Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Sunday’s Obituary – Margaret Davis-Updegraff

Margaret H. Davis was born 19 January 1861 in Johnstown,1 Pennsylvania to David H Davis and Catherine Annie Harris, both immigrants from Wales. She was the 5th child of 13 born to David and Catherine.

Margaret Davis married Henry Herman Updegraff in 1881.  Her siblings considered her “marrying well.”  The young couple moved to New Castle between 1885 and 18892 (just before the horrendous Johnstown Flood of 1889).  Margaret and Henry raised four children: Clarence David, Royer Howard, John William, and Alma Catherine.  Margaret’s younger sister, Rachel Davis also lived with Margaret and Henry until she was married to William G. Fischer in 1901.

Margaret hosted many social events for her children, especially her daughter Alma.3  They had a cottage at Brady’s Lake in Ohio and in one instance in 1904, Margaret and her sister Rachel Fischer took the two oldest children (Clarence and Royer) and their girlfriends (to whom they were later engaged) on a vacation there.  The family appeared in the “Society Section” of the New Castle News over 20 times between the year 1900 and 1920.

27 September 1945 - Youngstown Vindicator

Margaret was certainly the matriarch of the Davis and Updegraff family.  Not only did she host many family and social gatherings but she also cared for many.  In addition to caring for her younger sister Rachel, she also took in her niece, after her sister-in-law (widow of Margaret’s brother Luther John Davis) passed away unexpectedly.  When her niece, Irene married, the couple continued to live with the Updegraffs until they could afford a place of their own.

In 1923, Margaret’s husband, Henry Herman Updegraff passed away.  She moved to Youngstown, Ohio to live with her son John William and became the primary caregiver for her two grandsons Robert Lee (my grandfather) and John Leroy.  Margaret was a very important person in my grandfather’s life and according to my mother “she could do no wrong in his eyes.”

Margaret passed away on 26 September 1945 of heart failure.  She is buried with her husbad in Graceland Cemetery in New Castle, Pennsylvania.

1 The obituaries posted in the Youngstown Vindicator and New Castle News have conflicting birth dates: 23 January 1861 and 19 January 1861, respectively. Margaret’s death certificate lists the birth date as 19 January 1861.
2 Royer Howard was born in 1885 in Johnstown and the next child, John William, was born March 1889 in New Castle, indicating the family moved sometime between 1885 and March 1889.
3 To read more about the events and gatherings Margaret hosted with her daughter Alma, click here.

Click here for a list of sources used.

1790-1840 Census – More Than You Think!

I had the pleasure of attending a class yesterday at the National Archives in Washington, DC titled: Beyond the Basics: Census, 1790–1840.  The Archives offers various genealogy classes each week and I thought this would be a great topic.  I hadn’t given the 1790-1840 Censuses much attention before now.

Well, I learned a lot!

1840 Census School Data
At the end (or sometimes beginning) of each township census, there is a page that lists data on schools in the area.  Data includes how many universities or colleges, number of students, academies and grammar schools, number of scholars, primary and common schools, number of scholars at public charge, and number of white persons over 20 years of age to each family who cannot read and write.  Was there someone in the family household that was attending school?  Compare them with the total students in that township.  Did your ancestors grow up in a town with many schools, but did not attend themselves, or vise versa?

1820 Census Age Overlap
The 1820 Census lists males that are ages 16-18 and also 16-25.  If you have 2 males ages 16-18 and 4 males 16-25, then you probably have 2 males ages 19-25.  The government wanted a category that listed the total number of males of “military age.”  I had completely overlooked this before.

Helpful Tip  – List the names associated with each age group
For example, the 1820 Census has Fergus Hutchinson (4th great grandfather) listed as the head of the household in Donegal Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania.  He was 21 years old, not yet married, but many people living in the house.  I didn’t take the time to investigate this until yesterday. An easy way to sort through these earlier records is write out the names of each number.  I realized that both parents had passed away already, so Fergus being the oldest was the head of the household with his 8 younger siblings.

Males < 10 years old  (1) = William Moorhead
Males 16-18 years old (2) = George and John
Males 16-25 years old (4) = Fergus (head of the household) and an unknown male – remember the overlap with the 16-18 year category.
Females < 10 years old (2) = Matilda and Ann
Females 10-15 years old (2) = Maria and Euphemia
Females 16-25 years old (1) = Sarah Jane
Number of Persons Engaged in Agriculture (6)

After mapping it out, I’m pretty confident that this is “my” Fergus Hutchinson.  Everyone is accounted for except that unknown male, and no one is missing.  I actually didn’t know Euphemia’s birthday, but through process of elimination, I now know it’s between 1810 and 1815.

Writing out the names for each is very helpful, especially if you have a common first and last name that shows up multiple times in one county.

Records of the 1820 Census of Manufacturers
The 1820 Census asks how many people in the household engaged in either agriculture, commerce, or manufacturing.  A separate census was taken if someone was engaged in manufacturing.  The information gathered was the name of the manufacturer, the type of manufacturing, location of manufacturer, and information on the kind of raw materials, persons employed, machinery, expenditures, and production.

The idea of collecting data from manufacturers had actually started with the 1810 census, but because enumerators were not given any guidelines, the amount of information and quality was very inconsistent.

The Records of the 1820 Census of Manufacturing cannot be found on or  As far as I know, you must go to the National Archives in DC or order the microfilm.  Do you have any ancestors that were manufacturers?  I’m interested to see what the records actually look like!  

Use HeritageQuest to Find Census Records
“If you rely on one source, you will not find everything you need” said the NARA instructor.  According to her, outsourced their earlier indexing to people that did not speak English very well.  Those that indexed at HeritageQuest were genealogists and English speakers.  I have no proof of this and can’t find any data online, but through her many years of experience, she has found less transcription errors on HeritageQuest.  We should use both and form our own opinion.  I see pros and cons to both: HeritageQuest groups your search results in a less cluttered manner while accounts for name misspellings giving you a larger search results range.  I’ll definitely start using them simultaneously.  Examples of HeritageQuest:

Keywords: Updegraff, 1790 Census, Pennsylvania
Results: There were 11 households with the name Updegraff in Pennsylvania in 1790, all in York County (There are probably more if you take into account spelling variations- you can use to cross reference).

These are the 11 Updegraff households (Harman is my 5th great grandfather):

Foreigners Not Naturalized
The 1820 and 1830 Censuses reported the number of people in the household that were not naturalized.  This may give some direction in looking for naturalization records.  In 1802, the residency requirement for naturalization was changed from 14 to 5 years.  The 14 year rule was part of John Adam’s Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798.  An alien was required to file a declaration of intent (usually the first 3 years of residency) and then may petition the court for admission to citizenship (2-7 years after declaration) a total of 5 years after being a resident.  If your ancestor was an alien in 1820, you may want to search for naturalization records for 1821-1826.   These documents could be filed at any court office – local, state, or federal, wherever it was convenient.  Unfortunately, many of these courts did not hold on to the records, but  it’s worth making a couple calls to these various locations to check if they have them still.

Sources for Census Records

I will definitely be attending more classes at the National Archives!  It’s just amazing how many resources are out there.

1940 Census Action Plan

Census records are the starting point for nearly all genealogical research projects.  Privacy restrictions limit public access of census records for 72 years, so on April 2, 2012 the 1940 census will become available.   Thanks to, the records will be available immediately online for free.

For those of you who often refer to the 1850-1930 census, you’ll be very pleased with the 1940 census and it’s 50 questions. For a list of the questions, go here.  The number of hours worked and the 1935 residence questions will be especially interesting.

Because the records will not be indexed by name, you will have to search by address, enumeration district, or geographic location.  Enumeration districts (ED) are geographical subdivisions that are defined strictly for the purpose of census taking.  EDs include two numbers, the first identifies the county and the second number designates the district.   If you don’t have the exact address of your relatives, it may be tricky to find them in the 1940 census.

It’s a good idea to begin planning now and create an action plan so that no time is wasted on April 2nd.  I recommend starting at the “How to Access the 1940 Census in One Step” quiz.  Here are some examples from my action plan:

  • Loretta Hutchinson.  Loretta is my 2nd great grandmother  and I can’t wait to see what info was given on her census record, especially who was living in the same household.  Loretta can be found in the 1930 census living at 604 Lawrence Avenue, Ellwood City, Lawrence County, Pennsylvania – ED 37-5.  I’m assuming she stayed put for 10 years and was living in the same location in 1940.
    1. Used the 1930 to 1940 Census ED Conversion Tool which resulted in EDs 37-4 and 37-5.
    2. Just to double check, I searched the specific Enumeration District Map via the National Archives’ Archival Research Catalog (ARC) by entering “1940 Census Maps Lawrence Pennsylvania” into the search field.  The search resulted in 24 maps of different cities in Lawrence County.  I clicked on “Ellwood City” and then the tab “Digital Copies.” By pulling up the address in Google Maps and referencing nearby streets with the Enumeration District Map, I found Loretta’s address to be on the border of ED 37-4 and 37-5.  You may also get to the ED maps by going 1940 Enumeration District Maps in One Step page.
  • Elizabeth and Katherine Murphy.  This is my great grandmother and grandmother.  I’m nearly 100% certain that they were not living at the 1930 address.  But I do know that they were living in Youngstown, Ohio.  There are way too many districts in Youngstown (145 to be exact) so just browsing is not very feasible.  Here are two options that should lead me to a specific street or neighborhood:
    1. Call the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County (most local libraries have archives of city directories) and check if they have a city directory around the time of 1940.  I may be visiting Youngstown this winter, so I’ll definitely take advantage of the resources at the library.
    2. If I’m unable to visit the Youngstown Library, the Library of Congress in Washington, DC has a LARGE collection of city directories and phone books. After a quick search in the Table of Contents, I see that  the Library of Congress holds the city directories for Youngstown, Ohio of the years 1880-1944.
  • Alexander Campbell Hutchinson.  “Cam” is mostly a mystery to me.  He was divorced to my 2nd great grandmother, but his obituary says he left a wife at “home on Center Avenue” and I know he resided in Butler County, Pennsylvania his entire life.  I’m really curious to see if he was in fact remarried in the 1940 census.
    1. I used the Finding ED Definitions for 1940 in One Step by selecting “Pennsylvania”, “Butler County” and the keyword “Center” results in EDs 10-6, 10-7, 10-8, 10-9, and 10-10.
    2. For me, five EDs are too many to browse through, so I will probably call the Butler County Library and inquire about their city directories.  This particular library has a ton of genealogical resources so I feel pretty positive about finding a more specific address.
  • John William Updegraff.  “Jay” is my great grandfather and another family member that I can’t wait to learn more about.  Thanks to the FamilySearch WW2 Draft Records, I was able to find his 1942 address as 1220 Oak Hill Avenue, Youngstown, Mahoning County, Ohio.
    1. Entered the street into the Large Cities tool, added a cross street (Garfield) and got EDs 96-107 and 96-108.
    2. To double check, I used the National Archives’ Archival Research Catalog (ARC) by entering “1940 Census Maps Mahoning Ohio”, clicking on “Youngstown”, then the tab “Digital Copies” to get a map of the Youngstown Enumeration Districts. A  Google Map of 1220 Oak Hill Avenue was very helpful in finding a reference location, as the Youngstown map is quite large.  Jay’s address was located near the border of 96-107 and 96-108.  Again, you may use the 1940 Enumeration District Maps in One Step page (it’s actually easier to use than the NARA site, but was discovered afterwards).

What are your strategies for the 1940 Census?

Special thank you to Joel Weintraub, PhD for all the guidance! 

Another Reason Why I Love Genealogy

I’ve recently been in contact with a cousin of my father’s, who is also interested in genealogy and still lives in my dad’s hometown. He is older than my dad and has more first-hand accounts of my Oma’s generation.

His recent email included an interesting little story – my Oma’s father (my great-grandfather) Valentin Stossier had 12 unmarried children.  TWELVE.  His wife, being a good-natured and social woman, sent the single mothers care packages of food and clothing each month.  According to my father, adultery in rural Austria was somewhat common back then.  But, TWELVE unmarried children is a little over-the-top.

My Oma had TWELVE half-siblings. To think of all the things I would have never known, had I not become interested in genealogy…

Valentin Stossier

The Ancestors’ Geneameme

Just for fun, prompted from the blog Geniaus.  Here’s “The Ancestors’ Geneameme”

Things you have already done or found: bold face type
Things you would like to do or find: italicize (color optional)
Things you haven’t done or found and don’t care to: plain type

Extra comments and details are in brackets.

Which of these apply to you?

  1. Can name my 16 great-great-grandparents (can only name my mother’s 8 great grandparents & have a couple surnames from my father’s side)
  2. Can name over 50 direct ancestors
  3. Have photographs or portraits of my 8 great-grandparents (I have photos of 5: Elizabeth Murphy, Charles Robert Duncan, Cametta Marie Hutchinson, John William Updegraff, and Valentin Stossier.  Missing: Maria Pröll, Juliana Rauscher, and Kilian Pirolt.
  4. Have an ancestor who was married more than three times (I don’t think so…)
  5. Have an ancestor who was a bigamist (I hope not!)
  6. Met all four of my grandparents (Unfortunately no, Grandma Kate: Katherine Murphy-Updegraff and Opa: Johann Pirolt passed before I was born)
  7. Met one or more of my great-grandparents (Yes!  My dear Nana- Elizabeth Murphy)
  8. Named a child after an ancestor (No children yet, but I intend on choosing all family names.  That’s very important to me)
  9. Bear an ancestor’s given name/s (Yes!  I’m named after Grandma Kate)
  10. Have an ancestor from Great Britain or Ireland (lots!)
  11. Have an ancestor from Asia
  12. Have an ancestor from Continental Europe (lots!)
  13. Have an ancestor from Africa
  14. Have an ancestor who was an agricultural labourer (lots!)
  15. Have an ancestor who had large land holdings (The Hutchison family owned and farmed large amounts of land in Indiana, Pennsylvania and Butler, Pennsylvania in the early 1800’s)
  16. Have an ancestor who was a holy man – minister, priest, rabbi
  17. Have an ancestor who was a midwife (I don’t think so, but I wouldn’t be surprised)
  18. Have an ancestor who was an author
  19. Have an ancestor with the surname Smith, Murphy or Jones
  20. Have an ancestor with the surname Wong, Kim, Suzuki or Ng
  21. Have an ancestor with a surname beginning with X
  22. Have an ancestor with a forename beginnining with Z (Supposedly my 8th great grandmother is Zerviah Stanley, born in England and died in Portsmouth, New Hampshire)
  23. Have an ancestor born on 25th December
  24. Have an ancestor born on New Year’s Day
  25. Have blue blood in your family lines (I doubt it and don’t really care)
  26. Have a parent who was born in a country different from my country of birth (My Dad was born in Austria)
  27. Have a grandparent who was born in a country different from my country of birth (Both of my paternal grandparents were born in Austria)
  28. Can trace a direct family line back to the eighteenth century (The Hutchison line is my most sourced line going back to the American Revolution)
  29. Can trace a direct family line back to the seventeenth century or earlier (I do, but not much of it is sourced so I don’t think it counts just yet)
  30. Have seen copies of the signatures of some of my great-grandparents (yes, thanks to draft records)
  31. Have ancestors who signed their marriage certificate with an X
  32. Have a grandparent or earlier ancestor who went to university
  33. Have an ancestor who was convicted of a criminal offense
  34. Have an ancestor who was a victim of crime (???)
  35. Have shared an ancestor’s story online or in a magazine (
  36. Have published a family history online or in print 
  37. Have visited an ancestor’s home from the 19th or earlier centuries (Yes, in 1850 the Pirolt family moved into a home that had been built around 1500.  It remained in the Pirolt family until 2002.  It’s since been declared an historical site by the Austrian government)  
  38. Still have an ancestor’s home from the 19th or earlier centuries in the family (Unfortunately not, see #37)
  39. Have a family bible from the 19th Century (no, but that would certainly be great!)
  40. Have a pre-19th century family bible

Hutchinson Mystery Men


William Hutchison – 3rd Great Grandfather (for family reference, this is Robert Lee Updegraff’s great grandfather)

  • Missing 1900 census
  • Unknown death date (estimate 
  • Unknown birth date (estimate 1821-1825)
  • No actual sources for connection to parents (DNA has confirmed though)

Williams parents were Forgus Hutchison (1798-1860) and Jane Campbell (1800-1872).

William appears in the Census from 1850-1880 and is living with his wife and children.  His birth years range from 1815-1825.  There are multiple un-sourced trees that list a 1904 death date and the nickname “Fox Bill” or “William Fox,” but no one has any idea where it came from.

I couldn’t find William’s will at the Butler County office, but I did find his father’s *very long* one with lists of items for various people, but never mentioning specifically his son William.  The 1900 Census would certainly provide more information, but I haven’t been able to find it.

William Hutchison married Ann Marie Jamison and had the following known children:

  • Forgus M Hutchison 1846-1912, m. Eliza Fleming
  • Mary Elvira Hutchison 1848-1915, m. John Elliott Snowden
  • Thompson Jamison Hutchison 1851-1907, m. Alice Brady
  • Margaret A Hutchison 1853-1920, m. — Thompson
  • Amanda Jane Hutchison 1857-1916, m. Gilbert Ewing
  • Alexander Campbell Hutchinson 1858-1940 (2nd great grandfather), m. Loretta Zillifro
  • Euphemia E Hutchison 1860-1906, m. Edward M Dieter
  • Rosetta Hutchison 1864-1910, m. Lincoln Saylor
  • William Hutchison 1869-bef 1880


Alexander Campbell Hutchinson – 2nd Great Grandfather (for family reference, this is Robert Lee Updegraff’s grandfather)

Update February 2017: Alexander Campbell is less of a mystery thanks to finding his death certificate, obituary, and release of the 1940 census.  Updated blog post: Alexander Campbell Hutchison.


*Originally published October 2011, updated February 2017


Hidden Habitats

Cemeteries are incredible historical resources.  They reveal information about settlement patterns, historic events, lifestyles as well as specific details on your ancestors.    I love visiting cemeteries.  The peaceful atmosphere provides the perfect setting for reflection and contemplation.

Cemeteries are also “hidden habitats” with all types of plants and animals.  You never know what you might find!

Taking a photo for findagrave, this little bird just flew up onto the memorial.

Your typical groundhog.

Sleeping in a bed of clovers, the mother deer often leaves the baby during the day so as not to attract predators.

Such a beautiful creature! Not what you expect to see in the middle of DC!