Monday, May 30, 2016

Tuesday's Tip - Using Other Ancestry Trees

Heck or any other family tree you find on the internet. No this isn't a post saying that you should seek out and copy information into your tree that other people have. Even when you collaborate you need to verify research. After all you may find that something was wrong! I'm talking about using the information from family trees to break through a brick wall.

I only uploaded my tree to Ancestry.com a year ago, but I've been delighted since. Originally I had wanted to wait until it was "done" before uploading it, but are our trees ever really done? Nope. Anyway, hits came up as "hints" next to people that I thought I'd done exhaustive searches on Ancestry's site. Hits that I hadn't gotten before. I don't know why exactly it happens. I think it's just a quirk of the system that the results vary on the search engine (general search versus a specific record set on Ancestry), but it happens. That's a different post and I digress...

I've never been a big fan of using other people's trees. Sharing research I love, but I won't ever copy someone's information and put it in my tree. However, you'll get hints on Ancestry for other trees that share the same person...or Ancestry thinks it might be the same person. I don't speak for Ancestry, but I'm going to guess that they aren't asking you to just steal someone else's tree/research and make it your own. They want you to use it. How do you do that?

Doubtless there are several ways, but I'm going to share what recently happened with me when I was clicking on hints for my Brogan line. Elizabeth Brogan had a hint next to her. Just one and it was a family tree. Several family trees, actually. All I had on Elizabeth was that she was born in March 1888 in Pennsylvania and I had gotten that from a census record. I found nothing else on Elizabeth. I didn't know if she married, when she married, or if she died a spinster. After clicking on that hint though I now know.

Screenshot of Ancestry Family Tree hint


I don't know ShirleyLong90 who created the Coyle Family Tree Ver 2, but I'm going to be sending her an email. I've got Coyles in my family tree and we both have Elizabeth Brogan (and I'm sure many more people) in common. So what did I do with this information? I didn't just put it in my tree and assume it was right. I compared it with other trees that also popped up under the hint to see if more than one person had this information. Sure, that can just mean that other people copied it from another tree, but finding similarities can be significant. So I searched Newspapers.com* for Elizabeth McHugh's death in March of 1963. I found it easily.

The Hazleton Standard Speaker, 20MAR1963,
pg 20
After seeing the obituary I can now put in Elizabeth's marriage and death. Because it was in 1963 I also can search the Pennsylvania Death Certificates database and maybe even find her birth. It will certainly/hopefully confirm the rest of the information on here and it's always important to get as many different sources to confirm your findings! From this obituary I can even see when her husband passed, who her children are, and where she is buried. I've walked past so many McHughs in St. Gabe's and this summer I'll be looking for her and Patrick's stones because I now know they belong to me.

So a lot of this blog post is common sense. Many of you are probably sitting there having gotten to this point and are saying, "Duh! Where's the real news here, Cherie?" The thing of it is, if you're already doing this then you're ahead of the game. There are people out there though that scoff at the idea of looking at anyone else's tree. Sometimes it's because they consider it cheating. Sometimes it's just because they don't trust other trees. Guess what? Don't trust other trees. Don't trust other research completely ever until you verify it yourself. I don't trust anything even when collaborating unless I can make the connection as well. Maybe some would say that this holds my research back. Perhaps it does, but I've had incorrect information in my tree before and I'll work hard to make sure it doesn't happen again. Here you aren't simply trusting another tree. You're using it as a tool to test that connection and see if it is valid.

As for cheating, you're only cheating if you take someone else's work and put it in your tree without conducting your own independent research. And that's not cheating it's stealing. It's plagiarizing. Don't do it!

Now I'm off to contact the creator of that tree and say hello.

*It's probably about time that I made this statement because I've talked about Newspapers.com and Ancestry.com multiple times throughout my blog's history...I am in no way associated or a paid representative or promoter of Newspapers.com or Ancestry.com. I just really love the results I get with them. Although with how often I crow about their sites maybe I should get paid ;)


Sunday, May 29, 2016

Military Monday - Memorial Day is NOT for me!

(This is a repost from 2015, but it still applies. Remember those that gave their all for our freedom this Memorial Day. They aren't here to thank, but raise a glass in their honor.)

That title might be a bit confusing. I don't mean that I don't celebrate Memorial Day. I mean that I don't expect or want you to thank me for serving on Memorial Day. There's a holiday to thank me and other veterans and it's called Veterans Day. Memorial Day is the day that we remember those who gave their lives in the service of their country.

Memorial Day is for people like this man:



And this man:

And this one:


And this one:



Last, but certainly not least, two Soldiers that went through the Defense Language Institute when I was a Drill Sergeant. First is Andrew James Creighton...a sweetheart of a Soldier. I don't think there was a single one of us who wasn't proud of him and heart-broken when we got the news that AJ Creighton died in Afghanistan. You can see a very touching tribute to AJ here and read more about this man's life here.


Second, Jacques Earl "Gus" Brunson. He went to DLI for awhile before reclassing Infantry. He kept in touch with the drills after leaving and we knew he was in Iraq collecting items to give to the Iraqi children. He was in the National Guard and volunteered for this tour in Iraq because it would be better money for his two children. He was the first casualty for our cadre of Drill Sergeants to hear of.


These Soldiers may not have been members of my family tree, but they are members of my Army family.

That's not to say that there aren't women that need remembering, but I don't have any in my family tree to be memorialized on this day.

As far as family traditions Memorial Day seemed to have little to do with the military in my family. Memorial Day was the time when flowers were placed on the graves of all of my ancestors. My mother still treks to the old family cemeteries each year to visit their graves. I make the trek as a part of going home, but not as a part of Memorial Day. I probably would if I lived anywhere near "home," but I don't.

I actually like the thought of remembering ancestors on Memorial Day even if it isn't the intent of the holiday (you can read more about Memorial Day here), but I still don't want to be thanked for my service today. What I want is for you to remember those that died so you could live in the country and world you do...even with all its flaws. When you're grilling and sitting in the backyard having a beer have a drink in honor of those men and women that made the ultimate sacrifice.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Thriller Thursday - Wrapping Up the Villers Trial, Part 11

The Jamestown Weekly Alert, 20JAN1898, pg2
And on we continue! This week it's time to begin the prosecution's case against Villers.

"Said Villers Didn't Sleep at Comber's.

John Comber, recalled by the prosecution said he and his family and hired girl were at home the night of Sept. 14, and 15. Louis Villers reached the house between 2 and 3 a. m., sleeping behind the stove in the kitchen, M. J. Villers not sleeping in his house that night. On cross examination he said he fixed the date because that was the only night Louis Villers slept there. M. J. Villers left about the time the machine did and he didn't see him again that day. The crew slept at the bars.

While at the machine he saw a man going by, a stranger, the man called out to him but he, no knowing Mr. Tromer, could not say it was he. Carley came to his house to get Villers to thresh for him and the date, Friday, Sept. 14, was..."

The Jamestown Weekly Alert,
20JAN1898, pg2
Now this looks a bit disjointed, especially when you see the next clipping which is the top of the next column. It also doesn't appear that this would have continued anywhere on this page. The next title/subtitle looks like it could have finished this sentence. It certainly continues with the prosecution's case. Either way we'll continue...

"....Firmly Impressed Upon Him.

Didn't know any one called his attennion (sic) to the date - he knew when threshing was done at his farm. That Friday night - the entire week M. J. Villers was at his place - was the only night the prisoner did not sleep in his house and was the only night Louis Villers slept there in the kitchen.

Mrs. Jno. Comber had known Villers ever since he had been in Dakota and corroborated her husband's testimony except that she did not know at what hour of the night Louis Villers came to the house. On cross examination she said she was sick at the time but knew all that went on in the house, but not outside. Louis Villers left after breakfast the next morning. She was unable to do any house work, kept a girl, made no beds.

Said Villers Tried to Sell a Ring.

Ambrose Walsh of this city for fourteen years and acquainted with Villers for six or seven years stated Villers, in threshing season of '94, offered to sell him a plain gold ring, holding it out in his hand as they walked on Front street. He refused to buy it. On cross examination said the date might have been as early as August of first part of September; at time had not heard of Tromer's disappearance and didn't connect two events."

The Jamestown Weekly Alert,
20JAN1898, pg2
So from this testimony I'm assuming that when they said Villers slept at the house on the nights in question that information wasn't given by Jno. Cromer himself although that is difficult to tell with how the article was written. He did give some testimony so why the change now?

"The Afternoon Session.

The public was surprised at the unexpected termination of the trial without the appearance of Mrs. Villers as a witness. neither was Mrs. Tromer placed on the stand in rebuttal as at the morning session was stated would be done. The only witness was Mr. Villers and he but a few minutes.  A part of the testimony of Mrs. Tromer and other witnesses at the LaMoure trail was read by Attorney Ellsworth for the defense and made a part of the record.

There Mrs. Tromer testified she had seen Villers about the cows before they were taken back; Villers said he would send them to his place - didn't say her husband wanted that done; her husband had not stated anything about that.

The state, in its turn, also reading from a transcript of the evidence given by Joseph Villers at that trial stated when he went to his house that Sept 14, carrying Tromer with him on his way home, the witness found his wife baking pies and Frasier playing near the house. He then testified this was about 3 p. m. Tromer had left his oxen at the place that day intending to call for them later."

The Jamestown Weekly Alert,
20JAN1898, pg2
Can't make much out with the last paragraph. What transcript from which trial? The original one when he tried to kill the wife? More questions than answers in that paragraph!

"Ella Villers at that trial testified she saw Tromer sitting in the buggy with her father a little north of the house. Her mother, she thought, was digging potatoes. She did not remember where her father went after that; Tromer, she testified, went toward home on foot.

M. J. Villers was recalled to the stand in regard to the Haas letter; said he had a German friend, Victor Frecke, who lived in Milwaukee, who with two sons was thinking of coming to Dakota, northwest of LaMoure. Witness did not remember whether or not any mention of wife and children was made in the letter. The contents, the witness said, were about as follows:

'"Jamestown, North Dakota," I forget the date, "Mr. Victor Frecke, Dear Sir: If you wish to come on a visit to North Dakota don't fetch your sons with you now as the work is pretty well over but it will do about next July or so." For the business he wanted to put his son in I told him it would be riskey (sic) in this part of Dakota.'

I signed my name to it and sent it the next day, said the witness. I had further correspondence with him about his coming to the state but it was in French.'"

What exactly was the "Haas Letter" and why is it significant in this case? Was this the letter from the first trial that they claim Villers had written? It shouldn't be. That letter was alleged to be in English and the problem was that it wasn't written in German for Mrs. Tromer to understand. So what is this letter and why is there no better explanation? Hopefully it will be discussed in the newspaper later because it's a big question mark right now.

Until next Thriller Thursday!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Thriller Thursday - Wrapping Up the Villers Trial, Part 10

The Jamestown Weekly Alert - 20JAN1898, pg2
Continuing with the coverage of the Villers trial from the Jamestown Weekly Alert. We have finally made it to page two and the story certainly stays interesting!

This first image was at the top of page 2 although it covers what we already knew, since page 1 talked of the verdict and sentencing. My guess is that this was because the information for this issue was being compiled as the trial was winding down. It's not like our daily papers where all the information for the days news got in there within hours. The paper was weekly and this trial was sensational. They were getting every detail in there!

"Evidence all in

Arguments in Villers Case Made By Attorneys to Jury.

Unexpected Ending of Evidence - Important Testimony for Defense

End of Trial Approaching - Mrs. Villers, Not Placed Upon the Stand."

The Jamestown Weekly Alert - 20JAN1898, pg2
As we saw in last week's post the prosecutor mentioned how Villers' wife wasn't present at the trial. Seeing this would have made me wonder if she was instructed not to be there in case she had to testify...and then just didn't. Is that how things really are or is that just in movies? Also, wasn't it widely practiced that a wife couldn't be compelled to testify against her husband? Perhaps her testimony wouldn't have been helpful, but potentially could have been hurtful or twisted to be hurtful against her husband. There could have been good reason to not have her testify and if she did then she would have been available for cross-examination. Just like today the lack of testimony tends to be looked at by the opposing side and inferring guilt even though that isn't necessarily true.

The Jamestown Weekly Alert - 20JAN1898, pg2
"The first and only murder trial in Stutsman county approached its close at 2:17 p.m. Monday when Judge Fisk ordered the attorneys to proceed with their arguments to the jury. States Attorney Baldwin reviewed, commenting upon the evidence, directing attention to the most material points. He spoke less than three-quarters of an hour and then gave way to Attorney Ellsworth who made a strong plea for his client, M. J. Villers."

This clipping looks like it would have done better on the first page, but at least it teases us into knowing that whatever plea the defense made, it was a good one.

"Monday's Proceedings.

Louis J. Villers, son of Mr. Villers, corroborated the testimony of his father, saying he was at Comber's Sept. 14th. The next day he took his father's rig and came to Jamestown for some cylinder rings. He returned about 8 p. m. to Jno. Comber's where he saw his father; he supposed Mr. Villers slept in Comber's house that night. His father was troubled with a disease of the bladders since '93.

The Jamestown Weekly Alert - 20JAN1898, pg2
Mr. F. Carley of Montpelier, testified he was at Comber's to about sundown Sept. 14; said Villers bore a good character so far as he knew.

Peral Wright knew Mrs. Tromer in '92 when he (sic) saw her taken with a more violent nervous attack than any here in court. At the time she was at the store getting breakfast when she fell backward on the floor, frothed at the mouth, sobbed, cried and screamed and was not able to do any work afterward for three days. Also saw her in a nervous attack in '93, but not so severe. Photographs of the grave and surrounding topography, showing building, etc., taken by the witness were identified and introduced in evidence.

No cross examination."

I wish they would have clarified the "violence" more and why they phrased it that way. I don't think they were trying to say that she would have been the one to hurt her husband, but there doesn't seem to be a purpose to it. What was their point?

The Jamestown Weekly Alert - 20JAN1898, pg2
"Slept with Villers at Combers.

Louis Comber, son of John Comber, said he was at his father's place Sept. 15th, '94, and saw Villers there then. The cook shanty remained there until Sunday; didn't see Viller's bring any provisions to it. Villers slept that night in the kitchen, he (sic) sleeping with him. The witness is a sound sleeper but he remembered Villers getting up several times awakening him some of the times and was there Sunday morning.

No cross examination.

Jno. Comber said Villers threshed at his place Saturday, the machine next going to his brother's place, Joseph Villers was present at the machine, the cook shanty remaining to Sunday fore noon. Villers was at his house Saturday night, talking with him and family before going to bed. Louis Villers came during the evening bringing some cylinder rings with him. Louis Comber slept in the kitchen with Villers that night.

No cross examination."

So far none of the witnesses have been cross examined. I wonder if that was because their was nothing to gain and cross examination would have only helped to strengthen the alibi. They are set on that date too. I can only imagine that was because it's the date Mrs. Tromer claims that her husband went missing. Of course, Mr. Tromer could have been held and killed on another date. No saying it played out that way, but blowing holes in the case as it is presented in the newspaper is too easy. Especially when looking back from current times.

The Jamestown Weekly Alert - 20JAN1898, pg2
"Prosper Naze, Villers' son-in-law, was at Villers' home Sunday afternoon, Sept. 16th; saw Villers drive away southwest in his democrat wagon; was asked to accompany him to Tromer's for a sheep - did not go. Saw Villers return in same direction with meat or a sheep.

No cross examination.

Here it was stipulated by counsel that a mortgage, of which Exhibit 5 is a copy, was written Sept. 19, '93, by W. B. S. Trimble, and signed in his presence by Aug. Tromer, and the same day Trimble wrote a note of the same date for $296.96 payable to Octavia Villers which August Tromer executed in his presence.

Dr. Baldwin, recalled by the defense, said Mrs. Tromer first met him in his office the middle of July, 1893. Her health was then poor, she having spells of unconsciousness at times. He didn't know what was the cause of them. In summer of '94 she was brought into his store from Strong & Chase's where it was said she had fainted while trading. The day was warm and the doctor thought she had overtaxed herself. She was unconscious but a few minuted with no excitement or hysteria. Mrs. Tromer was much improved after her first treatment which was somewhat incidental, she not having come to the city for treatment. There was a deficiency of red corpuscles in her blood, she was very white and he prescribed accordingly. Hysteria is a disease of the nerves. First time he saw he she didn't speak any English and Mr. Tromer did the talking; now she can understand common English.

No cross examination."

I know I've mentioned it before, but her "nervous condition" is very irritating. A disgrace to women everywhere. Not that the men were much better. Oh how I wish I could really know what was wrong with her. Was there something wrong or was she just nuts? "Hysteria is a disease of the nerves"...oh for a proper diagnosis!

"Here the defense said it was ready to rest the case providing they were granted the privilige (sic) of placing Mrs. M. J. Villers, their last witness who was then unfortunately sick and quite nervous on the stand later. The prosecution did not readily consent to this, the defense rested and the state began the introduction of testimony in rebuttal no agreement for the taking of her deposition being secured."

Oh please not more nervousness! I hope that this was just that Octavia was nervous about taking the stand and was also sick. Two separate issues, but with the way women were and were viewed it's hard to tell. I found it amusing in a very hypocritical sort of way that the prosecution would be so against delaying Octavia Villers' testimony when they delayed the trial for Mrs. Tromer's hysteria. I supposed that's their job though. Still, with the comment about how Octavia Villers didn't testify I've got to wonder whether it was due to her being ill. Surely if they wanted to bring her back and the prosecution fought to prevent it that they would have noted that in the closing statements.

Next week I'll start on the prosecution's case which is much longer than what the papers presented for the defense. we'll see how much we get through. Maybe I'll find out more about the business Villers was in because I always thought it was farming and that he rented land from Tromer, but with all of these posts I'm thinking that may not have been the cut and dry of it.