West Virginia
Archives & History News
Volume III, No. 6
August 2002

The Internet or the Library?

From the Editor:

Summertime always brings out-of-state visitors to the Archives and History Library from all over the United States, including Alaska. I am always surprised at the number of Californians seeking their West Virginia ancestors. In the past week alone, I have personally worked with a patron in the Library, spoken with a beginning genealogist by telephone, and replied to two researchers by mail, all of them Californians. I think they have discovered that true gold their heritage lies in the hills of West Virginia, despite the California Gold Rush!

The Internet or the Library?
The Question for
the Modern Researcher

For the staff of the Archives and History Library, the answer is simple: Both! Use the Internet to search for clues, but come to the Library for the actual records and other print sources to support, prove or flesh out your Internet finds. If a researcher is using transcriptions of census or county records made available through a Web site, he or she still needs to obtain copies of the records themselves from the original books or from microfilmed copies of those original materials. As we all know, even the most diligent transcriber can and does make mistakes, including misinterpreting the handwriting of the clerk, skipping lines, or making simple typographical errors. Also, the transcription may not be the full entry from the primary source, and valuable information will go unseen. One must be especially wary of family trees and family-produced genealogy information on personal Web sites and on organized sites that allow communal postings. The material is only as accurate as the sources on which it is based. If the genealogist in question does not cite any sources for his or her statements, and will not provide them upon request, be very cautious in adding that person's information to one's own family history. Read posted information carefully. Do dates conflict? Has the person simply matched up similar names without any real evidence to support the assumption? Again, approach this type of information as a clue, using the names, dates and places provided to search for marriage, census and vital records.

We hear stories from our library patrons regularly about misinformation posted on Web sites (sometimes about themselves!) that is blatantly incorrect, and that the holder of the false data refuses to amend, even when provided with documented correct information. If you have shared your genealogy via the Internet, please double-check the accuracy of your information, and cite the sources that support your conclusions. Remember, a good genealogist is a good historian as well, using the same research methods and carrying the same responsibility for accuracy.



A Key to Successful Family Tree-Climbing is
Understanding How to Use All of the Information
You Can Find on the Web.

By Richard A. Pence

First, there is an incredible and growing amount of information available online; and, even if what you need isn't online you can often quickly be in touch with someone who has access to the information you need. Second, no matter how much data are online we need to remember that other than actual images of original records what we find on the Internet is second- or third-hand information just as the information in an obituary is mostly "hearsay" and in need of verification.

What we find on the Internet can give us a pretty good idea of what the details involving a family might be, but the reality is that what we actually have are some fantastic clues telling us how and where to find the necessary primary records. Remember, too, that the family trees that other people post are almost always less reliable than a database such as the California Death Index which, for all its usefulness, is still only an index. Finding it on the Internet should not be the end of the search. It is often only the beginning. Now you have the information perhaps you need to gain access to the original birth, death, marriage, or other record.

What the Internet has brought us is not the "facts" themselves, but the ability to discover where to find these facts. And it allows us to do so in minutes or hours rather than in months or years. Speed is the main useful ingredient. It is what allows me to accumulate all the information in this article in less time than it takes to recount how I did it. What an incredible tool!

Previously published in the e-zine MISSING LINKS, Vol. 7, No. 32, August 2002. You may read the text of the full article online at .


A Textbook Published circa 1857

I love looking through old books, newspapers and magazines, and forming a picture of everyday life in different time periods. Sometimes insight comes in strange forms, such as the "Promiscuous Questions" inserted as the last section of an mid-nineteenth- century math textbook.* Following are a few questions that I thought indicate common and usual practice for that era, such as bartering:

1. A man bought 4 yd. of cloth at $ 3/5 per yd., and 10 yd. at $ 7/8 per yd.: he paid with muslin at $ 1/10 per yd.: how many yards were required? Ans. 111 « yd.

2. What does the rent of a house amount to from May 20, 1854 to May 10, 1855, at $250 per year? Ans. $243 1/18.

3. I bought an equal quantity of flour, butter, and sugar, for $47; the sugar was 12 cts. The butter 30 cts., and the flour 5 cts., a pound: how much of each did I buy? Ans. 100 lbs.

4. If 1 ox is worth 8 sheep, and 3 oxen are worth 2 horses, what is the value of each horse, the sheep being valued at $2.50 each? Ans. $30.

5. If 2/3 of $1 buy 1/5 of a sheep, and 3/7 of a sheep be worth 1/14 of an ox, what will 10 oxen cost? Ans. $200.

6. By working 13 hr. a day, a man can perform a piece of work in 5 1/4 days: in what time can he perform it by working 9 hr. a day? Ans. 7 7/12 da.

7. A clock gains 7 « min. in 24 hr. It is set right at noon on Monday: what will be the time by it at 6 o'clock on the following Thursday evening? Ans. 6 hr. 24 3/8 min.

8. If 7 men can mow 35 acres of grain in 4 days, how many acres will 10 men mow in 3 « days? Ans. 43 3/4 A.

9. If 27 men do a piece of work in 14 days, working 10 hr. a day, how many hours a day must 24 boys work, to perform it in 45 da., 2 boys being equal to 1 man? Ans. 7 hr.

10. A ship starts at noon and sails west, 9 hours, going 16' 40" an hour: what time will it be at the place reached? Ans. 10 min. before 9.

11. How much grain must I take to mill, so that I shall have 2 bu. left for grinding, after paying toll at the rate of 4 qt. to the bushel? Ans. 2 bu. 1 pk. 1 1/7 qt.

12. If 32 men have food for 5 mon., how many must leave for the food to last the rest 8 mon.? Ans. 12.

13. A vessel at sea has 120 persons on board, and provisions sufficient to last 3 mon.; they take from a wreck 60 persons more: how long will their provisions last? Ans. 2 mon.

14. For what sum must I give my note at the Bank of Boston, payable in 4 months, at 6% discount, to obtain $300? Ans. $306.27+.

15. How many yards of paper that is 24 in. wide will cover the walls of a room 15 ft. long, 12 ft. wide, and 10 ft. high? Ans. 90 yd.

16. If a regiment of soldiers be arranged in the form of a square, there will be 28 men on each side, and 50 men over: what is the whole number of men? Ans. 834 men.

17. I purchased a house and lot for $4500; the property rented for $500 a year: I paid for insurance, $25; taxes 1 8/10%; and repairs $134: what net per cent did it pay on the investment? Ans. 5 7/9%.

18. A and B have the same annual income: A saves 1/3 of his, while B, who spends annually $350 more than A, at the end of four years, is in debt $120: what is the annual income of each? Ans. $960.

19. The tax in a certain town was 1 cent 6 mills on the dollar, and polls $1 each; A man who paid for 4 polls, was charged $328 tax: what was the value of his estate? Ans. $20,250.

20. I bought 60 gallons of wine at $1.20 per gallon; I sold 20 gallons at $1.50 per gal. and retained 5 gal. for my own use: at how much per gallon must I sell the remainder to gain 10% on the whole cost? Ans. $1.40 4/7.

I was surprised to see dollars figured in fractions rather than cents. Out of 100 questions, 17 dealt with figuring work times and/or man-hours for manual labor, 14 with buying and selling for profit, and 18 with personal finances. Livestock, apples, cloth, wine, tea, flour and sugar figured prominently. Oranges were the object of one profitable deal. Two questions dealt with watering wine, while one question spoke of mixing sugar at various rates per pound. Obviously the pure sugar was being cut with something but with what substance and why? All of the questions about work indicate much longer days than modern labor would accept. Digging trenches, building walls or traveling on foot were the subjects of two or three questions apiece. Women were mentioned specifically in only two questions, in one where the woman's work was figured at a rate of 2/3 that of a man's work (a boy's work is half that of a man), and in question #100: A lady spent in one store « of all her money and $1 more; in another, « of the remainder and $« more; and in another « of the remainder and $« more; she then had nothing left: what sum had she at first? Ans. $20. Obviously the shopping gene is an old one.

*The primary meaning of the word "promiscuous" as listed in Webster's Third New International Dictionary is "consisting of a heterogeneous or haphazard mixture of persons or things."


The West Virginia Division of Culture and History's proposed Annual Work Program for its 2002-2003 Historic Preservation Program is available for public review and comment until August 30. The work program describes the activities and programs SHPO will undertake to assist communities and residents preserve the physical evidence of the state's history.

The State Historic Preservation Office is accepting applications for survey and planning grants. Approximately $80,000 will be awarded from historic preservation funds appropriated by the U.S. Congress through the National Park Service Historic Preservation Fund. State or local government agencies, not-for-profit organizations, for-profit firms or organizations, and educational institutions are eligible to apply. Eligible projects include architectural and archaeological surveys, preparation of nominations to the National Register of Historic Places, heritage education programs relating to historic preservation activities, pre-development activities, and comprehensive planning documents and development projects. Funded projects must be completed by June 30, 2004. Grants are awarded on a matching basis through a competitive process, with the final decisions being made by the West Virginia Archives and History Commission. Application deadline is October 31, 2002.

For additional information on SHPO programs and activities, please call Pamela Brooks, (304) 558- 0240, Ext. 720, or write: SHPO, West Virginia Division of Culture and History, The Cultural Center, 1900 Kanawha Blvd. East, Charleston, WV 25305- 0300.

This newsletter is a publication of :

The Division of Culture and History
Archives and History
The Cultural Center
1900 Kanawha Boulevard East
Charleston, WV 25305-0300
(304) 558-0230
Nancy P. Herholdt, Commissioner


Homestead Gathering at Jenkins Plantation is planned for September 21, featuring free refreshments and Civil War-era music and dancing. For more information and directions, call (304) 762- 1059, or visit the Web site at


Richard Bailey of Chesterfield and Tazewell Counties, Virginia, and His Descendants: Mary Ellen Howe, 2002.

Black Residents of Greenbrier and Monroe Counties West Virginia: Carol L. Haynes, 1999.

Ancestry of Maurice Baker and His Wife, Elizabeth: Anne Arundel County, Maryland: Rod Harless, Updated edition, 2002.

The Wheeling Suspension Bridge and Its Relation to Other Important Bridges in North America: Oglebay Institute, 1980.

New Horizons: The Story of Ashland, Inc.: Jeffrey L. Rodengen, 1998.

A Pictorial History of Webster County 2002: Mark Romano, 2002.

Confederate Retaliation: McCausland's 1864 Raid: Fritz Haselberger, 2000.

Giles County Virginia Marriages 1807-1850: David Anderson Turner, 2002.

The Family of John Cooke: Revolutionary War Soldier, Indian Scout, First Permanent Settler of Wyoming County, West Virginia: Bonnie Turner Cook, 2001.

1860 Morgan County Kentucky Census: Sharroll K. Minix, 1984.

"The Boys'll Listen to Me": The Labor Career of William Blizzard: Shae Ronald Davidson, 1998.

George Washington & Charles W. Robinson & Families: Martha Mable Robinson Jones, 1999.

Lewis County, West Virginia, Obituaries, 1846- 1899: Ann and Jay Newman, 1996.

Lewis County, West Virginia, Obituaries, 1900- 1909: Ann and Jay Newman, 1996.

Lewis County, West Virginia, Obituaries, 1910- 1919: Ann and Jay Newman, 1996.

Lewis County, West Virginia, Obituaries, 1920- 1929: Ann and Jay Newman, 1996.

Lewis County, West Virginia, Obituaries, 1930- 1939: Ann and Jay Newman, 1996.

Cemeteries of Lewis County, W. Va., and adjacent counties: Volume 10, Weston Masonic Cemetery: Matha Byrd, 2002.

The Institute Site: From George Washington to the World of Chemicals, 1763 to 2000: Warren J. Woomer, 2000.

Descendants of Jacob George Wickline and Maria Catharine Spahr: Margureitte Flack Ratliff and Jane Green Volckmann, 2 vol., 2002.


Our Web master, Joe Geiger, is currently adding additional documents to the Statehood section of the Archives and History Web site. You may read transcriptions of twelve items relating to statehood, including the Virginia Ordinance of Secession, the proceedings of the statehood conventions, the first West Virginia constitutional convention, and the U.S. Senate debates on West Virginia statehood.

We have added a survey form to the Archives and History Newse. Please let us know what you think about our newsletter, as well as topics you would like to see covered in future issues.

A digital image of the 1777 muster roll for Captain Haymond's Monongalia County militia can now be seen online, through What's New.


Independence Hall, Wheeling, is offering a program on September 28 in honor of the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the B & O Railroad. John Hankey will present The Antebellum B & O and American Civil Engineering, and Richard Wolfe will talk about General Kelley and the B & O Railroad.


We would like to express our continued appreciation to Joy Stalnaker and the Hackers Creek Pioneer Descendants organization for donations of materials published by HCPD. Anyone researching Lewis County in particular in the Archives and History Library will find the many transcriptions, brief histories and indexes donated by HCPD to be very helpful. In turn, we hope that some patrons will find the books and pamphlets so useful that they will buy their own copies, thereby supporting the activities of Hackers Creek members.

We commend the Carbide Retirees Corps for insuring that the contributions and achievements of Union Carbide employees will be remembered. In the past few years, retired employees have compiled several histories of the company in West Virginia. The most recent is The Institute Site: From George Washington to the World of Chemicals, 1763 to 2000, by Warren J. Woomer, copyright 2000. Local members of the Retirees Corps have distributed multiple copies of this and previous Carbide histories to all of the public libraries in the Kanawha Valley, to the area colleges and universities, and to the West Virginia State Archives and History Library. They have also donated some of their original source materials, such as a full set of Union Carbide annual reports, to the Archives for preservation and future study. We spend so much time and effort on saving the history of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries that sometimes we forget that we need to preserve the twentieth century's events and records now, for the benefit of the researchers of the twenty-first century and beyond. Carbide Retirees, we salute you!

Permission to reprint articles from West Virginia Archives and History News is granted, provided: (1) The reprint is not used for commercial purposes, and (2) the following notice appears at the end of the reprinted material: Previously published in West Virginia Archives and History News, [Volume and issue numbers], [Month, Year], a publication of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History.


Rich Mountain Battlefield Foundation is hosting Western Virginia 1861: The First Campaign, September 19 through 22, 2002, in Randolph County. Dr. James Robertson will deliver the keynote address: "West Virginia as a Child of the Civil War." The Archives own Terry Lowry will give a presentation on the related 1861 campaigns in southern (West) Virginia. The symposium will include tours of both publicly and privately owned sites of Civil War activities, as well as seminars and book sales. For more information, visit



"SHAPING THE CAPITOL COMPLEX: CASS GILBERT, INC.": Collection of photographs and documents on display in the Archives and History Library and on the Archives and History Web site.

LABOR DAY, SEPTEMBER 2: The Library will be closed.

"HERITAGE TOURISM FOR WEST VIRGINIA," SEPTEMBER 6-7: Conference sponsored by Preservation Alliance of West Virginia, Morgantown.

INDEPENDENCE HALL 9/11 REMEMBRANCE, SEPTEMBER 11: As part of Wheeling's citywide commemoration, the Hall hosts Vance Church Quartet, 9:00 p.m.

WESTERN VIRGINIA 1861: THE FIRST CAMPAIGN, SEPTEMBER 19-22: Civil War Symposium, Rich Mountain Battlefield Foundation, Elkins.



B&O RAILROAD 150TH ANNIVERSARY, SEPTEMBER 28: Independence Hall, Wheeling.

WEST VIRGINIA BOOK FESTIVAL, OCTOBER 11-12: Charleston Civic Center, Charleston.

COLUMBUS DAY, OCTOBER 14: The Library will be open.*

VETERANS DAY, NOVEMBER 5: The Library will be open.*

THANKSGIVING, NOVEMBER 28: The Library will be closed. Friday, November 29, and Saturday, November 30, the Library will be open.*

HISTORY DAY 2003, FEBRUARY 27: The Capitol and the Cultural Center, Charleston.

*Only the Archives Library will be staffed--all other Archives offices will be closed. The State Museum will be open any time the Archives Library is open. The West Virginia Library Commission Library in The Cultural Center is closed weekends and all holidays.


Fredrick Armstrong: Director
Debra Basham: Archivist (photographs, special collections)
Constance Baston: Researcher (Veterans Memorial Archive)
Greg Carroll: Historian (Civil War, Native American history)
Dick Fauss: Archivist (microfilm and moving images)
Elaine Gates: Library Assistant (microfilming and microfilm repairs)
Joe Geiger: Historian (Web page)
Ed Hicks: Photographer (archival photography, darkroom)
Mary Johnson: Historian (West Virginia History)
Terry Lowry: Library Assistant (Civil War)
Jaime Simmons: Library Assistant (records of the 1700's and early 1800's, Pennsylvania)
Cathy Miller: Library Assistant (WV State documents, periodicals)
Sharon Newhouse: Secretary
Harold Newman: Library Assistant (microfilming, Revolutionary War)
Pat Pleska: Manager (Veterans Memorial Archive)
Susan Scouras: Librarian (cataloging, Kentucky, library collection, newsletter editor)
Bobby Taylor: Library Manager
Nancy Waggoner: Office Assistant

Working on special projects: Allen Fowler.

Volunteers: Carolyn Conner, Bill Kelley, Dale Newhouse, Angela Tolbert, Bob and Lucile Foster, Heather Sayre and Barry Williams. Interns: T. W. Hindman, Phillip Sword, and Zachary Warren.

Archives and History News

West Virginia Archives and History