Archive for February, 2013

Creating a Timeline

If you really want some help in finding a lost ancestor you should create a timeline. A timeline will put the events of an ancestor’s life in chronological order and help you as you locate  and evaluate any information you may find. The process is simple:

  1. Choose an ancestor
  2. List the important dates and events in their life, such as date and place of birth, first wedding day, the births of their children,  any immigration information and finally their death.
  3. Find other historical events for the period of time your ancestor was alive. Depending on where they lived you could add dates of wars, statehood, epidemics, or other historical events.
  4. Organize your genealogical and historical dates in chronological order. From this information, you can create a simple time line by adding important dates with brief comments attached to them. it all depends on how much detail you want to include in your timeline.
  5. Add to the timeline the age of your ancestor when each of these events occurred.

If there are discrepancies in your information they will show up immediately in a timeline. Timelines also help put your ancestor in the context of the time their were living. Example: Norman Bliss

  • 1875 – born Toquerville, Kane County, Utah Territory
  • 1882 – age 7 Father killed, Toquerville, Washington County, Utah Territory
  • 1888 age 12 Mother died Washington, Washington County, Utah Territory Utah
  • 1885 – age 20, married Mary Morris – Rockville, Washington County, Utah Territory

As you correctly add historical events you see that Utah was still a Territory and that Toquerville, changed from Kane County to Washington County. This can be important information as it can identify where you might locate records. It also gives you a picture of Norman that doesn’t readily show up in a Family Group Record. He was orphaned at the age of 12. You then begin to wonder who he lived with after his mother died, and what happened to his younger siblings.

Some genealogy software will help you create a chronology, and there are many historical timelines already on the Internet which will give you the dates of major events that would  have happened in the area your ancestor lived. As you research and refer to your  timeline you will be able  to quickly eliminate people that don’t belong in your family by a simple look at the age your ancestor was at a certain time period. Of course if you need more help making a timeline of your own you can go on the interent to You Tube and search for genealogy and timelines, or chronologies, and watch a number of videos that will step you through the process and give you additional ideas.

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ImageIt’s almost Valentines Day and that seems like a great time to talk about marriage records. These are valuable to family genealogists’ because they may be one of the few places where a woman’s maiden name is recorded.  
Marriages are most likely to occur in the town or county where the bride lived, giving clues to other family origins.

A good marriage license will give you the names of the bride and groom, their ages and places of residence.  They can also include the occupations of the couple, the full name of witnesses and their relationships. If either the bride or groom were younger than the legal age you may find a consent to marry signed by a parent or guardian.  If you are fortunate enough to have German ancestors, you will find that German marriage records often include the names of the parents of both the bride and groom and their grandparents.

A couple may have married in a neighboring county if the parents opposed the marriage and they eloped. Understand also, that not all marriages were recorded. On the frontier or in isolated communities there may have been no one to marry a couple, and so vows were taken and sometimes solemnized when an itinerant preacher came through the area. He would then make a note in his records, which may or may not ever reach an official church or civil registration office.

Some places to look for marriage records:

*   Family Bibles were a place where families recorded not only marriages, but births and deaths of family members.

*   Journals, letters and scrapbooks where pictures were kept, may also document an event. One of my g g grandfathers was married in 1848 in Nebraska on the Pioneer trail west. His marriage record is only found in his journal.

*   Local newspapers often have list of names of those who apply for marriage licenses. They also publish articles about the weddings, and anniversary milestones such a couple’s 50 Wedding Anniversary.  These articles are very valuable because they may state relationships, so you should also check newspapers for the area where your family lived.

*   Churches were the first to record vital records which included births, deaths and marriages. Later these records were required to be sent to the county or state governments. Since, generally, a license was needed to marry, you may be able to locate both a church and civil record of your ancestor’s marriage.

*   Interviews with family members may yield information from a relative who may remember the wedding.

*   Tombstones – sometimes the only record you can find of a marriage is carved into a tombstone “Ada Tuthill wife of Levi Bliss died Jan 19, 1826, age 25”. Not a marriage record exactly, but definitely indirect evidence that one took place.

*   Pension applications will state the name of the spouse. If a widow applied for a pension, she had to prove that she was married in order to qualify for her husband’s pension. One widow tore out, and mailed in a Bible page which contained her marriage information as proof of her marriage.

*   Census records also provide relationship information, and sometimes will point you to a year of a couple’s marriage. Don’t stop there, however. Locate the original record if possible because it will yield more information.

*   Since the twentieth century, many states began to require that a record of the marriage be transferred from the county to the state level, so it may be possible to find a statewide index.

There is no national marriage index for the United States, but if you know the place of the marriage, you should search on  FamilySearch.org which now has the marriage records for many states. 

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