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Rhonda's Tips: Genealogy Questions Answered
by Rhonda R. McClure

March 23, 2000
See Rhonda's Previous Columns

Looking for Kirks in Delaware

Q: I have hit a stone wall in researching Solomon. I need to find his parents. Solomon was born in New Castle, Delaware in 1815 and moved to Chester City Pa. Married and then moved to Lancaster City to work at the Kirk Mills-owned by Jacob Kirk. I have tried all the known sources (Delaware Historical Society, etc.). Where do I go from here? I do have a reference in a census PA-1840-49-C C 138. Can you find information on that disc? -- Dorothy

A: When you get back to the early 1800s, it is often difficult to trace a line. This is especially true if one has been researching primarily in the census records. Prior to 1850, the entries consist of only the name of the head of the household and the remainder of the individuals are tallied under gender and an age range. This makes it difficult to figure out which family an individual may have belonged to.

Your question mentioned finding a reference to a census CD. This CD is an index to the census records. It will tell you what page the individual was on. This CD is available for purchase through You will also want to do a search of the index for the 1820 census.

A search of the index to the 1820 census revealed a list of seven KIRK families in Delaware, six of them living in New Castle. So what you need to do is to locate each of those individuals in the census and then determine which ones might be likely candidates as the possible family for your Solomon. This is done by locating each family and determining the members in the family. You will then concentrate on those families with a male child under ten years old.

Unfortunately, unlike the 1830 and 1840 census which further break down the age range to males and females under the age of five, the 1820 did not do this. So the closest that you can get is to under ten years old. However, given when your Solomon was born, he would have been in the five to ten year old age range most likely in 1820 anyway.

Where in Manhattan

Q: I would like to look up family relations in the Manhattan Area in New York. I don't understand how they are classified in districts and so on. How do I figure out what district and ward Manhattan is in? -- Kate

A: Whenever you are dealing with one of the larger cities, you find different divisions. Sometimes these divisions are known as wards and other times they are referred to as districts.

Very often the best way to determine the divisions of a given city are through city directories. In addition to listing the inhabitants of the city, there is generally a guide to the streets as well. This guide will usually tell you about cross streets and will also let you know what ward or district the given street or block is located. In addition the city directories very often include ward maps that again help you to see where in the city your ancestors lived.

City directories can also help you in determining what enumeration district your ancestor would be listed under in the census records. After locating your ancestor in city directories you can then use the enumeration maps to determine the appropriate enumeration district. To find out more about this, please read Twigs and Trees with Rhonda: Help with Unindexed Census Records.

Of course for the soundexed years of the census (1880, 1900 and 1920), the first place to begin your search is the soundex. However, keep in mind that for 1880, the only people who are supposed to be listed are those families with children aged 10 and under.

Lost in Early 1900s

Q: Please give me a jump start. I can't find a thing on my grandfather, born in 1898, died in 1977, he was in the military and went to war in 1919, and also played in the military games in France. He also played baseball for the Boston Patriots in 1920, along with a AAA league in Salem Mass. Please help.-- Colleen

A: You have two great pieces of information about your grandfather. He was born prior to 1900 and he was in World War I. There are valuable records that you will want to be sure to search for your ancestor.

First, because your ancestor was born in 1898, he will show up in the 1900 census as a two-year-old. You will need to locate the soundex for the state that he would have been living in with his family for 1900. Then you will want to search through the cards for the surname looking for families with a child of the right name that is aged two. It is unlikely that you will find many, so it should not be difficult to follow up on research of these families.

In addition, you will want to try to locate your grandfather in the Index to World War I Draft Cards. This index is available on microfilm and is broken down by state, then by county, then in some cases by draft board. In areas where there were more than 30,000 citizens in a given area there would be more than one draft board. There is additional information about how to work with this index by reading the following past articles on that subject:

What Does This Mean?

Q: My friend recently asked, "What do the letters "d.s.p." mean? I wish I could provide you with the context, etc., but that's all I have to go on. -- John

A: There are many abbreviations and words that genealogists discover in their research that they cannot recognize. Very often these words and abbreviations can be traced to Latin or legal words.

In your case, the abbreviation d.s.p. stands for descessit sine parole. This is Latin for "died without issue." This means that the individual for which this applied died without having had any biological children.

You can find this and other abbreviations at Genealogy Abbreviations which includes the definitions of many of the abbreviations that genealogists are likely to discover.

Rhonda R. McClure is a professional genealogist specializing in celebrity trees and computerized genealogy. She has been involved in online genealogy for fifteen years. She is the author of the award-winning The Complete Idiot's Guide to Online Genealogy, now in its second edition. She is the author of four how-to guides on Family Tree Maker. In late 2001, she wrote The Genealogist's Computer Companion. She is a contributing editor to Biography Magazine with her "Celebrity Roots" column and a contributing writer to The History Channel Magazine. Her latest book is Finding Your Famous and Infamous Ancestors. She may be contacted at

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