I’ve always known that I had Pioneer ancestors,Wagon Train Dirt Road.png but you may have them and not even know it.

Generally, if your ancestors moved to, and helped originally settled an area they may be considered to be Pioneers for that particular area and may be featured in books and databases that are dedicated to the original settlers. Those who came on the Oregon Trail, or to California during the Gold Rush, or Mormon Pioneers who settled what was called the Utah Territory were all Pioneers.

  • If your ancestors came to the Utah Territory before the coming of the railroad in 1869, they would be considered Pioneers.
  • The best way to find out if you have Mormon Pioneer ancestors is to take a look at your family tree and find those ancestors who died in the Utah, surrounding states, or the Colonies in Mexico, and were born somewhere else. Then check out the Overland Trail Website .
    • A search for your ancestor will tell you if they came as a Pioneer, which Wagon Company they came with, when they arrived in the Salt Lake Valley and who traveled with them. I like to search initially for just the surname, as it will pull up other family members who may have traveled separately, You will also find links to stories and journals about that particular company.
  • There is a similar site is available for those who came west on the Oregon Trail, though it is a bit more complicated to search.
  • Each State or area may have different criteria as to what is considered a Pioneer. For example, to join the Society of California Pioneers, your ancestors must have arrived in California prior to 1 January 1850

On the 24th of July in Utah we celebrate Pioneer Day with Parades, Rodeos, Fairs, Breakfasts and so much more. It is a good day to find out a bit more about those who came before you – Pioneer or not.

Screen Shot 2017-07-10 at 3.03.28 PM.pngMy lost grandmother today is Amy Hutton Stewart, so I’m going to see what Google has. if I simply put in her names, I get a whopping 11 million plus results. So I need to narrow it down. Since I am looking for her parents, I want each search result to include her maiden name so I will search for :

  • Amy “Hutton” Stewart. Putting any word in quotes guarantees that word will be included in each result..
  • I know the time period she lived in, and where she lived. so I will add that to the search: Amy “Hutton” Stewart 1755…1839 Greenwich New York. Several dots between the dates allows Google to search a range of dates. I now only have over 6 thousand results – sill too many.
  • Moving the quotes to include the name “Amy Hutton” pulls my results down to 3, and that may be too few for me, but let’s explore the results.
  • If I have now looked at the results of my search and I’m pleased with the words I used in the search,  I can set up a Google Alert with the same search.

To set up a Google Alert you need a free google account. If you use gmail you already have an account. If not, it is worth setting one up not only to use the Alerts feature, but many other features that are helpful to genealogists.

  • Go to google.com/alerts and type or copy your search into the Alerts search field. Now the search engine at Google will continue to search the internet for you. If a new webpage is added that matches your search, or if new content is added to the pages you have looked at, you will get an email notification. The link within the email will take you to the new results.

Happy Google-ing.


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Mobile devices such as tablets and cell phones were made for doing family history.  They are nice because they are smaller and more portable than even laptop computers. I like my tablet because of the larger screen, but I’m often with just my phone when I need to access my family history, or record something that I want to preserve. I have found over the years that there are a few apps that, for me, are must haves, and that enable me to be productive where ever I am;

  1. A note taking system. I use Evernote, but there are other programs such as One Note by Microsoft. Evernote is free, syncs across all my devices, allows me to capture pictures, & audio. My blog post in January of 2013 talks about Evernote.
  2. Cloud Storage. Most tablets have limited storage, so having  a cloud  to save to and download from is really important. I use Dropbox for most of my files, and I also use Google Drive. Both are free for a limited amount of space, which will be sufficient  for most people.
  3. FamilyTree App and Memories App. These are free and allow access to my tree on Family Search so I can work on files away from home. The Memories App lets me take photos of documents and/or record audio and automatically upload it to my Family Tree. I can record my Uncle telling about me about my Grandmother and have the story preserved in his voice.
  4. Photo Management. I use several programs, but my favorite it Scan Pro.  You do pay about $4.00 for it, but it does more for me than my camera. It scans quickly and saves the scan as a .pdf. My phone/tablet camera allows some editing, but I also want a photo management app such as Photo Bucket or Photo Shop Express. This gives me more flexibility when I’m away from home.
  5. Document Management. I also want to be able to work on spread sheets and documents while I’m ‘out and about’ so I have an app for word and excel.
  6. Additional Browser. I added the Dolphin Browser, in additional to my Chrome Browser, to my ipad for online searching, because it  has a web clipping feature that lets me capture and save webpages using my tablet

I have other apps, and while the apps are not the full programs, they will work very well while you are away from home. On a trip a couple of years ago to Boston, I was able to capture documents at the New England Historical Society, photograph tombstones, adjust the photos, and share them, record an oral history at a cemetery, add information to my FamilyTree, and much more.

I don’t mind paying for genealogy records, when I need to. I understand that it costs money to support research and house documents; however, when I can get information free I like that even better. My favorite free genealogy research sites are:

  1. FamilySearch at familysearch.org. This is an amazing website, totally free. If you are 13 years old you can get a sign in and the site adds at least one million digitized records a day. There are two mobile apps that allow you to view and add content to your family tree and to upload photos, documents, and audio files. If you are interested in family history, this is a must visit website.
  2. Find a Grave at findagrave.com. Totally collaborative. People from around the world upload photos of headstones, and post them in virtual cemeteries. Sometimes you will find additional information, such as photographs and obituaries, added to deceased individuals.
  3. Cyndislist at cyndislist.com had been around for a long time. It is one of the best sites for finding records. It is a linking site that will link you to the websites that have the information you are seeking.
  4. BLM Land Patents at glorecords.blm.gov. For those searching in the United States, this is a great place to find out if your ancestors purchased land as they moved west,
  5. Heritage Quest – found at most local libraries and accessed online with your library card number. This site holds free census records, Digital Historic Books, and Revolutionary War Service Records, Immigration Records and City Directories.
  6. Internet Archive at archive.org. This site has over 150 Billion pages of historical records, books, census records, video and audio that can be downloaded.
  7. National Archives at archives.gov. This site houses records, such as census and military,  as well as great helps for genealogists.
  8. Library of Congress hosts a website called American Memory found at memory.loc.gov. It houses Digital Collections, Maps, Historic American Newspapers, and lots more.

There are many more free online websites for genealogist. To find them go to Family Search, the first site listed, and on its ‘Search Tab’ choose the Wiki. Then look for the state or country you want, and among the many other items listed you will find online websites. You don’t need to join FamilySearch or even sign in to use this feature.


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from your Facebook or Instagram accounts.

  • Sign in to your Free  FamilySearch account at familysearch.org.
  • Go to the ‘Memories’ tab in the top navigation bar and select the ‘Gallery’ tab.
  • Click on the green ‘+’ icon and choose how you want to add your photo.
  • Select either Instagram or Facebook and you will be taken to your site.
  • Sign in and your photos will appear.
  • Simply chose the photo you want and select ‘Import’.

You will then tag the photo to the appropriate people. While you will be able to see the photos right away, others will not see them until they have been reviewed.

As with other information on FamilySearch only deceased individuals will be able to be viewed by others, but you can still build your albums.You will have better success if you use the Chrome, Firefox, or Safari browsers.

This photo is of my father Ferron Bliss and his brother Leo Lee at the funeral of their brother Theone Theobald [Bill] Bliss. It was taken in 2002 a year before my father died. Uncle Leo died in February of this year. Thanks to FamilySearch for this easy way to import my Facebook photos.

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When I am researching one of the tools I like to have handy is a Records Selection Table. I have created a table that works well for me but, I have found a generic table that could be very helpful if you aren’t sure what to look for, and where the information might be found. The table has 3 columns which read, in part:

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This table is found on FamilySearch.org  and is free to look at even if you do not have a free FamilySearch Account. Below the table there are links to various States and Topics. These additional pages will allow you to link to the record pages that you need. If you are researching other than the US you may want to save the table and add your own unique record collections.


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