More Atlanta City Directories -  

Posted by Abba-Dad in , ,

I can't believe I overlooked this resource. The Internet Archive is such a great research tool with so many family histories scanned in full and other terrific resources. So I was very surprised to find 30 (yes, that's thirty!) Atlanta City Directories on the site. The earliest is 1867, two years after the end of the civil war. The latest is 1923.

The beauty of this resource is that you can download the entire books to your hard drive in searchable PDF format or you can browse it online and run searches.

Here's the link to the "Atlanta City Directory" search I ran. Enjoy!

Atlanta City Directories on  

Posted by Abba-Dad in , ,

Most of the Atlanta City Directory information I have comes from the Fulton County Public Library. I have not been able to locate anything online except for one or two copies. Footnote doesn't have any and every time I searched I found only 1889-1890 and the Strangers' Guide:

I get the above results when I enter "Atlanta Directory" in the keyword search in the card catalog.

So imagine my surprise when I got some hits that led me to other years. When I tried to find these specific results in the card catalog I couldn't. So I tried a different way. I decided to filter the catalog this way:

Same results including something that has nothing to do with Atlanta, the "Baronia anglica concentrata, or, A concentrated account of all the baronies commonly called baronies in fee." Whatever.

So this time, after I filtered by 'Directories & Member Lists' I chose the first option in the list which was 'U.S. City Directories' which has over 6 million records. The search on this screen is useless and if anyone knows how to get good results from it, I'm all ears. When I tried to search for 'Tuggle' in 'Atlanta' with an exact match I got no results. When I turned off the exact matches for 'Atlanta' I got 2,766 results starting with New York. So that's a complete waste of time.

On the right hand side of the screen you have the option to browse the collection, and that's done through another set of filters. And here's where you can find all the directories from 1877-1890 and one for 1948-1949:

From here it's easy to get to the correct year, but then you lose the ability to search that specific volume. So you have to browse through it and load all the images until you get to the right page. This is a terrible way to go through a City Directory because you can miss so much important information like the street listing or the business section.

I even tried to copy and paste the titles into the title and keyword search boxes in the card catalog but obviously that didn't work. The good news is that these are fairly good scans and I don't believe I had anything prior to 1887 at the library.

I wonder how many other important titles I've been missing on because they are impossible to find in an easy way. Why do they hide these titles in this way?

Free OCR Tools - Frustration  

Posted by Abba-Dad in , , , ,

I wanted to post this to give some folks an idea of the frustration you can expect when dealing with some free OCR tools. I try to use OCR (optical character recognition) to transcribe information from images I find mostly in online resources but sometimes also ones I scan or photograph. There are some extremely 'clean' resources out there that have been scanned in high-res and will look great in any OCR tool. But there are some awful scans out there as well. Let's run through an example.

In my last post I wrote about the obituary of Sarah Tuggle. I found the scan of the obit from 1883 on and knew right away that this will not be an easy one to convert to text:

First of all, for some reason, has recently started downloading images in PNG format. While this is a great format and is a close second to TIF, not many OCR applications can read it, so you have to convert it with some other tool. Luckily the basic Microsoft Office Picture Manager will do that in no time. But as you can see, the image is in extremely bad shape.

I tried first with PaperPort, which is a document organization tool that came with my DocuPen (an excellent handheld pen-sized scanner). PaperPort has a terrific OCR tool which works quickly and almost flawlessly when you deal with a good source image. But this is what I got with PaperPort:

.1 -d— of na
o~ueru~~ e siw rr.'i~'~:~ ~r ove.n~w a..n ne.. .eror..o
Close, right? That was the original PNG. Then I tried the converted JPG:
of a.. riu~~n r~ui:.
aim . .~ me .~ aor nee
wu r~
~:~~ ° .«ac.o
Not much better. I also have an OCR tool that came with my terrific HP OfficeJet Pro 8500. But I can never get it to work on images that were not scanned at a high DPI and it is clunky and not very user-friendly. I tried it anyway and just got frustrated some more.

Then I remembered that I had a great free OCR tool somewhere in the 70GB hard drive of my computer, but since I haven't used it in a while I couldn't remember what it was called and couldn't find it anywhere. So I went to look for some good OCR tool online. And there are a lot of those out there.

SimpleOCR looked promising but it couldn't convert the file at all. I tried another good image and it had a lot of errors anyway. The interesting feature was that it allowed you to chose from a drop-down list what word you want to use when it was not 100% sure what it scanned. Also, it has a 14-day trial for handwriting recognition but you have to teach the system how you write and go through a whole training exercise. That might come in handy some day.

Another free program that intrigued me was TopOCR. The interesting thing here is that it is intended for photo capture with cameras of at least 3 mega-pixel. I was sure it would be able to handle some bad scans but this is what I got:
A Adds Ads, Am, Carob Beef ~e, Bulb Or Err. PIU~DeJ Tugger

dled ~uddonl7 ye~lerd~^r at Me r~ld~ ace of h

46ugbler, Art. Plorco llf Inure, on Butler~l~eL 8,

nob * try dlnner *ad wry ~ppuenllr troll, 81 o^lr~n~d & IlUle ox ~^lll0~ d~, howe~ot, Al . dl^cd league -liar TV ~~ ~~
It basically found only one word right - Butler. So this was not going to work. It is a very quick tool though and let's you edit the outcome in a side-by-side view next to the original:

When I tried a good image I got pretty good results. But my problem is not with good images, it's the crappy ones I need help with.

So finally I found the program I had been using before. Obviously it's called FreeOCR. Doh! It also let's you view side-by-side with the original and open the recognized text in MS Word. I can't seem to get a screenshot of this application for some reason but here is what I got when I ran it:
A lnddan Death.
In. Earnh Tuggln, wits nt Hr. Plukncy Tuggle.
dlcd suddnnly yesterdny at the ruldcnce cl her
daughter, Mr:. Plame Mlm, nn llutlaralrael. Shu
aw s Imm dinner and wu nppu-entlr wall. Sha
rnmulnmnij A lime ou smlug clown, however, and
dlud \».|‘un; any cue could mach her. _
The recognition wasn't great, but it was the closest I could get. And there was no difference between PNG and JPG either. When I ran better scans through FreeOCR it did great too. And it's free!

Do you have a favorite OCR program (free or not)? I'd love to hear from some of you in the comments.

More obits - A Sudden Death  

Posted by Abba-Dad in , , ,

Last time I wrote about the death of Pinkney J. Tuggle and while searching for more information about his I ran across the obituary for his wife, Sarah Whitehead Battle Carter Tuggle. This one is shorter and very peculiar as it doesn't give a lot of information:

A Sudden Death.
Mrs. Sarah Tuggle, wife of Mr. Pinkney Tuggle,
died suddenly yesterday at the residence of her
daughter, Mrs. Pierce Mims, on Butler street. She
ate a hearty dinner and was apparently well. She
complained a little on sitting down, however, and
died before any one could reach her.

The Atlanta Constituion - 8 May 1883.

Once again, the name of their son-in-law, Pierce Mims is mentioned but this time they live on Butler street. I checked the 1883 Atlanta City Directory (page 439) and found that Pinckney J. Tuggle, a merchant, was renting at 9 Butler Street. In the address listings (page 119) there are actually 3 people listed as living at this address: P. Mims, J.P. (wrong initials) Tuggle and W. Hanley. I wonder who Hanley was.

So what does it mean that she "complained a little" and "died before any one could reach her?" This is very odd. I wonder how I can find out more about this incident.

Anyway, I just thought of another reason that Pinkney didn't want to be buried in Greene County at his father's plantation. His wife died 2 years before him and was buried at Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta.

I am going to write a follow up to this post on two topics that annoyed me:
1. Why does hide the city directories where you can't easily find them?
2. Why are some OCR product so terrible?

Death of Mr. P.J. Tuggle  

Posted by Abba-Dad in , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

We had a short visit to the Smyrna City Library today and I have to say their genealogy section is quite impressive for such a small library. I was also able to do a couple of quick searches on their ProQuest databases. I'm not sure why I can't get the Atlanta Contitution to show up on CobbCat, which is the Cobb County Library System and has home access to ProQuest, but I need to figure this out since it is a very good resource.

I also found out a few days ago that the Atlanta History Center has a great website and research room. If you go to search the collection (under research) you will find their Terminus system as well as photo albums, the architecture database and the Franklin Garrett Necrology Genealogical Resource. Franklin Garrett’s Necrology is a genealogical resource for white men from the metropolitan Atlanta area, twenty-one years of age or older, who died between 1857 and 1931. Women listed in the necrology are mentioned in reference to their male counterparts. It's a great resource because it can give you an idea if the information was found in an obituary.

So today, I found the obituary of my wife's 3rd-great-grandfather, Pinkney Jackson Tuggle:

Death of Mr. P.J. Tuggle. - Mr. Pinkney J. Tuggle, a well known citizen of Atlanta, died night before last at ten o'clock, at the residence of his son-in-law, Mr. Pierce Mims, 42 North Bell street. Mr. Tuggle was seventy years of age, having been born in Greene county in 1815. He was married to Miss Sarah W. D. Carter, daughter of Christopher Carter, of Newton county, and twelve children were born unto them, ten of whom are living. After the war Mr. Tuggle moved to Cherokee county, and later moved to Atlanta. During the last summer he was stricken with paralysis of the throat, and suffered much from that cause, but his death was the result of pneumonia. He will be buried at Oakland cemetery at ten o'clock today. Mr. Tuggle was a kind-hearted man and an affectionate husband and father, and had not an enemy in the world.

The Atlanta Constitution (1881-2001); Nov 8, 1885; ProQuest Historical Newspapers Atlanta Constitution (1868-1945) pg. 11

Most of the information in this obituary was already known to me, but there were a few things that were new:

1. I didn't know that Pinkney was a citizen of Atlanta. Everywhere I have found him his death place was Greene County. I even read in one place that he was buried at Oakland Cemetery because he refused to be buried at the William Tuggle plantation in Greene County. So I wonder why none of the researchers before me figure out that he died in Atlanta. I guess it's just the copy/paste nature of today's genealogy? Strange.

2. Up until now I hadn't researched all of Pinkney's children. I did a couple of quick searches for Pierce Mims and found out he was married to Lily Cola Tuggle and his full name was actually Franklin Pierce Mims. There are many trees for that family that I can now connect to. And I also found grave photos from Oakland Cemetery and actual family photos of Pierce and Lily. I also found their death certificates. Lots of great info to follow up on.

3. I only know of 10 children for Pinkney and Sarah, not 12. Two may have died in infancy but in any case, I wonder who they were and why I have not seen them before. Add to my ever-expanding to-do list.

4. I have only looked at Atlanta City Directories from 1887 onwards so I wonder what information I might find in 1885 if there is even a city directory for that time.

5. This last point reminded me to look at the census information I have for this family. I was shocked to see that I only had 1850 and 1860 information, when they lived in Greene County. I quickly pulled up 1870 (Canton, Cherokee County) and 1880 (Atlanta, Fulton County).

6. In 1880, Pinkney and Sarah lived with their daughter Mary J. (Martha Jenny) Vining and her husband David M. Vining at 225 Decatur Street. There are a total of 16 people living in this house including Paul Tuggle who was Pinkney's son and is buried next to his parents at Oakland.

7. Sarah's middle initials are wrong in the obituary. Her full name was Sarah Whitehead Battle (Tuggle) Carter. I wrote about her and her maternal line here.

Last year, I found Pinkney and Sarah's graves at Oakland Cemetery a while back and added pictures. I just looked at the photos again and noticed the Masonic symbol on the tombstone. Milton B. Tuggle, their son was also a mason. That's something else I need to check up on.

While searching for Pinkney Tuggle I came across an article in the Atlanta Constitution from 1895 about a scandalous legal custody battle over the 9 year-old grandson of P.J. Tuggle (who was named after him). There is a lot of drama in that story, including two parents who keep abducting the child from each other, private detectives, a chastity discussion by the Judge Westmoreland and much more. But that's a story for another post.

Genealogy - What's the point?  

Posted by Abba-Dad in , ,

I haven't put up a post in a while for several reasons, but mainly because I haven't had much time on my hands lately. My mom came for a visit, my daughter was on winter break and I've been pondering the point of genealogy in general. So I decided to share my thoughts on the subject and see what some of my readers have to say on the subject. I am sure that this has crossed peoples' minds in the past during the course of their own research.

And you're going to have to excuse the messy thought process because I am just writing things down as they pop into my head. So if none of this makes sense to you - sorry :-)

I was thinking of a way to put all these ideas into some kind of structure and eventually decided to take a look at Maslow's hierarchy of needs. I think we can safely skip the physiological and safety needs and take a look at love and belonging or in other words social needs.

I would venture to say that for some people genealogical research is a way to feel a deeper connection to their family, whether it be their immediate or extended family. That is certainly one of the reasons I started researching my family's history. Living so far away and not being in contact with relatives caused me to forget who's who and how we're all related. I don't know if it was an actual "need" but perhaps more of a curiosity and a way to stay connected to my past. I also wanted to be able to tell my daughters about my family at some point in their lives and I knew that without some sort of system I was going to forget a lot of people. By creating and sharing an online tree on Geni I've also managed to bring the rest of the family closer together, but that was not my original intention.

I am sure that most of the geneabloggers are fulfilling some sort of social need as well as getting their research out there for others to enjoy and potentially find a connection. And many have also taken to social networks to expand their reach and interactivity with others. Many researchers enjoy the social aspects of the various genealogical conferences, workshops and cruises as well. I've enjoyed this sort of interaction too, but I don't think this has been a leading driver for me. I would probably categorize it as a fun byproduct. This also brings up specific interests like old photos, ethnic background research or even military history.

I think we have to go higher up Maslow's pyramid. The next level is esteem.

I am certain many serious genealogists have a need to be respected by their peers and enjoy a sense of achievement when breaking down a brick wall. And then bragging about it. But once again, that is not the main reason I enjoy this hobby. So next and final step - Self-actualization.

I think the desire to know and understand our past is probably the main driver for genealogists. Where do I come from? How did I get here? What chain of coincidences and historical events came together to give me this life? These are some of the questions we ask ourselves as human beings from time to time. As genealogists, we try to answer those questions through systematic research.

But I think there's more past Maslow's pyramid. A lot more...

Some people just enjoy the historical aspect of it all and genealogy makes history a little more personal. If you can place one of your ancestors in a significant historical event, then you have a personal connection to it. I especially like this side of genealogy. That's probably why I enjoy reading biographies or general historical non-fiction about people and places.

But sometimes there are some flaws in this reasoning. Let me explain my thought process.

There are several levels to understanding your past. There's oral history that you hear from your parents, grand-parents and maybe great-grands. That will probably bring you back about 100 years. That's also where most of us will end up with old photos unless you have some rare items dating back to the 18th century, but those are few and far between. Then there are a few other research milestones.

My Jewish genealogy is probably going to end somewhere in the middle of the 18th century anyway. There aren't many records kept or left and most of my ancestors and their relatives perished in the Holocaust. Looking for descendants is a bit of an interest, but while finding a 4th cousin somewhere is great, it's not like we're going to be really close. I barely keep up with my 2nd cousins as it is.

On my wife's side there are a lot of long American lines that date back to colonial times, but eventually the all end up in Europe somewhere and that's where the research will end unless there is some noble or royalty and that's pretty much genealogical vanity. So we all know the origins of our ancestors after a short amount of research and that's that.

So is it the process that we like? Is it digging through archives and finding a clue that leads us to a "new" discovery? Well then we could do that sort of research for pretty much anyone, right? Because my 8th great-grands are so far removed from me personally that they might as well be strangers. Why don't we research strangers? Why don't we just randomly open up an old city directory, pick a name and research that person? Well, some of us do. But most won't want to invest time and money on complete strangers.

Some people love cemeteries. Some people love archives and old libraries. Some people love to travel to ancestral homelands or figure out an old plat from a recorded land deed. Some people want to find parallels in their past to their own lives.

Anyway, I've been rambling long enough. I think that for me personally, I have accomplished several things through genealogy:

1. I can now easily name pretty much all my living relatives out to my 2nd cousins.
2. I managed to get the family a little closer together.
3. I've been able to build a family tree for my daughters to enjoy later in life.
4. I've enjoyed the research process and connecting ancestors to historical events.
5. I virtually-met many interesting people who share my hobby.

I'm sure there's a lot more that I'm forgetting to add at the moment, but I think this post is long enough, don't you?

What's the point to your genealogy research? Let me know in the comments. I hope I gave you some food for thought.

Why you should subscribe to Casefile Clues  

Posted by Abba-Dad in , ,

I love Casefile Clues.

It is by far the most cost-effective, thought-provoking, research-organizing, genealogical tool for newbies like me. Michael John Neil does a fantastic job of laying out his research methodology in simple steps that anyone can understand.

You get a new casefile in your inbox every Monday and it's easy to read and understand. Then you can spend the rest of your week trying to emulate some of the methodologies in your own research.

The three things that stand out to me are:

1. Putting things in chronological order. I use RootsMagic for my genealogy database so whenever I view a person's entries I already see them in chronologcial order. But Michael usually creates a chronology for an entire family or several generations to see what else he should be looking for. That's been a real eye-opener for me.

2. Real Estate. There is a wealth of information in land records and other deeds that I never thought about before. If your ancestors were farmers then how did they get their land? What happened to the land when they moved or died? If they lived in the city, did they rent or own? These simple questions open up a lot of research avenues.

3. Have a system. At the end of every casefile there is a "what next?" section that highlights how to continue the research. There are always more places you can look for records and other clues. Did you check probate? Did you look at city directories? What about mailing lists and forums? There's always another place to look.

I am going to take some of the casefiles and apply them to my own research and write about it here. I hope you enjoy that.

But in the meantime, go sign up for Casefile Clues right now. You can also buy all the back issues. It's really a small investment for a truly fantastic resource.

As of the writing of this post Michael has a special for a set back issues (1-25) and a year's subscription for only $27.50 - That's only 35 cent per issue!