My Surnames – Dardinger

I am going to start listing my ancestral surnames in hopes that some people might come across my post and start a conversation.

My own surname is Dardinger which is a shortened form of a Swiss-German surname Darendinger.  My gggrandfather, Stephen arrived in the US in 1858 on the ship William Tell and the family moved first to Licking County, Ohio and then on west to Hardin County Ohio where he and his wife Mary Ann and some of their children lived the rest of their lives.  My own ggrandfather, Samuel moved to Franklin County, Ohio and many still live there to this day.  I happened to move to Tempe, Arizona about 19 years ago.  There were two other Darendingers who moved to the US changing their names to Dardinger as well, but both of them daughtered out eventually and the only lines which still carry the Dardinger name were from Samuel and his brother John Henry Dardinger.  The most recent generation contains several Dardingers from Samuel’s line and one from Henry’s.  As best I can figure things, the Darendingers came from the town of Darendingen, a suburb of Solothurn, Solothurn, Switzerland.  This means they might not be all relatives, but I expect the three families which took Dardinger as a shortened surname were related.  One of them was also headed by a Stephen and settled in the Wheeling, WV area.  The other one was headed by a Jacob and was already in Hardin County, Ohio when my Stephen arrived.  Stephen’s oldest child was also a Jacob, so it’s hard to beleve they weren’t closely related.  I suspect they were brothers with a father Jacob (as the Jacob was older than Stephen), but that’s a guess.

So far I  haven’t found the family in Switzerland, but there are lots of church and canton records which haven’t been put on line yet, so it could still happen.  I am of course interested in any information a reader of this blogpost might come across.

What’s new for 2014? #1

It’s been a long time since my last blog post but I thought I’d get back into it.  I’ve spent a good bit of time recently earning my Distinguished Toastmasters award from  I finished earning the award on April 13, 2014 so I now have more time to blog.

I’ve been working on genealogy right a long and have started a couple of projects.  The first was to begin Family Treemaker 14 trees for each of the spouses of my parents’ trees’ i.e. spouses of Dardingers and Millers (descendants of William Miller b 28 Feb 1778) with the appropriate surname.  Thus far I have 31 of the Miller type  and 39 of the Dardinger variety and 7 other trees of miscellaneous sort.

My most recent tree was brought on by a pending vacation.  My wife and I intend to stop and visit my aunt in the Tulsa area so I contacted her to see it this was ok.  I got talking to her about her late husband Ed who I had virtually no information about.  She was able to give me some information including that his father was adopted and it wasn’t known who his biological father was though she does have some information about his mother.  Anyway I started a tree for him and surprisingly to me, I may have found Ed’s missing biological grandfather in the 1900c.  I have to check with my aunt to see if I can be right, but the parents of the adopting grandmother are there with a fellow and his wife who matches their daughter who married Uncle Ed’s adoptive grandfather.  Interestingly, it appears they changed Ed’s father’s birth year from 1899 to 1902 to hide the adoption.

I’ll change this blog to match which I find out on the trip.

Useful sites #1 : The USGen Web Project

I’m going to do a series of posts on sites I’ve found useful in doing my genealogy research.  This first one will be on the USGen Web Project.  The main portal can be found at  From there you click on a map of the states followed by a list or map of counties at the state site.  What you get to from these clicks varies widely.  Some county sites have a great variety of valuable information, while some others are a bit lacking.  But you’ll not know until you dig in and see.  I suspect there are some web sites available which rate given USGen sites, but I haven’t gone looking for them yet.  I’d like any experienced genealogists to give us some examples of good and not-so-good county sites that they know of.  I’ll start a collection of them according to what feedback I get and if there’s a more comprehensive listing somewhere, I’ll add a link or links to this post.

Since I’ve only been to a couple of dozen USGenWeb sites myself, I’m hoping to get a lot of tips eventually, and I’ll try updating this post as seems warrented.

To get things started I’m going to check with the the two counties I’m most interested in; Licking County, Ohio (where my mother’s ancestors lived for about 130 years from 1803-1930+ and Washington County, Pennsylvania, where these Licking County ancestors lived for a few decades in the late 1700s to the early 1800s.


Well, a pleasant surprise looking at the first page.  Robert Sizelove, Sr. is now the coordinator there.  I have communated with him in e-mail and he’s done a lot of work photographing and reading gravestones in Licking County… Well, looking things over, I got thinking about a bunch of photos which I’d taken at Green Hill Cemetery in Licking County Ohio but had never renamed to indicate whose graves they were…  Then I found I needed to figure out how to print out a list of the gravestone files, but more recent versions of Windows don’t make it easy, so I had to relearn how to do things in a DOS window, but I finally got it done and now I’m busy renaming files and attaching copies to the people in my Mother’s family tree who are among those whose stones I shot.  So I guess the take-away is that you never know where things will lead you when you go to a USGen Web Project site.  Next post I’ll do the same for the Washington County, Pennsylvania site, but no promises what I’ll find to write about there.

Wade Hampton Borin -2

When I wrote about Wade before, it was in the context of how to find someone in a census when the surname is so mangled that it is hard to find.  This time I want to talk about a salient feature of the censuses that I did find that involved him and his family.  Namely, the 1850 census shows the family as Mutlatto.  Mutlatto can be used in several sorts of situations, but generally it means someone  of mixed racial heritage.  Some correspondents have wondered if Wade Borin could have been Black German, which might look like Mutlatto, but I have a photo (which I’ll try to add to this post) of Wade and Mary (Dardinger) Borin which makes him look somewhat dark complected, but not particularly German.  More importantly, his given names, “Wade Hampton” were well known in South Carolina in the 18th century and earlier .  Wade Hampton I was an officer in the Revolutionary War and also the War of 1812.  His son Wade Hampton II also served in the War of 1812 and Wade Hampton III was a colonel in the Confederate Army.  After the War Wade Hampton III was Governor and Senator from South Carolina.  Of particular interest is that according to Wikipedia (which see for more info on the Wade Hamptons) at his death Wade Hampton I was said to be the wealthist planter in the US with over 3000 slaves.  This brings up the question of whether the Burdens came from the Hampton line and were freed at some point before Wade Burden was born?  I don’t have any absolute answer, but it’s always possible it could be answered with a genetic test.  Wade and Mary had nine boys and a girl, so there are undoubtedly a lot of Borin males running around who could be tested.  Of course, since they don’t have the Hampton surname, it might mean that the connection was via a mutlatto daughter.

The other interesting question is why Wade Burden changed his surname to Borin and went white?  I read a book a number of years that pointed out that for the most part people with black blood in them identify with their black line even when and where there’s no necessary reason to do so.  I don’t know how modern blacks would respond to this question.  I had a black roommate for two years in college, but he was an Ibo from Nigeria and did not have any knowledge of black culture in the US.  Likewise I have some black friends now, but they’re also either recent immigrants or we haven’t actually talked about racial identification.  Anyway, I’d be interested in anyone’s input.

BTW, Mary was 18 and Wade 27 when they married in 1871.  But in the 1860 census, when he’s still with his family in what’s now West Virginia, he’s listed as Mutlatto while in 1870 when he’s working as a farm hand he’s  listed as Hampton Boran (white).  It may be he changed his racial classification so he could join the regular Union Army, and then stuck with it.


Citations – 1

I suppose a good way to judge how serious someone is at genealogy is to see how s/he handles citing references.  By that criteria, I’m still somewhat of a novice.  There are lots of “official” rules on how you should handle citations, but I still just want to put in a decent way for someone else to be able to find out where you got a particular piece of information.  Since censuses are still the major references in my databases, I’ve taken to using a pretty simple rule when citing them.  I put in the date (e.g. 1900 followed by the location of the census.  I put this in the head of family’s record under Residence and also add the head’s occupation, if one is given, as an occupation datum, without bothering to add the location since it is assumed to be the same as the corresponding residence.  I also add occupations for other members of the family, but add the location to indicate they’re not a head of household.  I admit I’m not real consistent about adding occupations for children, etc., but I’m trying to do better.

For other citations, I generally use the title of the database as an actual citation.  I sometimes will add other information, but generally assume people will try checking the reference I cite before making it part of their own database.  If I have other sources which vary, I’ll put the variant in the citation for the one I don’t use in the person’s record.  This isn’t an ideal way of doing things, but it saves time.  Now many times I just add data from online trees so that I have something to work on, but I don’t reference where I found it.   There are so many trees available online that it’s impossible to figure out who got what where, and so writing down just what tree you took a piece of information from won’t be of much help, and might make someone think you’ve somehow verified the person’s data, when you haven’t.  I’m always happy to help someone figure out where data I provide came from, but sometimes I just have to say, “I don’t know.”   I have a couple of important pieces of data in my trees which I don’t know if are correct or not, but I keep them there to remind me I need to research them further.

If anyone has the time, I’d be interested in hearing how you do your citations and how much you do to verify the information you add to your Family Trees.

Using Web trees

These days there are so many family trees available on the web that it’s a real problem deciding what to do about them.  While some of them have lots of citations and even documents included, others simply copy the work of others and that without much critical evaluation.  Now you can, of course, spend lots of time trying to verify data you find and then carefully document where you got your data from and what your evaluation reveals.  But if there’s one thing in short supply for anyone doing genealogy, it’s time.  So how can you use the limited time you have when confronted with a virtually unlimited supply of raw data?  I use the Reagan procedure, “trust but verify.”

Here’s my basic procedure.

  1. Look for likely trees.  In Family Tree Maker /, it’s as simple as clicking a leaf or starting a new search.  Most of the time there’s at least one tree which appears in the search results , and even when there isn’t, there may be a tree for another family member.   Even using another genealogy program, you can probably find a tree for a person searching Google or another search engine.
  2. Once I’ve found a likely tree for a person which matches information I already have, I start entering the data into my tree by hand.  It’s possible to merge trees, particularly if you are working with a tree you’ve started online, but I’ve found that it rarely saves you time in the long run since there are likely differences in how I do things and another person does things so that I have to look at everyone I’ve merged and make changes anyway.  This may include eliminating  lots of “Living Surname”, which I find it too cluttering to keep around.  I’ve got one tree that I’m doing this to right now and it’s not a whole lot of fun.  Besides, when you enter data by hand, you have a chance to catch errors in your tree or the other tree.
  3. Verify the data you’ve entered.  For recent generations of Americans, this is usually possible  via the censuses, at least up to people born before 1930.  Hopefully, in another couple of years, the 1940 census will be released and a great many other people will be available to be found.  Even now there are lots of data sources for recently born people.  Since most of my ancestors for the past couple of hundred years lived in Ohio, an important resource for me is the Ohio Deaths 1908-1953 database at  This is all the death certificates for Ohio during this time period.  This will let you find people born back to the 1820s or so and often the names of their parents as well.  Several other states also have death certificates for a period of time available at
  4. Repeat the whole process using the new data you’ve found.
  5. Contact people who have uploaded the trees you’ve used to see if they’re interested in exchanging information on your areas of mutual interest.  This is the easiest way to find information on living people.  Of course some people are worried about giving out data on living people, (and I’ll be discussing such worries and what to do about them in a future post), but it’s worth a try.  Be sure to give some proof that you’re actually who you claim to be, BTW.

I admit the above is a bit sketchy, but I’ll try expanding on each step in future posts.

Brick Wall 1 – David Evans, Sr.

Though I don’t intend this blog to be just about my relatives, a lot of it will be simply because that’s where my learning has come from.  So to give readers a bit of insight into the areas they are also likely to run into problems, I’m going to do a series about my Brick Walls.  [For beginners, “brick wall” is a term used in genealogy for a person you haven’t been able to go beyond in working back on a line.]   David Evans, Dr. is my fifth great grandfather (5ggrandfather for short).  He was born about 1734 and died in 1814 in Pickaway County, Ohio.  He’s mentioned in several history books having to do with Washington County, Pennsylvania.  In at least one he’s said to have been born in Wales, but other information indicates he was born in New Jersey or eastern Pennsylvania.

Unfortunately, Evans is a very common surname and David an equally common given name, making it almost impossible to find out whose child he was by a process of elimination.   So far I’ve followed a couple of tacks  in minimizing the consequences of not knowing who his parents are.  First I’ve tried to post information about him wherever it would seem likely to attract the attention of Evans researchers who might be able to make a link between him and earlier Evanses.  Second, I decided to cut off the point where I look for descendents for my trees to my 5ggrandparents.  I still will look for earlier ancestors, but will only move forward in time on them for their children (the siblings of my ancestor), because they might provide hints on ways to work back.

Here’s a bit of what I know about David Evans, Sr.  His wife was Mary Vandevender and their children were Abraham, Bosmuth,  Joseph, Caleb, Rebecca, Nathan, John, Lidia, Mary, David, Sarah, George Washington.  In the 1790 census for Washington County, Pennsylvania, David’s given name appears to be Daniel, but in 1800 and all the histories, he’s David.  Also in the 1790 census he’s shown with two slaves.  In the registration of slaves in Pennsylvania of 1782 we have this entry:

David Evans of Amwell Township – F??n a female negroe Slave aged 11 ys. – Peter a male negroe Slave aged 8 ys.

David’s wife Mary is supposed to have died in a house fire in 1800 or 1802 and shortly after that David and his son David, Jr. moved to Pickaway County, Ohio where David Sr. died.  David’s sons mostly moved to Ohio except for Abraham, who presumably inherited the family farm and died there in 1815.

Needless to say, I’d appreciate any hints anyone might come up with as to who David’s parents were.

Family Tree Maker 2011

There are a number of computer programs which allow you to enter your family trees and produce reports and even books from the data you enter.  I started out with whichever version of Family Tree Maker (FTM)was available in 2002, and that rather marked my beginning as a serious genealogist.   I’ve stuck with the program over the years and while it has its drawbacks, it’s shown mostly steady improvement and I’m not unhappy with it.  I’d be happy to hear from anyone who uses another program as to what advantages it might have, but I probably won’t change at this point in time.

One nice thing Family Tree Maker has is that it will do automatic searching on, to which I have a complete subscription, which makes things like the census searches I refer to in the previous post as simple as a couple of mouse clicks.  For those who aren’t familiar with FTM, it does searching in the background and when it has hits on the people you’re working on, it will display a green leaf for that person which you can click on and what it’s found will appear.  It will include things like censuses, military records, public records, links to Obituaries, etc.  If you don’t see a census, for instance, that you feel should be there, you can also click for a new search, which will produce lots of possible hits which weren’t likely enough to show on the first page.  I think FTM is set up to show up to 8 record hits and 8 family tree hits when you click on a leaf.  But a new search can have hundreds or thousand’s of hits to search through.  I normally only go a few pages deep in new searches as there are easier ways of finding a missing record, which I’ll go into in future posts here.

When I first got FTM, it was linked to, which I subscribed to at the time.  The more recent versions link to as a default, though it also allows you to search on rootsweb, Google and other search engines.  Now does have a goodly number of free databases, but a lot of the best ones are only available for paying subscribers.  They do have free periods available now and again, particularly during holiday times, so if you don’t want to or can’t afford to subscribe, you might want to look for the freebies and plan to go searching.  Many people, myself included, are willing to help people by doing look-ups, but it’s often a slow process, which is one of the reasons I’d rather pay the money for a subscription.  In the long run, the time saved is worth more to me than the cost of the subscription.

Census Tip 2 – Wade Hampton Borin

I’ve tasked myself to be the go-to person for my surname,” Dardinger.”  I can do this because there have only been a couple of hundred persons born with the surname Dardinger, plus a somewhat smaller number of women who took the surname when they married a Dardinger man.  Most of the known Dardingers are descended from a Stephen Dardinger who came to America from Switzerland about April 1, 1858 along with his wife and three children.  Later 6 or 7 more children were born here [his obit states he had 10 children, but I only have information about 9 offspring and I don’t know if the 10th, a female who presumably died young, was born in Switzerland or America.]

Among the other people who have been born with the surname Dardinger, the largest contingent were the descendents of another Stephen Dardinger who moved to America somewhat earlier than my Stephen and settled in Marshall County, VA/WV.  Since both of the Stephen Dardingers had children named Mary Ann and John, it’s easy to get the two families confused, and I did so early on.  I’ll detail the confusion which ensued from this in another blogpost when I have a chance.

This post concerns the husband of the Mary Anne Dardinger of the West Virginia Dardingers (as I call them.)  Wade Hampton Borin is an interesting character on a number of counts and I’ll probably be posting several times on him.  This post will, however, be limited to discussing how to use search functions to find individuals in censuses when their surnames in a census aren’t what they should be.  I’ve had several correspondents for the Borin line over the years and one of them was interested in finding Wade’s parents, but wasn’t having much success.  She had information indicating that he’d lived in South Carolina, in particular in Pickens, SC.  So I decided to help her out.  A standard search on the surname came up with nothing so first tried several possible variants of the Borin surname, including putting in Wild cards.  Again no success.  So I finally decided that Wade wasn’t a particularly common given name and I did a search of the 1850 census in Pickens Count, SC for the first name Wade.  I skipped down the the B’s and sure enough there was a Wade H Burden aged seven living in a somewhat confusing family.  I reported this back to my correspondent, and using this family she was able to find them in Marshall County, WV in the 1860, 1870 & 1880 censuses under the Burden name.   The reason it hadn’t been possible to find the family in WV earlier is that Wade was out on his own in 1860  and after the civil war, in which he served on the Union side he had changed his surname to Borin by 1870.  I have a speculation as to why he changed his name, but I’ll leave that for my next post on Wade.

Census Tips – 1

One thing which needs to be looked out for is the date a given US census is linked to.  The earlier censuses which have each individual’s age included, i.e. 1850-1900 are each based on the age of the person on the first of June.  1910 is based on April 15; 1920 is based on January 1, and 1930 is based on April 1.  This means that when an age is expressed in months, you have to work backward or forward to get the correct month of birth.  Even then they can often be off a month either because census taker calculated wrong, or because the exact day of birth isn’t known (this would mostly be the case for the 1910 census.