02 February 2015

Intro to Genealogy Research 101

The first step of genealogy is to figure out your goal. Are you interested just to see who your immigrant/furthest-back ancestors are, or are you also interested in the lives of all the people in between? 

When I was young and new to genealogy, I was all about trying to go as far back as possible as quickly as possible. I only really cared to find out countries of origin and if any particularly cool people were in the family line.

Now, however, my favorite part is to get to know each generation of ancestors. I find it interesting to try to find out things about their lives. Did they have an impact on their local community? Were they a preacher or a politician or soldier or a regular citizen? Did they have 20 kids, or 3? Did they farm or did they live in a city? Did they strike it rich or did they live in perpetual poverty? Etc, etc. 

Genealogy is historical research. Never save information from someone else's tree or website without investigating their source yourself. The genealogy community is RIFE with misinformation from sloppy researching and the accepting of Ancestry.com suggestions without actually checking to see they are correct. Always make sure you have legitimate historical sources (so, actual records, not someone else's research) AND that you cite your own sources as well. Trust me, somewhere down the line you'll try to figure out where some fact came from, and you will NOT be pleased with yourself if you didn't cite your source properly! In a future post I will go into more detail about sources & citations.

For those completely new to genealogy, I have compiled a list of super important things you must know! before you get started:
  • Spelling was not standard until very recently. You will frequently find someone's name spelled differently in each source. Don't assume that different spellings are different people!
  • Dates and ages, too, are fluid. Make sure you always note the dates & ages used in each record, because it is still important to note and can help tell people with the same names apart, but don't freak out of the dates & ages do fluctuate a bit with the same person. 
  • Names ran in families back then. It is very common to find many John Smiths or whatever in the same family. Kids are often named after a grandparent/parent/aunt/uncle/cousin/etc, so sometimes you also have people with the same name and around the same age. ALWAYS be careful not to combine multiple "John Smith"s into one composite ancestor. In future posts I'll talk more about how to tell such people apart, but for now I'll say that noting their parents/birthdays/professions/etc can help.
  • Not all records are online!! And not all online records are indexed (searchable)! You can find a LOT online, but you can find even more offline, at local courthouses and libraries and archives. I will go into more detail about this later as well.
  • Not all records exist for every location. States that didn't exist until the 1900s will not have federal censuses from 1840, for example. There have also been countless fires and natural disasters that have destroyed many records. It's important to always look up record information about the state/county you are currently researching to find out what is available, and where. The FamilySearch Wiki is great for this. 
  • Most notable: THE 1890 CENSUS WAS DESTROYED! There are a very few fragments that survived, but overall, it's gone. It  makes genealogists weep frequently. There are ways around that missing census, though, which we will get into in the future.
  • Speaking of censuses, they are invaluable- the backbone of genealogy research- but don't take any fact on the census as gospel. The person being enumerated was not always the person telling the census taker the information. Sometimes it was a young kid or a neighbor, if they adults were out. Many mistakes stem from that. Also, the census records we  get to see are actually handwritten copies of the original, and sometimes there are transcription errors. And sometimes the enumerators were lazy (like, writing down that everyone on that page was born in that state without actually asking). And then of course, sometimes people just forget! Birthdays and exact places where people were born were less important and less notable back then. So mostly you have to collect the data from ever source and try to figure out which is used the most and which is most likely and supported by other clues. 
  • This is also true for death certificates (and headstones and obituaries). They aren't filled out by the deceased, and the children and friends don't always know their birthday exactly, or the maiden name of their mother or where she was born, etc. So absolutely note it, but also know that it may or may not be correct, you'll have to check other sources to confirm. 
  • And once again, PAY ATTENTION TO AND NOTE THE SOURCES! Make sure you are getting your facts from the historical documents themselves, and not someone else's tree or webpage. By all means look at their trees, just mine their trees for their sources and then check them out yourself!

Do you have any questions or requests of what to cover next? Let me know in the comments!

17 March 2014

My Irish Immigrant

Happy St. Paddy's day, everyone! I have spent the last month spending every waking moment either 1.) moving all my earthly possessions from Ohio to Pennsylvania, or 2.) researching my Irish family, which I previously knew next to nothing about. And not actually in that order (halfway through our first month here and I am still surrounded by boxes!)

I have learned an incredible amount these past few weeks, with PLENTY of research left to do, but I'm excited to share what I have so far!

What I knew going in.

Before this month, I had only one census for Michael Warde, who was born in Ireland, and two for his wife (also born in Ireland.) Both in San Francisco, and the first showing that the eldest daughter was born in Canada, and the next in California 2 years later. I knew they had 5 kids and that Michael had a liquor wholesale company, and i had rather recently found out that he had made pretty good money, as when he died in 1889, there was a newspaper article that said his estate, left to his wife, was estimated at $20,000 ($503,267.93 in modern dollars!)

But, that was about it.


Photo courtesy of distant cousin Eleanor McIntyre, who sent this to me a
few days ago. First picture I have ever seen of Michael Warde!

Michael John Warde was born about 1842 in County Galway, Ireland, to Peter Ward and Mary [---?---] (born about 1809 in Oranmore Parish, County Galway, Ireland.)  It is unknown when they left Ireland, but his eldest daughter was born in Montreal, Quebec, and in his mother's San Francisco obituary there is a request for both Montreal & Galway newspapers to copy it into their own obituary sections. Thus, Michael may have moved to Montreal with his parents, possibly at a rather young age. Besides his daughter's baptism record in the records of the  Notre-Dame Basilica of MontrĂ©al in 1868, we have no record of him before his 1870 census in San Francisco, so when --or why-- he left Ireland is still not known.

I only found his parents - via an obituary of his mother, Mary Ward, that I stumbled across - two days ago, and I'm having a hard time finding anything about them yet, but hopefully I will unravel them, too. And the siblings! There are quite a few Ward/Warde's in San Francisco at the same time as my family, and I'd love to know which are related!

While I will need more documentation to back this up, the sibling names & connection to both Galway & Montreal have me pretty much convinced that this is my family. My great-grandfather - Michael Warde's eldest son- is named Daniel Maurice. I've always wondered where the Maurice came from! Looks like he was named after two uncles. His younger brother is John, so he seems named after an uncle as well. There was also a Dan Warde living with the family in the 1880 census. 


On the 1870 census, Michael is listed as "liquor dealer," but on the 1872-1875 city directories he is listed as a clerk for the Chenery, Souther & Co. liquor company. 1875 is likely the year he began his own liquor wholesaling business, M. Warde & Co.

This ad can be seen frequently in San Francisco Newspapers at the time,
this one is from the Daily Alto California, 30 Mar 1884.

The business did very well, and in 1889 (the year he died) he had made it into "The Industries of San Francisco, California : a review of the manufacturing, mercantile and business interests of the Bay City : together with a historical sketch of her rise and progress." (Cosmopolitan Publising Co., San Francisco, 1889:)

Michael also owned quite a bit of real estate in San Francisco & San Rafael. I've found his addresses and clippings here and there of some of the real estate transfers & mortgage-letting involving him or his widow once he passed, but I have yet to plot all the areas and figure out how to find -ALL- of what he had owned. 

I have also found several clipping about his involvement with The Farmers Steamship Company, which he was a director and the secretary of. The company was made to create and operate steamships on the Pacific coast to help reduce the cost of transportation of goods between San Louis Obispo to South Santa Monica. The company began with 50,000 shares of stock, valued at $20 each. $75,000 worth of stock was subscribed in the first few weeks. Each boat was expected to cost $75,000-$80,000 each. This company started in the spring of 1881, and I have not been able to find any record of it outside of the business listings & articles pertaining to it's inception for that year, so I cannot yet say how the business did.

Community Involvement

Image from http://www.annapolisaoh.com
Michael has definitely made me work on this one. I have spent WEEKS looking through newspaper clippings. I have so many I've had to organize them in tables, by topic, in separate OneNote pages... 13 of them! From what I know so far he was involved in the following organizations:
  • The Ancient Order of Hibernians - He was elected state delegate 4 times only a couple years after he moved to the US. He helped start new chapters around the state, including Los Angeles. There were around 7,000 members at one point of his officership.
  • The Knights of St. Patrick
  • The Young Ireland Parliamentary Club
  • The Irish National League
  • The Irish National Land League
  • The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children
  • The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
  • He was the President of the San Francisco Saint Patrick's Day Convention for a while
  • He was the secretary of the Convention of Irish Societies (San Francisco) for a while
Not only was he a member in all these organizations, but he was extremely active. He often held positions and gave speeches and attended important community events. He was a passionate Irish-Catholic who was involved in the fight for Irish independence from Britain at every opportunity. 

This photo also courtesy of distant cousin Eleanor McIntyre!
And also my first view of Margaret Toohey!


Michael's issue is as follows:
  1. Margaret TOOHEY (b. Abt 1809, Oranmore Parish, Co. Galway, Ireland; d. 16 Apr 1907, San Francisco, San Francisco, California)
    1. Mary G. (b. 26 Mar 1867, Montreal, Quebec, Canada; d. Between 1920 - 1927)
      1. Married Frederick W. Noble (1871- 1918)
        1. Margaret Worden Noble (1901 - ?) - No issue
        2. Elvian Marie Noble (1909 - 1977) - No issue
    2.  Margaret Helen (b. 27 Mar 1869, California; d. 16 Apr 1959, Shelby, Cleveland, NC)
      1. Married John Henry McDowell (1866-1924)
        1. Henry McDowell (Abt 1897, lived a few days or less) - No issue
        2. John Lewis McDowell (1897-1984) m. Docia Bowen
          1. Harriet McDowell 
        3. Dorothy McDowell (1901-1988) m. Robert Leslie Alexander
          1. Robert McDowell Alexander (1926-2004)
        4. Geraldine McDowell (1903 - ?) m. Manuel Cruz
          1. Alberto Cruz (1928-1997)
          2. James Cruz  
        5. Robert Garren McDowell (1912-1961) m. Evelyn Potter
          1. Robert G. McDowell Jr. 
    3. Daniel Maurice (b. 19 Aug 1872, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA; d. 12 Jul 1949, Van Nuys, Los Angeles, CA) -- My great-grandfather
      1. Married Laura Frances Landers
        1. Robert Fletcher Warde (1921-1998) - My grandfather - m. Helen Mjoseth
          1. Denise Warde  
          2. Dana Michael Warde (1952 - 2000) - My father
          3. Brian Warde  
          4. Eileen Warde (1961 - 1994)
    4. John Davis (b. 6 Jan 1876, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA; d. 13 Oct 1941, San Francisco)
      1. Married Stella Ward
        1. John Davis Warde Jr (1906-1992) - no known issue
        2. Katherine Warde (1908 - ?) - issue unknown
    5. Henry W. (b.Apr 1879, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA; d. 5 Jun 1915, Lodi, San Joaquin, CA) - no issue
I'm not sure how many Warde-descendants are in my generation and beyond yet, but at the least we know that Michael and Margaret had 5 children, 10 grandchildren, and at least 9 great-grandchildren. 


Michael Warde died 28 Aug 1889 in San Francisco. He left his entire estate, initially valued at $20,000, to wife Margaret. After probate was filed (I still need to try to get my hands on it, as these are currently just numbers from the papers) and his estate was appraised and submitted to the courts - it's value was actually $43,161.10! That is is $1,086,079.87 in today's money!  Not bad for an Irish-Catholic immigrant during a time when most of his fellow countrymen were working as highly underpaid laborers who had to deal with so much discrimination and anti-Catholicism. 

Daily Alta California, 30 Aug 1889

This is only really a part of what I've found so far, and much more needs to be done to fill in the gaps & validate many of these facts, but after spending so much time fully immersed in Michael Warde's life, it seemed absolutely ridiculous that I wouldn't post about it on St. Patrick's Day! So, here is a rather rough sketch of Michael John Warde's life. As time goes on I will continue to post about the stories I've found and more about his descendants. 

Until then, Happy Saint Patrick's Day, everyone!

Genealogy Snapshot

Name: Warde, Michael (1842-1889)
Parents: Peter Ward and Mary Carich
Spouse: Margaret Twohey
Surnames: Ward, Warde
Relationship to Me: 2nd Great-Grandfather
  1. Michael Warde
  2. Daniel Maurice Warde
  3. Robert Fletcher Warde
  4. Dana Michael Warde
  5. Ameya

20 February 2014

Genetic Genealogy & DNA Link Roundup - 20 Feb '14


02 February 2014

A Pilgrimage to Ellis Island!

I spent the week around New Year's in NYC with friends. I've been there many times, but somehow, I had not yet been to Ellis Island. So, I drug two of them, somewhat unwillingly (unexcited, at the very least) and OFF WE WENT! :D


First off, can I say. DANG. It was frigid cold out, and the line for tickets was HOURS long. We stood out there freezing for quite a while before I was like... wait... I have the internet on my phone.....

So, I got on my phone and I bought 3 tickets. And then I walked straight to the front of the line (several minute walk you guys!!!) and grabbed my tickets from the online order windows, where there was only one person in front of me. They were talking to the person behind the window "why don't these people just buy them on the phone if they didn't order them in advance?" and I was like "that's what I just did!" and we all thought I was very smart, the end.

Anyway, so after that we just waltzed into the line. The line for the airport-like security, that is. I wasn't expecting that! And then came the impossibly cold ferry ride. Naturally my friends wanted to ride the open top level for the views, so I was sitting up there with them, wondering if the immigration hospital was still open for frostbite & pneumonia patients..

Icicle photo op on the ferry

Baggage Room

Me in the Registry Room

Research Room

The museum was quite good. We got there near the end of the day & around half the place was closed due to damage for Hurricane Sandy last year, so I'll definitely have more to see next time I go, which is exciting.

You can see the rest of my Ellis Island Photos HERE. I tried to take lots & make them as readable as possible so you can take a vicarious pilgrimage yourselves. :)