If you have ever had a class from me you know I do love Google. I’m especially fond of all the tools that are available with Google. However, over the years the changes in Google have not been as helpful for those researching their family.  Google now will only pull a maximum of two listings from any particular website per page. This means if you don’t find what you want on the first page of search results you may be required to go through lots of pages to obtain the results you need.

Enter the “Genealogy Search Engine”. It is a free search engine that pulls only results that are genealogy related.  It searches over 3 billion historic records located on over 1,000 websites.You will immediately see the difference if you run just a name search in both search engines. While this search engine searches Google, as do all search engines, the results are more focused on genealogical information.

This site is maintained by Genealogy In Time Magazine, and found at genealogyintime.comThe site has many features including a free monthly newsletter. The newsletter posts updated record collections from all over and has unique guides and checklists. One such guide helps you perform online genealogy searches, and the record collections are organized by country and state.This feature led me, last month, to a new free index to Oklahoma Birth and Death Records recently put online by the Oklahoma State Government. You may want to visit Genealogy In Time, to see if there are some helps for you

cousinsMy husband and I decided to get our DNA tests. We chose ancestry.com to do the test because they do autosomal testing and also because I’m been a member of their website since 1999 and have my Family Tree posted on the site.

I had hoped that the test would help me through a ‘Brick Wall’ and, while that hasn’t happened yet, a few things have happened. DNA results rely on the test itself and accompanying genealogy records. I found that the majority of my DNA came from the British Isles, which my research over the years has proven, but the surprising part was the 22% Scandinavian ancestry the test revealed.

I’ve been contacted by a number of people who share my DNA and are close cousins. Because I’m a Genealogist, I’ve been able to help a couple of them find out exactly how we connect and been able to help them with their research.

Then, a couple of days ago, I was contacted by a ‘new’ distant cousin who asked a couple of questions, and then mentioned that she lives in Ivins, Utah – about 3 miles from where I live in Santa Clara. We met for lunch and had a wonderful time getting to know each other. We found that we have a lot in common. We found we are both members of DAR [Daughters of the American Revolution] and attend the same DAR Meetings, but would never have made a connection to each other without the test. She is also  a member of Mayflower Association. We are now working together our Mayflower lines.

There are several places to have your DNA test done by sending in a sample of your saliva. Besides Ancestry, the major places are MyHeritage, FamilyTree DNA, and 23andMe. Some sites allow you to upload your results to your family tree on another site. For example, I also have my family tree on MyHeritage and was able to upload my results to that site. DNA can be the gift that keeps giving and hopefully it may prove to break my ‘Brick Wall”


I love Libraries. I love the smell and the feel of the books. I often say that I would love it if I could be locked in a Library, and just handed food on occasion. Life won’t allow that, and my favorite archives require travel and a hotel. Fortunately there are many libraries and archives that have collections online, and many of them are free.

You will have to decide for yourself the value of a library and its online collection, but here are some examples of what you can find.

New York Public Library has an extensive collection of City Directories

The Library of Congress https://www.loc.gov/ has a great photo collection, as well as databases and  records

The Newberry Library  https://www.newberry.org/ has a county boundary digital atlas that helps map boundary changes

Danish Archives https://www.sa.dk/en/home/ online includes Parish Registers as well as census and probate records

Access to Archives – Great Britain http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/a2a   includes Naval service records, RAF combat reports, will and research guides..

The Perry Castaneda Library at the University of Texas  https://www.lib.utexas.edu/pcl has a beyond wonderful map collection.

The Archive of the Internet http://www.archive.org has documents, census, records, online books -too much to list here.

Even the small library in the town of your ancestors may hold treasures for you. The nearest library to my small home town is the Delta Utah Public Library. It has links to several valuable online collections, plus a photo collection, and the Beckwith Collection which documents, through photos, the  history of Millard County.

To locate a Library, of course, you try a Google Search, but you also should go to FamilySearch at https://familysearch.org. You do not need a sign on to search the Wiki, which is found under the ‘Search’ Tab, on the home page. After you locate the country or state you are interested in, you look for the list of links to archives and libraries for that area.

I could list many more of my favorite online archives, but you need to find out for yourself the ones that are valuable for you.

This week in my short research time frame I decided to revisit newspapers. Newspapers newspaperhave been around longer than you imagine, and are appearing with more frequency online. Early Newspapers especially in the US and Canada, recorded many of the day to day events of our ancestors.

In researching Sally/Sarah  (?) Tuttle Bliss, I discovered that she was in Otsego New York at least by 1804. There was no mail delivery in that time period and mail that came into the post office needed to be picked by the residents.  The Cooperstown, Otsego Newspaper lists a Sally Tuttle among the residents of Richfield, Otsego, NY  who has mail being held at the post office. Because she is listed as a resident of Richfield, I can continue my search for her in that town. Since I know she was in Massachusetts in 1800, I have also narrowed down the time period during which she moved. That gives me a smaller window of time to look for other records,such as purchasing property, that she may have made when she relocated. I will also want to see if there were other Tuttle’s living in Richfield when she arrived. The area she moved to was truly a wild wilderness in the early 1800’s. A brief re-read of James Fenimore Cooper’s recount of his early life in Cooperstown in the Last of the Mohicans should give pause for thought. This was not a place a woman would go by  herself and take 3 young children, unless she believed she wold have a good support system when she arrived.

Many clues can be found in newspapers; the trick is to find the papers themselves. A State or University Library may house the newspapers, or they may be available digitally online [Utah for example has their newspapers free at Utah Digital Newspapers].You might want to check  wiki.familysearch.org and go to the State or Country  you are researching, and then check out the listed newspapers from that area which are available online. Ancestry.com has a great collection of newsapers, and there are several newspaper websites that are free to you at your nearest FamilySearch Library. Because I do a lot of newspaper research I do subscribe to Genealogy Bank – which is subscription website, but I feel it is low cost and, for me, worth the money. There is also the  Google News Archive at news.google.com/archivesearch. If you need more help, try locating a local historical society for the area you are searching and find out about their newspapers. And, of course, you can always do a Google search, with the added word free.


What is in Your Basket?

As I will have limited time during this next year to work on my own family history. I have decided to focus my Blog on Brick Walls.  Each blog will give tools for breaking through brick walls. The purpose is to help me focus on one ancestor, use the tools I’m familiar with, and have some successful research. Hopefully, this will help you also. If you follow each week you will basically have my entire Brick Walls class in a few months- or more depending on my own time frame.

I have found that I am more successful when I stay focused on one family or individual. I’m starting with Sarah/Sally (?) Tuttle.

First Steps:

  1. Grab, or start, a research log. To know where you are going it is helpful to know where you have been.
  2. Create a timeline – I’ve covered this one on more than one occasion, so you can search previous blog articles.
  3. Go to the FamilySearch Wiki at familysearch.org and look at the research guides. There is no use looking for records that did’t exist in an area.
  4. Make a list, using the Wiki, of the records you want to search.
  5. Get a map of the area you are researching, as close to the time period as you can. The FamilySearch Wiki can help you find one.

Start at your last FACT. That means something you can prove. A death record, headstone, marriage record, or if you only have a family tradition, then you need to find some facts to prove or disprove it.

My last fact on Sarah was that she is buried by her second husband, Eleazer Elias Bliss in 1833 in the Field Cemetery in Hartwick, Otsego, New York. A number of people believe they know who her first husband was, and who her parents are; however, there is no proof and the timeline makes some of these assumptions suspect. I do know that the same year Sarah/Sally married Eleazer, her daughter Fanny married Eleazer’s son Jesse Bliss.

I now have my focus person, I have a log, and my timeline will help me sort out the wheat from the chaff. I have a map and list of available records compliments of the Wiki, and I’m ready to research.

The delving into family history isn’t for the faint hearted, so if you are determined to search into the past you need to be prepared because what you find might Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 11.51.25 AMnot be exactly what you want to learn. While we might all like to be descended from Royalty or a President or a National Hero, it just isn’t possible. Most of us at some time, will find an ancestor that we may not want to shout about from the rooftops.

Depending on what your family moral values were, the black sheep ancestor may have been an actual criminal, or the first one in the family who didn’t attend college or who left home to join the circus. Some families aren’t anxious to talk about the miscreant or they may spin the story so that the ancestor who was a “close acquaintance of Wyatt Earp” was called that because he was arrested on more than one occasion by the famous law man.

It is important to put events into context. You need to take a look at the history of the area in the time period of your ancestor. Life was very different 100 or more years ago. A criminal who was hung or was shipped out of England on a prison ship bound for Australia may have been guilty of stealing bread to feed a starving family or simply disagreeing with the King.

The advantage of a “black sheep ancestor” is that they usually leave findable records, which are often found often in newspapers – sometimes in the headlines. While putting together a family for someone, I found a son who, when he and a cousin left their home town and went to the “city” decided to forge some checks. The fact that they were cousins was mentioned in the newspaper article detailing their crime spree – giving another clue to family.

Court records are also a good source. These are public records, and are found in the court house in the area where your ancestor lived. While early records may have been filmed, later court records may need to be searched in the locality where they were recorded. If you are distant from the location you need to search, try contacting a local historical society for advice on how to get the needed records. A website called Black Sheep Ancestors can give you additional clues about where you might search for records. It is www.blacksheepancestors.com

Remember, you can accept who your ancestors were and still not be proud of what they did. After all your ancestors may have some questions about you as a descendant, and those “errant” family members can actually be the most interesting. Accept the fact that your ancestors weren’t perfect and be glad that you finally have some ancestors who have documentation. Remember those traits that they used in an unacceptable way may be the traits that are strengths in your life.

I love music, all kinds of music, though my family thinks I’m stuck on Hard Rock. I usually have music playing while I’m working or researching. Today I thought I would go to the Internet Archive [archive.org], which is a website with “TONS” of free content and listen to a concert while I worked. I was surprised to see that the website has a new, updated look and has been revamped to make it easier to locate content.

This archive is an incredible resource for genealogists. It is a non-profit, free use library with millions of free books, movies, software, music and much more. Sections include Images from all over the world including collections of USGS maps, early maps of many countries, pictures from  museums, and from NASA including NASA eClips, and much more. Videos include Concerts, old Classic TV Shows, Vintage Cartoons, Silent Films  and of course many more. Music can be downloaded and has many genres from Grateful Dead, to and including music from the 30’s and 40″s, ie. Kate Smith. Concerts have content back to 1958.. Software allows you to locate and download software from their Open Source Collection .

Open Library has books from all over the world. The ebook section has over 250,000 titles and  allows you to borrow [free] ebooks for 2 weeks, up to 5 titles at a time. They come either in-browser, PDF or ePub. Open Library also will link you to World Cat [the World Library Catalog] to help you find books that you can borrow through inter-library loan.

The Text area is my favorite and includes a Microfilm Collection, the Project Gutenberg [free plain text versions of free books], and  Digital Collections from many libraries including The Allen County Library. Today I downloaded an early book about the Bliss Family, visited the digital content of the National Library of Scotland, went to the American Libraries and downloaded a book of clarinet etudes in PDF, a  book from the Wellesley College  Library called ‘Sketches of the British Reformers,” and I also borrowed 2 eBooks, Between Open Library and Internet archive you have access to over 8 million public domain eBooks.

I did all this while listening to a piano pice from the early 1900’s, some cylinder recordings [before mp3 there were vinyl records, and  before records there were cylinders.]  A free sign-in is available which allows you to save your favorites findings and also share them with  your friends.