Saturday, March 29, 2014

Old Tool Made New in the Genealogical Toolbox

This past month's genealogy research has almost entirely been commandeered by new discoveries within the Heddendorf and Osterndorf family trees.  With the thanks to the last post on the William Henry Heddendorfs, which brought connections to unknown fourth and third cousins, I was redirected to a website I had not used in while and broke down another Brick Wall!  

That website:; it may appear simplistic in it's layout but the power is undeniable.  The site provides a straight forward search of over 26 MILLION old New York newspapers, for FREE, and you can see scanned images of the full page as well as zoom in for details.  The best method for searching a person is starting with exact phrase with last name, first name or initial.  For example, "Heddendorf, W" or "Heddendorf, William," though you actually do not need to worry about case sensitivity, thus, "heddendorf, W" will also work.  These searches will not highlight where on the page the match was made, sadly, but the search results will list a year for each associated "find" and the link turns purple after viewing, which means you do not have to remember exactly every result that you examined.  I do recommend using the website in anything but Internet Explorer since IE does not zoom well and takes a while to load.

Here is a screen shot of an exact search for "Heddendorf, W D" with the second result showing.

What we are looking for is in the bottom of the second column here, under the Obituary and In Memorium sections.

Zooming in even further, we can now clearly read Walter D. Heddendorf's obituary, who was also known as George Walter Heddendorf in the census records.

And just look at all the information we get out of this obituary:

  • Location and date of death;
  • Spouse's maiden name;
  • Approximate year of birth from age-at-death;
  • Funeral location and date;
  • Social groups of which he was a member.

That knocked out two brick walls with this one record: George's date of death and his wife's maiden name in the Heddendorf family tree!  All this information I can now add AND cite in my genealogy family tree software (i.e. Ancestry, FamilyTree, etc).  When adding the citation, remember to cite the newspaper the information comes from (eg. newspaper title, volume/issue, page, column/section) with the repository being  If the text is not too lengthy, it is also worthwhile to transcribe the text with the digital record/citation.

Oh, and if the paper you are viewing appears fuzzy even after you zoom in, do not worry, it is probably not you.  There are a couple of pages in my own search that were less than clear, making letters indistinguishable and impossible to read names.  Hopefully there are more good views than poor ones for your query.

So hop to it!  What will you find in your search?

Friday, March 7, 2014


I cannot believe it has been over a month since the last post.  I don't know if any body else has suffered the recent flu or if they have a fridge that wants them to lose weight without all the hard work, but I sure have!  Ugh, there were two days (a night and a morning) where it felt like I lost 10 lbs just by going to the bathroom.  (Sadly that did not actually happen.  Back to the Brazilian Butt Lift videos!)

Well, I can tell you that whilst I may not have made any breakthroughs on the family tree, I have watched a number of Legacy FamilyTree Webinars and gained a few pointers and resources I had not considered.

Plus, I just became addicted to the television series Copper, set in New York City's infamous Five Points during the later half of the Civil War.  Great sets (filmed in Ontario, Canada), costumes and of course acting.  Just waiting now for season 2 to arrive in the mail to find out what happened to the characters!  The gritty realism of the show made me reexamine all of my records on both sides of the tree to see if any of the family lived in that area.  The result was a resounding "NO".  The only possibility would be through John Aloysius McCue but without knowing more of his parents, I cannot get passed the 20th century.

Speaking of Five Points, that oh so notorious, immigrant area of lower Manhattan, one of the webinars covered GoogleEarth and their ability to add historic map layers, similar to the methods used by ArcGIS, that I might just reinstall GoogleEarth.

....Since this is a slow process, if anyone has a particular person they are looking for and do not see them in the tabs or one of the posts, please feel free to ask me in the comments or via email.

Happy Hunting!