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Genealogy Resources That May Tell Your Ancestor's Birth

By, Robin Foster Civil registrations for births is only one way you may discover the date or place of birth of your ancestor. You will need other resources if your ancestor was born before births were officially recorded. It is also suggested that you look for two or three resources before you come to a final conclusion. Below are a few examples of records that may help you. 1. Death certificate of your ancestor Deaths for Pittsburg, Pennsylvania are online at FamilySearch from 1870 through 1905. Martha Holmes died in Pittsburg, and her death certificate listed her parents names. It also gives a clue about where she was born: Virginia. This information is only as good as the informant's

What Can the Living Tell you?

By Jan Edwards When I first began Family History it was in March of 1994. For many when they say they have been doing family history for twenty years it means off and on for twenty years I have done some research. Then there are people like me that say I have been doing family history for twenty years. Meaning for the last twenty years seven days a week, most waking hours I am doing Family History! When I first began, the internet was just becoming popular. I did not even have a computer. My first system cost $2500, and now a $9.00 back to school jump drives holds 100 times more information than the hard drive of that computer. We had dial-up. I used to click on a record and go iron a shirt

As the Story Goes, Nobody Knows!

By Jan Edwards Many times as a researcher and someone that helps others we hear a very common phrase, “well the story goes”, “I was told by my grandma,” “family lore is,” “I head from my cousin,” with many other little clichés meaning the same thing. In reality, “As the story goes,” nobody really knows! When I began researching, I was searching high and low for a marriage record for my great grandfather, Lawrence Orval Oden. These people were Pike County Illinois folks. Great Grandpa I knew had actually left Illinois and lived in Yakima, Washington as that is where my grandpa was born. They didn’t stay long because great grandma got very ill and died just a few months after Grandpa was b

Facebook Groups: Genealogy on Steriods!

By Robin Foster Are you a member of a Facebook group that is extremely active? Well, congratulations! Those of us who are rabid about genealogy look for Facebook groups where we can find others who are researching the same areas or topics. We also want to find friends with the same interests, but what if all the extra e-mail and Facebook notifications are making you bug-eyed? Here are a couple of steps you can take to slow things down a bit: 1. Go to Facebook notfications. 2. Go to Group Activity. 3. Click on "Edit" next to Group Activity 4. Under "Edit," select "All Post," "Friends' Posts," or "Off." Selecting "Off" will turn off all the notifications for the group. It is understandab

You Ancestor Did Not Just Disappear

Sometimes after you have searched and searched for an ancestor, it might seem like to you that they just disappeared when you cannot find them. You just have to remember that no two ancestors were alike, and we need to be a bit creative and witty when we hunt for them. If you are expecting to discover a hard-to-find ancestor in the exact same way and using the same records everyone else uses, you might end up pulling all your hair out. Below are a few reasons why. Nicknames Sometimes an ancestor never went by their real name. Everyone in the family knows them by a nickname. My brother’s name is Donald, but we call him Josh. Yes, even at work he goes by Josh. Is that his legal name? Nop

Unexpected Genealogy Records: Guardianship

By Robin Foster Guardianship records are one of the unexpected but not so uncommon records that you may discover while searching probate records in the courthouse. Guardianship records are created for a few basic reasons, and certain record types are generated as a result of those reasons. Sometimes adults are not mentally able to care for themselves or a child loses both parents. A guardian is appointed. When children receive an inheritance, a guardian is appointed who will be responsible for it until the child becomes an adult. I found a guardianship record while searching the Greenwood County, South Carolina probate index for Frank Arnold. When he died, he left his wife, Lillie, and th

Gleaning a Document

By Jan Edwards Just what does that mean? To glean means to extract information from various sources. It means to obtain, get, take, draw, extract, and gather. It means to collect gradually bit by bit. It reminds me most of gleaning a field. After a harvest, people were allowed to go back into the field and “glean” or “gather” what was left over and missed. WHAT HAS THIS GOT TO DO WITH GENEALOGY? When researching a document we sometimes do not see all the data that is on the document. It depends on what we are looking for at the time. At first, we just want the name and maybe the date and where they were born. As we “glean” a document we return to a document we have already “harvested” and pi

Laws and Provisions Can Lead to Genealogical Records

By Robin Foster Recently, I went to the Greenwood County, SC Probate Office where I noticed a big red book left out that had not been put back. I am not sure where it was supposed to go, but it made me curious because I had not seen this record in the room before. It was volume one of notices of liens by the South Carolina Mental Health Commission. I wondered what the process was that caused these liens to be recorded in the courthouse. I found Section 44-23-1140 which is a provision in Title 44 of the South Carolina code of laws on health which provides some explanation: “SECTION 44-23-1140. Lien for care and treatment; filing statement; limitation of action for enforcement. There is

Family History at a Yard Sale?

By Jan Edwards Last summer I was driving my Mom and Dad to yard sales! They love to yard sale. We had been out for a couple of hours. They were both getting tired so we headed home. I happened to catch a quick glimpse of another sign out of the corner of my eye and said “Heck, let’s go to one more.” So we did. It was the same old typical yard sale stuff, clothes, Tupperware, Christmas and holiday stuff. I was just getting ready to get back in the car when I noticed an old book on the table. Thinking it was a Bible without even looking, I said “Hey, how much for the old Bible?” The guy said “You know I just don’t feel right charging for that thing.” He then added, “I was helping someone clea

Getting an Answer to Your Genealogy Research Question

By Robin Foster Many places like Genealogy! Just Ask! can help you get answers to your genealogy research questions. This does not work like magic, however, you could actually be standing in the way of the help you are seeking. One found help, one did not You cannot expect the person helping you to pull up the answer like a magician pulls a rabbit out of a hat. Last night in the family history center, we were swamped. I had set an appointment to help someone find more information on his ancestor. Everyone knows this takes concentration, but I was able to answer the people who stopped us to ask quick questions and still focus. If the person whom I was helping was not prepared to provide a

Have You Been Through the Genealogy Portal?

By Jan Edwards Why do I need to go to a Family History Center Library when I have the interenet at home! Did you know that these libraries have what they call “THE PORTAL.” So what the heck is a PORTAL? These Family History Centers have affilations with these great sites! They are offered FREE to all people that come into the center to use them. Most are pretty expensive to have at home. When at the Center from this page you click on Premium Family History Websites! You will then see this (Remember that the sites available at different centers may vary, so find out before you go)! FamilySearch gives a great explanation for each site! They also have a great article on Family History Centers!

Free to Be!

By Jan Edwards and Robin Foster Robin: “It does not take much for Jan to get me excited about something, but today her post made me remember the feelings that I have that run very deep about this country and our heritage. I have always told people how much I love this country and how fortunate it is to have the freedoms we enjoy. I grew up reading about the people who immigrated here and the reasons they left their homelands. I have researched my ancestors, and some of them did not come here by choice. They were enslaved, but they never used that as a reason not to succeed. I watched my family especially my father and brother build businesses. I never saw my father punch a clock. He

The Pros and Cons of Hiring a Professional Genealogist

By Jan Edwards “Gosh, I have searched high and low; I have looked far and wide, and I just can’t find it! I’ve been looking for 40 years,” or even better with the new wave of online researchers, “I have looked all day, it must be a brickwall.” Does that mean the documentation is just not available yet, possibly does not exist anymore, or is it the inexperience of the researcher? When should a person hire a professional genealogist? Does it mean by hiring a professional researcher they will find the documentation required to locate “the objective?” Are you willing to pay a professional for the hard, costly work it takes with the possibility that they may not be able to locate the “desired obj

What to do If Nothing FITS, WORKS, or JIVES!

By Jan Edwards Are you a puzzle worker? You know the kind made out of cardboard cut into a zillion little pieces and you spend hours and hours putting them together only to tear them apart and stick the pieces back in the box? You know what I’m talking about! You sit in your chair just re-arranging the pieces looking for something that might fit a color pattern or the shape of the hole you are trying to fill. You begin with the outside frame of the puzzle. It usually has one flat edge on each piece. You can usually build the outside frame in no time. Then you have the whole center to fill. You always have a helper like the color picture on the box. Most of us always have that in view while w

To Blog or Not to Blog, That is the Question!

By Jan Edwards When Robin first talked to me about blogging, I wondered why in the heck she would want us to do that! I wondered if it was okay to just be “ME” or did I have to put on some kind of a “professional” type face. Blog is such a funny sounding word. It is interesting that it evolved from “web-log” (blog being an online journal or newsletter). Blogging is really exposing who you are; that is pretty scary! Will people like what I write? Will my style be professional enough? Should I worry and care if it is? Will I spell wrong? Will I use the wrong words? Is my punctuation correct? Yep, really exposing yourself to being critiqued or oh, having people find fault is SCARY! I decided t

The Timeline Exposes the Holes in Your History

By Robin Foster In Wills May Determine Slavery in the Family, I discussed how I had reached a point with researching Eliza, the mother of Anderson, where I did not know which way to go next. I decided to create a timeline to help find my way. Create a timeline illustrating life events for the ancestor you are researching. Include historical events and localities. This will help you stay on track as you research, identify inconsistencies, and pinpoint periods of time that are not documented. This is how my timeline looked for Eliza using the records I discussed so far: Eliza (mother of Anderson) 1847 (Feb 1st) Burwell Chick left Elisa in his will to his son Pettus W. Chick 1870 US Census liv

Wills May Determine Slavery in the Family

By Robin Foster In Finding Evidence of Slavery in the Family, we discussed how oral history and census records can give clues about slavery in the family. We discovered Anderson Chick with his mother in 1880 and in 1870. On both census years they were living near the Chick family (Pettus and Sarah who never had children together). I promised to share the resource I used next: Wills It makes sense that if Pettus owned the Anderson and his family or anyone else, there may be a will naming them. Actually two wills were discovered for Pettus. He submitted the first will in 1876 where he gave land to Eliza and two of her children, Anderson and Pettus: “The share herein given to Eliza, commo

Browsing Images at FamilySearch Made Easier

By Jan Edwards FamilySearch Records: Did you realize when searching collections on FamilySearch if it says volume A-C or 1-3 there will be 3 page 3’s or 3 indexes in the collections? Let me show you. Let’s look at the Arkansas, Probate Records, 1817-1979. This is a browse image only collections which meaning you must look at the images. There are NO search windows. This collection has not been indexed. This collection contains 939,415 images. Click on those! I selected Drew County. Then I selected the collection, Probate Records 1874-1887 Vol. G-H. This means there are two volumes in one book, two page 2’s. Notice there are 675 images. The first thing that I l

Why You May Be Missing Your Ancestor on the Census at

By Jan Edwards When you search the census at, you could miss finding your ancestor. The person you are looking for could actually be on the digital image of the census, but there is a problem with the index. You know how sometimes the census taker used dittos instead of entering the same information (like the surname) again on each line? If the indexer only saw the surname on the head of house, he did not list the surname for others in the household even if they are listed as son, daughter or wife. So the surname for rest of the people in the household was not included. Here are a few examples from the 1880 United States Federal Census, but it was done in all of the census

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