Mike Rodriguez purchased a photo album at a flea market in Texas for $8 and then realized its pages were filled with family information and photographs — all pertaining to people in Madison County, Illinois.

Researching on the Internet, he located descendants of one of the surnames in the album, Sommerfeldt, and decided they would be rightful owners. Needless to say, they were delighted to have the album. How it ended up in Texas is still the mystery, however. View the video of this story at https://tinyurl.com/y6ql9toz.

1930 Census reveals military clue

Did your ancestor serve in the military in World War I or earlier? The answer can usually be found in the 1930 U.S. Census, which is available free (with registration) at FamilySearch and at Ancestry.com (fee required).

This helpful WW I information was found at Joe Beine’s website, Online World War I Indexes and Records – USA, at https://tinyurl.com/ycmj9xr2. This valuable site includes a state-by-state listing (with links) of WW I Records available online.

The 1930 census information states, “Look at columns 30 and 31 on the census form. ‘Whether a veteran of US Military or naval forces.’ Column 30 asked, ‘yes or no.’ Column 31 asked ‘What War or Expedition?’” This website includes links to the 1930 census at FamilySearch and at Ancestry.com.


This column previously cited a link to Joe Beine’s update to his Online Searchable Death Indexes & Records Website that was incorrect. Please refer to the website itself at https://tinyurl.com/y5ghdnyq for the latest information on searchable death records.

Help replace lost military records

A fire at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in 1973 destroyed Army and Air Force records of World War I, World War II and wars in Korea and Vietnam. NPRC will accept copies of some of the destroyed records (such as discharge papers, certificates, or any other relevant papers) to help rebuild a ruined file. A blog of the St. Louis Genealogical Society has posted this information at https://tinyurl.com/y3xu8nod.

Genealogical serendipity video

Serendipity (defined as “finding something good accidentally”) has been mentioned in this column before. Apparently it’s still “alive and well.” Hank Jones has written two books on the subject (“Psychic Roots” and “More Psychic Roots”), Megan Smolenyak has told of her “coincidences,” and now Geoff Rasmussen, who has posted his Legacy Family Tree Webinar, Genealogical Serendipity – Listening For Our Ancestors, at https://tinyurl.com/y68mjsku, tells of his experiences. Have any readers had similar coincidental happenings to share?

Hackers in libraries for 2020 Census

Many Americans are expected to file their 2020 census forms on public library computers. However, the government expects hackers “to wreak havoc.” Read about this new threat and some of the libraries already affected at https://tinyurl.com/y3h3u4pj.

Important legal resources

Illinois Health Legal, and End-of-Life Resources, found at http://tinyurl.com/y58x5oah, includes instructions for ordering death certificates, estate planning laws, organ donation registries, and more. The website includes a link to similar information in other states; or go to https://tinyurl.com/y5kquz5t.

Queries, as well as a general exchange of genealogical material that readers would like to share, will be printed in the column for free. Contact Joan Griffis by e-mailing JBGriffis@aol.com.

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