Saturday, January 22, 2011

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Do Some Random Research

From Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings "Hey genealogy buffs - it's Saturday Night and time for more Genealogy Fun!  Play along with us and tell us about it.

Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to follow Chris Staats' rules (from Freaky Friday: Random Research Reports)  for picking a random person's name and then doing some online research about that person.  Here are Chris's rules:

1. Go to The Random Name Generator and click the red “Generate Name” button at the top of the screen

2. Go to and enter your generated name in the search box on the main search page. [Randy's add:  If you don't have, go to and do it there - it's free.]

3. From the results, your research target will be the first census result for your generated name.

4. Using whatever online resources are at your disposal, see what else you can discover about your random person and write about it. It can be a formal report complete with footnotes, or just a “research story” about what you tried, problems you overcame, or success you had. Maybe you want to create a research plan for practice?

5. Post about it on your blog or wherever you wish, and link here to tell Chris about it.  Tell Randy about it too as a comment here or a comment on Facebook or Twitter."

The first name generated was Jeffrey Koch.  After I did a record search on, I scrolled through 150 returns without finding a census listing of any sort.  So I went back for another try.  This is supposed to be fun right?

The second name generated was Ernest Eloy Neal.  I found Ernest, age 38, in the 1930 census living with his wife Minnie (38) and sons Willard (9) and Bernard (8) in District 21, Huntington, Cabell, West Virginia. They also had 3 boarders.  Ernest was a laborer in a bluing factory.  Ernest was born in West Virginia and his father was born in Indiana and his mother was born in West Virginia. 1

 In 1920 Earnest and Minnie were also living in Huntington, Cabell, West Virginia .  Earnest was a blacksmith with the railroad.  On this census his father was born in Ohio.2

The 1910 and 1910 Virginia miracode census show an 18 year old Earnest Neal living in the household of Harlow Nuse in Norfolk, Virginia.  He was a house carpenter. 3

From his WWI Draft Registration, we can learn that Earnest was born 6 September 1894 in Glenwood, West Virginia.  He was single, living in Huntington, and a Teamster who worked for Thomas Walker Construction.  His physical description lists him as tall with a medium build, blue eyes and light brown hair.4 

In his WWII Draft Registration Ernest Eugene Neal is living in Moundsville, West Virginia.  His stated date and place of birth was 6 September 1894 in Mason County, West Virginia.  He was 5 ft 11 inches tall and weighed 165 pounds.  He had brown eyes, black hair, and a ruddy complexion.  The person who would always know his whereabouts was M E Ketchum, Warden of the West Virginia Penitentiary.  5

The 1900 Census shows Ernest living with his parents Daniel M and Grace and 4 brothers living in Hannan, Mason County, West Virginia.  Daniel and Grace were both born in Ohio and Daniel was a farmer. 6

Further searching will yield birth date and death date information on both Willard and Bernard through both military and social security death records.

Searching on Willard Neal also provided the maiden name of his mother, Minnie Beckett. 

This has been a fun, skill sharpening experiment.  I really like the challenge of the hunt!

Source Citation: Year: 1930; Census Place: Huntington, Cabell, West Virginia; Roll: 2529; Page: 15A; Enumeration District: 31; Image: 664.0.

Source Citation: Year: 1920;Census Place: Huntington Ward 7, Cabell, West Virginia; Roll: T625_1951; Page: 25A; Enumeration District: 44; Image: 596.

Source Citation: Year: 1910; Census Place: Tanner Creek, Norfolk, Virginia; Roll: T624_1639; Page: 36A; Enumeration District: 73; Image: 74.

Source Citation: Registration Location: Wayne County, West Virginia; Roll: 1992488; Draft Board: 2.

Source Citation: National Archives and Records Administration (NARA);Washington, D.C.; State Headquarters: West Virginia; Microfilm Series: M1937; Microfilm Roll: 36.

Source Citation: Year: 1900; Census Place: Hannan, Mason, West Virginia; Roll: T623_1765; Page: 8B; Enumeration District: 57.

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