Tag Archives: Resources

5 Genealogy Myths

mythThere are so many “truths” that we believe about the subject of Genealogy. When I first started researching mine, I believed everything I read or heard about the subject. I apparently was quite naïve.

 

Here are 5 Myths that most new Genealogists are told but they are not true.

1. Your ancestors’ name was changed when they can through Ellis Island.

This isn’t necessarily true. Passenger lists were created when your ancestor boarded the ship at their port of departure. When they arrived at Ellis Island their names were checked off that list. There were, however, some passengers who wanted to change their names, for whatever reason, and the attendants would sometimes accommodate them.

 

2. Your ancestors’ records were destroyed in a Courthouse fire.Chenango_County_Courthouse_May_09

Yes, a lot of Courthouses have burned to the ground, but this doesn’t mean all of the records were destroyed. Some Courthouses did not totally burn down so the surviving documents were transferred to another county close by. Most of them contacted the residents of the county and asked them to bring in any documents they may have so that they could make a note of them. Many States have archives where their staffs have prepared special helps for genealogists researching around Courthouse fires. They would have records of these notes or copies.

 

3. The 1890 census burned to a crisp.

Truth is it did not burn. It became waterlogged while the fire was being extinguished. The papers were left lying around and they rotted. Some unknown person gave permission for these papers to be destroyed. A fraction of the census’ did survive as well as about half of the Civil War Union veterans census records.

 

4. Everyone has a Family Crest.

crestHaving a coat of arms or family crest is much rarer than you might imagine. Having the hereditary right to use it is even rarer. While there are many companies out there that are willing to sell you all kinds of merchandise with your supposed “family crest” on it, the vast majority of these companies are not engaged in legitimate genealogical research. The coat of arms or crest you get may or may not belong to your family (and it might be made up completely by the company selling it to you), or you may not have the hereditary right to use it. Historically speaking, a coat of arms is a design on the shield of a medieval knight. The design was unique to an individual and not to a family. Sometimes, the individual only had rights to the coat of arms during his lifetime. Other times, he was allowed to pass it down to his descendants, and it became the family coat of arms. Google your last name i.e. Hughes Family Crest and you will see how many variations there are.

 

5. You can find your whole family history online.

Wouldn’t that be great? Unfortunately, errors abound in online indexes, transcriptions, and family trees. There is so much documentation out there that may never make its way online. Repositories still hold richly detailed, lesser-known records that haven’t been digitalized. It would really pay off if at some point you could visit a local library or courthouse.

These are only a few of the myths we have heard or believed. It is best to always verify any information that you may come across to determine the “truth” of 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, Courthouse, Documentation, Family Crests, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Hints, Myths, Research, Uncategorized

Racing to the Finish Line

Lets be honestIf we are to be honest it is hard to resist rushing through our research in the effort to go back one more generation. Especially when we find that next ancestor while doing the research. It is exciting to see how far back we can go and what interesting facts or stories we may find. Sometimes we abandon a “brick wall” ancestor to pursue an easier line.

I must confess, I have been guilty of this. One of these ancestors, my 4 times Great Grandparents on my Dad’s maternal side has been patiently waiting for me to return and try to find any information on them. I have had them in my tree for over 8 years and I have tried filling in the blanks, but I always got impatient in the searching.

A cousin I met for the first time gave me their information. I had taken a research trip to State Historical SocietyMissouri and when I walked in her house I was both impressed and jealous. She had been researching our mutual family for over 40 years. She had worked for the State Historical Society in Jefferson City for over 30 years and she had been able to search to her heart’s content. She had dozens of file cabinets and binders full of documentation. I took her word without hesitation.

A couple of days ago I decided to scan through my trees to find the dead-end lines and see if I could find anything pertaining to them. I had my 4 x G-Grandfather as Augusta White who was born in Virginia and lived in Alexandria, Kansas in 1835 when my 3 x G-Grandmother was born. That was it. My 4 x G-Grandmother had even less information. I had her name as Margaret “?”. Nothing else. I also had their children as Elisa Jane and Greenbury/Greenberry White and I at least had their birthdates and place of birth.

Elisha Jane WhiteI decided to take a different approach this time. I would start with the son and see what came up. I use more than Ancestry.com to do research so I pulled up all the sites. I found a Civil War Union Army document that had Greenbury’s name and place of birth that matched mine. It also listed his parents name as Augustine White born in Virginia and Margaret McClain born in Kentucky. With a little more research I found their marriage information and census records that listed the names of their children which matched mine. In no time I had the dates for their marriage, their places of birth, additional children’s names and the places they had lived. This opened even more doors of info which gave me possible names for their parents. My cousin had Augustine’s first name wrong, but once I discovered his correct name it busted through that brick wall.

The moral of this story is: It pays to revisit those “brick walls” ancestors often and exhaust every possible lead. Who knows what you may find?

 

 

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, Brick Walls, Civil War, Cousins, Documentation, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Hayes Family, How-to, Missouri, Research, Uncategorized, Union Soldiers, Virginia

This Is So Frustrating!

FrustratedHave you ever been frustrated trying to find information on a critical ancestor? I have. I am also surprised that I can find 10+ documents/sources on an ancestor who came to America in the early 1600’s but I can only find 3 on my Great Grandfather who was born February 14, 1853 in Hazel Hill, Missouri. Oh, but his wife, my Great Grandmother, has over 20 documents/sources!

I have been searching for information on Pleasant (Plesent) Smith for over 20 years. pleasant ml 2Here is what I have found thus far. He married Sarah Jane Page (McDowell, Farris/Parris) on April 13, 1882. She had been married twice before Pleasant and once after. My Grandfather, John Pleasant Smith was born September 8th, 1882 so apparently, she was pregnant before they got married. I have John’s Social Security Application and he states that Plesent and Sarah were his parents and it has their dates of birth. I also have a Census Record which I will explain about later.

I can find no birth or death records. In John’s 1920 Census he states his Father was born in Texas. I know this information can vary depending on who answered the door and gave the it. So, there is no proof of where he was born. In my baby book the date and place of birth was given as stated above but again no solid proof.

The legend or oral history passed down from my Mother was that Pleasant was a Creek Indian. He had deserted his tribe and married Sarah. Sometime after the marriage some of the tribesmen found him, killed him and dismembered his body. They then placed the parts on the railroad tracks, so it would appear the train ran over him. A gentleman found the body before the train came. This occurred sometime between 1882 and before 1894. My Mother also told me that some after Sarah married her last husband James Newhouse in 1894 that Sarah got a letter from the Creek Tribe addressed to Chief (she couldn’t remember the name). She said Sarah sent the letter back unopened. Does this prove that he was Creek Indian? I don’t think so.

census 2On Sarah’s marriage license to James it lists her last name Parris/Farres. So where is the name Smith? This brings me to the Census record I mentioned above. In the 1870 Census it has a Pleasant Parris working on the farm of Norman Wyckoff in Lincoln, Putnam, Missouri. He was 17 years old same as my Pleasant. The last name matches the marriage license. So, could it be that this is my Pleasant?

Does anyone have any wisdom, ideas or good advice of where I can go from here? No wonder my hair is turning white and I am getting black rings under my eyes.

 

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, Creek Indian, Death, Documentation, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, History, Marriage, Missouri, Native American, Page Family, Personal Stories, Pleasant Smith, Research, Sarah Jane Page, Story telling, Uncategorized

Look What I Found Cleaning Up My Trees!

I have a tendency of working mainly on my Dad’s side of the family. I had a horrible relationship with my Mother due to her mental problems. I believe this is the reason I dosmith not feel compelled to really dig deep into my “Smith/McGowan” side. When I first started using Ancestry.com for my main Family Trees site I was still new in the Genealogy world. I was one of those people who thought the information I found in an ancestors file was correct, so I spent months adding any and all data I found to my trees. I added thousands of names all the way back to 500’s.

When I became a Professional Genealogist, I learned about documentation and citing source information and I realized the mistake I made by doing that. I have literally spent the last several years cleaning up my trees in between jobs. I felt pretty confident that I had done a great job. That is until yesterday.

-Citation_needed-I got one of those “shaky leaf’s” attached to an ancestor on my Mothers’ side. It led to another one, then another one and soon I was making an unsettling discovery. Apparently, I had grossly neglected cleaning up this side of the family! I spent many hours deleting name after name! As I was doing this I found that not only had I added unsubstantiated ancestors but also people who were not even related to me. I have read lots of posts about these but I had never seen any before. Here are 4 that I found.

James Everett Shoaf

1882–1948

husband of 2nd cousin of wife of 3rd cousin 2x removed

 

William B Howard

–1934

husband of aunt of wife of 3rd cousin 2x removed

 

Raymond Wallendorff

1930–2000

husband of 1st cousin 1x removed of wife of 3rd cousin 2x removed

 

Lula Reimers

1885–1940

wife of nephew of wife of brother-in-law of 2nd cousin 3x removed

 

I must admit, I had a good laugh when I read these. Although I enjoyed the humor in thislaughing girl I really wish I would have known about not adding information that have no proof or sources cited to my trees. It was a good lesson to learn  and I gladly pass it on to anyone who will listen.

Have you ever added someone to your tree with making sure they belonged?

 

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, Corrections, Documentation, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Hints, How-to, Research, Shaky Leaf, Source Citations, Uncategorized

Lineage Societies or Family Groups – A Great Resource

our family historyAnyone who has been researching their Family History for many years knows and understands the importance of Lineage Societies or Family Groups. However, I have come across many Genealogists who never heard of them. To be honest, I just discovered them about 8 years ago when I made a research trip to Missouri. I met a cousin I had just contacted while planning my trip. She had tons of information on a line I hadn’t done much research on. She also introduced me to the concept of Lineage Societies and Family Groups.

My 6 times Great Grandfather Edward Coffey came over from Ireland in 1690. His line here is long and expansive. As a result, the family put together the “Coffey Cousins Clearinghouse” Group started by Leonard Coffey in 1981. Over the years, Coffey Cousins from all over the globe have joined this Clearinghouse and shared their research, stories and photos. Now because of their efforts if you find the name Coffey/Coffee in your line you may be able to discover new information about your ancestor and meet some cousins!

One of my 7 times Great Grandfathers is Peter Rucker. He came over from Bavaria we are familyGermany in 1661. He became a naturalized citizen in the State of Virginia on April 24, 1704.  The Rucker Family has participated in every war since the Revolutionary War. Since the early 90’s this society has been having reunions every two years, publishing their newsletter and sharing information and photos! What a resource for anyone who has a Rucker in their family line.

Some Societies or Family Groups have dues but they are usually minimal. They help you to find distant relatives and connect us to information we may never have any other way of finding. Spend some time Googling Societies or Groups associated with your Ancestors names and see what you may discover.

 

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, Brick Walls, Cousins, Edward Coffey, Family Groups, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Hints, History, Lineage Societies, Personal Stories, Peter Rucker, Research, Uncategorized

Another Internet Surprise

computer-image-ort-hiOnce again, the internet, specifically Facebook has helped me to fill in some holes in my Family History. I wrote a blog ( tinyurl.com/y8c99wur  ) 3 years ago about my Aunt Nellie whose husband was murdered in Lexington Missouri in 1930. I had tried to do research before I wrote it but there wasn’t much information available. My sources were a newspaper article and the story told me by a cousin. Yesterday, I received a message on my Authors Facebook page and I was astounded!

The Great Grandson of the man, Irvan Menaugh who murdered my Uncle Virgil, sent meLexington MO Courthouse information about it and the trial. He told me stories he had heard from his Dad and from a Grandson of Irvan. He even took the time to give me the dates and the outcomes of the proceeding trails associated with the murder. There are still a lot of questions about the entire case, ones like “Why wasn’t Irvan convicted of this murder?”, “Where are the missing court records?” and “Was the presiding judge bribed with a land deal to find Irvan not guilty?” I plan on writing a new blog on this new information and maybe more facts can be found.

I have read a lot of arguments between Genealogists about whether to allow our Family Trees to be seen by the public and to limit the information we use in our Blogs or to make it all public. I understand both sides, the pros, and cons etc. All I know is several times, because of a Blog I have received vital pieces of information I needed to fill in the gaps. 20 years ago, when I first started researching my Family History this could never happen. I would have never known this kind gentleman even existed. My advice is to use the internet to its fullest extent, reaching out to others with any information you may have or to ask others if they have additional information that could help in your research. All I know is I am so thankful to the generous Genealogy Community.

Have you had someone contact you with much need information about an Ancestor because of the internet?

 

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, Death, Facebook, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, History, Hughes, Lexington MO, Memories, Missouri, Personal Stories, Research, Story telling, Uncategorized

Am I The Only One???

PonderingThose of us who have a passion for Family History know that there are never enough hours in the day to do the research we desire. We steal a few hours here and there as life allows. When we find a new document, photo or lead we happily follow it for as long as it takes. We happily follow any lead we can find.

I pulled a muscle in my back last week so I was confined to sitting forduh1 most of my days. I took advantage of my “misfortune” to delve into some of those annoying little leaves I have let build up on my page. Most of them are a dead end and very few belong to my family. Scrolling down the list, pushing the “ignore” button when a name I didn’t recognize appeared; Elizabeth Gorusch my 8 times Great Grandmother. The name was not even remotely familiar. She was born in England in 1607, came to America in 1623 and married my 8 times G-Grandfather William Powell in 1639. His name I recognized! I was feeling very stupid at this point. How could I not recognize the name of one of my direct ancestors?

To be honest, this isn’t the first time this has happened and not just with Direct Line female ancestors. There have been several times that a male ancestor’s name was foreign to me. I decided to do a little indirect research. I discovered the following:

How many ancestors do you have?

Parents 2

Grandparents 4

Great-Grandparents 8

2 nd Great-Grandparents 16

3 rd Great-Grandparents 32

4 th Great-Grandparents 64

5 th Great-Grandparents 128

6 th Great-Grandparents 256

7 th Great-Grandparents 512

8 th Great-Grandparents 1,024

9 th Great-Grandparents 2,048

10th Great-Grandparents 4,096

PREZI SKETCHESI suddenly felt smarter. I wasn’t a neglectful 8 times Great Granddaughter! I have 1,024 8 times Great Grandparents. There is no way I could know all their names. I don’t think I know even half of my 2 times Great Grandparents.

After this experience, I spent several hours following some of my lines back as far as I could, making notes on the names of the ones I don’t remember ever seeing before. Most of them had basic information and a couple of documents, but so much more research was needed.

The next time I have free time I now have uncharted territory to dive into. The question I have is:

HAS THIS HAPPENED TO ANYONE ELSE?

 

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 8 times Great Grandparents, Ancestry, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Hints, Names, Research, Uncategorized