Archive for the ‘Genealogy’ Category

I love “Find a Grave.” If you are not familiar with it,Love_Mildred L Hammons
it is a free website where cemetery headstones, organized
by cemeteries are posted. Often family members will add
newspaper clippings, obituaries and photos.

It can be a wonderful place to connect with family members. In days of old, people would put a note in a bottle and leave it on a headstone, hoping that a family member would find it and connect with them. Today we can do that digitally through “Find A Grave.”

The problem comes when someone adds information that is incorrect. Last week I was researching a family, and discovered that their youngest daughter didn’t have a death date. She was born in 1924 so she may still have been living, but I thought I could at least find a marriage for her, since she was born and lived in Missouri.

I had her birthdate, so I started looking for a marriage record. Of course there were two women with almost the same name, in the same town getting married near the same time. So started looking at the spouses. The first man I looked at was Andrew A. Love who married Mildred Louise Hammons on Christmas Eve in 1849. I chased him over several states and found his burial back in Missouri. It identified his wife as Mildred Louise Shelton, but looking at her information it showed that she had the same exact birthdate as Mildred Louise Hammons. A super closeup look at the headstone allows you to read that her name was Mildred L. (Hammons) Love. Mystery solved. She was mis-identified by the person who added her to “Find A Grave.” Because she was mis-identified, she was also mis-indexed, and would have been impossible to locate in an index. I contacted the contributor, and it has now been corrected.

It is easier to verify the burial information if you can view the headstone, but what can you do if there is not a picture of the headstone? If you have a free sign in to “Find a Grave,” you can contact the contributor for more information, or you can take a look a “Billion Graves.” “Billion Graves” has a free section where you can view the headstones. Graves are put into “Billion Graves” through photos being added, and then the names on the headstones are indexed.

While these are great resources for tracing and connecting families, always remember that they are not primary resources.

Read Full Post »

If you are interested in family history aka genealogy you a books.pngneed to have a free account at familysearch.org. Even if you don’t use the collaborative tree, you
should be looking at the records. The count of digitized records just reached 2 Billion, yes with a B.

These records cover Africa and the Pacific, Asia, Europe, Middle Ease, Latin America, and North America. These records are digitized, and while not all of them are indexed yet, they are findable and viewable on family search.

Once you have signed in with your free account, you should click on the ‘Help’ tab in the upper right of the screen, go to ‘whats new’, and look at the article announcing the reaching of this milestone, and there you will find a link to a free guide with step-by-step instructions for how you can locate and search:

  • The catalog where you will find links to digital films
  • Books- where you will find books that have been digitized
  • Records- where can search collections using your ancestor’s name, locate a specific collection or browse by country. You may filter these searches by place, date or collection type.


Read Full Post »

Photo Distater 2.jpgAs I watched the recent news showing people evacuating  from fires and floods. I noticed one thing they had in common was that they were grabbing their photo albums, which to me meant they were trying to save their memories and family history. What would you take if you had minutes to evacuate your home, not knowing if it would be standing when you returned? Hopefully, most of us have an evacuation plan, and have gathered our critical papers and put together an emergency kit of some kind. But what about your Family History?

How do you save all those years of pictures, histories, letters and documents that you have collected and that mean a lot to you? Besides natural disasters, there are man made ones, such as computer viruses and backup failures, which can wipe away years of work.

We are fortunate in today’s world to have a variety of ways to save and retrieve information. Pictures and photo albums can be digitized by scanning or photographing with your digital camera. You should also share copies of those really old photos with cousins and websites such as FamilySearch to help insure that other copies are preserved and available.

Documents such as birth, marriage, and death certificates can be treated the same way. You might also consider copying those obituaries and old letters you have tucked away. The same goes for special items you may have, like grandma’s old treadle machine or grandpa’s old horse hair rope. A picture will allow you share the treasure, even if the article is lost.

If your information is stored digitally you can save it on an extra external hard drive or a removable flash drive. If you are using an external drive, it will still be vulnerable to viruses if it is continually attached to your computer, so attach it only when necessary.

  • Make a plan.
  • Copy pictures and documents and save them several different ways in digital format, and on backup drives, or off site in a program such as Dropbox
  • Take pictures of family heirlooms.
  • Make several copies to store at different locations, preferably away from your home.
  • Check your backups occasionally to make sure they are working.
  • Share – what you give comes back to you, sometimes literally.

There are, of course, some commercial web sites that will back up your system for a fee. Whatever you decide and even if you never have a disaster to deal with you will have peace of mind if you take time to make certain you won’t permanently lose your valuable family information.

Read Full Post »

If you are stumped in your Family History ResearchBest brick wall.png you might want to take a look at some of the following.

  •  City Directories – occupations, etc. – Cyndi’s List
  • State Censuses –FamilySearch, look in Search Records
  • Tax Lists – shows property ownership and substitutes for Census –
  • Mortality Schedules – 1850-1880 list people who died the year prior to the census – Heritage Quest free with your library card number from most libraries
  • Newspapers – even the ads can be valuable – Genealogy Bank $ subscription or check your local Family History Center for free newspaper sites.
    • Look for ethnic newspapers that apply to your family.
  • Church Records – can tell when people moved in and out of an area –
  • Court Records – in the US at either a County or State Courthouse.
  • Funeral Home Records –
  • Historical Societies – [may be worth joining temporarily]-
  • PERSI [Periodical Source Index] Index is free at Find My Past
  • School Records –
  • Fraternal and National Organizations – [such as Elks, Masons, Grange]
  • Old Photos – Dead Fred
  • Library of Congress
  • NUCMUC [National Union Catalogue of Manuscript Collection]
  • State Archives and University Libraries [see blog July 2016]
  • Maps such as Dave Rumsey Maps and Perry Canstaneda Library Map Collection
  • Newberry Library interactive ‘Atlas of County Boundaries’
  • Google Books has great collection of digitized historical and genealogical books-
  • Google News Archives
  • Internet Archive

These sites and record groups often get overlooked. I have found them to be very valuable, so maybe they will help you also.


Read Full Post »

google earthGoogle Earth is a free mapping program that lets you travel the world, the oceans, and even outer space, all from your home. It is more than Google Maps as it allows you to see and overlay layers such as adding roads, rivers, and railroads, and historic maps to your earth view. The program can be downloaded free and will work on both PC and Mac operating systems.

I always want to see the land where my ancestors lived, I like to find the distance between the town they lived in and the town where other family members lived. If they lived close to a county or state border, they may have created records in that different place. The Kinner’s of Whitehall Township, New York,  sometimes married in the bordering state of Vermont, and as they also lived nearly on the border of Ft. Ann Township, they also created records in Ft. Ann.

I often find old plat maps that show the division of land with the name of each owner labeled on their property, and I sometime find old historic maps that identiy, each land owner in the area on their property. I save the map as a jpg. and then overlay it on Google Earth to show where that property would be in today’s world. Images can be adjusted so the scale of both the map and Google Earth are the same.

There are websites that will automatically overlay images onto Google Earth. The BLM [Bureau of Land Management ]Website at http://www.glorecords.blm.gov/search/ has early land records including bounty land, and has a Google Earth function built in. Historic Map Works, also has a built-in overlay function. If you set a free Google Earth sign-in you can save your searches, and revisit them without re-creating the search. From an old Missionary Journal, I was able to track the travels from town to town of an early missionary, and create a virtual tour of the towns he preached in, which was then sent to other family members. I recently found a KMZ  file online of the Scottish Clans showing where there Clan Lands were originally located. By overlaying it on Google Earth, I was able to find the areas of Scotland where my ancestors lived, and track their migration.

As a long time user and teacher of Google Earth, I was pleased to find that Google Earth Pro is also now free. While I can do most of what I want on Google Earth, Google Pro allows higher resolution printing, and has a spreadsheet that lets you  map multiple addresses at once. It also includes a movie maker which will allow you to create video presentations. You can also get an app to use Google Earth on your phone or tablet. Enjoy!

Read Full Post »