Family History Research

Wordless Wedneday – Chicago

Have you been to the Museum of Science and Industry and looked at the city near the railroad area? How long has that city been there? I can’t even tell you, but every time I visit the museum I look at it, always while keeping an eye on my three boys. This visit I left the husband to watch the boys and I actually saw the city. Noticed all the details. Did you know in the middle is Daley Plaza, a place I have frequented this fall for probate research? Did you know the L runs through the city in this scene? Next time you visit the museum, really look at what is there, rather than vaguely noticing and walking on by.

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Always plan for the unexpected

This morning I took the train into the city to look at a Probate file I requested for a Frank Brouk. Sadly, when I opened the file, it was not for my Frank Brouk, but a different family. I sat and took notes from the file because I am tracing the Brouk families in Chicago in the early 1900’s to see if there are any connections I am unaware of at this point. What is interesting to note is his daughter, Josephine, was named Executrix but the month after Frank died in 1946, another daughter, Anna, filed to be made Executrix, as Josephine had disappeared approximately five years earlier. In July of 1946, Josephine had apparently been located, now married, because she appears as a witness in testimony. I kind of wish this had been part of my family somewhere, trying to figure out where Josephine disappeared and why would be fun!

After viewing my probate file I was supposed to meet a friend for coffee, but he is under the weather today so I will have to catch him next time I am in the city. I did pack a printed draft of my book about Robert Brouk, and a genealogy class for which I am finishing up the speaking notes, so I have plenty to keep me busy as I sip my coffee until it is time to head back to the train. When I get home I have to review my ProGen assignment from October for our chat this evening and finish those speaking notes, among other things on my long to-do list. So I will stay busy and check things off my list so next weekend I can skip town and go visit my best friend who lives in Missouri. That will be great fun!

So always plan for the unexpected when you go on a research trip, whether it be to bring along extra work to do in case your planned research time ends early or other tasks to complete while you wait for this or that.

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City of Chicago Zoning Department Maps

I posted this last week on my Chicago Family History blog, but the process should be shared here as well.

I have been doing a lot of Property research lately in an attempt to learn more about my ancestors. Looking online for some maps of neighborhoods I came across the City of Chicago’s Department of Zoning Maps. There are many things that make this website’s zoning tool so useful. In no particular order, here they are:

  • I can type in 3145 S. Wentworth and a map will pop up showing a circle where that property is. Sadly it is now part of the Dan-Ryan Expressway so I cannot see what the house looks like.  If I type in 3154 S. Ridgeway Ave, a map pops up that has this house. Take a look. It shows the house plus additional buildings on the property.
  • A key on the right side of the screen allows you to select, or deselect, layers to view such as area schools, cemeteries, water sources, streets, metra stations and more.
  • If you click the Identify icon on the left column and then the property you are searching, up pops a window that gives you information including the PIN for the property. Identifying the PIN is the first step in property research in Cook County.  You are also able to access the Cook County Record of Deeds website, Cook County Assessor and CNT, from this popup screen. Very handy!
  • By clicking the Cook County Assessor’s link it will pull up that property on their website with assessed value and some neighborhood and home information. Click on the Recorder of Deeds link and it pulls up the Deeds searchable online for that property. Click on any of the document numbers and the legal description of the property appears. That is step two in obtaining property records.
  • I like that I can zoom out and view the surrounding streets and properties. It gives me a better visual as to where my families lived in relation to each other. That can provide clues on how they met as well.

Play around on this website when you have some time. If the home is still standing, or even if it is not, you can see where it is/was and obtain some valuable information on your family.

Want to know more? Check out my Genealogy Using Chicago Maps and Property Records Tip Sheet available on the Kindle and Nook. This guide will walk you through step by step on how to find and view Chicago property records. It provides many mapping resources to view the footprints of the homes in which your ancestors lived and the surrounding neighborhood. Real life research examples are also provided with additional resources.

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National Archives Great Lakes Branch Class

I just emailed NARA to find out if there is still room in this class. I feel very comfortable with this topic already but have never heard Lou Szucs speak and I heard she is great.

November 13, 2010

Title: They Became American: Finding Ancestral Origins
Saturday, November 13
9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
National Archives at Chicago
Admission $10.00 payable at the door.

Critical clues may be found in a naturalization record, a photograph, in an archive or even in someone’s attic. Renowned author and genealogist, Loretto Szucs will focus on some fascinating sources for finding more precise information on your ancestors’ origins in this workshop. You must pre register to guarantee a seat.

Limited Seating: To reserve a space for this program, please pre-register by providing your name, preferred mailing address, phone number, and e-mail address:

  • E-mail
  • Telephone the National Archives at Chicago at (773) 948-9001 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              (773) 948-9001
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