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!