Friday, November 10, 2006

"It's not all on the Internet" Revisited

I've spent most of the day at the FHC and at home researching some surnames for a friend of mine. The families include (all found in the census using

* Edward and Elizabeth (--?--) Simes - in Mower County MN in 1900, and Murray County MN in 1910

* Fred and Matilda (--?--) Baldwin - in Fillmore County MN in 1900, and Howard County IA in 1910

* --?-- and Lucretia (--?--) Baldwin - in Fillmore County MN in 1870 and Howard County IA in 1880.

I thought to myself "surely there will be some data online for at least one of these families." Well, my thought was erroneous. There is precious little data on these "salt of the earth" people!

I checked Google, the Rootsweb WorldConnect database, the LDS AF/PRF/IGI databases, the USGenWeb Archives, the USGenWeb sites for the counties, the Genforum and Ancestry message boards (surname and county boards), the Ancestry "One World Tree" database, and the Family Finder search at There was one message board post asking for info on the Baldwin family in Howard County IA.

I didn't search the books on Heritage Quest or Ancestry, nor the other Ancestry databases. There may be some data on these families in those resources.

This is a pretty good example of the maxim that "It's not all on the Internet." Most of us understand this, and are happy to find something on the Internet for the families we are researching.

So, where are the records for these people? They are in the land and probate records in the courthouses, and in family files in the local or regional historical and genealogical societies.

When the LDS church gets their microfilms indexed and linked, then we will be able to find the records on the Internet. Until then we need to do research the old fashioned way - by going there, or by obtaining microfilm from the FHL, or by hiring a local researcher.

At least I was able to extend my friend's known ancestry another generation or two on surnames that he still doesn't know about. I hope that he will be surprised when I give him a genealogy report on Sunday.


  1. Checking the Minnesota Historical Society's Death Certificates Index, I found the following:

    Date of Birth: na
    Place of Birth: na
    Mother Maiden Name: na
    certid# 1942-MN-000844
    Date of Death: 07/19/1942
    County of Death: BIG STONE

    Date of Birth: na
    Place of Birth: na
    Mother Maiden Name: na
    certid# 1949-MN-000905
    Date of Death: 10/14/1949
    County of Death: BIG STONE

    My experience is that the "na" in older records doesn't necessarily mean the information is not available on the certificate but merely that it isn't included in the index.

  2. Di,

    Thanks for the help on this - I had not gotten around to searching the MN DI. I even found Elizabeth's maiden name - WELLS in cemetery records - they are buried in Mower County MN.

    Tonight I found her whole family in the LDS IGI - someone submitted it. Her mother's name is Orsavilla Blakesley. Go figure!

    Cheers -- Randy

  3. I was at the MHS Library today and did a quick check of the microfilm for those two death certificates. The info seems to match birthplaces & dates from the census so I transcribed them as well as tracked Elizabeth Wells Simes census-wise from 1930 to 1860.

  4. Oh, I see you replied. I started my comment earlier in the evening but didn't get around to posting until now.

    Orsavilla Blakesley is what appears in the 1860 and '70 census. On Elizabeth's death certificate, her mother is listed as Orca Vacca Blaxley.

    If you haven't had a chance to look at a map, Le Roy, Minn. (where they are buried) is about a mile north of the Iowa border and Oak Dale Twp, Howard County is on the Iowa side. There are a number of Wells listed in the same cemetery, although not her parents. Here's an 1875 map of Oak Dale Twp. W.Y. Wells is shown in Section 25.

  5. Di,

    Thank you for your lookups at the MHS, and your helpful hints on the maps. I went and checked the USGenWeb for the IA and MN counties and location of the townships, and they are real close to each other.

    I found the W.Y. Wells family in 1860 and 1870 census - 14 kids for poor old Orsavilla. Now I need to find out where they were from in NY. Tomorrow!

    Thanks -- Randy

  6. I am a direct descendant of Edward and Elizabeth Wells Simes through their daughter Villa. I have been researching this family for 12 yrs. and would be happy to share any info you need. My email: