Posted in Arizona, Arizona pioneers, History, Podcasts

Celebrating with a Fun Podcast

Well, On Granny’s Trail just topped 16,000 views, so to celebrate this random achievement, I decided to share a fun podcast with you from Stuff You Missed in History Class that will help you learn a little more about the Western States.  Stuff You Missed in History Class researched the true story and presented their findings in this podcast.

The Baron of Arizona, starring Vincent Price and Ellen Dres
The Baron of Arizona, starring Vincent Price and Ellen Drew (This is the movie version, not the podcast)

It’s called “The Peralta Grant and the Baron of Arizona,” and is quite entertaining.   It’s about a determined would-be swindler and how he nearly acquired an enormous portion of Arizona for himself.  Genealogists will be interested in his creative forgery and the prodigious amount of  “proof” he produced to claim his grant.

And to think my ancestors might have ended up with this guy (James Addison Reaves, not Vincent Price) as their landlord!

Vincent Price as the Baron of Arizona
Vincent Price as the Baron of Arizona

You can also check out the link to the blog post about this podcast for a few more resources on the topic.

Enjoy the podcast, and thanks for following On Granny’s Trail!


Posted in History, Timelines, Websites

Learn Almost Anything for Free

Well, that’s what they claim  anyway at the non-profit Khan Academy online. They are on a mission to make learning available to anyone, anywhere, for free. So far I am impressed with this innovative website, where anyone can be instructed in topics ranging from Math and Science to History and Economics.  They currently have over 4,000 video lessons available.

Photo credit

They call themselves a “One World Schoolhouse”, or a global classroom, and that is pretty accurate.

For genealogists, the history lessons are so helpful, and they are offered for both United States and European History, as well as Ancient and Midievel, for those of you crazy genealogists who think you have traced your ancestry back to Adam 🙂

I just watched an 18 minute video overview of U.S. History from Jamestown to the Civil War, where my screen was filled with a virtual whiteboard where the teacher diagrammed a timeline, accompanied by maps and pictures.  It was so informative! I highly recommend it. I enjoy multi-media learning and tend to retain it better, and sometimes an overview can put things into perspective in a way that can lead me to new ideas for research.

learning onlineThere are a bunch of lessons I am looking forward to, and it’s a much better use of time than watching American Idol… but there’s nothing stopping me from doing both things at the same time, now is there?

Posted in History, Texas, Websites

The Portal to Texas History

Somehow I am on a Texas jag this month, because my newest find is The Portal to Texas History, maintained by University of North Texas. I want to share a link to Dick Eastman’s blog about the site so you can see what he has to say about it and check it out. Enjoy!

Posted in Archives and Libraries, Biographical, Books, Census, Directories, Friday Finds, Google Books, History, Mormon Migration Index, National Register of Historic Places, Newspapers, Photos, Pioneer Overland Travel, Research Center for Utah State History, Research tips, Utah State Historical Society, Websites

Fergus Coalter Music Co.: One source leads to another

I ran across a 1900 U.S. Census record for my husband’s ancestor, Fergus Coalter, living in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah at the time, and several entries caught my eye because I knew they would lead me to other sources. That’s the great thing about a census record – one thing leads to another:

Fergus Coalter household, 1900 U.S. Census, ED 5 Precinct 5 Salt Lake City Ward 1, Salt Lake, Utah, p. 11 (, digital image)

Year of immigration (1874), years in the U.S. (26), citizenship (“Na” or naturalized), occupation (Music Dealer), education (can read, write, and speak English), and home ownership (“O” owns a home, “F” free of mortgage).

These are all things worth following up on, and I accessed a number of sources you may not know exist. Of course the easiest thing to try first is a Google search, and this got me started on the thing I was most curious about initially – no, not the immigration/citizenship columns – but “Music Dealer.” That is something you don’t often see on a census record.

A search for “Fergus Coalter music” led me to the website for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir historical roster. If you access the MTC website, there does not appear to be a link for the roster page, so I would have never found this entry for “Fergus Coulter” without Google:

So Fergus Coulter/Coalter sang Bass with the MTC for 17 years!

Another find through Google was on EBay – a postcard featuring the Fergus Coalter music company (mis-identified as Ogden). Sadly, my bid was rejected, but next time I am in Salt Lake City I intend to go to the Research Center for Utah State History, where they have an excellent collection of photographs from early Salt Lake City streets. A look at their online catalog gave me some promising leads, but they have file cabinets full of photos available for browsing which are organized geographically.

Now that I knew about the Fergus Coalter Music Company, I wanted to check city directories for Salt Lake City, which list addresses for businesses and individuals much like a phone book would in later years, plus sometimes some extra helpful facts. UTGenweb has a list of SLC directories with links to online images and/or Family History Library microfilm call numbers. Additionally, lists directories by year, and some libraries where they can be found.

The 1897 Polk directory showed “Daynes and Coalter” under Fergus Coalter’s name and a residential address of 749 2nd East:

SLC Directory 1897, Polk, p89 online at UTGenweb

State Genweb projects, hosted by Rootsweb, are excellent sources for free online images and databases posted by volunteers.

Other online city directories revealed Fergus Coalter had also been in business as Coalter and Snelgrove, Daynes and Coalter, and Fergus Coalter Music Co. His death record showed him working as a clerk at Beesley Music Co. at age 71. I can do a more thorough search of directories at the Utah Research Center and Family History Library when I am there.

Newspapers can be an excellent source when the subject was a business owner, because of all the ads they placed. Here are a few unusual publications:

Young Womans Journal v 13 p344 on

This is from the Young Woman’s Journal, Feb 1902, v 13, p 344. Here is an excerpt from something titled, “Mormon Magazine Miscellany” with the heading, “The Leading Industries of the West,” p 66, also on Google Books. It is a fascinating peek inside the music store, and we also learn that Fergus’ partner was the Tabernacle organist:

Finally, another unique source is a file from the National Register of Historic Places. The nomination form for the Capitol Hill Historic District of Salt Lake City, submitted by the Utah State Historical Society, has been digitized and is available online. It provides photos and descriptions of buildings in that district, including the Fergus Coalter home at 314 Center St., constructed abt 1880:

What is remarkable about this source is the personal info it provides and additional documentation that leads to additional sources, including plat maps Sanborn insurance maps, directories, newspapers, and biographical sources:

Fergus Coalter house, Utah State Historical Society nomination form for NRHP

There is one last resource I want to mention here, because I know the “immigration” and “citizenship” columns on the census must have made you curious, too. Did you know about the Mormon Migration website at BYU? They are abstracting records for 19th and 20th century LDS immigrants, including first-person accounts of voyages. This is different than the Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel database which documents pioneer wagon companies. For starters, the Pioneer Overland Travel database ends at 1868—the official end of the “pioneer” era—and only covers the immigrants’ journey after they arrived in the United States. The Mormon Migration site is a ships passenger list database that extends beyond 1868 and documents the journey from an immigrant’s homeland. The first-person accounts can describe the entire journey by ship and wagon.

Here is the entry for Fergus Coulter:

Mormon Migration Index at

A click on his name will bring up a link to first-person accounts by other passengers and also a list of other passengers.

Of course, these records are just the beginning – there are so many more record groups that come to mind: church, vital records, probate, cemetery, county history, naturalization, etc., but hopefully you now know about a few unique records for the Salt Lake City area and can start down your own trail. So Happy Trails!

Posted in History, Military, War of 1812, Websites

200th Anniversary of the War of 1812

Today we commemorate a big day in history. Betcha didn’t know!   This month War of 1812 databases are available for free at, so check them out. If you find the Fold3 is a website you like, you can access it for free at your local LDS Family History Center .

Here is a re -post from the Newsletter regarding the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, by Michael J. Leclerc. There is more information about him on the APG website.

War of 1812 Ancestors

By Michael J. Leclerc

Monday, June 18, marks the two-hundredth anniversary of the start of the War of 1812. The bicentennial is being marked with much fanfare in Washington and elsewhere around the country.

The War of 1812 was the first time the United States officially declared war (although the Quasi-War with France and the first Barbary War preceded it, there were no official declarations of war in those instances). The War of 1812 was vehemently opposed by the New England states, who feared the damage that would come to their merchant fleets. Indeed, the War of 1812 had more official political opposition than any other war through the end of the twentieth, including the Vietnam War. Despite this, and the fact that our national anthem was written at the Battle of Baltimore near the end of the war, Americans don’t know much about it.

One of the major problems leading to the war was Britain’s attacks on U.S. ships. The Royal Navy would board American ships, ostensibly looking for escaped British sailors. In reality, they would look for any able seaman and impress him into the Royal Navy. Lists of these impressed seamen can be found at NARA. Because of this problem, Congress approved the issuing of Seamen’s Protection Certificates, which can also be helpful.

The U.S. Navy played a key role in the War of 1812. Because of this, many of the males who served during the war were younger. Anyone who has visited U.S.S. Constitution in Boston knows that ships of that era had small lower decks. Boys were able to scramble around these smaller spaces more quickly than grown adults. Keep this in mind as you examine your family for people who might have served during the war. Males ranging in age from 12 to their 20s are good candidates to have served.

Many of the veterans received bounty land. Until 1842, most of this land was within the present-day boundaries of Illinois, Missouri, and Arkansas. If you have ancestors who appeared in those areas before 1850, check to see if they received bounty land. The land grants may give you further clues as to where your ancestor originally came from.

The National Archives has a page dedicated to resources to help you research your War of 1812 ancestors. For those of you who can get to Boston, I strongly recommend a visit to U.S.S. Constitution to see what life was like for her crew during the war. The oldest commissioned warship in existence, she celebrates her 215th anniversary in 2013. Each year on July 4th, she takes a cruise through Boston harbor. A contest is held each year for the public to ride during the turnaround cruise (called that because the ship returns to her berth in the opposite position from when she started so that she will weather evenly on both sides).