Sunday, September 9, 2018

TAX & ESTATE RECORDS ~ What I learned at a seminar featuring Michael Lacopo

San Diego Genealogical Society

Guest Speaker: Michael Lacopo, D.V.M.

Session 1: More than the Census-Our Families did exist within those ten-year intervals

Session 2: Using Tax Records for Genealogical Problem Solving

Session 3:  Estate Files: Are you getting the most out of them?

Session 4: The German Immigrant experience in the 18th Century

It’s always fun to attend classes, seminars and conferences.  In a dozen plus years, I’ve never attended one and walked away without more knowledge than I started with.  In addition to learning how to do research by actually doing it, and watching various webinars, I cannot say enough about attending seminars and conferences.

I wrote a blog post about this subject in 2014 and what I said still holds true today.


The San Diego Genealogical Society will be celebrating it’s 72nd year next month.  It’s still very active and up to date. Please visit our web page here San Diego Genealogical Society.

Our speaker yesterday was Michael Lacopo.  He has an impressive resume and once you attend one of his classes, you’ll want to hear him speak again. When I attended a class back in 2016 at Jamboree, I couldn’t wait for another opportunity to hear him lecture.  He’s knowledgeable, easy to understand and has a great sense of humor.

Here are some of the highlights from the seminar:

Session 1 – make sure you are paying attention to where your ancestors went during those 10 year intervals between U.S. censuses.  Michael pointed out, using real examples, the surprising movements that could occur during those intervals.  We all know that, contrary to what me might have been told, our ancestors didn’t always stay put.  There are many resources you can use to obtain information between censuses: tax records, land records, probate records, church records, voter and poll records and newspapers are just a few. 

Session 2 – Tax Records – I learned a lot during this session.  I’ve used tax records before, but not often.  And, I never understood the real value of them until Michael explained it.  I can’t possibly cover, nor do I want to duplicate, what Michael told us.  It is after all his presentation.  Here’s what I realized though – from tax records you can determine what kind of property your ancestor owned and where.  This could lead to you finding probate and land records.  Who was taxed in the same location as your ancestor?  Are they related?  Did your ancestor’s property increase or decrease between taxations?  Take a look, you won’t regret it.  I’m doing just that today and I’ve already located quite a lot of information.

Session 3 – Estate Files – I expect that most of you have looked at estate files, probate records, wills etc.  BUT, are you like me and just look for the actual will among those papers?  I always kind of skipped over the administration papers, bond papers and something called a Vendue List (an auction list of the value of items). Who bought items at the auction?  Michael shared that if a buyer came from a county over or some other long distance, they were probably related.  Why was there still activity going on for a probate 15 years after someone died?  It could have been the executors weren’t doing their jobs.  If there was more than one auction of items, check those names.  Did the same name show up again and again?  Probably a relative.  I now realize I may have missed some extremely important clues to family connections.  I have vowed, as of today, to change my ways.  Michael recommended and so do I, that you use Cyndi’s List as a place to find more links to estate files.  I have a lot of work to do now that I know better what to be looking for.

Session 4 – German Immigrant Experience – This was a case study for one of Michael’s ancestors who came to America from Germany.  But, the things we learned can apply to any immigrant experience.  Learning more about what our ancestors went through, just to get here, makes us appreciate all the more, their sacrifices.

I’ve been busy today revisiting tax & estate records for my own ancestors and my approach is completely different.  Thank you Michael.



Happy hunting,

Michigan Girl

Copyright ©  2010-2018   Diane Gould Hall


Wednesday, September 5, 2018

WEDDING WEDNESDAY ~ DANIEL MORSE & LYDIA FISHER circa 1638–My husband’s 8th great granduncle & wife

wedding bells_thumb[5][5]
Marriage of Daniel Morse and Lydia Fisher circa 1638
It’s not always easy to document our ancestors births, marriages and deaths when we go back to the days of Colonial America.  Although not required by law, records were kept back then.  Especially marriages.  It was important to document a marital union as it affected the distribution of property and goods when someone died.
Today, I’m highlighting the marriage of Daniel Morse to Lydia Fisher in 1638 or 1642, depending on which record you use.
The first record I located was the U.S. International Marriage Records, 1560-1900

Name:    Daniel Morse
Gender:    Male
Birth Year:    1613
Spouse Name:    Lydia Fisher
Spouse Birth Year:    1623
Year:    1642
Marriage State:    MA
Number Pages:    1

To learn more about this source, please use this link: Information about the U.S. International Marriage Records and how they were collected

Another source for this marriage is Torrey’s New England Marriages prior to 1700.  This is a 3 volume set.  You can now view them online, but when I first began researching they were not available.  My husband purchased the 3 volume set for me, one year for Christmas.

Here is a page from the Torrey book, available on  In the hard copy of the three volume set, this record is in Volume II, page 1061.

Copy of MORSE_Daniel marriage to Lydia FISHER_1638_Dedham MA

Daniel & Lydia went on to have 9 known children.
Here is a list of their children as stated in North America, Family Histories, 1500-2000

MORSE_Daniel list of children

What was life like back in the era of 1638 to their deaths in about 1688/89?  We know it was difficult.  If our ancestors survived the trip over here from Europe, then they were in danger of many diseases or illnesses taking their lives.  Or, even death at the hands of American Indians, who owned this land to begin with, and were defending their territory.
 Colonial life

Daniel & Lydia lived to their 70’s.  They must have been hardy individuals.  If they were married around 1638, as records state, then they may have celebrated 50 years of marriage. An amazing accomplishment for any family and especially one back then.  It was more normal for our ancestors to have multiple spouses due to early deaths.

Wouldn’t I love to sit and talk to them.
There are many descendants out there.  If you are one of them, I’d love to hear from you.

Happy hunting,
Michigan Girl
Copyright ©  2010-2018   Diane Gould Hall

Sunday, September 2, 2018

SUNDAY’S OBITUARY ~ Elizabeth Gillespie Verney–my great grandaunt (1865-1948)

Copy of VERNEY_Elizabeth_obit_DFP_20 Mar 1948_pg 16
VERNEY – March 19, Elizabeth, at residence 4843 Seminole Ave., beloved mother of Mrs. Charles Lindow of Detroit; Mrs. D. H. Cockburn, Mrs. James Shields, James G., George C. and Norman J. Verney of Toronto, Ont.: sister of Mrs. James Forsyth.  Services from Fred G. Marshall Sons Parlors, 3462 E. Jefferson Ave., Saturday evening at 8 o’clock.  Burial at Toronto, Ont.

Elizabeth Gillespie was born to Joseph Gillespie and Susan Burgess on 9 Feb 1865.  She was one of 3 daughters and 1 son born to this couple.  Her older sister, Susan Gillespie is my great grandmother, who pre-deceased her by a year.

Elizabeth married James Burgess Verney on 25 Sep 1884 in Detroit, Wayne, Michigan.  They celebrated 50 years of marriage just a few days prior to his death on 7 Oct 1934.  James served on the Toronto Police force starting as a Constable and reaching the position of Chief of Police.

The couple raised 8 children: Florence “Nettie” (1885-1968), Louise “Lulu” (1887-1974), William Harry (1889-1944), Margaretta “Etta” May (1892-abt 1961), James G. (1894-1957), George Clarke (1896-1971), Norman Joseph (1898-?) and Minnie E. (died at 7 days old).

Could this couple have been cousins on some level?  Elizabeth’s mother was Susan Burgess (1841-1933) and James’ mother was Elizabeth Burgess (1823-1909).  Both mothers were born in Devon, England.  However, at this time, I have not found a connection.  Do I think there may be one?  Absolutely!  I have more work to do on this family.

I have not been able to locate James & Elizabeth in any census record in 1930.  I did locate an Elizabeth Gillespie in the 1940 census, listed as an inmate at Eloise Hospital in Nankin Township, Wayne, Michigan.  This record gives her place of residence in 1935 as Highland Park, Michigan.  Her age in this 1940 census, is listed as 76 yrs and a birthplace of Canada (which is a place she lived, however my records show her born in Michigan).  These are all close to what I have for Elizabeth.  Her maiden name was Gillespie, so she could have been admitted under that name instead of Verney.  Records no longer exist for this hospital but you can read about this institution here.  It has a long history.  She is one of several of my ancestors who ended up at Eloise Hospital toward the end of their lives.
Elizabeth was living in Detroit, Wayne, Michigan at the time of her death in 1948.  I have the death index, but no death certificate.
Michigan, Death Records, 1867-1950
Name:    Elisabeth Verney
[Elisabeth Gillespie]
Gender:    Female
Marital Status:    Widowed
Birth Date:    Feb, 1864
Birth Place:    Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan
Death Date:    19 Mar 1948
Death Place:    Detroit, Wayne, Michigan, USA
Death Age:    84
File Number:    377839
Father:    Joseph Gillespie

She is buried in Toronto, Ontario, Canada at Prospect Cemetery, along with her husband James and other family members.  You may visit her findagrave memorial here #127128510.

VERNEY_James & Elizabeth_headstone_ProspectCem_TorontoOntarioCanada

Edwin and his wife Alison Verney were Elizabeth’s brother-in-law and his wife.  Charles Verney and Shirley Ford are Elizabeth’s nephew and his wife.

The Verney family was quite large and there are a great many descendants.  If you are related to them, I’d love to hear from you.

MATRILINEAL MONDAY ~ Richard Gillespie & Eliza Jane Patterson–My maternal 2nd great granduncle & aunt–England
Happy hunting,
Michigan Girl
Copyright ©  2010-2018   Diane Gould Hall