Sunday, December 16, 2012

Fun with Find A Grave

John A Ruth
The Find A Grave website was developed in 1995 to address the lack of any existing site that visits the graves of celebrities. The site has morphed into catering to everyone's needs. Anyone can upload burial and cemetery information following the guidelines for submitting information and creating memorials. New submission cannot duplicate existing ones. If you have information that can enhance an existing memorial, you can submit it to the memorial's manager.

John A Ruth
It has gained in popularity so much that there are already 91 million memorials as of this writing with about one million added each month. There are many members that "adopt" a particular cemetery and document as much of it as possible. It was not intended to be a genealogy site. However, many aspects of it make it useful for family history research.

In the case of Babe Ruth, he was one of the first celebrities added (Find A Grave Memorial #919). The online link is at: Find A Grave - Babe Ruth. The site allows a biographical sketch and a visitor can leave flowers with a note. The full birth / death date is present but may be missing on people that you may want to research. When doing your family's research, it is good to cite the FindAGrave website as your source. Make sure to include the Web page title / Find A Grave / and the date of access. For this example it is: George Herman "Babe" Ruth, Find A Grave, 16 DEC 2012. We like to include the submitter, date of submission and the memorial number.

You will notice that there are links to family members on Find A Grave. If you click on the link for Catherine Schamburger Ruth, it will take you to George's mother's memorial. It was posted on Feb 6, 2008 but did not have a photo of the monument.  In our 11AUG2008 post A Monument for Kate we posted a picture of her monument months after it was erected. Since then, photos of the monument have appeared.

Mary Ruth
The link for George H Ruth's father has a biography for him along with links to his wife and son. There is not an entry for Babe Ruth's father's parents. Let us create one for them.

Using newspaper records we were able to find the death notice for John A Ruth (1844-1897) and his wife Mary (Strodtman) Ruth (1845-1894). Some public libraries have online newspapers available through ProQuest. Another site is The sites have a search engine for easy look-ups.

Mary Ruth
The search engines allow for a specific date range and wild cards. Many times the pages are in poor condition and a name is not found. You can enter the first couple of characters in a name and the use the wildcard "*". This will return anything with the prefix to the left of the wildcard. In the case of Schamberger, you could search with SCHAMB* and it would return everything with the first 6 characters -- Schamburg, Schamberg, Schamberger, etc.

If you search with more than one word, you would get results for every page that has those words together. However they could be anywhere on that page. If we used the example of finding Ruth's grandfather's death notice and entered the search terms PIUS SCHAMB*, we would get 28 "Hits". We can use the advanced search feature and limit the dates for the search for fewer results. Or, we can use the NEAR operator to find pages with the two words in proximity. For example, if we enter the search terms PIUS NEAR/6 SCHAMB*, we get 7 results. The fifth on dated 24 July 1904, returns the death notice we wanted. We used the operator "NEAR/6" to get within 6 words of the two values. Death notices have the format "SCHAMBERGER - On July 21, 1904 PIUS...". 
Pius Schamberger

Sometimes you want to search for a full name and you are unsure about one or more characters in that name. For example, If you want to search for Schamburg or Schamberg you could enter SCHAMB?RG as the search value and it will return results with any possible character between the "B" and the "R". One common use for this is any word that has the letter "i". The poor condition of the scanned newspaper may return this value as an "I', "L" or "1".  There are other characters that may be confused such as "a" - "o" - "u".  Practice and experience will overcome these problems.

Once the dates were found, the death certificate could be researched at the Maryland Archives Death Records. First, the index must be searched to get the certificate number. If you are at the archives, you can look up the appropriate microfilm reel and examine it. If you are not at the archives, you will have to order a copy with the online request form. In addition to vital information, all Baltimore City death certificates had the name of the cemetery.

Before adding a memorial, you have to create a free user account with Find A Grave. Then, on your personal page you click the link "Add Burial Records". Fill in the appropriate fields and follow the steps and you have a memorial.

We did the same for John and his wife. On John's memorial page we made note of his Find A Grave memorial number. On Mary's memorial page we clicked on the "Link Family Members". The next page allows you to enter the Find A Grave number for Mary's parents and spouse. We entered John's number into spouse, the year of their marriage and clicked save.

We went back to the memorial page for Mary and added photos of her death notice and certificate. We also clicked on the "Leave Flowers and a Note" link. Find A Grave lets you choose from a selection of pictures of flowers or you may select one of your own choosing from your computer.

Next Post: Marriage and Church Records

Find A Grave - Babe Ruth
Maryland Archives Death 
Maryland Archives Death Index
Maryland Archives microfilm reels 

Copyright 2012-2013, Stephen A Conner

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Gibbons community stunned by closing -

Gibbons community stunned by closing -

Cardinal Gibbons High School is on the same site as the school Babe Ruth attended. We talked about St. Mary's in the following blog entry: "St.Mary'sIndustrial School".

Copyright 2008, 2009, 2010 BabeRuthGenealogy

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Fun with Google Earth

Google has a FREE product called Google Earth. It is described as software that "… lets you fly anywhere on Earth to view satellite imagery, maps, terrain, 3D buildings, from galaxies in outer space to the canyons of the ocean. You can explore rich geographical content, save your toured places, and share with others."

It can be downloaded at the following link: It has more features than the standard Google Maps software. One such feature is the ability to overlay images onto their maps.

In the April 21 log we used land records to map out the location of George Ruth's home in 1910. We even used an 1887 map to plot the location. This time we are going to use our map with the Google Earth Overlay feature. We will use it to see the present day location of George's home.

We loaded Google Earth and zoomed in on the West Side of Baltimore's inner-harbor. We selected the "Add Image Overlay" button and added our 1887 map image. The image appears over the Google map with green lines around the edge of our picture. We stretched the green borderlines until our map aligned with the present day image on Google Earth.

I matched the images using the roads to the north, west and southwest of the stadium area. The eastern inner-harbor area has been rejuvenated.

The "Add On Image" dialog box has a slider that adjusts the opacity (See-through ability) of the image. We captured 4 pictures showing the different levels of opacity. The last image shows a modern day picture with a yellow dot marking 406 w Conway Street. When you click on the image to the right a larger image appears. When the larger image appears, click on it again. The image is about 400 Kb in size.

The old map we used was meant to show Baltimore's ward boundaries. In 1887 George's neighborhood was in the 16th ward. The map does not guarantee exact street placement. If we wanted pinpoint accuracy, we could go to city hall and pull up official street maps. Or, we could hire a surveyor, go to Eutaw Street and use the street description document that appeared in the previous post.

Even if the mark on our map is off by 10 or 20 yards, the stadium groundskeepers are not letting us on to the field.


Copyright 2008, 2009 BabeRuthGenealogy

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Place To Stand

A lot of family history research is spent indoors at libraries and on computers. Sometimes we want to visit the places our ancestors lived so that we might get a sense of their surroundings. Walk the same streets and imagine what life was like for them.

We found that Census records and City directories are a good resource. In the case of the 1906 Baltimore City directory (appearing to the right), we discovered George Ruth's father worked in a saloon at 406 West Conway Street. According to some sources, George, Jr. had a room above the saloon for about 7 years. That is, however, when he wasn't spending time at St. Mary's Industrial School.

Wouldn't it be great to walk the same streets that Ruth walked as he came of age! Unfortunately, those streets haven't been around for a long time. In fact, the neighborhood has been replaced with a stadium that is home to the Baltimore Orioles. Since they won't let us walk on the playing field, let us recreate the neighborhood.

Over the years we have collected a number of maps. The auction site Ebay is an excellent source for old stuff. I used an 1887 Mitchell map of Baltimore to create the first map image to the right. It is the general area of Ruth's neighborhood. The next step is to mark the location of Ruth's house on the map. Land records precisely define the location of a property using landmarks and street names.

Using the information available on the Internet we were able find Ruth's house. It appears as a yellow dot on the second map image on the right.

If you are satisfied just seeing the location without hearing an explanation, then you can skip the rest of this Web log.

The land records for the State of Maryland are online at the following link:MDLandRECS

The site asks for a username and password. Instead, click on the highlighted text above the dialogue box that says "Fill out an application for a password". Sign up and get access. We then go to the Baltimore City records. If George, Sr. actually owned the property, we could search the Grantor / Grantee books for this time period. A search for this time period shows no ownership by him.

Baltimore City keeps a set of Block books that record land activity on properties within a block. We select the Block Books link. We need to lookup George's block on one of the Maps. However the only series that has online images is the one entitled "CE225 (Block Maps) 1991-1991". Sheet 13 is the image we want. Our area of interest is Block 688.

We then select the book series "CE9 - Block Book (1851-1976)". This part is tedious. Starting with a book series after World War II, we searched Block 688 looking for any transaction with "406 W Conway" street. Going back we finally find one in the 1928-1935 series.

We can enter the Book and folio number at the top of the page and jump to the deed from there. The entry is Book SCL 5272, Page 27.

The Deed is made between Mary Hornig and Frank Paplauckas. The names are unimportant but the description of the house is. It says that from the corner of Conway and Little Paca Street proceed southerly 21 feet. Then at right angles to Conway Street 66 feet, then north parallel to Conway 13 1/2 feet to Little Paca Street and then back to the beginning.

It sounds like a corner home that is wide in the front and tapers to the rear.

The deed also referred to the very old names for these streets. Conway was once Jefferson Street and Little Paca was Lunns Lot Lane.

The general area of the map we need is covered by ward 16. To the right of the large number 16 is Eutaw Street that runs north / south. It is next to and to the left of Camden Station.

We can go to the site and lookup the records for the street definitions of Baltimore. The street names document is located at You have to page down to "178 Records Of".

The definition put Lunns Lot Lane / Little Paca as one street to the right of and parallel to Greene St. Using the above information I updated the map to include the name of Little Paca Street and also a yellow dot for 406 w Conway Street.

Wouldn't it be nice to see how this map might fit in with the current streets? Next time we will take our new map out for a spin with Google Earth.


MD Land Records

Copyright 2008, 2009 BabeRuthGenealogy

Monday, February 2, 2009

Fun with Footnote

Previously, we explored online city directories from and HeritageQuest. Ancestry requires a paid subscription. Although it may be available for free at your local library. HeritageQuest can be accessed from home using a library card.

The site is a subscription service that may be available at one of your local Family History Centers that we discussed in "Oh Pioneers". FootNote has many records worth exploring. They have a large number of city directories that are searchable. If we wanted to, we could go to the Baltimore directories and track the movements of Babe Ruth's father all the way up to 1909.

We will show how this can be done for free with just a little bit of work.

On the main page of, click on the small link to the right that says "See all titles". Then click on Browse". We then select "News and Town Records" from the left column. Then select "City Directories" followed by "Maryland" and "Baltimore City". At this point we can type a search name or address and all Baltimore City Directories will be searched at once. For this exercise we go to the rightmost column and tab over until we select 1905.

We first type "Ruth Geo" in the search field with the quotes included. If we did not have the quotes, then every page with either Ruth or Geo would be shown. We press the GO button and we are shown two pages. The first page is titled "1905 >> Ruth, Edwrd F H (p 1460)". If we try to view the image, it gives us a message requesting a membership. Close the membership window.

Instead we click on the Quick Look link. It brings up the image that appears to the right of this paragraph. Click on it to enlarge. The image is too small to read. However there are several yellow shaded boxes. If we highlight one of the yellow boxes we see an enlargement of that area. Click on the image that appears to the right.

We notice that it only shows "Ruth Geo H". It does not show his occupation or address. Let us play around with the search terms.

We went back to the search page and enter "Ruth Geo" H (The H is outside of the quotes). When we do a "Quick Look" many yellow boxes have appeared in addition to the original ones. Click on the image to the right.

Looking back to the original yellow boxes we see some H's are highlight on the line for George Ruth and one above his name. Click on the image to the right. We can make out the line below the "H" for George Ruth that says "barkpr, 527 e".

Using the lines above and below George's entry we can select enough text to search that gives the image to the right. Using all the images we come up with the entry "Ruth Geo, barkpr 527 e Clement". That was a bit of work but it was free.


Copyright 2008,2009 BabeRuthGenealogy

Update: 04 March 2010 no longer allows multiple search terms for the free "Quick Look". If you want to view old city directories, go to a library that has installed and do a full search. Another good alternative is It has many city directories and may be searched from a home computer.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The High Seas

Passenger lists are another source of information. They fill in information about events in a person's life and they provide birth dates and birthplaces. Passenger lists from the mid-1800s and earlier usually provided name, age and nativity. Click on the images on the right to enlarge. In some cases you may click again to further enlarge.

Using the once again we find three lists that have George. The first image is from Feb. 20, 1935. George, Claire and Julia are arriving in New York. They had sailed from Southampton, England on the SS Manhattan.

They are numbered 27-29. George's birthday is listed as Feb. 6, 1894. The month and day reflects his actual birth certificate date but the year is off by one. On a lot of other documents George's birthday is Feb.7. George was born in Baltimore, Claire was born in Jefferson, Georgia and Julia was born in Athens Georgia.

The second image is from the SS Monarch of Bermuda arriving in New York on Feb. 26, 1937. George and Claire are listed as number 9 and 10. On this document their home address is listed as 173 Riverside Drive, New York.

The third image is also from the SS Monarch of Bermuda arriving in New York on March 4, 1938. George and Claire are listed as number 16 and 17.


Copyright 2008, 2009 BabeRuthGenealogy

Friday, January 16, 2009

Havana Nights

After the conclusion of the 1920 season, the Yankees went to Cuba to play exhibition games. George needed a passport.

Passports are rich with information. Birth dates, residing address, nativity, nativity of the father, names of companions, testimony from someone that knows you, plus a photograph.

Once again we use the service to find George in the passport records. Click on the image to the right to enlarge. In some cases you may have to click again to make it larger.

George is residing at 674 west 161st Street in New York. However the instruction at the bottom of the second page says for it to be sent to the Ansonia Hotel. His father was native-born residing in Baltimore from 1871 to 1917.

There are two affidavits of identification. The second affidavit is from Brother Paul at St. Mary's Industrial School. He states that George was born May 18, 1894. Who knows what the source is of his error?

The document also states that his wife Helen would be travelling with him. There is a good photo of George. Half of Helen's face is obscured. However, there is another nice autograph of the Babe at the bottom of the first page.


Ansonia Hotel

Copyright 2008, 2009 BabeRuthGenealogy