Thursday, May 28, 2009

Massacre's Descendants Anxious For Skulls Test Results

"For decades it sat on a shelf in a brown cardboard box - a skull pierced in the back with an apparent bullet hole and linked by a typewritten note to a dark and violent chapter in Mormon church history. "

So begins the extensive report on the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.

Idaho state archaeologists intend to determine if the skull is indeed from the 1857 Utah massacre of Arkansas wagon-train individuals heading to the infamous Morman area. It is said the Mormon's themselves killed 120 men, women and children from the wagon-train. Descendants of the 17 survivors of the massacre are anxiously awaiting the results.

Jeff Webb discovered the skull on the shelves of a Salt Lake City pawnshop in 1982. A note in the box said the skull was from a female "victim of the famed Mountain Meadows massacre."

"Mountains Meadows marks a dark moment in the history of the Mormon church - one that has often been left out of history books.

On Sept. 11, 1857, the Baker-Fancher party was attacked by area church and militia leaders disguised as a local Indian tribe. After a five-day siege, the Arkansans forged what turned out to be a false truce with a local Mormon church leader, laid down their weapons and were slaughtered as they were being led out of the meadow on foot.

The church had historically denied or downplayed its role in the killings, but in 2007 expressed its regret. Today, two monuments in the meadows memorialize the victims and the church is seeking National Historic Landmark status for the site.

Historical accounts show that after the killings, the bodies of the victims were strewn across the 2,500-acre meadow and left unburied. Then in 1859, U.S. military contingents were sent to bury the dead. Among them was a doctor from Utah's Camp Floyd, who is known to have removed at least two skulls and possibly other bones from the site, Turley said.

It's not known what happened to the doctor's souvenirs and there's no way to know how many other bones or artifacts may have been removed from the massacre site, Turley said. "

Read the complete story here.

Free Downloadable Genealogy Charts and Forms

The following is taken from Dick Eastman's EOGN:

"Looking for some blank forms that you can fill in during your genealogy research? You can download free, high-quality blank forms online from several web sites and print them on your own printer.

Family Tree Magazine has a huge collection of downloadable forms on the company's web site. The forms include pedigree charts, research calendars, note-taking forms, deed indexes, research journal, correspondence logs, family group sheets and census extraction forms. You can see this impressive collection of forms at has downloadable forms that are as nice looking as the commercially available forms. You can obtain a pedigree chart (called an Ancestral Chart), Research Calendar, Research Extract, Correspondence Chart, Source Summary and Family Group Sheet. You can do all of this at: has a collection of online forms, including U.S., British, Irish and Canadian census extraction forms, family group sheets, blank timelines and more. The forms are available at offers a number of downloadable genealogy forms, including family tree fan charts, pedigree charts, family group sheets and relationship charts. Take a look at

Canadian census forms for the 1851, 1901, 1906 and 1911 Canadian censuses may be downloaded from:

Similar forms for the 1841 through 1901 decennial U.K. censuses may be obtained at

All of the above are available free of charge. "

***NOTE: I personally use many of these free charts during my research both privately, and for my business, Mountain Genealogists". They are fantastic! - cbh

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Traditional Methods of Research May Be Needed For Some Virginia Records

Arlene Eakle reminds us that not everything is found online when researching! Especially in the older colonies, like Virginia!

Arlene Eakle is also known as The Virginia Genealogist. Read her very interesting article here.

Monday, May 25, 2009

It Takes Details To Bring Your Ancestors To Life

Tampa Bay Online has an interesting article, written by Sharon Tate Moody, past president of the APG, that is a reflection of why so many of us get so involved with our genealogy research.

Read it now here.

The 3-Story Outhouse

Thanks to Dick Eastman at EOGN for the following:

"The Three-Story Outhouse

I grew up in a part of Maine where two-story interior privies were common. My grandmother's house had one that I remember well from my frequent visits as a child. However, I think three-story privies were rare. The Masonic Lodge in Bryant's Pond, Maine, still has one.
According to the "Cabinet of Curiosities" (available via Google Books), "this skyscraper privy is a simple pine board with a hole in it. Anything dropped through falls two complete stories till it smacks the earth. Venerated by some, abhorred by others, the three-holer was finally supplemented by real indoor plumbing in the year 2000 - a flush toilet and everything. But only on the ground floor; the second and third stories remain as they were."
You can read more about this bit of Americana at
My thanks to the "All Things Maine" blog at for this information.
I may be revealing my age, but I will say that I grew up in a farmhouse in Maine with no running water and with an interior privy. Sadly, my parents' house only had an unimaginative single-story privy. We had to visit my grandmother to see a real two-story privy. I remember it well; as a small child, I was always afraid that I would fall in!"

Friday, May 22, 2009

Crown To Reopen

Reporters get the first chance to preview the view from the crown of the Statue of Liberty, which will reopen to the public, for the first time since 9/11 on the 4th of July.

Be among the first to peek out!

Who Would Be King....

Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak takes us on a fascinating journey through the hypothetical situation of "Who would be King today if George Washington had been crowned King of America?"

Ancestry is the forum for Megan's wonderful research through the agnatic and cognatic hierarchy of possible Washington descendant candidates.

Read Megan's fascinating article here.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Reed's Mill

Larry Mustain at Reed's Mill
Located on Second Creek, in Monroe County, West Virginia, this old mill has been in continuous operation since 1792. It is believed to be the oldest continuous running mill in the United States.

The mill has been in the same family since the 1920's. Today's owner is Larry Mustain. [Larry was the principal at the local junior high school when my children attended it a few years back]. Today you can find him most any time at the mill!

Many years ago, when folks arrived by horse and wagon, my own grandpa purchased his cornmeal, flour and buckwheat at Reed's Mill.

A charming tale is told about the previous owner, Aubrey Reed. It is said that President Franklin Roosevelt had arrived for a visit at the Greenbrier Hotel in White Sulphur Springs. He requested cornbread on his menu. The cook staff, knowing the finest meal could be purchased at Reed's Mill, sent for a bag. When Aubrey was told to hurry up and fetch the cornmeal, he replied: "I don't care who it's for! He'll just have to wait his turn like ever'body else!"

My Dad tells about going to the mill when he was a child with his Daddy and getting huge bags of flour and cornmeal, a staple in the day. At one time, the family lived just across the lane from the mill, and Grandpa ran the little store that used to be just down from it.

Eyewitness News did a great little video on the mill. You can watch it here.

Historic Kentucky Cemetery Vandalized

Property For Sale

"For sale: 13 acres, 4.5 of them undeveloped. Easy access to public transportation. Walking distance to the waterfront. Historical details. Lush landscaping. Well maintained by its landlord of more than a century.
One last thing: It’s a cemetery, one that comes with 6,500 filled graves."

Read all about this site that just won't sell, at the NY Times.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Explore Railroad Retirement Board Records

"Railroad employees had a separate retirement program for many years into which they contributed funds, just like Social Security, and received retirement benefits. Participants in this program were a different identification number, one of a block assigned by the Social Security Administration specifically for this program in order to differentiate from standard Social Security participants. Numbers used began with 700-728. This fund is administered by the Railroad Retirement Board. If your ancestor was employed by the railroad, you may want to investigate the availability or records from the Railroad Retirement Board. Consult their Web site at for more information.

Be sure to also check their Genealogy section at for details of railroad research."

2 Grand

While this isn't exactly genealogy related, it's a charming show between a grandfather and his young grandaughter, singing A Whole New World.
Watch this clip from Britains Got Talent.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

YouTube & Genealogy

Looking for a different source for learning more about genealogy?

Don't overlook the videos on YouTube!

Just goto YouTube and search for genealogy [orclick here:] and you will find an abundance of videos downloaded with good learning tools. And you'll find some very interesting ones as well!

Please separate the wheat from the chaffe, if you know what I mean! - cbh

Author Says Blackbeard from North Carolina not England

Despite what the history books claim, a Raleigh, N.C., author claims that Blackbeard and many of his henchmen weren't rogue Englishmen, but sons of North Carolina landowners.

Historical accounts contend that the notorious pirate known as Edward Teach or Thatch was from Bristol, England. But Kevin P. Duffus said his review of archives and genealogical research indicates that Blackbeard was probably Edward Beard, son of a landowner in Bath in Beaufort County. The writer also claims that several of Blackbeard's crew members were not hanged as earlier accounts said and at least three returned to North Carolina to respectable - and wealthy - lives.

Duffus admits he doesn't have conclusive proof of his assertions, but he thinks they are more plausible than versions that have been around for generations. Most accounts of Blackbeard's early years stem from references by Capt. Charles Johnson in "A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pyrates (sic)," an 18th-century best-seller.

"Edward Teach was a Bristol man born," he wrote. But Duffus says there is no documentation of a Teach or Thatch in Bristol, and no one knows for sure who Johnson was or where he obtained his information.

You can read more at,0,2327308.story.

***The above article is taken from today's EOGN. Many thanks for permission to reprint. - cbh

Monday, May 18, 2009

How To Handle Your Virtual Assets

What happens to your virtual/ digital assets [PayPal account, email account, eBay account, GoDaddy account, etc., etc., etc.] should your life suddenly end tomorrow?

One smart cookie has found a way you can pass it on to your family!

Read all about it on CNN.

The Lives of Jefferson's Slaves Documented

The following is taken from EOGN's Sunday, 5/17/09 Plus Edition:

B. Bernetiae Reed, a retired nurse and amateur genealogist, has produced an impressive two-volume genealogical study of Thomas Jefferson's slaves that's drawing raves from such distinguished historians as John Hope Franklin. Reed self-published The Slave Families of Thomas Jefferson, a two-volume pictorial study that documents the lives of 619 slaves living at Monticello, in December of last year. She researched and compiled the work based upon Jefferson's Farm Book, a journal used during colonial times to record births and deaths among the estate's slaves.

That book, Reed said, inspired her to begin documenting the lives of Jefferson's slaves; by 2005 she had produced a series of 6×9-ft. wall charts that traced the 619 slaves. After receiving encouragement from experts at Monticello, she went on to expand the charts into a book and later, an easily accessible online database.

You can read more in the Publishers Weekly web site at:

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Using Google For Your Genealogy Search

I found this on YouTube. This is a great search-engine video. The video is about 5 minutes long and will give you some great pointers! - cbh

Genealogy Humor

The Closet Geneticist

In Cambridge, Massachusetts, Katherine Aull is doing her own genetics experiment. In her closet she is testing her own DNA for mutations that might possibly carry a harmful, if not fatal, disease if left untreated: hematochromatosis. A disease that her father has been diagnosed with.

You can read all about Ms. Aull's DNA work at the Boston Globe or watch the video .

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

New "GenealogyCloud" Brings Cloud Computing to the Family Tree is now offering "GenealogyCloud" a full-featured API providing access to a web-based genealogy system. provides family history enthusiasts with a genealogy program for building a family tree, storing memories and facts, and extending family tree branches by connecting into research that has already been done by others. This web-based functionality has recently been termed "cloud computing", meaning that the software being accessed by users is not housed on their own computer's but in the "cloud" of the internet.

Read all about this new innovation on Ajax World Magazine.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What Does RSS Mean?

In lay men's terms, the RSS stands for: Really Simple Syndication and I have only recently joined the throng utilizing this method to receive all of my news and blog information.


When you join a news feed or blog, you will see that little RSS icon where you can take the URL of the feed and put into your newsreader. There are probably hundreds out there, but going on the recommendation made by Dick Eastman, I went with the NewsGator newsreader. You can download this free reader, put in your favorite feeds, and get everything you are subscribed to in one easy place!

That means that I just go to NewsGator and I can now read my many newsletters and blogs on one single site. No more flitting around, and maybe not getting to one site or another until there are dozens to catch up on. I get instant updates!

What a great find!

If you don't currently have a newsreader, I do highly recommend the NewsGator. You won't be sorry!

Some Viriginia People

Let’s define some of the words that describe Virginia’s early People, who became your ancestors:

Adventurers: a legal term for stockholders in the joint stock companies that brought the first Virginia settlers to America. These men (and a woman or two) remained in England and Wales. They underwrote the expenses and thus, had a vested interest in the success of the enterprises.
Planters: a legal term for the men who planted the settlements in The Plantations as the colony of Virginia was originally called. These men came to Virginia, at least for a time. Some were sons of or relatives of the Adventurers. Those who arrived before 1616, were sometimes called “ancient planters.” 100+ planters are listed in the Introduction to Nell M. Nugent’s Cavaliers and Pioneers, Volume I. William Thorndale, whom you already know from his careful research with William Dollarhide on Map Guide to the US Federal Censuses, 1790-1920, has created an Early Virginia Database (before 1625). When he completes his research, the original 105 settlers and those who followed them will be documented and connected to their origins in the British Isles. See also Virginia Immigrants and Adventurers: A Biographical Dictionary, 1607-1635 by Martha W. McCartney. Baltimore MD: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2007.

Political Prisoners. The Virginia plantations and later the Colony of Virginia received thousands of political prisoners from the British Isles. First, Irish prisoners taken by Cromwell to be sold as slaves. Second, Scottish Covenanters, protestants who had accepted the Presbyterian Church by covenant. Third, Englishmen who had supported Cromwell were transported to Virginia after the restoration of Charles II. Then Protestant supporters of the defeated Duke of Monmouth, from Southwestern England. These political dissidents usually became indentured servants: serving 4 years if age 20, 5 years from age 12-20, and 7 years if under 12 years of age. It is estimated that up to 70% of the people of Virginia were at one time indentured servants.

Apprentices. Children were indentured as apprentices to learn a trade, to learn to read, write, and cipher. Orphans, children kidnapped and sold as indentures, children from correctional homes, and children who ran the streets of London were transported and indentured before colonial courts. Some of these children are identified in Peter Wilson Coldham’s Child Apprentices in America from Christ’s Hospital, London, 1617-1778.

Convicts. Parliament sent more than 4,500 convicts to Virginia between 1655-1699. And some 138 shiploads arrived between 1748-1775. English convicts were often given the choice of punishment, which included disfigurement, and being sent to the Americas. These included men, women, and children. Peter Wilson Coldham’s The Complete Book of Emigrants, 1607-1776, 4 vols. and The Complete Book of Emigrants in Bondage, 1614-1775, 2 vols. documents these convicts by name from English jails and courts.

Brides. Women were scarce in Virginia and many of those who came with the original settlers died from disease and Indian attack. So shiploads of brides were imported to provide wives for the settlers. Of the 500+ who came before 1624, only 36 survived. See “Wives for Virginia, 1621,” William and Mary Quarterly (Jan 1991).

Blacks. In 1625, there were 23 Africans in Virginia. By 1680, there were some forty slave factories along the coasts of Africa to buy and sell slaves. The English Royal African Company had a monopoly to supply slaves to begin with, but eventually the trade was opened to all trading companies. Slavery was recognized as legal in Virginia after 1670. About 15% died of the Blacks on the voyage. There were, however, Free Persons of Color. Not everyone who was black was a slave. And there were black slave owners, too.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Check For Alternative Spellings

As you are researching indexes for any surname, take time to consider any alternative spellings there might be.

A simple name like SMITH may be spelled as SMITHE, SMYTH, SMYTHE, SCHMITT, or SCHMIDT. That does not include any intentional misspellings and transcriptions errors.

Prepare, in advance, a list of possible spellings for all the surnames you are researching and take it with you as a prompter when doing research in libraries, archives and other sites. In addition, reverse the given name and surname. And don't forget to try using just initials.

When searching through a computerized index that includes a soundex be sure to utilize this feature. You'll have to weed through some of the undesirables, but I have personally found, it is almost always worth the effort! - cbh

How To Label A Photographs

Never label photographs or other documents with ink pens. Use pencil instead. Ink may bleed through the paper, and the chemical composition of the ink may be harmful to the materials. Also, ink will fade and become illegible over time. There are special archival-safe penciles available especially for labeling photographs and other documents. Check with your local office supply and photo supply companies for these penciles and other archival supplies. Or you can also check at and Gaylord at . - cbh

The Ink In Family Bibles

A family Bible can be a great source of information. In earlier times, all vital information was recorded here: births, confirmations, marriages, deaths, and all other life events.

When looking voer these records, be careful to check penmanship and ink entries. Some entries may have been made by a single individual all at one time [these entries are more susceptible to error]. Also check the publication date of the Bible. If that date is after any of the entries, be highly skeptical; these entries now become secondary entries rather than primary entries. [Include the publication date of the Bible in your source information.]

Check entries made in ballpoint ink and in colored fluid ink. Ballpoint pens were introduced to fighter pilots in WWII, and they were not made available to the public, worldwide, until 1946. If an entry was made with a date prior to 1946, you can rest assured that it made after the beginning of 1946. That means it is certainly a secondary source and it is less reliable than one made at the time of the event.

Fountain pens were reintroduced in the 1960's and '70's to the public with many colorful plastic ink cartridges. The presence of fountain pen entries can be another indication than an entry might have been made later than at the time of the original event.

Personally I have found more pencil entries for earlier legitimate entries than those of ink entries. But the greater amount of my research has been that of the mountain people of the Appalachian mountains, and may not be the norm for other areas. - cbh

Build A Research Tool Kit

You should be prepared for library visits and genealogical research trips by building a take-along tool kit.

Your took kit should include a small stapler [these are easily found in school supply areas of your local stationary or discount store], zip-lock sandwich bags containing different size paper clips and rubber bands, several sharpened pencils, a small pencil sharpener, an eraser, small notepads whose pages can be clipped to others, a notebook for the plethora of notes you will be taking, a zip-lock sandwich bag or coin purse with a variety of coins and dollar bills for copy machines and microfilm print printers. I also like to take along Post-It notes and Post-It tape flags [these are especially helpful when making notes to yourself as reference].

I hope this will help to get you prepared for you research trips! - cbh

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Oldest Mother

In 1915 Clementine Breaux was considered to be the oldest living mother with over 1,000 living descendants attributed to her.

She lived in Lafourche Parish, Louisiana, and her family was scattered around the entire state of Louisiana.

It was stated that her eyesight was still good enough to thread a needle, and that she enjoyed getting out and feeding her chickens.
The last line states : "She was married when 12."
****From the Genealogy Bank archives. - cbh

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Race Is On

To unravel and digitize as many ancient, as well as more modern, manuscripts as possible. Especially with much of the world in turmoil.

Areas such as Afghanistan and Iraq, which contain so many untold literary treasures, are especially in danger of losing these items forever.

You can read how this is being treated as an emergency situation in 'The Next Age Of Discovery' in the Wall Street Journal.

Museum Says No To Lincoln DNA Testing

Back in April we reported that John Sotos, a cardiologist and consultant for the tv series "House", wanted to test a pillowcase that President Abraham Lincoln had lain on while dying. Sotos believes that Lincoln had a rare genetic cancer syndrome called multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2B (MEN2B). He believed that Lincoln's blood remains on the pillowcase, and he could prove or disprove his theory.

On May 5th, the members of the board of the Grand Army of the Republic Museum and Library in Philadelphia's Frankford section decided to not allow testing of the artifact.

You can read all about their decision in the Philadephia Inquirer.

Worst Photo Album Ever

The following article is reprinted with permission from Dick Eastman's EOGN for 6 May 2009:

"Worst Photo Album Ever

Do you have family photographs stored in those "magnetic photo albums?" If so, get rid of them quickly. They are eating your photographs.
The Practical Archivist writes, "These chemical sandwiches of doom were popular from the 1970s through the 1990s. All of my childhood photos were carefully placed in this style of album. Ironically, the photos I never got around to organizing are in better shape."
The article contains illustrations that show step-by-step instructions on how to rescue damaged photos from the magnetic photo albums. You can view the article at:
Waarning: The article is a bit self-promoting as the author wishes to sell a $25 "Photo Rescue Kit." Actually, that sounds like a good idea to me. You could purchase the same items separately on your own, although I suspect you'd end up paying about $25 for them anyway.
The "Photo Rescue Kit" consists of:
1 Micro-Spatula, Wonder Tool of Photo Rescue
1 pair of white cotton gloves to keep the oils and salts on your hands away from your treasured photographs. This is probably the easiest thing you can do to extend the life of your photos and negatives.
Photo illustrated instructions so you know how to use the tool correctly and safely.
Soft No. 1 pencil for marking the back of vintage prints.
Stabilo pencil for marking the back of modern plastic-coated prints. "


If you have photos stored in this manner, please take the time to properly remove them and save them! I've personally seen too many photos lost forever because of these nasty pages. Once lost...lost forever. - cbh

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Online Source Citations Video Available

Mark Tucker has done a great video that explains alot about online source citations, and how to integrate them easily.

"A Better Way To Cite Online Sources" is available on YouTube.

Not Everyone Wants To Be A Genealogist!

Writer Steve Luxenburg gives us a rare insight [at least for those of us who DO pursue genealogy] into the person who is NOT interested in genealogy.

Luxenburg's story is in today's EOGN newsletter Blog.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Hidden Letter From Auschwitz Uncovered

Workers tearing down a wall in Oswiecim, called Auschwitz, by Hitler's SS troops in WWII, uncovered a bottle with a scrap of paper inside. That note was a cry from four young people who thought their days were coming to an end at Auschwitz, and sought to leave a legacy behind. At least 2 are known to have survived.

Experts confirm the note is genuine.

You can read this amazing story on News.

DNA To Identify 400 WWI British & Australian Soldiers

Work has begun to excavate mass graves in Fromelles northern France. The bodies of at least 400 British and Australian soldiers are expected to be uncovered.

Authorities have asked relatives of the known missing for DNA samples, in the hopes that the majority of those interred will be identified.

The bodies to be recovered are to be re interred in a new military cemetery. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission, says this is the first new WWI military cemetery in over 50 years.

You can read all about this fascinating work on the BBC News site.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Find The Mothers In Your Family Tree

Are you having difficulty finding the women in your family tree?

Jana Lloyd has some great tips to help you get through those female brick walls!

Read her Learning Article on Ancestry for help!

US "Who Do You Think You Are?" Will Appear this Fall [Unless It Won't]

Another schedule date has been set up for the famed [or infamous] Britain based show.

Genealogy Insider tells us about the proposed premiere date.

12 Genealogists in 7 States Pass Away

Since May 1st 2009, twelve genealogists in seven states have passed away.

Baker, Francis J. (1916-2009)News Journal (Mansfield, OH). May 1, 2009

Beeson, Myron. (1926-2009)Salt Lake Tribune (UT). May 3, 2009

Cantwell, Nancy Carolyn McKissack. (1933-2009)Denton Record-Chronicle (TX). May 3, 2009

Clever, Evelyn L. (1910-2009)Deseret News (Salt Lake City, UT). May 2, 2009

Davis, Pauline Rose. (1931-2009)Deseret News (Salt Lake City, UT). May 2, 2009

Heck, Glenn Eugene. (1929-2009)Macon Telegraph (GA). May 3, 2009

Hoff, Marjorie Doris. (1921-2009)Idaho Statesman (Boise, ID). May 4, 2009

Lister, Nancy Lou. (1940-2009)Hartford Courant (CT). May 3, 2009

Lloyd, Bud D. (1927-2009)Idaho Statesman (Boise, ID). May 3, 2009

Robinson, Norma Garrett. (1918-2009)Deseret News (Salt Lake City, UT). May 2, 2009

Stevens, Zina Greene Campbell. (1915-2009) Standard-Examiner (Ogden, UT). May 5, 2009

Williams, Virginia Johns. (1929-2009) Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg, VA). May 2, 2009

Monday, May 4, 2009

General Grants Great-Great-Grandson

General Ulysses S. Grant was a Union hero.

Today, his great-great-grandson plays both a Union, and a Confederate, soldier in re-enactments of the Civil War.

When asked what Grant would say about his great-great-grandson playing a Confederate soldier, John Grant Griffiths replies, "All I can say is he isn't here."

A wonderful article covers this unique man on The Freelance Star.

100 Genealogy Resources to Discover Your Ancestors

This rather lengthy, but is a definite save!

Be sure to either print this post, or copy and paste it and save it. This will definitely help you a bunch!

100 Genealogy Resources to Discover Your Ancestry
Research and discover your ancestry with these 100 tools to get you started building a family tree. Trace back as far as you can find and share your results with friends and family. Many of the forums in this list will also garner you a few new friends in the genealogy spectrum. Tracing your roots will give you insight into your family’s past and give you an edge in your own forensic education endeavors.

Genetree: You belong here—Genealogy for the electronic age. Genetree lets you forgo traditional genealogy research methods (dusty books and more library visits than you can shake a family tree at) for a free electronic database that helps you find your connections all over the world!

Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation: Growing the Genetic Family Tree One Branch at a Time—Also offering an online genealogy search engine, the SMGF site focuses primarily on DNA. Going off of a DNA database of samples submitted by volunteers, the site offers “participation kits” that lets you join the database, helping family find you even as you’re finding them.

mitosearch—This no frills search engine is ideal for those who want to quickly begin their genealogical research. You can also compare yourself to users of the site, offering a useful way to find new friends—and even old family.

WorldGenWeb Project—While offering search engines like many sites, WorldGenWeb is much more specific, hosting specific websites for different regions across the globe. These regions are easy to search, and maintained by volunteers—and the site is always looking for those willing to help others in their genealogical quests.

The Federation of East European Family History Societies—Named one of the 101 best sites for genealogy, this site offers a little of everything for genealogical researchers. Hosting resources for different regions and featuring heritage websites of different members, this site’s primary focus is more academic in nature, offering links to various genealogical journals and conferences from around the world.

Access Genealogy: A Free Genealogy Resource—Another no-frills site, Access Genealogy has resources broken down into very specific areas. These include cemetery records, military records, census records, Bible records, and more!

The Ancestry Insider—This site has one very specific purpose: to analyze all aspects of and Sometimes this means defending them, and sometimes it means criticizing them…in all of their actions, however, the site serves as a valuable resource for keeping the world of genealogical research honest.

FamilySearch—The aforementioned FamilySearch offers a quick, registration-free search for ancestors. It also helps you find your nearest family history center—ideal for those eager to pursue genealogy, and not knowing where to begin.—Also featuring a free family search, offers a good mixture of quick searches and in-depth records. Additionally, it offers “recent buzz” about genealogy from sources like the LA Times and USA Today, helping you keep track of rising trends in genealogy. Archive of Genealogical Data and Document Images—While it does offer the online surname search you’ve come to expect, packs in some pleasant surprises. These primarily include image records (such as newspapers, obituaries, and school yearbooks), which supplement the directories in helping you find ancestral information.

Family Tree Magazine—This site provides an ideal beginning for researching your genealogy. It features free how-tos, free downloadable forms, an active forum and a monthly podcast, in addition to offering deep discounts on the print magazine.

FamilySearch Labs: Future Tools to Dig Up the Past—User participation is at the forefront of FamilySearch Labs: as they put, they need your input to “refine new ideas” about genealogy technologies that “aren’t ready for prime time.” More of a site for the leisurely researcher, this offers you an opportunity to find a diamond in the rough—one of these unmarketed projects may hold the key to your genealogy!

Find a Grave—As the name implies, this site’s specialty is in helping you find images of graves, whether of famous people or of your own ancestors. As an added bonus, there’s a discussion forum and a macabre online store of grave-related paraphernalia.

Heritage Quest Online—This no frills site offers quick access to census records, books, and specialized databases. Having been around for 10 years, Heritage Quest is a genealogy search that you can trust. Cemetery Records Online—This site offers transcriptions from over 5,000 cemeteries across the world. In addition to offering regional searches and an informative blog, also lets you publish your own transcriptions online. free search through census mortality schedules—Specializing in offering information above and beyond what was put into census data, this site offers a new way of exploring genealogy. Searches are broken down by state, rather than region, making your inquires more specific. Explore Your Family in History—Boasting the largest newspaper archive for family history research, this site is an invaluable resource for your research. Offering monthly, annual, and trial subscriptions, this site’s ready access to over 2400 historical newspapers and documents will keep you coming back for more.

Footnote: The Place for Original Historical Documents Online—Offering a search by names, events, or dates, this site also features a high level of user participation. Featuring over 2500 uploads by members per week, this membership site offers a chance for you to join an entire community of genealogy enthusiasts.

Newspaper Abstracts: Finding Our Ancestors in the News!—As the name implies, this site lets you search newspapers by state, county, and event. Precise information is supplied about the paper itself, making it easier for you to obtain the full article.

We Relate—As “the world’s largest genealogy Wiki,” this site features pages for over 2 million people. The highlight of the site is its community portal, combining the features of information encyclopedias and social networking sites. growing closer—One of the top 500 Web companies in the world, FamilyLink is a social networking site with over 31 million users. In its quest to help family members find each other, FamilyLink has defined over 150 million relationships since its inception in 2007.—This searchable database features over a billion available records. Hosting several major collections as well as the latest in genealogy news, this site is an all-purpose stop for your research.

Bureau of Land Management: General Land Office Records—This government-run site provides access to Federal land conveyance records for all Public Land States. This includes image access to over 3 million Federal land title records issued between 1820 and 1908, offering a visual tour of both federal and family histories.

The USGenWeb Project: Land of the Free…Genealogy—This easy-to-navigate site provides access to free genealogy websites at all levels. This includes state, county, and even national searches, making this volunteer-run site an impressive wealth of info.

USGS: Geographic Names Information System—Another government site, USGS epitomizes the no-frill site. This resource lets you search, by name, for various landmarks, from woods to bars and everything in-between.

Special Collections and Family History—This specialized site lets you search by groom and bride marriages to delve further into genealogical history. It also lets you browse by counties and states, letting you track Cupid’s arrow through your family history.

Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names Online—Offering a unique way of searching for genealogical history, the Getty Thesaurus specializes in finding information about family when you have too little or—ironically—too much information. You can search by multiple names (ideal for families that experienced a name-change), but you can also search by limited info—if you know a city a relative lived in but do not know what the corresponding state is, it will search all possible matches, helping you narrow things down.

Genealogy Insider—Sponsored by Family Tree Magazine, this blog offers non-stop genealogy news from around the world. For researchers on the go, you can subscribe to their RSS feed for updates, and even follow them through Twitter.

Now what? Expert Answers to Your Genealogy Questions—Another Family Tree blog site, this page focuses primarily on what to do after your genealogy has been researched. These focused entries include how to read old documents, converting old slides to digital formats, and even which for-pay database sites are really worth it.

Family Tree Magazine Forum—This links you directly to Family Tree Magazine’s active community of forum-goers. The primary focus is on questions regarding various software and databases, from how to conduct surname searches to how Google Earth can help trace ancestry.

The Ships List—A very specialized site, The Ships List focuses on passenger manifests on various ships, helping you to trace the comings and goings of your ancestors. Additionally, the site features immigration reports, newspaper records, ship pictures and more, giving you a 3-dimensional view of your high-seas legacy.

Ellis Island: FREE Port of New York Passenger Records Search—Originally envisioned by Ronald Reagan as a simple restoration project of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, this project eventually yielded a searchable database of immigration records. Requiring no subscription at all, this site is ideal for retrieving information about your ancestors’ arrival to America.—Offering a wonderful complementary service to the previous site, Castle Garden offers Ellis Island-related immigration information for the years 1830 through 1892. Subscription-free and easy to navigate, this site lets you begin searching immigration records immediately.

The National Archives—This site preserves the 1-3% of documents and materials produced each year by the US Government, forever. In addition to providing valuable information about family histories and military records, this site features amazing information on budgets and rules, as well as a wealth of informational resources.

Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild: Bringing Our Ancestors Home. Reuniting Our Families—Another highly-specialized site, the ISTG page offers you an opportunity to search the records of immigrant ships spanning nearly 400 years. As an added bonus, the site helps link you up with genealogists living in the cities of your ancestors, allowing you to form ties across the globe in tracing your family history down.

Genealogy Today: Because Your Ancestors Are Waiting!—This site’s focus is on very specific searchable collections, in addition to their genealogy search. These collections include funeral cards, railroad employees, and even criminal records!

Family Tree Connection—Offering subscriptions for as little as $2.50 a month, Family Tree Connection offers it own special blend of highly specific databases. These include school records, church memberships, employment and tax records, and even old telephone directories!

AfriGeneas: African Ancestored Genealogy—Devoted to African-American genealogy, Afrigeneas offers interactive chats with other members in addition to its vast array of searchable records. The specialty of the records is finding the last slaveholder and first African in every family, offering an amazing link to the past.

Documenting the American South Homepage—Sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, this site features uniquely southern perspectives on history and culture in America. Offering text, images, and other material, this site is invaluable for students, teachers, and genealogy researchers alike.

Lowcountry Africana—This specific site is dedicated to documenting families and heritages of African-Americans in “the historic rice-growing areas of South Carolina, Georgia and…northeastern Florida.” This site offers a valuable mixture of informative articles, key websites, and research materials.

Afro-Lousiana History and Genealogy—Run by Dr. Gwendolyn Hall (professor emeriti of history at Rutgers University), this site features a search engine derived from her own extensive research. Tracing the genealogy of African-Americans in the Louisiana area from 1699-1860, this site is amazing for scholars and genealogical researchers alike.

American Battle Monuments Commission—This government-run site has a very specific purpose: letting you research information about soldiers interred overseas. Offering a wealth of information, this site specializes in overseas-interred soldiers from World Wars I and II as well as the Korean War.

Civil War: Soldiers and Sailors System—Another government-run site, this page focuses on quick searches for simple information regarding sources on both sides of the Civil War. In addition to specific searches, the site features specific soldiers, sailors, regiments, battles, and more.

American Civil War—The focus of this site is community interaction. It features interactive battle maps, forum discussions, insightful polls and links to the most recent Civil War information.

eHistory—Run by the Department of History at Ohio State University, this site features a rare treat: a searchable database of “The Official Records of the War of Rebellion” (the Civil War). In addition to this awesome resource, eHistory features book reviews, timelines, maps, and more Civil War info than anyone can process in a single sitting.

United States Department of Veterans Affairs—The primary focus of this governmental site is allowing you to search for the gravesites of deceased service men and women. Additionally, it offers info about military burials—from honors and burial benefits to (and this is most important to genealogy) obtaining military records and medals.

The American Civil War: forging a more perfect union—The official National Park Service Civil War web site, this site serves as an all-purpose destination for information regarding the Civil War. This information comes in the form of info about Civil War parks, Civil War lesson plans, and information about how you can participate in preserving historic American battlefields from the Civil War.

Library of Virginia: Military Records and Resources—This site has a single purpose: allowing you to search military documents, including payrolls and pension records. Serving more as an informational hub than a database itself, this site prominently features useful search engines and collection guides to help in your genealogical research.

Louisiana State Archives: Genealogy and History Section—An utterly no-frills site, these archives are invaluable for those researching ancestors in Louisiana. This site requires no subscription or other forms of registration, allowing you to search immediately!

New York State Archives: Where History Goes on Record—This site focuses on military service persons, allowing you to search by regiment, specialty, and race. In addition to these searchable archives, the site provides countless pages of information on the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World War I and more.

Pennsylvania State Archives—Like its name implies, this site offers you access to various sections of Pennsylvania’s Archives Records Information Access System. Highlights for genealogy researchers include archives for National Guardsmen, Civil War vets, Revolutionary War files, and more.

Archives and Manuscripts: Texas State Library and Archives Commission—Like it sounds, this site focuses on various Texan documents, such as maps, Confederate pension applications, and even the (not yet fully prepared) records of George W. Bush. This site is an amazing resource for those tracing their ancestors through the Lone Star state.

Archives of Maryland Online—This site provides quick access to over 471,000 historical documents from Maryland’s government. The ability to search fiscal, land, military, and even probate records will help you track your ancestry to and through the great state of Maryland.

Arizona Department of Health Services: “Leadership for a Healthy Arizona”—The ability to search through Arizona’s birth and death records is this site’s primary specialty. For those tracking ancestry through Arizona, this site is an awesome resource, complete with information to contact them quickly if you need help.

The Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection—This no-frills site provides exactly what it sounds like: a searchable archive of Colorado’s newspapers. The site also lets you browse papers as well—an ideal solution for those who don’t have full information before beginning their search.

Florida Memory: State Library and Archives of Flordia—This specialized collection offers a sunshine state’s worth of info about Florida, including World War I service cards, Florida’s early constitutions, Spanish Land Grants, and more. Of particular note to art-minded genealogical researchers is The Florida Folklife Collection, offering 88 individual series documenting Florida’s cultural and historical contributions.

Illinois State Archives—This Illinois-specific site offers a wealth of information on Illinois war veterans. Additionally, the site links to records in a variety of Illinois universities, offering a selection of academic resources beyond measure. Official Website of the State of Maine—Obviously focused on Maine records, this site offers genealogical research drawing from court, census, land office, military, and local records. One nice feature of this site is the ability to instantly consult librarians, making your own genealogical research that much smoother.

Making of America—This digital library focuses on the social history of America from the antebellum period to the reconstruction period. You can search for specific terms or people, or simply skip to a subject search, making this no-frills site as navigation-friendly as it is browser-friendly.

Massachusetts Archive—While offering a vital records search, this site primarily focuses on Massachusetts history, from 1841-1910. This site is backed up by the actual archive in Massachusetts, making it a natural stop for those whose research takes them to Massachusetts.

Minnesota Historical Society: People Finder—Also named one of the 101 best genealogy websites by Family Tree Magazine, this site has all your needs covered when it comes searching Minnesota records. This includes searchable birth and death records, a census index, immigration resources, and more.

Missouri State Archives: Research Room—While it is more famous for its documents about Jessie James and Harry Truman, these archives boast an impressive amount of searchable information. Their records (County, Judicial, Land, Military, and more) are paired up with an impressive set of photography and digital resources.

New England Historic Genealogical Society - What separates this New England-centric searchable archive apart from the rest is its frequent updates. As of this writing, they’d added seven databases within the last month, which range from the census and cemetery records you’d expect to immigration sketches and Bible records.

Oregon State Archives—In addition to providing an easy surname search through their archives, this site offers lots of information about Oregon itself. This includes historical and county records, as well as provisional and territorial records, providing your genealogical quest with maps, images, and much more.

Washington State Digital Archives—Another no-frills site, the Washington State Digital Archives offers an easy search engine that peers through over 64 million records. While offering the standard collections as well (browse through birth, death, contractual, institutional records, and many more), it also offers rare audio records, helping to bring your past to life.

Wisconsin Historical Society—Offering a searchable genealogy index as well as a genealogy service that can help you immensely, this site’s other focus is on Civil War records. They prominently feature Civil War service records, rosters, and other key information about Civil War vets.—For those weary of various pay databases charges, this searchable genealogical index prominently features an assortment of free databases. It also includes loads of practical information, such as how to interview family members in order to dig up information about your familial past.

American-French Genealogical Society: A genealogical and historical organization for French-Canadian research– This site’s specific mission is to preserve vanishing Franco-American traditions by helping users trace down their own ancestors through Canada’s emigrant past. Offering a mailing list, lending library, and other archival sources, this site will help trace your Canadian ancestry.

Cyndi’s List of Genealogical Sites On the Internet—Just like it sounds, this site is Cyndi’s compiled list of sites, broken down by both region and circumstance (adoption, orphans, even oral history). What’s impressive here is not the site layout (though there is something to be said for its pleasant simplicity), but the sheer amount of sources she has found, making this a site you should bookmark immediately.

The Genealogy Register—Providing thousands of links to surname, census, military, passenger records (and many more), this no-frills site gets you right into the action. It also has specific city directories and a helpful messageboard.

Genealogy Spot– While offering links to various records on and offline, this site’s specialty is helping beginners start their genealogical search. It also offers a sobering reminder about double-checking the veracity of online searches, reminding researchers of the need to, well, re-search for corroborating info.

Social Security Online: The Official Website of the U.S. Social Security Administration—A source that is often overlooked by genealogy researchers, Social Security Online has helpful guides to requesting records from various government agencies. And, of course, you can easily request help, on- and offline, for your search.

Surname Genealogy Search—Billing itself as the first genealogy search that only needs your surname, the Surname Genealogy Search has been helping online researchers for almost 15 years. With one quick, you’ll have access to your surname referenced across the years and across the globe.

Make Your Family Tree—After you’ve done some level of genealogy research, this site helps you form a family tree from your information. This site serves as a quick and easy guide for this crucial step of the genealogy process. Online since 1996—Another decade-plus veteran site, helps you search for family, document findings, and even develop a family homepage. It also hosts a very specific message board, where you can request that folks help you track down specific people. Finding Our Roots Together—Another site ideal for beginners, rootsweb takes you through the entire genealogical process. It is also very community-oriented, hosting multiple pages for its own members, a mailing list, and a message board.

National Genealogical Society—Founded over a century ago, NGS caters to novice and experienced historians alike. Their primary purpose is academic in nature, offering a wealth of trustworthy resources and online courses that will help hone your genealogical research skills.

Caleb Johnson’s—This site is advertised as the “most complete and accurate” website for information on the Mayflower, Plymouth Colony, and the Pilgrims themselves. Now in its 15th year, this site is a treasure trove for teachers and genealogical researchers alike!

The Linkages Projects—This site concentrates on its database on human communities from all over, offering over 150 ethnographic cases to aid your family research. Run by the University of California’s School of Social Sciences, this site is a scholar-friendly view of linked communities around the world.

National Obituary Archive—This streamlined site lets you find obituaries from all over the world. Additionally, the site features family memorials, including a special section for September 11th memorials.

JewishGen: The Home of Jewish Genealogy—As the name implies, this site focuses on genealogy research for those of Jewish heritage. In addition to its easy-to-use searches, the site features informative articles, active discussion groups, and links to various special projects.

Kansas Interactive Genealogy—Short and to the point, this site features searches for genealogy, history, and travel regarding Kansas. You can easily add your own Kansas genealogy research to theirs online, helping out countless others with their searches.—For more than 25 years, Lineages, Inc. has traced over 100,000 family lines for their clients. In addition to searches, they offer information on helpful software and other products to aid you in your research.

WWW Page Access Counter at Rootsweb—Part of the Rootsweb network of sites, this page offers a bevy of HTML tricks for creating your family history webpage. Offering visual examples of each trick, this is a great resource for soon-to-be webmasters.

ProGenealogists: Trust Family History Research—This site primarily serves as a hub for other searches, offering you a convenient, one-stop shop for genealogy research online. Additionally, the site features a large amount of free resources, easy any researcher’s wallet in this rough economy.

Ireland Roots—This free service has one goal: helping you uncover your Irish roots. Offering a healthy mixture of history, messageboards, and search resources, this site brings the luck of the Irish to your genealogical research.

GenWriters: Writing for Future Generations—A very specific site, GenWriters helps you make the most of your written family histories. From quickstart resources to detailed bibliographies, this site has it all.

FamilyTreeMaker—Run by, this site has everything you need to create your family tree. This includes software, tutorials, and a detailed set of frequently asked questions. Learning Center—This site offers how-tos, genealogy classes, and a wealth of other resources to help you research the past. Very newbie-friendly, this site walks you through every step of research, collaboration, and discovery.

Genealogy Resources—This site offers 89 links to genealogy resources around the web. While offering no unique resources itself, this site belongs in any genealogy researcher’s web bookmarks.

US National Archives: Records on Footnote—Representing millions of historic documents, this site gives equal exposure to documents, images, and indexes. Ideal for historians and genealogists alike, this site will keep you clicking again and again!

Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter—A daily newsletter for genealogy enthusiasts, this site prides itself on “straight talk.” The blog-like format mixes in gentle humor with insightful news and commentary, making it an easy read for those who wish to stay informed about genealogy.

National Archives Research Centers—As a break from all of the online research sites, this page has one focus: helping you locate national archives research centers all over America. For those willing to put their feet on the street for research, this site provides you with the very first step.

Genealogy Resources—Another link repository site, Genealogy Resources provides dozens of useful sites to aid you in your research. Aside from the links, the big draw for this page is its collection of genealogy white papers, offering an invaluable archive for family researchers everywhere.

The Genealogy Homepage—This no-frills link repository is helpfully broken down by region and subject. Operating for 15 years now, the Genealogy Homepage has received national attention through the New York Times, CNN, and has many more distinctions.

University of Minnesota: Genealogy Resources—Focusing on genealogy information and resources for Minnesota, this site offers a mixture of helpful reference info and research about common surnames. While very specific, it is difficult to imagine a more thorough site for Minnesota genealogy.

All Surnames Genealogy—The polar opposite of the more specific sites, this page provides an alphabetical list of all surnames. While it would likely be better to switch to more specific archives when you know more, this site is a great starting point, especially for beginners.

Genealogy Resources by State—This government-run link archive does just what you’d imagine: linking you to specific genealogy resources for each state. This site allows you to research in relative comfort, as the links provided have been verified as reliable by the US government.–Linking the World Together With Roots—This site boasts of having the world’s largest family history library. With news, tutorials, and specialized collections, this site helps you find your family tree.

WWW Virtual Library - American Indians: Index of Native American Genealogy Resources on the Internet—This Native-American-centric research site hosts information, links, and media regarding Native American matters. If you are searching for information about Native American ancestry (or just enjoy the historical information), this is the perfect site for you.
Now that you are on the right track to rediscovering where and whom you came from, share your family tree on a blog or in an email to encourage other genealogy enthusiasts to keep pursuing their roots too. You never know, you may even find a long lost cousin that way


The above is courtesy of:

Sunday, May 3, 2009


New Search Feature Brings Better Results
You asked us to limit your search results to more relevant date ranges, so we did. Our new feature automatically limits your search results to the years you specify for birth and death, helping you to locate your ancestors faster.We’ll include a “fudge factor” of five years before and two years after. If you only specify a birth year we’ll search for 100 years after that date; if you only enter a death year we’ll search for 100 years before that date. So, if you enter a birth year of 1901 and a death year of 1929, the search engine will return records between 1896 and 1931. If you put in a death year of 1920, but no birth year, the search engine will return records from between 1815 and 1922.

To learn more, read Anne Mitchell’s post on the blog.

And there’s more!Soon, will also be launching a new site navigation to help you get where you need with fewer clicks. Drop–down menus are being added to the familiar tab navigation bar, allowing you to go directly to one of your trees, search a specific collection, or visit message boards with just one click—from anywhere on the site. You’ll also be able to access a list of your favorite pages and your to–do list from a new “Favorites” link that can also be accessed with one click anywhere on the site.

Click here to learn more about the navigation improvements.


The above reprinted with permission from The Weekly Discovery, copyright 2009, The Generations Network, Inc.

Taking A Fresh Look At Brick Walls

Have you ever been stumped by a problem, asked someone unfamiliar with it to have a look, and had that person come up with an obvious solution? “Why didn’t I think of that?” you may wonder. It happens to all of us. Typically the problem is that we are too close to the problem—perhaps even part of the problem. Another individual has the advantage of a fresh perspective, only looking at the bare facts.

Sometimes this is a helpful approach to problems solving in our family history research. We may be unwittingly clinging to ideas that aren’t quite based on sound research. Let’s take a look at a few examples.

They Were There All Along
So you’ve found an ancestor in two consecutive U.S. federal censuses living in the same city. Clearly they were there all the time, right? Not necessarily. When you think about it, ten years is a pretty long time. In the course of that time, your ancestor may have left the city for greener pastures, only to return home a few years later. Perhaps the employment he sought didn’t pan out. Or maybe he or she had to return home to help care for a sick family member. Perhaps that’s why you’re still unable to locate the birth record for that one child born between those censuses. City directories and state censuses can help you to bridge that ten year gap and ensure that your ancestor did indeed stay put throughout the decade between censuses.

My Ancestors Were All . . . [Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, etc.]
Even if your ancestors were predominantly devout members of a particular religion, don’t assume that that everyone in the family shared the same faith. Your ancestor may have converted, or perhaps they attended the only church that was available in the rural area in which they settled. Conversely if there were several choices available to them, they may have been part of a congregation that wasn’t the closest to home, but which had a shared ethnic background.

We’re Italian (or German, or Polish, or...)
Years ago, I met a woman at a genealogy conference who told me about some of the obstacles she had to overcome when she first began tracing her husband’s roots. She started by diligently asking him everything he knew about his ancestry. He “knew” his family was mostly Italian, and thought there might be a little bit of German too. Being a fan of his family recipes for marinara and other Italian dishes, it made sense--until she started actually collecting records. As it turned out, there was absolutely no Italian connection, and that little bit of German? Well that was more like 100 percent.

When it comes to ethnic origins, family legends should always be taken with a grain of salt. Keep them in mind but don’t limit your searches based on the family tale. The same holds true for the often told story of the Cherokee princesses, the three brothers who parted ways at Ellis Island, or any other tale that was passed down. While there may be a pinch of truth in the story, it’s best to go step-by-step and let the records you find guide you, rather than letting the story dictate your path.

Relationships and Family Structure
Pre-1880 census records, where relationships aren’t spelled out, can pose a perilous trap for family historians. When we see a man and a woman of comparable age, with children who are of an age to be their children, it’s easy to jump to conclusions and say we have found Dad and Mom and their children. But could one of those children be an orphaned niece or nephew? Or perhaps the woman is the man’s spinster sister who came to help out with the children after the mother had passed away. Even in cases where relationships are spelled out, they are sometimes incorrect. When Emma Tobin was enumerated with Emma and Emile Chouanniere in 1880, she was listed as “niece.” She was actually Emma’s daughter from a previous marriage. On the back of her marriage certificate, a note revealed that she went by her stepfather’s name of Chouanniere, but her real father’s name was James Miller.

They Came Through Ellis Island
Ellis Island’s prominence as “the gateway to America” is well known and has been woven into the fabric of many an American story—sometimes rightly, sometimes wrongly, and sometimes it’s only part of the story. First of all, look at the time frame. Ellis Island opened in 1892 so earlier immigrants may have come through New York, but not Ellis Island. And while New York was the most popular port of entry, don’t overlook the arrival records for other ports. Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Boston, were other popular eastern ports. Many immigrants made their way to Canada and entered the U.S. from there. Perhaps your Midwestern ancestors arrived through New Orleans and made their way inland via the Mississippi River. Keep your mind open to all the possibilities.

When John Szucs came through Ellis Island in October 1902, it might have been tempting to stop looking. However, some further searching also finds him arriving in July of 1902 through the port of Baltimore. Don’t assume your ancestor only came over once. With steamboat travel, travel between Europe and America was much easier and many immigrants made several trips before finally settling down.

Anything is possible. Fortunately with so many immigration records now available online in the collections at, we can easily search the records of many ports at once, making it much faster and easier to get the entire picture of our ancestor’s immigration to the U.S.

Just the Facts, Ma’am
Try taking a fresh approach to your family history brick walls. Write down every thing you “know.” Then list supporting records for each fact. When you take a fresh look, you may find yourself instead thinking, “Why didn’t I think of this sooner?” Taking A Fresh Look At Brick Walls
by Juliana Smith
04 May 2009


Reprinted with permission from The Weekly Discovery copyright 2009, The Generations Network, Inc.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

What You Inherited From Your Ancestors: Rotator Cuff Disease

The following is reprinted here with permission from Dick Eastman as printed in Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter, 01 May 2009:

"What You Inherited from Your Ancestors: Rotator Cuff Disease

I know that we all inherit many medical problems from our ancestors but this one surprised me: the Risk of Rotator Cuff Disease?

Writing in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery (American). Robert Z. Tashjian, MD, James M. Farnham, MS, Frederick S. Albright, PhD, Craig C. Teerlink, MS and Lisa A. Cannon-Albright, PhD wrote:
We analyzed a set of patients with diagnosed rotator cuff disease and a known genealogy to describe the familial clustering of affected individuals. The observations of significant excess relatedness of patients and the significantly elevated risks to both close and distant relatives of patients strongly support a heritable predisposition to rotator cuff disease.

Details are available at:

For those who do not know what constitutes Rotator Cuff Disease (and that included me until a few minutes ago), the rotator cuff is a group of strong, ropelike fibers (tendons) and muscles in the shoulder. Rotator cuff disorders occur when tissues in the shoulder get irritated or damaged.

Rotator cuff disorders include:

* Inflammation of the tendons (tendinitis) or of a bursa (bursitis). In the shoulder, a bursa is a small, fluid-filled sac that serves as a cushion between the tendons and the bones.

*Impingement, in which a tendon is squeezed and rubs against bone.

*Calcium buildup in the tendons, which causes a painful condition called calcific tendinitis.
Partial or complete tears of the rotator cuff tendons. "

How DNA Solved One Man's Mystery

The following excerpt is taken from the online article:

"Richard Hill's father, on his deathbed, revealed a secret to his 32-year-old son: Richard was an adopted child. The younger Mr. Hill was quickly able to learn who his biological mother was. But cracking the identity of his birth father -- shrouded in cover ups, lies and false trails -- took 26 years. In the end, Mr. Hill solved the mystery with the help of sophisticated DNA-based genealogy tests. For most people who practice it, genetic genealogy is a hobby. But as the tests grow more powerful, people are starting to unearth family secrets. Many offspring of sperm-donor fathers are using Internet-based DNA searches to locate their so-called biodads.Others hope to identify unknown family members by connecting DNA profiles with last names."

You can read the rest of this fascinating article on the Wall Street Journal Online.

Friday, May 1, 2009

It Took Him 65-Years To Get Home

Jimmie Doyle joined the military in 1943. He came home the next year to see his new son.

On the last day of August 1944 his plane was shot down.

A son's undying love and devotion helped head a search that included diving into the Pacific Ocean to recover the remains of the aircraft, and that of his father.

That son was able to bring his father home and lay him to rest next to the woman he loved.

"He left here when he was 25, and he couldn't get home for 65 years, but now he gets to spend eternity next to the woman he loved. From here, everything is good."

Reading this beautiful account at the Star-Telegram.

Jenette Bissell's Tombstone Goes Home

Thanks to a genealogy researcher in Illinois, little Jenette Bissell's tombstone will find it's way back to it's home in a long-forgotten cemetery, and mark her grave once more.

You can read this fascinating story at Eastern Iowa's Gazette Online.

BCG Seminar Video Now Online

The Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG)R announces an exciting newaddition to its website: a videotape of a BCG Certification Seminarpresented before a live audience in Salt Lake City in November 2008 byThomas W. Jones, Ph.D., CG(sm), CGL(sm), FASG, and Elissa Scalise Powell,CG. Tom and Elissa have conducted this seminar numerous times over the pastseveral years, mainly at national conferences. The seminar includesinformation about the certification process, the required portfolioelements, tips about mailing the package, expected turnaround time,suggestions for preparing for certification, and many other topics. The two-hour program has been broken into short segments for convenient onlineviewing.

Special thanks go to FamilySearch for producing the video and to BCG TrusteeCindyLee Banks, CG, for coordinating the project.

To view the Certification Seminar, go to and click on thelink for Certification Seminar Video.

The Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) was organized in 1964 to foster public confidence in genealogy as a respected branch of history bypromoting an attainable, uniform standard of competence and ethics amonggenealogical practitioners, and by publicly recognizing persons who meetthat standard.