy is recorded in their pages. Currently I am extracting deaths from the Cheyenne Transporter of Darlington IT. This paper was published at the Cheyenne/Arapahoe Agency at Darlington, north of Fort Reno in what is now Canadian County. The time period of 25 Aug 1880 to 12 Aug 1886 is covered. I have found 50 "Oklahoma" deaths in the first two years of the paper.

Of course I have to do several searches. Key words I search by include died, death, burial, cemetery, obituary, along with several others. This is a very slow process, what with multiple searches, checking for duplicates, and slow loading pages. So my progress will slow down on additions to the database.

I am currently working on these sources:

• The Cheyenne Transporter of Darlington IT 1882-1886
• Choctaw County Obituaries from the Choctaw County OK Genweb
• Cemetery Records of Okmulgee County OK ©1974 v1&2
The Beaver Herald of Beaver OK 1895-1919
• Sexton's records of Fairlawn Cemetery in Oklahoma City OK

30 May 2011

NEW TOTAL: 244,651 Entries!!

The new total as of today, Memorial Day 2011, is 244,651 entries. This means that I have entered information on 244,651 individuals who died in Oklahoma before 1920. This is NOT 244,651 different individuals. For some people there are entries from obits, pension records, tombstones, probate records, etc.

Most recently, I have added people from Stroud (Lincoln Co.) obits and from the official records of Fairlawn Cemetery in Oklahoma City. For the Oklahoma City records, there are two sets of records: the "Old Book" which covers to about 1905, and the "new Book" which covers from about 1905 to about 1967. More information on the availability on these records in my next blog on Wednesday.

This morning, I drove to Norman to visit the Norman IOOF Cemetery. I walked the old sections of the cemetery looking for new tombstones and new bases, as well has inscriptions on the sides of old stones. In all, I found 16 "new" entries for the database. I was able to gather information to correct/add to an additional 26 entries. As I get time, I will be traveling to various cemeteries around Oklahoma to check for new stones for old burials. I guess I shouldn't be surprised at the number of new "old" stones what with the rise in interest in genealogy these days.

Over the next couple of months, my weekly blogs will include lists of sources of information I use and how to obtain those sources. I hope you had a relaxing and patriotic Memorial Day!

11 May 2011

Kolb Cemetery, Oklahoma County OK

On a day off from work for my semi-annual dental visit, I stopped at a couple of cemeteries. Now I moved to OKC two years ago, but I still go to the dentist in Stillwater. So after my visit to el dentiste, I traveled east to Oilton (Creek Co.) and walked Highland Cemetery. I had visited there back in the 1980s to get information on possible Civil War veterans. This time I was looking for anyone who died before 1920. I came up with 24 new entries for the database.

Then I drove to the east side of OKC and checked a couple of cemeteries that I had not known of before. But, alas, they were all recently established, even the two that were pet cemeteries! But I did stop at Kolb Cemetery. I had visited this cemetery several years ago, again looking for Civil War veterans. Since tombstone listings are available for it on several internet sites, I walked the cemetery looking for for pre-1920 death dates on new tombstones or tombstones with newly cemented bases. My 30 minute walk netted me 10 corrections to previous entries and 5 new entries. So overall a successful trip!

I ended the visit to Kolb Cemetery with a talk with the man in the uniform and black and white car with flashing lights on top (Spencer Police Dept.). He wanted to make sure I wasn't vandalizing tombstones. He showed quite a bit of interest in the project once I explained what I was doing.

The day ended with 3 hours in the Oklahoma Historical Society Library adding info on Blaine County deaths, followed by the May meeting of the Oklahoma Genealogical Society.

You'd think that would be a big enough genealogy fix to last for a while, but....

...until next time....

06 April 2011

Daily Oklahoman Obituaries

I just finished entering and importing 3672 obituaries, death notices, cards of thanks, murder accounts, etc. from the Daily Oklahoman covering the period 1910 through 1919. I realize this is far from all deaths reported from around Oklahoma in the Daily Oklahoman during that time period, but it is definitely a good start.

I made searches initially on the word "obituary". Then I searched on "card of thanks", "vital statistics", "suicide", and a couple of other possibities. Later I will check for other key words. But currently I am working on the Daily Oklahoman's first nine years: 1901-1909.

So if you are looking for someone who died in the Oklahoma City area, there's a good chance I have that person in my database. I have all known tombstone inscriptions for the county, obits/death notices for the main newspaper in OKC, probate index entries for through 1907, and miscellaneous records I have come across.

Future searches will include the following:

• OKC Health Department Death Index (at OHS)
• Fairlawn Cemetery sexton's records
• Church records
• Funeral Home records
• Other cemetery sexton's recpords

I've also been searching through on-line newspaper archives through the Chronicling America website. So far I've added info from newspapers in Anadarko, Durant and Vinita. It's exciting to be finding so many records. I only wish I had more time!

06 March 2011

Current Status of Database

For the past two months since my last post, I have been entering records from a variety of sources on-line and in print. However, I had also been entering and verifying burials of Civil War veterans for the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW). So my mornings before work when I spend and hour to an hour and a half have been taken up with data entry for the SUVCW.

Add to that, I renewed my subscription to Ancestry.com. For years I've wanted to upgrade from US to World, but did not care to spend an extra $150. When I renewed, I asked about any specials, For 40 bucks more, I could upgrade to World and have a 13 months subscription. I hopped on that! Now I'm spending some time locating and printing records for Swedish Church records. Since 3/4 of my ancestry is Swedish, this will take some time.

For each of my Swedish ancestral families, I'm copying the marriage of the couple, the household "census" records (usually in 5 year increments) that list all members of the household, births and deaths of each child, and any movings into or out of the parish. It's amazing to be able to have documented evidence of every year of a person's/family's life!

BUT....I am continuing to add approximately 1500 to 200 records to the Oklahoma Pre-1920 Death Index. If I can get a couple of good weeks in, I may actually make my goal of 300,000 entries by the end of the year.

So far I have had 8 requests for records. Most have been "fishing expeditions"- people not sure if their relative died in Oklahoma, but checking to see. I have to give a response with reservations if it is negative: I have not yet found the record of the death, if it in fact occurred in Oklahoma". The two I was able to locate greatly pleased the seekers. That alone makes this endeavor worthwhile.

Until next time....

16 January 2011

Death Synonyms

Recently I've been reading through biographies in the Muskogee and Northeastern Oklahoma: including the counties of Muskogee, McIntosh, Wagoner, Cherokee, Sequoyah, Adair, Delaware ©1922 by John D. Benedict. This three volume book is availabe on ancestry.com, so I started out searching for every case where the word "died" appeared. The word died appears over 200 times in this 3 volume set. In most cases, the bios tell when a person's parents or children died (and often where). On a few occasions the death is of the person whose life story is being presented.

HOWEVER...If you have ever read one of these older histories, you know that the writers varied their word usage in order to keep the bios interesting. So they must have had a very complete thesaurus at hand!

So when searching for deaths in this book on ancestry.com, I have had to go back and search for the following words and phrases:

- died
- demise
- death
- deceased
- assassinated
- murdered
- final rest

I am only about half way done checking this three volume set for pre1920 deaths. I'm sure I will discover other death synonyms. I'll keep you apprised...

09 January 2011

Oklahoma Military Post Records

I have been slowly extracting deaths from early Oklahoma Military Post records. These are located on Ancestry.com.

Records are tabular with numbers indicating deaths (early records) or commissioned men deaths and enlisted men deaths. If the deaths reported are for enlisted men, just the number of deaths is recorded. If the death is an officer, the name and particulars of the officer are recorded. In both cases, the company and regiment are noted.

Although few names appear, month and year of deaths for specific units can be very helpful in tracking down other military records. The following posts are included in this record group at ancestry.com:

Fort Arbuckle
Fort Cobb (Nov 1859-Apr 1861)
Camp Guthrie (Apr 1889-June1891)
Post Cantonment
Fort Reno
Fort Sill
Fort Supply
Fort Towson
Fort Washita
Camp Arbuckle IT (Apr 1833 and June-Oct 1934)

Some day I will be able to finish searching through this record group. Reading is slow going. Fort Washita alone has 457 images (two images per month). I have only read through the three posts listed above that have dates listed.

06 January 2011

Oak Park Cemetery in Chandler, Lincoln Co. OK

Last week on the way back to OKC I stopped at Chandler City Hall to check the records they might have for Oak Park Cemetery. I had gone through a card file about 10 years ago when looking for some Civil War veterans, but could not remember what kind of records they had.

The clerk took me back to the small room that holds the old record books for the city. There is a card file on which SOME of the burials are recorded. One big problem is that many years are listed with only two numbers. So there is no way to tell from the index card if 01 is 1901 or 2001, for example.

The also have to volumes of records. One is the book with listings by block and plot. This list has many names that have no dates with them- simply a name listed for a specific space. But there were many that DID have death dates listed.

The second volume is an index to cemetery records. This book is alphabetical by surname letter and includes name, age, death/burial date, and lot owner. This book has many entries that the burial volume does not.

So I went through the Burial Record book first and then the Burial Index book, extracting all pre-1920 deaths. Many were duplicates, but there some in each volume not listed in the other. Then I started on the card file and made it through blocks 1 through 4. I still have the majority of the cemetery left to check for the card file, and I will get back to it some day (hopefully this summer).

The City of Chandler is in the process of comparing tombstones to the cemetery records to update the records and make as complete a listing as possible. And they plan to put the information on-line! So I will send them all the entries I Have for Oak Park Cemetery in Chandler to help them with their project. I have the advantage of having some obits and published records, along with tombstone inscriptions from walking the cemetery.

Yet another example of how collaborative efforts can result in a successful project!

02 January 2011

Trip to Osage County

Last week I took a trip to Osage County to scout wells for the company I work for. As my cover I was "looking for cemeteries". In addition to spotting and taking pictures of oil and gas wells and drilling sites, I DID visit three cemeteries. Stupid me didn't think to take pictures of the cemeteries!

St. Johns Cemetery near Grainola is a small abandoned cemetery. It is NOT kept up. The cemetery "grounds" appear to be about one to two acres. However, there are only 9 visible graves, all in one row. The entire cemetery grounds, except the strip where the gravestones are located, is used for hay pasture. Three pre-1920 burials are for John H. Eitzman, Lorenz W.H. Eitzman, and Ida Ropers.

Foraker Cemetery, serving the area in Osage County northwest of the Tall Grass Prairie Preserve, is an extremely well maintained and beautiful cemetery. Of the many people buried here, stones for 20 of them have death date before 1920. Surnames for the twenty: Acres, Appel, Bailey, Berry, Bray, Codding, Cox, Davis, Dial, Graham, Grimes, Hobbs, Johnston, Leaton, Mains, Mounts, Tusing and Workman.

Burbank Cemetery, just northwest of the town of Burbank, has a sign that states the cemetery was established in 1925. Although I didn't expect to find any pre-1920 tombstones, I went ahead and walked the small cemetery. I found one Civil War veteran (Elihu B. Myrich of 30th ME Infantry). The most interesting thing, though, is that there were several burial from 1923 and 1924 (mostly infants).

So never assume that the "official" founding date of the cemetery is date of the first burial. Or even that the first official burial is the earliest death date. There are several reasons a burial could precede the founding of the cemetery:
• There was an original family plot around which the "new" cemetery was established.
• Homestead burials for the surrounding area were moved to the cemetery once it was established.
• The earlier stones are actually cenotaphs for family members buried in another location.

My next post will describe my visit to the City of Chandler to look through the records for Oak Park Cemetery.

01 January 2011

Ringing in the New Year with a NEW TOTAL!

Now that 2010 has come to an end, I have transferred all "new" entries into the main Oklahoma Death Index (pre-1920) database. As of the end of the day, 31 Dec 2010, the database total is now:

211,868 entries!!

In Nov and Dec alone I added over 29,000 records.

My goals for 2011:

• Get the word out about this blog and my Oklahoma Death Index.
• Do searches for FREE.
• Request donations to continue extractions and cover costs involved (especially travel/gas).
• Reach 300,000 entries by the end of 2011.

I pray you will have a wonderful 2011!