Monthly Archives: June 2012

“how did you find *that* out?!”

I think most all of us have those times where we’re asked how in the world we got a piece of information or how we knew about that awesome sale or where we managed to find that amazingly unique item.

Let me start this with a tale of finding family.  I keep my personal email up at work and probably another website or two that I’ll peruse while I’m in between projects at work.  Well, one day last week, I got an email from “SOLON WISHAM, JR”.  Immediately, I’m curious as to who this is.  This is *NOT* a name I’ve run across on my tree… but it wouldn’t be if this person is “current and living”, right?  Not unless he’s immediate family.  He explains that a friend of his saw one of my posts on an Ancestry message board and was kind enough to pass my contact information along to him.  (Okay, this is the part where I say… I LOVE ANCESTRY!!!)  It almost made me tear up to read that he knew my Granddaddy from back in the 50s.  And of course I was thrilled to read he’d done about 20 years of research and was willing to share.  We exchanged phone numbers via email and talked on the phone for a bit later that afternoon.  Turns out, he’s my 3rd cousin 2x removed!  My 3g grandfather, Granpa Jack (Worsham) is the older brother of his 2g grandfather, Young Stokes (Worsham).

So how did I find all of this out?  Here’s a few tips on how I learn genealogy:

1.  Search databases.  Primarily I use census records on Ancestry.com, but other databases they have, too.  There are plenty of lists to run searches for names, all you have to do is type in what you already know and start reading up!

2.  Google searches.  I’ve used this means to find information on possible famous relatives or lines of family.  This can also help confirm dates you may see or hear in some cases.  It’s also great if you find a piece of information or document that you’ve never run across before and are curious about.  Google searches can also pull up other potential websites/ databases regarding your family.  (It’s how I found the one on Wisham/ Worsham.)

3.  Message boards.  I can’t tell you how much information can be shared/ transferred/ confirmed via message boards.  This is not only on Ancestry.com, but there are groups or pages on Facebook as well that might can help.  There are all kinds of message boards, too… by surname, by city/ county/ state, by religious affiliations, by organizations, all sorts.

4.  People.  I do a lot of just simply asking.  I’ve asked family about family photos and information on both sides of my family.  I’ve asked the lady in the Georgia Room at the Central Library in Marietta.  I’ve asked the lady at the State Archives… she’s the one who told me about the Salt List from during the Civil War and helped me get to looking up names.  I’ve asked on message boards.  I even just made a phone call yesterday to try to track down the family of an infant grave that’s weathering away.  Talk to anybody and everybody you can think of or run across.  (The sweet lady that I left a message for wasn’t the right family, but we’re keeping our eyes peeled for each other’s family info!)

5.  Group meetings/ Conferences.  This is one I haven’t utilized like I wish I could in the future or had in the past.  There are LOTS of genealogy groups that meet, and there are lots of “umbrellas” they meet under.  You’ve got ones like Cobb County Genealogy, Daughters of the Confederacy, Daughters of the Revolution, and even War of 1812.  You can find out about these by simply asking at the library or even searching online.  Many of the members of these groups can help in multiple ways.  One thing I discovered personally is that attending “historic events” gives you an opportunity to meet people interested in and knowledgeable about that aspect of history and maybe other historical pieces.  If my husband hadn’t taken me to a Civil War living history demonstration, I wouldn’t have met one of the sweet ladies with the DOC there who told me that a group exists for the descendants of War of 1812 soldiers.  (Speaking of her, I need to ask her help with confirming Granpa Jack and the Civil War!)

So, in a nutshell, that’s how I find out what learn about my family or whoever’s family I’m working with.  Just get creative and resourceful about how and where you look for information… anywhere and everywhere!

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“well, if you’d a told me that before!!”

Any time you get into a hobby, there’s always something that you wish you had been told or knew either earlier or before you got into it.  It happens all the time.  You’re in luck if you find a post like this… or like those my fellow Ancestry Aces have written.  So here are a few things I’ve picked up doing family genealogy.

1.  It’s easier if you live in the town or state you’re family is from… but that doesn’t make it impossible.  Yes, it’s easier to have the books on your family/ area in your local library.  Yes, it’s easier if you can make a quick trip to the city or county or state archives to look stuff up.  BUT… what I’ve learned is that you can find a lot online, and I do mean actual documentation.  Some (many?) states have virtual archives like Georgia does where you can look up a lot of state-type documents.  I’ve found death certificates for family in the state’s virtual vault.  Ancestry.com is also a link to lots of documents online.  Namely, census records… and you wouldn’t believe what you can find on those!!  TONS!!  There are records from all 50 states and MANY foreign countries.

2.  Save your documentation and double check documents against each other.  It’s not always possible to find multiple ways to verify information, but do what you can.  But do remember that you can double check or verify one document’s information with information from others.  Family trees that you find online or elsewhere  can be verified by not only census records for births, names, and deaths, but then you’ve got birth and death certificates, and then you’ve even potentially got announcements in the newspaper.  Same kind of thing goes for marriages.  And you don’t want to “let go” of records that you find online, you want to save them somehow/ somewhere.  You can save copies of images to an Ancestry tree, as a file on a hard drive or flash drive, or bookmark the site you find it on.

3.  Follow up on any and every lead… and look at every piece of information on a document!  This goes a bit with the previous one, but don’t stop at finding one piece to verify information.  Do what you can to find even more documents or ways to confirm it for you.  “Leave no stone unturned” as well… search any ancestor in whatever database or list they might actual fit the qualifications for.  (I’m not going to look for my father in the Civil War records because he’s not going to be there… neither of us are *THAT* old!  🙂  But I can look for my 3g grandfathers.)  Sometimes you need to use what you’ve found in order to be able to confirm it’s your relative.  For instance, I think I’ve found my 3g grandfather from my dad’s direct line in the Civil War records.  But in order to even remotely come close to finding him, I had to use the process of elimination.  I searched for his name, eliminated ones not from Georgia or with a middle initial, and that brought me down to one soldier.  Now all I have left is finding the piece to actually confirm my “process of elimination”.

4.  ASK ASK ASK!!  If you’re having trouble or don’t know or are just curious, find someone to ask.  Ask relatives.  Ask librarians.  Ask on message boards… Facebook, Ancestry, others.  Ask at the Archives.  Truly, the only “stupid question” is the one never asked.

Anything you wish someone had told you before?  Any questions about genealogy you wanna ask now?

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