Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Vote Early and Often!

Just kidding. It is an old Chicago joke. :-) Finding my Chicago ancestor, Timothy Whelan, in the Chicago voters lists made me think of that saying. The 1892 voters list indicated that Timothy was a naturalized citizen, but the date and court of naturalization were “not known.” It made me think that the voting clerks weren’t too picky about who they let vote that year.

One thing I’ve learned from using the Chicago Voters Lists is to check all years available. On the 1892 list, my ancestor Timothy Whelan’s naturalization details were unknown. However, the 1888 list indicated that he was naturalized in 1856 in the County Court of Cook County. Due to the record losses caused by the Chicago Fire of 1871, this voters list may be the only record that contains the location of Timothy’s naturalization.

Another lesson I’ve learned is to look for the ancestors’ siblings on the voters lists (and on all other available sources too.) I searched for a client’s ancestor (who died in 1890) in the Chicago voters lists, but did not find him. I then searched the available lists for the ancestor’s brother. I found the brother on the lists, and the fact that he was naturalized in Onondaga County, NY. This information lead to a breakthrough and helped locate the ancestor’s widowed mother and his other siblings in a previously unknown location.

The Chicago voters lists for 1888, 1890 and 1892 are available on microfilm from the Family History Library and online on Ancestry.com.

If you haven’t done it yet, don’t forget to vote today!