Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Sailor arrival records

Thought this would be a interesting link for ancestry users.


Sunday, June 24, 2012

City Directories- Underused Genealogical Source

Have you been attempting the time of arrival or departure of family member to a Urban area between census records?  Looking to see where your ancestors were between 1880 and 1900 the large census gap in the United States?  City directories offer a excellent way to track your family that is very accurate.

Directories were printed for all large cities, but were also printed for a large amount of small towns.  Many records date back into the 1700's.  Majority of directories started consistently in the 1850's in the United States.  Provide a excellent year to year way of tracking your ancestors.  Allows you to pinpoint location as a catalysis to finding other records.  These records are also also being put on the internet in large amounts.

There are many successful methods that will help in locating your ancestors.  The first one is the "Straight Search".  This allows you to see all the persons living in a particular area at a specific time for possible family relationships.  Lists employment of both females and males.  You want to look for people with common employers and living in same neighborhoods as your ancestors.  Look for multiple names that are located at the same address.  Listings will include older children that are living under their parents roof, but have outside employment.  Make sure to compare the addresses with a city map for the time period to be aware where all people are located.

The next method is the address or street search method.  Will identify people living at the same address with your ancestor that may not share the same surname.  This is a great way to find parents, in-laws, siblings and other collateral family lines.  Allows you to also look at neighbors for possible relationship.  Make sure to check out business listings to see if other family members are working at the same employer.  Family members often worked the same occupation for generations.

Get out there and look at those city directories.  Excellent way to locate ancestors between census records and is often more accurate.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Free Genealogy Websites

Thought you might be interested in trying some free websites.  Let me know your results.

  1. www.rootsweb.com
    1. One of the largest family tree based genealogy based sites on the internet.
      Allows for updating and correcting information.
      Proceed with caution and check all data.
      Data base contains over 3 billion names and 300,000 family trees.
      You can also submit your family information for free.
  2. www.familysearch.org
    1. This is the official website of the LDS
      Provides the largest collection of free records in the world.
      Has excellent image quality and interesting ways to access the information.
      Provides a wide variety of records that cover the world and are in English.
      Will be the portal on the internet to access the complete collection of the LDS in ten years.
  3. glorecords.blm.gov
    1. More than two million land records between 1820 to 1908.
      Includes most of the midwest.
  4. interment.net
    1. Has over 5,000 listing from across the world.
  5. worldgenweb.com
    1. Similar to USGenWeb but it covers the rest of the world.
  6. collectionscanada.gc.ca/lac-bac/search/arch
    1. Includes WW1, census, dominion land grants, immigration records.  
  7. geneabios.com
    1. List of bios on regular folks.
  8. rootsweb.ancestry.com/~obituary/
    1. Dates back to 1995
      Lists over 2,500 obits daily
      This is a index.
  9. rootsweb.ancestry.com/usgenweb
    1. Lots of free record listing pertaining to specific geography in the US
  10. ssdi.rootsweb.ancestry.com
    1. 64 million citizens that have died since 1962.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Elusive Maiden Names

Very shortly after you start researching your family you will discover many gaps in the known information.  This is where the fun begins as we proceed to discover new pieces of the puzzle.  The maternal maiden names are often a challenge that creates brick walls to our search.  In the following article I will discuss steps that can be taken to eliminate these brick walls.

            The most important issue in this search is that most records were created and for men.  Property records were normally created in the man’s name.  Men ran businesses and ran the government.  Women’s names were changed with every marriage and did not provide a good paper trail.  Men were the creators of the paper trail that allow us to follow their lives throughout time.

            The place to start this search is with the women’s name.  Write out as much of the name as you know.  Make sure to include as part of your list all the various spellings of the first, middle and last names.  A simple name like Elizabeth can also be called Mattie, Betty, Liz and Sally.  Individuals did not always go by their birth name.  In my own family my paternal grandmother went by the name Babe for the first five years of her life until her parents decided on the name Cleota.  Ironically many people in the family would continue to call her Babe throughout her adult life.  Many vital record documents would also include the use of the name Babe.  Knowing the variety of name spellings is often key to the maiden name hunt.

            Make a list of the names of all husbands and children.  Be certain to list first, middle and last names.  The use of previous surnames for naming children is a common practice.  Frequently the first son and first daughter are named after the paternal line.  The second son and daughter are named after the maternal side of the family.  With additional husbands and having children involve a new list of names on the paternal side.  Middle names that do not sound like first names, but sound like surnames are often from the maternal side of the family.  This was common with the creation of middle names in the 19th century.  In my own family a nephew was named Andrew Preston French.  The middle name Preston is a family surname on the maternal side of the family.

            The third step is to create a timeline of your female ancestor’s life.  Start from the birth of the women and work until her death.  Include place of birth, school attended, marriage, children’s birth, employment, children’s marriage, and death.  The timeline should include the local and world events that went on during their lifetime.  I am struck by the events that are going on outside the family unit that effect the decisions of our family members on a scale that we may have never even considered.

            Obtaining a photograph of the person is very valuable and may offer clues to the individual that we are researching.  What are the distinctive features looking back at you from the picture?  Does she have black hair, high cheek bones, tall or short and does she look healthy?  What is the clothing she is wearing?  Are you able to pinpoint in where, when, what and why the picture was taken?  With evaluation of the picture clues can come out that will help with our search.

            Make sure to contact the older females on the side you are researching and ask questions.  Ask them questions that may provide clues to your search.  Do you remember particular habits, recipes and traditions?  During holidays the women were way more likely to be talking about family matters than the men.  Great family nuggets were shared during this period of time.

            Weddings mean marriage records that provide clues on our families.  Records of this type start very early in the history of our country.  Recent records provide the greater amount of information that exists on individuals.    Pay attention to the other names that are listed on the marriage certificate.  Although early certificates do not provide a lot of names pay attention to the people during the same time period who are also getting married by the same person.  This indicates a strong possibility of relationship that needs to be researched to see if they provide clues on your family line.

            Birth records of children will also provide clues to maiden names.  These records date back to the 1630’s, but there are many large gaps.  Town records often listed the maiden name of the women in birth records from an early period.  The majority of birth records do not appear consistently until the latter half of the 19th century.  This information was not always filed and in many states did not become mandatory until the 1900’s when the states took over collection of the vital records.  Prior to this time submission of this records can be sporadic.  Many church denominations that were strong in baptism kept the records in the church.  Often records in the protestant denominations followed the minister to the various churches, but look for these records in the state denominations holdings.  Catholic baptisms were kept at the parish level, but many have been transferred to the diocese.   Pay attention to the sponsor’s name, because they are often related to the mother by birth.

            Immigration and land records also offer clues to maiden names.  Females gained citizenship by their husband gaining this status or marrying a person with US citizenship.  Reference will be made to the maiden names.  Early land records will mention the spouse and records will be conducted between paternal family members.  Understand the people that your family unit was living next to and who they were doing business with during their lives.  Spouses came from the neighborhood in both rural and urban situations.

            Complete the search by looking through all records that relate to the husband.  Some records to review are probate, military, funeral home, cemetery, obituaries, and social security applications.  Do not leave any stone unturned.  Completing research of sources is critical to resolving this brick wall.

            Finally pay attention to all witnesses on documents.  Women did not travel or conduct business during the early previous to the early 20th century by themselves.  Eliminating those around them is key.  The solution often lies beyond the primary family and is with those that live around her.

            The key to the search is collect all you know on the person.  With this information evaluate what sources are available that will be key to finding the maiden name.  Only by checking all the records will you find the solution.  Complete search is key to finding the name.  

Genealogy and Historical Societies

Have you attended or joined your local genealogy or historical society?  You are missing out on a valuable resource for your research.

It amazes me as I travel across Ohio and Michigan on the subject of genealogy how few people attend the meeting.  With the creation of TV programs covering the subject and the aggressive marketing of Ancestry in all medias the research of one's family is very popular.  A missing component to your research is collaborating with like minded folks in your community on the subject of genealogy and history.  Many of the members are more than willing to share with others concerning ways to conduct their genealogy and get over many of the brick walls.  The projects of indexing records or taking cemetery censuses is invaluable resource for current genealogist as well as those into the future.  These projects are coordinated at this level.  They need your help in participating.

Another important component is the programming that is offered normally on a monthly basis that will help you learn about genealogy.  Yes, lot's of this can be found on line these days, but the local meetings offer a local flavor.  You also get the immediate gratification of getting your questions answered by a genuine person.

If you are a member of a group make sure they advertise.  The groups I find with the best turnout have sent press releases to the local paper of radio stations.  Please help support these groups you don't know what you are missing.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

New England Research

Many of our ancestors in this area trace their migration pattern back to New England.  A excellent book has come out recently published by the New England Historical and Genealogical Society that updates the bible of research titled "Genealogist's Handbook fr New England Research" edited by Michael J. Leclerc.

This book is in it's fifth edition.  The updates include essay introductions for each state, maps of the state and counties, updates to the various repositories and list of parent and daughter towns.  With the large amount of research that I have done in both my personal and clients genealogy I have found it to be a invaluable tool.

The introductions for each state offer a short concise overview of the history of the records within the state and the location and archiving practices of each state.  Locating records is often the biggest trick to breaking down a brick wall.  This book allows you to minimize the difficulty involved with this task.

One of the major issues I have had with my own research in New England has been the location of borders and  the creation of counties.  There is a general assumption that the way it is today is the way it has always been done.  Not so.  Many of the smaller states in this area when it came to probate were not done on a county basis, but were done in districts.  The records were then centralized within the district and not be in the county that you are looking for your ancestors.

Identifying the information available in the various states is key.  With the shear size of documents created in New England since the 1620's knowing where they are stored is key.  The helpful description of key sources in each state was one that I found valuable for research.  Realizing where the records or family papers are located is a outstanding resource.  Understanding the shear size of records available and understanding that not all things are on the internet is key.

While researching in New England towns appear and disappear like popcorn.  The section that helps you in understanding what cities were original and where the new towns came from was excellent.  The dating of the creation of the various counties and towns is critical to knowing if your family was located in the correct place when you are looking for them.  I have fallen into the trap of thinking the towns were always there and find that in fact they were living in a adjacent town or county.  This book helps with improving those happy moments of discovery.

Please check out the new book area of your local library or historical society for this book.  Better yet order a copy for yourself, because it should be a part of your genealogical library when it comes to New England family research.  www.americanancestors.org

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Online vs. Offline Genealogical Resources

A interesting question has been bouncing around in my head about Online resources vs offline resources.  Genealogist today are fortunate because of the abundant amount of records and lineages that are online, but it does not come without it's pitfalls.

One of he primary reasons for me getting professional work for clients is that they have reached a brick wall and they are unable to locate the records that they seek online.  For this reason they do not believe the records exist or do not know how to locate them.  Reality is that close to 95% of genealogy is not located online.  The records that you need to resolve your brick walls are still located in libraries, archives, court houses and historical societies.  Realizing this fact is key to doing your research and staying in the world of reality.

We are fortunate that so much is online and continues to be added to the internet, but the vast majority is not available.  This is why a research plan for each family group in your genealogy that includes both online and offline sources is so important.  There is so much information hidden away offline that provides the key to our brick walls.  I am convinced that it is out there we just have not looked in the correct place yet.

The lineage sites that are online can provide many pitfalls to our research.  First most of them are undocumented.  This we know is against Genealogical Proof Standards.  The major websites do not police or verify the accuracy of the genealogies posted on their sites.  We still need to verify everything and be suspicious of everything.  Until you document and meet the criteria of the Genealogical Proof Standard we are making a good book of fiction.  Just because hundreds of people say a lineage is right does not make it correct if they do not sight sources.  Someone who lived their whole life in the 1700's in Virginia does not have parents that share the surname that lived their whole lives in Massachusetts.  Be very careful.  Some websites that you can trace your lineage from you to King John in two hours.  Reality is it takes years.

For the sake of all future genealogist check all your resources both online and off.  You will soon find that the best resources are not online and will not be for a while.  Trust nothing until you locate proof.