FamHist Blog

Family History Research Hints and Tips

Thanks! – William Guyselman – A County Recorder

Every once in a while we find written entries in our ancestors records that make our day.  Yes, it may be ‘THE’ record that crumbles one of our ancestral brick walls or it may be a piece of information that although important, is just a piece of an overall well-sourced record.

Then, there are the men who entered information in records with a flare.  Sometimes the flair consists of fancy script embellishments, at other times it is concise handwriting that fills the page of a census record.  And then, there are the men who spent long hours entering the facts associated with births, deaths and marriages but still had the blossom of art in their hearts and pens.

William A. Guyselman was one such fellow.

I first encountered his entries as a recorder in the Marriage Books of Macon County, Missouri while looking for the marriage date of my great granduncle, Alfred Farrar.

There it was … on page 69.  Alfred Farrar married Emma F. Sawtell on the 7th day of June 1869 in Macon County, Missouri.  William’s script was beautiful, readable and structured to be attractive to any future reader. 

While the tall, leather-bound book would never be a best seller, William Guyselman took pride in his work and frequently embellished its stark pages with hand drawn works of art to commemorate the extremely important marriage event in the lives of citizens of Macon County.

Farrar Alfred Sawtell Emma marriage license art2

Page after page of superbly written flowing text and art unfold as you scroll through the pages he wrote.

His own marriage to Nancy Jane McKee is recorded with an eagle comprised of scrolls and flourishes from his pen.

Guyselman William McKee Nancy Jane marriage certificate art2

I feel an affinity to William and wish I could tell him ‘thanks’ face to face.  I’ve spent more than five decades puzzling out the scribblings and markings of tens of thousands of recorders.  Every time I encounter a document written by a recorder who had good penmanship and used it in the performance of their duties, I offer a verbal ‘Thanks’ hoping it will wend its way to them.

 

 McKearp Nelson marriage certificate art2

Wondering what happened in William’s life, I spent a little time seeking his records.  

In 1850, he was listed as a 10-year-old son of John and Sarah Guyselman in Warsaw, Kosciusko, Indiana.

By 1860, the family had moved to Wayne, Buchanan, Missouri, where the family was recorded as ‘Gisleman’ in the census.

1870 found him as a young married man in Macon, Macon County, Missouri.  He is listed as being 30 years of age and a school teacher by occupation.  His wife, Nancy was 17 and their son John as two months.  His short stint as the recorder for Macon County may have already been over.

In 1880, he was forty, lived in Breckenridge, Colorado with his wife Nancy and three children, William Jr., Lou and Emma.   He reported that he was an attorney by profession and was born in Ohio, while Nancy was born in Indiana and their children in Missouri.

My uncle Alfred Farrar was married in 1869, thus, William Guyselman was about 29 years of age when he served as the recorder of Macon County, Missouri.

Guyselman William recorder art2  In 1900, he still lived in Breckenridge.  The census says that he was born in November 1839 in Ohio, still worked as an attorney, but unfortunately, Nancy had died.  Two sons still lived home with him, 13 year old McKee and 10 year old Plain. 

During the Civil War, William served as a corporal in the Union Army.  He enlisted in Company A, Illinois 113th Infantry Regiment on 15 August 1862 in Chicago until he mustered out on 19 October 1863 and transferred to the U.S. Signal Corps. 

His military service proved to be providential because in his 70’s he was able to both claim a military pension and assistance from a military home, the front runner of today’s veterans hospitals.

By 1923, William had been in and out of a military home six times.  He had served in the army as a private from August 1862 through the end of the ward after 1865.  His military training in the U.S. Signal Corps served him well in later life as his occupation was listed as a telegraph operator during his stays in the military home.

Guyselman William A Veterans Home

I haven’t found a death date and location for William yet, but think that the event took place in or near Breckenridge.  

Because I can’t tell him ‘Thanks’  in person for his clear writing, entertaining and reverential treatment of marriage records in the Macon County, Missouri vital records he maintained, this post is my way of remembering William.

Thanks to all the recorders and government employees past and present who took the time to write clearly.  Family history enthusiasts everywhere not only thank you but appreciate your work.  That’s a praise you probably didn’t receive on the job.

 

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17 May 2010 Posted by | Certificates, Marriage Certificate | , | Leave a comment

Saving Death Certificates

If any of your family members died in Missouri between 1910 and 1959, their death certificate should now be online.  The state sent notification out this week that they have added the range of available certificates up to 1959 … an increase of ten years coverage. 

Several other states also offer death certificates online as well.  At least four of them are:

There is no cost to print them on your home printer.  They have put the images online as a kindness to genealogists and to avoid as much of the copying and associated labor expense as possible.

I use the free Irfanview editor to massage the image.  I recommend downloading and installing the Plugin’s too.  (Yes, there are many other excellent image editors available …  I use them too, but Ifranview works the best for me in this application.)

Simply point at the death certificate on your screen, right mouse click and choose "Copy".

Then click on Irfanview to make it the active program, then on ‘Edit’ at the top of the screen and choose ‘Paste’ from the drop down list.

You now have a copy of the image in the temporary memory of your computer.

Straighten the image if needed by using the Image > Custom Fine Rotation tool.  This tool is in degrees and there are 360 degrees in a circle.  Entering 358.3 will tilt the image 1.7 degrees to the left, etc.

When it is straight, point to the top left corner of the image, hold your left mouse button down and drag your pointer to the bottom right corner (just the opposite if you are left handed).  You can now see the crop line around the image.  If it needs to be moved a little, slowly move your mouse pointer over the line where it needs to be adjusted and when the pointer symbol changes to two parallel lines, hold the mouse button down again and drag the crop line to the position you want.

Click on Edit > Crop selection and all the edges are cropped.

Next resize the image to something that will print on 8 1/2 x 11" paper.   I always print in portrait orientation so the certificates stand upright in the protective sleeves in my storage binders, but you may want to do something different.  

In my case, I change the width to 8"     Image > Resize/Resample > Set New Size > Units = Inches > change the width to 8".  Be sure that the "Preserve aspect ratio" has a check in it.

While on this page, I typically change the resolution to 72 dpi rather than the 300 dpi used in the original image.   There is little to no readability lost and for these images, that is ok.  This saves drive space.  Try it both ways and see how it works best for you.   You’ll quickly develop a rule of thumb for images of this nature and it will usually be very different from the one you use for photo images, etc.

You may need to tweak the image for readability now too.   Tools > Color Corrections.

I save a copy of the image now.   File > Save As  (surname firstname deathcertificate) in my genealogy documents folder.   I always use the surname first when file naming so the images are automatically sorted by family making a future look up easy.

Print a hard copy   File > Print

Don’t forget to transcribe the data from the death certificate as a source in your database …  Primary source for the Death and Burial and Secondary source for the Birth…

Also tie the image you just saved to the source record for the person.  If you are using Legacy for example, it will show up as a thumbnail image by the source text in reports.

 

From now on, you can look at the image from within your genealogy application …. typically by clicking on it and then on the ‘Open; or ‘View’ button  ..  or by double clicking on it.

The image in this example just filled my 4th 3" binder of Death Certificates.   I’ll teach you how to number and index them for easy retrieval in another post.

25 March 2010 Posted by | Certificates | , | Leave a comment