Category Archives: Ancestry Ace

“Who Do You Think You Are?”

I am TOTALLY excited about the new season of “Who Do You Think You Are?” starting tomorrow night on TLC!  It’s airing at 9PM Eastern and I’d really encourage you to tune in and see what they find out.  Tomorrow night starts with Kelly Clarkson.  (Psst, I notice the last name Rose and Ohio Civil War record in her preview…  🙂  )  It looks like Christina Applegate is up next.  Check out this article for more names.

So, why do I watch this.  First, because I love following their journey and excited in finding out their own family history.  I know how it excites me to find that one more document or another piece of information.  Second, you learn a bit about our country’s history.  Part of their family history is U.S. history as well.  Why did someone’s grandfather up and move to California? (Was it the gold rush?)  Why did they move one state over?  (Was it a land grant or lottery?)  Part of it is the world history as well.  Not everyone’s family has been here for decades or centuries.  Why did they come?  (My husband’s family were French Huguenots as best we can tell who left and went to Germany and came from there to America.  Religious reasons?)  Another reason is the tricks of the trade.  It’s interesting to see the actual documents they find and to find out what else is out there that I haven’t even run across yet in my searching.  (Did you know about the Salt Lists from the Civil War?  Yep, found Georgia ones with family listed!)

You’d be surprised what they learn and where they go in search of information.  What would YOU like to learn?  Tune in and see if you can find out more from them, too!

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Lost and Found – John Wilson

"John Wilson - colored help" is about all I knew, it's all Gunga wrote...

“John Wilson – colored help” is about all I knew, it’s all Gunga wrote…

It’s been several months now since I snagged the boxes and envelopes from my Tata’s apartment.  (Tata is what I call my grandmother, my mom’s mother.)  Heehee… I’m a stinker and still have them, but she doesn’t mind!  Some of them were actually her mother’s, my Gunga.  The one above being amongst those from Gunga herself.  All Gunga had written on it was that his name was John Wilson and he was colored help.  I still would love to find out who his family is.  I would love to share a copy of this with them.  But I still have some investigating to do.

After some work, here’s a few things I’ve managed to deduce… I think?!  This photo appears to be from about 1920- 1930.  The plant in the back is castor bean.  Possibly sold to or used by the local pharmacist, whom Granpapa Elijah Jr happened to be related to.  I managed to find him in some census records and draft cards with a little help.  He was a drayman for Granpapa Elijah Jr’s grocery story, Cochran Grocer, there in Cochran, Georgia.  his birthday appears to be November 15, 1873.  He was married to a Phebe Ann Porter as best I can tell, but I’m not sure the daughter (Lela Verseois Porter) is his and not just hers since the last name is Porter.

I’ll have to comment more if I find more at some point… but PLEASE leave a message or contact me if you have information!!  Thank you…

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“How do I get started?”

Crista Cowan from Ancestry.com did a live stream today on how to start working on your genealogy.  To watch that video, go here.  But I’ll give you a few tips and some things I’d suggest as well.

1.  Start with yourself.  Go one generation at a time.  And do NOT skip generations.

For this, you obviously know your own information.  For your parents and generations prior to them, ask any living relative you can.  The main items to note are birth dates, death dates, parent’s names, children’s names, sibling’s names, wedding dates.  The more you can get on one person, the better.  And the further back you can get, the better.

2.  Write it down.  Document it.

If you’re a paper and pen kind of person, you can find in several places genealogy charts to use for writing down information.  For those who are tech savvy or that know you’re going to want to network or use Ancestry.com, there is a free way to set up a tree on Ancestry.com.  There is also software called Family Tree Maker that will also sync to your Ancestry tree if you so choose.  Either way, write down whatever information you’re being told or find.

Once you have information, then you can start searching for actual documents to verify.  Ancestry has some databases that are free.  Specifically, the Federal 1940 Census is free until the end of the year.  (That’s also the most recent census record available to the public, so you want to try to get back at least that far with what you already know.)

3.  “You don’t know what you don’t know.”

Learn anything you can.  Don’t be afraid to Google wars or names or countries for more information or to just see what’s out there.  There are also spots on Ancestry’s site specifically for helping you learn and locate more information in your genealogical search.  (PLUG FOR MESSAGE BOARDS!!  They can be a gold mine!!)

Also, play close attention to ALL of the information provided in a record.  Scroll all the way across.  Notice all the columns or blanks and what’s filled in and what’s not.  Notice the information provided… does it match what you already have?  Does it add to what you know?  SOO much can be learned from looking at all the details.  And don’t be afraid to go back and look again to see what you might have missed.

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did you know? and what do you really know?

Okay, so first…

Go here… and check that out.

Then, go here… and check that out.

Did you know that?  Had you really even considered that?  I only sort of had.

Oh, you really should read this, too…

How many of your ancestors do you know?  What do you know about the ones you do know of?

Essentially, to wrap up what those links give you, is that you genetics are “shaped” like your family tree.  They branch out farther and farther as you go up with more and more people.  (Remember how everybody has two parents?  And those two parents have two parents…)  And you gets bits of your genes and DNA from all along the way.

I haven’t done the exercise and looked up how many I have in each generation back, but it’s interesting to know I have bits from all over the tree!

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“bucket list”: genealogy style…

So one of the things Ancestry Aces were asked about the other day is “what’s on our genealogy bucket list?”  I kind of had to think about this one in order to really come up with my answer.

1.  I guess the first thing on my list is to have it all verified.  Frankly, it’s virtually impossible to completely verify EV-ER-Y-THING.  I’d love to have documentation for it ALL going ALL the way back.  But I guess I’d really like to have Granpa Jack verified in the Civil War.  I just can’t definitively connect him to the records I’ve found that are most likely him.  I’m hoping to find some help to figure this out though!

2.  I’d like to find old homesteads or the like here in the U.S.  I’m not sure any homes are still standing, but I’d like to find at least the land and area they lived in.  I’ve managed to find some of the final resting places though, so it’s a start.

3.  I’ve love to visit the U.K.  I’d love to visit where my family came over from.  I mean, I’d need to verify it, but then I’d want to go to tho specific towns and places they were from and lived.

4.  My husband’s family came from France (Rodez) via Germany (Rhodt).  I’d love for us to be able to see those sites.  I have a feeling they have more left from the days his family was there and would love to get PLENTY of pictures in both places.

5.  I think I have it documented, but I’d have to check again.  I’ve found that one great grandmother’s father is a “gateway ancestor” for the Order of Charlemagne.  I’d love to visit a few of the abbeys and burial sites from some of them.  Particularly the one in Jerusalem.

6.  Okay, I’m throwing in a sixth one, because I’m already working on something along this line.  I want to print/ publish something.  Right now, I’m working on a photo album of sorts for my family on both sides.  It’d be cool to print up the while lineage and all, but I don’t know if I’ll do that… maybe whatever Ancestry offers.  I’m also working on my grandmother’s memoirs, so we’ll see how that turns out.  I’m really excited about that one!!

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“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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