Sunday, May 5, 2013

Lesson 7: "Now how did ya spell that?"

Lesson 6: "Now how did ya spell that?"

It has been a while since I have been on here posting on my blog. I have so missed you! Hope you missed me too!

Today I want to talk to you about names and spellings. Some names have been changed down through history. For one, not everyone could read and write, and those who did, were not always that well educated. They may have been schooled enough to learn to read and write, but not enough to know the correct grammar and spelling. Those from other countries had foreign accents and their pronunciation of a word was much different than the person registering the name. As a result of this, name changes would occur. Such is the case of where words had letters that were pronounced silently. The person recording the name would make a spelling error due what they were hearing instead of how it was correctly spelled. Here are some examples of name changes.

My mother's two brothers died before we were born. We wanted to find their death certificates and was having a difficult time. Gloria ended up finding Uncle Lavern's death certificate and I found Uncle Delmar's death certificate. I found Uncle Delmar's by a sheer hunch. I knew that there were a lot of "Hedricks" as well as "Headricks" in this area. Our family name was Hedrick. So I decided to spell it with the "a" and then look it up. That is where I found it. The death certificate showed that my grandfather, Noah Hedrick gave the information. Though he was an intelligent man, he had never learned to read or write. Therefore, he would sign his signature with an "X." Thus, he could not make sure the spelling was correct.

My mother's lineage also showed a name change in one of her fore fathers. His name was Christian Arney. Down the line, somehow, it was changed to Earney. I don't know the reason, but there was one causing a change in spelling. This could have been from pronunciation, or spelling error.

Then there was my father's side of the family, the Smiths. We have traced them back to where the spelling was changed from Schmidt to Smith. The data is all consistent with them being one in the same, so we believe that this is the proper spelling or our family name when our fore fathers came from France.

My father's maternal side of the family were Duclos. They pronounced it "DeClue." Thus the spelling was changed with pronunciation down through the years. I am sure it too was from spelling error. What they heard, is what was written.

Our ninth grandfather back was an Indian chief who was Mamentho├╝ensa, Chief of the Illiniwek. He took the Christian name Francois Xavier Rouensa . He went by Rouensa. There were many variations to his name in different writings but I will not go into all them. I just wanted you to see the example of the drastic change, giving another example of name change.

In closing today, I want to stress the importance of not stopping research in a name without cross referencing information if it is spelled wrong. if you come across a name that is spelled differently, but all the information indicates it is the same, you may have hit on a spelling change in a name and you are still on the right track. Be sure and cross reference, cross reference, cross reference, just to be sure.

So take care until next time!

Leason 6: Organization is Key!

Organization is key!

Being organized is one of the best ways to save hours of time trying to research your family history. Though you may have a computer you will still want to invest in a binder with dividers so you can keep your original records in. I like using clear sleeves so that I can put my information in the pocket as opposed to using a paper punch on an original document.

Any good researcher will want copies of the original documents. You may actually have a copy of the originals from your family members already. You can, purchase some records from the state for a fee. You also can get some items from the library and genealogy sites, that other people have collected.

There are birth certificates, death certificates, military records, church records, newspaper clippings, and so on. These are all great resources and great documentation for your research as well. Just remember, document, document, document.

Good documentation can help you in the long run. When I was in nursing school they had a scholarship for the Daughters of the Revolution. Had I been able to prove that my fore father, Christian Arney, was a revolutionary war solider I might have been able to  qualify for that scholarship. I didn't have the documentation at the time. So you see, the documentation can help in more ways than one.

Remember, being organized saves hours of work that you end up back tracking on, causing a waste of time. So get organized, I mean crazy organized! Take care! Until next time.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Lesson 5: What's In a Photo?

What's In a Photo

Photos are a very good tool in developing your generational tree. But, if a photo is not properly identified, and left blank, you may never be able to put a name to a face.

We never knew Grandpa Jesse Smith, for he died when my father was young. Any pictures of him had been passed down to the other siblings of my father, so not only did we not know him, we didn't even know what he looked like. It is very distressing to us. We would like to know if we look like him and what kind of man he was. What did he like to do? Yes, you can get this information from looking at a picture.

You might wonder how a picture could tell you about someone. You have to know how to read the picture. I will give you an example. Here is a picture of my mother's family. See what you can tell from this picture.

"The Washing Machine" circa 1938
This picture was taken circa 1938. My mother is the little girl in the picture. Next to my mother is my Aunt Joycie, my cousin Gerri (sitting on washer), my grandmother, Susie, and my grandfather, Noah.

This picture was taken as the Great Depression was coming to an end. You can that this family was a family of meager means. They worked hard for what they had, and after they saved the money to get their washing machine, they had their picture taken with it.

Mom was 5 years old in this picture thus making my cousin Gerri 1 1/2 to 2 years old. My Aunt Joycie is Gerri's mother. How old do you think she is? In that day and age teens looked aged in their young ages. I think it had to do with them being put in an adult situation at such an early age. Hard work, raising a family and being a spouse, can add years to your apperance. Aunt Joyce married at age thirteen. Gerri was born approximately one year later. Since Gerri was about 2 years of age here, this would make Aunt Joycie 16 years of age. Then there is my grandmother and grandfather. We lovingly refered to them as "Ma and Pa." Ma was born in 1999, thus this makes her 34. Pa was born in 1892, which makes Pa 41.

Is this all the information we can get from this picture? No. If we 'read' the picture, we will find out much. Lets see what we can 'read.'  It looked very dry and hot. The ground shows this with the blanket of dust on the ground. Ma is holding a fan, so this backs up this information. therefore, this picture was taken in the summer time. Don't let the long sleaves fool you. They were meek in appearance and kept their arms covered.

You can see their pride as they have their picture taken with their first machine operated Maytag washer. If you notice the gas tank at the bottom of the machine, you will see this is a wringer washer that is gas operated. Since it is gas operated, it shows that they most probably did not have electric at that time. Mom confirmed this fact to be true when she was alive.

In the background you will see a pail hanging on the porch. They used it to carry water, so they had no running water in their home. They would hang a bucket of water up on the porch with a laddle. This way they could wet their lips when they were thirsty, and soothe a dry throat.

Ma actually took in laundry and it was what helped them make their living, so this machine was a tool of her then trade. Scrimping and saving there money made it possible for them to buy this machine. They never borrowed money back then, it was always cash transactions.

What should I do with my pictures for future generations? 
After printing your pictures, always put names and dates on the picture. Put the person's age on the picture as well. Later on in life, names fade and you may not remember who the person was. Also, when you are gone, your family will be able to identify who the picture is of. I would put a little note on the back of the picture too. Where was it taken? What were you doing that day? What was a special memory of that day? If there are more than one person in the picture, what is your relationship to them? Where did you live then? There is all kind of information you could put on the picture. The most important part though, is the names, dates, and places. Remember, the more information, the more help it will help your ancestor in finding out information on who you were.

If you are going to use your pictures for a scrap book, I would always make copies and use those for your book. You can put your information in your book, but I would still put the information on the back of the picture. This way, the information is always with the picture, and you have less of a chance of seperating the information from the photo.

With information on the picture, it could lead you to where to look for more information. Within the picture there might be a sign showing where the picture was taken. There might be a calander in the background showing the actual date. A license plate on a car might reveal what the date is as well as the state they are in. This gives you information on where they might have lived so you can look there for information.

In conclusion of this lesson, we find that photographs are a great tools in preserving our family heritage. Not only can it lead you in the right direction to your past, but it can also puts faces to your ancestors. Don't over look this important avenue in learning who you are.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Lesson 4

What is a First Cousin Once removed?!

The relative relationship chart can be a little confusing. I equate its difficulty with the body's acid base balance system. It is hard to grasp the ratios but once you do, the numbers falls right into place.

In an old movie I  heard a character say, " He is my 2nd cousin once removed on my daddy's side." Second cousin once removed? What on earth does that mean? I knew there were 1st, 2nd, and 3rd cousins, but I didn't know anything about ""once removed." I knew if I was going to find out who my family was, I was going to have to understand this removal system. Once I captured the concept, I found it to be simple.

Why Do We Need To Understand The Removal System?

When doing genealogy we need to understand the meanings of different terms, not only for our present day, but also days past. Some terms become archaic and out of vogue to use, and become obsolete. If we do not take the time to learn these outdated terms, we can find ourselves very confused. These old terms can be the keys we need to help us find the true identity of our familial tree.

Exempli Gratia 

Exempli gratia, I will try to explain the removal system as easily as I can.What is exempli gratia you might ask? It is Latin phrase meaning, for the sake of example. Exempli gratia is also abbreviated e.g. It is used in this form: There are different mediums you can use in painting, e.g. oils, acrylics, and watercolors,  Does that sound more familiar to you? Most everyone knows what exempli gratia means, but what if you didn't? It would be like trying to read a foreign language that you do not know. In essence it is. This is a good example as to why we need to familiarize ourselves with any words, phrases, abbreviations or systems that might halt our progress in research, due to lack of knowledge.Thus, the removal system is a must.

"My mother's mother's, daughter's daughter's, daughter's daughter, is my 1st cousin twice removed!"

Now that was a mouth full! You don't usually come across something like this in familial trees, but  I will explain this twister so you can understand it too. I am going to spit this out and explain each little bite, of the cousin's removal system.

 But before I illustrate this, I want to define generation. For generation will come into play in the relative relationship chart and it will help you to have a clean cut definition or illustration of what generation is.

 Generation is the act of producing offspring. Each person is a generation in their familial line.Here is an example of multiple generations. My grandmother gave birth to my mother, my mother gave birth to me, I gave birth to my daughter, and my daughter gave birth to her son. Each person represents a generation, therefore our family line that I have mentioned, equals five generations. That was simple, wasn't it. Now, on to the removal illustration.

My mother gave birth to me and my Aunt Joyce gave birth to my cousin Gerri. This makes my cousin Gerri my mother's niece, and my mother's sister is my aunt. This in turn makes my aunt's daughter, Gerri, my first cousin. That is still pretty simple, right? But when you start the removal system it seems a little more complicated though it really is not.

When you say a cousin is removed, you are actually adding a generation. It is like an oxymoron.You would think that it would be, "my first cousin once added," but it is not. Therefore, once removed is one generation, twice removed is two generations, etc It can be confusing and that is why I equate it to acid base balance. What you would think goes up, goes down. Same principle here. We aren't removing a generation where we go backward, we are actually adding one as we go forward.

Lets go back to my generational tree.We already know that my cousin, Gerri, is my first cousin. But when my cousin Gerri gave birth to Beth, Beth became my 1st cousin once removed. Now when Beth gave birth to my cousin, Jenny, she then became my 1st cousin twice removed. When Jenny gave birth to her son, he became my 1st cousin three times removed. Each time a generation has an offspring, that child will become another generation "removed." Note My Family Removal Chart.

                                             My Family Removal Chart

I have used yellow to illustrate my mother's nieces, and great nieces. I used red to illustrate the 1st cousin removal system; blue for the 2nd cousin removal system, and purple to illustrate 3rd cousins.
In review, Grandma Susie gave birth to my mom, Velva, and my aunt, Aunt Joyce. Mom gave birth to me, and Aunt Joyce gave birth to Gerri making us first cousins. I gave birth to Amy, and Gerri gave birth to Beth. This makes Beth my first cousin once removed and Amy, Gerri's first cousin once removed. Then Amy gave birth to Jordan and Beth Gave birth to Jenny. Thus this makes Jenny my first cousin twice removed, and Jordan is Gerri's first cousin twice removed.  In other words, my mother's mother's, daughter's daughter's, daughter's daughter, is my 1st cousin twice removed!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Where To Start Looking: Lesson 3

Lesson 3

Where To Start Looking...


We have found that some of the best places to get free information is from the family bible, the genealogical society of your county, and your local historian. A lot of counties have history books, of families that have lived in that particular county or region. We have found these to be very informative. One book was even of the cemeteries in the county, and one on the surrounding counties. Be careful though not all information is exactly correct. Make sure your puzzle matches. We had a great grandfather who had the same name as another man, which was unusual because they did not have a common first name. We started getting mixed up at times with families. Be very careful. All I can say is cross reference, cross reference, cross reference.

The library is another good place to look. We have had good luck there, due to the ones we have been to have a section on genealogy. Families have brought notes in, there are books on families, microfilm data, and much more. For a small fee you can get copies while you are there. Also in some libraries they have free access to where you can find and copy different documentation that you find. These are not the original but as I said, they are good for documentation purposes.

In Missouri, you can go to, which is the Secretary of State web page. There they have a Genealogist and Historian page and a research room where you have access to free resources, such as censuses, land transfers, court records, war records, death records, and much more. Some documents you may have to send for a copy at a nominal fee. It is usually well worth it.

There use to be a lot of sites that were free, now it is getting harder to get that information without paying for it, due to identity fraud. USGenWeb is a good site as is Cyndi's List. Those are still free, though Cyndi's list you sometimes have to pay fee for the document. is another site that you can go to for free information. It is put together by the Mormon church. I have not been able to find very much pertaining to my family, but there is a wealth of information on this site. is a site related to You can go there and get some information. It might want you to type in some information at the top, but that will send you to the link to sign up for a paid site. Just scroll down to the category you are looking for and click on it. Another site is Not all graves are registered here, but there are many to be found.

Before I mention the sites for a fee, I want to mention another source that is free, that you can get a lot of information from. Yet again, you have to be careful if it is accurate. It is query boards, such as the Ancestry query board and the GenForum. This will be information that people have already researched, or are trying to research. You may meet up with a family member you don't know, and tag team the assignment of research.

there are sites that you can pay a monthly, bi-annually, or annual fee to view and copy documents, like, or These are good sites.There are many other sites as well, but a word of warning, I would not take the annual fee on some of these sites, because they are not worth spending your money on. You might not know that until you have already signed up for it, and they may not give you your money back. One site I looked at showed that they had two documents of my father's birth. I decided to purchase a one month subscription, and I am glad I did that instead of the annual subscription. The document they supposedly had was not there. They had the information that I had put in already, and they were confirming it with the social security office. Then they wanted me to buy the actual copy. Other than the information I gave, I wasn't sure they would be giving me the correct record, so I chose not to buy it from them.

You can go to the court house and find information there as well, such as censuses, land transfers,  marriages, births and deaths. You are going to be going through a lot of books! You will need to ask them how to look up an item in the books. When we were new at this, we went to the court house and they said, "Here are all the books." We felt overwhelmed and didn't ask for direction. We didn't walk away with much either.


Cemeteries are good places to get information. You sometimes can find a lot of information on graves. We had ancestors who's tombstone had  not only the date, but how old they were down to the month and day, when they died. Some tombstones have wedding dates on them, children's names, and sometimes much more.
We were looking for our paternal grandparents graves so we could take pictures of the tombstones, and see if there was any data on the stones. We knew that our father had two brothers, that we thought died in infancy, but we found their graves next to our grandparents graves. We were not only able to find out their names, but were able to find the dates of their birth and death.

Word of caution though, sometimes the data on the grave marker can be wrong too. So don't forget that cross referencing.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Lesson 2

Getting To Know You

When researching your family history, a person wants to find out as much as humanly possible about their ancestor. You need as many demographics as you can find. A true genealogist will not stop with dates, names, and locales. They will want true substance to come to light in their research. Actual personalities will start to pop out giving you  a sense of connection with your ancestor.

How are you going to find this kind of information out? There are many ways. First lets go back to the interview. I gave you examples of questions to ask that will give you a list of ancestors, but now, lets look at the questions that will give you some idea who they were. Ask these questions about the person giving the information, and about other family members that have passed on. They may even know information on people that are still living too.

  1. What is your full name?
  2. Were you named after someone?
  3. Were you named after something else (example, a town)?
  4. Were you baptized as a baby?
  5. Did you attend church?
  6. Where did you go to school?
  7. What was your favorite subject in school?
  8. Who was your favorite teacher and why?
  9. Did you finish school, if not why?
  10. Who was your best friend?
  11. What was your favorite things to do as a child?
  12. What is your favorite color?
  13. What are some childhood memories?
  14. Were you shy or outgoing?
  15. What was your favorite sports and hobbies?
  16. Did you attend any summer camps?
  17. Were you poor growing up?
  18. What did your parents do for a living?
  19. Did you have any after school jobs?
  20. What were your siblings like?
  21. Did you fight a lot or were you close?
  22. Describe your house?
  23. What kind of cars did you have growing up?
  24. Can you remember all of your addresses? (by the way, I can up until the point of my stroke)
  25. Did you have any illnesses?
  26. Did your family have any major illnesses that ran in the family?
  27. Are your parents still alive?
  28. If not what happened to them?
  29. What funeral home was used?
  30. Where are they buried? 
  31. What information did you have put on their tombstone?
  32. Did you have any injuries?
  33. Were you in any clubs growing up? 
  34. What were your favorite foods?  
  35. What are your most memorable memories growing up?
  36. Did you have any special traditions at holidays?
  37. Did you go on vacation every year, if so, where?
  38. What were your boyfriend and girl friends like, and what were their names?
  39. What did you do for fun as a teenager?
  40. Did you go to college, if so where? 
  41. Were you in any clubs?
  42. What was your major and minor? 
  43. Did you stay on campus?
  44. Did you have to work or did you get scholarships, if so, where were they from?
  45. What are your fondest memories of college?
  46. Did you join the military?
  47. If so, what branch and where were you stationed?
  48. Did you get any medals?
  49. What was your rank?
  50. What did you do in the service?
  51. How many years did you serve?
  52. What was your first job?
  53. What was your vocation in life, and did you just have one?
  54. What is the most fondest memories from your work days?
  55. When and how did you meet your spouse?
  56. How long did you date?
  57. How old were you both when you met?
  58. What was it that drew you to each other?
  59. Where did you get married?
  60. Did you have a large wedding?
  61. What religion are you, if any?
  62. Were both you and your spouse the same religion?
  63. Did your spouses family approve of you?
  64. Did you have children??
  65. How many children did you have?
  66. What were they like?
  67. Did you raise them in church and were they baptized?
  68. What was their births like?
  69. Did you name them after anyone, or something?
  70. What was your most memorable times with your own family?
As you can see there are many questions you can ask to find out information. You might be looking at this list of questions and asking, "Why on earth would you need to ask all these questions, Elisa?" It is simple, really. Each of these life events has a location attached to them. Each location has a life event attached to it as well. This is what I call a life trail.

What can I find out from these questions? You have places you can go and find out more information on the ancestor you are researching, which leads you to other ancestors. Places you see up here are hospitals, schools, churches, clubs, military locations, funeral homes, cemeteries, work places and neighborhoods. When researching your relative, these are good places to go or use as evidence that they are your true ancestor. Some places will not give out information but you can still link your relative to them.

Going to the "Hood"

Here is some information we found out from the questions above. I knew what town my grandmother lived in, but I didn't know exactly what house she lived in. From questioning my mother, she was able to lead us to the street my paternal grandmother lived on. Thus we set out on the journey, an hour and half away, my mother, my brother, my grandson and I.

Now mind you, we were just going to drive by her house just to take a picture. I was new at this addiction and thought a picture was all I would get. Boy was I wrong! We did not think that anyone in the neighborhood would have known them, since my grandmother died in 1969! It had been so long since we had been there, the house didn't look exactly the same. So we were a little iffy if that was the correct house. I stopped the car, and was looking at two houses sitting side by side, trying to decide which one she lived in. I glanced around and saw a man sitting on his front porch, across the street. I knew it was a long shot, but I decided to stop and talk with him and see if by some minute possibility he knew of my family. He not only knew of them, he knew them personally!

The gentleman and his wife were newlyweds when they moved into their home several decades ago. So, they had been actual neighbors of my grandmother. They were able to tell us stories not only about my grandmother, but my great grandmother as well. They gave us information on what family members lived with her. Both he and his wife were able to share some anecdotal stories with us as well.

Then the elderly neighbor showed us which house my grandmother had lived in. not only that but he was able to tell us where our great-grandmother had lived as well, plus the church they both attended. What a gold mine of information!

He was our old pal by then, and he told us the house was vacant, and he knew the gentleman that owned the home. He called the owner on the phone and told him what we were doing, and the owner of the home came over to the house and let us in to look around! We would not have ever known this information had we not stopped and asked someone in the neighborhood.  We took pictures, got information about our family and had a nice visit with a couple we didn't even know, leaving feeling as though we had known them forever.

Any good tracker will know what signs to look for. Finding these things out will also help locate the data you need to make further confirmation that this is indeed an ancestor. Remember, the more you find out about that person, the closer you are to finding out about your true heritage. Just think, through two interviews, we were able to be led back "in time" on a stroll down memory lane at the exact locale my grandmother lived at, in "the hood."

One added note: When doing research, you sometimes find information that can be a little unsettling. You might find that there were addictions, abuse, and other information that might disturb you. I know we did. The feeling was like, "Do I really want to persue this?"

An example of this is our great Uncle Howard. He told us about how his dad abused his wife and children. He told us about the day he finally stood up to him and his mother packed his clothes and said it was time for him to leave. He was seventeen at the time. At the time of the interview he was, I believe, 84. Tears came to his eyes as he told the story. He said he would never forgive the man.

Uncle Howard was my favorite uncle, and to see him feeling the pain as he talked about his father, made my heart of love hurt for him. We had to re-evaluate what we were doing. It was so unsettling to us. We had to take a short break from searching to collect our thoughts. Did we want to find anymore bad information in our family? We were expecting to find complete greatness in every person from our past. Then we realized that everyone is human, and though we didn't want to accept the fact of dysfunction in our family, we had to come to terms with it, so we could come to terms the past, so we could continue in our quest to discover the greatness of our family tree.