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Traveling for Adventure And Genealogy

Wow. You’ve started gathering information on your ancestors and all kinds of questions start popping up and you decide you want to take on traveling for adventure in exploring where they lived and learning more of the history of their origin.  Even traveling within the country can be quite an expense. I hope to share with you a few ways that you can cut your cost in your travel exploration.

Make A list

I have been putting together a travel plan for myself. My hope is to next year visit Germany. I have three family lines that originate in Germany, BLUM, MOSSINGER, and NUTSCH, so I am gathering information on the cities that I would like to visit and what I will want to explore while I am there. My traveling buddy is so understanding when it comes to my genealogy search that he has agreed to go with me but insisted that I know

where I want to go,

 what I want to see,

and who we plan to visit ahead of time.

Emmendingen

 

Basically I’m doing research to find the names of the cities and villages that I want to visit and making list of exactly what I want to see while I’m there. In my records I have quite a bit of information gathered on the area and I know what I want to visit when I get there. There will be of course things that you have not thought of until you get there so make sure to plan for enough time.

One thing especially, I was told by Great Uncle Martin after his visit, was that he ran out of time while visiting the church records or could have gotten back a lot farther. (He got back into the 1500s) Keep in mind how old your cities are that you are wanting to visit. Write out a list of all the people you want to explore information on while you are there.  Find out where you might find those records in advance and make arrangements ahead of time for your visit so you are sure you have an appointment if needed. You can find a bit of information on the German Church Books here.

KNOW YOUR HISTORY

Knowing a bit about the history of the area during the time your relatives lived there will be of great help to you also. I have been reading about the history of Germany for years but have been refreshing my memory so I will be prepared for the questions that I’m sure will come up. I also write down my questions when I think
of them in a notebook that I can take with me.  Even if I find the answers I’m sure there are going to be things I will want to see based on some of the questions. There are some great books on the subjects at Amazon books

Write out a list of all the people you want to explore information on while you are there. Make a spread sheet or fill out your pedigree charts with as much information as you know on them and keep notes of what it is you don’t know so you will have it handy to do your search.

Organize your family members into towns and groups so you don’t miss anything while you are in the area. Too many times I have found after I returned from a trip that there was more information available to me and I missed it. (I am NOT the ORGANIZED genealogist!) Yet, this realization causes you to make another trip! Nothing wrong with that RIGHT?!

In Germany

 

Do you know if you have  relatives there that you can visit? I know that my BLUM family line still has relatives in Germany so I am already building a relationship with them so that I might pay them a visit. Having relatives in the area that you are wanting to explore will make your visit to a new country a little less stressful. They will be able to guide you or even accompany you to areas that you would otherwise have to find on your own. Before my great uncles died, they made a tract back to Germany and were able to get around quite easily with the help of the relatives there. There was also a great reunion planned for them to get to know the younger generation that they had yet to meet. I so wanted to visit Germany when my sons were there in the service. Exploring the family history with them would have been such a wonderful experience and perhaps some of my addictive behavior would have rubbed off on them!

Language could be an obstacle. This might be something you might want to address in advance. Having one person that speaks your language could help tremdously.

Don’t forget your passport! 

Give yourself plenty of time to get your passport so if there are any problems you won’t feel the pressure. Several years ago my mom, my sister, and I planned a trip to Portugal and Mom had a bit of a glitch in getting her passport due to the fact she was born at home. I don’t recall what the procedure was exactly, but give yourself plenty of time.  If you don’t already have a passport, don’t fall for the online ads claiming they will help you. It isn’t that hard to do it yourself and you will save yourself the fee they charge for their “help”.

 

PLANNING YOUR BUDGET

We all know how expensive it is to do anything these days so plan your budget carefully. I have found that having a membership to a private travel platform will cut your traveling cost and your hotel cost in half.

Do a little comparison shopping and you will find awesome deals. The membership cost will more than pay for your savings.

 

I do hope this gives you some value. Please leave me a few comments and tell me where you are going to to.

Happy Hunting!

The Pierce Family Historian




THE TRAVELING GENEALOGIST: BEING PREPARED

Once you start finding information on you ancestors, you are going to become curious enough that you are going to want to visit the homes of their origins. You will want to walk the paths that they walked, and try to imagine the life they had there, the places they visited, the things they did and the memories they made. If their house is still standing you will want to walk the halls, and picture them there in their glory. You will want to map out the blueprint of the life they lead.  You won’t be able to help yourself, you will become a traveling genealogist.

When you start wandering in this journey, you are going to want to be prepared. I too many times have made a tract to the uncharted land being unprepared for what I would find. Some of my travels have been impromptu and I ran into information that I had no way to track. I want to share with you  some things to think about before you begin your journey. 

BEFORE YOU LEAVE

Some things you might want to be sure to have with you is your data. How in the world can you take that all with you? If it’s early in your search you may just have a 3 ring notebook with your pedigree charts in it. This will work fine, but if you are forty or fifty years into your research you probably have a tree that contains way too much information to carry with you.

With the wonderful technology of the online world it is a bit easier than it use to be. There are software programs, and apps that you can download to your lap tops, phones and ipads that can help you but you have to be in an area that has service. This would be fine for the library and courthouse but the cemeteries you will visit most likely will not offer up a connection. I would definitely put them in my bag to take with me though. You might want to take a camera, but your phone or ipad will most likely do. Make sure your batteries are charged, you have a note book and pen for all the notes you will take. (TAKE LOTS OF NOTES)

Personally, I have not found an app for the ipad or phone that I like. (I’m still looking and open to suggestions). If your tree is small they may work better for you. My tree is too big and they seem to take a long time to load and freeze up.  In this case it might be a good idea to “break” up your tree into smaller trees in order to use the app. (Something I have not yet done).

One thing I particularly like about the My Heritage software is that you can search by location. This is a great way to find all the people who have lived or are buried in a certain area. Everytime I do a survey for Ancestry.com I ask for this feature. Ancestry does have search all people feature, and you can put in a surname and it will bring everyone with that last name up, with their info so you can scroll through and see who is buried in the area, but it isn’t as nice as knowing all the people in that area as other surnames could  be in the area also .

FREE APPS

There are all kinds of tree apps available in the app store. My suggestion would be to try out a few and find one you like. I have tried Ancestry, Family Tree, but don’t really care for either. Like I said previously they are just a bit difficult to maneuver, but they would be handy for having your info available while traveling. Check out your app store and try a few and see what one might work for you.

 

CALL AHEAD 

Call ahead if at all possible. Often times I have arrived at my destination only to find that the library or court house was closed, or the person you wanted to visit wasn’t home. This is a big disappointment. Make sure the times on the website are correct. I showed up at the library a little before noon only to learn that they close at noon on a Saturday when the website said they were open until 4.

Of course there are going to be times when you don’t know who you want to talk to until you find them. I’ve gotten phone numbers of cousins that I wasn’t able to get ahold of on the phone while I was in town and had to leave empty handed.

VISIT THE LIBRARY

The Library is one of the best places to visit to find old newpaper clippings, obituaries, and information on the city, locations of cemeteries, etc. More and more libraries are becoming genealogy friendly. Some have a separate department just for such. Some will have a researcher there to help you and other smaller libraries you will be on your own. I have yet to visit one that has not had very helpful people there.

Do a little research before you leave and make sure you know where the library is, what time they are open, and if there is someone available to help you.  Once you’ve determined the repository and records you plan to research, it is definitely worth the time to call to make sure the records are available for research.

Most of your old newspapers will be on micro film. Once you get the hang of how to use it you will find all kinds of infomation. It is however time consuming so keep that in mind before you start and be sure to allow enough time. I found it very helpful to have someone with me. I would look up the information as to who and when, find the micro film, and have them search. It saved a lot of time and I came away with much more info.

VISIT THE COURTHOUSE

Visiting the courthouse is something I personally have not done. To be honest, it scares the hell out of me, but there is a treasure trove of information to be found there, from land deeds, to vital records, and wills.

Plan out what you want to find before you go. You will have less distractions and be able to stay more focused if you do. Call ahead and see if the records you are looking for are available. Due to fires and other catastrophes many records have been destroyed or moved to another repository. Many records have been preserved on micofilm.

LOCATE YOUR CEMETERIES

Find a Grave has many of the cemeteries you want to visit listed with the location. Look up your cemeteries before you go so that you don’t find yourself driving wanderously through the country only to find a corn field. The local courthouse or library may also have the information you need. If the cemetery isn’t a real big one, browse through the whole thing. Some cemeteries have a registry that will list the names of the people buried and the row and plot in which to find them. This is a big time saver, plus you can scan the registry and see if there are others in the cemetery that you might not have known about. Some of your bigger cemeteries have a caretakers office that keeps records and will help you locate the person you are searching.

HISTORICAL SOCIETY

The historical society or local genealogical society is a great place to visit, as well as your local museums. They often times will be able to give you all kinds of information you might not have found elsewhere. Always call ahead though as I have found that in your smaller rural areas they are generally managed by volunteers and are open by appointment only.

ALLOW ENOUGH TIME

Make sure to allow enough time, though no matter how diligent you are in your plans you will never feel like you have enough, and once you find something interesting you will want to dig for more! If you are not thousands of miles from your destination you can always easily return but generally this is not the case.

Dress appropriately as you will be doing a lot of walking and standing, so wear comfortable shoes, and don’t forget to take your bug spray for those cemetery searches or walks in the country if you discover a homestead.

Always be polite and respectful to those that are helping you. Try to avoid asking questions that do not relate to the search.

If you find some value in this post please leave me a comment and as always if I am able to help you in anyway please  let me know how I may be of service.

Happy Hunting!

 

 


10 BEST SOURCES WHEN LOOKING FOR FAMILY HISTORY

When looking for your family history documenting the sources for the information that you find on your family is VERY important. You absolutely want to take lots of notes when it comes to the information that you find in your search. I cannot stress that enough as I learned the hard way. When you change any information in your tree take a note of it and explain why you made that change. So many times I have found that I made changes to my information and then when I come back to it later can’t remember why I did so. Often times someone will challenge your information and you will want to be able to back it up.

If you are using a pedigree chart in the beginning be sure to write down where you found the information. Did someone share it with you? Write down who it was and how they would know. If you are using a program such as wikitree, they require sources and explainations for the changes you make.

As your tree grows you will soon have thousands of names in your tree and keeping track of all of them will become more difficult, but if you document your sources and changes  when you make them you will find it will be much easier.

 

So, where do you find the information? Today I’m going to be sharing with you  places that I like to  look for information that will often times open up a new lead for you.

CENSUS

Census reports are probably one of the most helpful resources you will find. They offer up much information such as where the family lived, approximate birth dates, family members, sometimes occupation, if they are married or widowed or divorced. ALWAYS  look at the document rather than than accepting it from a hint (if you are using a program such as ancestry).  Often times I will also look at the neighbors. Neighbors living near by could be family members that can help you to find a lead.  I have even gone back and checked out census reports when I have trouble locating a family member to see if they lived in the same area. Finding similar surnames could just be the clue you are looking for. If you don’t take the time to look at the document you may miss a lot of important information.

CEMETERIES

Cemeteries are one of my favorite places to look. My sister and I visited a cemetery in Iconium, Missouri where my grandmother was born and though I didn’t have my information with me at the time I walked through and took pictures of all the headstones of the surnames I could recall that were in my tree and was able to place dates on many ancestors missing information.

Often you will find family plots where members are buried close by.  You may have to walk through the whole cemetry to satisfiy your curiousity.

BIRTH AND DEATH RECORDS

Birth records are excellent sources. Birth records record the date of birth, the mothers maiden name, the father’s name and occupation, and the location.

Death records generally have an informate who is usually a relative, but not always. They also tell the cause of death, where the person was living when they died, if they were married, who the spouse is, and where the person is buried.

OLD NEWPAPERS

I love looking through old newspapers for information. I have found so many little bits of information that I would not have known about a person by doing so. Here you will find wedding annoucements, engagement annoucements,  obituairies, where they visited and oh so much more. It’s a bit time consuming scanning through old papers but it can be a relaxing past time and you will be surprised at the information you might find.

FAMILY ALBUMS

If you have not inherited a family album, perhaps your parents have, or one of their siblings has. Someone in the family is surely coveting one somewhere. I love the old pictures, and being able to put a face to a name makes them come alive to you. If you make copies don’t forget to identify it so that you will remember who it is.

I spent a whole day with my aunt, scanning, and collecting information, and I put it on a thumb drive without naming each file and when I got home I couldn’t remember who was who. BAD mistake! I thought I would remember but didn’t get to it right away and by the time I did had forgotten many of them.  I know so many people that have been given a box of photos after someone has passed and they have no clue as to who is in the picture. Document! Document! Document!

MILITARY RECORDS

Military records will sometimes tell you a bit about the persons appearance such as their skin color, their eye color, how much they weigh and their height as well as their date of birth, and where they lived when they enlisted.

RELATIVES

Relatives are often times very helpful in your search. Learn to ask lots of questions. Get the scoop on other family members through that one storyteller in the family. They may have access to photos and books that can get you a treasure of information. They may know of a book that someone else has published on the family that will help you out. Have them fill out a pedigree chart for you on each of their family members. Reunions are a great place to do this. Attend your family reunion and talk to the people you don’t know. Get phone numbers and addresses so you can go back and talk to them later.

THE LIBRARY

The library is full of information but it is time consuming. I have spent hours upon hours at the library in search. Some librarys actually have genealogy departments and someone that will help you in your search. I have even emailed or written the library to have information looked up for me and have had great success. I generally will send a monetary donation for the help, and some libraries will require a fee.

FAMILY TREES

When your tree matches another you may just have hit the jack pot! Someone else has already done the work for you. Before you start merging their information into your tree…take HEED…as sometimes they might not have done due diligence and the information could be incorrect. Too often I have found tress where someone just started clicking and didn’t check out the information or sources to subtansiate it. This can make a real mess for you. (Been there done that!) Sometimes it just takes that one hint to catapolt you back generations.

OBITUARIES

I feel like I’ve won the lottery if I find a good old fashion obituary. They have a goldmine of information,  including siblings, parents, spouses,  grandchildren, and even cousins, as well as the date of birth and death and place of burial. Today newspapers charge extra for the personal information to be printed so you might be disappointed in some of the newer obits. However, the older ones will almost follow the person through their life from birth to death giving you an over all story of the persons life.

 

These are just my top ten picks when looking for your family history. Letters, postcards, land grants, wills, social security indexes, message boards and forums, online searches such as Find a Grave, Wikitree, Family Search, Ancestry, and so many more, are just a few places to find you the clues you are looking for. I hope this helps get you off to a good start.

If I can in anyway be of help to you please let me know in the comments below, and if you have any questions, or thoughts on how I can be of service to you leave me a message.

Happy Hunting!

 

 

 


Good Conversation Starter Questions

One thing that you will want to learn to do as a family historian is to talk to people, and you will talk to a lot of them let me tell you. Getting them to talk is not always the easiest. I have found that talking to family members that are interested in the family history will talk to you much more readily and openly than those who are not. As a person that loves the subject I personally can not talk about it enough. Having some good conversation starter questions will help you when you visit your relatives and might just open them up to sharing more with you.

Having some handy questions in front of you sometimes can be of value. For example, my father would not talk at all! I would ask him a question and his answer was usually, “I don’t remember.” He would stop by the house in the mornings and have coffee with me and I would find a way to ask him one question every day. I was able to extract a bit of information from him that way. I asked him things like…

Do you remember who your first teacher was?

He did remember, and that lead to where did he go to school, did he walk or did someone take him?

Most people LIKE to talk about themselves. If you have some handy questions available to get them started you will be surprised at the information they will share. It’s my opinion that when getting someone to share with you no detail is unimportant when it comes to preserving the history of a loved one. Questions help recall things people have been through, places they gone, trials they’ve endured, etc. It helps you to get an idea of what kind of personality the person has, their character, and the life they have lived. The smallest details make up the richness of the life they have lived. Something as simple as remembering the house they grew up in or what the wallpaper looked like can set off a flood of memories and perhaps help you to extract more information that you can imagine.

Long lives yield many treasures, pictures, keepsakes, property, and savings. One precious legacy that is often lost are the memories of people, places, and things that are what makes up the lives of those who have gone before you. How many times have you found yourself in wonder about your ancestors lives? How they traveled, what kind of games they played as children, what kind of problems they had to work out, how did they get along with others, what were their main struggles with parenting? I know I myself have been “wonder woman” about each and every ancestor I research. Even my own parents, whom I lived with for 17 years…did I really know them? Now that they are gone I realize that I did not, and it’s too late to ask. My mother did keep sporadic journals from which I learned some things about her, however she did not go into a lot of detail so you still wonder what caused her to feel the way she did in some areas. I myself kept journals for years. I will admit the last 20 years or so I have not been as diligent about it. With the internet there are so many new ways to document your life and history.

Facebook for example. Sometimes I simply HATE what Facebook has become, but it also has given me a way to follow nieces, and nephews and watch their children grow up in a way that never was possible when I was raising my children. I’ve thought of deleteing my Facebook account, but then I consider all the lost pictures and history of the years I’ve been there. If I were to die tomorrow…my descendants have a history they can look back on. Is Facebook the best way to document your life? Absolutely not, but we do it without even knowing it in that space. When my mom died my sister-in-law thought it best to delete my mothers account as unused accounts lead to hackers and spammers, but I must admit, I regret that we have lost her history.

Here are some good conversation starter questions that you can use to get the most out of your interviews with relatives.

FACTS

You will absolutely want the facts.

Who where their parents?

Who were their grandparents?

Where were they born?

city, state, county, and hospital.

Where were they buried?

city, state, county, and hospital. and cemetery where they are buried.

What was the cause of death?

sometime this alone will generate a story.

What language did they speak?

If they were immigrants how did they travel?

What caused them to migrate?

Did they become citizens?

Who came with them?

Where did they settle?

Did they learn a new language?

Are they married, divorced, or widowed?

What maiden names are involved?

When were they married?

city, county, state, date, and kind of ceremony

What did they love about the person they married?

How did they know they were the “one”?

Where did they meet?

How many children did they have?

How many Grandkids?

What are their names?

How old are they?

be sure to get the facts on them if possible as dead people are easier to find than living ones.

What was their occupation?

What made them choose their occupation?

Were they happy with their decision?

What was their religion?

What made them choose that religion?

Did they grow up on a farm, in the city, or somewhere else?

Did they move?

Did they have a particularly important pet?

Where did they get their name?

Were they named after someone?

What kind of family traditions have been handed down?

Were you considered poor, rich, or middle class? Why?

Did you have to work for what you got or was it given to you?

Who handled the finances in the family?

Are their any family heirlooms that have been handed down?

Do you have any old family pictures to share?

You get the just of it. These questions generally will lead you to more and more questions and you will get to where they will come naturally to you after a while.Sometimes when interviewing it is good to have a video or recorder with you so that you don’t forget the stories that are told. Too many times I have wished afterwards that I had recorded my grandfather when he told his stories. I find it hard to remember them later, and you could never tell them in the same manner that he did.  I hope this helps you in your search!

Happy Hunting!

 

 

 


Research the Origin of your Surname

When  you first begin your family genealogy you might find it extremely helpful along the way if you first do a quick research for the origin of your surname. In your search you will be starting with yourself and working backwards and in doing so you will gain surnames for each generation as you go back, so having a little knowledge of surname origins can and will be a big help in your research.

Your last name is commonly referred to as your SURNAME. Your first name is referenced as your GIVEN name, and of course you have your MIDDLE name.  You will gain a surname for your mother’s maiden name, your grandmother’s maiden name and so on. A quick research of the origin of that name can tell you where you evolved from in a sense.

     Family tree research is one giant step backwards and one giant step forward—usually at the same time.

My maiden name is PIERCE.  Pierce is an English surname from  the established name Peter, which in medieval England was found as PIERS. Peter come from the Greek word “PETRO” which means “rock”. PIERS is the French version brought by the Normans in 1066 at the time of the Conquest.

From this bit of information I know that the name originated in England. Are all PIERCE’s English. NO! But it is a good assumption, and as to how far back one might have to go to get there is unknown to me at this point.  I merely had to go back to the 1600’s to find my George PIERCE that was born in England. I haven’t gone farther back than that to find if they had been somewhere else first. Family says there was some Irish in there somewhere.

There are as many as 16 versions of the PIERCE name,

PIERCE   PEARCE  PIERS  PEERS  PERES  PERSE  PEERZ                         

just to name a few.  Being able to recognize the variances you will more likely be able to spot a record that you might bypass otherwise, as in many census and military records you will find  have variations in spellings. There are several reasons for this.

  1. your ancestor may not have been able to read or write.
  2.  the census taker spelled it to their interpretation.
  3. the transcriber may not have been able to make out the name and took a wild guess.
  4.  generations back people weren’t as particular about a spelling as we are today. (probably because of the reasons mentioned above.)
  5. Immigrants often times changed the spelling or shortened their names in order to become more “American”.
  6. Many times immigrants did not know the English version and the immigration officer would record it incorrectly.
  7. It could be that the person giving the information didn’t know the correct spelling.
  8. Many of the records are sent over seas to India and such to be transcribed and it could just be a failure on their part to get it correct.

We are human. We make mistakes.

       “Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.” —Mark Twain

Only four generations back in the PIERCE family tree we find that one half of the family changed their name to the spelling PEIRCE. We believe because the father, MOSES had two families and the second family wanted to associate separately from the first, but that is just and assumption.

While searching for my fourth great grandfather, Adam SHAVER I found several instances where variant spellings came to play. SHAFFER and SHAVEN just to name a couple.  So in searching records don’t overlook the possibility of finding lots of differences.

Surnames became necessary in the 13th century when governments introduced  personal taxation. They originated to help identify people. Centuries ago when the world was less populated people would be referred to has John, or Fredrick. Everyone knew their neighbors and friends, and where they lived, what their occupations were, etc., people did not so readily move, and families lived in close proximity to each other. Therefore, for example, if John had a son down the lane, he might be referred to as Johnson. This would be considered a patronymic name. In most regions and time periods, surnames were assumed based on descent from your male ancestor (generally the father). A matronymic surname would be that deriving from the mother. Use of the mother’s surname is usually due to some circumstance such as  illegitimacy,  inheritance etc., though in some regions culture dictated the use of the mother’s surname. Or perhaps, Joe made pottery. He could have earned the name Joe Potter. They call this an occupational name. I have lot’s of Miller’s in my family. A Miller was someone who ground grain, this is Mueller in German, therefore we also have Mueller’s in the family.  Get the picture?

  • “Genealogy: An account of one’s descent from an ancestor who did not particularly care to trace his own.” —Ambrose Bierce

In many countries, the use of hereditary surnames began with the nobility who often called themselves after their ancestral seats. It wasn’t until the 1500s that surnames became widely inherited and no longer referred to a person’s appearance, job, or place of residence. Perhaps the caveman method would have made it easier for us as genealogist had we had something to go by.  When searching for William Robert GREEN, it would sure be nice to have an occupation or dwelling to go off of if you have no other information. Believe me, I KNOW!

In conclusion, I highly recommend with each new surname you start with a little research.  A few moments to do a little study on the name and it’s origin and the different derivatives of the names and variations of spelling could save you a lot of time and headache down the road as you search. You will come across records that will make you shake your head in wonder.  A little more research and  you might just also learn a good little bit about that special ancestor before you even start your search. Knowing the origin of your name puts you just a little bit closer to who you are and where you came from and what has gone before you.

It’s a feeling only another family historian could explain.

Happy Hunting!

 

 

 


Looking For Your Family History .. Where to Start

Perhaps you’ve seen the show “Who Do You Think You Are” and it got you curious as to where your roots are planted? Or maybe you’ve had someone tell you they got their DNA results back and you are curious enough to want to try it too? DNA is all the big rage right now, as is looking for your family history.

Curiosity is all it takes!

Who………do you know?

When looking for family history the best place to start is with who you already know.

Start with what you do know, your parents and your grandparents, where they came from, where they were born etc.

When I started a near 45 years ago I was lucky enough to still have my grandparents and their brothers and sisters and that is where I started. In my search..back then, we did not have easy access to what we have now with the records that are online. I spent HUNDREDS of dollars in postage writing to people for information. Many of them didn’t answer. I was very fortunate that my dad had a couple of cousins that were interested in the search and they were eager to help. I also had a great-uncle that had done some research and he too shared with me. My grandmother was quite pleased that I was curious and she would offer up much information for me. My grandfather was a story teller and I listened with interest when he would talk.( I tried to write down the stories he told but they never sounded as good as how he told them.)

Start by asking questions! That is what will bring the detective out in you. I personally refer to myself as Wonder Woman, as I wonder about everything!

 

What…….do you want to know?

I wasn’t satisfied with just knowing names and dates. I wanted to know everything! Where they lived how they got there, what their occupations were, their struggles, and their triumphs. I wanted to know everything about them so I would really know them. I wanted to live through them in a sense. That lead me to visiting places they lived and reading history books to understand the life they lead in their era. I collected pictures, newspaper articles, obituaries, and I visited libraries and cemeteries like they were resort spots. When I got stuck I would search out relatives of relatives of relatives and stepping out of my comfort zone would visit with them for information. Deciding ahead of time what sort of information you are looking for will help you in starting your search.

When …….did they live?

Knowing the history of when they lived helps much in your research. Google books is an awesome place to find histories of the areas that your ancestors might have lived. I personally can get hung up in just reading the accounts of the ages even if it isn’t about the ancestor I am searching. In doing so I have stumbled upon information that I would never have found. Sometimes you can find books in libraries on the areas also. I found an awesome book of the cemeteries of Atchison County Missouri at the library. I bought it thinking it only contained the names of my grandparents to learn that near half the people in the book were relatives. Family history books are also a good place to look. Perhaps someone else has already searched the tree and found information they are willing to share with you.

 

Where ….did they come from?

If you know where your ancestor was born, do a search on google of the town that they lived in. Sometimes you will find history books on towns that once were, and might just find out some information on you ancestor in the process.

I once found a book on the city of Rockport, Missouri that had biographies on some of their founding fathers and in the process found much history on my family along with pictures of their homes. Visiting the home towns of my ancestors takes me back to when they lived. I imagine what it must have been like back then. If you have older family members that “remember” get them to write you an article about their life. I have accounts of my grandmother and some of her siblings of things they remember about growing up. It helps you to see what their lives were like and you know them just a little better because of it.

 

 

Why……….do you want to know?

What are you going to do with the information you find? Do you hope to publish your information? Are you going to save it for your children? Do you want to make a scrapbook?

Knowing why you want to know about your ancestors will help in your search as to where you will look and how hard you will try to keep your info concise. For instance, if I’m simply trying to connect a line to my tree, I might not be as thorough as I would be if I’m working on my direct line.

If you are wanting to build a family scrapbook, I would suggest that you start with one person build their pages and then move on to the next. If you do all your research at one time then want to go back and build a scrapbook you now have an overwhelming about of data to sort through. (lesson learned too late.)

DNA has connected me with so many distant cousins that sometimes finding the connection is a bit daunting. It’s like hunting for treasure but all worth it in the end. Nothing adds to my excitement more than digging up a piece of juicy information and excitedly sharing it with the family. Be prepared, however, for them to not be as excited as you are.

I use ancestry.com to keep my info organized and their platform in my opinion offers up the best search information. When just starting out looking for your family history you might want to utilize some free services until you get a little more handle on just how things work.

 

 

How……..are you going to organize your information.

You will want a software program of some sort to keep your information in order. That is what I love about the online data bases like ancestry , and myheritage.  I have been a member of both, and though I really like the software that come with Myheritage, I didn’t feel like their search info was as comparable to what I would get on ancestry. I still use the MyHeritage software on my computer, but online I use the ancestry site.

You might want to keep paper copies of your info as well. There are different ways to do this. I print my profile sheets from the ancestry site and save them in three ring notebooks. There I also will add pictures and news clips as I find them. I will admit my organizational skills leave a lot to be desired, but after almost fifty years of collection it can become overwhelming at times! Findagrave.com is another good place to look for info and printing the page sheets gives you a good profile to work with.

You can start a free tree on wikitree.com. The object is to build one big tree. Each person has a separate profile and as you connect with others in the tree the profiles are merged. I am only now moving info to wikitree from ancestry. If you have organizational skills….please share them with me! I need HELP!


http://www.onegreatfamily.com

 

This is a good place to start. I hope this gives you some value, and if I can assist you in anyway please let me know. If I know, I will gladly share with you. Happy Hunting!

The Pierce Family Historian


About Susan

Welcome to The Family Historian. I hope this is a place where you can find interesting and helpful content for your genealogy search.

Susan Holmes The Family Historian         

I’m just a back woods country girl that got thrown into the city as a young adult and forever yearned to find my way back. There are three things that I love, that I just can’t get enough of, my family history, my animals, and of course my children and grandchildren.

I was in grade school when we had an assignment to write a biography on someone, and I chose my grandfather, Venus Pierce, whom I had never met, as he died before he was ever a grandfather. In high school I had a teacher who taught a bit about tracing back your family history and I was hooked. I’ve been at it for almost 45 years. Before the internet it was much more difficult. Ancestry.com and other similar programs online have made tracing the family tree so much easier than it used to be, and if you consider all the postage you save..it’s well worth the cost.

Searching the counties, and states of the places my ancestors lived, and learning about their lives fills me with wonder, but it also gives me a sense of being closer to them in some way. The strength and hardships that they endured lives on only in the memory of what has been, now a never ending paper trail. Until someone like me picks it up and continues to carry it forward. So this is my destiny.

Finding an old picture, document, or a letter from the past is a treasure that excites me. It’s like digging for gold! I search family history books, cemeteries, and records in hopes that it will lead me to a lost ancestor or family member. DNA has connected me with distant cousins that accept you instantly as family. It’s always exciting to add a new member to my family.

My animals. That being a King Charles Cavalier named Moses, a Jack Russel terrier called Barney, a Shichon whose name is Lulu but called Little Bit, and a Shih tzu, Winnie. a cat named Geneva, and a horse named Gracie. Fondly known as ‘my boys’ (the dogs), and “my girls”.

I was a single mother of two sons and a daughter. I raised my children in Oregon while working as an Adult Foster Provider for Lane County Mental Health. When my daughter, the youngest, graduated from high school, I moved back to Kansas to be closer to my aging parents. I’m now the grandmother of six boys and one little princess that was born on my birthday!

 

“Every man is a quotation from all his ancestors.”

I am a genealogist addict! Tracing my tree is fun but I also enjoy helping others by sharing tools, tips, and tricks that might be helpful in their search for their roots. I hope that by sharing with you my genealogical journey might also help you in your search.

My Mission

I hope to share with you content that will lead you to the information, tools, and help that will assist you in your journey into the past.

If your ever need a hand or have any questions, feel free to leave them below and I will be more than happy to help you out.

All the best,

Susan A Pierce Holmes

The Family Historian

Who Am I by Susan Pierce

 

 


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