Unusual Sources

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks topic this week is unusual sources.  The usual sources are birth, marriage, death records, census, obituaries, wills, military, cemetery, church records, etc.  I have used all of those and I find the newspaper archives especially helpful in adding color to my ancestor’s lives.  I have thought about this quite a bit this week racking my brain for sources other than the ones I just mentioned.    I even looked through my files online and paper to refresh my memory of unusual sources I have used over the years. 

Here is what I came up with. 

    I remembered hearing about my grandmother’s Aunt Emma who married an

Dr Orsinger

Doc Orsinger

old doctor.  I heard he was quite a character, and my grandmother just couldn’t understand why her aunt married him.  So while researching Emma, I came across information about the old doctor that created more questions.  After finishing my research on Emma, I decided to research her husband, Dr. Orsinger.  I found that he had been fighting with the State of Illinois over licensing.  Illinois started to require licenses for doctors in 1877.  The State didn’t recognize the university he graduated from and apparently the doctor could not pass the state exam, so he was refused a license.  He practiced anyway without one for over 30 years, sometimes fighting with the State.  He also did abortions which were illegal at that time.  A couple of his patient’s died from the abortions, so he was charged with their deaths.  Here are some of the sources I used to research the doctor.

  • Chicago: Its history and Its Builders https://books.google.com/books? 
  • Injunction secured by Dr. Orsinger.” The Medical News: A Weekly Journal of Medical Science Vol 83, No 1, Saturday, July 4. 1903, (New York) Pg. 274.
  • “Fined for Illegal practice.” Journal of the American Medical Association – Medical News Vol 44, April 1, 1905. Pg. 104
  • “Dr. F. L. Orsinger Makes New Move in Fight for License. Physician Refused Permit to Practice after Failing in Examinations.” Bulletin. Vol 6 Numbers 1-5 January-May 1910.
  • Krieder, M.D., George N., editor. “Dr. Fred L. Orsinger.” Illinois Medical Journal: the official organ of the Illinois State Medical Society Vol 18, July to Dec 1910. Pg. 262.
  • Website: Cemeteryofchoice https://cemeteryofchoice.wikispaces.com/Minnie%20Schofield
  • Chicago Police Department Homicide Records 1870 – 1930. Illinois Regional Archives Depository, Ronald Williams Library, Northwestern University, 5500 N. St. Louis Avenue, Chicago, Il 60625-4699
  • Chicago Livestock World, 14 March 1917.
  • Sandvick C. Enforcing Medical Licensing in Illinois: 1877-1890.The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine. 2009;82(2):67-74.

If you would like to read more about the doctor click here Is there a Doctor in the Family?

Another unusual source was used when I researched my 2nd Great-Grandfather, John Desens, who was killed by his neighbor, Fred Zell.  I had read a newspaper account of the incident that said Fred Zell would be charged with John Desens’ death.  I could not find any newspaper article that said what happened to Fred Zell.  I sent to Clark County, Wisconsin for Fred Zell’s Criminal file.

 Here is the citation for it:

  • Criminal file for Fred Zell, Clerk of the Court, 517 Court Street, Room 405, Neillsville, Wisconsin 54456. Sent by Elizabeth Frost, Deputy Clerk to Abigail Grunst

The criminal file contained 21 pages of testimony from the officer who found John laying in his yard on that June day, and there appeared to pages missing.  When reading it, I felt like I was listening to John tell his story.  Fred Zell’s side of the story was missing.  In the end Fred Zell was not charged because of lack of evidence.  If you would like to read more about John Desens click here John Desens Killed by Neighbor and Where there is a will

All of the sources used in these two stories, did not give me birth, death dates, or family names that I did not already know.  What it did do was provide me with a look into their lives.  I did get the marriage date of Emma Reinhardt to Dr. Fred Orsinger in the book Chicago:  Its history and its builders. 

It pays to look everywhere for information and leave no stone unturned when doing genealogy. 

Copyright © 2018 Gail Grunst


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