I’m frequently surprised when folks ask for genealogical research help thinking they have exhausted all possibilities of data available to them, but they have forgotten to look on two very important sites:
Ellis Island Database
The Ellis Island Database site search engine was improved a few years ago and is is providing many more ‘hits’ than the earlier engine. You can now search by first and last name, approximate year of birth and gender as well as widening your options. Select "passenger search" and then "advanced search" from the menu bar at the top and you will see the following search options:
- Passenger First Name (ignore, starts with, is or contains)
- Passenger Last Name (is, starts with, alternate spellings or sounds like)
- Gender (by: any, male or female)
- Approximate Year of Birth with Year Range (Exact, or + or -: 1, 2, 5 or 10 years)
- Name of Town / Village of Origin (by: is, starts with or contains)
- Name of Passenger Ship (by: is, starts with or contains)
- Ethnicity (a selection menu of about 170 ethnicities — check none, one or as many as you like)
Perhaps the most useful new feature is the link to notify the Foundation about possible errors in an ancestor’s record which often make it difficult for others to find.
If you haven’t visited the site for a while, take a look again. You may find the information about your ancestor(s) that eluded you earlier.
BLM Land Patent Search
The BLM improved their land patent database to Internet searches a couple of years ago following a year of legal negotiations. Searches of the site often results in hits showing Federal Land Patents obtained by your ancestors. In less than ten minutes, I found 14 land patents for several of my ancestors. You can order the related document online or copy the transcription from your screen.
I never knew my great grandmother owned a gold mine in California until finding the land patent. I thought her husband had all of his mining properties in his name, not that any of them resulted in any profit. Land patents will help you place your ancestor in a place and time as well as providing the land description and dimensions of the patent. I found that another great grandfather actually owned 100 more acres of property than I had been told in the family stories I’d heard repeatedly as a youth. Now, if we still owned that 600 acres in Alpine…..
Take a few minutes this week and see if you can find any information about your ancestors on these websites.