Posts Tagged ‘genealogy’

There are lots of great US Census Records. Starting in 1850, and for every 10 years thereafter a census, or population
record was taken for, hopefully, every household in the United States. The census listed household members, their sex, their ages, their places of birth and other information that the Federal and State Governments needed to plan for future needs.

One of my favorite censuses is the one taken in 1900. In addition to the usual questions that the census taker would ask, such as each person’s sex, color or race, and if each person in the household is single, married, widowed, or divorced or where their parents were born, they added some additional questions

These additional questions can be very helpful. One question was ‘how many years have you been married.” This question allows you to go back in time and look for a marriage record.

Two other questions were asked of the mother which were “how may children have you had” and “how many are still living?” Last week I was researching a family that I knew had 2 children. One died as an infant and one as a young adult. Looking at the 1900 census for the parents the mother reported that she had given birth to 7 children and 0 were living. Suddenly I knew that I had 5 missing children. This is not the first time I have found evidence of missing children by looking at the 1900 census.

Because that census also told me how long the parents had been married, and where each of them had been born, I knew where to look and the time period in which to look for the missing children.

To get the most out of the census, you will want to look at the image – don’t rely on the indexes.  Always, always look at the image, and read every line. You will also find out where the parents of your ancestors were born, and if your ancestor immigrated the year that happened because it is included on that census.

You can find the 1900 census free on familysearch.org, or archive.org, or you can use your library card to access Heritage Quest. Go to your public library site and search their databases. Also if you have a subscription, you can also find the 1900 census on ancestry.com  

Even if you think you know all about your family, you may find some surprises If you can find them in 1900 census

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I had thPaul Reveree opportunity to spend this past 4th of July week in Boston. For someone who has 24 [possibly 25] ancestors who served the Revolutionary cause, and who loves history – it was an exciting time. I don’t know the detailed stories, yet, of each ancestor who served, however, the ones I am familiar with make me very proud of the sacrifices they made for this country. I have one ancestor Wait Hopkins who was killed in the war, and another Richard Lyman who died relatively young because of the hardships he faced during the war.

If you had family who was in America around 1776, you may also have ancestors who served in this war, especially if they were in the New England area. You will want to look for an ancestor who was born between 1710 and 1765, and who was living in 1775-1776. Anyone meeting this criteria might be a Revolutionary War patriot. They may not have served directly in the militia, but may have given other service, such as provision of food, clothing, even encouragement. One of my ancestors, whose name was Adajonah Bidwell, gave his salary for 4 years to supply troops, and has a DAR Patriot number.

Once you have identified a possible qualifying ancestor, you will want to go to the DAR Patriot Database to find out if they have already been given an Patriot Number. Go to  http://bit.ly/1S6NNBX or you can Google the DAR website and look for their Library tab, and then select ‘Ancestor Search’.  If your ancestor is listed, it will give you a birth and death date along with place of birth and place of death. It will then outline the service they gave.

You won’t be able to go any further in their website without being a member, but this will give you a start. Then search again using Google. Enter your ancestor’s names, a range of dates (i.e. 1710…1800), and some of the keywords you found in their service record on the Patriot Index.

If you decide you want to join the DAR, you can use the Patriot number given on the website and look at my last Blog Post for information on the process of joining a lineage society.

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I love books. I love  genealogy, and I really love things that are free. These are some of my favorite
sites to locate free books. Maybe one of them  could possibly help your with your family history.free books

  1. Google Books -books.google.com If you find an old publication you may be able to download it as a pdf. Best time frame for these free books is before 1900.
  2. FamilySearch http://books.familysearch.org – or go to the  Search Tab and go to the Book Search. This currently contains mostly family surname books  so search your surname to see if your family  published a book, or if your surname has been included in one.  These are digitized and readable online, some are even free to download.
  3. Internet Archive at archive.org is a gold mine of  many things. One great search is in the ‘Text’ section. Among its many features is the American Libraries Collection which contains over 1000 family histories, and hundreds of city directories. These are free to search, view online or download.
  4. Cyndi’s List at http://www.cyndislist.com/books/ebooks also has hundreds of free eBooks which can be read online
  5. HathiTrust Digital Library at http://www.hathitrust.org has millions of books. While some are a limited search, others have a full view of the book. My search for Quaker’s of North Caroline returned 16 books, 6 were completely viewable volumes. It is definitely worth taking a look.
  6. HeritageQuest is online and available at most libraries. You access it  through your library site, using your  library card. Downloading is limited to 50 pages, however, I have then gone back in and downloaded the next 50 pages when I  had a larger book.
  7. OpenLibrary at openlibrary.org has over 1 million free eBooks available. Make sure you check’ eBooks only’, or you will find hard bound books for purchase.
  8. Don’t forget the Wiki at FmilySearch.org. Go to the State or Country you are researching and click on the link to their archives and libraries. This is where you will find, among many other things, the free digital collects that particular library offers online.

February is a great month to stay indoors and read a book. I hope you can locate a helpful one through one of these websites.

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nara seal

I’m too busy watching the Free National Archives Online Genealogy Fair to Blog this week . You can use the following link then subscribe to their YouTube Channel and learn about the treasures you can find in the U.S. National Archives.. http://www.archives.gov/calendar/genealogy-fair/

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In Family History we sometimes find ourselves unable to move our research back another generation. We often call this a ‘brick wall’. In order to deconstruct the wall, and achieve some success, we need to understand how the wall was built. Here are the most common reasons

  1. Not understanding there was probably at least one other person, if not more, with the same name as your ancestor, living in the same area. You need to understand the area your family came from and be familiar with why documents were created. [HINT: work with a timeline of your ancestor to help sort him from the others – they all had the same names.]
  2. Not having enough sources. You will need several sources to make valid conclusions – one or two is not usually sufficient. [HINT: Every event needs a date, a place and a source]
  3. You copied your family pedigree from another family member, and ‘assumed’ that it was correct. Copying means that dates, names and places can be transcribed in error, and if the people you copied from also copied their records from someone else, then the possible problems can duplicate quickly. Errors in previous research make a great brick wall.
  4. If the records don’t match what we already believe, we develop a theory of why they don’t, because we are unwilling to change our minds.
  5. Your family has told you that you come from a ‘famous historical figure’ so you try to make all of your research prove that point, and even jump a generation to get where you want to be.
  6. Relying on published genealogies. Forget for a moment that there were some early fraudulent genealogies published, from which many families have based their lineage. Just the fact that many online pedigrees are not sourced should make you suspicious.
  7. Failure to track your family through every possible census.
  8. Believing, without proving, the family legend.
  9. Failing to look at the people that surrounded your ancestor. If you are looking for a needle in a haystack, in this case your ancestor is the needle, to find him, you need to make the needle bigger. Look for siblings, children, in-laws- neighbors who were part of your ancestor’s circle.
  10. Failing to understand that your ancestor was probably normal, meaning they did the things that others in their area did. If the age for owning land was 21 – then your ancestor, most likely, didn’t own land until they were at least that age.
  11. Moving back in time too quickly. Our ancestor came from England so we start there. You need to start at your last FACT. That means an event that has been proven, and then locate where in England you need to look before upi leap across the pond.

I could add other reasons, but these are the most common. Use a timeline, make sure what you are finding fits into that timeline, and evaluate carefully if you want more success in your searches. Oh- I almost forgot, and yes I know I say this all the time– keep a research log.

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cowboy sillouetFamily legends are fun to pass down, often they are true, sometime they have truth woven in them and then there are the other times.

My grandfather’s older sister was an early pioneer, who came across plains as a baby in 1848, or maybe not.

What we thought we knew: Norman Bliss and Elizabeth Ann [Betsey] (Bird) married in Nauvoo Illinois in 1846. They were driven out by mobs and fled with other Mormon Saints to Winter Quarters where their only child, a daughter Mary Ann Bliss was born. Norman and Elizabeth [Betsey] soon divorced. She married a man at Winter Quarters named George Bryant Gardner, with whom she had 3 more childre

The story goes that when Betsey divorced Norman in 1847-1848, she left Mary Ann, who was 18 months old for him to raise. As they crossed the plains, a lady by the name of Kalain took care of Mary Ann. When a rest was called Norman would go to the wagon and take Mary Ann in his arms and love on her and sing to her. When they camped for the night, he would take Mary Ann and his older son Orley with him until morning.” I always had a picture in my mind of my great-grandfather cradling his baby girl every evening as trekked west. It is a very sweet, sentimental tale with a problem. The documents don’t support the story. Mary Ann was not on that wagon train with Norman, and neither was anyone with a name that could possibly be the mysterious ‘Kalain’. See http://history.lds.org/overlandtravels/ for the wagon trains and passengers.

FACT: Norman and Orley came in 1848 with the second Brigham Young Company. Orley, who was around 7 or 8, drove a team and wagon, while his father drove a second team. There was no Mary Ann traveling with the company.

FACT: Mary Ann come west in 1850 with the Wilford Woodruff Company. Also in that Company was her mother Elizabeth [Betsey] Ann Gardner, her second husband George Bryant Gardner, and their daughter Emily. Mary Ann was 3 years old – quite young but not a baby.


FACT: Sometime after they arrived in Salt Lake, Betsey divorced George Bryant, married Kimball Hardy, and gave Mary Ann to her father Norman to raise.  Betsey then married a man named Kimball Hard. They lived in Salt Lake for a few years and then moved to California – not taking Mary Ann with them. See Salt Lake City 1856 Census.


Somehow the romance is gone from the story. No cowboy lovingly cradling and singing to his baby girl at the end of each day’s ride, and no woman on the wagon train taking caring of the baby, Mary Ann.


It is much more likely that after the divorce, since both Betsey and Norman were living in Winter Quarters, that he often saw his baby and held her and sang to her. However, it didn’t happen on the trail, and they did not come west together.


Many family stories have some truth in them. Unfortunately for this one the documents and reality don’t fit the tradition. Do your favorite family stories make sense? It doesn’t matter so much who is right, as it matters what is right.Try documenting them and find out, but be careful, I still have some family members that are not happy with what I found.




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Just Sayin’

In my Grandpa Leo Finlinson’s barn hung a hand written sign that read “Fear of Failure is Fatal to success” In my family, growing up,  there was a saying for every occasion. My Grandma Lydia Finlinson was especially witty. If you came into her house unhappy, she would say “don’t go into a molt” [she raised chickens].  If you were angry you could expect her to quip “go scratch your mad spot.” If you were a bit sassy with her, you were told “you need to know which side your bread is buttered on”.  Our family has actually collected pages of her sayings. The following are a few of the ones I find myself repeating to my own family.

  • A little flattery now and then makes husbands out of single men.
  • Every mother think her ducks are geese.
  • You can dance all night but you have to pay the fiddler [translation – you can stay out as late as you want, but you still have to get up early in the morning and do your chores].
  • Don’t cry over spilled milk – go milk another cow.
  • Keep your eyes wide open before marriage and half shut afterwards.
  • If you want to kill time, why not try working it to death.
  • If you will not when you may, when you will, you may have nay.
  • Whatever be thy fate today – Remember “This too shall pass away.”
  • The longest odds in the world are those against getting even.
  • When in doubt tell the truth.
  • A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.
  • A change is as good as a rest.
  • Necessity never made a good bargain.
  • He who goes a borrowing, goes a sorrowing.
  • A wise man changes his mind – a fool never does.
  • Always learn to undo that which you have done amiss.
  • Two heads are better than one – even if one is a cabbage head.
  • If you want to lose a friend, loan him some money.
  • It’s a long road that doesn’t have a turn in it.
  • You can’t buy yourself rich.

When I was young and I would leave the house to go with my friends my parents would call out “Remember who you are!”  I remember leaving a dance one evening when I was at college and the same advice was shouted to me above the crowd, I knew that my 2nd cousin was watching me leave. I sometimes would love to be able to trace some of these sayings back to see how many generations they have been passed down through. I call most of these Grandma Lydia Sayings, and give her credit in hopes that my grandchildren will know they had a very wise 3g grandmother.

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In 2008 Google started an ambitious project in an attempt to digitize the world’s newspaper collections. In 2011 they scuttled the project. However, the digital content they have is still available, and can be searched on Google Newspaper Archive.

The Archive covers over 2,000 historic newspapers, and goes back as far as the 1700’s. Newspaper are from the US, Canada, and Europe, and consists of over 60 million pages covering 250 years

While the Archive is still there, it can be a bit tricky to search. The good news for family historians, who love newspapers ,is that the entire Newspaper Archive can be searched using the Genealogy Search Engine. This search engine can be found on the Genealogy In Time Magazine Website at genealogyintime.com, or by clicking on the following shortened link http://goo.gl/p5leIi.

In addition to the news archive, the Genealogy Search Engine has indexed around 2.7 billion records from over 1,000 websites, and it continues to grow. You can subscribe to the online magazine to receive the updates to its collection.

Both the Genealogy In Time Magazine and the Genealogy Search Engine are free.

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If you are actively searching for an ancestor you need to visit FamilySearch. If you haven’t been there lately you really haven’t been there. The site has been updated and is quite amazing. One big change is that anyone can now visit the site, register and then view the family pedigrees, contribute names, and view sources, photos, stories and then save what they find that you find to your own computer, or link information to your own family within FamilySearch. FamilySearch is found at https://familysearch.org.

The Features Include:

  • Over a billion records are now available to search. The index is amazingly accurate and a majority of the search results have a digital image attached.
  • The search is available in 10 languages, as records from all over the world have been and continue to be added.
  • New records are being added daily through a massive indexing project.
  • A fan chart can now be created on the site from anyone in your pedigree.
  • You can add, or find your ancestors then locate additional records for them and attach those records to them. You can also add pictures, and stories as well as additional source documentation.
  • Many films from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City Utah have been digitized and are available as browse-able records. While you wait for these films to be indexed you can view them without the need to order them. [Because they are not yet indexed your ancestor won’t appear in a search].
  • There is a massive Research Wiki to help you guide you locate records.
  • Hundreds of Free genealogy classes are available as video or slide presentations. These have been added by FamilySearch, and other partners such as the New England Historical and Genealogical Society, the Mid-Contentment Library and others.
  • There is a section of free digitized books that have many books that were published by family organization.
  • The Library Catalog from the Family History Library is also found there, and if you locate a record or film you need, if it has been digitized you will be given the link to the records.

When you first go to the site there is a tutorial you can take. FamilySearch is easy to navigate and if you find errors in your family pedigree, that others have made, you can correct them.

Check out the home page carefully as it will lead you to the many other treasures that are part of FamilySearch. The FamilySearch Blog indicated yesterday that the number of sources on the site has grown by 74% in the last three weeks.

If you haven’t visited FamilySearch in the last few week You Haven’t Seen FamilySearch.

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Tombstones can turn out to be valuable sources when trying to identify a  female ancestor,  as  many tombstones will give a woman’s maiden name, or middle initial which often refers to her maiden name.

While in the cemetery you should check nearby graves. Burial plots generally contain a number of graves, and were usually purchased by families, for their family burials. Sexton records, which are kept by the person managing the burials, are  available  at most cemeteries and can give you additional information. You may have to do some research to locate the sexton and arrange a visit with him. His records will give information that won’t fit on a headstone, such as possible names of parents, name of a spouse, and who purchased the stone. If the stone is newer it may be that  it has been replaced, and if this is the case the sexton should have the name of who replaced it.

While it  may not be possible to physically visit the place where your missing ancestor lived, you may be able to visit them virtually. If you are researching in the United States, you should check out Find a Grave www.findagrave.com. It is a free virtual cemetery, and while it isn’t complete, there is new content continually being added. Some cemeteries have been completed as the result of a cemetery project by a local group, while others may only contain a small number of burials. This is not because the burials don’t exist, but because they have not yet been added. You may add tombstone photos from your own collection by simply registering on the site [which is free] and uploading your pictures, and any related written content you may have.

I did a Find a Grave search for 10 of my female ancestors, and all were located. All but 3 had their maiden names on their tombstones. The three who were missing maiden names, had their maiden names added by the person uploading the tombstone picture.  A Find a Grave search for Lydia Partridge resulted in a photo of my g g grandmother’s grave. Her tombstone identified her as “Lydia Clisbee Partridge, wife of Edward Partridge’ and listed her birth date and death date. This stone is obviously newer than others of a similar date, so a check of sexton records will probably give me more information.

You also might try a Google Image search for tombstones.  A Google search for the grave of Mindwell Dewey Hopkins resulted in not only finding her grave, but in locating her family. Mindwell  is buried by her mother, father, and step-mother and her stone includes the following inscription:

“To the MEMORY of Mrs. Mindwell Hopkins Relict of Major Wait Hopkins Who died June 21st 1785. In the 48th Year of her Age. Major Hopkins was killed during the War [Revolutionary] on an Island in Lake George…”

This one tombstone gave me a great deal of information. It gave me her, but her husband and his death, besides it gave me a second wife for her father Jedediah Dewey. Her grave is also surrounded by other Dewey family graves. Plan on spending some time in the cemetery, physical or virtual.

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