Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Year End Genealogy Review

As we wrap up 2015 and get ready to head into 2016, it is time to assess what you have accomplished in the past year as far as your genealogical research. Personally, I had one of the best years ever. Okay maybe not as good as the really early days when everything was new and I was building my original trees but I have been stuck in a few ruts. Those brick walls can be very hard to overcome.

Here is what I discovered this year. 

My grandmother came to the United States on the Teutonic in 1891. This record has eluded me for 30 years. It brought tears to my eyes to see her, her father John and brothers John and George on the ship as it departed Liverpool for New York on April 22, 1891. 

My ancestor Geoffrey Donahue had two more siblings that I had never known about. A brother Edmund and a sister Hannah. 

My ancestor Julia Tallant did have an older sister named Agnes and her parents are indeed Michael Tallant and Mary Moran. 

My DNA matches me to at least two people with Cavan Roots. I need to concentrate on this a little in the new year 

I am sure that there may be even more that got me thinking this year but I would say that I have broken down a few walls. 

I hope to share a lot more tips and information in the new year. May all of you who follow this blog have as much luck as I have had in breaking down those walls that keep us from getting to know our roots. Happy New Year!!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Get to Know Your Ancestor

Finding and identifying your ancestors is not always straight forward. You may know where you ancestor was or should be but when you check the local records, they aren't there. However, they may be someone else who looks familiar but has a different name. 

One thing you will find as you get deeper into your research is that names can change. There may be good reasons for the change or you may never know why they change, but change they do. 

In order to identify your ancestor you need to build an identity for them. You need to record names, places, dates, relationships, activities and characteristics. 

Relationships can be one of the most helpful things. Know who lives with your ancestors and who lives nearby. People often move in groups and this can help you to recognize when your ancestor has changed their name. 

Try not to get ahead of yourself. Gather as much information as you can about the last known location where you are certain you have the correct ancestor. 

Gather as many documents as you can. Try not to rely on only one source for any facts. Use records like death records to gather information but always be aware that they are not a primary source. 

Once you have your ancestor surrounded by family, friends and neighbors you will be in a better position to follow them back to their previous location. 

Use the census to see who was living in the same community with your ancestor and also who was in the house. Never assume relationships. A child living with a family may not be their child, it can be a relative, neighbor or an orphan. 

Try to avoid going on a fishing expedition, be systematic in your research.