Thursday, April 30, 2015

How To Break Down A Brick Wall

It happens, or will happen, to all of us.  Your family history research comes to a screeching halt.  The trail goes cold.  You can't find any more information on an ancestor.  You try everything you know and you get nowhere.  We call it a brick wall. recently posted an interesting piece on their blog about knocking down one of these obstacles.  Someone wrote in asking how to find out more information about her grandfather.  The experts then proceeded to break down the wall and dig up the elusive details.  It is a wonderful example of how this is done and an interesting story to boot!

I hope you will take a minute to read Window Through A Widow's Pension posted by the Ancestry team on 22 April and see if it might give you some ideas on how to break down a wall or two of your own.

-- submitted by Denise Doyon

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

66 Places To Find A Female Maiden Name

Reposted from Colonial Roots

Just when you thought you had searched everywhere ...

The search for a female maiden name is often one of the most elusive searches in our family history. You first need to identify the records that may contain the maiden name of your female ancestor. A basic list of records containing this information is shown below.

Birth Records
Birth certificates, including delayed birth records and corrected birth records
Newspaper birth announcements
Family lore and oral histories
Published biographies and genealogies
Journals and diaries
Family Bibles

Marriage Records
Marriage certificates
Marriage applications & licenses
Newspaper wedding announcements
Family Bibles

Divorce Records
Newspaper announcements
Court proceedings: early records may appear in Chancery Court records
County divorce records

Death Records
Death certificates
Burial permits or transfer papers (if the death occurred out of state)
Newspaper announcements, including obituaries and death notices
Funeral records, including funeral cards

Cemetery Records
Sexton’s office (cemetery office, caretaker’s office)
Tombstone inscriptions
Note: a clue can be found by studying those buried adjoining the deceased

Census Records
Names of in-laws may be included in a family grouping
1890 Veteran’s census including widows of veterans
1925 Iowa State Census (the only U.S. census with the question, “Maiden Name of Mother?”)
Names of neighbors may contain clues
Clues from parents birthplace

Online Databases & Indexes
Google search search, search family trees for clues
RootsWeb (archives) family name search
Name indexes
Online family trees

Vital Records Indexes & Compilations (some are online)
Kentucky birth/death index (one of the states whose records are available on the Internet)
The Barbour Collection (for Connecticut, a published compilation)
New England vital records (published town reports)
RootsWeb (archives) county pages may include county-wide indexes
Bible records: some are online (Virginia, North Carolina, and Louisiana); others may be found through relatives and church collections

Probate Records
Wills: a woman may be named by her married name in her father’s will
Administration records (same as above)
Appointments of administrators/executors (can provide a clue to the wife’s family name)
Estate settlements (may also be known as distributions or fiduciary accounts)

Church Records
Baptisms and christenings: pay close attention to the surnames of the sponsors or godparents
Church membership lists or class lists
Vestry minutes

Civil War soldiers & sailors online index
Veterans’ pension files: Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Civil War
Family correspondence and other family heirlooms
Family lore and oral interviews
Lineage society membership applications
Deeds and other land records
Civil court records (including Chancery Court)
Criminal court records
Newspaper articles: your ancestor may be mentioned in an article other than birth, marriage, or death notice
Social Security applications
Draft registration record
Driver’s license application
Samplers and Frakturs (often contain family names)
Records of fraternal organizations, including newsletters and other publications
Homestead record
Immigration and naturalization records
Insurance papers
Military records, including medical and burial records
Professional license applications
Passports applications
Genealogy newsletters, publications, and websites (queries)
Voter registrations
Immigrant aid societies

Finding a female maiden name becomes a bit easier—if you know where to look. Have you found an ancestor’s maiden name in an unusual place?

Monday, April 27, 2015

Movie Mondays

So you are getting ready to begin your search, and Linda and I have been busy trying to supply you with the information and tools you need to get started. It's daunting. Sometimes, even overwhelming. We know. We were once just starting out, too.

In researching ways to make it easier to teach all of you the basics, I stumbled upon a number of wonderful videos sponsored by the Family History Library.  These are very cool because the videos are very well done, most of us learn best by being shown how to do things, and these lessons use the quintessential free resource -  What's not to like!

Starting today, we are launching a series called "Movie Mondays".  Each Monday we will post the link to a video we hope you will enjoy and find useful as you begin digging into your family roots.

This week we are offering the first in a series of short videos entitled "5 Minute Genealogy". Who doesn't have five minutes to learn something new?  When you click on the link supplied below, take note of the information listed below the grey "View This Lesson" box.  In the case of the first episode, you will find a link to a PDF lesson handout.  Just click on the link and you will get a nifty one-page handout you can print or download to your computer for future reference.

PLEASE NOTE:  If you are using a PC you may be prompted to download Microsoft's Silverlight program.  It only takes a minute and will enable you to run the videos on your Windows PC.  I found that the videos work best using Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox.  Even though they say the videos will run well on Google Chrome, that has not been true for me.  Linda and I discovered that these videos do not run on tablet devices.  If you are using an Apple computer you may be prompted to download a program such as the "Spotlight" plug-in to enable you to watch these videos.

Here is the link for the first episode. If you need a link to copy and paste into an alternative browser:

Now get out there and find some ancestors!

-- submitted by Denise Doyon

The Future of Genealogy - 6 Predictions

Reposted from Behold Genealogy - 7 Apr 2015 by Louis Kessler

There’s been a lot happening the past few years. As I’ve developed Behold, I’ve tried to stay aware of the trends in the genealogy field and the expectations of genealogists of their genealogy software.

I was very inspired by James Tanner’s blog post yesterday titled: Expanding Our View of What is Possible in Genealogical Research. James correctly says that the old way of doing genealogy that we all did 30 years ago is gone. In other words, we no longer have to travel to the library, vital statistics office, or archives and laboriously track down all the bits of information we need to put our ancestors together piece by piece. No. Technology has fallen upon us. It allows us to sit comfortably in our house on our computers and search and find more records and connect with more people and more relatives that we ever could have imagined possible.

The world has changed. Here is my expectation of what is coming:

More Interest in Genealogy
Companies such as Ancestry, FamilySearch and MyHeritage have been claiming tens of millions of subscribers. I’ve heard that MyHeritage is adding thousands of new users each day. Over 20,000 people were at RootsTech in Salt Lake City this year. Who Do You Think You Are and Genealogy Roadshow are now regular programming on major networks.

Why is this? Because technology has turned genealogy from a niche hobby for only the most studious meticulous researchers to one that can be done by anyone with an internet connection.

Everything Digital

One of the most tedious tasks 30 years ago was paper, and writing up your family information, and organizing it, and storing it.

It’s becoming a digital world. Everything is getting scanned. It can be saved online, or shared in the cloud, and organized in folders and every word can be indexed so anything can be found.

Genealogy software developers are learning as well that people want/need to record their assumptions and reasoning so programs are starting to make that possible and incorporate these features. The data is digitally transferred to your smartphone so you can take it with you. Your camera, scanner, social network, online browser, cloud data and genealogy tool is becoming one device that you carry around with you wherever you go.

Online Data and Online Trees Ad Infinitum

There are so many online repositories and so many online records, it is getting to the point that no one person has enough time in their lifetime to research all there is about their family.

The online services now give you smart matches or similarly-named tools that match your data to potential family trees or records that may or may not be pertinent to you. You can easily get 10,000 of these “hints” thrust upon you. If you take only 10 minutes to thoroughly review, assess and if necessary incorporate the results of each smart link into your research, that will only take 2,000 hours of your time. By then, you’ll likely have 20,000 new links to check.

This is obviously unmanageable and cannot persist. It means that new tools will be coming to identify and make the dissemination of this information easier. (I’m thinking deeply about this)

Down with Standards. Up with APIs

I’ve been a supporter for years of both the BetterGEDCOM and FHISO initiatives for a new genealogy data communication standard. But I’m now feeling the effort will not get anywhere unless it completely changes its emphasis.

We don’t want to transfer just data anymore. We want to connect the information available at the online repositories and online services to what we have and make corrections, add conclusions and connect the conclusions to their evidence. In other words, we want our data to transfer and connect seamlessly with the online resources.

I really think AncestorSync had the right idea. Connect to everything. Use the Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) of each company to connect your data to theirs. Hide the details of the API from the user and make it seemless to the user. It should just work like magic. Unfortunately, the implementation of that idea was much harder than the even the very smart people at AncestorSync thought, and the effort was abandoned.

But it’s starting again. RootsMagic is connecting to MyHeritage and FamilySearch. FamilySearch has partner sites who interact with its data. And other sites are building public APIs as well.

Once there is a company big enough that connects to everywhere by linking to all these APIs, it will becomes hugely popular, and the genealogical world will take another giant leap.

My Data / My Research

The concept of one world tree is fine. The concept of individual linked trees is also fine. Each has advantages and disadvantages.

But everyone wants/needs to separate out the data that they “know” is true from all the other stuff/junk/conjecture/miscellanea that Joe Blow has put up on some online site. We want to know exactly what we have personally examined and verified and concluded.

So there is still an extreme need for personal genealogy data. The best place for that is still and will always be on your own personal computing device so you can ensure that no one else will update or tamper and destroy what you worked so hard to produce. So desktop software is not dead and will never be (at least until the desktop itself dies).

All you’ll need is that magic API program from #4 and you’ll be set.

Genetics and DNA

The elephant is in the room. The technological advances that made DNA testing affordable to the masses in the past 10 years has taken the world by storm. Millions of people have been tested at several different testing companies and a whole new science of genealogy has been born.

It is really unbelievable what you can do with DNA results when a company has a million other tested people you can compare with. Genealogists are in the “still trying to figure this out” phase, but it’s really simple when you think about it.

You have two genealogies. There’s your traditional genealogy of whom you, your relatives and the records think your ancestors were. Then there’s your genetic genealogy that says who your genetic ancestors were. These two genealogies are not the same. They may not even be close. The rate of genetic NPE (Not the Parent Expected) has been estimated at between 1% and 3% or higher. By the 6th generation, half the ancestors in your genetic tree might not be who you thought they should be.

Genealogy will, by necessity, evolve so that people realize they have multiple ancestries, and will want to trace both their traditional family and their genetic family. People have to smarten up first and realize that there’s a reason why your grandfather does not have a DNA match with you. So don’t promote DNA research through your family until you are absolutely sure no one will get hurt by it!

But this DNA thing is phenomenal. Take it. Embrace it. Use it if you dare.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Citation Saturday Passenger Lists - Data Base Entries, Manifests and Ship Images

One of the most exciting things I experienced when I first started digging around in my family history was the day I was searching in the Ellis Island Website for information on my German grandparents. I knew they had come to America after their marriage in 1923 and I wanted to see if I could find a record of their arrival.  I was excited to find my grandfather's name in my very first search, and when I clicked on the "see passenger manifest image" I got to see the actual entry of his arrival.  Another click and I got an image of the ship he arrived on.  It was exhilarating!  It was the moment I got hooked.

Any of us who have mined various databases for these records have experienced that thrill.  I made screenshots of the manifest and ship images and filed them somewhere on my computer hard-drive.  Of course, I made no citation, because back then, I was too inexperienced to know that I had to.  And I had no real organizational system for keeping track of stuff back then either.  Not good genealogical practices.  But I digress.

I had to eventually go back and research the information again so that I could cite it all properly.  I used and was able to reconstruct all but one of the records through their database.

Passenger List - Data Base Entry

Since you have all already gotten to know my maternal grandparents on past Citation Saturdays, I will use my Opa's arrival information for our examples.  When I went back to to reconstruct my search, this is the record I got:

Notice that this is not an image of the actual manifest, but a summary of that information that compiles.

Again, using Thomas MacEntee's format (which I will use for all the citations mentioned in this blogpost), the citation would look like this: 

"Passenger Record,"  database New York Passenger Lists 1820-1957  (; accessed 27 March 2015, entry for Johannes Voigt, age 30, arrived 9 Dec 1923 on the Derfflinger.

The citation gives you everything you need to know to go back to and find this again. 

Manifest Image

Although it is too small to read, this is the image from my Opa's arrival on Ellis Island on 9 December 1923.  I found this on and the citation for this image is:

Manifest, Derfflinger, 9 December 1923, List No 2, Page 46, Line No. 2, for Johannes Voigt, age 30, digital images, ( accessed 27 March 2015.  [Roll: T1715, 1897-1957, 3001-4000, Roll 3426]

You would have to blow up the image in order to read the list, page and line numbers, but they are there. The bracketed [ ] information I added at the end is not really necessary, but since gave me that information when I brought up the image, I decided to add it because I wanted to.  

Ship Images

This is a photo of the Derfflinger which I got from the Ellis Island website.  Here is the citation for the image:

Photo of Derfflinger, (Built by Schichau Shipyard, Danzig, Germany, 1907),, ( accessed 27 March 2015, retrievable by choosing "Ship" link attached to the "Passenger Record" database search results for Johannes Voigt, age 30, arrived 9 December 1923.

Not all that difficult.  Remember, the citation has to give you everything you need to know to go back and find the resource again.  It doesn't have to include any more than that - but if you want to add something that you feel might be useful (like the instruction above for retrieving the record) there are no "citation police" that are going to write you a citation (couldn't resist that ,,,, sorry) for getting creative.

I hope you are finding that this is not as difficult as you thought it was going to be! Citing your sources is a great habit, and one I hope you will acquire moving forward.

Enjoy the weekend!

-- submitted by Denise Doyon

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Blog Comments

I have finally had some time to deal with the "comments" issues on the blog. It appears that Blogger (the platform we use to publish the blog) doesn't deal with comments as intuitively as other platforms. My research led me to three options: change the platform, import a third-party comments gadget or, find a way to work with what we have.

The first and second options are both complicated and time-consuming and in the case of the second, involves learning how to deal with HTML code. Since our readership is relatively small at the moment, we have decided to go with option three.

If you are a Google user, and have a gmail address, you can just comment under your own Google name. If you have a URL, you can use one of those options. Otherwise, we suggest you use the "Anonymous" option when posting a comment. At the end of the comment, just type in your name or, if you prefer, remain anonymous. All comments will be processed as usual - which means they will be moderated before they are posted.

In the event our readership expands, we will revisit the issue and make another decision. For now, we hope this workaround will solve the problem many of you have had trying to post a comment. If you have any questions or concerns, please let us know.

-- submitted by Linda and Denise

D.I.R.T. Education Series

For those of you who were unable to make the first installment of our education series, you can now access the presentations from the blog.  Under the resources tab, scroll down to the section entitled "Presentations".  Click on the bright yellow "here" to access the slides we used for the presentation you missed or, if you did make it to the meeting and want to refresh your memory, you can go through the slides once again.  The first presentation on 22 April 2015 was entitled "In the Beginning".  

Linda and I hope you will enjoy this new meeting format and come away with new and better tools for your own family history journey.  We are always looking for new ideas, so if you have any suggestions about topics you would like us to cover in the series, please let us know.

-- submitted by Denise Doyon

The Internet Archive

It never ceases to amaze me how many new things I can learn in one day if I just keep an open mind - and give myself permission to wander aimlessly. There was a day when that aimless wandering would include hours and hours of scouring a used book store for hidden treasure. That Aha! moment when you pull some dusty, musty, ancient-looking tome down from a shelf and  discover that it is something very, very special - like a first edition copy of Gone With The Wind or Leaves of Grass. Don't laugh.  Happens all the time - just not to me.

We all get caught up in our busy lives and often forget to take the time to wander around and "see what's out there". These days, I don't spend as much time as I used to in used book stores - but I often find myself wandering around the Internet - usually because I have read some article or blog post that directs me to some other content and, eventually, leads me to a new resource.

If you are one of those people who sat down one day and decided to see what you could find out about your family history in a few hours and were happy to walk away with a page or two of random data - then no need to read on.  But if that hour or two resulted in you contracting a serious case of geneaologitis, then you know that there never seems to be an end to the possibilities.  Every single day I work on my family history project I learn something new.

Lately there has been some press about the fact that Google Books, with all its good intentions of digitizing every book they could get their hands on, was backing off that commitment.  But just when you think the door may be closed on getting digital access to materials relevant to genealogy, along comes the Internet Archive to pick up the slack and carry on.  Currently, they are adding 1,000 books each day to their digital archives. No, that wasn't a typo.  One-thousand-books-each-day.  How did I know about this?  I read genealogy blogs.

So I opened up a new tab on my Internet browser and took a virtual "stroll".  OMG!

What is the Internet Archive?  It is a non-profit organization that has created one of the world's largest open collections of digitized books, over six million public domain books, and an open library catalog.  The digitized books are available in many more formats than those from other online services, including PDF, Kindle, EPUB and more.  Of course, you can just read any book in their catalog by simply displaying it on your computer screen

According to one of Dick Eastman's recent blog posts, "the Internet Archive has digitized 1.9 million videos, home movies, and 4,000 public-domain feature films.  It has also added .2.3 million audio recordings, 74,000 radio broadcasts, 13,000 78rpm records, and 1.7 million Creative Commons-licensed audio recordings, more than 137,000 concert recordings, nearly 10,000 from the Grateful Dead alone.  Other items added to the FREE online archives include more than 10,000 audiobooks from LibriVox, 668,000 news broadcasts with full-text search, and the largest collection of historical software in the world."

WOW!  That's a lot of stuff.  And just so we're clear, it's not just English language books.  There is stuff from all over the world in just about every language you can think of.  And it's all FREE. Under the topic of genealogy alone there 90,763 items available: 91,132 texts, 261 audio recordings, 104 movies, 69 web pages, 48 images, 34 software items, 30 data items and 15 concerts.  Whew!

How does this help your family history research?  Well, I found a video of my maternal grandmother's hometown in Germany, and one of the church she and my grandfather were married in. I found a book about the history of my hometown that was published in the 1930s which was chock full of stuff I never knew, including photos of the town as it looked around the time my grandparents settled there.  Just for fun, I searched using my last name and found 137 items.

Check it out and have some fun wandering around. Prepare to be amazed!

-- submitted by Denise Doyon

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Top Ten Genealogy Education Resources

Randy Seaver is a genealogist with his own blog entitled, "Genea-Musings".  Back in March, he published a post, My Top 10 Genealogy Education Resources.  The genealogy world is chock full of education resources in the form of books, webinars, seminars, blogs, podcasts and websites.  Many of these are free.  Randy has compiled a list of fifty-five (and growing) resources he uses regularly that help make him a more efficient, organized and overall better researcher.

In his blogpost, Randy expands on each of his top 10, but here is a summary of the list:

  1. Local genealogy society programs and seminars
  2. Webinars
  3. FamilySearch Learning Center Videos
  4. Family Search Wiki
  5. Cyndi's List
  6. YouTube
  7. Google+ and Hangouts On Air
  8. Multi-day regional and national conferences, and genealogy cruises
  9. Radio broadcasts and podcasts
  10. ProGen Study Group
I am willing to bet you never heard of half of these.  Take a look at Randy's post and see what you've been missing!

-- submitted by Denise Doyon

Monday, April 20, 2015

The D.I.R.T. Survey Results Are In!

Our recent survey results showed an overwhelming wish to have actual "how to" classes in genealogy as a part of our club meetings. At the same time, the more experienced folks asked for more time to help each other and enjoy everyone's results. Denise and I put our heads together and came up with what we hope will be the answer to fulfilling everyone's needs. In so doing we are adopting a new meeting format.

During the first hour of each meeting we will now teach, starting from the very beginning this coming week, how to start or do-over and store your family genealogy research in an organized, usable manner. Each week we will utilize the new projector, your beginner packets, handouts, and other devices and props to gradually build your abilities and organization skills. We will divide up the information to present both traditional, hard copy and digital approaches to each topic. When we are done you will have heard the "who, what, how, when, where, and why" of all phases of genealogical research. We urge you to procure a notebook dedicated to what you want to take notes on during these lessons and, perhaps, even using the outlines provided each week. Don't forget your beginner packets, as we will go over and use many of the sheets from them. 

Then in the second hour we will have discussions of brick walls, success stories, one on one help, our beginner's corner and various fun things like our indexing contest to work on together. More experienced searchers can pair up with beginners who want some extra guidance. We can plan excursions and share things we've found that are related to the topic.
We will still try to find webinars, speakers and other special events to keep it all fresh. The topic of cost has been tabled pending a new directive from the directors at the Lake House facility.

Come for one hour or both, depending on your interests. We really have tried to meet your requests in the spirit of the 2015 do-over currently popular in the world of genealogy and hope your interest is piqued to give it a try.

The usual reminder will go out on Monday of the next meeting date. Hope to see you !

-- submitted by Linda Mecchi

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Citation Saturday - New York City Birth, Marriage and Death Records

Example Source Citations for the New York City Birth, Marriage and Death Indexes on FamilySearch

Re-posted from GeneaMusings by Randy Seaver 26 March 2015

Many of us have ancestors that came to this country through Ellis Island in New York City. Some of them moved on to other parts of the country, but many of them stayed in the area and settled down. Randy Seaver, in his blog, GeneaMusings, recently blogged about the new FamilySearch records released for New York City Birth, Marriage and Death indexes and shared his wisdom on how to cite those records. He did such a great job that I decided to share his post with you as part of our Citation Saturday series.


After FamilySearch released the New York City Birth, Marriage and Death indexes last week, I started "mining" the three collections for Seaver persons, hoping to find more accurate content (names, dates, places, spouse's maiden name, parents names, etc.) than I had in my database. In some cases, I did not have the person in my database, which led to some online research to try to connect the person to parents in my database.

In the process of adding content, I needed to also add source citations for the records. In this post, I want to provide some example source citations for the three record collections:

1) Births:

I was able to add a birth date, birth place and middle name for the birth of Philip Barber Seaver. The parents names are always given. The source citation is:

"New York, New York City Births, 1846-1909," indexed database, FamilySearch( : accessed 26 March 2015), Philip Barber Seaver entry, 10 August 1905.

2) Marriages:

I was able to add a marriage date and place for the marriage of Alfred L. Seaver and Anna Allen Brown. The parents names, approximate birth years and birthplaces of both persons are usually given. The source citation is:

"New York, New York City Marriage Records, 1866-1938," indexed database, FamilySearch( : accessed 26 March 2015), Alfred L. Seaver and Anna Allen Brown entry, 15 April 1919.

3) Deaths:

I was able to add a death date and death place for Philip Barber Seaver. The parents names are sometimes given. The source citation is:

"New York, New York City Municipal Deaths, 1795-1949," indexed database, FamilySearch( : accessed 26 March 2015), Philip Barber Seaver entry, 12 August 1905.

If researchers use these record collections, they can copy and paste these source citations into their database, and substitute names, event date and access date for their own findings.

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2015, Randall J. Seaver

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Advice For Beginning Genealogists

Reposted from Genea-Musings by Randy Seaver 19 March 2015 (click link to see Randy's original post)

I found this post by Randy Seaver on his blog, Genea-Musings to be well thought out and to the point.  Many of you are just starting your family history research and I hope you will find Randy's suggestions helpful.

Advice for Beginning Genealogists

I've been asked questions, like the one below, by several society colleagues in the past month:

"I'm only a beginning genealogist, and I'm overwhelmed by how to start, what's best to do, in what order, etc."

This is an excellent question, and there are many possible answers to the question. Here are some of my answers after more reflection about them:

1) At the beginning, take a "Beginning Genealogy" course - either online at websites (e.g.,RootsWeb Guide to Tracing Family Trees or Guide to Family History Research) or at a local genealogy society or adult education center. Become familiar with the overall process, the terms, the standards, the paper forms, available repositories, and online resources. See A Guide to Research for the research process and for more details. Use the FamilySearch Research Wiki for information about record types, localities, and specific records.

2) Organize your research - use folders or binders for papers, organized by surname, or locality; use digital file folders for digital records (scanned photos, scanned documents, downloaded documents, etc.), organized by surname and family; use a genealogy management program (an online tree, or download software) to keep track of all of the name, relationship, date, place, source, notes, media, etc. information; maintain research logs and to-do lists to keep track of what you have done and want to do.

3) Become familiar with different record groups - start with vital records, census and cemetery records, and gradually learn about church, military, migration, citizenship, court, land, tax, town, newspaper, directory, and other record types. The sooner you understand why and how these record types were created, and how to access and obtain them, the faster you will become a competent genealogy researcher.

4) There may be published books and/or periodical articles in local or distant repositories on your ancestral surnames and localities. Other researchers may have found information about your ancestral families. Don't believe everything you read on the Internet in online family trees or on websites. Use this information as a guide, but don't completely trust it. Try to verify the information by doing your own research in records.

5) Understand that all of the records are NOT digitized or online in databases behind a subscription wall - perhaps only 10% (or less) is currently online, and not all of those are indexed. The "other 90%" are in repositories (e.g., libraries, archives, courthouses, historical/genealogical societies, attics/basements, etc.) and may be organized into record groups, or not. There are many records online that are FREE to access; others are behind a subscription wall. You can access many subscription sites for free at local FamilySearch Centers or some local libraries.

6) Join local, regional or national genealogical societies so that you can benefit from the knowledge and counsel of other researchers. Most societies have monthly programs with knowledgeable speakers on varied research topics. Some societies have a mentor program or a research advisor group where you can ask questions and receive advice.

7) Continue your genealogical education through reading, online webinars, all-day seminars, multi-day conferences, weeklong institutes, or semester long certificate classes. This is lifelong learning, it's more than two weeks of training and now "I are a genealogist."

8) Share your research with your family members or other researchers in conversations, in an online family tree, on a website or blog, on social media, etc. Other researchers may share your ancestral families, or know of resources available in a locality, or are expert in a specific record group.

9) It is easy to be overwhelmed as you visit repositories, search online for records, try to stay organized, learn software capabilities, attend classes or programs, etc. Depending on your daily schedule and priorities, plan each day with the short-term goal of learning something this hour, or this day, or this week, or this month, and apply yourself to doing it. Have a long-term education plan to learn more about research processes, record types, localities, resources, etc. Success in genealogy research is built on many small successes in individual families and localities.

10) We all started at the beginning - with our families, and we gradually became more knowledgeable about how to research, where to find resources, how to use software, etc. You will find that every success finding an ancestral family leads to two more ancestral families, and so on.
Steady progress can be made learning about your ancestral families, and moving your pedigree back in time. Sometimes we get stuck and can't find more information about the next family back on the chart.

Frankly, I think that the classical way to "begin" as described above is the best way to grow a competent genealogist. I know that websites like Ancestry, MyHeritage, FamilySearch and others are enticing beginners with advertising that essentially says "enter your parents and grandparents names, and we'll show you your ancestry."

The truth is you have to work at it to go back in time, one generation at a time. Perhaps you will get lucky and the Record Hints, Record Matches or Leaf Hints will highlight records of your ancestors, and their parents. Perhaps some other researcher has a long chain of ancestral families in an online family tree. This doesn't happen for every researcher.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

15 Last Survivors of Famous Events

Reposted from Mental Floss post by Kathy Benjamin

15 Last Survivors of Famous Events

No matter how many people are involved in an important event, one of them has to be the last to leave this earth. Here are 15 people who not only made history, but got to tell the tale for decades to come.


George Hewes was born in Boston in 1742 and was a poor shoemaker his whole life. 
We probably wouldn’t even know his name, if it weren't for the fact that his longevity made him a celebrity in the 1800s.
Hewes was injured in the Boston Massacre and later was a part of the group that threw tea into Boston Harbor. During the Revolutionary War he was both a militia member and a privateer. But after the war ended his life went back to normal. Then, in the 1830s, Americans “rediscovered” the Boston Tea Party and looked for any remaining participants. Hewes became a celebrity, had two biographies published, sat for his portrait, and was the guest of honor at a prestigious Fourth of July celebration. He died in 1840, aged 98. (The other candidate is David Kinnison, who—if we’re to believe his account—died in 1851 at 115 years old. But he’s now widely believed to be a fraud.)

Two hundred and ninety-eight of the infamous 300 Spartans died in this battle against the Persians. One messenger, Pantites, was sent to deliver a letter and missed the fight. When he returned and found himself in disgrace, he hanged himself. Aristodemus and Eurytus were excused from fighting when they both came down with eye infections. According to Herodotus (who you have to take with a big grain of salt), Eurytus ran to the battle when he heard his fellow warriors were being slaughtered, but Aristodemus stayed behind. The Spartans were so disappointed in his perceived cowardice that they gave him the ultimate punishment: Keeping him alive to live with the shame.

While many of the men on the Mayflower hedged their bets and left their families back at home, just in case life in the New World was too difficult, Isaac Allerton not only brought his pregnant wife, he brought his three young children as well. Mary, the youngest, was only four when she was bundled on to the ship and left Europe forever. In America, things seem to have gone well for her. She eventually married and had eight children as well as 50 grandchildren, living to the ripe old age of 83.


Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

The longest lived veteran of the War of Independence was just a teenager when he signed up to fight, but he lived to see the end of the Civil War, and then some. In 1867, Daniel Bakemanfinally applied for a military pension, even though his service had been almost 90 years before. At that point he claimed to be 107, and was 109 when he died two years later. It's also claimed that he was married to his wife for 91 years and 12 days, which, if true, would make it the longest marriage ever recorded.

Despite being born a bastard and a Catholic (in an overwhelmingly Protestant colony where Catholics couldn't even hold office), Charles Carroll not only signed the Declaration of Independence, he lived longer than anyone else who did. He was involved with the fight for freedom from the very beginning, writing newspaper articles denouncing British rule and taxation, representing Maryland in almost all of the pre-revolutionary councils, and playing a role in setting a ship full of tea on fire. In spite of the danger of his activities, he survived the war, got involved in politics, and died in 1832 at the age of 95.


Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

When Nicolas Savin died in 1894, he was supposedly 126 years old. This would make him four years older than the oldest verified person ever recorded. However, there is evidence he was born almost 20 years later than he said, which would make his claims of fighting in the French Revolution suspect. He did serve during the Napoleonic wars, though, and was highly decorated. He was captured by the Russians and after the wars were over he decided to stay in that country. If he did fight during the Revolution, he was the longest living veteran by miles.


Neugin was only four when her people were forcibly removed from Georgia to Oklahoma. Dozens of children died of disease during the journey, and her parents and many others had to walk the whole way. Neugin, who rode in a wagon, brought her pet duck with her for companionship, but it died on the way; she still remembered that pain when interviewed in her 90s. She eventually married, had two children, and died in 1932 at age 98.


It is hard to be sure about this one because so few personal records about slaves were ever kept. But when she died in 1948 aged 105, people believed that Eliza Moore was the last person to have been born into slavery in the U.S. She married another slave and was probably owned by a Dr. Taylor in Alabama. After the war ended, she and her husband became sharecroppers and may have had two children.


The 1800s were full of people inventing new sports, not all of which caught on. So James Naismith’s students were not too impressed when told they had to learn “another new game.” The 18 players of that first basketball game obviously had a steep learning curve, since the final score was only 1-0. But one of the participants, Raymond Kaighn, loved the game and was instrumental in organizing the first ever college game three years later. He stayed in sports his whole life, playing, coaching, and working for the YMCA. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame for his participation in that first game, and when he died in 1962 aged 92, he was the only one of the original 18 left.

Johnny Moore didn’t have anything to do with the development of the airplane, yet he holds a special place in aviation history. When the Wright brothers came to Kitty Hawk to try out their new machine, Moore just happened to be walking along the beach. He came over to see what was going on, thought it sounded interesting, and stuck around. He was only 16, but being in the right place at the right time meant he became one of the first six people to see an airplane fly. He also helped historians mark the exact spot the flight had taken place years later. Unfortunately, he committed suicide in 1952 aged 66.

If it was “women and children first” when it came to getting off the sinking Titanic, Dean must have been first in line to get in a lifeboat. Not only was she female, but at only two months old, she was the youngest passenger on board. Her family wasn’t even supposed to be on the boat, but was transferred to it when a coal strike kept their original vessel from sailing. While she, her mother, and brother survived, her father went down with the ship.

Obviously, Dean didn’t have any memories of the sinking, and although she became a minor celebrity as a toddler thanks to her ordeal, she didn’t even know she had been on the Titanicuntil she was eight. She died in 2009 aged 97.


You might think that the men who inadvertently started WWI would have died young and violently, but one of them, Čubrilović, made it to age 93. He was only 17 when he was recruited to join the group hoping to assassinate the Archduke and liberate Bosnia. While he never ended up killing anyone, he was arrested for treason and murder and found guilty. Since he was younger than 20 when the crime was committed, he could not be executed and was instead sentenced to 16 years in prison, but was released when the war ended in 1918. After the war he got a PhD, became a professor, and got involved in politics in a way that didn’t involve trying to kill people. He died in 1990.


You wouldn’t think it looking at the famous image, but of the 97 people on board theHindenburg, 62 of them managed to survive the explosion and fire. One of those was a 14-year-old cabin boy who came away completely unscathed. Franz had gotten the job by chance and it was only his fifth flight on the dirigible. When disaster struck, he happened to be under a water tank that burst over him, helping protect him from the flames. He jumped to the ground through a hatch and ran. When he died last year aged 92, it was believed that two passengers and a member of the ground crew were still alive.


Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Misch was only 20 when he was called up for service in the German military shortly before WWII started. In 1940, he was part of select group chosen to be Hitler’s personal bodyguards. He stayed in this position for the rest of the war, so when the Führer fled to his bunker in 1945, Misch went with him. He was with the group who discovered the bodies of Hitler and Eva Braun after they killed themselves, and stayed in the bunker right to the very end, fleeing only hours before the Soviets got there. He was captured, tortured, and spent nine years in a forced labor camp. After his release, he returned to Berlin, where he became a businessman, wrote his memoirs, and would show up at the site of the bunker from time to time to tell tourists how he had been there. He died in 2013 aged 96.


Oliver Brown wasn’t the only person who took the Topeka public school system to court over segregation. There were 12 mothers of local students listed as well, and one of them wasHenderson. Henderson herself had attended both mixed and segregated schools in her youth. In a later interview, she said her own experiences with integrated schools influenced her to get involved for her own two children, who had to be bussed to an all-black school on the other side of the city. Even though what she was doing was incredibly brave, she said no one involved
had any idea how big the case would become. Henderson died in 2008 at the age of 88.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Citation Saturday - Why Bother?

Okay.  For two weeks you have had a couple of complicated lessons on citations for lots of different resources.  Your brains are probably a bit fried and you are wondering if all that work is worth it.  Some of you are probably still asking, "Why bother?"

This week there is no real lesson.  Whew!  Bet you're happy!  What I want to talk about instead is the Why.  If you are using sites such as Ancestry, FamilySearch, RootsWeb, WikiTree, RootsMagic, etc. (there are way too many to list here), you will notice that there are a LOT of other folks on those sites building their trees and hoping to find some cousins.  These sites are often labeled "cousin bait" because the hope is that by creating a public tree on these sites (i.e., allowing other people on the site to view and borrow from your work so you can view and borrow from theirs) you will find some long lost, or at the very least, forgotten, cousin.

Sometimes that is very true. Because of my public tree on, I did find a "cousin" - sort of.  We are actually sixth cousins, Our mutual ancestor is Paul Doyon (b. 1849).  Paul is my great grandfather.  His relationship to my sixth cousin (Nick) is third cousin, 3x removed.  Nick's relationship to my father is fifth cousin, 1x removed.  Yep - it gets complicated.  But Nick and I found each other on  I was struggling through the beginning phases of building my family tree on my father's side.  It was time-consuming.  I was learning about and all its nuances and hadn't even begun to figure out about its little, shaking leaves.  By the time I got as far back as great grandpa Paul, I was tired and frustrated.

One day, when I signed on to torture myself for few hours of research (you know you are a genealogist if you look forward to this type of torture), I found this little, shaking leaf over Paul Doyon's head.  Aha!  Time to learn about shaky leaves. So I clicked and got a prompt to review the 134 hints from 32 trees that might match my great grandfather.  Long story short, after hours and hours of checking out all these hints, I discovered Nick's tree. He had already done a ton of research on Paul and surrounding ancestors and it was all there for the taking. WOW!

So here's the thing .... I am very fortunate that my "cousin" Nick is a great researcher.  He is former military and is into detail.  He writes (or pastes in) citations for EVERYTHING.  There was not a single fact on his tree that was not substantiated.  What a gift.  Everything he had that was useful to my family history was substantiated.  Trust me, I gobbled it up.  But not without first making sure his information was accurate.  It was, and I now count him as a trusted source.  But not everyone is that meticulous.  There are a LOT of folks out there just scribbling in stuff on their trees in an effort to build something, however inaccurate.  And they mine other people's trees to find stuff they can "borrow" for their own.

I have gotten "hints" that led me to the possibility of finding the parents of one of my ancestors living during the 1600s, only to find that the supposed "parents" were born AFTER the person I was seeking parents for.  That was an easy one to spot.  You have to be careful what you choose to borrow from other trees because it won't always be trustworthy.  But, on the other hand, if  the information has a citation that you can check out yourself - well, now you have a way to double-check the source and make sure you aren't dumping bad info into your tree.

So, do you want your tree to contain trusted information or do you want to be counted as one of the slackers.  That's not to say those "other trees" don't contain accurate information, but if it isn't substantiated, how the heck are you supposed to know?  If you have to go back and do all the research yourself anyway to make sure, why bother borrowing?  And if you are going to make your tree public so that you can share and borrow, then don't you want your information to stand on its own as verified and accurate?  You are also setting a good example for others.

Now you know Why.

Lesson for the day - don't "borrow" anything from anyone else's tree unless it is substantiated and YOU HAVE CHECKED IT OUT YOURSELF.  And if you are going to build a public tree, make sure information you post for the rest of the genealogical world to find is substantiated.

Next week, back to the actual work!

-- submitted by Denise Doyon

Thursday, April 9, 2015


First, I want to thank those of you who came to yesterday's meeting and participated in the indexing demo.  I sincerely hope some of you will join the volunteer effort to help make as many records as possible available to everyone. And then, of course, there is a prize ....

Poppy Sure's comprehensive guide to researching your family tree.  How many points can you accumulate between now and 28 October?

For those of you who could not make the meeting and are still interested in working on this project, please let me know (send me an email at and I will be happy to get you started.

In light of yesterday's D.I.R.T. agenda, it was gratifying to see the following posts on FamilySearch's blog this morning.  You can click here to link back to the original articles.  For those of you who may be wondering why anyone would want to spend the time to volunteer in a program such as this, remember, the next time you type a name into a search engine and are rewarded with a list of results, it's because a volunteer took the time to make that information available.  Every one of the 20.6 million records mentioned in the two articles below were indexed by people just like us!

Here's the proof ...

FamilySearch Adds More Than 18.3 Million Indexed Records and Images for England, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States

April 2, 2015 By Amanda L. Wallis

FamilySearch has added to its collections more than 18.3 million indexed records and images for England, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Notable collection updates include 10,026,835 indexed records and 776,840 images from the England, Westminster Rate Books, 1634–1900 collection; 4,327,810 indexed records from the United Kingdom, World War I Service Records, 1914–1920collection; and 534,653 images from the Italy, Taranto, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1809–1926 collection. See the table below for the full list of updates. Search these diverse collections and more than 3.5 billion other records for free

Searchable historic records are made available on through the help of thousands of volunteers from around the world. These volunteers transcribe (index) information from digital copies of handwritten records to make them easily searchable online. More volunteers are needed (particularly those who can read foreign languages) to keep pace with the large number of digital images being published online at Learn more about volunteering to help provide free access to the world’s historic genealogical records online at

FamilySearch is the largest genealogy organization in the world. FamilySearch is a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. To help in this great pursuit, FamilySearch and its predecessors have been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years. Patrons may access FamilySearch services and resources for free at or through more than 4,600 family history centers in 132 countries, including the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.
CollectionIndexed RecordsDigital ImagesCommentsEngland, Westminster Rate Books, 1634–1900 10,026,835 776,840 New indexed records and images collection.
CollectionIndexed RecordsDigital ImagesComments
England, Westminster Rate Books, 1634–190010,026,835776,840New indexed records and images collection.
Italy, Taranto, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1809–19260534,653New browsable image collection.
United Kingdom, World War I Service Records, 1914–19204,327,8100Added indexed records to an existing collection.
US, Kentucky Probate Records, 1727–19900365,502Added images to an existing collection.
US, New York, New York Passenger and Crew Lists, 1909, 1925–1957168,3060Added indexed records to an existing collection.
US, Pennsylvania, Grand Army of the Republic Membership Records, 1866–195602,919New browsable image collection.
US, Texas, County Marriage Records, 1837–19771,267,379464,964Added indexed records and images to an existing collection.
US, Texas, World War I Records, 1917–19200400,918New browsable image collection.

In addition, on 6 April, Amanda Wallis announced the following:

FamilySearch Adds More Than 2.3 Million Indexed Records and Images for the Czech Republic, Mexico, New Zealand, Ukraine, and the United States

FamilySearch has added to its collections more than 2.3 million indexed records and images for the Czech Republic, Mexico, New Zealand, Ukraine, and the United States. Notable collection updates include 771,097 images from the New Zealand, Archives New Zealand, Probate Records, 1843–1998 collection; 417,808 indexed records and 417,808 images from the US, BillionGraves Index collection; and 411,325 indexed records from the Mexico, San Luis Potosí, Civil Registration, 1859–2000collection. See the table below for the full list of updates. Search these diverse collections and more than 3.5 billion other records for free at

Searchable historic records are made available on through the help of thousands of volunteers from around the world. These volunteers transcribe (index) information from digital copies of handwritten records to make them easily searchable online. More volunteers are needed (particularly those who can read foreign languages) to keep pace with the large number of digital images being published online at Learn more about volunteering to help provide free access to the world’s historic genealogical records online at

CollectionIndexed RecordsDigital ImagesComments
Czech Republic, School Registers, 1799–1953066,273Added images to an existing collection.
Mexico, Coahuila, Civil Registration, 1861–199824,8980Added indexed records to an existing collection.
Mexico, San Luis Potosí, Civil Registration, 1859–2000411,3250Added indexed records to an existing collection.
New Zealand, Archives New Zealand, Probate Records, 1843–19980771,097Added images to an existing collection.
Ukraine, Sumy Civil Registers, 1918–1922034,691New browsable image collection.
US, BillionGraves Index417,808417,808Added indexed records and images to an existing
US, Kentucky Confederate Pension Applications, 1912–19504,1920Added indexed records to an existing collection.
US, Texas, World War I Records, 1917–1920203,4040Added indexed records to an existing collection.
United States General Index to Pension Files, 1861–19344,2920Added indexed records to an existing collection.
United States, Register of Confederates and Civilians Who Died in the North, 1861–186525,511679New indexed records and images collection.

Issues With Comments

Many thanks to Jo for pointing out the flaws in this blog's commenting system. I have spent a bit of time playing around with the way Blogger handles comments and realize it is just not a very good system. I will get this fixed - as soon as all my houseguests leave in two weeks.  In the meantime, please feel free to post comments as "anonymous". Just sign your name at the end of (within) your comment, as you would if you were signing an email, so we will know who you are. Seems to be the best workaround for now.

This is one of those situations where I am going to have to learn something new - in this case, how to import a much more efficient and practical, third-party gadget into Blogger.  The other alternative is to change to a whole new blogging platform (such as WordPress) and start from scratch. I am not opposed to that alternative, but would rather mess with what we already have and see if I can make that work. But that will take some time - and it seems that every member of our family that ever wanted to visit Seabrook has decided to visit this month. Once they have all left I will have time to devote to enabling a working comments gadget.

Thank for your patience!


Did The Document Trail Run Dry?

Reposted from

One of the most frustrating things in genealogy is when the document trail seems to run dry. You’ve looked at everything you think you can possibly find on an ancestor, and it is still not enough to connect them to the generation before them or reveal who their parents were. You are stuck, with seemingly no way to take that line of your family tree back any farther into the past. You may be tempted to give up on that line as untraceable, but don’t do it. You’re probably reluctant to write it off, anyway. Genealogists, by nature, hate an unsolved mystery.

The good news is that you still have an excellent chance of solving that mystery. You just have to think outside the box regarding where you look for information. Here are some sources you may not have considered that can yield the answers you seek.

Local Repositories:
Sometimes, the documents you need are not online and not in the obvious places in the real world. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist. You may have to make a road trip to the place or places where your brick wall ancestor lived. A search of the county and town courthouses there, as well as the town hall, the local historical society, the local archives (if there are any), and the public library can all yield documents pertaining to your ancestor that you wouldn’t find anywhere else. They are often filed away in dusty bins, cabinets, boxes, and books, and sometimes haven’t been looked at in a hundred years of more. You can be the first one in your line to discover this information since it was lost so long ago, and use it to break through your brick wall.

Federal Land Records:
Back in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, the federal government opened up a lot of government land to homesteading. People could get land for free if they staked a claim with their local land office, lived on and improved the land for five years, and got people who knew them to attest to it in writing. The Federal Bureau of Land Management has a database on their website of the names of everyone who applied for homestead land. Look for your ancestor’s name in it. If you find their name, order the application file. It will cost a few dollars for copies, and some files are thicker than others, but the information you may find in the file can be invaluable in tracing your mystery ancestor. Pay special attention to any affidavits they or their friends or family filled out regarding their use of the land. They will often include details on how they know each other and for how long. This is perfect for breaking down a genealogical brick wall.

Records on Their Neighbors:
This is an excellent genealogical tactic for climbing over brick walls that too few people use. If you really can’t find anything more on your ancestors by looking them up directly, try looking at the records of their neighbors. People lived in close communication with their neighbors a century or more ago. You will often find mentions of your mystery ancestor in the old letters, photos, newspaper articles, land records, wills, military records, and more of that ancestor’s neighbors. To get the names of the neighbors, simply do a census search and dig deeper into the lives of the people who lived on the same street or neighborhood as your ancestor. You’ll be surprised at what you may find.

Don’t despair of discovering more on your mystery ancestor just because the document trail on them seems to have dried up. It may not be dry at all, just hiding. Be willing to dig more deeply in your search, be creative, and pursue alternative avenues, and you may be very well rewarded with your long sought genealogical information.

-- submitted by Linda Mecchi

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

And the Survey Says ...

Fortunately for all of us, 2015 has been declared the year of the genealogical do over, because the results of our informal survey showed that virtually everyone wanted more actual "how to do genealogy" lessons at our club meetings.

In an effort to better meet your needs and expectations, we are restructuring our meetings beginning with the 22 April 2015 meeting.

The first hour of the meeting will be "how to" instructions, going back to the fundamental beginnings of preparing to do your family history and progressing each week with another segment of walking you through the process of how and where to search, organize your findings, cite our sources as proof, and keep your records for future generations.  We will include both hard copy and high-tech methods for each step.  There will be hand-outs and you should come prepared to take some notes from time to time.  Bring your beginning packets as we will reference those items as well.  Also, bring your laptop or tablet if you have them.

During the second hour we will work on searching and trying to overcome brick walls as well as doing some projects like indexing or listening to webinars from outside sources or planning for future trips and projects.  Help to individuals at all levels, on a one-on-one basis, will also be offered.

Don't want lessons?  Come for the second hour.  Just want lessons?  Come for the first hour and then go do your own thing?  Want it all?  We look forward to seeing you for the whole session.

Come join us for the ultimate "do-over" and jump start your search!

-- submitted by Linda Mecchi

Genealogy: What's the Point?

I got bitten by the genealogy bug and never looked back.  Like Kris (see below), I often encounter people who just don't get it.  My own family thinks all this work I am doing is a big waste of time - they think I am a bit wacky - but I have never followed any path my family understands - why start now.  I LOVED Kris's post (which follows) and hope you will, too.

The folloiwng is reposted from The Key To Your Tree by Kris Williams, 10 March 2015

Usually when I mention my genealogy addiction what I get in return from others is sincere interest. They wish they knew how to get started, they ask me for advice on how to get started or the genealogy bug has also bitten them and we trade stories.

Every now and then though, I’ll meet someone with zero interest. I mean… zero. Not only do they not have any interest, they don’t see the point or why it’s important.

“Genealogy? Really? What’s the point? What does some guy who died decades ago have to do with me?”

This is usually when I try to keep my head from exploding. What does some guy who died decades ago have to do with you? One word…


If you are one of these people-I ask you to bear with me and hear me out. If you are someone who’s interested in researching your family-let me give you another reason to be interested. And for those of you who already get it… let me give you a reason to smile today (because you’ll get where I am going).

So, let’s get started….

I’m going to have you use your imagination for a second… don’t fight it! Just roll with me here… Let’s say your 10th great grandfather’s name is Noah Washburn and just for fun… let’s pretend this is him…

Again… obviously the photo isn’t that old-nor is the guy in the picture named Noah Washburn (pretending).

Back to your handsome, 10th great grandfather, Noah Washburn…

Let’s think about Noah’s life for a second. Like our lives, there would have been everyday things that happened in his life that would have been out of his control. Things he would have needed to overcome or survive. Such as…
Natural Disasters: tornadoes, earthquakes, volcanoes, wild fires, mudslides, hurricanes, bitterly cold winters, floods, avalanches, droughts, and the list goes on.
Epidemics: Influenza, Tuberculosis, Smallpox, the Black Death, etc.
Famines: The Great Famine, Bengal Famine, Chalisa Famine, etc. (wrong time periods but you get the point)
War: Millions to choose from…
Work Related Accidents: shipwrecks, mining accidents, hunting accidents, shepherd trampled by a heard of stampeding sheep…

…Just making sure you’re still awake.

The point is-there would have been a TON of things Noah would have had to survive long enough to have his children. If he did not survive the above, your behind wouldn’t be sitting comfortably in your computer chair, sofa, etc. reading this blog.

You would never have existed.

Now let’s take it a step further. Think about all the decisions we make on a daily basis that change the course of our lives. Sometimes they are big choices-Will I pick up and move to another state? Will I quit my job and start my own business? Other times the choices you make seem small and not worth remembering. However, in the grand scheme of things, those little choices can lead to major changes in our life. Will I stay in tonight or will I go to my friend’s party where I will meet my future husband?

So let’s look back at Noah for a second.
Maybe he decided to take on a job other than the one he chose?
Maybe instead of working on the family farm he decided to join the military?
Maybe he decided to move to another town, village or country instead of staying put?
Maybe he decided to marry another woman before getting the chance to meet your 10th great grandmother?
Maybe he did marry your 10th great grandmother but instead of them having 5 kids they decided to have 3…and your 9th great grandfather would have been their 4th child?

The point being-if Noah made any choices differently (major ones or little ones that added up to major change) it could have put his life on a completely different path which may have ended with you never existing.

Now lets take this even further…

You have two parents…

Four grand parents…

Eight great grandparents…

Sixteen 2nd great grand parents…

And 32 3rd great grand parents…

Stopping there for now, that’s a total of 62 people you directly descend from.

Had any one of those 62 people not survived the uncontrollable or made decisions other than the ones they made-any ONE of them… You would not exist. And let’s not forget-the same is true about the hundreds of thousands of others I didn’t have the space to represent in restroom symbol people.

So, for those who insist on asking, “Genealogy? Really? What’s the point? What does some guy who died decades ago have to do with me?”

One word…


Are you one of the guilty people who found genealogy to be pointless and have a change of heart? Are you a newbie and hadn’t thought of the above? Been at it awhile and have something to add?! Don’t be shy-comment below! I love to hear from you guys.

Kris Williams