CONTACT CURRENT PLOT OWNER I was recently in Ohio for a funeral. While there, I was checking the cemetery records in the office, when I came across a name that had not been there on an earlier trip. It turned out to be the name and address of the current owner of the lot where my husband's great-grandfather was buried. She was the daughter of my husband's great-uncle and when I contacted her she was able to provide information on other family members. This woman was born in 1913 so she had a great deal of personal knowledge about the family.
The Schuylkill Co. marriage volumes include even "unused" applications (the couple didn't marry).
This could help some of us. Perhaps you know that a certain relative didn't marry; however, you don't know where he/she was born (or some other bit of info). But, maybe that person was engaged, and filed an application!
Note that applications are (and always have been) good for 6 months.
MikeSearching for the Schuylkill Birth Certificate?:Schuylkill Co. kept birth and death records from 1893 - 1905. (Perhaps other counties did this?) They also have delayed birth records for 1860 - 1905 and 1945 - 56. Since 1906, the state has them. If this person was Christian, you'd have to go to the church for a baptism. I don't know what other religions have.
"CREATING A 'SIGNIFICANT EVENTS' TIMELINE, PART I" by Juliana Smith
Those of you who are familiar with my columns are aware that chronologies, or timelines, are one of my favorite tools for assembling information on my ancestors. The articles I've written on the subject typically generate quite a bit of mail, so this week, I would like to share a new project I have been working on, which is an extension of the timelines I am used to working on.
I have created chronologies for each of my ancestral families following a simple format in a word processing document, which allows for a lot of flexibility and is fairly simple to compile. For those of you who aren't familiar with timelines, I put together a "step-by-step" article for creating a personal or family timeline at: http://www.ancestry.com/rd/prodredir.asp?sourceid=1644&key=A652901
Using the timeline, I can look at where my ancestor was in a particular place and time, and where gaps exist in my research. When we have these gaps, we obviously want to fill them in, and one way to do this is to take a look at the times and places in which our ancestors lived. Local, national, and even world events may have had a major impact on their lives, just as they do on ours today.
Comparing our families' personal timelines with historical timelines can bring important insights into the decisions they made and can really add interest to our family story. So in this week and next week's "Family History Compass" column, we're going to talk a little about compiling, for lack of a better term, a "significant events" timeline.TIPS FROM READERS. Nameless Faces: Thanks to: Dale Harman email@example.com of Cobourg, Ontario, Canada
I have come across many people who have old photographs but no information about them. The pictures should be treasures, but have little value unless the people in them are identified.
Here is what I always suggest:
Often old family photographs are divided up between children and grandchildren. Some other relative might have a similar photograph that is labelled or may recognize someone in one of your photographs. Follow up with a phone call. When you talk to someone they can tell you what photograph number they are looking at.
If you offer copies of the original photographs for a reasonable cost or free you are more likely to get a positive response. You may be offering a treasure to someone else and in return be gaining a treasure yourself
ENJOY THE VIEW If and when you are at a cemetery, take a minute to survey the location. Often, the old cemeteries have lovely locations, sometimes on the side of a hill, and you can see for a distance; or a few graves will be placed under some large trees, with the river down below. I have enjoyed walking in cemeteries in both the Northwest and the Midwest. Elsie Wilson Oregon
One of the most difficult concepts about genealogical research for many to grasp and accept is that when you are citing sources you should use YOUR sources -- not your cousins' and not mine. If you obtain some information from my material posted at WorldConnect, for example, then I am your source of that information. Always cite the source that you actually used, not the one that someone told about or the one someone else makes a reference to. If Cousin Jack tells you that he obtained your mutual grandfather's birth information from a census, then your cousin is your source for that information. However, if you examine the census yourself, then it is your source and not Cousin Jack.
PHOTOGRAPH CEMETERY LANDMARKS When I go a cemetery, I not only take photos of tombstones, I also take photos of the church and, if available, photos of pillars or archways that lead into the cemetery. This not only is a landmark for me on my sojourns on tombstone searches, but there may also be information inscribed on a plaque in front of, or on the church, or on the pillars or archways at the entrance. There may be a monument within the cemetery itself with valuable information on it. As for me, I really enjoy looking for evidence of my ancestor's existence and as much information that I can collect when I am in my "in search of mode," for my unknown ancestors.
Laura LaRose, Boswell, PA
USE ARCHIVAL PRODUCTS FOR LABELING: I, too, used to label the photos of gravestones to identify not only the cemetery with city and state, but also the relationship to the common ancestor of the individual and myself. After having done many this way, I learned that adhesive labels were not ideal. It took a librarian who needed acid-free paper to tell me this, though I worked in a college in-house printing operations shop. It should be stressed that labels and any papers and photo album pages should be acid free. The label adhesive should also be one that is safe to use on photos, otherwise the properties of the adhesive can start seeping through and damage the photo or the album page and the photos and/or images on the other side of that page. The same holds for photo mounting corners. It's better to use an acid-free pencil or ink pen and carefully write on the back of the photo the information you desire to record. Photo album supplies such as the acid-free pens, pencils, papers, album pages, and other accessories can be found more readily now than ten to fifteen years ago. Wal-Mart and other like stores, as well as stationery stores such as Hallmark, have a range of these supplies at reasonable prices.
I recently visited the Ellis Island site. All my ancestors arrived long before the information that is currently available on this site but the latest arrivals children were traveling and I found records of that. I thought that the prices for pictures of various ships that carried the immigrants were a bit high. There is another source that might not be as expensive. Post card dealers cater to the ship postcard collectors. These cards are available at postcard shows and on the Internet at special postcard auctions, for sale, and for auction.
Ancestry.com's Quick tip
CAMERA LENS HELPS READ STONES
Recently, I was in a cemetery on a rainy day looking for my ancestor's gravestones. When I found the gravestones, several were difficult to read because of the wear on them with the passing of time and the exposure to bad weather. I wanted to photograph them anyway, and when I put the camera to my eye I discovered that I could make out some of the lettering and numbers on some of the stones a little better than with my naked eye. My husband suggested that it might have something to do with the filtering of light through the lens. I don't know what it was, but it helped me to make out the name Eliza on one particular stone that was badly decayed. Maybe this will work for others, too. Sherry Kilgore
Ancestry.com's Quick tip
Photograph Cemetery Landmarks
When I go a cemetery, I not only take photos of tombstones, I also take photos of the church and, if available, photos of pillars or archways that lead into the cemetery. This not only is a landmark for me on my sojourns on tombstone searches, but there may also be information inscribed on a plaque in front of, or on the church, or on the pillars or archways at the entrance. There may be a monument within the cemetery itself with valuable information on it. As for me, I really enjoy looking for evidence of my ancestor's existence and as much information that I can collect when I am in my "in search of mode," for my unknown ancestors.
Laura LaRose, Boswell, PA October
Declaration of Intents: Schuylkill County's Declarations are located in the courthouse - some go back as far as 1828 but most start from around 1833.
~ Thanks Mike!
Ancestry.com's Quick tip
DIAGRAMS MAKE FINDING HEADSTONES A SNAP
I go a step further than Dianne suggested in a previous quick tip. I photograph the entry to the cemetery or the church where it is located. I also draw a quick sketch showing the orientation of the cemetery and the location (row and plot) of my ancestor's grave(s). That way, I can find them quickly on any return visit or direct other family members to their location.
Ila Verne Toney Conroe, Texas
Ancestry.com's Quick tip
CAMERA LENS HELPS READ STONES
Recently, I was in a cemetery on a rainy day looking for my ancestor's gravestones. When I found the gravestones, several were difficult to read because of the wear on them with the passing of time and the exposure to bad weather. I wanted to photograph them anyway, and when I put the camera to my eye I discovered that I could make out some of the lettering and numbers on some of the stones a little better than with my naked eye. My husband suggested that it might have something to do with the filtering of light through the lens. I don't know what it was, but it helped me to make out the name Eliza on one particular stone that was badly decayed. Maybe this will work for others, too.
Sherry KilgoreWhy did people take their discharges to the courthouse?
TROUBLE-FREE CEMETERY LABELS
I take lots and lots of cemetery photos. Here's a tip for trouble- free labeling: I write on a white page on a clipboard in DARK FELT TIP, the name of the cemetery and the CITY/STATE (and location number if there is enough space to write) all clearly and large enough to show up in my photo. Then religiously, I put the card at the base of the monument on either the WEST or the NORTH position to the marker. I only deal with WEST or NORTH and so West would be to the Left of the monument, North would be to the Right of the monument. EVERY photo I take is immediately identifiable. I don't need labels or a pen. I can use the photos the second they come out of the photo envelope.
Ask family members if they have old books. From the owners' inscriptions in old books I have learned: my mother's childhood street address in Detroit, a great-uncle's middle name, the name of my grandmother's grammar school, the town where my great-great- grandfather taught, and a distant relative's childhood nickname.
And what fun to find hints of personality for little-known relatives: notes to schoolmates, doodles of dragons and princesses, inspirational gift dedicaignatures. My portable scanner lets me copy these on the spot.
Just as valuable are the relatives' recollections as they bring out the books. My mother recalled that during the Depression, her working mother used meager spending money to bring home "armloads of books" from failed bookstores, so that her children grew up steeped in tales of Greek gods and the Knights of the Round Table.
Janet WrightWhat is a Declaration of Intention
Tired of waiting for military records to wind their way through some government warehouse on their way to you? Try your county courthouse instead! Both my father and father-in-law filed a copy of their military discharge papers from WWII at the Tarrant County courthouse in Ft. Worth, Texas. My grandfather's WWI discharge was also filed there. I don't know if this was required for some reason, or it was voluntary - anybody have any guesses?
The actual records dating back to 1946 in the case of WWII, and 1918 in the case of WWI, were no longer physically at the courthouse, but it took less than a week for the courthouse staff to locate, copy, and mail them to me. Far quicker than Washington's bureaucracy!
Debbie Hinckley Azle, TX
If a person you seek was a veteran and a grave marker was requested, there should be a card filed in the VA's office in the courthouse. To request a lookup, email Henry (the VA rep) - firstname.lastname@example.org
If the Ellis Island site shows multiple entries for your ancestors, try looking for them in the Passport Applications Index, using the FHL films. Then, order the appropriate files. It is fascinating to learn of their reasons for traveling back and forth to Europe. Often, other records are attached. If you are lucky, the application photograph may help you with identifying people in photographs, and some family secrets may also be divulged!
Acestry.com's tip of the month
When I want to identify people in a photo, I lay a piece of tracing paper over the top and note their identities there, rather than on the back of the photo. The tracing paper can be folded back to view the picture, and folded down to find out whom it is. This protects the photo and makes it easy to correct if I have mis-identified anyone. (Writing on the back of a photo causes it to eventually bleed through and ruins the picture.) I have also used this method to send photos to relatives so they can identify the people they recognize and mail the tissue paper back to me, keeping the photo.
Shirley Hirschfeld Longmont CO
Ancestry.com's - tip
Several years ago I collected family stories going back six generations and compiled them into a book for my family for a Christmas gift. Last year, I started a tradition of taking an incident from one of the stories and creating a Christmas ornament. Last year, I honored a great-grandfather who wanted marbles so badly as a child that he often dreamed they were in his coat pocket. Using marbles from my mother's marble bucket that the grandchildren had played with, I created an ornament for each descendant. This year, I'm highlighting a story of another great- grandfather who won a bet with a shopkeeper and as a result could take candy from the candy barrel each time he was in the store. The ornament will be a miniature candy bucket and will reference the page in the book where the story is recorded.
Church marraige, baptismal and burial records are usually the first resort. Another source worth checking is in the same court house archives where you found his naturalization papers. Ask for the books on county coroner's records. In the event there was anything out of the ordinary; an accident, a sudden death on the street or at work, or any death with no apparent cause, it will be found in these records: Date of death; place; cause and coroner's name. However, these records will not give you any information on the person's origin or details on the family. Still, you may use that same date of death to locate a possible news item on your ancestor's demise which may include personal details. Yet another possible source is the Schuylkill County Library's Geneology section, specifically, the books by Rice and Dellen, which record many thousands of news items listed by family name that may, hopefully, include a reference to your ancestor.
Thanks Tom M!!!
I recently visited the Ellis Island site. All my ancestors arrived long before the information that is currently available on this site but the latest arrivals children were traveling and I found records of that. I thought that the prices for pictures of various ships that carried the immigrants were a bit high. There is another source that might not be as expensive. Post card dealers cater to the ship postcard collectors. These cards are available at postcard shows and on the Internet at special postcard auctions, for sale, and for auction. Eleanor Brodeur
COLORED PAPER MAKES MICROFILM IMAGES READABLE
I have two suggestions for those of you searching on microfilm on the older machines (the ones that project an image downward rather than eye level). Often, the brightness of the projected image is hard on the eyes. A colored sheet of lightweight copy machine paper laid over the image softens it. So far, light green has proven to be the best color.
Also, having a magnifying glass on hand has also helped me to decipher hard-to-read entries.
Linda Wells St.Cloud, MN
Alsace is now a part of France,
but it has changed hands repeatedly between France and Germany for many years. If you look at a map of the area, you will see many German town names (e.g., Oberbetschdorf).While French was the "official" language in records after 1805 or so, prior to that the records are done in German. Even after 1805, often in the records it will be noted that the people reporting the event (birth, death, etc.) "spoke German", as if it was a sin!!
USE CARE WHEN CLEANING HEADSTONES
Regarding cleaning headstones to honor one's forgotten ancestors, please make sure such honors are done in an informed manner. Know for sure what can be used to clean specific stones (i.e., marble won't withstand the same treatment as granite and old slate has its own problems). Pull the weeds, take only one photograph, and check with one of the several Internet sites on specific treatment for old headstones. You may unintentionally do more damage than just leaving the stone alone.
Sandi Lee Craig
When conducting online searches, keep in mind that most databases will only return hits for exact matches. When too many search fields are included, you run the risk of eliminating a possible hit in cases when names have been abbreviated or misspelled, when variations exist, or when information is missing. When specifying a date, try to include only the month and year instead of the full date. This is particularly helpful when doing advanced searches of databases like the Social Security Death Index (SSDI), because some dates are not included in their entirety.
For each of the surnames you are researching in the 19th Century U.S., do a Soundex search of any year in which Soundex was available. Then, as you're scrolling through a particular Soundex code, note all the surnames that look like they could be easily mistaken for the one you "know" is the correct spelling. Only after you have compiled this list should you go searching through the various published census indexes for the years 1790 through 1860.
Case in point: If you're searching for people named "Whitehead," it's extremely possible a careless or less than perfectly literate census enumerator wrote "Witehead" or "Withead" down and that will be the name that goes into the index. And it might be several pages later in the index book.BACK UP YOUR COMPUTER
don't forget to write down the people in your photographs, One day you may be the person no one can ID.
DON'T assume that a suggestion isn't worth checking out! It is!~
Thanks Shirley Ryan!!
When scanning news print or other lightweight materials put a piece of black construction paper behind the item. Solves the shine through problem. ~ Thanks Douglas Morgan!
Land records often do not give very accurate descriptions. The legal description might read "from the big rock by the North Creek to the big oak tree on the South River, and then two roads past the railroad." You may need to find old maps of the area in order to locate old railroad lines or creeks whose beds have changed.
USING LAND RECORDS WHEN MARRIAGE RECORDS ARE UNAVAILABLE
Land records can give valuable clues, such as names of in-laws, when marriage records are unavailable. If a man transferred property to another man for only $1 or another minimal amount, it's a good indication that he was giving a dowry to his daughter. Be certain to check out any documents attached to land records that might justify dowries, land transfers, or probate proceedings.
DON'T assume that a suggestion isn't worth checking out! It is!
Sometimes NARA does lose track of our forms. You can check on the status, as well as speed the process along if you email them. When you send your e-mail, provide the number of your form. The number is found near the bottom of the form, in the center of the page, usually begins with a letter and followed by six numbers, i.e. A576858
~Thanks Ruth Ann!~
Xerox your census and put it with your gen papers. That way your family won't have to wait 70 years to see what you said and where you were.
When doing research don't forget to write down your source BEFORE transcribing the information. Your memory isn't as good as you think!
Don't rub anything on the headstone it could damage it
Having problems reading the headstone try shaving cream. It's safe and mother nature will wash it away when it rains
Get on a mailing list it may prove to be a god send
If you have an English/Scottish/Irish/Welsh Ancestor who came over BEFORE the Revolutionary War, you won't find an allegiance/naturalization paper on them in the ENGLISH Colonies - they were already ENGLISH citizens. NON-ENGLISH immigrants had to pledge allegiance to the ENGLISH king.