Welcome Mayflower Cousins

This blog is full of information for applications to the Society of Mayflower Descendants in the State of Ohio. Check back often to learn more about producing a successful application. Click the email link at the bottom to be notified of new posts as they happen.

Our contact information is:
Ann Gulbransen, Historian, ohmayflowerhistorian@gmail.com
Lee Martin, Assistant Historian, buckeyemayflower@gmail.com

Saturday, August 27, 2016

BIBLE RECORDS - Are they acceptable proof ??? Well, it depends.

Many of you are lucky enough to have family bibles that were kept by your grandparents and previous generations. There is a section in most bibles where births, marriages and deaths can be recorded. For some if these events, the family bible may be the only place they are recorded.

When are these family records considered primary documentation for your Mayflower Society (or other lineage society) application? There are a lot of factors to consider.

First, you need to know who owns the bible today, who owned it originally and how it traveled into the hands of the current owner. The provenance of how it was handed down in the family can add or detract from the credibility of the data.

Next, you need to know how old the physical book is. The best way is to make a copy of the title page that has the date when the book was published. You need to know this so you can judge if the events that were recorded happened after the book was published or years earlier. A bible published in 1850 that records events starting in 1860 is worth a whole lot more genealogically than a bible published in 1950 that records events starting in 1700! Events recorded long after the fact are hearsay and are considered circumstantial evidence at best.

Now, look at the handwriting. Does it look like all the entries were written by the same person at the same time (same hand, same ink)? If so, then this is again hearsay. If the handwriting and ink looks different on the entries, it is much more likely that they were written at the time the events occurred and are genealogically much more credible.

The next thing to look at is the completeness of the data. It is rare that you will find places listed in bible entries, but sometimes you will get lucky. The important thing is to see if relationships are specified. A long list of names and dates with no indication of how the people were related does nothing to help you link the line carriers in your lineage. The best bible records specify relationships. Remember, a document has to say what you are trying to prove!

What about bible transcripts? Often, the original bible cannot be located, but you have a transcript, either handwritten or published. The first thing you need to do is find out who made the transcript and when it was made. That will give it some credibility. You won’t have the clues from the handwriting, but a good transcript will show the date the bible was published and all the details including any recorded relationships. A transcript is never as good as an original, but it is sometimes all we have.

So, having a family bible is a wonderful treasure for your family, but its worth as a genealogical record depends on lots of factors. For Mayflower, if the bible does not meet the above criteria, it will be considered as an unpublished family record and circumstantial evidence only. Is your family bible a good record - maybe - maybe not - it all depends...

Inspired by a post by Gregory Evan Thompson in the Mayflower Descendants Facebook group.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Ordering microfilm from the Family History Center

Have you found a record on FamilySearch only to see that there is no image attached, just a cryptic reference to a GS film number like the one in the image here?

What this means is that the original record has been microfilmed and indexed, but that the image of that original record has not yet been digitized and linked. All is not lost though because you can order a copy of the microfilm to a designated Family History Center or library near you so that you can make a copy of that original record for yourself.

Here is the process:
1.       Go to this website: https://familysearch.org/films/
2.       Log in with your FamilySearch ID (if you don’t have one yet, you need to register but the account is free)
3.       The first thing you want to do is to make sure the film will be delivered to a location close to you. In the menu bar where my image says Medina County D… click the (change) link. Follow the prompts to pick your country and state and then find a library or Family History Center that will be convenient for you. Save your selection. The website will remember it for future orders.
4.       Once you have selected where you want the film to be sent, enter the film number in the Search field and then click the Search button. You will get a new screen which will confirm that the film you want can be circulated.
Before you click the link to pay for the loan, scroll down to the bottom of the screen to look at the detail for the film you selected. If you see a small camera icon on the right, you can click it and actually see the film on your computer just like in a film reader. You will have to scroll through the film to find your record, but this tip can save you the time and cost of ordering.
5.       If you can't view the film online, most of the time, you will want the short term loan for $7.50. You would only want the indefinite loan if you are going to work with that film over a long period of time.
6.       Follow the prompts to make your payment and you are done on the website.

You will be notified when the film is shipped and then delivered. You can also view the status of your order on the website. You should have several months to get to the library/FHC to find your record on the film.

If you have not used the microfilm readers before, the staff at the library/FHC can assist you with how to load and search the film. Each film is organized differently so it may take you a bit of browsing to find your image. If you are really lucky, the index record you started with will actually tell you the image number! Most modern readers will let you print the image of the record, and many will let you save a digital copy to a USB drive.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Ohio Birth & Death Records, Part Deux

For Ohio birth and death records 1867 to 1908, check out the FamilySearch.org Ohio County Birth, Marriage and Death records.  Some counties started recording deaths in the probate court after the Civil War, although few began earlier.  If no records are found on the microfilm, try going to the probate court in person and ask if the early records can be photographed.  I know in the Huron, Richland, and Ashland Counties allow a person digitally photograph the old records (color is better in my opinion - makes it more real).  Sometimes going through the Ohio probate records.  The images are unindexed, but well worth the search.  That is how I managed to connect an ancestress to her parents through her father's Will in the Ashtabula probate records.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Ohio Birth & Death Records

Did you know that a line item in HB 64, recently signed by Governor John Kasich reads: "A local registrar shall allow an individual to phtograph or otherwise copy a birth or death record."

This means that in any Ohio county registrar's office, you can use a camera or your smart phone to photograph, or a portable scanner such as the ScanSnap or a wand scanner (at the discretion of the local registrar) to copy any birth or death record on file as a non-certified copy. You should be able to do this free of charge, though the local registrar will always be happy to accept a donation for the time needed to pull the record for you. Cash is always welcome, though cookies can work too!

Ohio birth records after 1908 are available at any county registrar's office (often the local health department). Death records after 1908 are only available in the county where the death occurred, though don't forget the great collection of Ohio death certificates from Dcember 1908 through 1953 online at FamilySearch.org.

Ohio Mayflower DOES NOT require certified copies of birth, death or marriage records. Any record that you can photograph or copy based on this new law is just fine. The key is it has to be in focus so every word is legible! We need all names (including the names of parents) and all dates and places to be clearly readable. You might want to practice your technique before you go...

Sunday, November 22, 2015

How to help your historian

Almost all the partner society historians are volunteers, Only the largest societies have paid staff. Most of us spend a lot of time fixing things our applicants have either not done or done incorrectly. Here are a couple of tips to help your historian process your application quickly.

1. Read and follow the instructions! This sounds simple, but I am always amazed at applicants who don't follow explicit instructions. If the instructions say send two copies of each document, send two copies. If the instructions tell you how to organize your documents (as Ohio's does) then follow those directions. Ohio's instructions say no binders, no folders, no sheet protectors. I can't tell you how much time I have spent undoing work that applicants have done incorrectly! It is a waste of your time and a waste of mine.

2. Make sure you have linked the generations clearly. Any application will fail if you don't.

3. Answer your emails/letters! If you move or change your email, let your historian know ASAP!

4. Keep in touch so your historian knows about your progress. We technically have a time limit on a preliminary approval but most of us will happily grant extensions (who wants to do work over). If you keep in touch, we will keep granting extensions. If you don't, your application may get canceled.

Ancestor vs Descendant

Grammar police here - your parents, your grandparents and all the generations before them are your ANCESTORS. Your children, your grandchildren and all future generations are your DESCENDANTS. Every time I read "I have found a new Mayflower Descendant" I cringe. You have found another Mayflower ANCESTOR! You are the descendant. Sorry, rant over...

Tuesday, August 11, 2015


Just as birth certificates, birth records, marriage records, and death records provide (usually) a tangible link to our ancestors, cemeteries provide information useful in our search of a different sort.  In cases where no death exists or one could be found, the date on a tombstone may be the only record of death for an individual.  The photo below is one of my ancestors.  No death record exists at the probate courthouse and this is the only record of his death.  The information on the stone is considered as primary evidence in the absence of a written record.
Ezekiel Case - Evergreen Cemetery, Pierpont, Ohio
Information on a tombstone varies considerably.  If a person is lucky enough to gaze upon a tombstone and find the exact age at the time of death, the birth date can be calculated.  In some older sections of a cemetery

Elisha Hedge - Ancient Cemetery, Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts
the "phrase in the __ year of [his/her] age" means the person entered into their next birth year when the person died.  In the above example, Elisha died at 15 years of age, beginning his "16th year."