Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Crossroads of America NGS Conference

Crossroads of America  has 9 different tracts, they are coded from beginner to Intermediate. This is a conference that certainly can offer something of everyone:

  • Skillbuilding
  • Proving the Point
  • German Research
  • Settlers
  • Missouri
  • Research in the States
  • Recording Your Information
  • Little Used Records 
  • Maps

These are just the tracts from the first day. Some of them will continue through all three days and others will change. Some of the additions are Migration, Immigration, New York State, Eastern European and Strategies for Success.

The first lecture of the day begins at 8 a.m. and the last lecture is at 4 p.m. A luncheon lecture breaks up each of the three days.

The conference begins on Wednesday with an opening session at 8 a.m. The Exhibition Hall will open every day from 9:00a.m. -5:00 p.m. except Wednesday when it opens at 9:30. Vendors will be offering a variety of genealogy related materials.

Hotels are available in the area and many offer shuttles. It is a good idea to register early but since that is no longer possible there will be fewer options still available.

Research opportunities are  offered n the area but keep in mind that many other people have the same idea and if you really want to get to specific facility you may want to come several days early or stay several days after the closing. Also be sure to check with the specific facility about their hours and days of opening.

For all the particular, go to their website http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/

Monday, March 30, 2015

Using the Census in Genealogy Research

The census is one of the best tools that is available to genealogists. Even though it is a great resource, you need to realize that until 1940 it is a secondary source not a primary one. You don't know who give the information to the enumerator. Do you want to trust a neighbor to know all your family information? I don't!!

Having said that, there is an immense amount of information to be gleaned from the census returns. I am sure you are thinking U.S. censuses and yes they exist from 1790 (with the exception of 1890) but the U.S. is not the only country to take censuses. 

Great Britain, Canada and other countries also have censuses. Early French Canada censuses exist as well if your family goes back to Quebec or some of the maritime provinces. 

The more recent the census, the more information is included. To learn more you can go to the government census  website and get additional information.  The census site explains the censuses but the National Archives actually holds the records. 

They offer help for genealogist and it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the type of records that they have. I will go into more detail and each census in the future but for now if you are ready to get going, start with the 1940 census and go back from there.  

I am going to suggest that no matter which census you are going to look at, you print out a blank copy so that you know what each of the columns is asking. It will save you lots of misunderstandings. 

#genealogy #censusesandgenealogy

Friday, March 27, 2015

Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks

I am so glad that I decided to attend Fairfax Genealogical Spring Conference in Virginia. I have been doing research for so long that I have gotten a little complacent and smug in what I know. It is good to be reminded that while I am knowledgeable in a lot of areas, I am not an expert and learning from an expert is a very good thing.

Most of my lectures today were on the importance of citations and sourcing and it seems that everyone agrees with just how important that it.

I have taken lots of notes and enjoyed listening to some very informed genealogists telling us how they overcame some of the brick wall they encountered.

I am exhausted but I will be sure to share with my readers all the wonderful tips that I got, it got me motivated to write a list of the things I want to work on in my own family history. It is very energizing begin around other genealogists and seeing all the enthusiasm. Often times we find we only have a few people who share our interest, here everyone does.

I am going to rest up for another full day of lectures tomorrow.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Genealogy Conference in Virginia

I may not be posting for a couple days, it depends on how tired I get. I am getting on the train today for the genealogy conference in Fairfax, Va. I have been looking forward to this one for weeks so I will come back with lots of new information to share with everyone hopefully.

I  am taking the track with on Irish information and I am curious to see if the lectors have any new information to impart. Tricks to overcoming the issues that Irish genealogy can present. So bear with me and I will keep you posted.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Having fun with your genealogy

There are times when genealogy research can be a very lonely hobby. You spend more times alone on your computer or in a historical society leafing through dusty records looking for those elusive pieces of information than having fun. How can you have fun with genealogy research? As a genealogist for over 30 years, I can tell you that one of the best ways to have fun with genealogy research is to have a research buddy.

If you are lucky enough to have a spouse or a sibling who shares your obsession, you will have a built in research buddy. If you need to take a road trip to go to an archive or a cemetery, you can make a day of it with your research buddy. Two sets of eyes are always better than one and by adding a lunch, dinner or tea time to your work day you are adding a lot of fun to the whole process. Sometimes we just don’t have a family member who shares our passion, then what?

A friend who is working on their genealogy can also become an accomplice. It is a little different when you are researching two different families. You will need to come up with places to research where both of you can find information. Another way to have fun with your genealogy research is to trade brick walls with a friend. You research theirs and they research yours. Sometimes another set of eyes is all you need to break down the wall.

Go to a genealogy conference. This is a great way to not only have fun but to learn some new strategies. You will have the opportunity to hear some great speakers, to place your missing ancestors on the Queries Board and mix with the other genealogists. In New England, we have our conference every two years and the location changes states every time. The next conference will be held in Providence, Rhode Island in April 2015.

Travel to a location where you have roots. You can do this alone or with someone else. Walk in the footsteps of your ancestors. Visit the places that were important in their lives. Go to the local library and see if they have a genealogy room or local history room. You may be able to find out some little known information about your ancestors. You need to look beyond the obvious sources.

Towns have lots of records, town meetings, land records, tax rolls and school records. You can make this a fun day, weekend or even an entire vacation if you ancestors happen to have come from a faraway location.  

A genealogy shared is a genealogy that is fun. You may find your buddy in the most expected places; it may even be a relative you find on the Internet through a genealogy forum or on Ancestry.com.  There is no doubt that you will spend a lot of your genealogy research time alone grinding away. For a dedicated genealogist this is fun as well but not as much fun as sharing the frustrations, the rewards and the fascinating little bits that you will find in your quest. 

I met my third cousin Barbara on a genealogy forum about 15 years ago and we have become great friends and supporters and met in England. I met another 3rd cousin Chris on a forum and have visited with him in Victoria BC and two other 3rd cousins Roland and Sue met with us in Michigan where they both live, I introduced them to each other. Another 2nd cousin Marc met we me in Quebec City so as you see, your family may grow by leaps and bounds. I have met lots of other cousins too and even hosted a family reunion.

So while genealogy may be a solitary hobby, there are many ways to have fun while doing it.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Persistence Pays Off

I usually refer to myself as a bulldog. I will chase after something endlessly and rarely give up. This a very good trait in a genealogist and I am going to explain why.

Brickwalls are a part of almost every genealogy. You get to a certain point and can't seem to get any farther. When you are Irish, it is inevitable. By a couple of happy circumstances, I have been luckier than most.

My great-great grandfather, Cornelius Donoghoe was married and naturalized in Massachusetts. I was able to get a copy of his civil marriage record from the state and on it I found his father's name and his wife's father's name. This is a really big deal.

Additionally, the naturalization document in Massachusetts is much more detailed than Connecticut and not only tells where he was born in Ireland but when he arrived in this country. To anyone who has done Irish genealogy this is the thing we all strive for.

I have been to Ireland, found his parents marriage and two sisters and that was pretty much that for the last almost 20 years. Last night, I was searching around on  Family Search and as usual was checking what records they have.

I wanted to check the 1850 census for Massachusetts to see if there was any new information on where Cornelius might be. I searched Geoffrey just for the fun of it and found two more siblings for Cornelius that I never knew existed. I also found a death record in Boston in 1860 for a Jeffrey Donahue 50 years old. Is this my Jeffrey? I don't know but if it is, it changes everything I thought I knew.

What the lesson here is, it is never over. We just need to keep looking and going back to the same sources because you  never know when new information will be added. 

Just for the record, the spelling that I used for Geoffrey and Donahue are not misspellings, there are the variations I have found in the records. At Cornelius' birth his father's name is spelled with a G and the Donahue was spelled with all o's and the g. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

My genealogy journey: Finding my grandparents

I thought I would go a little different direction today and tell you about my genealogy journey. Where I started, where I have journeyed and where I am still going. 

When my father died in 1984, it was brought home to me in a momentary flash of regret that I had lost the last chance I had to find out about my grandparents. As the oldest child of a second family, I had never know any of my grandparents and now had lost the last link to that side of the family.

Poor timing to be sure to decide to start trying to trace my genealogy and find out about my grandparents when I had no one left to interview. I began at that time a search that has spanned more than thirty years and continues to this day.

Starting from scratch is what I called it. I knew my grandparents names but my grandmother was born in England and whenever I asked my father as a child where she had been born, he would say something like Yorkshire, Berkshire or Derbyshire. The words Cambridgeshire never came out of his mouth and after many years of searching I have found not only the village of my ancestors but several villages on the Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk border.

Looking back after thirty years, it is hard to imagine that these people, my grandparents, were such a mystery to me. I feel like I know them so well now. It has been a long haul but here are a few of the steps that I took in my search.

The very first thing I did was to become a registered genealogist. In my state that is required to have access to birth information and while my grandmother wasn't born in the US, my grandfather was. I went to the town hall with my card and looked at death records. I needed to have the death dates of my grandparents. With that information I went to the local library and went through the copies of the newspaper on microfilm and photocopied the obituary notices. This gave me family names and another place to go with my research.

My grandmother was Edith Hunns. I learned that this is a name that is usually found in Cambridgeshire and that there are many thoughts about the origins of this name.

I called the church that holds the records of religious events like baptism and marriages and was allowed access to the records which I have to tell you would not be as likely to happen today. Be prepared to be told that you can submit questions but will not be allowed to look at the record yourself. When you ask them for information, ask for all the information during a time period for anyone with the same last name. You may end up with information that doesn't apply to you but you may also find out about family members you had no idea existed. Be sure to make a donation as well, this will get your research done much quicker.

My next step was the US Census, it became one of my favorite tools. I found my grandmother as a young woman living with her father, brother, sister, brother-in law and nephews in the 1900 census. I also found out where she was working which explained how she met my grandfather who worked for the same company.

From the names I found, I went looking for some of my father's cousins and luckily I found a few who were quite a bit younger than him and were able to give me valuable information and family lore that I was missing.

Over the last twenty five years I have pieced together a much better picture of my grandparents than I ever had while my father was alive. I have gotten photographs, visited England and seen the church where my grandmother was baptized, found the cemetery where her mother is buried and needless to say have gone back about three hundred years farther into the story of my family. And it all started with my grandparents and my desire to know who they were.