Sunday, December 8, 2013

A Hat Trick - Point Three

This weekend I have three tips for the price of one:

  •     Never ignore evidence
  •     Consider unusual sources for unusual problems
  •     Even professionals get it wrong sometimes -- by accident or on purpose

Having looked at the evidence ignored by a professional researcher, we now turn to using unusual sources to find a death date in Sweden. The normal sources are the church death records and the clerical surveys. But the death of Soldier Jonas Flink is not found in the church records of  Stora Malm parish in Södermanland.

In addition to Stora Malm, I checked the death records in the home parish of his wife and a handful of surrounding parishes. No matter what country you are researching, remember that people did travel and births and deaths may have occurred in an unexpected jurisdiction.

At this point, I'd exhausted all the record types on Ancestry.

The website ArkivDigital has available some other record types that are less used in Swedish research. The next stop is the military records. Not all still exist, but let's look at what is available for the county of Södermanland. For 1806 and 1807 there's a single book with muster rolls (volume 151).

Soldier 22, Jonas Flink, age 32, representing Klicksta Rote, is listed on a muster roll dated June 20, 1807. He is married, has served for 9 years and is 6 feet and 0 inches tall. Not shown on these images is that the company is called a "Lif Compagnie", a company that is a life guard or body guard company charged with protecting others.

Is this the right Jonas Flink? Since military names are assigned to soldiers, there may be more than one Jonas Flink among the hundreds of soldiers in the Södermanland army. The age is certainly right and there is a Klicksta in Stora Malm parish.

Is there a church record that ties Jonas Flink to Klicksta? Yes, one such record exists. The godparents of daughter Brita Kajsa were from Klicksta, as seen in this 1801 birth and christening record from book C:5.

The soldier number and rote (area served) are tied together, so now we know that soldier 22 from Stora Malm always represents Klicksta. We have now narrowed down the death date for Jonas Flink to the second half of 1807: after the muster roll of June 20th, but by the end of the year.

ArkivDigital also has estate inventories (probates). I saw a statistic somewhere that only about 25 percent of the Swedish estate inventories have been preserved. But it's always worth a try to check a record set that is not complete.

To find a probate for Stora Malm, we first have to know the court that covers the parish: that's Oppunda. The inventory (bouppteckning) can be done anytime after death and most of the books are not indexed, so there are no shortcuts. Finding nothing in the 1807 book, we find the probate of Jonas Flink in the 1808-1809 book (FII:8).

We can now state that Jonas Flink died on the 23rd of August, 1807. We don't know, though, how and where he died. I'm continuing to look for those parts of the story.

Research into that time frame does reveal that the Swedish Army was heavily involved in the Napoleonic Wars. Stralsund in Swedish Pomerania was under siege through most of 1807, ending with a loss to the French on the 24th of August. 

By taking the time to research and understand the unusual Swedish records, we can now say with confidence that Jonas Flink (1775-1807) was an ordinary soldier. He was not a murderer, as portrayed by a researcher who was more interested in the paycheck than in the truth.

One last question: how do we find out about the less common genealogical sources?

There are so many resources available on the internet today. A wonderful place to start is Cyndi's List, where you can find links to thousands of resources for genealogy.

I hate to suggest adding to a paper collection, but if you find there is an outstanding reference book for an area difficult to research, buy that book, even if it's paper and not an e-book.  This is especially true for research in a foreign language. As Americans, we can't expect our knowledge of America to  carry us through research in any other country.

I've nearly worn out my favorite Swedish reference book. Cradled in Sweden has long been considered as the definitive work on Swedish research and it's been close by my side through every step of my Swedish research. I've also bought maps and an English-Swedish dictionary.

It's through researching how to research that we learn about the unusual sources that might otherwise elude us.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

A Hat Trick - Point Two

This weekend I have three tips for the price of one:
  •     Never ignore evidence
  •     Consider unusual sources for unusual problems
  •     Even professionals get it wrong sometimes -- by accident or on purpose

Yesterday I showed how a professional misstated the death of the Swedish soldier Jonas Flink. She set his death date in November, 1805, while the correct date was in 1807.

Today, let's look at one tiny bit of evidence that she missed or ignored in the church records for Stora Malm parish in Södermanland

Returning to the 1803-1807 clerical survey, book AI:10A, let me show you the entire two-page spread for Jonas Flink and his family. It's very easy to skip over the various codes that the priests used. The same is true of American census records. Yet there are often very useful tidbits of evidence to be found by looking at every column and every page of a record.

On the first page, we see the names and birthdates for the family. The birth parish should be listed, but this minister (or clerk) did not complete the entries. The marriage column (Gift) is also not filled in. Brita's moving in year is entered, along with the parish from which she came. Of course, we see the cross in the death column for Jonas. But what are all the mysterious marks in the narrow columns?

If you're puzzled about a record, take the time to learn about unclear information. Whether in a physical book or online, there may be an explanation or legend somewhere in the book or online.

Inside the front cover of this book is found a Latin legend for the mysterious marks that measure each person's ability to read, to understand and interpret the Catechism, and to understand other aspects of the Lutheran faith.

The marks mean: bad, something, simply, well, and absolutely nothing. Thank goodness my ancestors weren't in that last category.

Moving to the second page of the record, we'll find a single piece of evidence too strong to ignore. Recall that Jonas Flink is on the first line of the pages. He could not have died in 1805 based on the little letter e in the 1806 column. But exactly what does that letter e mean?

The minister recorded when each parishioner partook of communion (Nattvarden) during the year. There is a list near the front of the book that lists the dates that communion was offered in the parish.

I certainly can't read every word, but I can tell that b was Candlemas (February 2) and g was Trinity Sunday. Working through the other Holy Days between those two days, I can derive that e was the code for the first Sunday after Easter in 1806.

Jonas Flink took communion one week after Easter in 1806, which fell on the 6th of April. There is no further contact with the minister, based on the church records. He does not appear in the clerical survey books that start in 1808. This evidence pinpoints his death as after April 13, 1806, and before 1808.

Ignoring this evidence seems to me to have been impossible for a professional researcher. As an experienced amateur, it certainly is obvious to me that one little letter is critical evidence. We can't ignore it. So where is the death record?

Tomorrow, using uncommon records to solve this uncommon problem.

Friday, December 6, 2013

A Hat Trick - Point One

This weekend I have three tips for the price of one:
  • Never ignore evidence
  • Consider unusual sources for unusual problems
  • Even professionals get it wrong sometimes -- by accident or on purpose

This three-part case study revisits Sweden, but the lessons apply anywhere.

My great-great-grandmother Matilda, pictured below with her husband and three of her children, was the granddaughter of Swedish soldier Jonas Flink. You've seen that name before, as his family holds lots of lessons. And please take a moment to glance up at the blog header. The beautiful young bride was the granddaughter of Matilda and my great-aunt.

Generations digital kit from ClubScrap

The Professional Gets it Wrong

A professional Swedish researcher, Brigitta, dishonored the memory of the Soldier Jonas Flink. This series of posts is intended to restore his honor within the family and to serve as breadcrumbs for my unknown distant cousins.

One of my grandfather's cousins, Roy Fors, paid Brigitta to send him family information. She charged $60 per family in 1992. It's interesting that she was doing a fixed-price job. That leads to a desire to finish a job, rather than extend it. Yet I can understand her pricing method.

Swedish church records follow a family through births, marriages, deaths and moves. There are some gaps that can change what should be a simple lookup into a hunt. Brigitta was working with microfilm, no doubt, which made a detailed search much harder. Today those records are online, though not indexed.

Roy shared parts of her findings with the rest of the family. I received a copy of a copy in 2004. By then I was experienced in working the Swedish records and I was shocked that Brigitta did not source her work. If she had given sources to Roy, they didn't reach me, but I doubt she shared them.

If a researcher won't provide sources, do not hire them!

So part of tip three is to insist that if you pay someone for research, they owe you, at a minimum, sources for the results. Copies of records would be wonderful, too, copyright permitting.

Without sources in the family group sheets I received, they became only a point of reference for me. I set out to check the information, but soon put them away and dismissed them from my mind as I did my own research.

How and When did Jonas Flink Die?

That research hit a bump at Jonas Flink. I've spent a lot of time trying to figure out when and where he died. After breaking through to find his 1807 death, I pulled Brigitta's file to see what she had found. Her conclusion was different. I checked the data she provided and was appalled.

Brigitta gave an outright false statement about the death of Jonas Flink. I believe she made that choice as a speedy way to complete the families of Jonas and collect her fee. She seized on the death of another soldier named Jonas, who was beheaded after killing another man.

Unfortunately, she made the claim shortly before an infamous soldier by the name of Flink went on a shooting spree. For the family members who had received Brigitta's conclusion, the two men are now forever linked as murderers.

Disproving the Professional

Let's quickly disprove Brigitta's conclusion by looking at the church records for Stora Malm parish in Södermanland.

The death record in book F:1 for Soldier Jonas Stålt, age 31 on the 13th of November, 1805, is clearly not for a man named Jonas Flink.

Did both men exist? Let's rule out a name change by the military. Jonas Stålt is listed as Soldier 18 in the 1803-1807 clerical survey, book AI:10A. It's interesting to notice that there is no cross in the death (Död) column or by the name for Jonas. The minister merely struck him from the book with no extra notations.

Two pages later we find Soldier 22, Jonas Flink. The cross in the death column confirms he died between 1803 and 1807. There is no other notation about his death and he does not appear in the death book. Note that his age is one year different than the other Jonas.

At first I thought Brigitta just made an honest mistake. However, through careful examination of all the evidence, I believe there was an intentional misstatement.

Tomorrow, examining the evidence.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Have Any Brick Walls?

If you're like me, you've got plenty of genealogical brick walls. I've got them scattered from coast to coast and across the pond. Figuring out how to break through those brick walls is a challenge. That's one reason I advocate for taking advantage of learning opportunities.

The next big learning opportunity is for those of us with brick walls in the mid-Atlantic states. My own mid-Atlantic research list includes Maryland and Virginia, Delaware and the Carolinas. How about you? Can you "relate?"

I'm ready for more education. I'd like to learn more about the ancestors of these two Allen sisters from my favorite North Carolina brick wall.

Mother is a Verb kit by Krystal Hartley for Digital Scrapper, May, 2013

The next National Genealogical Society conference will be in Richmond, Virginia, from May 7-10, 2014. Meeting in Richmond means that the seminars will heavily focus on states and ethnic communities in that area of the United States. So this conference is close and pertinent for me. That doesn't always happen.

How about you? Can you spend a day or more in Richmond to learn from top-notch speakers? How does NGS compare to the cost of CKC or another scrapbooking or crafting opportunity? One day of 5 seminars costs $105-$115. All four days cost $195-$265. That compares to a cost of $25-$30 for each class at CKC.

Of course, you don't get to take home any class projects, but the knowledge and ideas will last a lifetime. There is even one session where we can merge interests: Creating Family History Books Using Digital Scrapbooking.

My top picks this spring include:
  • Organizing Your Research without Losing Your Mind
  • When the Trail Turns Cold: New Strategies for Old Problems
  • In a Rut? 7 Ways to Jump-Start Your Research 
  • Where Would You Go If You Had Five Days in Washington, DC
  • How to Overcome Brick Wall Problems in Pennsylvania German Research 
  • Are Those My Early Virginia Ancestors? Spanning Gaps and Developing Theories to Build a Possible Family Structure 
  • Three Colonies, One Peninsula: Border Disputes on Colonial Delmarva 
  • How German History Makes a Difference in Your Family History Research 
  • From the Old Dominion to the Buckeye State 
  • The Migration Triangle: Virginia, the Carolinas, and Tennessee 
  • Kentucky Land Patents: Mind Bogglers or Treasures? 
  • Inheritance Laws and Estate Settlements in the Carolinas 
  • Problem Solving in the Problem-Riddled Carolina Backcountry 
  • Genetic Genealogy Case Studies: Maximize Use of DNA Test Results 
  • From French Towns & Farms to Virginia Plantations: The Huguenots Diversified the Old Dominion's Heritage 
  • Colonial Migrations In and Out of the Shenandoah Valley

NGS conference registration opened today. Cheryl and I have our hotel room reserved and our registrations completed. Will you join us in Richmond this May?