Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Massachusetts Vital Records Project

If you have ancestors from Massachusetts before 1850, this site just may be the answer to your prayers.  I use it almost every week. 

First, not every town in Massachusetts has been completed. Some of the towns I really need to see are not done yet, but there is hope for the future. 

Once you get on the home page, you will have the option of clicking on surname or on town. If you know the town, that is the easier options. Once you click towns, you will then need to click on the county that the town is in. If you don't know, don't worry, if you click a county the names of the towns come up. Just keep looking until you find the one you need. 

Towns with a green star have an active link. That will take you the town and you then have the options of clicking births, marriages, and deaths. If you know the town, you will probably want to check all three. 

This site is an amazing resource and can help you to follow your family through several generations if they happen to be in the same town. In some cases, they will tell you that they have removed to another town. 

I think I also need to note that the towns in southern New Hampshire overlap with those of Massachusetts in these early records. So don't discount how useful these records can be in New Hampshire research. 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

What's happening at Godfrey Library

December 2nd - Genealogy Club 9:30 a.m.- 10:30 a.m. at the library 

Using Military Pension Records Godfrey Board VP Al Fiacre will help us learn how to find these documents and how to understand them. He will focus on pensions and land bounty awards for Revolutionary War, War of 1812 and Civil War veterans in terms of the enabling laws, where to obtain the information and what information is contained in the pension file. These files contain a wealth of information as you will see from the examples Al will provide from both the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 records. The talk will not include any discussion of general service records. Participants will have time after the presentation to research at the library. Genealogy Club is free to Godfrey Premium Members or $10 a session. 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

What's happening at Godfrey Library

November 4th - Genealogy Club 9:30 a.m.- 10:30 a.m. at the library

Phthisis, Dropsy and Diptheria, Oh My! Death Records and Causes of Death over the Centuries 

Godfrey board member Laura Hobbs will describe the various places to find death records and what is typically in those records. Her talk will focus on causes of death and how they have changed over the years. Medical knowledge is not required. Participants will have time after the presentation to research at the library. Genealogy Club is free to Godfrey Premium Members or $10 a session. 

November 7th - & 18th Get help from an expert 9:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. at the library 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Was someone looking for your Irish ancestors?

If you have Irish ancestors you know how frustrating your search can be. Records are non-existent, have been destroyed or are just impossible to find. However, if you want to try for a needle in a haystack, give this website a look.

This site, provided by Boston College has links to the advertisements placed in the Boston Pilot by friends and relatives in Ireland trying to locate their loved ones in the United States. On the outside chance that someone was looking for your ancestor, this is worth a look. 

I did not find anyone but I certainly enjoyed looking. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Genealogy Conference in Cavan

Join us in Cavan for a one-day conference with some of Ireland's leading experts on seventeenth-century Ireland to discuss the Towns in the Ulster Plantation.
VENUE: Johnston Central Library, Cavan
DATE: Saturday 14 th October
TIME: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
TO BOOK: Contact Cavan Genealogy
First Floor, Johnston Central Library and Farnham Centre, Farnham Street, Cavan
Phone: +353 (0)49 436 1094
Fee: €10.00
Fee is non-refundable and must be paid in full at time of booking. To guarantee your seat, early and full booking is essential. All major credit cards including Visa, Mastercard and Laser are accepted.
For more information click the link below.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Beyond your autosomal DNA test

You have finally bought your autosomal DNA kit, sent it in and have your results. Now what?  If you bought it from Family Tree you can take it and download the results and put them on  You can not, however, put them on, Ancestry does not allow you to download your results from other sites. That is a shame of course since they have the largest database. 

If however, you had your test done at you can download your results and add them to Family Tree for free. If you really want to be able to use the result to the full extent, you will need to pay $19 to unlock some of the other features that they offer. It takes about 24 hours for your results to be available to you after the download. 

You may also download your raw data to My Heritage. Different people have their DNA at different sites so the more places that you place yours, the more likely you are to find some useful matches. 

I have downloaded mine to all of them and one of my brothers to Family Tree since that is where I had his Y DNA tested. I will update you all as I find useful matches. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Civil records available to Irish genealogists

Civil registration in Ireland began in 1864 which, for many Americans, is just too late to provide direct assistance. Having said that, these records are a treasure trove and may be able to connect you with family members who remained in Ireland.

The website allows you to access a variety of records. Births, marriages, and deaths are all available. For some of the records there is only an index, for others there are images. 

Births  1864-1915
Marriages 1845-1940 (Catholic marriages from 1864)
Deaths 1864-1965

Births 1864-1915
Marriages 1882-1940
Deaths 1891-1965

In addition to the civil records, this website includes access to church records as well as lots of valuable information about researching your Irish ancestors and links to many sources that can help you in your quest. 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

1666 Census of Quebec

What a fascinating snapshot of a moment in history this 1666 census is. While it is in no way complete, it does give those of us who have French Canadian ancestors a way to see where our ancestors were at this one moment 350 years ago. If you have other ancestors in other countries you realize what a gem this is. 

There are several ways that you can look at this, if you want to see the handwritten pages, they are available on the Canadian National Archives website. Some of them can be a bit hard to read so I used it in combination with this Rootsweb site which has them translated and listed by area. Not all the links, however, work so if you are looking for the list of the ancestors on the Isle d'Orleans, Coast of Lauzon or Beauport, you will have to resort to the original records. 

The original records are also by region but you must be careful to notice when the change happens. The census is 147 pages long in PDF or you can look at the 163 pages one page at a time. The last entries in all of the areas are the unattached men, some of whom have wives in France (some no doubt who have lied about having a wife) and the single men. Also, many families have young men working for them as domestics, this is how our ancestors paid their way over to Canada, by promising to work for someone for usually three years. 

I highly recommend if you have Canadian ancestors, you look at and enjoy the wonderful record. In some cases, it is the only way we have any idea what year or about what year our ancestors were born. Don't worry if you can't find one ancestor, you will find many others. 

The areas are:
Coste de Lauzon
Isle D'Orleans
St Jean, St Francois, St Michel (parishes on the south side of the St Lawrence River)
Trois Rivieres 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

An Introduction to the Irish Tithe Applotment Books

One record that has survived for Irish researchers to take advantage of are the Tithe Applotment Books. What are the tithe applotment books?  They are records of those people who were Catholic and occupied a piece of land for agriculture over one acre. They wanted a record so they could charge Catholics a title for the Church of Ireland. It was a tax for not being a member of the established church. While it was a very discriminatory practice, today we are grateful to the establishment for this record if not for the actual tax.

The Tithe Applotment Book can help to replace some of the records that would have ben included in the censuses from 1821-1851. They were compiled between 1823 and 1837. They only record agricultural land and not city dwellers and only the head of household but they can be quite useful. 

They record the townland, civil parish and the amount of land occupied. It is very useful to have the exact townland of your ancestor to take full advantage of the information available. All of these fields can be searched, and there is also a browse facility, which allows users to survey entire parishes and townlands.

The population of Ireland was recorded in 1841 as 8.2 million. It would have been somewhat less than this during the 1820s and 1830s, when the Tithe Applotment Books were compiled.

The books for Northern Ireland are in the held in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, but there are microfilm copies in the National Archives which can be consulted in our Reading Room.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Placing your ancestors in historic context

Recently, as I was working on my son-in-law's genealogy  something triggered me to wonder about historic context. He had an ancestor who emigrated to Canada in 1757. The battle for the Plains of Abraham took place in 1759. The majority of French Canadian ancestors came to Quebec in the 17th century. I was surprised that this man came so late.

It made me wonder if perhaps he was a soldier sent by the King of France to defend the colony from the rising English threat. I looked at the record of his marriage which took place in 1757 and sure enough, he was listed as a soldier. 

Obviously, I would have found this out eventually when I went to look for his marriage but because I am aware of French Canadian history, it made sense to me that he might be a soldier. This will work for any genealogy in any time period or place. If you familiarize yourself with the history of the town, state, country or even world in which your ancestor lived, you will be able to recognize tips and hints that may help you to find out more about them. 

If you know that there was a famine or an economic downswing, you will recognize what may have triggered your ancestor to emigrate. Some of these are the Irish famine, Russian programs and religious persecution in England and France just to name a few. Rest assured, if you learn the history, lights will go on for you too. 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Occupations in French Canada

Once you start to work on your French Canada you are going to find that they have very good records. Among the records are census returns from 1666, 1667 and 1681. Among the questions asked was the occupation. Drouin has listed these occupations in the wonderful Dictionnaire Genealogique des Familles du Quebec des origins a 1730. 

I own a copy of this book and it is a wonderful if somewhat expensive resource. While Ancestry does have the index it doesn't have the complete book. Records are of course, in French. This may lead to some confusion about what exactly the occupation of your ancestor was. Some are obvious, soldat is soldier and fermier is farmer. But what about if you see arpenteur, boucher or boulanger? 

Luckily, there is a blog that offers a post to help with this. Unfortunately, I can't tell you who the blogger is, it is anonymous but it is helpful just the same.  

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Our Canada-Your Family Building a Nation June 16-18 Ottawa, Ontario

Members of all 34 branches and special interest groups of the Ontario Genealogical Society and other family historians from across North America and around the world will meet in Ottawa in June 2017 for three days of inspiring lectures, workshops, displays, and other learning opportunities. Don't miss it!

Open registration is closed but walk-in registration will be available every day. This conference has some things of interest even to those who don't have any connection to Canada. Check out their brochure

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Some Good News on My English Genealogy

One thing that happens when you do genealogy is that you will meet people who are related to you in a distant way. It is inevitable. I became friendly with someone who is probably a 5th cousin or so. In our many interactions, she told me that she had come across a marriage for one of my ancestors that I had never seen. It was in another town.

To put it as simply as possible, I had Ann Deacon as my ancestress and she said it was really Ann Spinks. My ancestor John Ollard, had two wives named Ann. He married Ann Deacon in Newton, had children there and then Ann Ollard died in 1737. I can be forgiven for thinking she was Ann Deacon.

I contacted the Wisbech Fenlands Museum online and asked them to check the records for Tydd St Giles for a marriage between John Ollard and Ann Spinks. Yes,  there is one, in 1716 the year before my ancestor Spinks Ollard was born. So it seems, he was given his mother's last name as his first name. There is no death recorded in either town for Ann Deacon Ollard but no doubt she died before 1716.

So another mystery is solved and now my genealogy is correct. Thank you, Heather.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Shocking discovery blows my Irish genealogy

Sometimes, ignorance is bliss. Of course, in genealogy, we don't believe this but I have to say, my shocking discovery has made me wish I had left well enough alone. 

Let me set the stage. In May 1995 I sent to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for a marriage certificate for Cornelius Donahue and Johanna O'Connor. Did I know that they were married in Massachusetts? No, but they weren't married at St. John in Middletown and their son was baptized there in 1855 so they had to be married somewhere. Cornelius was naturalized in Massachusetts in 1854 so I took a chance sending my request and a check. 

I was rewarded with a certificate that stated that Cornelius Donihue son of Jeffrey Donihue and Johanna Connor daughter of Dennis Conner had been married in Chicopee in December 1853. This was my most spectacular discovery to date. 

In his naturalization certificate, Cornelius told me that he was born in Killarney on or about January 14, 1832,  and had arrived in the United States on July 6, 1847, at age 15. Now I knew his father's name. 

In December 1995 I went to Killarney and looked at the records at the cathedral. I found Cornelius, son of Jeffrey and Johanna Sullivan baptized in April 1853. They were from a townland about 8 miles away. I assumed it could have taken them a while to get into Killarney for the baptism. 

No other Cornelius, born to a Jeffrey was baptized in Killarney on any other date, ever. So for the last 20 odd years, I have been researching this family. Imagine how shocked I was when with the new records available online I was able to search for records relating to any Geoffrey Donoghues and I found a marriage in Killarney in 1878 for Cornelius Donoghue and Bridget Reardon and his parents are Jeffrie Donaghue and Johanna Sullivan. What the what?????

My Cornelius died in 1872 in Portland, Ct from cholera at 40 years old. So obviously, my Cornelius wasn't the son of Geoffrey and Johanna but whose son is he?   I have no clue. The only other Geoffrey in Killarney at this time having children is married to Mary Begley and they don't have a son Cornelius. They also don't seem to have the names that predominate in my family. I have to admit, I always wondered about the whole name thing with Geoffrey and Johanna since their other children also had names we never see in my family. 

So where am I? Back to where I was in 1995 before my trip to Ireland. I so wish the 1841 and 1851 censuses still existed, it would clear up this mystery for me. But they don't and so I have nowhere to go with this. 

Friday, April 28, 2017

NERGC: DNA Workshop was Awesome

On Thursday morning we spent the first two hours in a DNA workshop with Jennifer Zinck learning about what the results that we see from our Ancestry DNA tests can tell us. It was very interesting and the entire room was spellbound the entire time. 

Jenn is very good at imparting the information is a way that is both entertaining and educational. While I have been playing with this DNA site for quite a while, there was plenty for me to learn as well. 

One takeaway that will be very helpful is the use of the site PiPL to help find out who some of the people who won't respond to you on Ancestry really are. You can put in their username and you may be able to find out who they actually are.  

All in all, this was a very worthwhile workshop and well worth the additional cost. 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

NERGC It's Finally Here

We are checking into the NERGC on Tuesday. We, Kathy and I,  have a room at the Marriott Hotel. On Wednesday we are attending DNA Day. We are hoping that we will learn some things about the DNA tests that we have taken. How to use the results effectively. 

There is still time to join us, the regular conference begins on Thursday and even if you can't attend until Saturday, that is okay, they have a one-day option. Hope to see you here!!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

NERGC Next Week April 26-29

It is finally that time, the time we wait two long years for, the NERGC is here. There is still time to register for the full conference or for just one or two days. Visit the conference website and check out all the details. 

If you are a Genealogy Roadshow fan you will recognize two of the presenters,  Mary Tedesco and Kenyatta Barry. Enjoy all the advantages that being together with hundreds of fellow genealogists provides. Great vendors, exciting speakers and the opportunity to get help with your person brick walls will all be available. 

Stay tuned, I will be posting daily next week from the conference. Wednesday is DNA Day!!!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Ireland Census 1911

Another census in Ireland that has survived all the unfortunate events of the early 20th century is the 1911 census. It is a very interesting census and includes a little more information that the 1901 census including how long the married couples have been married. This really helped me to nail down that this was indeed my ancestor. 

What it tells you is:
Relationship to head of household
Irish language
marital status
specific illness
years married
children born 
children living

What was particularly fascinating for me was that my relative spoke both Irish and English. There was a rumor in our family that my ancestor Johanna Connors Donahue was a Gaelic speaker and now I know it is likely true since it is likely that her husband Cornelius also spoke Gaelic since his brother did. 

The Irish census is available at the National Archives of Ireland website

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Ireland 1901 census records

Due to a variety of unfortunate circumstances, most of Ireland's early census records no longer exist however, 1901 does exist. It is quite an interesting census and offers up some useful information to genealogists. 

I know what you are thinking, my ancestors are famine immigrants, what can this census from so many years later do for me? Well let me tell you what it did for me, it introduced me to my third great uncle. 

If you have used the National Library of Ireland parish records to find your ancestors' baptism and marriage records, you will know that they had siblings. In my particular case,  I located the marriage record of my second great grandfather's brother in 1874. How do I know it is his brother? By this time, the parents listed on the marriage record.

This is one of the most important and exciting discoveries that I have ever made. Why you ask? Because Edmond/Edward had 8 children. One at least was married by the time of the 1911 census and had children. I now know that if I see someone who is a cousin shows up with the last name McCarthy, they may actually be a descendant of Geoffrey Donahue and Johanna Sulivan like I am. 

For years I have assumed that I had no relatives who might still be living in Ireland today. I now know that it is at least possible that I have relatives and maybe they still live in the Killarney area. This is exciting stuff after so many years of finding nothing on this line.

What the 1901 census included is head of household, occupation, the age of all the household members, sex, literacy, religion and relationship to head of the home. 

If you haven't looked at the 1901 Census of Ireland, give it a look, you have nothing to lose and a world of information to gain. The records are located on the National Archives of Ireland website

Thursday, March 30, 2017

What's coming up at Godfrey Library in April

April 1- Genealogy Club--Planning a Future for your Family's Past

April 4- Newer Genealogist Study Group

April 14- Lineage Researchers Study Group
April 18- Newer Genealogist Study Group
April 21- Immigrant Ancestor Research Study Group

Each group starts at 9:30. 

Join us at the library for ongoing informal research sessions focused on skills for newer genealogists, documenting your ancestry for lineage societies and finding the origins of immigrant ancestors. Groups are rune by Godfrey staff & board members with expertise in these areas.

Each group starts with a presentation of information relevant to the topic. Then we focus on your own research. This is a great opportunity to ask questions and get suggestions from Godfrey staff and group participants. 

Discover resources at the library, other archives, and online databases.

Get help doing research as you learn! Bring your laptop to make the most out of this useful information.

Meetings are free to Godfrey Premium members. Non-members are welcome to attend the Genealogy Club presentation for a fee of $10.

No pre-registration necessary.   

Be sure to read through our Event Calendar so you don't miss out.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Ulster Historical Foundation US Lecture Tour 2017

Many people believe that researching Irish ancestors is impossible because of the destruction of the Public Record Office in 1922. While many records were destroyed, others survived and large collections have come online in recent years.
Join Fintan Mullan and Gillian Hunt from the Ulster Historical Foundation during their annual U.S.A. lecture tour to learn how to get the most out of Irish resources and records, gain strategies for breaking down brick walls, and grasp important historical context that may help fill in gaps in your research.
Whether you are just beginning your Irish research or have been at it for years, you won’t want to miss these workshops!
Fuller contact details with additional information can be found at:
Friday, 03 March – Phoenix, AZ (9:00am–5:00pm)
Location: Irish Cultural Center, 1106 N Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85004
Host: The McClelland Library
Tel./e-mail: 602-864-2351, 623-225-6352 (Mobile)
Main Contact: Cindy Patricki –
Saturday, 04 March – Phoenix, AZ (9:00am–5:00pm)
Location: Irish Cultural Center, 1106 N Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85004
Host: The McClelland Library
Tel./e-mail: 602-864-2351 623-225-6352 (Mobile)
Main Contact: Cindy Patricki –
Sunday, 05 March – Tacoma, WA (1:00pm–5:00pm)
Location: Pierce County Libraries, Administrative Center Library, 3005 112th St E, Tacoma, WA 98446
Host organisation: Lakewood and South Hill Libraries
Tel/e-mail: 253-548-3425 or 316-300-3383 (mobile)
Register online:
Tuesday, 07 March – The Hermitage, Nashville, TN (6:00pm–9:00pm)
Location: The Hermitage, 4580 Rachel’s Lane, Nashville, TN 37076
Host: Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage
Tel./e-mail: 615-889-2941,
Thursday, 09 March – Michigan City, IN (9:30am–4:00pm)
Location: Michigan City Public Library, 100 E. 4th Street, Michigan City, IN 46360
Host: Michigan City Public Library
Tel./e-mail: 219-873-3049 (call Robin Kohn to register)
Saturday, 11 March – Bentonville, AR (9:00am–4:00pm)
Location: Bentonville Community Center, 1101 SW Citizen’s Circle, Bentonville, AR 72712
Host: Northwest Arkansas Genealogical Society
Tel./e-mail: 479-271-6820,
Sunday, 12 March – York County, PA (1:00pm–5:00pm)
Location: York County History Centery, 250 East Market St, York, PA 17401
Host: South Central Pennsylvania Genealogical Society
Tel./e-mail: 717-887-7508,
Monday, 13 March – Green Bay, WI (3:00pm–8:30pm)
Location: Brown County Library, 515 Pine Street, Green Bay, WI 54301
Host: Brown County Library
Tel./e-mail: 920-448-5815
Main Contact: Sue Lagerman or Mary Jane Herber
Wednesday, 15 March – Fountaindale, IL (9:30am–5:00pm)
Location: Fountaindale Public Library, 300 West Briarcliff Road Bolingbrook, IL 60440
Host: Fountaindale Public Library and Plainfield Public Library
Tel/e-mail: Debra Dudek (main contact) – 630-685-4201 –
Register by phone (630) 685-4176 or Register online for the seminar:
Thursday, 16 March – Fountaindale, IL (9:30am–4:30pm)
Location: Fountaindale Public Library, 300 West Briarcliff Road Bolingbrook, IL 60440
Host: Fountaindale Public Library and Plainfield Public Library
Tel/e-mail: Debra Dudek (main contact) – 630-685-4201 –
Registration: Free Event! In-person attendance limited to 70 in Main Lecture Room, and 35 in
Friday, 17 March – Richmond, VA (9:00am–12:30pm)
Location: Library of Virginia, 800 East Broad Street, Richmond, VA 23219
Programme Title: Irish Ancestry Day (note: the full event runs from 09:00 to 16:00)
Host: Library of Virginia
Tel./e-mail: 804-692-3500 (general number)
Main Contact: Catherine Fitzgerald Wyatt –
Saturday, 18 March – Philadelphia, PA (9:00am-4:30pm)
Location of programme: Brookside Manor, 50 Bustleton Pike, Feasterville, PA, 19053
Host: The Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania (GSP)
Tel./e-mail: 215-545-0391 email
Sunday, 19 March – Pittsburgh, PA (9:00am-4:30pm)
Location of programme: Heinz History Center, 1212 Smallman St., Pittsburgh, Pa. 15222
Host organisation: Heinz History Center & Westmoreland County Historical Society
Main contact (handling registration): Sierra Green
Tel: 412-454-6361, mobile: 724-456-4769
Tuesday, 21 March – Little Rock, AR (6:00pm–9:00pm)
Location: Hillcrest Hall, 1501 Kavanaugh Blvd, Little Rock, AR 72205
Host: Arkansas Genealogical Society, Butler Center for Arkansas Studies.
Tel./e-mail: 501-320-5711
Main Contact: Christopher Stewart –
What better way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day itself, than by making a start on your Irish and Scots-Irish ancestral quest. Your Irish genealogy is waiting to be discovered.
With sixty years’ experience of serving Irish people everywhere, let the Ulster Historical Foundation help you discover your family’s story.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Genealogy Club at Godfrey Library

The Godfrey Genealogy Club will have their next meeting on March 4 at 9:30 a.m. The meeting is free for Premium members and $10 for others. 

The topic for March is "Researching Your Irish Ancestors. The presenter will be Kathy Gallagher who as been researching her Irish genealogy for years online and in Ireland. 

If you need help figuring out what records are available and how and where you can access them then you will find this a great meeting to attend. 

While you are at Godfrey Library you will have access to all that the library has to offer which is expensive. Bring our laptop. 



Monday, February 27, 2017

Dealing with DNA fallout

While many people go into DNA testing expecting to get answers, you need to be prepared to find out information that you aren't going to like. Before DNA, when there was a non-parental event, it mostly went unnoticed in families. With DNA testing, finding out you are not biologically related to a near cousin when adoption is not involved, can be quite upsetting. 

This just happened in my family. I ended up not being related to someone who should be my 2nd cousin. Where did that leave us?  One of us is the result of a non-parental event. I was quite shocked, picturing my mother or my grandmother having an affair seemed mind blowing. I am my mother's oldest child and my father is his mother's oldest child. I was born 11 months after my parent's wedding but my father was born 6 months after his parent's wedding. 

In the other case, the child was the last child in the family and when I checked the 1940's census, the parents were separated. How does one resolve an issue like this? 

One thing that Ancestry DNA offers is the common ancestors you share with someone else you match. Through this process, I found another member of this family who I matched but my other cousin did not. I was very relieved to be able to exonerate my mother and my grandmother of having a non-parental event. 

This is just one type of thing that you may find when you check your DNA. It is a lot of fun, helpful and interesting but it can also cause anxiety and unearth things that perhaps, should be best left unknown. Be forewarned and prepared for what may end up being a shock. 

Monday, February 20, 2017

NERGC 2017 Update

If you haven't reserved your spot at this year's NERGC in Springfield, Ma. you still have until February 28, 2017,  to take advantage of the early bird rates. After that date,  it will be full price. The conference will take place April 26-29 at the MassMutual Conference Center with hotel rooms being offered at conference rates at the Marriott and the Sheraton. Hope to see you there. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Looking at old newspapers

Old newspapers are such a valuable resource for any genealogist. You will be amazed at the type of information that you can find in a newspaper.

All the obvious ones, births, deaths, marriages, engagements may show up but there are also court information if you ancestors were involved in any type of dispute or criminal case. Land records may also show up in the newspapers. 

One thing that is often overlooked is financial information. Our ancestors lived through difficult times and they may have had suits filed against them for debt or they may even have had to file for bankruptcy. While we may not want to find this sort of information, it may very well be a part of your history. 

The advertisements in the newspaper can also be informative, they may include names and information.

The social pages can tell you a lot about what your ancestors were doing at any particular time.
You may find out that great grandma was visiting her sister in Simsbury or that her niece from New York had arrived for a visit.

You can also find announcements of ship arrivals. While I can't find my grandmother at Ellis Island, I can find a record in the New York newspaper announcing the arrival of the ship she and her family were on. Also, check the weather, it is important to place your ancestor in the context of the times they lived in.

Where to find newspapers is always problematic, not all of them have survived but if you are willing to pay there are websites that allow you to search them. On the local level, check the library in town. I spent many hours perusing the Penny Press (the predecessor of the Middletown Press) looking at references to my family. Godfrey Library also has copies if you are looking in Connecticut. 

Newspapers are a valuable resource of the times our ancestors lived in and you may find documentation of events in their lives about which you had no previous knowledge and which are not documented anywhere else. It is certainly worth looking into and if nothing else you will learn a lot about the times and places where your ancestors lived. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

St Alban's List: If your ancestors came from or through Canada

The name implies that these records are just for the crossing from Canada into Vermont but they are more expansive than that. 

Many people passed through Canada in the mid and late 19th century, for these people there are no records. Many Europeans from Britain, Scandinavia, Northern Europe and Russia arrived during this time. As the US began to impose stringent rules on its ports of entry, many immigrants chose to go to Canada first and then pass easily into the United States across its open northern border. 

In 1894 the US government was finally able to convince steamship companies in Canada  to treat all passengers destined to the United States as if they would be landing at a U.S. port of entry. This meant completing a U.S. ship passenger manifest form and selling tickets only to those who appeared admissible under U.S. law. Canadian railroads agreed to carry only those immigrants who were legally admitted to the United States to U.S. destinations.

US Immigration Service had inspectors at Canadian ports of entry to collect the manifests and to inspect the immigrants who were bound for the United States. 

Between 1895 and 1906 the US also put inspectors at northern land border crossings. People who arrived by boat received a certificate of admission which they had to present to the guards at the US border when their train was stopped. Before 1906,  only foreign born immigrants are tracked but after that time also those born in Canada who were traveling to the United States. 

If your ancestors came through Canada during this time period they should be in the records. The records were kept until 1956. has records of Canadian border crossing from 1825-1960 and for Detroit until 1963. Records can also be found at 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Check out organizations

Your ancestors did not live in a vacuum, they had neighbors and family. They interacted with people in a variety of ways. One of them may have been through organizations.

Check the area where your ancestor lived for fraternal organizations, religious organizations, ethnic organizations, men's lodges, clubs, political groups and don't forget the women. They may have been part of women's organizations as well. Whether or not there are records is questionable but at the very least you should be able to get some ideas from the newspapers.

Knowing who your ancestors were spending their leisure time with can only add more flesh to your bare bones genealogies.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Interesting genealogy blogs

The Internet has opened up many new sources of research material. Bloggers are offering researchers some shortcuts to information they have already discovered. Whether you are looking for those who share your interests or even your own family, searching the Internet for blogs can lead to hours of entertainment and there is always the possibility that someone will have the way to break down some of your brick walls. Defining what are the best genealogy blogs is impossible since everyone has different interests but these are all ones that are entertaining.

Civil War Days and Those Surnames, according to the writer of this blog Dennis Selegquist this site deals with surnames of the wars of the United States, up to the Civil War, and the civilians of the same era. It will also cover the surnames of the Colonial era. This site is to help all searchers find a lead to their family lines (including Native American ancestors). This site will cover the years from 1700 to the early 1900s.

The blog certainly does list plenty of names and it covers a wide variety of war-related events. It is well written and contains pictures and easy to read text. Biographical information is plentiful and since it has been in existence since 2006, there are lots of entries to go through. If you think you have ancestors who fought in almost any conflict, take the time to give this blog a look. The author has three other sites as well.

If you love the obscure, the unusual and the just plain unique, Detour Through History is a great blog for you to enjoy. This blog is so much fun you will want to read all the entries even if no one from your family is included. According to the author of the blog, it is an effort to catch bits and pieces of history slipping from the "finger-tips of memory." The author is an avid blogger and has several others. This is one of the most enjoyable blogs you will ever read and if you get lucky, one of your ancestors many have taken a detour through history.

Tangled Trees is another interesting blog that has a wide variety of entries dating from 2009. There is an index along the left-hand side that lets you go to a particular entry that you think might be of interest. The subject matter is wide and the blog is well done. Among the entries are one about the Battle of Germantown and an entry on the Old Dominion Steamship Company.

If the thought of tracing your ancestry using DNA excites you, The Genetic Genealogist offers the latest news in the field. The blog has been around since 2007 and offers genealogist yet another tool to add to their arsenal. The author Blaine Bettinger has a Ph.D in Biochemistry with a concentration in genetics. His own genealogy interests have led to his wanting to share what he has learned from other genealogists. Very interesting blog for those looking to tap into their origins.

These are just a few of the hundreds of genealogy blogs that are out there. Many blogs are of a personal nature and deal with one family and person research. If one of them happens to match your interest you may have found what all genealogist are looking for, the answer to your missing links.