Monday, October 31, 2016

What you will find at the Connecticut State Library

The Connecticut State Library is located in Hartford, Connecticut. References and Collections are open Tuesday-Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Library also includes the state archives as well as the Museum of Connecticut History. In addition, there are many records that will be of interest to anyone who traces their roots to the state of Connecticut.

The Archives is a secured collection that can be accessed by using a catalog of the holdings. What you can expect to find are personal papers, land records, probate court records and a whole lot more. The records cover the period from as early as 1631. A significant number of church records are available, especially for the Congregational Church. Fewer records for other Protestant denominations including Episcopal and Baptist are available. In some cases, these early church records take the place of civil records.
Additionally, there are many town records including town meetings, where your ancestor may be mentioned, benevolent society records and school society records.

The Early General Records include records from the founding of Connecticut through 1820. These are the official record of the colony. Proceedings from the General Assembly, early deeds, turnpike records and land records through 1846. Many of the records have been microfilmed and require special permission to access.

To find out the full collection of the archives, the website for the Connecticut State Library offers a very good listing.

The Archives are just the starting point when it comes to what records are available at the Connecticut State Library. Many indexes to materials that are vital to doing genealogical research in Connecticut are offered. One of the first places to look is the Barbour Collection. This is an index to early vital records. You can search for your surname in the index and may be surprised by what you find. The Hale Collection of newspaper marriage and death notices and cemetery inscriptions are also available. The collection includes many family bibles as well and the inscriptions are indexed.

The library is a treasure trove of information on people who have resided in Connecticut. If you ancestor arrived on a ship, which many did, the records could be here. If they naturalized in the state, the records may also be held here. Just a note about naturalization records in Connecticut, they do not contain a great deal of information, they are however, just another fascinating document that most people want to include in their records.

The Library has a wonderful collection of town directories which are an often forgotten source of great information about your ancestors including their address and their occupation.

The library has a great photo collection as well. You never know what you are going to find that may relate to your ancestor. Before coming to The Connecticut State Library, take the time to look over the website to give yourself ideas of what is available and for records you may not even have thought about. Staff members are always available to help out. Be prepared however, not all records are held at the Hartford location. You may need to go to another branch to find the records that you are interested in.

Monday, October 24, 2016

When DNA is not what you expected

DNA has added a whole new dimension to genealogy. It can help open doors that have been closed for years. It can connect you with members of your family both close and distant. But, it can also open some doors that have not opened in many years. 

It just happened to me recently and I wanted to share this possibility. Another ancestry member asked why I had searched and added a fact to my genealogy. I responded that it was a relative. This led to extensive communication. We are second cousins once removed. This is very exciting especially since this is a branch of the family I have had limited experience with. 

Of course, we shared our kit numbers so we could see our relationship on Gedmatch. No close connection. Now, what? According to our DNA results, we are not cousins. Where does that leave us?  

We did try some adjustments to the test results and did show a relationship. But I also was able to see a relationship with Al,  so this doesn't prove anything except that we are both of European descent. 

Just a few years ago, we would have gone on in ignorant bliss and exchanged family information. I have decided to ignore the DNA, We are still part of the same family and we have a lot of information to share and I am thinking that what if the DNA is wrong? Autosomal DNA is not foolproof. After a generation or two, it is very fickle. 

Someone contacted me from Gedmatch last year because they matched Kasey, well if you match Kasey you should match me (it was my side of the family) but no, they didn't match me. 

I also recently corresponded again with someone whose Mitochondrial DNA is an identical match for mine. We know where we connect, it is our Native American ancestry. We also share an early Bernier. However, again, no relationship according to Gedmatch. Again, we know this is wrong, the Mito proved that but it also proves that DNA comes down to us in ways we are only starting to understand and it is not always the same.  

I would rather enjoy these cousins than be silly and say we have no relationship based on a DNA test that may or may not be correct. DNA may not have all the answers. There is much more to genealogy than just DNA, there is family. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Returning to the Irish Catholic Parish Record

I have been researching in the Irish Catholic Parish Records on the National Library of Ireland(NLI) again. For Irish genealogists, this is a breakthrough that most of us never anticipated we would get, being able to research from our homes. 

However, in order to take advantage of this wonderful gift that we have been given, you need to know the "Holy Grail" of Irish genealogy, your ancestor's townland or at the very least their county of origin. 

I have been lucky in my research, our family lore told me that the Donahues were from Killarney and relentless research has given me the Talents and O'Connells in Queens County( now county Laois). You have to leave no stone unturned in your search for this information. What stones does that involve?

Every birth, baptism (and be sure the write down the godparent's names) death, obituary (check pall-bearers) and marriage (note the witnesses). Not just for your ancestor, for every sibling. Check the people who live around them, especially soon after they arrived from Ireland. People tend to go to areas where they know someone or where people from back home live. The census is your friend in this endeavor.

Check the Boston Pilot for advertisement, friends and relatives took ads out looking for loved ones. Depending on when your ancestor came, the World War I draft records or the SSI index can provide important information. 

Naturalization records can also provide important information but it really depends on which state they naturalized in. Immigration records are potentially helpful as well, though, unless your ancestor has an unusual name, it is hard to tell which one is your ancestor. A name like John Murphy will give you dozens of possibilities

Don't forget to talk to every relative you can locate. You never know what stories have passed down through other branches of the family. 

If you can at least narrow it down to the county then you need to try to figure out the date of birth. If your family is anything like mine, the dates will never be obvious. Every census changes the possible birthdate. Just get the info all together and that will be your date range. 

Now, without parents names, how do you figure out who the parents actually are? One way is to check the names of the children. While it is not a sure way to get the parents names, many Irish families follow a naming pattern. The first son is named after the father's father and first daughter after the wife's mother. The second son is named after the mother's father and the second daughter is after the father's mother. One side of my family uses this pattern, the other does not so it is a crap shoot but what the heck, it is the best shot you have. 

Every record you look at has layers of information, if you can scan it, you will have it all at your fingertips but at the very last write down every single thing. With the parish records, you can print the screen shot and keep it in your files so that you can look at it again any time you need it. 

Be prepared to strain your eyes reading the records in the NLI Catholic Parish Records. Some of the records are in Latin and others are in terrible shape and even worse handwriting but even with that, they are worth spending days, weeks, months and even years looking through. 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Godfrey Library: Computer Skills

October 26th - Computer Skills for Genealogists Group 1:00 p.m.- 2:00 p.m. Many of our patrons do not feel so confident using computers. Join us at the library for ongoing informal research sessions focused on computer skills for genealogists. Get tips for conducting online research, saving and editing documents, citing material found online, using family tree software, etc... 

Bring your laptop to make the most out of this useful information. Meetings are free to Godfrey Premium members and take place every 4th Wednesday. No pre-registration necessary.

Monday, October 10, 2016

A rose by any other name in Irish baptism records

For years I was looking for my 2nd great grandmother Julia Tallant. I know her name is Julia, is has always been Julia. But 25 years ago when I went to the Irish research center in Tullamore, the only person they found was Judith Tallant. Well, her name wasn't Judith it was Julia. 

I did take the information that they gave me, her parents Michael Tallant and Mary Moran and see how they fitted into my genealogy. At least three Morans are godparents for Julia's children with William O'Connell. These parents make sense for Julia but her name is not Judith. The date of the baptism also matches very well with all the occasions where she gives her age. 

Fast forward 25 years. We now have access to all the Irish baptism records through the National Library of Ireland. I began looking at the registers myself. I found the marriage of Michael and Mary Moran, I found the baptism of Judith and another daughter Agnes. I continued to look for other children which I never found but I did notice one thing as I looked through the register, in the church, there were no Julias to be found, none , nada, zero. There were, however, lots of Judiths.  

This has led me to the conclusion that Julia must not be considered a saint's name and the priest entered a saints name in the book, Judith. It would have been better had he made it Mary Julia but since he didn't there is no other explanation for the total lack of Julias, it is a very common name. 

Monday, October 3, 2016

Wrong Information and how to handle it

Not all genealogists are created equal. I am not trying to sound judgemental but you are going to find some information that just is not correct put out on sites like I am very frustrated by this sort of carelessness especially by people who are always offering information to other people. 

If you haven't come up against this yet, you will. You can't remove their information you can only ask them to correct what they have put up. Some people will not change the information even if you offer irrefutable proof that what they have is incorrect. It is very frustrating.  

What makes it worse, is if the people they have wrong are your ancestors but not theirs. Why do they have your ancestors on their genealogy if they are not related to them? They may be connected at some point and they decide to add information to collateral  people in their genealogy. 

People are always asking me why I have my family tree hidden on Ancestry. I will share it with people who are related but I have spent years collecting this information and I cherish it. 

Genealogy is not a fast process, it takes years of dedication. Information needs to be sourced and proven. It is easy to jump to wrong conclusions, it happens but those things we don't put out as facts until we are sure or as sure as we can be. 

If you are not going to make sure that your information is not 100% sourced and correct, keep it to yourself please and don't muddy the water with guesses. Okay, I am done ranting for the day.