Author Archives: mjnrootdig

Civil War Pension Files

As we continue to play catchup, we’ll be using examples from several Civil War pension files I’ve obtained over the past several years. Complete pension files are often helpful when the veteran (or his widow if she survived him) was born in a state that did not keep vital records during the time of the birth.

There are other reasons for getting these records, but for those born in locations where there are no vital records, they are particularly helpful.

Casefile Clues Is Back!

After a hiatus, Casefile Cluesmy easy-to-follow how-to genealogy newsletter focusing on the research process and analysis is back.1914906_133301877226_3680450_n

To celebrate our return, we’re offering new subscribers a rate of $17 for 52 issues. Your subscription will begin with issue 4-1 and run through issue 4-52. That’s 52issues. Our normal subscription rate is $20.

This offer ends at 11:59 pm central time on 5 September 2016. Don’t wait.

You can learn more about Casefile Clues on our blog and order free back issues (download immediate) here.

Process your new subscription securely here.

If you’re already a subscriber–we’ll let you download a webinar at no charge. Visit our webinar page and email me at with the name of the presentation you want.



Three Estates Intertwined

I am continuing work on a series of probate/estate cases from three members of the Behrens-Sartorius family in Adams County, Illinois, for upcoming Casefile Clues articles. We are going to be spreading some of them out so that readers don’t get burnt out on the family or the time period.

There were actually seven different files for a total of three estates that were settled. A little organization will be helpful. I created a folder for each of the estate files and downloaded the probate records from, reminding myself that there may be ledgers and journals the courthouse does not have.

I should have renamed the files after I determined what was in each case, but for now have just left them. The cases, in summary, are:

  • herman-sartorius-1–the estate settlement for Herman Sartorius who died in Adams County, Illinois in the early 1880s
  • herman-sartoriu-2–the petition by the administrator of the Sartorius estate to sell Herman’s real property
  • reka-behrends-estate–an estate opened for Reka Behrens wherein her only estate is her widow’s benefit received from her husband’s estate
  • ulfert-behrends-will–the will for Ulfert Behrends who died in Adams County, Illinois, in 1889
  • ulfert-behrends-will2–another filming of the will case packet for Ulfert
  • volke-sartorius-guardian–the case file wherein Volke Sartorius is appointed guardian for her minor children, done after Ulfert Behrens died.


My organization does not end there. These estates were being settled in the 1880s and all involve Volke Sartorius in one way or another. Her father was appointed administrator of her husband’s estate and he had to petition the court to sell the real estate. Volke bought back her home, but was left with little money. After her father died, she was appointed guardian of her  husband’s minor heirs, largely so she could sue her father’s estate for their back wages when they lived with him.

My next step is to make a chart listing all the documents in these files so that I can put them in chronological order. That may help me to notice things I’ve not previously noticed as these case are intertwined.

It’s Good to be Back

We are still in gear up mode here at Casefile Clues, but it is good to be back. Writing the newsletter regularly again has reminded me of the importance of writing as a part of the research process, even if the research is not completely done.

Even when we think it is done, writing things up often makes it clear that our work really is not done

We’ve got some new and interesting topics coming up, stay tuned!

And thanks for your support of Casefile Clues. It is appreciated.


Missing Issues?

If you are a subscriber to the PDF version of Casefile Clues and you are missing issues, email me at

Responding to earlier newsletter mailings sometimes causes the messages to get lost or misdirected. Thanks!

Issue 3-49 is Out!

Issue 3-49 is out.

It looks at an 1889 will for a German immigrant to Illinois.

Other than the names, the will has nothing to do with the testator being German. The issues and analysis are really independent of the state in which the will is located as well.

There’s several issues in it that are worth thinking about.


Upcoming Will was Filmed Twice

wulfertwillpacketThere are two separate filmings of the will of Ulfert Behrens in Adams County, Illinois. It appears that there are several wills in the late 19th century for Adams County, Illinois, that were microfilmed twice.

We’re using that will for the next issue of Casefile Clues. I need to make certain that I am precise in my citation so that I cite the correct filming of these records as both filmings have been digitized by