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

December 09, 1999
See Rhonda's Previous Columns

From Quarles to Qualls

Q: On my father's side of the family, both of his parents had full Cherokee parents. However, I've been unable to trace their lineage despite numerous family contacts, so I will now have to look outside of the family for that information. To narrow the realm of the search, the story of the origin of our family name says that an inter-family feud occurred when our ancestors (named "Quarles") moved from Virginia into the future middle Tennessee area (now Overton County) during the 1790's. There was a disagreement about the morality of intermarrying with the local Indians. Those that did marry Indians changed the last name to "Qualls," while those that did not remained "Quarles." The family's Cherokee heritage was something my dad (now deceased) was proud of, but I have little to substantiate it. Do you have any suggestions? -- Chris

A: As with all family traditions and stories you need to weed the truth out from the story. Every family tradition offers some grains of truth, the trick is in the finding.

If your father was indeed of Cherokee descent, then you will want to locate all records you can find on him and his parents. You will want death certificates, birth certificates, and marriage records. If your father or his parents were living prior to 1920, then you will want to turn your attention to the 1920 census and begin working back with the census records as well.

Like all other family history research, you must start from what you know and begin to gather the proof. It is with this proof of what you know that you will begin to learn things about those you did not know. And it will be in these records that you begin to pick up the trail that may lead you to the Cherokee connection.

If the family was indeed Cherokee, it is likely that you will pick up the necessary information needed in the 1900 census. This particular census included a second page for those who were of Indian blood. However, the census enumerator had to know they were of Indian blood. This means that when the enumerator was questioning the family they had to state that they were Indian.

Once you have been able to collect some information on your father, his parents and their parents, then you will want to turn to some useful books on this subject. By far, one of the best when you are just getting started is Cherokee Connections by Myra Vanderpool Gormley, C.G. and available through Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc..

Married in West Virginia

Q:I am researching my family and I have almost a direct link but I am having trouble finding information on my great grandfather. I have a copy of his marriage certificate but there doesn't seem to be any information on him. His name is William J Fife born in 1861 and married to Julia Bowman on May 31, 1893. His place of residence was Hanover West Virginia. They were married in Hancock county West Virginia at a Presbyterian Church. I am also trying to locate his parents names also. They are the link that I am missing. If you could help me I surely would appreciate it. -- Mary

A: A look at the marriage license, as found in the Hancock County Marriage Licenses, 1889-1894 on page 244, you will find much of what you have included in your message. However, there is some additional, valuable information that you neglected to include in your message, that was included in the marriage license. In addition to stating William's age at the time of his marriage, it also includes information on his place of birth. William is said to have been born in Columbiana County, Ohio. His bride, Julia, was born in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. This offers you some additional leads as to where to turn next in your search for the names of his parents.

You will want to locate him in the 1900 census as this will give you additional information as to his date of birth. The 1900 census included not only the age of the individual at the time of the census, but also the month and year of birth for the person, their place of birth (in the United States, this was usually a state) and the place of birth for both of his parents.

You will also want to turn your attention to Columbiana County, Ohio. To help you determine the FIFE families who were living in Columbiana County, Ohio in 1861, you will want to first turn your attention to the tax lists for that county. These are a useful resource in that they were taken every year and the tax man always seemed to find you. It would be a good idea to search the 1860, 1861 and 1862 tax lists to see who is there. Then armed with this information, you will need to begin to build the families for these individuals.

A search of the 1860 census for Columbiana County, while a year too early for your William, will help you to become familiar with the families that were living in that area at that time. You will then want to turn your attention to the 1870 census and see which of those families were still there. This may require a line-by-line search of the county. It could be that you will discover the very family you need with a son named William who is about 9 years old in the 1870 census. Then you will need to turn your attention to those individuals who were in the tax lists who do not appear in the census and see if you can determine where they went.

Looking for Passenger List

Q: My grandfather may have sailed on the "Vandalia" from Hamburg to New York which arrived on April 06, 1881. His name was Mads Christensen. Where can I find our more information? -- ardyvon

A: While the date of arrival for your ancestor puts you directly into the unindexed years for the Port of New York, the information you have offers you advantages that most individuals do not have. First, you know the name of the ship your ancestor is said to arrive on and second you know the date of arrival of that ship.

If all you knew was the name of the ship and an approximate date of arrival for the ship, then you would need to first turn your attention to the Register of Vessels Arriving at the Port of New York from Foreign Ports, 1789-1919 which is available on microfilm through your local Family History Center.

However, since you knew both the name of the ship and the date of arrival, you can turn your attention directly to the microfilmed passenger lists. The particular film you would need is the one that covers the dates 9 Mar - 11 Apr 1881. You would then need to search through the the film until you came upon the actual passenger lists for the S.S. Vandalia, arriving on 6 April 1881. From there it is just a matter of going line-by-line through the passenger lists to locate your ancestor.

Keep in mind that the passenger lists of this time included columns for the following information:

  • Name of passenger
  • Age
  • Sex
  • Occupation
  • The country to which they severally belong
  • The country to which they intend to become inhabitants
  • If they died on the voyage
  • Part of the vessel occupied by that passenger (i.e., cabin or steerage)

An interesting side point, if you do locate your ancestor on the Vandalia. There is a picture of this ship. You will find it in Michael J. Anuta's Ships of Our Ancestors published in 1983 by Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc..

Moodys in New Hampshire

Q: I am trying to find the parents of Jonathan and Clement MOODY who died in Ossipee N.H. Jonathan died 22 Nov 1836 age 86 buried with wife Allie who died 11 Apr 1843 age 90 years. Clement died 24 Jul 1858 age 76 buried with wife Mary (Cooly I think) who died 22 Sep 1863 at age 77. They were buried in Ossipee Valley Cemetery in Ossipee NH I have been trying for 6 months to find out their parents with no luck. I think it might be that Clement is the son of Caleb/Sarah Pierce, but I can`t find any proof or even dates saying when they were born or Clement`s brother Josiah but again nothing positive. -- Annie

A: Those researching in New Hampshire prior to 1900 have an excellent index at their disposal. There are indexes to births, marriages and deaths from early to 1900 available on microfilm. These are available through your local Family History Center.

A quick search of the index revealed a card for Clement MOODY who died 26 Jul 1858, aged 76 years. Information on this card included:

  • Name: Clement Moody
  • Place of Death: Ossipee
  • Date of Death: July 26, 1858
  • Age: Years 76 Months (empty) Days (empty)
  • Place of Birth: (empty)
  • Sex: Male Color:White Marital Status: Married
  • Occupation: Carpenter
  • Cause of Death: Paralysis
  • Place of Burial (empty)
  • Name of Father: Jonathan Moody
  • Maiden name of Mother: Elsa
  • Birthplace of Father: (empty)
  • Birthplace of Mother: (empty)
  • Occupation of Father: (empty)

This is a unique index. New Hampshire had all the town clerks go through their records and compile these cards, which were then sent to the state vital statistics office. When you write to the state for a copy of a vital record prior to 1900, this is what you will receive. If you work with these indexes yourself, using the microfilms, there is something unique about the index to keep in mind. The cards are organized alphabetically by the first and third letters of the surname. So, MUNSON will appear in the index before MOODY.

Armed with this information, you can now turn your attention to such records as the probate records. If you are lucky you will find a will for Jonathan that lists Clement and his brother Josiah.

To find out the parents of Jonathan, you might want to check out the Ancestral File available at your local Family History Center. A search of this database revealed what appears to be a lengthy pedigree for Jonathan. It lists his parents as Josiah and Sarah (SCRIBNER) MOODY.

While I have suggested the Ancestral File, I wish to caution you that this should be used only for clues. Take the information found in the file and then verify it using reliable records such as birth records, marriage records, probate records and more.

See Rhonda's Previous Columns

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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