Thursday, December 5, 2013

Derek Davey | Press Release: Curious about your families past?

Derek Davey | Press Release: Curious about your families past?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Lapeer County goings on.

Wreath Making Party for Lapeer County Veterans. Last year our chapter member Vickie Wagner placed 300 wreaths on Lapeer County Veterans graves. Each wreath is hand made with love, has 3 pine cones, a bow and an American flag. We then put the wreath on an easel. Last year Vickie went every week to the cemeteries to make sure the wreaths were not blown down or needing a little sprucing up. This year we would like to hit 400 wreaths placed. She needs some manpower to make sure we can hit that goal.

Thursday, Nov 21, 2013
Starting at 10am until 4pm
Everyone can come and go as they please.
4587 Lippincott
Lapeer, MI

Please dress accordingly. We will be inside a toolshed. There will be heat, but it still will be chilly. You may get dirty so don't wear your good coat. What to bring, gloves, the little $1.00 stretchy ones work great. They are tight fitting and you can throw them away once you are done. Wire cutters, snips to cut greens with.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Vintage Aerial Photos- 1950's to the 1990's

Great new website to check out with some awesome farm photos.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

2nd Annual Lapeer County Genealogical Society Workshop

Lapeer Co Genealogical Society is having their Second annual Genealogy Day in Lapeer MI Oct 5, 2013 from 9am till 4pm. Variety of topics to be covered. Featured speaker is Derek S. Davey.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Using YouTube to do your Genealogy

In researching my family for over thirty years I have learned that you never learn all you can in researching your family. Often times the key to resolving a problem in your genealogy is learn from others that have experienced the same problem. With the creation of the Internet you can gain free access to thousands of web presentations on a variety of subjects related to genealogy. One of the best out there is the website YouTube.

The website is very easy to get to because its name is the link to the website. Once you get to the website you need to decide what you are going to look for or learn about. Your first search could be the word Genealogy. When I did my search there are over 106,000 videos. In our situation let’s narrow it down a little smaller by subject. Now let’s try Genealogy Ohio. This brings us down to 1,930 videos. All having some mention of the state of Ohio and doing genealogy.

Unfortunately when you go to Genealogy Ohio Lucas you start to get things that do not relate to genealogy at all, but to the county Lucas. From what I can see there is no way to get the correct results when doing this search.

When you select a video you want to use just click on the box. My suggestion is watching it on the site rather than download it. Depending on the speed of your internet connect it could take a while to download. Now when you click on the video it takes you to the actual page where the video is located. Take some time to familiarize yourself with the page. Where the video is there is a small arrow that is pointing to the left. You can start the video here but you can stop and start it by clicking on the video itself. There is a speaker icon to adjust the sound of the video. The next item is the running time of the video. It can vary from seconds to hours. Time is based on subject and video.

You can also save the video for later viewing. This can be done by clicking on the clock. The next icon of importance is the square that appears as an open box. You can enlarge the video by clicking on this icon and the video will go to full screen. This can be reduced by just clicking on the screen.

The last thing is the button that slides from left to right and shows the running time of the video. You can point pointer on what looks like a button and move it from left to right. At anytime you can change to point you are watching in the video. This is excellent when you have missed a point and need to do review.

The wonderful thing is you can watch almost any aspect of genealogy research. Some of the topics covered are Brick walls, naturalization, military and vital records. The videos are almost endless and it is constantly being updated.

Remember YouTube is free. Learning is important in genealogy. As always remember to have fun. The worst that could happen is you learn something new. We all know that is important.

Questions please contact me a

This is going to be published in a upcoming Newsletter for the Lucas County chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Second Quick Guide on Probate

Having trouble with understanding probate records? This will help.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Quit my 9 to 5 job to become a Professional Genealogist

Ended my career as an Industrial Sales Manager. Moving into the genealogy world full time. Going to be completing clients research,tours speaking and writing. Would love to work with you if I can or anyone that you are able to refer to me. Thank you in advanced and you will see my blog frequency and quality increasing as well.

Monday, June 3, 2013

G.A.R. building under renovation | The Detroit News

This is an awesome building that I ma glad to see it being preserved.

G.A.R. building under renovation | The Detroit News

Friday, May 24, 2013

Save the Date

Put on by the Western Michigan Genealogy group.

Save the Date

Monday, May 6, 2013


When traveling to the cemetery or better yet it is important to determine if the cemetery has interment information. In urban locations where the cemetery may be very large this will be located in the office or maintenance shed of the cemetery. Rural locations are a little trickier, but the records are often kept with a township trustee or a sexton. It is the common practice of cemeteries to keep these records. Often our ancestors are buried in a particular cemetery, but were unable to afford a stone. Checking the interment records is the best way to find their information.

Saturday, May 4, 2013


Paying attention to the hospitals are relatives got there care in plays a important way to understand our families. Hospitals became more popular in the latter half of the 19th century. Many medical events in our ancestors lives occurred outside hospitals. As medical care improved the hospitals became the place to go. Many hospitals are releasing older records for the public to review. Documentation of relationship will be necessary for review. Another item to look at is the affiliation of the hospital. Church, city, etc. This is a modern feature of research.

Friday, May 3, 2013


The search for guardianship in probate records is often a overlooked resource for your genealogical search. If the male died with minor children still in the household still under the age of 18 in most cases their will be guardianship records. Understand there is normally not a tie in between the distribution of the estate and guardianship in probate. These records were done very early in our countries history. The courts would check in on the children once a year so the file can be very large. In the event the children were moved for care in the other county you will have a link and it will be important to review the records in both locations. These records are kept in probate at the county level.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Funeral Directors

With the popularity of genealogy the funeral home directors are allowing more access to their decades of records. The information that they kept proves very valuable to the research of our relatives. Understanding the history of the funeral home and it's potential connection to a ethnic group is the first step. This will offer you clues to your families origins. The information that is provided on the card is often provided with a clearer head than a death certificate. I have seen numerous situations when the two documents vary a great deal in accuracy. If two different people are the informants it provides you a cross check.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Welcome to the Grosse Pointe Public Library

Check this out.

Welcome to the Grosse Pointe Public Library


Make sure when you are doing your research you keep track of both the good and bad evidence. In many cases what we may think is bad evidence at the time turns out to be very helpful as we complete more research. When meeting the standards of the Genealogical Proof Standard it is important to explain out all the evidence in your Proof argument. Not including the bad information does you a great disservice and will not help prove your case.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Detroit’s Historic Places of Worship — Southfield Public Library

Excellent talk tomorrow.  

Detroit’s Historic Places of Worship — Southfield Public Library

Death Records

Death records are by far the least reliable vital record that you will find on your ancestor. Why you say, because the person that has the most accurate information is dead. Beware of everything that is listed on this document. The records itself is only as reliable as the informant that is on the document. Make sure you understand the relationship between the deceased and the informant. This will help you understand the inaccuracies in the document.

Monday, April 29, 2013

NGS Family History Conference: Getting Around in Las Vegas

Are you going?

NGS Family History Conference: Getting Around in Las Vegas

Census Records

Census records in the United States were kept from 1790 to 1940 for current viewing. The accuracy can vary with these documents and should only be used as a guide. Be sure to use the 10 up and 10 down rule when searching the census records. Here you will be able to identify potential relatives that lived in the neighborhood. Finding brother and sisters in the area are high probability. Locating the grandmother living with another family where the women is the daughter or sister of your ancestor. Don't forget to use agricultural, mortality and state census records to complement your search.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Birth certificates as a general rule are very good for identifying key information on a individual. The information was recorded shortly time of the event which improves accuracy. You are able to determine parentage except in instances when a child is born out of wedlock. You get the date they were born, full name if determined and you will be identify if they were born in a hospital. Targets our ancestors at a particular location at a specific time. Pre 1867 in most states they do not exist. This proves to be a challenge in our search.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Welcome · Digital Public Library of America

Another source for books and a variety of documents.

Welcome · Digital Public Library of America


Our ancestors left identifiable paper trails if they have money. If they don't the trail is hard. Make sure to check things like census records (Did they rent?), land and Probate. People with out assets did not own land and have anything to distribute when they died. The buying and selling of land was a way to create wealth. If you ancestor was not participating in this activity they lacked assets. Identifying the paper trail of the collateral lines will help you with understanding your own ancestor.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Where are your ancestors buried?

A common interest is to locate and visit the grave of our ancestors. Similar to a scavenger hunt if you do not use the proper tools to locate them it will be a daunting task.

When attempting to locate our relatives final resting place in a rural setting it is important first to do a little searching for land records and a death certificate. The land records will help you in locating a local cemetery to where your ancestors lived at the time of death. In most cases people would be buried close to there last home or in a place where other relatives are already buried. You will find many generations of a family often in the cemetery. Most of these rural cemeteries can be located identifying on a current map like on Google and identifying cemeteries that would be candidates in the neighborhood.

Prior to 1860 though it can be a challenge, because many people are buried in the backyard. In my own family everyone from one family is buried in the sheep field that is right along the Blanchard River. It is a beautiful spot, but it really took some looking to find it. Identifying the location of the family through land records helped identify the farm that was the best candidate for it's location. It was not identified on any maps. Over thirty people were buried there. Make sure to first locate the most likely location and talk to the locals.

Another place for rural cemeteries to check it with the township office. Here one of the members of the township board or what they call a sexton will have a list of the cemeteries in their area. Make certain to see if they have interment records as well. These provide excellent information on where people are buried and specific information that may not be reflected on the stone. It is also a great way to locate folks were stones may have been damaged or destroyed.

Urban cemeteries are a completely different search all together. The key identifier here is what it says on the death certificate. Look for the information where it says the body was located. I had a instance where I could not locate a individual in the city and found out that the body was transported to a cemetery that was almost sixty miles away.

Once you have found the cemetery office to locate where the grave is actually located. If you go out looking for it with out this step it will be like locating a needle in a haystack. Most staff are very helpful. Knowing the religion of the deceased is will also help you in identifying the correct cemetery. Pay attention to the workers in the cemetery, because they often can help reduce your hunt.

A recent addition to the cemetery hunt is the website Find A Grave. Although it often does not list everyone sometimes you get lucky. Many cemetery censuses are located on line or in the local library to where your ancestors lived. Make certain to check those out. The local funeral homes will also be of great help. Good luck in your hunt.

Researching Newspapers - The Free Google News Archive - YouTube

Helpful thoughts on doing newspaper research on Google.

Researching Newspapers - The Free Google News Archive - YouTube

Home | Atlas of Historical County Boundaries Project

This is a wonderful site for understanding the movment of our boundries over historic time.

Home | Atlas of Historical County Boundaries Project

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Our History has been effected by many Natural Disasters

Recently a friend of mine made me aware of a new website together dealing with the Floods that occurred in the Midwest in the spring of 1913. This story struck home for me, because my own family was effected by this storm.

Back in 1913 my Great Great Grandfather George Dangler lived along the Blanchard River in Ohio. He was a Civil War veteran and was in his eighties at the time of the flood. Living by himself had not been a problem up until this time. He was reluctant to move into a modern house for the time period so he stuck it out in a log cabin. It was spring time in Northwest Ohio and they were in for a nasty storm. They lived in a rural part of Putnam County. The rain had been going for several days and the river finally crested. It started to invade the log cabin George was living in. As it rained several more days the water became much higher. Several days after the water was starting to go down family members came to see what was going on with poor George. Luckily he had managed to crawl up into the rafters of the cabin. He was found straddling one of the log beams. At eighty years of age it was a big feat. Other than being hungry and cold he would go on to live several more years.

The website shows pictures for the time period shortly after the flood had occurred. The interesting add on to it is the accompanying picture taken off of Google Streetview. This is a fine example of the old meeting with the new. Makes us realize that many of the places we travel today have been struck by history for many years prior to our travels.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Southeastern Michigan Newspapers

Here is a site that has primarily Ann Arbor area newspaper.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Are you making assumptions based on a 21st century perspective?

Often times when we are looking back on our ancestors we are looking at the from a 21st century perspective. It is important to do a little research into the events going on the area they live as well as the social norms for the time period that would effect their decision making. The more understanding of the outside things in their lives the better we will understand why they made the decisions they did.

A common element of our ancestor's lives that is hard to understand is travel. Due to limitations of what they were using to travel common migration patterns were created. In our early history the use of wagons and beasts of burden slowed the travel. Restrictions occurred on what routes you were able to take. They did not have planes, trains or automobiles. Traveling with use of waterways and Indian trails were common.

If you look at the migration out of New England they followed very set routes. Ironically all old Indian Trails that brought them into the interior. You did not travel off the beaten path. Cities would pop along these trails. That is why you find ancestors living in similar places as they moved west. In the early stages of the migration it would take months to get to Ohio or Michigan. With the development of the Erie Canal you were down to weeks. Ship and train travel were soon to follow. The ease of travel to the interior got a whole lot easier and affordable.

People also traveled with other people then new. You did not travel alone due to the high amount of risk. They traveled with family members and other people that lived in the community.

Another item that causes limits with the travel issue is the ability to file vital records. If your ancestor lived in a rural setting the ability to travel into the county seat may takes days. What we think of today as a twenty minute drive often took our ancestors a day. Time was precious then and they tended to use their time in different ways.

Understand the limits of their culture. Do some work to understand it through some study. You will be amazed at the light you will gain into your ancestors lives through a better understanding.

What do you know about the neighbors?

This has been a topic that I have written before, but I feel it is well worth repeating. One of the things that has helped me the most when breaking down a brick wall is discovering the story of the people that lived around my ancestors. It does not matter if they are in a rural or urban setting.

For those ancestors living in a rural setting it is important to look at the people that are living around them. Due to the low population in those types of settings you had to make real sure to be friendly with your neighbors. There were a variety of threats in the surrounding area that you would have to depend on those around you. This could vary from a simple barn or house raising, food, wild animals, weather, fire, or Indian threat. You had strength in numbers. It is always wise to plot out the properties around your ancestors to see who the other people were. See where they came from. Always good to figure out the migration trail of those that lived around them. People did not tend to move to a particular area without having some previous knowledge that would draw them to a particular area.

Pay special attention to who your ancestors bought there first land from in a particular area. What was their relationship? Often was the person sent out from the old place to check out the land and make the purchase. Knowing as much as you can about them will help you with your own search.

Now as time went by into the latter half of the 19th century there would be a influx of people into urban settings. The opportunities for jobs was higher and life was much steadier. This applied not only to people that had lived in the country for a while, but also to new immigrants to the country. Vast majority of people that lived in urban type settings rented their homes. City directories become a valuable tool for the Urban researcher. Pay attention to who the neighbors were. Was your family living in a ethnic neighborhood? Where was the local church? Who did they work for? All of these again will shed light on your families past.

As always I look forward to your thoughts. Don't get caught in the trap of wearing blinders. You can find solutions to your brick walls. You just need to expand your investigation.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Are you sure they were not using nicknames?

A interesting item that I have come across was the person identified by the name that they were actually born with or are they going by a nickname. This has been glaringly apparent when I have not been able to locate a paper trail on the person in records at all. Here are a few examples of what I am talking about.

My wife's grandfather's name was Cervanus. Now as if that name would not be easy enough to find due to the minimal amount of people that would use that name to find a child. They used this name on both his birth and marriage certificate, but after that time frame the trail runs cold. Understand he had full contact with him family after this time, but I was unable to locate the death certificate. After several attempts and some bad assumptions on my part I finally went to my wife's grandmother to have help me clear things up. First thing was that he did not die in the town I thought he had. He was still of working age, but his job had caused him to work during the week at a plant outside of the town. At weeks end he would come home for two days. He died during the week. I explained to her my problem with finding his death certificate. She said one of the issues was that at work they called him Bill. Huh? With this new found information I went to look in he records where she told me he worked in Michigan. Boom there he was. Ironically his name on the death certificate was not Cervanus, but Bill. Why you ask, because that is what the people he worked with new him by and that is what they told the authorities. Mystery solved.

Second mystery in my family was my own grandmother. The name I knew her by was Grandma Cleota. At family gatherings I would ask questions about her since she had died way before I was even born. Family members would look at me funny when I said this. One of her sisters finally said to me you mean "Babe".Well ever being the curious one I said please tell me that story. Well it seams her parents (My Great Grandparents) could not decide on a name for her so until they came to a decision they just called her temporarily "Babe". Guess what temporary in my family was for five years. Shortly after she was born they had taken a census and she was listed as "Babe". New I had the right family group, but no Cleota. Finally they came up with the name Cleota, but for the rest of her life she preferred to be called "Babe". That is how her family new her.

The final one I was helping one of my students do research during one of our field trips. When he had made up her research plan we felt very confident that we were going to find information on this individual. His name was Stanislaw and he was a Polish immigrant. We were able to find him up till the time he came to America. His name was spelled wrong on the passenger list. From the year of his immigration until the early 1920's we were able to find his name seven times spelled seven different ways. We were able to determine it was him by those living around him. Then finally in the early 1920's he changed his name to Stan. Prior to this time we never saw it spelled this way, but after the change it never varied. Always Stan.

Pay attention to the nicknames. Make certain to write them down. Simple things like Mike for Micheal or Lisa for Elizabeth. It is often the simple things that prevent us from moving on to the next step in our families.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Are you to focused on the Paternal side of the line?

While doing research we often get way to focused on the Male (Paternal) side of the line. Little do we realize that that the Female (Maternal) side of the line has just as much influence on your research. Doing research on the Female line though provides a different set of challenges than the males side.

The first one and probably the hardest one is determining what the maiden name is for our female. Can't tell you how many genealogies I have looked at including my own that only have the first name for the female. There are several steps that you can take to locating this elusive name.

1. Marriage Record- This document is the first one that connects the female to the male. Locating this document will help identify her maiden name. Now this is not much to go on if her name is Mary Smith. So we need to locate more clues. One trick is to identify who conducts the service for your couple. Using her maiden name look at other people being married by the same person within a plus or minus ten year period from the couples wedding date. Brothers and Sisters are born close in range and this will give you a whole new set of people to research to find if there is a connection to your female.

2. Middle Names- Pay attention to the names used for middle names for the children of your couple. It was a very common naming practice among many different ethnic backgrounds to use maiden names for middle names. In my own family for several generations the middle name that at least one of the children had was the name Burr. This name was one that did not make sense as a first name, but seemed to more likely to be a last name. Sure enough with further research on the Paternal side of the family I was able to locate that one of the women's maiden name was Burr.

3. Naming Practices- A common way of naming children was to name the First son and daughter after the parents of the husband. The second son and daughter would be named after the wife's parents. This was way more common than I first gave credit to when researching my own family. I look back at all the time that I would have saved if I had thought of this rule. Using this system hopefully you will be able to reduce the pool of people living in a particular area down by the children's names.

4. Timeline- Another method that I have used is using a timeline to include all the events that have occurred in the females life. Start with her birth. Make sure to include the dates, event and location. This will help you when trying to determine what new records can be consulted and making certain that you are able to look in the geographic location that the event occurred. The irony in genealogy is that the nugget of information you seek is always in the last document you search.

5. Children's death certificate- Here you will be able to find a fairly reliable source for the surname of the person's mother. Understand that this does not start until after 1867 in most areas and the information itself is only as reliable as the person giving it.

Remember it was very common for the Husband to travel with the wife's family. Don't stay focused on his surname. Find that marriage certificate. It was by far the most common document recorded. They were kept much earlier than birth and death records. Look at who is living around your family. Marriage occurred in a very small pond. Travel was very limiting the further you go back.

Please check out my post on Elusive Maiden Names for more suggestions on this research challenge.

Monday, March 4, 2013

FGS Registration has opened up.

Time to sign up for this great event. Hope to see you there.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Where did the money go?

People that had assets in the form of money or land were people that went through Probate. Our relatives were concerned with the distribution of their worldly goods at the time of death. Locating Probate documents is a important item to locate when doing research on our families.

Writing a will was a very common document that was done by our relatives. These documents or lack of them can provide critical clues in our genealogical research. In cases prior to the 1860's in most place this might provide the only approximate date of death for our relatives. If your relative owned his own land they normally took steps to indicate how they wanted it distributed at the time of their death. Make sure you know who all the names are in the text of the will.

Another important issue as well is to understand if anyone has been left out. Then try to locate clues of why they were left out. An example of this would be a spouse. The further you go back the less likely it is that a women would have a will. A strong identifier in the man's will is if he mentions the wife. If she is not mentioned why? Was the names the one you expected to find in the will?

Many ancestors died at an early age without a will. If there were minor children (Under 18) in the family you need to check for guardianship. This was normally conducted in most areas going way back into the 1600's. This was only done when the man died first. Again the beliefs of the time played an important factor in this document and the relationship to the women. The courts were very concerned that the children were going to be taken care of after the death of the father.

As in all things in genealogy understanding the meaning and purpose of documents is critical. Understanding the money situation if families helps us better understand their relationships. The lack of money also explains the minimal paper trail and even how they were buried. It is critical to understand what was going on so that you can identify new avenues to continue your research.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Checking out the neighbors

The farther back in history you go when tracing your family the higher chance occurs to having some kind of relationship with the neighbors. An excellent step when doing your research is to identify who the neighbors were to our families. Identifying where they came from and discovering if there is a family relationship is an excellent way to break down brick walls.

Families lived next to people they knew. They traveled with people they knew. Doing research on the people around our families can provide valuable clues to the origins of our relatives. We run into numerous instances where the paper trail runs cold on our relatives for a variety of reasons. Identifying who the neighbors were is the first step in this process to breaking down that brick wall. Take a look at when the neighbors arrived in the area. Did they come when my family did? Who did they buy their land from? What is their families history? All of the answers will provide clues on avenues to continue research on our families.

The migration patterns of our family members closely paralleled the travels of their neighbors. In my own family I have found that the same families have lived next to each other in a variety of locations for multiple generations. I have also identified family relationships that existed prior to when they became neighbors.

On my Mom's side of the family one of the family groups started in Lancaster Co., Pa and them moved to Washington Co., MD. Families moved from one location to the next and I have identified them as neighbors back in PA. Early in the 1800's the family then moved to Columbiana Co., Ohio for a very short period of time and then finally located in Putnam Co., Ohio. At every step of the migration trail I have taken a look at the families that were their neighbors. In all four stops they had people around them that had come from places that they had previously lived. It helped paint a clear picture of why the family lived and located where they did.

Don't always suffer from tunnel division by keeping our focus only on our families. Be sure to look at those that lived in the neighborhood. Neighbors often provide valuable clues on our own families origins that we were not aware of when looking at only our family.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Did they understand what they were saying?

A common myth among genealogist is the belief that their name was changed by the immigration officers on purpose. The important thing to understand is the immigration officer and the rest of the people they came in contact with did not speak their language. English was not the common form of communication for immigrants.

The heavy accents from immigrants both English speaking and non resulted in many errors in spelling. What the English ear heard from the person speaking would play a major part in how the name was spelled. Even today people are terrible listeners. It takes a great deal of skill and practice to be able to write down what you hear correctly. When a person was speaking a foreign language or one with a heavy accent the challenge became extreme.

Compound that with the fact that the majority of people did not know how to read. So when the clerk wrote their name down like they thought it was spelled our ancestors were unable to read it. Our ancestors lacked the ability to say if it was right or wrong.

In my own searches I was doing working on a Polish immigrant and had difficulty in finding a paper trail on him. I knew he had lived in the same place for a extended period of time once he came to the United States, but was unable to locate any information. I started to do name variant searches along with some wild card searches. These resulted in me finding his first name being spelled seven different ways. Finally he ended up shortening his name and Americanizing it. After that point he was easy to find.

When you know a person lived in the same place for a extended period of time, but you can not find them look for variations in name spellings. Look for the English version of the name. Identify shortened variations or even the use of nicknames. Analyzing why this person is missing is critical in getting back on the paper trail.

Just a not I am unable to respond to your questions directly on the Blog. Please email me directly at Happy Hunting!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Those people are crazy!

It comes as a surprise when we find our ancestors making unusual decisions in their lives or finding them in institutional care. Understanding the context of these events will help us again with identifying clues to our families histories and their inter relationships.

People have been different since the beginning of time. Were our relatives like their neighbors? Did they move or relocate, because they did not get along? Taking a look at the land records and mounds of litigation that often occur can offer interesting clues on our family. Normal litigation between people is not a tool often used by the average genealogist. It offers excellent information on our families. In the east coast locations where our ancestors lived they were constantly fighting over land borders. Property was often identified with physical landmarks as markers of the border. Guess what rocks moved and trees fall down. The motto of loving thy neighbor as thyself did not often apply.

One of the large factors in the urban settings where our families started to live in the 19th and early 20th centuries put us much closer to our neighbors. This brought on whole different list of issues with our families and their neighbors. Did they get along? I hate the smell of her cooking? Did your family move a lot? From the census you can identify if your family rented or owned their property. Was the reason that they moved, because they could not pay the rent? This was a common among est immigrant families that had spent everything they had to get here. It often came down to not like the neighbors or them not liking us.

The possibility does arise that you will find a relative that is located in a institution. They are often in and out a lot. Understand people were institutionalized for a variety of reasons. They did not get along with their spouse, drinker or unable to hold a job to name a few. The instances of the person having a mental problem was not as likely as we might think.

Look at the circumstances and the people around our relatives. Understand the human interactions. If we really work to understand the influences will help us better understand to look for new information.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Do you get a headache while doing your genealogy?

The most common practice when attempting to resolve a brick wall is not using the proper tool. Knowing the proper tool to resolve your genealogy problem is key to solving your genealogy mysteries.

I am convinced as you do your genealogy that the answer is out there. Look at your problem in several directions. What have you done to resolve the issue in the past? What sources are available that you have not found that would help you? A common belief is if it does not exist on the Internet it's not out there. Don't get me wrong there are many excellent sources on the Internet for research, but it is by no means all of them. Let site some examples.

Alright a common one is your are looking for a birth record. You have looked all over the Internet, but have not been able to locate it. First step is to decide if it does exist. Majority of states in the US did not start keeping track of records of birth until the latter half of the 19th century. They really did not start being kept well until the twentieth century when more importance was put on keeping track. Prior to 1867 they were kept hit and miss. It really depended on what part of the country.

So you can't find that birth record, but where do I look? The first place to look is at offline sources that are in the locations where our ancestors lived. Start by working backwards. Look for the individuals death certificate. These records were kept very well and will record the date of birth of the individual. Understand it is only as good as the informant. In most cases we are going to have to validate the information in more than one source. A place that is becoming more common to find information is at the funeral home and the interment cards at the cemetery. These offer validation of the birth date. We need to find more.

Moving back towards the time of the birth event the next source is the marriage certificate. Here you will find the list of the year of birth. It became common in the latter half of the 19th century and into the twentieth century for more information to be provided. Another place is the children's birth certificates where it became common to list Mom and Dad's age at the time of birth.

Combining the first three searches with a census records search helps in making sure you are on the correct track. Proceed with caution, because a lot of inaccuracies can occur with the recording of dates, names, locations and ages listed in census records. Try to look as many census records as possible. Work from their last year of record to their first recording. In the years after 1900 you get the month included as well. Again be cautious though. Recently I did a search for a client and the individual we were looking for aged three years in ten years. Now that's a trick.

Finally take a look at the church where they attended. All denominations kept track of these records, but the quality and consistency may vary. They are worth looking for.

Remember their is more than one way to look for what you are looking for when it comes to resolving your brick walls. Not all of them can be resolved in the same way and often times the answer is in records that we did not even think of using. It is very important why you are on your genealogy journey to keep adding tools to your box. Most importantly take a look at them all and make sure that you use the correct ones to get the job done.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Jobs- Where did our ancestors work?

One of the important items to pay attention to when doing research is where did your ancestors work. Did they stay current with their job? Did the job allow them to be mobile? Did other family members work in the same types of jobs?

Depending on where your ancestors were located has a large factor in their employment. The earlier you trace your family back the higher likely hood that they would have lived in a rural type setting. This would mean a completely different type of job than in the city. The majority of people would have been listed as farmers, but there were teachers, blacksmiths, doctors, preachers, and leather workers as well. Did your family participate in the same types of jobs for generations? Were they independent or did they work for others? All play important factors in understanding the decision making of our ancestors.

As we moved closer to the twentieth century and the world became a more industrialized place people moved to Urban settings. The pay was higher and the quality of life often improved. Resources were close at hand and people lived in neighborhoods. Higher likely hood of living in building with lot's of people. Way more contact with neighbors, because they were all around you. Immigrants tended to work in jobs where they did not have to speak in English and they were paid for their muscle. Was a much higher instance of people living in Ethnic neighborhoods. Was your ancestor keeping up with a current job? Did the women in the family work as well? Were they able to advance in status as time went by?

Looking at what our ancestors did for a living and where they lived provide excellent sources for further research. Work records, city directories, church,and school. Identifying occupations of your ancestors helps differentiate them from others that may share the same name. Fathers often taught sons their skills.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Even our ancestors made mistakes

Researching our ancestors with the belief that they did not make mistakes often leads us on wild goose chases in our research. Understand that people all made decisions that effected their lives both in the time period, but also for generations to come. Discovering and understanding these decisions helps us in getting more insight into our ancestors lives.

One of the first major events in a persons life is getting married. Looking at the area they lived in and understanding why they married is important in understanding your family. Where did they meet? What were some of the reasons they did get married? Did they live close? Where did their paths cross? In my own research I had families that lived in the same area for hundreds of years. It was rural Ohio and the pool of marriage candidates was small. For this reason family lines crossed several times in multiple generations. They were neighbors. Attended the same schools and church. They lived and worked together in their community. It is fascinating to look at all the various families properties and where lived in comparison to each other throughout the years. Amazed at how many folks lived right next door.

Another event in a persons life would be their job. Where did they work and what did they do? Did they switch jobs a great deal? Did they sometimes not have a job? Were they located in a urban or rural setting? Do some research on their occupations. Understand the history in the nation at the time and what effected their job decisions. My family had a history of being farmers, but in the latter half of the 19th century things changed. The family moved to the city. Previously the family had a history of being millers. When they moved to the city they worked in quarries, electric car company and eventually a gas driven car company. They lived in a neighborhood of primarily blue collar workers. They attended church and public schools. My great grandfather married a city girl. Where they met I still do not know. One of the mysteries in my family history.

Pay attention to the events in our families lives. They made decisions both good and bad just like we do. What caused them to make the decisions they did? Does it offer clues to our family and genealogy history? What were the influences? My great grandfather made decisions in his life that still effect my family today.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Information is incorrect

A concern of mine with genealogist is that they are not taking the necessary steps to verify the information they find on their family members. Have you checked all the sources that are available. This is a big reason for the creation of the Genealogical Proof Standard that every one is so interested in learning about. The GPS was set up to establish guidelines to properly verify ones genealogy. Failure to source your genealogy causes it to be a great book of fiction.

There are five rules to the GPS. The fist is completing an exhaustive search. This means checking all the records available. Not just the easy ones. The ideal is to locate three different sources that validate each fact. Depending on just a few sources does not make it correct. Understanding the difference between a primary and secondary source is key. You want to see the original source as much as possible. Don't accept a transcription as proof. Seek out the original document. Do not trust anything!

Make sure to source all in the information. Genealogist as a whole tend to be a little on the lazy side. Failure to identify where you got your information will only result in confusion when collaborating with fellow genealogist and those in the future. Identifying where you got your information helps people understand why you made the conclusions you did. If you do not paint a clear picture of your research things will be fuzzy for others.

Once you have identified some information make sure to analyse it and correlate it. Include all information discovered both good and bad. What does all the information mean? Genealogist tend to fall into the trap of using wood working tools when trying to put that square peg in a round hole. The negative information often is the correct information when weighed with the body of evidence. Don't jump to assumptions. Let the facts and good research lead the way.

Once you feel you have a good picture analyze what the conflicts you have. This is a very important step in validating your genealogy. This step results in saying yes I got everything or no I need to do more research. If you feel you have it all pulled together and it's correct you can go to the final step. If you have holes in the information you need to determine what the next step is going to be. Do I have to do more research? What records have I yet to find and are they available? With the internet today records are being made at a rapid pace. Have you checked them all? Sometimes you need to put a project on the back burner until you find more information.

The last step is to write out a proof conclusion. This is where you are explaining out why the information you have found has led you to this step. Often we are not always able to come to this step. New information is always coming out, but based on what you have found make the best conclusion you can. Make sure to include the good and the bad. Explain why it is good or bad. Write it down on paper or on your computer. Read it and make it makes sense to you. Share it with other genealogist and even those that are not. Does it make sense to them.

Remember these five steps and you will be doing excellent genealogy. It helps put the pieces of the puzzle together correctly and helps identify other pieces that may fit better. Genealogy that is not sourced is just a really great piece of fiction. Your family is not fiction they were and are real!