From time to time it is worth the time to post information that isn’t new to all genealogy researchers but is rather a reminder of resources we sometimes forget in our ancestral quest.
If your ancestors or families migrated to America during the mid-to-late 1800’s, there is a good chance they entered through Cast Garden in New York. Castle Garden was the predecessor of Ellis Island, operating from 1855 through 1890.
Ellis Island Database
Two of the more popular family history websites on the Internet have been rewritten and are once more available. The Ellis Island Database has an improved search engine, that 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 has opened their land patent database to Internet searches again 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.
Take a few minutes this week and see if you can find any information about your ancestors on these websites.