Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Digging Up Roots - My Journey Into The Past: Tombstone Tuesday - Alexander McCleary

Thought this would be of interest to some folks on here.

Digging Up Roots - My Journey Into The Past: Tombstone Tuesday - Alexander McCleary

Zip Code

Understand the goings on in your families immediate surroundings. Failure to look at the events that go on and the people that live around our ancestors results in failure in breaking down the brick walls. Always research the people that live around our families. Learn everything around them they often offer clues on our own family.

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


Understanding that yesterday was yesterday when researching our family is often the key to understanding their lives. We did not always have running water or highways. Limitations in what they have often resulted in the decisions that they made. Understand the history at the time your ancestors lived.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

X Chromosone

This is one of the major identifiers when doing DNA research. Males normally have one and females have two. Understanding this can help in the study of your families DNA.

Friday, April 26, 2013


It is important when you locate a will pay attention to all the people that are listed as well as the ones that are missing. Why did certain family members get left out? Why are the people in the will mentioned and what is their relationship to the deceased? All the people should be researched.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


As we do our research it is important to verify the facts of our families. Depending on any one fact can be shaky. Always use more than one primary source to verify our research. Failure to do this can result in accurate research.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Can you make sense of the document or information that you just found? Does it help you in the understanding of your family? Often in the research of our families a certain piece of our discovery does not make sense at the time that we locate it. It is important to constantly evaluate all the information that we find. This is when we discover new facts that help us in furthering our genealogical search.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Did your family have particular tradition? Families often followed certain traditions at the holiday times that were specific to the families ethnic background. In my wife's family they had a tradition at Christmas time involving a pickle ornament on the Christmas tree. The pickle would be hidden and then the children would be brought in to find the pickle on the tree. The child that found it was awarded with a small gift. This was a tradition that was common in German families.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Welcome · Digital Public Library of America

Another source for books and a variety of other documents on the Internet.

Welcome · Digital Public Library of America

Standard of Proof

With genealogy one of the biggest drawbacks is the lack of documentation in what has gone on previously reduces the accuracy of those genealogies. Documenting your information identifies what you are basing your proof for these facts on. Here are the five things necessary to follow as the Standard of Proof. 1) Exhaustive Search- Have you checked all the available sources? 2) Have you used Source Citations to document your facts? 3) Have you Analyzed and Correlated your information? Both good and bad? 4)Have you resolved your conflicts in information? 5)Do you have a written proof conclusion for each family group? Until you have met these standard you do not have sufficient proof.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Real Estate

Did your ancestor have real estate? This was a strong indicator of being able to find a paper trail. All the other factors in their lives depended a great deal on their ability to own land. If they rented or had some other living relationship they will have a very poor paper trail. Make sure to look at census records and city directories to determine the status of your ancestors living arrangements. This will help a great deal in understanding why you may or may not be able to find information.

Friday, April 19, 2013


Don't always take the information you find for face value. Every event date should be confirmed by at least three different sources. Talking documented primary or secondary sources here. Beware the family trees you find on the internet as a result of the shaking leaf. Just because 109 people say a undocumented genealogy is correct does not make it so. I have found a genealogy recently where the parents for a individual in the 1700's from Virginia had parents that lived in Massachusetts their whole lives. The likely hood of this happening is minimal for this time period. Make certain you qualify all your facts. Don't depend on what is in print or on the internet as your one source.

Thursday, April 18, 2013


Pension records come in several different forms. The one that most genealogist think of are those associated with Military service, but have you looked for them when it involves their occupation? One of the biggest occupations was in the railroad especially for non English speaking immigrants. The US Railroad Retirement Board is located in Chicago. It is a excellent place to request the documents for ancestors that followed this occupation. Many occupations would have these types of documents.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Summer Camp

What are your kids doing this summer?

Summer Camp

Original Sources

Don't be a lazy genealogist. It is very important that you look at the original source for a particular record. People make mistakes. The more times a record has been put in some other form than the original the higher likelihood for error. Don't be satisfied with what you see on the internet. A great deal of information is wrong or left out. Example would be the witness on a death certificate. Always seek out the original.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Naming Practice

One of the things that I wished I had understood early in my genealogy search is naming practices. It was common to have the first born son and daughter named after the father and mother of the Dad. The second son and daughter were named after the wife's parents. Pay special attention to middle names. Names that sound more like last names than first names are often maiden names in future generations. Our ancestors were not creative when it came to naming us. That is why you find very common names when you are looking where our ancestors lived throughout time.

Monday, April 15, 2013


This document was the longest in duration with it being recorded. You will find this document when birth and death were not being recorded. Pay attention to the people that share the same last name. Check to see who they were being married by and when. Brothers and Sisters to your ancestors normally marry in very close range to yours. Are they being married by the same minister or justice of the peace? Did the father approve the marriage in the case of the girl? Where was the marriage conducted? All of these are important clues that lead you on different paths of research.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Where are our 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

Check this out.  Very informative.  Applies to Northwest Ohio.

Researching Newspapers - The Free Google News Archive - YouTube

Kinship Continued

More on kinship.  Making it Easy

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Home | Atlas of Historical County Boundaries Project

This is a excellent site for understanding the fluid motion of the boundries of our country.
Home | Atlas of Historical County Boundaries Project

Saturday, April 13, 2013


What relationship does the location of your ancestor in a particular point in time have with where they were prior and may have gone in their future? Does the area they live have a common name. Ex. Norwalk, Danbury, Springfield, Fairfield, etc., etc. Our ancestors were not creative when it came to new names. That is why many cities and towns exist in several different states. Have you researched the migration trail that was followed by people to get to your ancestors area? This will help you in understanding where they came from. Where did the neighbors come from? The early you go back in time the higher likely hood that your people are living around people they new in the old location. There was strength in numbers and you did not want to travel out into the wilderness with out people you could rely on in time of need. Lastly why did they move to where they did when they did? Study the history of the area not just the names of our ancestors. The more understanding of the history of a particular area the more you will understand on what influenced your ancestors.

Friday, April 12, 2013


Just because your family shares the surname with many people it does not mean they are related. Look at those people that lived close to your ancestor to determine potential relationship. A common belief among amateur genealogists is if you have the same last name you are related. Love people that are doing name studies. Lot's of work with very little fruit. Thank heavens DNA tests prove a love of this out.

Thursday, April 11, 2013


Did your ancestor serve time in jail? It did not matter if the time was short or long. Depending on the type of incarceration and the severity of the offense you be able of find information. The local police force or county records would be the place to check. Criminals have very good paper trails even though they are not the best of trails.

Wednesday, April 10, 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.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

FGS Conference News Blog: Become an FGS 2013 Ambassador

Please check this out and help spread the word.  This is happening this August in Ft. Wayne.

FGS Conference News Blog: Become an FGS 2013 Ambassador


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.

Monday, April 08, 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.

Sunday, April 07, 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.


Saturday, April 06, 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.

Friday, April 05, 2013


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.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

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.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

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 02, 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 01, 2013


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.