Category Archives: How-to

“Hot Topic” Genealogy

HottopicsIt is always amazing to see how much society has changed in the last few hundred years. What is the “norm” for today was taboo a century ago and what was accepted 200 years ago seems unimaginable today. Throughout history there has always been a “Hot Topic” in each generation. Topics such as the Suffrage Movement, Religious Freedoms, Slavery, Prohibition, Wars etc. Today we are hard pressed to find out how our ancestors felt about these issues or if any of them actively supported or opposed them. Unless our ancestor was “famous” for their stand we may never know.

We can make assumptions on some of their beliefs by how they lived. Take for instance civil war battlesthe Civil War. If your ancestor fought for the North, you can assume they were anti-slavery and if they fought for the South they were pro-slavery. Also if they owned slaves you can assume that they believed in it and if they didn’t they were opposed. Some of the “topics” were not so obvious.

If we are lucky we can find membership information, letters, affiliations or other documents that can provide a glimpse into our ancestors’ stance on the issues of their day. However, most of us will never find these gems. We are left wondering if they had any opinion at all. This brings us to our own time in the genealogical timeline.  We have so many “Hot Topics” today that in a hundred years our future generations will wonder where we stood and why.

New scans15I am of the belief that I want to leave as much information for our future generations as possible. Not only about our ancestral line but also of the times in which we live. I have started writing about some of my beliefs, my stands on social issues and any participation’s I have had for or against those issues. To be quite honest I have picketed for one issue and I have picketed against another. I have participated in rallies and marches. I have appeared on local and National television, radio programs, been a Conference Speaker and featured in magazines and newspapers as an expert on one issue. I want my Great Grand-kids to know their Great Grandma held strong opinions on certain subjects and she wasn’t afraid to let others know how she felt. I am trying to be fair and explain both sides of the issues and express why I chose the side I did.

 

What “Hot Topics” do you have an opinion or belief on? Have you gotten involved fighting for or against that Topic? Think about leaving your experiences behind for those coming after you.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: http://tinyurl.com/Your-Family-History and http://tinyurl.com/Genealogy-Research-Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Filed under Ancestry, Civil War, Family History, Family Search, Famous, Genealogy, Hints, History, Hot Topic, How-to, Memories, Next Generation, Personal Stories, Story telling, Uncategorized, Write Your Story

Don’t “Pigeon Hole” Yourself

Pigeon HoleTo “Pigeon Hole”: to assign to a definite place

What do I mean when I say “Don’t Pigeon Hole Yourself”? In this Blog I am referring specifically to our ethnic background. Unless you have taken a DNA test you really do not know your complete ethnic makeup. We can assume what race we are by some obvious factors like color of our skin, texture of our hair or where we were born. We can even say we look the same as our Grandparents so therefore I am ______! However the farther back we go in our Family Tree the greater the possibility that we may discover some surprising revelations.

Growing up I was told I was of Irish and American Indian descent.  To begin my search I only had my parents, all 4 Grandparents and my Maternal Great Grandparents names. When I started researching my Family History I spent a tremendous amount of time looking mostly at Irish Genealogy sites or the Dawes Rolls. I became frustrated when I would spend hours searching and finding nothing of value. Then hours turned into days and I would eventually give up.  Once I started using Family Search and Ancestry.com for my research I was able to find more information on my family. To my surprise I have found no evidence that I am of American Indian blood.  I have also discovered that I am of Irish descent, but I am also Scottish, English, Welsh, German, French, Canadian and Swedish. I am sure that as I continue searching farther back through time I will discover even more diverse ethnic associations.

Lori's Great Grandmother, Grandmother, and her Mother are in this picture.

Lori’s Great- Grandmother, Grandmother, and her Mother are in this photo.

Here is a case in point. My husband’s cousin Lori had always assumed that she was full blooded Hispanic. After I researched herfamily tree I discovered that she was also Irish (1800’s), German (1800’s), Polish (1700’s) and Apache Indian (1900’s). To say that she was surprised is an understatement. To look at her you would never know that she was actually only about one-third Hispanic. She had tried to find her “roots” several years ago with no luck. I found out that she had only searched for her family in Mexico!

This “Pigeon Holing” can also be applied to your religious background. Many religions such as Baptists, Latter Day Saints, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Assemblies of God, Methodists and the Bahá’í Faith have all been started in the last 400 years. So regardless of which religious group you belong to it is quite possible that the farther back in time you are able to search, you have a greater chance that your Ancestors believed or belonged to a religion much different than what you are today. Do not hesitate to search the church records of different religions; you may be surprised by what you may find.

By branching out from our self imposed “Pigeon Holing” a whole new world of Ancestors may open up for us.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Filed under Ancestry, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Hints, How-to, Mexican Ancestry

9 Hints for Better Genealogy Interviewing

clip-art-interviewing-Hopefully at some time during the research of our family history we will have the opportunity to talk with an older generation relative. The thought of “interviewing” someone can be a little intimidating. Here are some hints that can make it easier.

HINT: If possible, mail or email your relative a list of the questions you intend to ask ahead of time. Also ask them if they may have any photos they could share with you. This gives them a chance to really think about the answers or even to look up information that they may have. Who knows, they may be sitting on a gold mine of old pictures and documents?

list

HINT: When making the list of questions you want to ask, place the ones you feel are the most important at the top. Then continue with your questions arranging them from most important to the ones that don’t really matter if they do not get answered. Be as specific as you can. Remember the interviewee can’t read your mind so they may not know or understand what kind of information you actually want from them.

HINT: While conducting the interview try not to respond to the person while they are talking. I have done a lot of counseling throughout my life. One thing you do while listening to the other person is to say something like “uh huh” or “Okay” so they know you are actively listening to them. This does not work when interviewing! When I interviewed my in-laws I wasn’t thinking about me responding to them during it. When I got home and I listened to the tape I could hear these annoying little phrases and even a weird giggle that I did when something was funny. It was distracting while trying to transcribe the tapes and at a couple of points I missed a word or two because I was responding as they spoke. Just be aware that you are taping and every noise will be recorded.

HINT: Interviews can be a little scary to both the interviewer and the interviewee. It is best to try to start with questions that are easy to answer, just to put the other person at ease. Fact based questions are usually the best kind to start with. They don’t require too much thinking and can set the flow for the rest of the interview. Just remember to ask questions that are non-threatening or at least ask them in a non-threatening way. An example would be, don’t ask about your Uncles affair with a waitress that resulted in a child, a divorce and a scandal. You can ask something like “How many children did Uncle “Bob” have altogether?” This gives the interviewee the opportunity to answer the question giving information they feel comfortable with and possibly giving you the story of your Uncle. You don’t want to ask any questions that may insult your family. A side note here is: if you know this relative well enough to ask these kinds of questions then go for it. I would first ask if they felt comfortable answering questions about uncomfortable events.

HINT: When preparing your list of questions the best thing to do is to take a look at the family line of the person you will be interviewing. How are they related to you? Next take the time and write down any questions you have from this line. Are there any holes you would like filled in? Any dates, locations or names that are missing? Unless this person is also into Genealogy they may not know much information past 2 or 3 generations. So try to concentrate on developing questions covering just a few generations back. The goal with creating your family history is to not only know “Who” your Ancestors are but “How” they lived. The more you know about them the better rounded your family history will be.

tape-recorder

HINT: When recording it is good to begin your interview by stating the date, location, and the persons’ name you are interviewing. This way if you don’t get it transcribed quickly you will not have to try to remember the “who, what, or where”.

HINT: It is important to find a place where you and the interviewee can be comfortable and have some privacy. All interviews should be on a one to one basis. Otherwise things can get confusing or background noise can make it hard to hear answers, both in person and on tape. When I interviewed my in-laws a few years ago we set everything up in their living room. I recorded my Mother-in-law first then my Father-in-law. My husband was also present. The first interview went great. When it was my Father-in-laws turn it became quite apparent why you should only have only one person present during an interview. My Mother-in-law carried on a conversation with my husband (he did try to keep it quiet and asked her to stop a couple of times), she would correct my Father-in-laws answers and she even made a phone call during the interview.  When I got home and began to transcribe the tapes I had a difficult time deciphering several of my Father-in-laws answers.

Question mark

HINT: Be prepared that there may be some questions that you may ask that the person does not want to answer. Some memories can be painful and are not easy to talk about. Do not press the issue. Just move on graciously. The person you are interviewing will appreciate it and who knows, they may just decide to answer the question later on because of your considerate reaction.

HINT: If there is no way you are able to record the interview then you should try to take good notes. Still use your list of questions so you keep on track. When I visited some cousins in Missouri I had my list of questions and was thoroughly prepared to tape the interview. However, once we got there I realized it wouldn’t be possible. They had prepared dinner for my husband and I so the first hour was just eating. Then we all sat around the kitchen table and talked. There was my Cousin, his new wife, his 3 daughters and their families. There were too many people to record comfortably. So I just asked questions, took notes, and enjoyed myself.

Remember: Sometimes the stories a person will tell during this time are worth more than having all your questions answered. So be flexible. If you have asked the most important questions first then let the person reminisce.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Filed under Ancestry, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Hints, How-to, Interviewing

Writing About The Historical Events That Occurred During Your Lifetime

Mary Lynn Elementary School

Mary Lynn Elementary School

When I was 8 years old we lived in a house that was located on a dirt road just outside the Tucson city limits. We used to get the neighborhood kids together and play kickball in the street. One time when it was my turn at the plate, I kicked the ball and it went to the left and I ran to first base which was to the right. The ball hit a rock and bounced to the right directly under my feet. I fell over the ball and ended up with a large rock embedded in my knee. I had to have several stitches and the Doctor instructed me not to run. At school they made me sit in the office during recess and lunch because I had a hard time not running when I was outside.

I vividly remember the day I was sitting on the couch in the office when the principle, Mrs. Reineke came running into the room. She said something in a whisper to the receptionist who immediately turned pale and began to cry. The office door opened and in came several of the teachers and aides. They wheeled in a television on a large rolling stand and plugged it in. One of the aides pulled the shade down over the window of the door that lead from the hallway into the office. Everyone gathered around the set.

I heard the gasps of the adults as the News Anchorman announced that President John Fitzgerald Kennedy had been shot

President John F. Kennedy

President John F. Kennedy

while riding in a motorcade through the streets of Dallas Texas.  I could hear some of the teachers crying softly, tears rolling down their cheeks. After what seemed like an eternity to me the Anchorman then announced that President Kennedy had died from his wounds at Parkland Memorial Hospital. The room erupted in sobs and outrage. All I could do was cower back as far as I could on the couch and cover my ears. I had never known anyone who had died before so I wasn’t sure what it meant, all I did know was it was a horrible thing that just happened.

Several minutes later the room quieted down and Mrs. Reineke began instructing the teacher on how to tell their pupils about the death of our President. She suddenly stopped mid-sentence and got a surprised look on her face. All the teachers turned to follow her gaze which had fallen upon me. In all the uproar no one had noticed that I was there. She immediately came over and lifted me in her arms. This made me begin to cry, more from confusion than anything else. She sat down and held me on her lap and explained to me what had just happened. Sadness like I had never known fell over me.

JFK Newspaper clippingAfter all the teachers had left Mrs. Reineke asked the receptionist to go and get me an ice cream from the cafeteria. She then told me that none of the other children knew about what happened and that when we all return to our classes the teachers were going to give us the news. She told me not tell anyone. When the bell rang I left the office and went to meet up with my class at the water fountain outside our classroom. Remember, I am an 8 year old girl with a heavy secret. One that was too heavy to keep. After taking a drink from the fountain I turned around and informed the student behind me that the President had been shot and he had died. She was not the only one who heard me and the next thing I knew there were several kids crying. Yes, I did get in trouble from my teacher.

This was a terrible time for our Country. President Kennedy was very well liked and he had done a lot of good while he was in office. On the day of the Presidents funeral the entire school went into the Auditorium and watched it on television. Most of us were too young to realize that we were having a firsthand look at an historic moment.

I will ever forget where I was when Kennedy got shot; do you remember where you were? We experience so many Historical Moments in our lives and this gives us an opportunity to write what we see, feel or believe concerning these events. Spend some time and think of all the changes that have happened in your lifetime, think about some Major event that took place that impacted you in some way. Now write about it. Let’s all leave our own accounts of History for our future generations.

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

 

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Filed under Ancestry, Arizona, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, History, How-to

Pinball Genealogy

pinball machineWalking into a Video Arcade you come across an old pinball machine. You decide to take a closer look so you move in and to your surprise the machine is a Genealogy Pinball Machine! On the backglass you can see what appears to be a Family Tree with a list of unlit research documents on it. You get a little closer and look down at the playfield and you see the names of various documents and lots of blinking lights. This is going to be fun! You insert a couple of quarters and the balls roll out into the plunger. The first ball goes flying onto the playfield. Rolling down towards the bottom you hit the flippers and it makes contact with the ball. It shoots back up the field and hits “Death Certificate”, lighting it up and scoring 100 points. It then bounces over to “Wills” also lighting it up and scoring 50 point. You continue playing until you run out of balls. When the game is finished you look at the backglass to see your score, an impressive 10,000 points. But wait, not all of the documents names have been lit up. You missed some during the game. Now what? You pop in more quarters and try again. The outcome is the same so you decide to give up.

This is how it can be in our own research time. You decide which Ancestor you want to work on and you begin your search.Hazel Clara Hughes Vickery DC You find a Death Certificate for Great-Grandma Iva. How exciting as you have searched several times before with no luck. So you continue to search and you find her Obituary. More excitement as the clipping includes her parents’ names and her childrens name. You immediately do a search for Great-Great Grandpa Chuck finding his Marriage Certificate to Mary. You discover that Mary has a very unusual last name so the hunt begins for any documents for her. Eureka! You found her in the 1840 Census along with her parents and siblings. The search continues looking for each new Ancestor that you stumble upon.

Elsie May Willard obitWhen you are finished you realize that the only documents you found for Great-Grandma Iva was her Death Certificate and Obituary. You got side tracked adding all the new information you found on the other Ancestors. It is like a pinball machine. You hit one target and it immediately bounces off, taking you in a totally different direction. You continue this way until the game is over and you find there are still a lot of missed documents and information. What can you do to avoid this pinball trap?

When you sit down to do research, do it with a purpose. Take the time to really look at what information you already have on the chosen Ancestor and make a list of what else you need to fill in the blanks. Stick to the list until you have run out of places to search. While you are examining the documents, if you find new information on another Ancestor, make a note of it so you can go back to it. They have Research Logs available for free at a lot of sites; you can use one of those or create your own. Each person does research in a different way so do what works for you.

Remember our main goal in creating our Family Tree is to make it as complete and accurate as possible. This is done with documents and other vital information. Keeping on track will help you fill in those blanks and make our trees bloom!

Click here to get various research log forms http://tinyurl.com/lyq4sbf

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Ancestry, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, History, How-to

9 Ways to Discover Your Religious Heritage and Passing Yours on to the Next Generation.

Park Ave Chirstian Church - Drive in Church

Park Ave Christian Church – Drive-in Church

Growing up I went to Church every Sunday morning. My family attended Park Avenue Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Tucson AZ, the one my parents joined shortly after moving to Arizona when I was 11 months old. It wasn’t until I started school that I learned that there were other churches and religions in the world and that there were even some people who didn’t believe in God at all. It was also the time I discovered that our Church was a little unique. We had one of the two Drive-in Churches in the entire United States. In 1956 our pastor made a trip to Florida and saw a Church that had built one the previous year and he decided that he wanted one. So my Dad, along with a couple of other members built the small enclosed red brick building where the pastor would deliver his sermons each Sunday. They installed the poles and speakers and it was “open for business”. My parents loved going to the Drive-in Church because they didn’t have to get dressed up and they could smoke in the car during the service. My sister and I liked it because we could wear our pajamas and read or play in the back seat. I thought this was normal.

Now as an adult I attend a totally different denominational Church. I began to wonder how our family became the religion that we were. What religion or denomination did my Ancestors choose and why? I wondered if any of them had been Atheists. Did any of them flee to America so they could practice their faith, free from persecution?  I wanted to search for this information but I wasn’t certain of where to begin. I started looking through the documents I had acquired for my Ancestors and as a result I was able to piece together a pretty good description of what religions my family had practiced.

Here are 9 of the places and document types where I found my “Religious Heritage”.

 

  1. Church records. This is one of those “duh” moments. Where else would you look? A lot of the older churches kept very precise records. Not of just who attended their church but of many different events. These records can have a person’s date of birth, the date they were baptized, their marriage and death date and place of burial. They also can list family names, their participation in church activities, and a confession of their “sins” and in some cases their testimony as to why they became Christians. If an Ancestor was a minister it would also include a list of the previous churches he had pastored and the places where he had preached. These records can be a treasure trove of information.

 

  1. Wills. You may find which religion a person was by reading through their Will. In some cases an Ancestor will leave a possession, money or land to a church. You can then conclude that this church was associated with their religion. Most Will’s begin with a Statement of Faith and by reading this you could possibly determine what they believed.

 

 

  1. Marriage Records. Listed on the marriage certificate is the name of the person who conducted the ceremony. If it was
    Marriage Record stating name of Church and the Ministers name.

    Marriage Record stating name of Church and the Ministers name.

    a priest or pastor you can do a search of that name to find out which religion they were associated with. In some cases, especially in the 1800’s they even listed the name of the church on the certificate. You can also check your Ancestors childrens marriage certificates as they may have this information on them, especially if you can’t find a marriage certificate for the parents.

 

  1. Death Certificates. In newer Death Certificates there is a place where you can state which religion a person is. This information is given by an informant and may not be correct but it is at least a place to start your search.

 

 

Obituary stating name of Church Rosa attended.

Obituary stating name of Church Rosa attended.

  1. Obituaries. Obituaries are an excellent place to look. Sometimes they even list the name of the church they were a member of or the name of the minister and I have found a few that give a short testimony of when a person decided to attend this church or convert to this religion.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

65th Wedding Anniversary clipping states Church.

  1. Newspapers. Newspaper clippings celebrating special events in a persons’ life can give you additional information. In an article covering one of my cousins 65th Wedding Anniversary it states the name of the Church they attended. I was able to contact the Church and found records of other Ancestors who also attended this Church

 

 

  1. Cemetery. This one sounds strange but you can sometimes determine religion by their place of burial. A non-Catholic would not be buried in a Catholic Cemetery. The same goes for the Jewish faith. Also a lot of cemeteries are attached to Churches and you can assume that if your Ancestor was buried there then they may have been members. At least it would be a place to start further research.

 

John Page Church Plaque

John Page Church Plaque

  1. Histories. If your Ancestor was a pioneer in an area they could be included in the History of that place. I have found several relatives who were founders of town or counties so a lot is written about them, including which church they attended. You can also find the names of Churches in the area that your Ancestor lived and then do a search of Church Records in those specific Churches for their names. You never know what you may find!

 

 

  1. Family Bibles. If you are lucky enough to have in your possession an old family Bible then it may shed some light on what your Ancestor believed and what religion they were. Hopefully it also includes a list of family members, births, marriages, deaths, baptisms etc. This indeed would be a treasure.

 

This is not an exhaustive list of places to look but it is a start. Unfortunately, unless your Ancestor was famous you may never know why they chose the Religion or beliefs that they held.  It has been interesting to see the progression of my “Religious Heritage” beginning with my Ancestors being Catholic, to becoming Quakers, to converting to Presbyterian, then to Methodists, Baptist and ending with my parents being Disciples of Christ.

This is actually a 2 part endeavor. The first part is finding what religion if any, that your Ancestors practiced. The second part would be passing on your beliefs to the next generations. We have an opportunity to explain to our Great-Great Grandchildren what religion we are and why we chose this certain path. If you do not believe in God, this is the chance you have to let them know your reasoning for that. You can include your traditions, activities, favorite scripture or quote, give a testimony, or whatever you feel is the most important things you would want them to know.

How I wish my Ancestors would have left something in writing explaining to me the how’s and why’s of their choices when it came to religion.  So I will write the story of how I came to believe as I believe so my future family will not have to guess at it.

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

 

 

 

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Filed under Ancestry, Arizona, Church, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, History, How-to, Missouri, Religion

Just Dig A Little Deeper

 

Digging for answers.As we all know records like Birth, Marriage and Death can have some discrepancies in them. If we just take them at face value we can end up with errors in our trees. So, what else can we do to determine if the information provided by these documents are true? Census records can help but again there could be some errors there as well. Of course if our Ancestor left a Will then we have hit a gold mine, but unfortunately not everyone left a Will

One way to determine if the documents that you have are correct or not is to consider looking at other information recorded at or near the time of the event. On death records for instance, we know that that date of death and cause of death would be correct, as would the residence at the time, name of the informant, name of the funeral home and name of the cemetery (if given) would be factual. The other information; date and place of birth, names of parents and marital status would have to be verified some other way as the informant may not know the correct answers to these questions or they could be too distraught to remember.

This is the time when we will have to dig deeper, using new ideas and sources. One way to do this is to learn more about the history of the town, city or particular location. We will have to step outside the normal routine of collecting documents and harvesting other information, like exploring the history that surrounds an individual or a particular family, we may be surprised at what we may find. It is amazing how many books there are on the history of families and State counties on Google books. Many of them are free. This would be an excellent place to start.

Another way to do this is to focus on the questions of Who? What? Where? When? and Why? Genealogists are good at answering the first four questions, but they frequently ignore the “Why?” When we seek answers to a wide variety of “why” questions, we can uncover some fascinating data. Example: Did your Ancestor move from one State to another? Why? Was there financial reasons? Did they go along with several other members of their family, or did they start out on their own?  Finding the answers to the “Why” can open new doors of research.

It also means identifying and studying the geographic histories where an ancestor lived. It may include such items as:

•        Town histories

•        County histories

•        Church histories

•        Trade and occupation histories

•        Ethnic histories

Exploring these can lead us to more specific resources, such as diaries, newsletters, special gazetteers, business records, and school records. As with any detective work, the evidence we gather will likely lead to further discoveries.

directoryDon’t forget about using City Directories. They have been in use for over two hundred years. The obvious usefulness of the directory is that it has alphabetical listings of names of people residing in a given location that can help us determine where our ancestors lived at a particular time. Very often it contains the person’s occupation, as well as both business and home addresses. Women are often referred to as the “widow of . . .,” thereby supplying us with a time frame as to when a male member of the family had died. An occupation may assist us in determining which person was our great-grandfather or maybe which one certainly was not.

City directories are being used to reconstruct the 1890 census. More than 20 million records have been identified for inclusion in this collection and additions will be made regularly as they become available. This in itself shows how important those directories can be.

As we search for our Ancestors remember that it can be a good thing to “think outside the box” and dig a little deeper. When we do so we may find those hidden treasures we all want to possess.

If you use any of these hints and find some valuable information on one of your Ancestors please let me know. I would love to hear about it!

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

 

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June 26, 2014 · 8:08 pm