21 January 2018

One Year Later: The Ratzman Family

Nearly a year ago I wrote about the usefulness of writing reports to yourself as a way of helping to move your research along. In that post I noted that
Of my Ratzman ancestors, I know very little. I have traced back to my second great-grandfather, though I only have his and his wife's names. Perhaps they are my focus for the year so that I can catch them up to the others. 
While I did not make them my primary focus for my 2017 research, I did greatly expand my knowledge of my Ratzman ancestors over the course of the year.

My first family summary writeup was less than a single page with only two sources. I had identified only the following individuals:
  1. Edward T Ratzman (? - ?) and Alice Sailer (? - ?)
    1. Gordon Edward Ratzman (abt. 1907 - ?) and Margaret Boelter (abt. 1908 - ?)
 After completing my end of year update, I know much more. My current summary is a little over five pages with fifty source citations. Not that the number of pages and source citations necessarily means better research!

I now have documented the following Ratzmans:
  1. Charles Ratzman (abt 1858, Pomerania - July 1921, Appleton, Wisconsin) and Fredericka Holtz (24 December 1860, Mecklenburg - 1 February 1938, Appleton, Wisconsin)
    1. Anna Ratzman (December 1881, Wisconsin - ?)
    2. Elnora Ratzman (February 1883, Wisconsin - ?) and Howard W Russell (abt 1883, Ohio - ?)
    3. Edward Theodore Ratzman (10 March 1887, Appleton, Wisconsin - 2 December 1946, Appleton, Wisconsin) and Alice Sailer (abt 1887, Wisconsin - ?) and Leone F Kasten (25 June 1898, Appleton, Wisconsin - 1 August 1980)
      1. Gordon Edward Ratzman (29 July 1907, Wisconsin - 7 March 1998, Appleton, Wisconsin) and Margaret Anna Augusta Boelter (20 June 1907, Neenah, Wisconsin - 19 December 1973, Appleton, Wisconsin)
        1. Alyce Ann Ratzman (25 October 1929, Appleton, Wisconsin - 12 November 1998, Lady Lake, Florida)
        2. Gordon Edward Ratzman (22 February 1931, Wisconsin - 17 November 2014, Menasha, Wisconsin)
        3. Barbara Ratzman (? - 4 June 1933, Appleton, Wisconsin)
      2. Howard Ratzman (abt 1919, Wisconsin - ?)
    4. Elmer Stephen Ratzman (12 April 1893, Appleton, Wisconsin - 1 January 1966, Wisconsin) and Elsie M Bosser (24 July 1892, Appleton, Wisconsin - ?)
    5. Lynda Ratzman (August 1896, Wisconsin - ?) and Harold G Holverson (abt 1891, Neenah, Wisconsin - ?)
Among my next steps for the Ratzman family is a trip to Wisconsin to spend time exploring what is not online.

20 January 2018

On the Need to Preserve

Once a week I go to the local historical society and volunteer for an hour, usually working among the shelves of books helping to organize and index what is there. Lately I worked with several shelves of genealogy and history periodicals dating from the early 1920s through the 2000s. 

Due to years of being stored in non-archival conditions, the earliest volumes, and even those from the 1960s and 1970s, are deteriorating. The paper is dry, the bindings fragile, and there is definitely evidence of insect and mouse damage. While the journals are not completely focused on the society's local and state focus, they are important to preserve in an accessible manner. 

The questions remain:
  • What do we do with books and items that may prove useful at some point in time?
  • How long do we keep items which will deteriorate over time, such as periodicals, newspapers, and paperback books?
  • If another repository has a copy of an item, should we also have one?
If storage space was unlimited and money not an object, then we could keep everything for all time.

05 January 2018

A New Start in a New Country

Migration is a factor in most, if not all, family trees. Whether moving from region to region, country to country, or continent to continent, the human family does not stay in one place across the decades, centuries, or millennia. My research found that my ancestors immigrated to the United States mostly in the 19th century. The following list summarized those immigrants I have identified to date.

Maternal Line

Edouard Alma Desjarlais, my 2nd great-grandfather, immigrated to the United States from Qu├ębec, Canada in the 1870s. He was born in Canada around 1866, and married my 2nd great-grandmother Azama May Joubert, who was also born in Canada. Edouard worked in a variety of occupations. He was a worker in the cotton mills in Warwick, Rhode Island, in the 1880 census, a fruit peddler in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, in the 1900 census, and a foundry laborer in North Adams, Massachusetts, in the 1910 census.

Joseph Varin, my 2nd great-grandfather, immigrated to the United States from Canada in the late 1800s. He was born in Canada in the early 1860s and married my 2nd great-grandmother Georgiana Gagnon on 20 March 1885 in Southbridge, Massachusetts. Georgiana was also born in Canada in the 1860s.

Paternal Line

August William Boelter, my 2nd great-grandfather, immigrated to the United States from Germany likely in the 1880s. He was born in Germany in 1879 and married Anna A Schmidt in Wisconsin around 1907. The censuses show he lived in Neenah, Wisconsin, for most of his life, working as a brewer (1910), a creamery deliveryman (1920), a sporting goods salesman (1930), and a lunch counter waiter (1940).

Franz Cziske, my 3rd great-grandfather, immigrated to the United States from Prussia in 1866, passing through New York City on the way to Wisconsin. Born in Prussia in 1835, he immigrated with his wife Justina and their infant daughter Martha. Justina was born in Prussia around 1841. Franz was a farmer in Harrison township in Calumet County, Wisconsin.

John E Schubert, my 3rd great-grandfather, immigrated to the United States from Germany in 1845, passing through New York City. Likely born in Bavaria in 1840, he married Matilda Luscaine in Wisconsin in 1862. Matilda was born in Prussia around 1841, immigrating to the United States around 1855. John was variously employed as a mason, in the 1850 census, as a saloon keeper, in the 1860 census, as a moulder, in the 1870 census, and as "dealing drug and groceries," in the 1880 census.

John A Strelow, my 2nd great-grandfather, immigrated to the United States from Prussia around 1882. Born in Prussia in 1878, he married Minnie Schroeder around 1899. Minnie was probably born in Brandenburg, Germany, around 1884, and immigrated to the United States around 1887 with her father, John Schroeder, and mother, Marie. John was a dairy farmer.

As I continue to work back in time, I know I will find more international immigrants in my family. Documenting them and attempting to determine why they decided to uproot their lives and move to a new country across the sea is a wonderful research challenge.

23 October 2017

Did He or Didn't He? Isaac Z Shelton's Civil War Service, Part 4

This is the final post of a four-part series examining whether or not Isaac Z Shelton served in the military during the Civil War. The previous posts outlined
  1. a research plan for examining the question, 
  2. the pension applications Isaac submitted in Tennessee and Georgia, 
  3. and other documents and databases related to the question.

A Question's Answer

Did Isaac serve in the military during the Civil War? The evidence examined points to a negative answer. 

No service record was located for a soldier who matches Isaac's claimed service.

While the information he provided on his various pension applications corresponds with an actual regiment in the Confederate army, and mentions actual people who served with the regiment, the details eventually did not correlate to a serving soldier. In addition, the details changed between the documents, even the two Georgia applications filed within three years of each other.

16 October 2017

Did He or Didn't He? Isaac Z Shelton's Civil War Service, Part 3

In part two of this series, I examined three Civil War pension applications I located for Isaac Z Shelton. The information gleaned from those documents shows that while Isaac, and after his death, his wife, Amanda, did receive a pension from the state of Georgia, the question of whether or not Isaac served in the military during Civil War remains undetermined.

Civil War Service Records

Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System

The National Park Service's Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System (CWSS) is primarily sourced from the Compiled Military Service Records (CSR) of Union and Confederate soldiers, Navy documents, and regiment and battle histories. Individual records in the database include pointers to the CSR microfilm roll.

Searching for Isaac Shelton in the CWSS database revealed no results. He did not appear using various spellings of his name including Isaac, Isa, Iza, and Ike.

Isaac's pension applications listed a few names which do appear in the database. Colonel Stanton's entry indicates he was with the 28th Consolidated Regiment of the Tennessee Infantry. The entry lists microfilm M231 Roll 41 as the source of data. Stanton was listed as one of the commanding officers when Isaac said he enlisted.

Compiled Military Service Records

My local library has microfilm copies of most, if not all, of the Civil War compiled military service records. Examining the records for the 28th Tennessee regiment, Isaac was not listed.

Other Resources

The library also has a sizable collection of relevant books concerning the Civil War including
  • Roster of Confederate Soldiers, 1861-1865, Vols. 1 & 14, Ed. Janet B. Hewett, (Broadfoot Publishing Company: Wilmington, 1995).
  • Tennesseans in the Civil War (Nashville, 1964-1965).
In Tennesseans in the Civil War, Part 2, I located an Iza Shelton who served in the 28th Tennessee Infantry in Company C, though the entry did not list a rank. In his first pension application, Isaac said he served in the same company and regiment. 

The introduction to Tennesseans in the Civil War listed its sources as muster rolls from the National Archives, contemporary local newspapers within Tennessee, regimental and other histories, county histories, personal letters, and tombstones. Unfortunately the book did not list sources for each individual entry.

08 October 2017

Did He or Didn't He? Isaac Z Shelton's Civil War Service, Part 2

In my last post I introduced a research question and plan regarding Isaac Z Shelton's possible Civil War military service. This post continues the process.

Pension Applications

Pension applications are useful records for determining if an ancestor was in the military during the 18th or 19th centuries. The applications usually contain information on years and location served, as well as the unit or units the applicant served with.

For the Civil War period, locating pension application records first requires determining which side of the conflict your ancestor was on. Information for Union pensions can be found at NARA as part of Record Group 15 of the Veterans Administration. For Confederate soldiers, you have to go to the state in which they applied as pensions were granted by the individual states.

First Attempt - 1892

Isaac Z Shelton spent most of his life as a resident of Tennessee. The Tennessee State Library and Archives "Tennessee Confederate Pension Applications" collection includes a name index which included an "Iza Shelton," a name by which I have previously found my Isaac Z Shelton. Iza applied for a soldier's pension, application number S1038, in White County, Tennessee, stating he had served with the 28th Infantry.

Locating with the application number allowed me to better use FamilySearch's "Tennessee, Confederate pension application, soldiers and widows, 1891-1959," digitized application records from the Tennessee State Library and Archives. Isaac's application, filed 6 May 1892, includes several interesting details from both a service and family perspective.

  • Isaac said he served with Company C of the 28th Regiment, enlisting in the "fall or winter of 1864" serving under "Col[onel] Stanton and Capt[ain] Hughs."
  • He said he was thrown from his horse and broke his thigh bone and dislocated his hip while scouting for "Batie's men" in Overton County, Tennessee. He claimed this injury caused him to be disabled. "Batie" likely referring to David Beaty, a Unionist who began fighting in Tennessee as a guerrilla in early 1862.
  • At the time of the application, Isaac's family included his wife and four children, for whom he provided ages: his wife was 41, his three daughters were 18, 10, and 5, and his son was 2.
  • He valued his property, both real and personal, at $75.
Isaac's 1892 application was rejected, though no reason was entered.

Second Attempt - 1923

Isaac and his family moved to Atlanta, Georgia, in 1918. In 1923 he submitted another application for a pension as a Confederate soldier, this time in Georgia. Although again rejected, this time for lack of proof of service, the application, filed 30 October 1923, includes additional information about the family.

  • Isaac said he served with the Confederate army enlisting in 1862 with Company A of the 25th Tennessee infantry as a private, serving under Colonel Sid Stanton and Lieutenant Bill Windfeld. After two years he said he transferred to Company G, serving until discharged at Carthage, Tennessee, after the surrender in the spring of 1865.
  • He said he was captured by Union forces in the spring of 1863 in Jackson County, Tennessee, though he escaped after three or four days.
  • On the application, Isaac stated that he had been a resident of Georgia since September 1918.
The 1923 application helps to fill a gap in time for the Shelton family. Prior to locating this record, I knew that Isaac and Amanda Shelton had sold property in White County, Tennessee, on 25 January 1917. The next record for the family was the 1920 census placing them in Atlanta, Georgia. The application narrows down their arrival in Georgia to around 1918.

Third Attempt - 1926

A third attempt succeeded. On 1 July 1926 Isaac submitted another application for a pension as a Confederate soldier. Repeating much of the same information as on his 1923 application, this time it was approved.
  • Isaac said he served with the Confederate army enlisting at Camp Marrs in Overton County, Tennessee in 1862 with Company A of the 25th Tennessee infantry as a private, serving under Colonel Sid Stanton and Captain Joe Billberry.
  • He served until the fall of 1865, being discharged under the authority of General George Dibble  (Biddle?) at Carthage, Tennessee, afterward taking the oath of allegiance at Sparta, White County, Tennessee.
  • In support of Isaac's application, a witness statement was included from H. B. Martin, who resided at the Confederate Soldiers Home in Atlanta, Georgia.
  • Instead of September 1918, Isaac stated he had been a resident of Georgia since 4 March 1918, a rather precise date.

01 October 2017

Did He or Didn't He? Isaac Z Shelton's Civil War Service, Part 1

Sometimes a good research topic comes about through close reading of the records. While examining the 1910 census, I found a clue that indicated Isaac Z Shelton may have served in the Confederate army during the Civil War. Determining whether or not my Isaac Z Shelton had served in the Civil War surely would be simple, right? Perhaps not.

The Seed

The 1910 census included a question on the population schedule which asked if the recorded person was "a survivor of the Union or Conference Army or Navy." The instructions to the enumerators stated
192. Column 30. Whether a survivor of the Union or Confederate Army or Navy. -- This question should be asked as to all males over 50 years of age who were born in the United States and all foreign born males who immigrated to this country before 1865. Write "UA" if a survivor of the Union Army; "UN" if a survivor of the Union Navy; "CA" if a survivor of the Confederate Army; and "CN" if a survivor of the Confederate Navy." For all other persons leave the column blank.

[U.S. Census Office, Thirteenth Census of the United States, April 15, 1910, Instructions to Enumerators (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1910), 40; PDF, United States Census Bureau, (https://www.census.gov/ history/www/through_the_decades/census_instructions : accessed 11 August 2016).]
For this question, one of my favorite ancestors to research, Isaac Z Shelton, was recorded with a "CA" to indicate he was a survivor of the Confederate Army. To this point in my research, I had found no information that would indicate Isaac was a Civil War veteran.

A Research Plan

The Civil War is fairly well documented. Both sides kept detailed records on who enlisted, how long they served, where they served, and when and why they were discharged. I suspect that the purpose behind these records really boil down to the simple matter of payroll and having enough soldiers.

Isaac Z Shelton's Timeline

Before diving into the research, I decided to double-check what I know about Isaac to see if it is even plausible for him to have served in the Confederate army.

April 1844-1852    Birth in Tennessee
GA Death Certificate
1880 Census
1900 Census
1910 Census
1920 Census
31 May 1871    Marriage to Amanda Pruett in Overton, TennesseeTennessee, County Marriages, 1790-1950, FamilySearch.org
About 1875    Birth of daughter Alice1880 Census
About 1879    Birth of daughter Lillie1880 Census
1880    Lived in Overton Co., Tennessee1880 Census
About 1883    Birth of daughter Jennie O1900 Census
About 1888    Birth of daughter Lula B1900 Census
13 March 1891/92    Birth of son Isaac Denton1900 Census, WWI draft card
28 December 1896    Birth of son Hubbard Beecher1900 Census, WWI draft card, Headstone application
About 1899    Birth of daughter Idumea A1900 Census
1900    Lived in White Co., Tennessee1900 Census
1910    Lived in Sparta, White Co., Tennessee1910 Census
1920    Lived in Atlanta, Fulton Co., Georgia1920 Census
25 Nov 1929    Death in Atlanta, GeorgiaGA Death Certificate

Isaac's birth date has been difficult to pinpoint. I have yet to find agreement in any sources, though I suspect it is in the later half of the 1840s.

The Confederate states enacted conscription laws in 1862 to make "all white males between the ages of 18 and 35 who were citizens of a state in the Confederacy subject to national military service for a term of three years." ["Civil War Conscription Laws", November 12, 2012, Margaret Wood] Given that the Civil War was fought between 1860 and 1865, it is plausible that Isaac was old enough to enlist or be conscripted as he would have been between 8 and 16 years old at the onset of the war.

Possible Sources

To get started, I listed record collections and resources to consult related to the Civil War and Tennessee, Isaac's state of residence, to consult in locating Isaac, starting with online resources:

With a plan of attack in mind, I dived into the online records to see what I could find out about Isaac Z Shelton's apparent service.