Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Finding Harry Figg

The death information for Harry Figg was difficult to find. All of the records found for Harry were in Iowa. Harry was not found in the 1910 United States Census, and no death records for him could be found in Iowa. Harry was last found in the Iowa newspapers in 1903. With all the known information, Harry died between 1903 and 1910. One day while I was searching on Google, I came across a book about the Old Settlers of Johnson County, Iowa. In one of these books, the death of Harry Figg was mentioned as September 1907. With this being the first find about his death, it was assumed that his death was in Iowa.

One thing I have found in family history is that assumptions are very bad. When assumptions are made, we take it almost as facts - which they are not! This lesson was learned once again when I was looking for the actual tombstone of Jesse Figg. From his death certificate it was known that his burial would be found in the Angelus-Rosedale Cemetery in Los Angeles. On www.findagrave.com, the Angelus-Rosedale Cemetery was searched for and then the surname Figg was also searched for. Jesse was found, but two other Figg's were also found in this cemetery. The two individuals found were Guy Figg and Harry Figg. These are the same names of  Jesse's two older brothers. After looking at the information given about their birth and death dates, it matched the information known about Jesse's brothers.

My assumption was wrong - Harry Figg did not die in Iowa, like the information first looked like, but instead he moved to California. After finding the tombstone for Harry, I wanted to find when he would have arrived in California. He was found in the U.S. City Directories in California in 1904. Between the last newspaper in Iowa and his death in 1907 he had moved across the country and started a whole new life. Harry continued to live a life, that was unknown to me between the two known dates of his life. I would not have ever known about that life if I had not found cemetery records to prove me wrong.

Everything found worked together perfectly, making me realize how harmful assumptions can be while doing research for individuals. My one word to the wise - when you make an hypothetical conclusion about the individuals you are researching make sure they are not the facts you live by. Continue to search for the documents that can back up the story you are creating in your head.

Genealogy Community

This last weekend I was again reminded how amazing the genealogy community is. I was searching for information about Benjamin M and Margaret Hodges Harrison. They were the parents of James Harrison - James was the first husband of Grace Carroll Figg. 
An obituary for Margaret Harrison was found in a Newspaper in 1900, it stated; “The funeral will take place from the Brick Chapel Church in Scott township tomorrow afternoon at 2:30 o’clock, the internment being in the cemetery close by.”[1]
A search ensued on www.findagrave.com, searching for cemeteries in Scott Township, Johnson, Iowa. One was found called Brick Chapel Cemetery - See: North Scott Cemetery. This cemetery must be the one mentioned in the obituary because the name is the same as the one mentioned above. Searching for Margaret Harrison came up empty, but there were several Harrison's found. One was BM Harrison (1853-1930). The years match up with Benjamin M Harrison. A search then happened for Hodges in the same cemetery. There was a James H. and Margaret C Hodges who were the parent of Margaret Hodges Harrison.
I emailed the lady who had taken the photo of BM Harrison's gravestone, to ask permission to upload this picture to my ancestry tree. She consented and asked me questions about Margaret Harrison, (I had added her to this cemetery). I gave her the info I knew and asked about other cemeteries. She kindly explained this cemetery should be the one Margaret was buried in, and said she would go back in the spring to once again check for her tombstone. 
While this email exchange was happening a man emailed me, explaining he couldn't help with a photo right at this moment, but he had something interesting to share. Hr had pages from a family bible which included the births, marriages, and deaths of members of the Hodges family. He very graciously scanned them and emailed them to me. 
Back at the cemetery, the first lady, went to check things out - long before spring. She found Benjamin's stone was one stone away from the Hodges. In between then was a Margaret. She dug around this plot and found that it said "Margaret wife of BM Harrison" What an amazing find! 
A big thanks goes out to Tim Parrott and Kathi Haymond for their help with my family history research. Everyone should get more involved in helping others with their research. It makes for amazing experiences for genealogy researchers! 
Happy Searching!
[1]  Good Woman Called Home, Daily Iowa State Press, Iowa City, Johnson, Iowa, Wednesday, 3 October 1900, page 4, column 5; www.newspaperarchive.com.


The marriage record between Jesse Figg and Imogene Kenoyer has never been found. Many people have searched on and off for this record, without a lot of knowledge as where to search for the certificate. Here are reasons as to why there was a lot of confusion:
  1. Jesse died in Los Angeles, California, and on the death certificate, his brother Guy, listed him as single
  2. A newspaper was found in Iowa stating that Jesse Figg left a young widow behind
  3. 1910 United States Census record with Jesse and Imogene Figg together living in Washington
  4. Imogene and Jesse were both living in Los Angeles, California before their marriage in 1909
Conflicting information left people to believe there was a marriage, but still no information leading where to look for a marriage certificate.

This last weekend, I was searching on Google, looking for any information about the Figg family connected to the Nazarene Church. I found a Nazarene Newspaper called "The Nazarene Messenger" for 18 November 1909; it had an article about Jesse Figg and Imogene Kenoyer's marriage in Pasco, Washington.

After finding this article, I went to the Washington State Digital Archives and searched for Jesse Figg. In the index it showed that this couple can married in Franklin County, but there was no image to look at. It pointed me to the Franklin County Auditor's website for more information. When I searched this website, it stated that there might be some confidential information on the certificate so you had to go to Franklin County for the certificate.

I was sitting in Sacrament Meeting listening to the announcements, when I had the thought to look at www.familysearch.org to see what documents they had for Franklin County, Washington. I honestly did not want to wait the three hours for church to end, but holding my breath I waited.

The moment I walked in the door, I ran to my computer to see what familysearch had to offer. There were Franklin County Marriage Records that you could browse through. The years were correct so I started looking for the correct Marriage Certificate. To my great excitement, I found the marriage certificate I had wanted to find for many years. I did a small happy dance before sending the information out to everyone I could think who would be interested in this find.

As I was thinking about the find of this marriage certificate, I learned two very important lessons.
  1. There are so many places to search for information; Google, state archives, familysearch, ancestry, genealogical societies and many other places. All of these places can work together to find out information about your family members.
  2. If you do not find information when you first search, come back at a later date and search again. So many things are being scanned and put on the web.
Never give up your search, do whatever needs to be done to figure out your problems. If you get to a point that you need to leave your problem for a time and work on something else - great - come back and search again for more clues. Fresh eyes and new ideas might just be what you need!

Good luck researching

Monday, April 30, 2012

Census Records

Census records are very important to genealogical research. For many genealogists, the census records are the starting point to their research. the migration of a family can be traced in order to know where in the world the families records can be found. The genealogy world has been waiting for the 1940 United States Census for many years, and it has almost been one month since this census was released.

The 1940 United States Census gives more historical information than many of the previous censuses. The researcher can find information about:
      1. Where individuals lived on 1 April 1935.
      2. Education level of each individual
      3. Whether an individual was working during the week of March 24-30
      4. Was an individual seeking work?
      5. The number of hours an individual worked during the week of March 24-30, 1940
      6. the duration of unemployment of an individual up to March 30, 1940 in weeks
      7. number of weeks an  individual worked in 1939
      8. income of an individual during 1939

With all the information I could learn about my ancestors I was extremely excited for this census to come out. School projects kept me from searching this census at 12:01, Tuesday, 2 April 2012 but after those projects were completed I made a mad dash to the world of 1940 US Census bliss.

I started my searching with at an very excited pace, zooming through pages looking for my ancestors. The eagerness I started out with did not last, in fact within minutes I was slightly frustrated and ready to give up. Many of the individuals I was searching for, were not living in the same district they had lived in during the 1930 census. Two options existed for me, search through the whole city I thought they lived in, or wait until the index was completed. For many of them, I decided to wait, (I am one of the spoiled researchers, who has never researched censuses on microfilm, scrolling page after page hoping to find my ancestors name on it) but I also wanted the satisfaction of finding one individual of interest. I kept scrolling through the pages of names looking for one name in particular, Helen Pound (daughter of Grace Figg).

Time, patience, and a lot of scrolling, finally brought the desired results I wanted. Harold E and Helen Pound and her two children: Frances Jean and Milton Chase. The Pound family were living in Cedar Rapids, Linn, Iowa in District 57-48. They were located on Sheet 17A. One really important thing I learned about this family, was that Frances did not marry before 1940, which means her marriage to a man with the surname of "Smith" happened after 1940. I now have a better idea of when to search for their marriage. All the information talked about above was found, and it was found that the Pound's came out of the depression intact. Harold was a warehouse manager for a transfer company, which he was able to keep throughout the whole depression. They might have struggled financially a little, but they made it through the depression better than a lot of people.

With all the information that can be found, I hope you have as much fun searching for, and gleaning information from the records in this census. Happy searching!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Online Sources

The internet has become a very valuable entity for family history research. At times we get sucked into just working with the major genealogical sites available such as ancestry, familysearch, rootsweb, etc. There however, is more genealogical information that can be found online, outside of those large genealogical companies. One website I recently found was the University of Iowa Special Collections and digital Library. I knew that John (William Figg's brother) had children who attended this University between 1910 and 1940. The search started, trying to find historic information about this University, but records about them, and other Figg's were found instead.

 First, I found a University of Iowa yearbook collection. The collection spanned the years 1892-1992 (except for a brief interruption during the 1970s). John's children, John Walter, Irene, and Joseph had pictures in the yearbooks. Walter, and Joseph were both found graduating in Dentistry. There was a second collection of Dentistry photo's. Both Walter and Joseph were found in these pictures when they graduated. Irene's name was found changing to Melekian, and a picture of her husband was found. All of the pictures in the year book were associated with the groups they were involved in during their college careers. It was so much fun to see pictures, and see the organizations each individual was involved in.

Second, I found a collection of Hixson Plat maps. These maps were published by the W.W. Hixon & Company in 1930. I decided to look and see if the Figg family could be found on the maps. I have not searched for William or his brother John. I did however, look for another brother named Albert in Fruitland, Muscatine, Iowa. Albert was found in section 28 in Township 76N R2W.

As you are doing research, remember there are other places to gain information beside birth, marriage, and death records. The yearbooks found gave me pictures of my ancestors which I enjoyed seeing. Information was learned about the directions each of their lives were taking. Don't forget to get to know the ancestor you are researching - they were people who you stem from. They had interesting lives, and hopefully we feel the need to know them and their lives, and not just their dates.

Iowa Digital Library - The University of Iowa (http://digital.lib.uiowa.edu/)
University of Iowa - Special Collections and University Archives (http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/spec-coll/)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Guy Figg

Guy Figg (1878-1911)
                Son of William Figg and NettieTyler

First Known Dates:
                Birth: May 1878
                Marriage: Jessie Jeffries 20 Jun 1906, Cedar Rapids, Linn, Iowa
                Death: aft. 1910 California
1.                                     1. Leslie Figg


1880 US Census:


This census was taken in Lucas, Johnson, Iowa on the 11th day of June 1880. People in this census are:
                        William Figg, 28, Farmer, Indiana
                        Nettie, 23, Iowa
                        Harry, 4, Iowa
                        Guy, 2, Iowa
                        Grace, 1, Iowa
                        William Teeters, 18, farmhand, Virginia

1885 Iowa State Census:


This census has the following people:
                        William Figg, 33, farmer, Indiana
                        Nettie Figg, 25, Keeping House, Iowa
                        Harry Figg, 10, Iowa
                        Guy Figg, 8, Iowa
                        Grace Figg, 6, Iowa
                        Willie Figg, 4, Iowa

1895 Iowa State Census:

                        Cay Figg, 17, Birthplace: Indiana Co., Ia, 
                        Residence: Pleaurunt Valley, Johnson, Iowa
            This is the correct person because of the residence and the age.

1900 US Census:


This census was taken in Pleasant Valley, Johnson, Iowa on the 11th day of June 1900. People in this census are:
                        Guy Figg, May 1877, 23, Iowa, Farmer
** If Harry was born in Oct 1876 Guy could not be born in May 1877. He could however be born in May 1878. It all depends on when Harry was born.
*** Guy is living in the home of Walter and Mary A Holmes. I don’t know who this is but I also know that William Figg married a Holmes after Nettie died.
** Guy Figg is living next door to John and Emma Figg, they are that uncle and aunt of Guy. (William’s brother)


The marriage was 20 Jun 1906 in Cedar Rapids, Linn, Iowa. We find the parents of Jessie Jeffries and places to search for information for his spouse.

1910 US Census:

This census was taken in Los Angeles, Los Angeles, Pasedena, California on the 25th day of April 1910. People in this census are:
                        Guy W. Figg, 32, Married 4 years, born Iowa, Machinist in body shop
                        Jessie, 25, married 4 years, born Iowa, One child born and living
                        Leslie (Male), 2, born California


                        Guy W Figg
                        Born – May 20, 1877
                        Death – December 10, 1911
Burial – Angelus Rosedale Cemetery in Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, Plot: Section 6

1.      TLS "Angelus Rosedale Cemetery." Find a Grave. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin   /fg.cgi?page=cr&CRid=8309&CScn=Angelus Rosedale Cemetery&CScntry=4&CSst=6& (accessed October 11, 2011).

Friday, September 23, 2011

Finding Ancestors in Cemeteries

Cemeteries are fun places for genealogists to spend time in. Many people however, do not have the money to travel all over the United States following their ancestors through all the cemeteries all of their families are buried in. I would like to send out a big thank you to the individuals who use their time in cemeteries photographing tombstones and putting them on the web for our use. Two websites that I have used are www.findagrave.com and http://iowagravestones.org. Even though at this time I cannot travel to Iowa to find my ancestors in their respective cemeteries, I have still been able to see their tombstones. The experience and feelings are a little different, but we can continue to find the same information without spending the money for travel. This does open up an avenue of family history research, which has been closed to many family historians who could not travel.

One downside of using the online tombstone websites is not being able to see who is located around your ancestors. Many times, family members will be located in the same block and you can find people who you might not have known about. On the tombstones we can find dates, which gives us clues as to where to find their records. One way to minimize the issue of not seeing the surrounding stones is to find cemetery maps. Sometimes they will be located on the cemeteries websites if they exist, other times they can be on city websites, or even library websites. We need to take advantage of the websites that are put up to help community members – research opportunities can be taken if we spend the time to look for the help they provide. Be willing to put a picture together of what the cemetery looks like. It will take some time and work, but all good things come from working hard.

Cemeteries are fun to spend time in, but no matter how you find the gravestones, take advantage of the clues they provide for your research.