Tag Archives: church records


I recently visited FamilySearch, the world’s largest genealogy organization provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Over the last while, they have been working on digitizing and indexing the microfilmed records held at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. Of course, it will take quite a while to complete this project — they have MILLIONS of records — but there are some useful records already available.

I was delighted to find that digitized images of records from the Catholic Diocese of Belleville, Illinois, are available online. They aren’t searchable yet, but they are easy to browse through. I found baptism, marriage and burial records for some of my great-great-great grandparents and their family.

Some of those records had some interesting clues to expanding my family search. For example, I already knew that my great-great-great grandparents, Christian Stern and Anna Maria Jan (or John), were married in Belleville, Illinois, on 15 Jul 1847, and I found the original record on FamilySearch in the records of the Cathedral of St. Peter. One of the witnesses is Charles Jan — likely a relative. Charles is also listed at their first daughter’s godfather.

So, I decided to search the 1850 census for Charles Jan in the Belleville area. I found a Charles John, born about 1800 in Germany, living in Centreville (now Millstadt), Illinois — the same town that my great-great-great grandparents lived in. Given Charles’ age, he could possibly be my great-great-great-great grandfather, though I don’ t have any other evidence of that yet.

Next steps: find more information about Charles John and see if there are connections to Anna Maria John.


Begg lines revisited: The joys of intermarriage

Yesterday, I was inspired by a comment left on a blog post about Samuel Begg. The post was written by my mother-in-law about her grandfather, and posted on my husband’s blog to share with the world. (This, by the way, is one of the reasons I enjoy blogging about my genealogy finds–hearing from distant cousins.) So, I decided to revisit the Begg lines and see if there was any new information out there.

Since that part of the family is from Scotland, I went back to ScotlandsPeople, a site I haven’t visited in a while–been concentrating on South Africa a lot lately. I didn’t have a lot of luck on Beggs themselves, but I hit a vein on the related McCrone line.

Elizabeth McCrone was the great-great grandmother of Samuel Begg, making her my great-great-great-great grandmother-in-law. Her daughter, Anne Stevenson, married James Begg around 1836, probably in Muirkirk, Ayrshire, Scotland (that’s a record I should look for). That’s just background…

I had already found Anne Stevenson Begg’s death record showing her parents as Thomas Stevenson and Elizabeth McCrone. Last night, I was able to find Elizabeth’s death record (27 Mar 1858 in Muirkirk), her marriage to Thomas Stevenson (27 Jun 1794 in Muirkirk), and her birth record (25 Mar 1778 in Muirkirk) which included the names of her parents, John McCrone and Mary Aird.

With those names, I did a search and was able to find the birth records of three more children of John and Mary Aird McCrone–a daughter, Christian (b. 11 Aug 1780 in Muirkirk), a son Hugh (b. 26 Jul 1794 in Muirkirk) and another son, John (b. 20 Apr 1797, d. 26 Nov 1797, both in Muirkirk). My instincts tell me that there must be more children between Christian and Hugh, as there is a 14 year difference in their ages. I’ll have to do more searching.

HERE’S WHERE THINGS GET INTERESTING…..and why I like doing research in Scotland….

Remember James Begg (Elizabeth McCrone’s son-in-law)? It turns out (and I already knew this) that he is the illegitimate son of one Adam Begg, Jr. and CHRISTIAN MCCRONE, born in Muirkirk on 4 June 1809. I don’t have any proof yet, but I highly suspect that his mother and his future mother-in-law were sisters…making his wife his cousin! This probably wasn’t totally unheard-of, though, so don’t freak out too much!

Better yet (and still no concrete connections) is what I found on Elizabeth brother’s birth register. Her brother, Hugh–his full name is Hugh BEGG McCrone. That would indicate that the McCrone family had a connection to the Begg family long before Elizabeth’s daughter married James Begg and her other daughter…well….”knew” Adam Begg (at least twice, incidentally…Adam and Christian had two illegitimate sons, James and Adam III (b. 20 Jun 1804 in Muirkirk) before Adam Jr. went off and married Sarah Broadfoot in 1818. (I have never found a marriage record for Adam Jr. and Christian McCrone, nor do I know what happened to Christian after her two sons were born.)

So, before this line gets any more entangled I think I need to unravel it before moving on to another line. Otherwise, I’ll never figure it out when I come back to it.

Margaret McDonald–update!

I posted a message on the Wigtownshire message board at Ancestry.com about Margaret McDonald. I gave probably more details than anyone could want, hoping that someone would read it and suggest some piece of research that I had overlooked. What I got was beyond anything I expected! Sincere thanks to Bruce McDowall of Melbourne, Australia, for the following research tips he posted:

Hi Scott,

Margaret and Joanne made good suggestions. One would certainly favour the information from a marriage registration, but that is also sometimes incorrect.

I think I may have found the baptism record for your Margaret McDONALD in the Inch OPR. I have transcribed the following records from the LDS film:

“McDonald or Robinson / Charles McDonald and Barbara Robinson at Cairnryan had an illegitimate daughter born 17th July 1848 and baptized 6th Augt 1848”

“Jane McDonald / Charles McDonald and Margaret Adair Cairnryan had a lawful daughter named Jane born 22nd January 1849 baptized 11th Feb 1849′

“Charles McDonald / Charles McDonald and Margaret Adair at Cairnryan had a lawful Son named Charles born 25th December 1850 and baptized 11th Feb 1851”

“Thomas McDonald / Charles McDonald and Margaret Adair at Cairnryan had a lawful son named Thomas born 15th November 1852 and baptized 28th November 1852”

“Charles McDonald & Margaret Adair / Charles McDonald and Margaret Adair residing at Cairnryan were three times proclaimed in the parish Church of Inch 30th January 1848, in order to marriage, in presence of John Brown and Jane Brownlee residing at Kirk of Inch and William Wilson tailor in Stranraer.”

Unfortunately, the child to Barbara Robinson was not named in the register, but she does look like a very good candidate for your Margaret McDONALD. She would have been 2 years and 8 months on 31st March 1851, when the census was taken. I took a look at the LDS film of the 1851 census, and noted that, whist they are both given a 2 year olds, Margaret is listed before Jane.

Assuming Barbara Robinson carried her child full term, she would have conceived in November 1847. Presumably, none of those attending Church during the proclamation period in January 1848, knew that Barbara Robinson was pregnant to Charles. Perhaps she didn’t know herself. If this scenario is correct, there would have been considerable fuss when the facts came out.

Joanne Croft has already suggested that you pursue the Kirk Session records. This adds weight to that recommendation. Assuming Charles and Barbara were members of the Church, they would have been called before the Session, probably on three occasions. Hopefully, this is the case, and further, that there are surviving minutes. They are currently only available from the National Archives of Scotland, so if you can’t get to Edinburgh, you may want to hire a professional researcher to do a search for you. (They are being scanned with the view to being online via Scotlandspeople, but with no index, I’m not sure how this is going to work.)
A complication here is that 1848 was a time when many Wigtownshire folk had left the mainstream Church for the Free Church, so this couple may have been called before the Session of that Church.

I see that there is an unmarried 23 y/o Barbara ROBERTSON at Craigcaffie in the 1851 census. Perhaps she is the above Barbara Robinson.

Hope this helps, and I will be interested to know if you find the answer from the Kirk Session records. I had a similar situation, and resolved it through Kirk Session minutes.