Discovering genea-fiction

inthebloodcoverBack in the 90s, when I was a dog writer, there was a series of dog lovers’ mysteries whose protagonist was a dog writer.  There is at least one set of mysteries whose main character is a professional organizer (my current profession).

So I shouldn’t be surprised that there’s a whole genre of genealogical mysteries. I guest I should be surprised that it took me this long to discover that fact!

Last night I started reading In the Blood, by Steve Robinson. Jefferson Tayte, the book’s main character, is a professional genealogist. I’m already hooked.

I think one of the things I love about doing family history research is that I’m solving mysteries. And of course I love reading mystery novels. Throw together family history research, historical fiction, and the particulars of being a genealogist and that’s a recipe for success, in my book.

In the Blood is the first in a series, which I’m sure I’ll read. When I’m through with that series there are plenty of other series from which to choose, including Nathan Dylan Goodwin’s Forensic Genealogist books, and Jimmy Fox’s Nick Herald Genealogical Mysteries.

If you read genea-fiction, I’d love to hear any recommendations for other titles. What are your favorites?

Solved! The mystery of my grandfather’s birthplace

daveadamsbirthannouncementI’ve been frustrated by a little mystery surrounding the birth of my grandfather, David Adams. I knew from the Social Security Death Index that he was born on November 12, 1904. According to census records, he was born in Oregon. In the 1900 census, the family was living in Sacramento, Kentucky. In the 1910 census they were Quinault, Washington, where my great grandfather, Elmer Adams, worked as a farmer.

I visited my parents earlier this month and I asked my father why the family moved from Kentucky to Washington. He said it was never discussed, so he had no idea. When I told him that the census records indicated that his father had been born in Oregon, he was surprised. He had never known the family to live in Oregon. We guessed that perhaps they traveled to the big city of Portland for the birth. That gave me an idea: Why not search for a birth announcement in the Portland newspaper?

Today, I finally had a chance to do that. Thanks to the State Research Guide for Oregon put out by Family Tree Magazine, I was easily able to find the Historic Oregon Newspapers website. A search on the words “Elmer Adams” within five words of one another, limited to newspapers published in 1904, garnered seven results. Only one of those articles was published after November 12. A click later, I saw it: a birth announcement for a son born to Mr. and Mrs. Elmer Adams on November 12. It appeared in the November 30 edition of the Portland, Oregon, Daily Journal. The two-line announcement also gave a street address. Apparently, they were living in Portland when they first moved west! (My grandfather’s sister, Dora, was born in Kentucky in 1902, so the move west must have taken place  a year or two before my grandfather’s birth.)

Without a place of birth, I’d been unable to request a birth certificate for my grandfather. But now, knowing he was born in Portland, I visited the state archives’ website and was able to order his birth certificate. This should arrive in just a few days.

I’m very excited! It’s been bothering me that I didn’t know where my grandfather was born and I can’t wait to get my hands on his birth certificate.


A marital mystery

I have a little mystery I look forward to solving (somehow). My paternal great grandparents (my father’s father’s parents) were married in 1893, when my great grandmother, Hattie, was 18 (a month shy of 19) and my great grandfather, Elmer, was 21. They were living together in the 1900, 1910, and 1920 censuses. (I noticed on the 1910 census that Hattie had had six children, but only four survived.)

In the 1930 census, however, I found Hattie, but she wasn’t living with Elmer. Instead, she’s listed as a landlady of a boarding house in Olympia, Washington, the state capital. And she’s still at the same home (with 9 boarders) in 1940. But she is listed as married.

Where’s Elmer? My father says they split (though apparently they didn’t divorce…Hattie is listed as having another source of income in 1940…was Elmer supporting her?). My dad said it really wasn’t discussed much, though my father was in his 13 when Elmer died and in his 20s when Hattie died.

So I want to find Elmer on the 1930 and 1940 censuses. And when I’m visiting her in August, perhaps I’ll pump my aunt (my father’s sister) for information on her grandparents. Maybe it was discussed more around her. So far, I’m hitting a wall.