Friday, February 27, 2015

George F. Riel, Chicago Photographer

As part of the Virtual Institute of Genealogical Studies class, Family Photographs: Identifying, Preserving, and Sharing Your Visual Heritage, our instructor, Maureen Taylor gave us an assignment. We were to select a photo from our personal collection and research the photographer. The report below is the report of my findings. It's not an exhaustive search and some derivative sources were used. 

The photograph I selected is of Marie and Andrew Ebling.

Image citation: Andrew and Marie Ebling portrait, circa 1890s; privately held by C. Fuller, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE]; copy provided to M. Goodrum ca. 2000. Fuller inherited the original from her parents.

Chicago photographer George F. Riel was born to German immigrants John George Riel and Pauline Elinor Eber, in 1856, in Chicago, Illinois.[1] On 21 August 1888, the 32-year-old George F. Riel married Minnie E. Miller. She was 23.[2] Sometime between 1904 and 1910, George and his family moved to Fairhope, Baldwin County, Alabama. Minnie Elizabeth Miller Riel predeceased her photographer husband. George died in Fairhope, Baldwin County, Alabama on 2 August 1930. His occupation was listed as photographer. His address was Atkinson Lane, Fairhope Alabama.[3]

Below is a listing of the various dates and addresses for photographer George F. Riel.


George F. Riel
546 Canal

Listed as “Kiel” in the R section-probably an OCR error.[4]
George F. Riel
546 S. Canal
139 W. 12th

Residence also includes John G. Riel, foreman[5]

1 8 7 9 - " "
546 Canal
Photographer [6]

George Riel
139 W. 12th Street
Living with parents John J., Paulina, & siblings John & Paulina[7]
George F. Riel
25 W. 12th
139 W. 12th
Residence includes John G. Riel, laborer[8]
George F. Riel
339 W. Madison
Photographer [9]

George F. Riel
531 Winchester Ave
Enumerated with wife Minnie E. and children Ferris T. & Minerva M.[10]
George F. Riel
339 W. Madison

George F. Riel
Baldwin County, Alabama
Enumerated with wife Minnie E. and children Ferris T. & Minerva M.[12]


[1] “Alabama Deaths and Burials Index, 1881-1974,” database, ( : accessed February 26 2015), George Frederick Riel. Also, 1880 U.S. census, Cook County, Illinois, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 89, p. 2 (penned), dwelling 5, family 9, George Riel; digital image, ( : accessed 26 February 2015), citing National Archives microfilm publication NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 191.
[2] “Cook County, Illinois, Marriages Index,” database, ( : accessed February 26 2015), George F. Riel.
[3] “Alabama Deaths and Burials Index, 1881-1974,”, George Frederick Riel.
[4] Chicago Photographers, 1847 through 1900: as listed in Chicago city directories (Chicago: Chicago Historical Society, 1958); digital image; Hathi Trust Digital Library ( : accessed 28 February 2015).
[5] Thomas Hutchinson, compiler, The Lakeside Annual Directory of the City of Chicago,  (1877-8), p. 833; digital image, ( : accessed 26 February 2015).
[6] Chicago Photographers, Hathi Trust Digital Library.
[7] 1880 U.S. census, Cook Co., Ill., pop. sched., ED 89, p. 2 (penned), dwell. 5, fam. 9, George Riel.
[8] Thomas Hutchinson, compilerThe Lakeside Annual Directory of the City of Chicago, 1882  (1882), p. 1025; digital image, ( : accessed 26 February 2015).
[9] Chicago Photographers, Hathi Trust Digital Library.
[10] 1900 U.S. census, Cook County, Illinois, population schedule, Chicago, ED 249, sheet 10-49, dwelling 74, family 209, George F. Riel; digital image, ( : accessed 26 February 2015); citing National Archives microfilm publication T623, roll 254.
[11] Business Directory of Chicago  (1904), p. 734; digital image, ( : accessed 26 February 2015).
[12] 1910 U.S. census, Baldwin County, Alabama, population schedule, Precinct 10 Fairhope and Zundeli, ED 9, sheet 8B, dwelling 184, family 190, George F. Riel; digital image, ( : accessed 26 February 2015); citing National Archives microfilm publication T624, roll 1.
[13] “Alabama Deaths and Burials Index, 1881-1974,”, George Frederick Riel.

To cite this post:
Michelle Goodrum, "George F. Riel, Chicago Photographer," The Turning of Generations, 27 February 2015 ( : [access date].

 © 2015, copyright Michelle Goodrum

Saturday, February 21, 2015

What I Learned Saturday at the FGS/RootsTech Conference

The Federation of Genealogical Societies and RootsTech held their joint conference last week in Salt Lake City. Saturday, I only attended two sessions because I had to catch my flight back home. Here are my top three take-aways from each session.

“She Came From Nowhere…” A Case Study Approach to a Difficult Genealogical Problem – Michael Lacopo

Michael went through one of his difficult cases that he solved. Here are 3 general things I learned:

1.     Often in order to research women, you need to follow the men in her life.
2.   Literature searches are important. Search quarterlies and newsletters from the area from inception to the present day. Even if they’re not indexed. I can attest to the benefits of doing this. I can also say it’s a pain. And time consuming. But very worthwhile.
3.     Look to social history for things like the average age at marriage and naming patterns.

Problems like the one Michael presented are not simple problems. They are very complex. They can take a long time to solve. Like years. So you need to be perseverant.

Beyond the Census: Non-population Schedules – Deena Coutant

Deena’s presentation was my favorite of the day and one of my favorites of the conference. Deena is another presenter I think we will be seeing much more of.

Genealogists use the Population Schedules on a regular basis. We usually just refer to them as the “census” or “federal census.” There are six other non-population census schedules taken at various times in our country’s history. Here’s a sliver of information about three of the schedules.

1.     The Agriculture Schedules are one of my favorite non-population schedules. They are helpful in many ways. They can help differentiate between two men of the same name, similarities in crops/livestock can suggest relation or group immigration, they can help identify agriculturally related sideline businesses and much more.
2.     The Manufacturing and Industry Schedules can provide a picture of where workers spent their days (if they worked for the business owner) and businesses your ancestor patronized.
3.     The Social Statistics Schedules really caught my attention. They were taken from 1850-1880. They help paint a detailed picture of a community without the names. They can help you determine your ancestor’s standing in their community by looking at average wages and real estate values, among other things. If you are trying to tell you ancestor’s story, the Social Statistics Schedules can help you.

The various non-population schedules are located in many places including,, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), government document repositories, and other libraries and archives. Locating some of these records could be an article in and of itself.

Tip: In the card catalog search on “non-population.”

Deena’s talk was the last for me. I had to head for the airport and say goodbye to the FGS/RootsTech conference and Salt Lake City.

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Friday, February 20, 2015

What I Learned Friday - 2015 FGS/RootsTech

The Federation of Genealogical Societies and RootsTech held their joint conference last week in Salt Lake City. Friday, I attended three sessions. Here are my top three take-aways from each session.

Gentlemen Judges: The Justices of the Peace – Judy Russell

This was my favorite presentation on Friday. I have an ancestor who was a Justice of the Peace so I had a strong interest in Judy’s talk. The top three things I learned:

  1. They were also called judge, justice, commissioner and magistrate depending on the time and place. Also, many JPs were recorded in the census as “esquire.
  2. JPs were the level in the legal system most of our ancestors came in contact with. They came from all walks of life and were most likely drawn from our pool of ancestors because no formal training was required. They did need to be literate though.
  3.  I always think of a Justice of the Peace as someone who performs marriages. He had many more duties though, including: trying smaller civil cases and less egregious criminal cases. 
The next session I struggled with making a choice. Should I go listen to a talk on researching French ancestry? Or listen to one of my favorite instructors Tom Jones? Initially, I decided on the French presentation because Dr. Jones’s talk was recorded. However, I was running late and by the time I got to the room, it was standing room only and about 100 degrees inside the room. So I headed for…

Writing a Prize Winning Family History – Tom Jones

Dr. Jones compares writing to making something out of a lump of clay. Start rough and refine as you go. To illustrate, Dr. Jones put up an image of a draft article he wrote. There were different colored highlights and some of the citations were blank. He even said some of them were incomplete! The point was  was that you just need to write. You can always go back and tidy things up. 

Here are 3 tips:
1.     The two best ways to write genealogically? Read reputable genealogical publications and write as much as you can and as often as you can. In other words, just do it!
2.     Work in chunks and start with what is easiest and most interesting to you first.
3.     Minimize repetition and cross-referencing. Otherwise you lose your readers. Phrasing to avoid includes:
a.     As previously discussed
b.     As will be shown

Dr. Jones talk was full of excellent instruction, tips and tricks for writing your family history. I hope you get something out of these three tips. I can’t wait to put what I learned to use.

Using Tax Records for Genealogical Problem Solving – Michael Lacopo

This was the first lecture I’ve heard from this speaker. If you’re not familiar with him, you should be. He writes the blog, Hoosier Daddy? about Michael's search for his mother's birth parents. At the end of each post, he leaves you with a cliff hangar. It reads like a who done it novel. Read his blog. You’ll be glad you did. But start at the beginning

Three things I learned about researching in tax records:
  1. Why everyone should use them (besides being part of the reasonably exhaustive search): the various levels of government regularly mandated many kinds of taxes and they put your ancestor in a specific time and place. This is just one of many reasons why you should use tax records. If you’re not using them, you should be. OK?
  2. For state taxes refer to the NGS Research in the States Series for your state of interest. The book will tell you all about tax records in that state.
  3. By tracing people through tax records you can prove things like parentage and differentiate between people of the same name.

 That’s it for Friday’s summary. I’ll be back soon with a summary for Saturday’s sessions.

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© 2015, copyright Michelle Goodrum