I'm trying to locate the birth location and parents of "Thomas Tunin". I have done extensive Google searches but have so far ended up at a deadend on these particular details. Any suggestions on where to go from here?

Tunin, Thomas
b. 1836 
d. 1912 Bartlesville, Washington, Oklahoma
Gender: Male


Spouse: Phocbus, Mary Almeda 
b. 1838 
d. 1897 Little Robe, Oakwood, Dewey, Oklahoma
Gender: Female


Tunin, Lura

Tunin, George D. 
b. 1871 
d. 1931 Little Robe, Oakwood, Dewey, Oklahoma
Gender: Male

Tunin, Wlbert 
Gender: Male
Tunin, Bllomer 
Gender: Male

Tunin, Willard Barton

Tunin, Martha Ann 
Gender: Female

Source: http://www.okgenweb.org/~okahgp/f_250.htm#16

Thomas Tunin was born in 1839 and died in Bartlesville OK in 1912.

Thomas Tunin and Mary Almeda Phocbus were the parents of four sons: Elbert, Bloomer, Willard, and George and also two daughters; Martha Ann and Lura Almeda. The children were all born in Illinois.

They moved to Kansas in 1878 and then to Indian Territory which became Bartlesville OK in 1885. They moved to Dewey County about 1895 homesteading in Sec. 25-18-15. The son, George and daughter Lura came with them.

They came by covered wagons, bringing a few cows, chickens and horses. They cooked on a camp fire under a cottonwood tree and slept in the two wagons until a dugout could be made. They had many hardships as Mrs. Tunin was sick and in bed at the time. She died in 1897. They lived with the John Lutton family on a part time basis then.

Source: http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/OKDEWEY/1998-10/0909541518, cites Dewey County (Oklahoma) Historical Society, Spanning the River" "3 vols, particularly v1 (1976), "Oakwood Area of Dewey County ..."

Thomas Tunin Grave Stone

Source: http://www.okgenweb.org/~okdewey/cem/harrison/thomastunin.html

The above shows death in 1908 though?

  • 1
    Your question could be improved by giving an account of the sources for the information you are presenting. That would help those answering the questions to understand what you have already looked at, and would help them make more informed suggestions. Commented Dec 6, 2012 at 19:11
  • Added some links, is this what you where referring to? Commented Dec 6, 2012 at 19:15
  • yes, this is on the right track. Basically, it helps to know not just what you found (although this is important!) but where you looked and what kinds of things you searched for. Commented Dec 6, 2012 at 21:31
  • 1
    I suggest that now you take a look at the various databases available in FamilySearch (and Ancestry.com if you have access to that) using the names you found on the okgenweb site. The idea is to reduce the likelihood that someone made a mistake in interpreting the often patchy and conflicting data we have from that time. The more truly independent sources (as opposed to copies or re-statements of the same source) you can find, the more certain you can be that the info is correct. Commented Dec 6, 2012 at 21:34
  • Thomas was the son of Robert and Hannah Angeline Ratliff Tuning. Commented Dec 7, 2012 at 17:58

1 Answer 1


We've all confronted the circumstance where it is a struggle to confirm something we located that seems unsourced information about an ancestor.

  1. In this case, the narrative passage reads less like "unsourced work" and more like treasured family tradition (or, better yet, a summary of what could be more substantial tradition). I would work the material as though it was an artifact--conduct research to learn its provenance. Since the passage was published by the Dewey County (Oklahoma) Historical Society, I'd start there. [See Note 1]
  2. The family tree data looks much like but is not identical to the narrative/tradition information. If I understand correctly, the family tree data information came from the "Oklahoma Genealogy Database." According to the introduction to the database, it contains information from "cemetery records, Social Security Death Index, obituaries, NWOGS 'Key Finder,' newspapers, 'Woodward County Pioneer Families Before 1915', 'Woodward County Pioneer Families 1915-1957', 'Our Ellis County Heritage 1885-1974' Vol. I, 'Our Ellis County Heritage 1885-1974' Vol II, & other sources available at Woodward Library, contributions by researchers, and my own [?Donna Dreyer] family research." I would contact the database owner (?Donna Dreyer and the Northwest Oklahoma Genealogical Society) to learn if she/they have a vertical file on the family and/or to inquire if she/they are able to identify the specific sources that contributed to the Tunin family tree data.
  3. The Thomas Tunin tombstone photograph is part of a collection, "Little Robe Cemetery [aka Harrison Cemetery]," Oklahoma GenWEb; the webpage reports this material was last edited in 2008. Also on the webpage index, I find tombstone photographs about (a) Almeda Tunin (seems Thomas' wife); (b) George D. Tunin; (c) Charley Tunin; (d) Jennie Tunin; (e) Mary Almeda Tunin; (e) Tunin children. The owner/creator of this Robie Cemetery page seems Susan Bradford, for whom an email address is reported in the 2008 page. Were I in your position, I would contact Susan Bradford to learn more details about the cemetery and/or photograph collection. Also to learn if she can make higher resolution photographs of the stones available to you. [See Note 1] You might separately contact the town to learn the history of the cemetery, extant cemetery records and whether or not a cemetery map exists.

The three points above are all examples of working "from the known to the unknown."

Jerry wrote, "I'm trying to locate the birth location and parents of 'Thomas Tunin'."

From the information provided, Thomas Tunin was born in the 1830s. There are not many birth records available from that period in the US, but as they say, "it's all local." Even if a birth record does not exist, it is quite possible records exist by which you are able to prove a birth date or approximate date and parentage.

  1. Use the clues from the family tradition to develop census information about Thomas Tunin. Among other data, census records from 1850 forward provide clues about birth location and age. For example, what I believe to be your Thomas Tunin's entry in the 1900 U.S. census reports he was born July 1836 at Illinois, to a father born New York and a mother born Indiana. You should view the record and confirm this information. All information is subject to error, so you want to develop an array of information from other census (and from other record groups). Take care to check each census place for other "Tunin" entries and make notes about those you find (often times we learn later those are records about parents and/or siblings). Review census entries carefully--each may provide unique clues to other marriages or more distant relations.
  2. Determine if a death record is available for Thomas Tunin. According to "Oklahoma Death Record Information Online," the "Vital Statistics section of the [Oklahoma] Department of Health" has death "records dating back to around 1908." Whether or not state has a record Thomas' death, check next with the county where he was buried (Dewey) to learn if that jurisdiction maintained death records and has a record.
  3. Learn about other record availability. Researching about the census (and from other information) you will gather clues about where Thomas lived (and when). There may be records about him in any/all of those places. These might be land/deed records, probate records, tax records, court records, records about his children ... A good way to learn about the records that are available in each location is to search the FamilySearch Catalog for the "place."
  4. Research the family group. Develop information about all of his children and his wife (or wives). This means tracing them in the census, learning about their births, marriages, deaths, obituaries and other information that will provide insight into their lives. You are presumably descended of this Thomas (but maybe not????), so that his life and those of all his children and his spouse(s) influenced your direct ancestors in some way. Learning about the whole family group will help you build a better, more complete picture of this Thomas Tunin.

Good luck in your quest.

NOTE 1: When you post information to the internet, you are "publishing" or "distributing" something. Facts, which include represented names, dates and places are generally considered outside the bounds of US copyright law. That exclusion does not generally apply to narrated material and other creative works, such as photographs. Your question includes information that is quite likely subject to copyright--the apparent extended quote from Spanning the River and re-posted tombstone image. You should always try learn the copyright rules that apply to material you didn't develop yourself. Personally, I use a basic rule of thumb about genealogy and copyright. In a nutshell, without permission, I try to quote less three sentences or the textual equivalent from material dated post-1923. Also, without permission, I want to link to (rather than repost) images that are not in the public domain.

While you may have permission to post this various information or some other reason to believe it is in the public domain, it was not obvious to me.

Please help us keep Genealogy.SE free of criticism and complaint by revisiting your question and either making adjustments or disclosing permissions.


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