Tuesday, December 22, 2015

First Session Almost Full! Put Your Name on the Wait List Today!!!

Estate Settlement Records: 

Even When There is NO will, There's A Way!

"Hamilton County Courthouse, Fifth and Main Streets," slide, Cincinnati History Slide Collection, Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County; digital image, Greater Cincinnati Memory Project (http://cincinnatimemory.org/ : downloaded 14 November 2015). Image used with permission of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.
Preregistration for the Estate Settlement Series is open and the first session is full! Put your name on the waiting list or contact Liz Stratton at education@hcgsohio.org. If there is sufficient interest, a second session will be added at 3 pm.

The 4-session series will provide a detailed look at the estate settlement process and the genealogically rich records created. This hands-on series will lead you step-by-step through the estate settlement process. Work with your own ancestors or with a provided example to find ancestral wills and estate records. Learn research strategies and glean all the genealogical clues from every record.

Parts 1-3 apply regardless of where your ancestor lived. It is best to attend all sessions but it is not necessary. The final session focuses specifically on Hamilton County, Ohio. Work with records that survived the courthouse fires and reconstruct estate files using other sources.

Saturday, January 30, 1 pm, Estate Settlement Records, Part 1: “Even When There’s No Will, There’s a Way!”  Overview of the estate records and how they answer genealogical questions followed by a hands-on session. Learn where to find the records of your ancestors whether they are on Ancestry or not! Preregistration: http://goo.gl/mEXnKH.

Saturday, March 5, 1 pm, Estate Settlement Records, Part 2. Preregistration: http://goo.gl/HJbY7R.

Saturday, April 2, 1 pm, Estate Settlement Records, Part 3. Preregistration: http://goo.gl/h8XkBL.

Saturday, May 7, 1 pm, “Estate Settlements after the Courthouse Burns,” Part 4. Preregistration: http://goo.gl/PDZDEy.

Updated 22 December 2015.

"ernie," digital image 175966 licensed CC0 public domain (https://pixabay.com/en/ : downloaded 14 November 2015).

Monday, December 7, 2015

So What’s in a Name?

Jewish Interest Group
By Rick D. Cauthen

            Many Jews living or who grew up in Hamilton County (or the Greater Cincinnati region for that matter) share something in common. That being a Jewish surname. Now let’s be honest, a large majority of individuals can hear a last name and immediately believe that the person is Jewish or at least descends from a Jewish line. So even if you’re not Jewish, and during the course of your research you locate a 3rd great grandmother with the name Rabinowitz, chances are, if you hadn’t already known, you would most certainly assume that you may have found Jewish Heritage in your bloodlines. So why might you assume this Jewish heritage? That’s right! It was all from hearing the surname and determining that it sounded Jewish in origin.

            Now to be fair, there are most definitely Jews who have the name Smith or Miller which is not the most definitive clue that their ancestors were Jewish. I would venture to say that in fact, more often than not, those would have not been Jews, but there is always an exception to the rule. Of course, without going through an exhaustive list of surnames, I am certain that even when traipsing through a Jewish Cemetery, you may spot a name or two that you may have never guessed that that name was linked to a Jewish person. A Jewish immigrant who wishes to anglicize their surname may have taken on a name that didn’t have much of a Jewish connection to it. So like many other things we discover in Genealogy, we know there are never any absolutes. Still, there are more Jewish surnames than there are not, that would certainly be recognized as such.

            I suppose I should mention that Jews that migrated to North America would change their names at will. That is often, they changed their Jewish surnames they had already established in the country from whence they came. I know this sounds crazy, but it’s true. They had no national ID like a Social Security number to make it difficult to just take another name. Also, people didn’t carry around picture IDs like a driver’s license that we are so familiar with today. The world back then just didn’t have the kind of structure that made it difficult for someone to change his/her last name. I am certain that is why as the years passed on to more current times, that the laws finally caught up with these individuals and structure and rules were laid down to prevent this kind of frequent name changes. Now one must go through a court of law or get a married with the marriage certificate stating your change of name. Of course I realize that many of you readers may also be thinking, “Geez, with these types of undocumented name changes, isn’t that going to make my research more challenging?” Well in a word, “yes.” However, it is not impossible.

            Ashkenazic Jews were most definitely among the last Europeans to take last names or rather family names. Surnames were taken on as early as 1787 in the Austro-Hungarian Empire and as late as 1844 in Czarist Russia. Jews only took these names once they were compelled to do so by the government. Why were they compelled? Simply answered they could then be taxed, conscripted into the army (more commonly known as “being drafted”), and education. And in that order of importance. Education however was most often an internal Jewish affair.

            Prior to the taking of surnames as forced by the government, the Jewish Community would actually have a change of names each and every generation. Jews would use patronymics or sometimes matronymics. For instance, a gentleman may have been named Joshua ben Benjamin. Meaning simply, Joshua, son of Benjamin. Likewise Benjamin’s grandson Nathan would have been name Nathan ben Joshua. Daughters in a similar way may have been something like Rachel bat Miriam which I am certain you have already realized that that would be Rachel, daughter of Miriam. Matronymics were not used as often, as daughters were still named Rachel, daughter of Samuel. In other words, patronymics were used more often than matronymics. As a genealogist, you should be aware of both conventions in Jewish Genealogical research.

            There were many conventions used to establish Jewish surnames which were registered with governmental authorities: Patronymics, Matronymics, Place Names, Occupations, Personal Traits, Insulting Names, Animal Names, Hebrew Names, Hebrew Acronyms, Yiddish Derived Names, Invented Names. Below we will go through these conventions providing you, the reader, some examples of each:


·         Patronymics – Since it was common to label an individual with a somewhat makeshift surname of “Son of” along with the father’s name, it became simple to take a legal surname from essentially the same principle. Many last names simply sound like first names. For instance, some may have the last name of Isaac, Isaacson, and Isacovitch. In Yiddish, son was denoted by “son” or “sohn.” The name Mendelsohn for instance, derived from the son of. Mendel. In Polish or Russian, it would be “wich” or “witz.” Examples: Markowitz or Avromovitch.

·         Matronymics – Some families created surnames out of women’s first names. Such as Gittleman from Gittel. Rivken from the feminine name of Rivke (Rebecca in English). Goldman from the name Golda.

·         Place Names – Often Jews used the names of the towns or regions from whence they came. Berliner or Berlinsky from Berlin, Germany. Pinsky from Pinsk, Belarus. Litwak from Lithuania. Prager from Prague. Wiener or Weinberg from Vienna. Warshavsky or Warshauer taken from Warsaw, Poland. Berg or Bergman meaning from a hilly place.

·         Occupational Names ­­– Also a very common convention used by more than just the Jewish population. Graber for an engraver. Miller for obviously a miller. Stein, Steiner, Stone, Silverstein all used for a jeweler. Goldstein from an occupation of a Goldsmith. Zucker or Zuckerman related to being a sugar merchant. Presser or Pressman derived from a clothes presser.

·         Personal Traits – The names Alter or Alterman from simply being old. Dreyfus meaning three legged (most likely one that had walked with a cane). Shein, Shoen, or Shoenman meaning pretty or handsome. Gross or Grossman from the trait of being big. Schwartz taken from the trait of having black hair or dark complexion. Roth or Rothman from having red hair.

·         Insulting Names – Unfortunately, some names were foisted on Jews who often got rid of them as soon as possible. However, there are some that still remain today. The name Billig meaning cheap. Gans for a goose. Grob comes from rough or crude. Even Kalb for a cow.

·         Animal Names – Not at all unique to Jews, our ancestors took last names from the inspiration of animals. Adler derived from eagle. Karp from a carp. Loeb or Leib from a Lion. Baer, Berman, Beerman all representing a bear. Einhorn for a unicorn. Hirschhorn coming from deer antlers.

·         Hebrew Names – A number of Jews would simply hold on to or took on traditional Jewish names from the Bible & Talmud. The two major groups of names represent the Kohanim, (descendants of high priests) and Levites (second in line to the Kohanim). Surnames of Cohen, Cohn, Kohn, Kahan, Kahn, and Kaplan have their origins from Jews who were members of the Kohanim. Likewise, surnames of Levi, Levy, Levine, Levinsky, Levitan, Levenson, Levitt, Lewin, Lewinsky, and Lewinson have their origins from Jews who were members of the Levites. Others include Aronson or Aronoff from the Hebrew name Aaron. Jacobs, Jacobson, or Jacoby from the name Jacob. The name Menachem gave rise to the surnames Mann and Mendel.

·         Hebrew Acronyms – Sample of names derived from Hebrew Acronyms include: Baron from Bar Aron (son of Aaron), Getz from Gabbai Tsedek (righteous synagogue official), and Segal derive from Se Gan Levia (second-rank Levite).

·         Yiddish-Derived NamesHirsh means deer or stag in Yiddish. Wolf, the symbol of the tribe of Benjamin, is the root of the names Wolfson, Wouk, and Volkovich. The name Eckstein comes from the Yiddish word for cornerstone.

·         Invented Names – During the time of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, when Jews became required to assume a last name, often they chose the nicest ones they could think of as they may have been charged a registration fee by the authorities. These names often came from nature. Kirschenbaum from cherry tree, Applebaum from apple tree. Tannenbaum for a fir tree. Others names chosen Rosen from a rose, Schoen or Schein meaning pretty, Bloom for a flower, or Feld meaning field.


For more information on this topic consult these in-depth studies. All are available at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County and Hebrew Union College Klau Library (except those by Tagger, available only at HUC)

Beider, Alexander. A Dictionary of Ashkenazic Given Names: Their Origins, Structure, Pronunciation, and Migrations. Bergenfield, NJ: Avotaynu, 2001.

–––. A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from Galicia. Bergenfield, NJ: Avotaynu, 2004.

–––. A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Kingdom of Poland. Teaneck, NJ: Avotaynu, 1996.

–––. A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Russian Empire. Rev. ed. Bergenfield, NJ: Avotaynu,    2008.

–––. Jewish Surnames in Prague (15th-18th centuries). Teaneck, NJ: Avotaynu, 1994.

Faiguenboim, Guilherme. Dictionary of Sephardic Surnames. Rio de Janeiro: Fraiha, 2003.

Menk, Lars. A Dictionary of German-Jewish Surnames. Bergenfield, NJ: Avotaynu, 2005.

Tagger, Mathilde A. Dictionary of Bulgarian Jewish Surnames. New Haven, CT: Avotaynu, 2014.

–––. Dictionary of Sephardic Given Names. New Haven, CT: Avotaynu, 2015.
Rick Cauthen, Leader of the Jewish Interest Group, may be reached at: jewish.interest@hcgsohio.org 


Monday, November 30, 2015

Extra! Extra! Read all about it in the NEWS!

What can you learn about your ancestors in the news? Just about anything! Obituaries, announcements of all kinds, court reports, news items and more. All may contain information about your family. Sometimes these news reports may be the only record of an event. Online collections make searching newspapers easier than ever. Indexes, where available, make print or film copies accessible as well. Read about your ancestors in the news!

Local newspaper expert, Jeff Herbert, will lead this hands-on session. There are only a few openings remaining!
  • Strategies for finding old newspapers where you ancestors lived—in print, online or on film
  • Effective use of newspapers in your research
  • Strategies for efficient searching in digital newspapers

WHAT:  “Extra! Extra! Read all about it in the NEWS!” with Jeff Herbert
WHEN:  December 5, 1 PM
WHERE:  Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, 3rd Floor Computer Lab
HOW:  Preregistration is required, http://goo.gl/yGxzVg

Submitted by Liz Stratton, Education Director, HCGS

Friday, October 16, 2015

Did You Make a Reservation for the Heritage Luncheon on October 24th? WE'VE MADE IT EASY

The weather has been beautiful. Maybe you intended to make a reservation for the Heritage Luncheon to be held on October 24th. Perhaps you were interested in the program which includes an Abraham Lincoln impersonator. Maybe, just maybe, you've considered submitting your application to one of the HCGS Lineage Societies and want to know what that's all about. Well, here is your chance! And it's painless.

Just click on the link, choose your preference for lunch, and pay online. Reservations are due by midnight, Wednesday, October 21st. We would love to see you there.

Note: If you complete the online form, there is no need to submit the form included below. You will receive an email confirmation.

Submitted by: Kathy Reed

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A Day with Genealogy Experts

The poster says it all. According to the latest weather forecast, the best place to be on Saturday is the Main Library. We hope to see you there.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Copies of Sacramental Records Are Now Available from the Archives of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati

Chancery Archives of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati
Beginning in 2012, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati Archives underwent an extensive move and reorganization. Previously located at 212 E 8th Street in a rented building, the Archdiocese decided to move the Archives to a building that it owned and that would be designed for the preservation needs of the records. At new site was selected at 25 E 8th Street in a building that the Archdiocese has owned since 1943 when it became “Chancery Hall.” Having sat empty for a number of years, the building was renovated for the records, including a climate controlled stacks room, high density storage units, and LED lighting. During the 2 ½ year renovation process the Archives was closed to researchers.
We are happy to announce that the Archives is now accepting genealogical requests for sacramental records -- baptism, marriage, death, confirmation, first communion -- created before 1930. Genealogists can visit the website listed below and either submit an online form electronically or make a printout to send in the mail.  Telephone calls and email requests will not be accepted.  For a fee of $25.00, researchers can request up to four (4) specific names and type of records.  The payment is non-refundable, but if no records are found, an explanation of what records were searched will be provided.  The Archives can devote up to one hour per request, so researchers are encouraged to consult published sources before submitting their requests.  For example, if the specific parish is not known, please provide the best address you can find.  Name variations are also helpful. Please note that the Archives does not hold cemetery or adoption records. The Archives is not set up for genealogists to come in person to do research.    

Visit the Catholic Archives website for more information and instructions on how to submit a request.  

 Submitted by Julie Ross
Sarah Patterson - Archivist

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

DNA and Genealogy at the Kenton County Library

DNA and Genealogy
When: Tuesday, September 15th, 6:30 - 8:45
Where: Kenton County Library
502 Scott Boulevard
Covington, KY 41011

Reservations are requested through the Kenton Co. Library website listed below.


Program information (September 15 programs, scroll down for link to this program):
DNA and Genealogy 

DNA is playing a more and more ubiquitous role in genealogical research. But Genetic Genealogy can have a steep learning curve. How does a Y-DNA test compare/contrast with a mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) test or an autosomal DNA test? Is there an advantage to using one company over the other? I’ve got my results, now what? Come to the Covington Branch of the Kenton County Library and get your questions answered.

The following topics will be discussed:

  1. What is DNA? How is it used in genealogy? What kind of information will I receive? How reliable are ethnicity results?
  2. What companies process DNA for genealogy? Is there an advantage to selecting one company over another?
  3. I've got my results. What can I do with them?
Kathy Reed of the Hamilton County Genealogical Society will be the speaker. She attended a week-long institute on genetic genealogy earlier this summer and has spoken frequently on this topic. We hope to see you then.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Local Jewish Cemeteries - Part 2

        by Rick D. Cauthen

       In my last blog regarding Jewish Cemeteries, I spoke of genealogical importance of  the Hebrew Inscription found on headstones. So why is the Hebrew Inscription so important? That is quite simple. It was Jewish tradition that you would inscribe the deceased’s Hebrew name along with the name of their father or sometimes mother. Now, I think you would have to agree that many genealogists working on non-Jewish lines of their family tree would be ecstatic if they could simply look at their ancestor’s tombstone and find that vital information.
But don’t get too excited, the names provided are formal Hebrew names that don’t provide surnames in the typical sense that you may understand. The Jews had essentially patrilineal or sometimes matrilineal names that changed with every generation. For example, if your name is Shem and your father’s name was Noah, you would have been identified Shem son of Noah. Often, daughters would also be addressed in a similar vain. Hannah daughter of Abraham. However, some Jews used a matrilineal naming, with respect to girls only, where it would have been Hannah daughter of Sarah. It seems to have varied somewhat with the naming of girls. I suppose it may have had something to do with the Synagogues they belong to and the Rabbis that officiated over them.
The reason I bring up this naming convention is that it’s important that you understand that you are not going to find the Surnames that you may hope to find. However, even a first name is better than no name. If nothing else, it will serve as evidence later corroborating a record that you may find among other records. For instance, if you discover that your grandfather whose name you know was Mose Goldstein, showed the inscription that his father’s name was Hyman, and you later find Mose Goldstein in the 1920 US Census with a Head of House by the name of Hyman Goldstein, then you know more likely that you have found the correct family. In other words as genealogists we always wanted to take any evidence that we find and use it to our benefit.
More often than not you will find the dates of death and birth according to the familiar Gregorian calendar (although at times you may find a Jewish headstone that only has Hebrew writing on it). You will generally also find in the Hebrew inscription those dates according to the Jewish calendar. Often this may be more than just nice to know information. For example, perhaps it gives the name of the deceased in the form of their English name and the dates as 1865 – 1913. So now you can readily determine that your ancestor passed away circa 1913, but no specific date. However, there is an excellent chance that the Hebrew inscription will provide that actual date of death according to the Jewish calendar, which in turn can be converted to the Gregorian calendar. A simple tool to do this can be found on the web at http://www.hebcal.com/converter/. It will also provide you the Hebrew words to express that Jewish calendar date.
By now you are thinking, well all this information is great to know, but I still cannot read the Hebrew, so this is all for naught! Remember, I also stated this is a very common plight among genealogist tracing Jewish lines. So let’s discuss some strategies to get over this major hurdle. An internet page I would strongly recommend reading can be located within JewishGen.org. At http://www.jewishgen.org/InfoFiles/tombstones.html, you will find some very sound basic information which will provide some assistance in breaking this Hebrew code.
Online networking is without a doubt the most powerful tool at your disposal. I would highly recommend joining the Facebook group “Jewish Genealogy Portal.” You can locate this group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/JewishGenealogyPortal/. This group is moderated by Randol Schoenberg, the famed lawyer whose story was recently told in the movie “Woman in Gold.” Simply take a quality picture of your ancestor’s headstone and create a posting including the image into this Facebook group. Just kindly ask for anyone who would be willing to translate the Hebrew Inscription into English. Within the group there are many who have the ability to translate for you and graciously do for others. Another Facebook group I would recommend would be “Tracing the Tribe.” You will locate it at https://www.facebook.com/groups/tracingthetribe/. Just like the “Jewish Genealogy Portal” group, there are numerous individuals who will gladly make the translation for you. One more suggestion I have is an area called “Viewmate” located within the JewishGen.org site. The URL is http://www.jewishgen.org/ViewMate/. This is a more formal forum where you may upload your image of the Headstone and should receive a reply within 24-48 hours. The benefit of using Viewmate is I tend to believe you will locate volunteer translators who have a greater skill level.
Lastly, if you really would like to master this skill of uncovering the meaning found in those Hebrew Inscriptions, I would highly suggest purchasing and reading the following book:

Segal, Joshua L. A Field Guide to Visiting a Jewish Cemetery: A Spiritual Journey to the Past, Present and Future. Nashua, NH: Jewish Cemetery, 2005.

This book provides an extremely detailed educational journey in learning and honing the skill of extracting all the vital information found on a Jewish Headstone. Not just the Hebrew words, but also decorations and symbols to be found on these headstones.
Symbols that are found on Jewish Headstones will also provide “nice to know” information in regards to your ancestors heritage. When you find the image of the hands with split fingers:

This symbol is representative of a Kohen (or Kohain), a member of the Kohanim, who were the high priests. Kohens are strictly of patrilineal descent, in other words the heritage was only passed from father to son. All Kohens are said to be direct descendants of Aaron, the brother of Moses, who was the first Kohen. The high priests would put their hands over the congregation when performing certain blessings. If the positions of these hands seems familiar to Mr. Spock’s greeting, the character from Star Trek fame, this is no coincidence. Leonard Nimoy, the famous Jewish actor who performed that role for television and film, was heavily influenced by what he saw as a child going to synagogue during the high holy days.
The symbol of the water pitcher:

This represents those who descend from the tribe of Levi or as a group, the Levites. The Levites were also priests, part of whose role was to wash the hands of the high priests.
Images of trees with their limbs cut off, trees being cut down, or entire headstones in the shape of trees with broken or cut off limbs:

These were placed on headstones of individuals that were considered to be cut down in the prime of life. These were young individuals that were in their teens to late twenties and even perhaps early thirties. I suppose in truth, it was symbolic of the devastation felt by the surviving parents who had to face the cruel reality of burying their child.
The symbol of a lamb:

The lamb, also being a baby or a very young animal would be found on the headstones of infants or very young children. The lamb has a simple meaning of young innocence. This perhaps may actually be the most emotionally charged Jewish symbol you will ever find on any headstone.
Of course, the most common symbols you will find are the Menorah and/or the Star of David.:

Both of these symbols are for the most part pure decoration as they ultimately signify that the deceased individual was a member of the Jewish community. Often the Menorah is placed on stones of women as it is representative of the deed that only women, would perform by saying the blessing over the Sabbath candles. The Star of David, which may be placed above men on a double headstone for a husband and wife, often is found with the two Hebrew letters as shown here. The letters simply are an abbreviation for the words “Here Lies.” Even if not found inside the Star of David, you most certainly will find it inscribed on every Jewish headstone.
Lastly, you will also find the epitaph on every single Jewish headstone inscribed as:

These Hebrew letters are a conventional abbreviation meaning “May his/her soul be bound up in the bond of eternal life.”

If you have an interest in getting involved with the Jewish Interest Group of the Hamilton County Genealogical Soceity please contact Mr. Rick Cauthen at jewish.interest@hcgsohio.org

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Set Sail for New Jersey in this Computer Chair Research Trip!

Did you know there are 1218 sources available for New Jersey Genealogy available at PLCH? Have you explored all of them for your ancestor? What about the many databases available on the New Jersey Archives website? Ancestry.com? Join us next Saturday, September 5, at either 1 pm or 3 pm (duplicate sessions) to explore these sources. Learn techniques for recording your searches so that you never repeat the same search in the same source again!


New Jersey Sources Near and Far

When: September 5, 1 pm OR 3 pm
Where: Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, 3rd floor, computer lab
Preregistration: http://goo.gl/RnbZBA  (1 pm) OR http://goo.gl/ppp42s (3 pm)

Submitted by Liz Stratton, Education Director

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Finding Immigrant Ancestors Using American Records

WHO:  Amie Bowser Tennant, Research Genealogist
WHAT:  Finding Immigrant Ancestors Using American Records
WHEN:  Saturday, September 12th, 11:00 - 12:30
WHERE: Clifton Branch Library, 3400 Brookline Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45220
DIRECTIONS: http://www.cincinnatilibrary.org/ branches/clifton.html 

How many of us have said at one time or another that we've successfully researched our ancestors in the United States but don't feel confident that we have the skills to research those from "across the pond?" Many of us know that our ancestors came from Germany, Ireland or fill-in-the-blank. However, we may not know the specific town, be unable to read their native language or have any idea where to begin.

Our speaker, Amie Bowser Tennant will discuss her techniques for using American records to answer many of our questions about immigrant ancestors before utilizing records from their homeland. Amie also has some amazing tips and tricks on how to make best use of Ancestry and FamilySearch.

As someone who has had the privilege of hearing this talk, I can tell you that it has appeal for both "newbie" genealogists and those with years of experience. Amie uses a case study to demonstrate the clues gathered from many different record groups to create a complete timeline of an immigrant's whereabouts in America. She also discusses "workarounds" to best utilize Ancestry and FamilySearch when compiling facts about your ancestor.


Clifton Branch Library

We thought it might be fun to hold this program at the new Clifton Branch Library. This newly-opened library is in the former home originally owned by "Boss Cox." A brief history of the building is included on the page linked above. We will meet in the third-floor meeting room. There is free parking and the library is fully accessible. We hope to see you there.

Submitted by: Kathy Reed. Program Director

Friday, May 15, 2015

Hamilton County Recorder Receives Award of Merit

 Wayne Coates with Jim Dempsey
Award of Merit

On April 18, 2015, Recorder Wayne Coates was honored by the Hamilton County Genealogical Society which presented him with their Award of Merit. Jim Dempsey, Board Member, stated "For his vision to digitize Hamilton County property records for internet access, for the support of FamilySeach.org digitizing over 800,000 historical records, and his commitment to work with our Society to create digital historic and genealogical indexes, it is our honor and great pleasure to award Wayne Coates, our Chapter‘s highest award, the Award of Merit."

Additional News from the Recorders Office

Jim Dempsey announced that a group of HCGS volunteer indexers have completed a transcription of Deed Index 7, Part 1. It includes about 6,000 deed purchaser surnames. The index can be found on the HCGS website. This, and the previously completed Index 8, are Adobe Acrobat PDF files which are in alphabetical order by buyer surname.

Tech Tip

These PDF files can easily be searched.  Simply click Ctrl-F and a search box will appear on the screen. A search box can be used for any word or part of a word in the transcribed index. In addition, the search box is useful for searching first names, second names, institutions, businesses and partnerships.

These member benefits would not be possible without the dedication of HCGS volunteers. Our thanks to all of them.

Submitted by Jim Dempsey
Photo Credit: John Tholking

Sunday, May 10, 2015

German Genealogy Day at the Kolping Center

Jeff Herbert, Bob Rau and Kenny Burck

Yesterday at the Kolping Center, 86 people showed up to our German Genealogy Day. The day included speakers Jeff Herbert, Bob Rau, and Kenny Burck. In addition to three special talks, attendees were able to enjoy beer, apple strudel, and large German pretzels. It was a great day with a surprise turnout, given that it was a nice spring day.

Thanks are due to the Kolping Society, who graciously co-sponsored the event, and allowed us the use of their facility. The event attracted people from Indiana, Kentucky and even one from New Mexico who was home on a visit. I think everyone who attended had a great time and learned a lot.
What expertise we have in Hamilton County!

You may look at other pictures of the event by clicking on this link.

Submitted by Kathy Reed

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Jewish Genealogy: The use of Local Jewish Cemeteries

by Rick D. Cauthen

     Certainly one of the most accessible tools for genealogical research particularly to those of Jewish ancestry would be a Jewish Cemeteries. The oldest Jewish cemetery located in Hamilton County is the Chestnut Street Cemetery dating back to 1821 located at the corner of Chestnut Street and Central Avenue in the downtown region of Cincinnati. Unfortunately, it closed rapidly in 1849 as this small plot of land was consumed during the Cholera Epidemic that had wiped out so many in the Cincinnati area. It is not only the oldest Jewish cemetery in Cincinnati, but in fact, it is the oldest Jewish cemetery west of the Allegheny Mountains.

    The most basic fact that can be gleaned simply from which Jewish cemetery your ancestor is buried in is simply whether that individual was of the Orthodox, Conservative, or Reform Jewish movements. Every Jewish cemetery formed historically by a particular Jewish congregation. That congregation would have belong to one of those broad movements. Knowledge of which movement any specific Jewish cemetery belongs to just involves a bit of research about the congregation that founded it.

     Since 2004, the majority of Jewish cemeteries in Cincinnati have been managed and maintained under the non-profit organization “Jewish Cemeteries of Greater Cincinnati.” This organization has become a major tool for all Hamilton County Jewish Genealogists. Jewish Cemeteries of Greater Cincinnati can be found on the web at http://www.jcemcin.org/. This site will provide a rich source of information about the history of all the Jewish cemeteries located in this Hamilton and Butler counties. Once on the main home page, you will find a header labeled “Genealogy” on the menu.
Once you click on the Genealogy menu, you will be taken to their data base whereby you can do a simply search for your ancestor and you will find a quick response listing the first & last names, the cemetery, and the date of death. Additionally, you will find an actual photograph of the head stone or marker. If you would like to make an in person visit to the actual grave, by continuing to click on the last name of your ancestor, you will find more detailed burial information showing the specific burial location such as lot number, section number, and grave number.

Of course, first-hand experience has taught me that actually using that information to find the actual grave can be much more challenging. So here is a very helpful tip! Take your cell phone with you as begin to search for the location of your Jewish ancestor. If you are particularly struggling in your search, you can phone the Jewish Cemeteries of Greater Cincinnati staff at 513-961-0178 during regular business hours, and you can explained to them who you are trying to find. They can take the name of any deceased person for which you happened to be standing by and they can direct you by telling you how many rows to walk forward or backward and so many graves to the left and the right in order to located your ancestor.

     Jewish headstones may uncover more information that just the birth date, and death date. It may uncover who they were married to if buried adjacent to their spouse. Plus, these headstones may uncover more genealogical information if you can translate the Hebrew inscription. To be continued…

My Paternal Grandparents Buried in Covedale

Rick Cauthen, leader of the Jewish Interest Group, may be reached at:

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Jewish Interest Group Now Forming

Have you ever wanted to become more involved with our very own Hamilton County Genealogical Society but felt like you may not really fit it since most of your ancestry if not 100% of your ancestors were Jewish? I most definitely have and we certainly don’t have a Jewish Genealogical Society to fold in to. So who am I you may be asking. Well that is a fair enough question.

My name is Rick Schear Cauthen and I have been working on my Family Tree since my early twenties. Unfortunately, I am now in my early fifties. However, I have never lost my passion for family history or history in general for that matter. I recently have become active in our very own local Hamilton County Genealogical Society. It is truly a wonderful way to make new friends and become more involved in the pursuit and preservation of local records.

I am currently in the process of forming a Jewish Interest Group with the Society and I really would love to meet others who would share my passion for Jewish Roots. The first project that I been instrumental in making my dream a reality is the Microfilming and Indexing of the funeral records from the local Jewish Community’s very own Weil Funeral Home. Well, I should say this project is in the pipeline and it is going to be an enormous undertaking as we have determined that in the last 100 years, Weil Funeral Home has handled more than 28,000 funerals. Weil Funeral Home is a genealogical gold mine for any researcher who has Jewish roots in the Greater Cincinnati community. 

So, if you have this same interest, won’t you come get involved? Please reach out and contact me, Rick Schear Cauthen at jewish.interest@hcgsohio.org.  Just email me your name and phone number. Also, you can friend and message me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/rick.d.cauthen

I thought I would share one of my most treasured photos of my Great Grandfather and Great Grandmother Freda & Hyman Schear and their seven children. The small little boy in the front center was my Grandfather Mose Schear. Unfortunately, I never met one person in this picture so I am quite grateful to at least have this photo which would have been taken in Kursenai, Lithuania sometime in the very late 1800s. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

New Database available on our website: Hamilton County Church Deaths 1890-1899

We are pleased to announce that we have a new database on our website, Hamilton County Church Deaths 1890-1899.  This  is the latest and last installment of 19th Century church deaths, indexed by Jeffrey G. Herbert, covering the years 1890 through 1899.  The Previous years are in book format and this database will also be published in book format soon.  Included in the 1890-1899 database are 25,914 church deaths from 81 Hamilton County churches, including Roman Catholic.  Also included are 8,443 burials in three Catholic cemeteries during the 1890s. 

These are records of church services for deaths (funerals) and are typically NOT cemetery burial records, except for some cemetery burials indexed in Church Deaths 1890-1899. A typical index entry consists of Name (Last name, Given name), Church burial/funeral date, Death Date if given, Maiden name if given, and Age at Death if given, and Parents name if given (sometimes for children).  Some entries also include an indicator (asterisk or Y) that the Place of Birth (POB) is given and some include the newspaper page. Each index record includes a reference to the source microfilm or church source.

The database is in two formats, one for Members and a Public Version:

Members-Only Online Full Index: Search the complete index of entries from Church Deaths 1890 - 1899 database.  The full index entry will be given in the search results for HCGS members who have logged into this website. If you are not a member you can Join HCGS (for as little as $15/year) and have access to this database.

Public Online Abbreviated Index: Available in a searchable PDF file (1.6 MB). Each entry contains Last Name, Given Name, Year of death, Place of birth (POB) indicator.  Until this index is published in printed book form, the full index entry is only available at this time to HCGS members.

Here is a link to the database page: Hamilton County Church Deaths 1890-1899

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Annual Seminar Registration Deadline Approaching: April 1!


Saturday, April 18, 8:30 am - 4:00 pm




Mill Race Banquet Center in Winton Woods Park

1515 West Sharon Road, Cincinnati


Preregister by April 1

Online: http://goo.gl/K6s3Bg

Print and Mail a Registration form: http://goo.gl/UwM6SX

Registration is $35/person for members of the Hamilton, Butler, Clermont or Warren County Genealogy Societies. All others pay only $37/person.



Gerald "Jerry" Smith, CG, is our speaker. Jerry is an expert in New Jersey and Pennsylvania research. That's good news for descendants of Hamilton County's early settlers. Many of those early settlers migrated from New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania records are similar to records in any commonwealth--that includes Kentucky, Massachusetts and Virginia! Even if you have no ancestors from those states, the seminar has much to offer.


Records of the New Jersey Proprietors

Records of the New Jersey Proprietors include land records. (I know you all love land records after the recent land series!) These records may be the key to unlock your ancestors identities in New Jersey. New Jersey land records are unique. Learn the history of the East Jersey and West Jersey Proprietorships. Discover records available online or at the New Jersey Archives.

Early Pennsylvania Research from Afar

Jerry will navigate us to underused sources and tell us how to get the most out of them. Early Pennsylvania records including Pennsylvania patents, Quarter Session Court records and early tax lists will be covered. For those who are planning a summer vacation to Pennsylvania, Jerry will reveal lesser-known repositories. For those who aren't going there, learn how to efficiently engage a researcher.

Obituaries--From Humor to Horror

This introduction to obituary research will inform and delight you. Gotchas, humorous and horrid examples are interspersed. Topics include compiling a list of newspapers, locating them, finding obituaries in a variety of forms and then using them as a springboard to further records about your ancestor.

Finding Land-Less Ancestors

I've heard the cries and tales of woe from those who found no ancestors listed in ANY of land records we explored. This session is tailor-made for you. Jerry will teach us techniques and resources for researching our poor ancestors who died without land. Strategies for both rural and urban areas will be presented.


The annual seminar is a fun way to learn about genealogy from national experts! No airlines or hotels required. The Mill Race Banquet Center has ample parking. Admission to the park, a continental breakfast and buffet lunch are included with your registration. We look forward to seeing you there!

Submitted by Liz Stratton, Education Director, Education@hcgsohio.org.  f

Thursday, March 19, 2015

German Genealogy Day - May 9th

The Hamilton County Genealogical Society, in conjunction with the Kolping Society, is excited to present a “German Genealogy Day” on Saturday, May 9th, from 10:00 – 2:00. The day will feature three speakers, recognized for their expertise in German culture and genealogy.


10:00 - Jeff Herbert – Researching Your German Ancestors Using German Newspapers

11:10 - Bob Rau – Eva Barbara, Where Are You? Finding Your German Ancestor’s Birthplace

12:20 - Kenny Burck – Tracing Your German Genealogy

Question and answer period to follow.


Beer, soft drinks, German pretzels and strudel will be available for purchase throughout the day.


This event will be held at the Kolping Center, located at 10235 Mill Road, Cincinnati, OH  45231. You can get a map and directions at this link: http://www.kolpingcenter.com/kcdirections.php
There is free parking and the building is handicap-accessible.


There is no cost for this program with the exception of optional food and drink purchases.

Speaker Bios

Kenny Burck - President of HCGS, has been a German researcher for 46 years. He is a frequent speaker and has contributed to the publication of more than 20 books. He also teaches a course annually on reading German script in genealogical documents. 

Jeff-Herbert - Jeff has been a local researcher for 20+ years and specializes in German research.   He the past-president of the HCGS and currently serves as Treasurer.   His lecture will focus on strategies for researching and translating local German records to find the birthplace of your German ancestors.

Robert Rau - Bob Rau has been interested in genealogy for over thirty five years, and has been researching his and his wife’s ancestral lines, all of which go back into Germany and Alsace-Lorraine.  He has been a non-member librarian, specializing in German research, at the LDS Family History Center in Cincinnati for over twenty five years. 

We hope to see you there.

Submitted by Kathy Reed