[The quality of the audio is getting worse! Sorry and thanks for listening!]
[The quality of the audio is getting worse! Sorry and thanks for listening!]
If I were to make an analogy between tree rings and family history, tree rings would be generations of people. I was born in one generation, my children in the next, and their children in the next after them. This is a familial generation vs. ”Generation X”, and “Baby Boomers”, etc, which are cultural generations.
When searching for documents you’ll find government records like the census that pay attention to neither the familiar nor cultural generation. They collect data from their citizens on a regular basis. Some gather that information every 10 years, 5 years, or just once, or not at all. It varies from country to country. Google your country to find out what yours does.
Let’s assume that you’ve done all of the homework in the two previous posts in the series. You’ve got your worksheet out and you’ve filled out box#1 for you, your spouse and children. Now what?
Let’s start going back in time, one generation at a time, starting with your parents. They go in box #2/3. So will all of their children.
The first thing I do when researching a person is I draw a timeline on the front of a folder. I put dates and places that I already know on the timeline. Then I see where the gaps are. I focus on the gaps.
The next thing I do is I look for census records. Here’s a typical image of an original census document that you can find on Ancestry.com, and FamilySearch.org.
Here are some links to some great info on the census.
The 72-Year Rule”- Love this! Why did we get access to the 1940 US census THIS year? Because it was taken 72 years ago!
US Census Questions and Information by Year- I love looking at the different questions that were asked and how and why those questions evolved over time.
It is from the census that I find out (sometimes) if children of the parents had died, the place of birth for the person I’m researching as well as their parents. I find out occupations, whether they owned or rented a home, or if they could read and write. You’ll want to find a census that has a parent in it, but for a lot of us, that fun begins with our grandparents.
Here’s what I do on Ancestry.com:
1. I choose a name to search for.
2. I type in the information I have (name, place they might have lived, and approximate birth date) in the search window. I press search and look for “Census and Voter Lists”. From that list I choose a gap in my timeline where a census could fill in or add some information.
3. I never ever believe what I’m seeing on the record until I have other documents to corroborate it. There are so many reasons for false information being put on census records. Use the record as a tool to find the truth. For me they are a starting place, not an end point.
That’s it for today. Make sure that you fill out your worksheet and add that stuff to your online tree!
“A few minutes ago every tree was excited, bowing to the roaring storm, waving, swirling, tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm like worship. But though to the outer ear these trees are now silent, their songs never cease.” John Muir 1838-1914
Don’t you love the lessons from trees?
Today we start building your tree, one generation and one family group at a time.
A pedigree chart is comprised of family groups, but shows only direct-line relationships. In other words, it shows branches without all of the leaves! Each one of those rectangles represents a husband or wife in a family group.
So, let’s begin! Where do we start? We start with the most important family group!
First we have to find it, so go give a virtual hug to a tree. You wrap your arms around the trunk, not the leaves, branches, or roots. Right?
My friend, YOU are the trunk of your family tree. You are the start of the most important family group to your family tree. Get used to it and embrace it.
The roots (your ancestors) and the branches (your descendants) depend on YOU. You bring nourishment from the roots to the branches and leaves. You live in the present. Family history is valuable only when we value our role in it, and see it as a symbiotic relationship between all of the players. And we, the trunks, play as vital a role as the roots. Later in this series we’ll see how you need them.
This week’s assignment is to work on your first family group:
There you have it! Do this step well and you’ll have a firm foundation for all of the other ones to follow! Have fun collecting documents!
See you next week!
In case you missed the beginning of this series:
“He is invited to great things
who receives small things greatly”
“Not only do we need to constantly sewing seeds, we have to be patient and wait for them to germinate and grow. Here’s a great nugget from Ellen Karsten.
Warren Buffett has spoken of what is called the “Law of Gestation:” The amount of time required from seed to whatever the seed is going to be — such as; is there is an amount of time required for an acorn to become a mighty oak tree?
There is an amount of time required for each thing.He said that there is an amount of time required for and idea to flourish. People start something and give up on the idea or project before it comes to fruition. They pull up the roots looking for the fruit when the seeds hadn’t even been given time to grow into a fruit tree.
If you’ve planted some seeds in your business or have planted some new thoughts or ideas, give it some time. Water them, dig deep, nurture it and let your ideas become your results. The same principle applies with people in this business. Nurture Your Crops!”
Family history is one of those “small and great” things.
Whenever I watch this video I’m inspired to keep going, keep looking, and talking and writing.
Consider yourself invited.
We’ll be hugging a tree! See you there!
“Where’s James?” I knew something was wrong. Madeleine and Kenny were racing around the house, running upstairs and down, chasing each other and giggling. They didn’t hear me as my voice got louder,”Where’s James?!” I knew something was wrong. No one answered me on the third “WHERE’S JAMES?!!” , but I was already halfway down the stairs knowing that this search was going to be mine alone. Everyone else in the house was too wrapped up in what they were doing to really hear me.
The three little ones had been playing outside just a few minutes earlier, but there was no sign of James when I looked out of any of the windows. I opened the door and met the cold winter air without a coat and shoes and raced around the deck and gazebo, the garage and the front yard. Then I looked at the car sitting in the middle of the driveway. On the back seat, tears streaming down his face, James stood pounding on the window screaming. He’d only been stuck inside for a few minutes, but to a 3-year-old that’s an eternity when you feel helpless.
I let him out and he clung to me as he sobbed, “I couldn’t get out, Mommy. I was locked in.” How long would he have been trapped if I hadn’t come outside? He went back to playing after telling me he’d gone in the car for a water bottle and had tried to get out every door, even the trunk, but they were all stuck. He wasn’t strong enough to open the doors by himself.
Years ago I was given an 1864 Civil War Soldier’s Bible from my mother because it was a family heirloom and was related to family history. There was a cryptic message written in pencil three times inside the front and back cover that had always confused us:
“Henry C. Moody. My mother is Edith Moody. My mother lives in Cambridgeport. Moody of Lowell.” There were numbers and other illegible words that seemed like a code to a street address. We never knew.
Last night at 7pm, after a long 24 hours filled with visiting with an overnight guest, walking to children’s art shows, endless laundry, and playing outside, I sat with my head leaning on my left hand, staring at the computer screen while a late dinner cooked in the oven and children munched on popcorn to tide them over while it finished.
I was looking for a story to tell, again.
I had a thought to switch my search from my great great grandfather Thomas Kelley, to his wife Estelle Moody. Maybe I could find a story in her life to tell today. When I noticed that I’d forgotten to add her brother Henry to the family I spent a few minutes searching for online records of him to add to her story.
The name was familiar, but I’d never studied Henry’s life. Slowly the pieces of forgotten memories of a name in a little Bible were calling to me, begging me to pay attention as I perused records on Ancestry.com. I wanted to stop and reach behind my chair to my family history collection of files and “stuff” to look at the Bible, but the screen had loaded Henry’s records and I was torn between two tasks. I stopped and stared and tried to make sense of what I was seeing.
Henry, at 14-years-old, was living away from his parents who lived in Lowell, Massachusetts, on a farm in Maine. Four years later he’s enlisted as a private in Company G, Maine 32nd Infantry Regiment. He’d just turned 18 on Christmas day, 4 months earlier.
|Name:||Henry C Moody|
|Age at enlistment:||18|
|Enlistment Date:||16 Apr 1864|
|Rank at enlistment:||Private|
|Survived the War?:||No|
|Service Record:||Mustered out at Hospital.
Enlisted in Company G, Maine 32nd Infantry Regiment on 16 Apr 1864.
|Birth Date:||abt 1846|
|Sources:||Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Maine|
I slowly studied the facts on the record, gasped and then cried out, “He died!” which brought Madeleine to my side asking how I knew him? I started to tear up when I opened the tiny Bible under the light of the living room lamp with Madeleine leaning on my shoulder. The chicken scratch inside the book finally made sense. They were names and numbers of his regiment in Maine.
All of the busyness and noise of the day slipped away. An incredible calm came over me. I’d found someone who really felt lost. It was as if he’d been screaming to be heard for 148 years. And there he was. Now I know where he is and can get to know him and his sister Estelle, my great great grandmother better.
Henry wanted to be remembered. His desperation was palpable. I think he knew his end was near. And all he had was the Bible with a few tidbits of information that would link him to the living when he was gone and someone would pass his personal effects over to a next of kin, his mom.
I was humbled for the rest of the night and whenever I woke up he was on my mind. And I smiled.
He has been here all along.
I was reminded to save a part of every day to listen.
Can you hear any of your ancestors trying to get your attention?
If you missed the intro to this series you can read it here.
In the last post I invited you to join me in the goal to get your 4 generations of genealogy submitted to familysearch.org. Today we’re going to get a bird’s-eye view of your genealogy project, and get you ready for your journey towards submission.
Let’s climb to the top of your family tree and look down over your ancestors to get our bearings of where we are and where we’re going. Instead of focusing on the details of one ancestor who has piqued your interest, we’re going to look at the whole forest of them!
Resist the temptation of letting your eyes wander to the horizon and getting overwhelmed with the vastness of the “forest” of ancestors that you have. Focus on just 4 generations of ancestors, those who are closest to you. You can see a picture of the chart you’ll use and get a free download of it here. The chart will include you, your parents, grand parents, great grandparents, and great great grandparents. Get it printed to its full size. 18×24″ at Staples, and share it with friends. I always teach people to stay within this chart because it’s manageable, not overwhelming, and it lays the foundation for success with research of later generations.
Your job this week is to:
a. fill out the chart as best you can with the information that you have in your memory or that you can glean from documents in your possession. Ask family members for some help. This chart is your worksheet. Use pencil.
You’ve started!! It’s THAT simple. Now you have an online and offline tree that we can work on together.
You’ve overcome one of the greatest difficulties I’ve encountered when helping newbies with their family history- the inability to see the big picture (the forest) because you are too busy focusing on the small details (the trees). This quote says it best:
“You can’t see the forest for the trees.”
Next week we’ll start filling in the gaps to your ancestors’ information! See you then, and have a great week. Thanks again for being a part of my dream!
This is what I call a “throw away” post. I’m frustrated, venting, and sharing the pain of Family History Dementia (FHD for short)
Just for fun I looked up the symptoms of dementia on the Geriatric Care Management site :
“Dementia” refers to a large cluster of symptoms. These symptoms include: short-term memory loss, poor judgment, difficulty performing familiar tasks, etc. When a person develops these symptoms, it is often a sign that something is wrong inside the brain.”
Yeah. Something’s wrong inside my brain. I’m looking at records of people who I researched months ago and feeling like we’re meeting for the first time.
Have you ever been to a party or large gathering of people when you are in a really spacey frame of mind, only you don’t know you are until you’ve been introduced to a handful of people, and realize you’ve been daydreaming about the buffet table treats when someone calls you by your first name and you spend the next few minutes racking your brain for the memory of theirs?
If you have you might understand how I feel. Even though I only have about 800 people in my records, and I work on one family at a time, I’m having a hard time remembering their stories. And I want to remember. I like them. They entertain me. The feeling’s mutual I think.
“Did not, Lester! I NEVER went to China!” insisted Stella. “Remember we resolved that the LAST time she was here? Same-Name-Syndrome?”
“Well then,” Lester asked, “why does she keep bringing it up? I’m all confused”
“I want to hear your story unfold again,” Olga huffed. “I’m still trying to figure out why you left me and the kids for HER!”
“Listen, Dear. You thought I was dead. At least for a while you did. That story would have held, too if she hadn’t kept looking. Dad? Why on earth would you leave such a good paper trail? But if she puts me on one more ship. Gads! I’m so seasick. Who cares when I died? Just keep my feet on land.”
So, back to the file folder. Back to the family group record where I try to remember what I already knew. It doesn’t matter that it’s all written down on a timeline. All of my research has to be researched again. I feel like my children must feel when we take them to visit my father in the nursing home.
“Hey! You’re Lauren. Right?”
“No. I’m Madeleine.”
“Which one’s Kyle and which is Connor?”
“That’s Kenny, the bigger one. James is the little one. The other two couldn’t come.”
We collectively turn our attention to the Crocodile Hunters that are on the tv across from his bed as we help him to remember who loves baseball, is married, going to college, living with Grandma, and which one is in high school middle school,and grammar school? Is James ever going to nursery school? Why is Kenny’s hair still blonde? Any more grand-babies coming from me, or great grand-babies from my daughter?
It’s all good, we all laugh and have fun sharing and correcting when necessary. We’ll push “repeat” next week.
Unlike our little group visiting my dad, my ancestors are getting very tired of repeating themselves. I think they’d like a bit of an adventure instead.
All in good time people. First I have to remember who you are.
Have any tips for remembering your people easily? I’d appreciate some help!
When I was a little girl I would regularly climb the tree in my back yard and sit on the plank that we called “the tree house”. Sometimes I would climb farther up on weaker branches, periodically turning, squinting and straining my eyes until I could make out the harbor which led to the ocean in front of my tall Victorian house. I would sit and dream up there for hours.
I’ve always had the need to see where I am in relation to the world so that I can contribute more effectively.
That’s how all of my dreaming and scheming starts.
Show me the big picture and I’ll show you how the small things fit together to make it whole. And then I find people who want to work together to get something done.
The Family History Sunday Series is my way of sitting next to you on my couch and chatting with you about the ins and outs of genealogy and family history. We’ll break it down into manageable chunks and address problems that get in the way of you working on your family tree. The sign-in page of Family Search describes my goal perfectly:
FamilySearch exists to connect families across distance and time. Every day we work to further that goal, enabling meaningful experiences of discovery and sharing for families around the world.
We have the world’s largest repository of genealogical resources and a global network of research centers.
FamilySearch is a genealogy organization established and run by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It is the largest genealogy organization in the world. FamilySearch consists of a collection of records, resources, and services designed to help people learn more about their family history. FamilySearch gathers, preserves, and shares genealogical records worldwide. FamilySearch offers free access to its resources and service online at FamilySearch.org, one of the most heavily used genealogy sites on the Internet In addition, FamilySearch offers personal assistance at more than 4,500 family history centers in 70 countries, including the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah (Wikipedia)
Can you imagine the thrill of being a part of this world-wide effort to link families? Wouldn’t you love to be a part of something bigger than yourself – something that matters in the world?
This Family History Sunday Series is here to help you start your journey into your family tree and to support you when you get wedged in to tight places. Maybe you can offer a leg up to someone else with your knowledge and experience.
Let’s build a community of problem-solvers in the comment section of each post. We can move this dream forward as we overcome navigating tight places together, using each others eyes, encouragement, and experience to find footholds in our climb upwards.
New posts in the series will be out every Sunday. Let me know in the comment section if there is a special topic you would like addressed. Otherwise we’ll be going from start to submission to Family Search, one post at a time.
Thanks and see you next Sunday!
P.S. I strongly recommend you subscribe to this blog so that you don’t miss a post. “Follow by email” is at the bottom right of each page.
You can find this series when you click on the tab “Family History Sunday Series” at the top of the blog under the title “Remember”. New posts will be added to it as they are written.