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 Ancestry.com. 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 www.sos.mo.gov, 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. Familysearch.com 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. Rootsweb.com is a site related to ancestry.com. 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 findagrave.com. 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 ancestry.com, or roots.com. 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.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Lesson 1

Genealogy Addiction

Hi. My name is Elisa and I am Genealogy addict. Yes, my sister (I’ll call her Glo) turned me on to it several years back. That’s right, my older sister. I didn’t realize she was addicted, but she was. She kept saying, “Try it, you will like it.” So, like every person who goes into addiction, not thinking it will happen to them,  I fell prey to the peer pressure. Her words over came me and I said, “Okay, I will try it just once. I won’t get addicted will I? I don’t want to spend all my time doing this.” But my dear sweat sister new better. My sister, Glo, knew exactly what I was in for. She knew the effects of the addiction. She had been there for years. Yet my sister looked me square in the eye and said, “No.” That is when I stepped out into the hands of genealogy addiction.

Now we two genealogy junkies go from town to town, graveyard to graveyard, library to library, and much more searching for the perfect genealogy fix. One of our greatest highs came when we found the death certificates of our two uncles. She found Uncle Laverne’s and I found Uncle Delmar’s death certificate at the same time, though we were not together. Yes we are truly Genealogy Junkies.

The World of Genealogy

The world of Genealogy opens up a lot of windows about your past. It leads you into the lives of past relatives, showing you who they were and what they were like. It takes you back to a time when your ancestors were making history. Yes, they were part of what makes America great.

 For example, my great-grandfather 9 times removed, was Mamenthouensa, also known as Chief Rounsa, of the Kaskaski (Kaskaskahamwa) Tribe. He was not just over the Kaskaski tribe, but he rose to the position of Chief over the confederation of the Illini Indians. This is something I would have never known had my sister, Glo, got me started in genealogy. 

(artist unknown)

Genealogy Addiction: It is Now Your Turn

Trust me, you will get addicted to this, and you will want to find every bit of information, every little tidbit, each and every picture that you come across. I have to warn you, you may come across information that is disturbing, but you can get past that. The rest will be worth it. Are you ready for the ride? Lets get started, shall we?

The first thing you need to do is start with living relatives. This is where you can get a lot of information to the past. You want to interview them as much as you can; using recorders and taking notes the whole time you question them. Write down stories that they remember from the past. Get as much information as you can. Each little tidbit will lead you somewhere.

Interview your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Close friends of the family are another source that might be helpful too. Just remember, document, document.

Older relatives are the best people to start with in your interviews. They can take you a long ways back, and they may remember relatives that your parents do not. They can give you information that you may have never known before. Recording comes in handy here, because the stories they can tell can mesmerize you as you listen to them tell you about the past.

Also, you need to go back and re-interview your subjects. Tell them to think about the things you have talked about, so they may possibly have more information later on. Not only that, it is nice to return for the visit and time you can have together, for the older generation may not be here long and you will miss golden opportunities with them.

When my mother was dying of cancer we took a tape recorder to her house and we taped some of our interviews. We left the recorder with her and she would add stories as she thought about them. Now that she has passed on, we have recordings that are priceless to us.

Our Mother
Velva Jean Smith nee Hedrick
August 2, 2011, circa 
b. August 2, 1933, d. February 2, 2012 

Notice the information I have given about my mother. In the entry of her name you will see the words, "nee Hedrick. Nee means her maiden name. You will want to find out your female ancestors maiden names for further branches in your familial tree. 

I also included the date the picture was taken followed by the word circa. Circa means approximately on or about. Circa is a broad span of approximately 20 years. So in this case, it would be better to say that the picture was taken around August 2, 2011, because it was indeed taken on or about this date. I was just trying to give you an example of its use. You will sometimes see the  abbreviation c., ca., circ., and cca., which mean circa. 

Note also, that before her date of birth is the letter, "b." and before her death is the letter, "d." These are the abbreviation of her birth and death. You will also see abbreviations for marriage as, m., or md. Whereas divorce has the abbreviation of div.This is a site you can go to for a short list of abbreviations: http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/genealogy-abbreviations.html. The next site I am listing is an extended version from A-Z: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~rigenweb/abbrev.html.

In closing for today, remember this. When you interview your relatives about themselves or other relatives, don't find out just when they were born or died, find out who they really were. Get a sense of what type of  person they were. Find a personality to go with the face and information you find. Get every tidbit of information you can so you can really know who your family really were.