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Blog Entries: 1 to 13 of 13
March 11, 2024 By: Jana Jenkins
Quaker Ancestors?
Do you have Quaker ancestors? 
 
The Society of Friends, also called Quakers, immigrated to the American colonies from England and other parts of Europe due to religious persecution. They first arrived in Massachusetts in 1656, but faced persecution there and moved on to other colonies. By 1750, Quakers had settlements in New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Delaware, New York, Maryland, and both North and South Carolina. They also heavily settled and had influence in the colonies of Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
 
I found early Quakers in my family line. It all started by tracing a line of ancestors back from Kansas to North Carolina. Then I found the Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy, by WIlliam Wade Hinshaw. This encyclopedia was transcribed from actual minutes and monthly meeting records in North Carolina and lists names, births, marriages, deaths, other events and often what part of Europe they came from originally (mine were from Germany and Ireland). This collection, and more, is available on Ancestry, as a subscriber, and you can find these records by going to Search, Card Catalog, Keyord = Quaker. You can find the digital Hinshaw book on the Internet Archive - here is the link. Be sure to create a login to see the entire book. Family Search also has Hinshaw records as well as links to other records (free, with your login) on their Research Wiki here
 
After finding success with one family line, I started on another and that led me to ship's manifests for William Penn's ships. I found an ancestral family that arrived in Pennsylvania and were on Penn's ship The Lamb and another family on Friendship. A Texas D.A.R. has put together a list of Penn's ships and the passengers abord them. The list is here. After I found the family arriving in Pennsylvania, I was able to find information about them in the Monthly Meeting records. I found that my Quaker line was started by an illegitimate birth which was heavily discussed and both parties were reprimanded and threatened with being disowned. They later repented and all was forgiven, it seems. Looking at these old records really is fascinating! 
 
If you have Quaker ancestors and have not researched them, I encourage you to take a look at these records. They are amazing! Further more, you could qualify for and join the National Society, Descendants of Early Quakers and here is the link with a list of qualifying names:
http://www.earlyquakers.org/qualifyingancestors.html

Happy hunting!

March 4, 2024 By: Jana Jenkins
Can the Censuses Have Errors?
Just because someone tells you something, doesn't mean that it's true. The same goes for the genealogical records we use. Just because a source record gives you a certain piece of information, it doesn't mean that the information is correct.
 
Have you ever searched census records for a relative and finally found a record that could be the right one, has correct dates, maybe even a correct spouse or list of children - but the name is all wrong?
 
We all have! There are just a few things to keep in mind:
  • The person collecting the information (enumerator) often made field notes and later transcribed the notes to the census form – they also may have been relying on memory.
  • The enumerator (and possibly the person giving the information) may not have actually known the correct spelling of a name, but instead used phonetics when writing the name. 
  • The person giving the information may have had an accent (southern drawl, Scottish brogue, etc.) and the enumerator wrote it as he understood it.
  • The information may have come from someone not “in the know” such as a neighbor, relative or even a child. Sometimes an X with a circle around it, next to a name, designates who gave the information to the enumerator.
  • The person transcribing the document in order to put the information online may have had difficulty deciphering the name due to the enumerator’s handwriting or the condition of the document.
Here is one example:
I was looking for Irena Greene – most commonly listed as Arena Green, and I found this:
 
 
I believe the enumerator wrote Oreena  Green but it got transcribed as Oceena Green. It is the correct person because she has her two daughters with her, Angelina and Almeda (notice how their names got spelled!) You can see how the transcription mistake was made. So please look carefully at those records and see if you actually do have the correct person after all!
February 1, 2024 By: Jana Jenkins
Billion Graves
It seems most of us family historians are familiar with Find-a-Grave. It is well-known and also owned by Ancestry, so you get hints for that site if you are an Ancestry subscriber.  Early on, I ran across Billion Graves. (https://billiongraves.com) I did not have much luck locating any of my family's graves so I kind of forgot about it.
 
BillionGraves is now tagged as the world's largest resource for searchable GPS cemetery data. That means the people who add to the database actually go to the cemeteries, take pictures and mark the exact GPS location. So it you want to visit a particular gaveyard to see a family member's tombstone, you will be able to find it by GPS. Pretty slick!
 
I do subsribe to their blog, (https://blog.billiongraves.com/) so recently, after reading the current entry, I decided to visit the site and so some searching. I had been unable to locate my grandparents burial in AZ. There were 2 cemeteries with the same name and neither had my grandparents on Find-a-Grave. I typed in the names on BillionGraves and lo and behold, there they were!
 
You can search for free. I did sign on for the FREE level - why not? It's free! You can decide. The info is below or on the website.
 
BG offers 3 choices to get more information than just the grave location and picture.
 
The FREE level offers: 
Browse millions of GPS cemetery records from all over the world 
Access over 29 Million GPS Records
4 Generation BillionGraves Tree
Free Photo & Record Requests
Add, Edit and Connect BG records
 
The ANNUAL membership ($59.99/yr)  level offers 
Everything in FREE
Full Generations BillionGraves Tree
Nearby Graves Tool
Family Plots Tool
Family Notifications and Alerts
Global Family
Priority Support
Access to Partner Discounts
 
There is also an option to sign-up for MONTHY use ($9.99)
Everything in FREE level
Everything in Annual BG Plus
Pay as you go - Billed Monthly

December 26, 2023 By: Jana Jenkins
Family Stories
Have you considered writing stories about your ancestors? A blog (much like this one) could be a good way to get started. Of course, SAGHS would LOVE for you to write up a story or two and submit it to our Stalkin' Kin quarterly publication! Information about that is on this website's home page. However, if you would like to try a blog or family website, there are many free sites that are easy to use and make a nice background for your stories. Here are a few of those sites you might like to try:
 
I have participated, for the last 4 years, in genalogist, Amy Johnson Crow's,  52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge. This is her way of prompting folks to write about their family. Some make blog posts (I use Word Press), some post to their Facebook page, some send family emails, some just write stories and save them. There is no wrong way to do it. She supplies a "prompt" or idea for each week of the year. How you interpret the prompt and what you write is up to you. It's flexible and you don't have to write every week. One year I just wrote occasionally and this past year I would lag behind then catch up maybe 3 at once, but did manage to get 52 posts!  If you sign up, you will get an email with a month or two of prompts, so you can plan ahead and start thingking of ideas. Below is information about this challenge excerpted from AJC's Facebook page:

"52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks is returning for 2024!
For those of you who don’t know, 52 Ancestors is a way of chronicling our ancestors by writing about them in a prompt every week. Individuals do this through a blog, their website, whatever works for them and isn’t too much effort - we’re going for telling stories, not getting bogged down in how they’re told.

52 Ancestors is about many different things. One is accountability to keep telling the stories of our ancestors, but do it in a way that keeps us invigorated and not burned out.To sign up, please click here: https://www.amyjohnsoncrow.com/52ancestors"

I encourage you to give it a try! Even if you just write a story on your computer and save it to share later (or print and put the stories in a binder?) I found that it made me look back at my family tree more often, and consider my ancestor's and how they lived their lives. I often ended up spending a little time digging deeper to find more information. It is a fun and thought provoking project. 
December 12, 2023 By: Jana Jenkins
Patent Search
Was your ancestor an inventor? Did that person patent their idea? Want to find out?
 
One day I ran across a Google patent database. I started typing in names and, lo and behold, I found my great-grandfather. He was quite prolific in his ideas and went on to patent those ideas - I found 17 patents!  Below is an example of what I found.
 
Give it a try! Just go to https://patents.google.com/ and type in a last name or for a more precise search, the first name and last name in quotes (ex: "John Doe".)
 
Have fun and I hope you find some family inventors!
 
November 6, 2023 By: Jana Jenkins
RootsWeb
Have you ever used RootsWeb? 
 
It used to be the "go-to" source for free family histories, genealogy webpages and other topics of interest. Over time, it was bought by Ancestry and things changed. A lot of content providers left or moved their information to other website hosts - that's why Googling the surnames or locations you are interested in can turn up family webpages you might not otherwise find!
 
RootsWeb does still exist (www.rootsweb.com) and now would be a good time to take a look before it changes again or goes away. I went to the site and found this banner at the top of the page: 
 
"Hosted websites will become read-only beginning in early 2024.
At that time, all logins will be disabled, but hosted sites will remain on RootsWeb as static content. 
Website owners wishing to maintain their sites must migrate to a different hosting provider before 2024."
 
This means that the websites/pages currently found on RootsWeb will remain as they are, in early 2024, but will no longer be accessible by the owners to update or add information. Some owners may be OK with that, but I expect many will move to another hosting site.
 
So, go visit RootsWeb now while there is still a fair amount of content. Just type the link (shown above) in your browser, or click on it from here when you are ready to explore. 
 
You will arrive at the main page. There are a few choices, but this time go to Hosted Websites and click Search Now. Once on that page, you will have two choices, Free Pages and WWW. Try Free Pages first then go back and try WWW. There are several choices within those selections - I usually start with Family or Genealogy (feel free to explore the others). Then, an alphabet list will come up. This is where it becomes cumbersome. Choose the letter that corresponds with the first letter of the surname you are interested in. A long list will appear in alphabetic order. Scroll down the list to see if the name you are interested in is there. If so, click the link and you will be redirected to that webpage.
 
Alternately, if you use the Chrome or Edge browser, there is a helpful tool located in the top right corner of the screen. Look for 3 dots (on Chrome they are vertical, on Edge horizontal). Click on the dots. In Chrome, go down the list to "Find and Edit", on Edge it will be "Find on page", click that and a small box pops up. Just type in the name or word you are looking for. If it is anywhere on the page, it will show how many occurrences (if any) next to the name that was typed in. Use the down arrow (v) to navigate to that name. TIP - on a Windows PC just hold down the CTRL key and the F key at the same time to open the Find window. On Apple products, I believe it is the Command key and the F key. 
 
So, go exploring on RootsWeb! Who knows what you might find!
October 21, 2023 By: Jana Jenkins
Newspapers!
You may subscribe to a newspaper archive like Newspapers.com or GenealogyBank.com, but did you know there are also some free resources for newspaper research?
 
My favorite is Chronicling America (https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/)  from the Library of Congress. They have newspapers from 1770 - 1963 and it's easy to use. Once you bring up the site, you can choose the State, date range and search word(s). You could use a last name, a location, a subject. When the results come up there will be thumbnail images of the newspapers which contain your search word. The location of that word, in each paper, is highlited in orange (or maybe it's pink?) Click on the newspaper of interest and then double click several times to enlarge it, or use the menu options at the top left. There is also an option to go "back to search results" when you are through looking (and maybe downloading) that paper. I found a lot of my Midwest family on this site. Maybe you will have some luck too!
 
If you are looking for just Texas newspapers, try The Portal to Texas History's Texas Digital Newspaper Program  https://texashistory.unt.edu/explore/collections/TDNP/  There is an option to fill in a name, place or subject and search the entire collection, but I often use the "Other Search Options" located right above the blue "Search" button and choose "Guided Search". Using this I can type in an entire name, date range and if I want, locations or collections (I usually just leave those as they are). You can doulble click or use the menu options to enlarge the papers and the key word will be highlighted in yellow (unless it's light orange, LOL!)  Also, after clicking on a newspaper, on the left menu is an option to "Search Inside" and below that "Matching Results". Click on that to see a transcription of the article where your search word appears. I have found some interesting family information in the small town newspapers. If you want to visit an archive in person, or get a library loan or other access to Texas Newspapers, here are several resources from the Texas State Library: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/ref/newspapers
 
I have had some marignal success with The Ancestor Hunter newspaper links - be warned, there are a lot of adds to scroll past. https://theancestorhunt.com/newspaper-research-links.html Just scroll down the page until you get to the list of States and choose the State that interessts you. The next screen will list all of the towns where the newspapers are located, so just pick your location. There are often not too many papers to look at, but it might be worth a try!
 
Of course, you can always just Google "historic newspapers (fill in location)". Happy hunting!
September 15, 2023 By: Jana Jenkins
The D.A.R. Patriot Database
Do you know or suspect that you have an ancestor who particpated in the Revolutionary War?
 
Have you a name for that person? If so, you can access the Daughters of the American Revolution database to see if that ancestor has been recorded. You will need the last name, at the very least, but if you have the first name, even better. If your ancestor is listed, you should be able to get the lineage that was submitted plus any supporrting documents (for a small fee). 
 
To take a look, go to https://www.dar.org/.  Be sure to read through the information on that main page. Then, click the menu item near the top that says Genealogy. There is a lot of helpful information on that page, but if you want to dive right in, click Ancestor Search (in blue) to the right, under Genealogical Research. You will see a form where you must fill in any one (or all) three fields marked with an asterisk in red. The search results will hopefully return a list of names and some information to help you identify the correct person.
 
There will be an Ancestor # and a purple icon with an image of a person in the right corner. Clicking the Ancestor # will return a list of all DAR members who submitted that Patriot's lineage to become members. Clicking the purple icon will return information on that Patriot, such as birthdate, residence, Military service, spouse. It will also show the DAR members attached to that Patriot and if there are supporting documents (S) and/or a descendants list (D). You can purchase copies of either or both. By clicking Nat'l Num, a listing appears with some of the Patriot's information and an opportunity to buy a copy with all of the information. Click on the Patriot's name for a partial descendant list. It's a good start to verifyiing the lineage that you may have in your family tree. It might even fill in some blanks. You can also tell if you have the correct person. 
 
In my case, I had my grandmother's DAR application and membership papers, so I had the name as well as the Ancestor number. I was doing background research in order to join the DAR. It turned out that the 4 people who "got in" on my ancestor, including my grandmother, did not submit enough proof by today's standards, so I got a message that basically said "there is something wrong with this file".  That meant that there was not enough documentary evidence to prove my ancestor was actually related to the Patriot, as claimed. I ultimately had to prove a relationship between the Patriot and my known ancestor (they were father and son). I did order the supporting documents and got a copy of the descendants and the family bible pages which confirmed quite a few names and relationships I had speculated about. It was worth the effort, for me, to get this information!
 
August 2, 2023 By: Jana Jenkins
Down the Rabbit Hole
Have you ever been looking and looking and looking for some bit of information for a certain relative? It is SO frustrating to not find anything! Sometimes I just have to take a break and noodle around with some websites that likely won't turn up anything significant (but might!) and are just kind of fun. Click on the name of the site below and a window will pop up! Have fun!
 
First is Behind the Name to look up the origin and meaning of first names. I found this useful when I was trying to determine if some names in my family tree were real or made-up (like Benejah, Hopestill and Orange, brother of Polantis). For surnames try, Surname DB. If the name is found, it will show the origin, alternate spellings and a little history. I was testing the family story of our name's origin....it was not accurate.
 
If you are hoping to find an old picture, you may get lucky on Dead Fred. It is a site where people can upload old photos they find in thrift or antique stores and hope they can find the family they belong to. 
 
Here is a glossary of ancient diseases just scroll down to find out what Apoplexy or Mormal really is. It's helpful when you find that an ancestor died of ... what? There is also a numeric "code" written on some death certicates near the "cause of death" section. What's that all about? Find out what it means HERE. Note - you will choose the list by the date or date range of the death certificate.
 
Perhaps you are wondering if an ancestor invented something and registered a patent. Google has a database for that! You can look up Google Patents or just click HERE. Type in the person's name. I found 16 for one great-grandfather. I searched by his whole name (first, middle, last); his first name, last name; first name, middle initial and last name; first name initial, middle name initial and last name. Who knew?
 
Want to know what a symbol on a headstone means? Headstone Emblems may have the answer. There are more at Gravestone Symbols
 
Now, back to ancestor researching!
July 1, 2023 By: Jana Jenkins
Access Genealogy website
I ran across this website (again) today and decided I'd better put the link on here for everyone to try it!
 
 
Access Genealogy has a very large collection of free genealogy collections for research within the USA. Specifically, they provide sources for birth records, death records, marriage records, census records, tax records, church records, court records, military records, historical newspapers, cemeteries, and ethnic records. They also provide some historical details about different times and people in America’s history. They specialize in Native American records, so expect to find quite a few - maybe some you haven't seen before.
 
There is an easy access menu bar across the top of the page, but be sure "page down" to see the topics they are highlighting. You can also subscribe to get an email update of new records and databases as they are added. On the right side of the main page is a search feature as well as all of the States listed. This makes it easy to jump right in! So go ahead, check it out!
 
 
June 20, 2023 By: Jana Jenkins
Texas Genealogy Web aka TxGenWeb
Have you looked at TXGenWeb lately? (http://www.txgenweb.org/) This site was created to give people searching for ancestors within Texas, free access to transcribed records - and they have been doing this for 25 years so there is a wealth of information to be discovered.
 
TXGenWeb is a group of coordinators who each “adopt” a county and then get volunteer helpers to transcribe and upload information relevant to that area. In fact, each county will have a link to the surrounding counties as well. It’s easy to navigate, just follow the top-level menu. Click on "Counties" to get started and see which counties have information online.
 
It does appear every county has been adopted (as shown by being in underlined, blue text). When I first started using this site, about 15 years ago, not all the counties were clickable (meaning there was no info on that county yet).  Clicking on “Records” will show links to what they have onsite and links to offsite repositories. “Special Projects” has some old post cards, Texas Archives found on USGenWeb (a similar project encompassing the entire Unite States) and other projects of interest. Click on each item and see what you find.
 
I clicked on Tom Green County and found a nicely done page with links for Biographies, Cemetery Inscriptions, Censuses, etc.  (https://tomgreencotxgenweb.com/) Keep in mind that every county’s webpage will look different and have different sorts of information. This is all done by volunteers and each coordinator is responsible for putting info and laying out their own county page, so some may have more or less information than others. You can certainly volunteer to add information by contacting the coordinators.
 
Each page has, somewhere on it, the last time it was updated. Doing a spot check showed me that most county pages have at least 2020 – 2022 dates, which means the page is actively being monitored and updated  - and that means more and more information is being made available!
 
I suggest you visit TXGenWeb and see what you find!
May 17, 2023 By: Jana Jenkins
Witches in Scotland
Now for a little fun!
 
Do you have Scots relatives? Are there rumors of a Witch in the family? Even if there is not - this is kind of fun!
 
This link (click here) will open a new window with a map of Scotland. There will be images of a single person (in various colors) or a group (in yellow). If you are using a computer with a mouse, rolling the wheel will expand the map. Otherwise, click on a person, and information about that person will pop up; if you click on a group, the map will expand to show more people and groups.
 
Go ahead and try some of the other options shown across the top menu, such as Residence, Detention Locations, Trial Locations, Death Locations, etc.
You never know what you might find!
 
This was a project at the University of Edinburgh to geographically locate and visualise the different Witch locations recorded in the Survey of Scottish Witchcraft Database. Well done!
April 18, 2023 By: Jana Jenkins
Using Find-a-Grave
Have you ever used Find-A-Grave as a research tool? It is a database with millions of records abstracted by volunteers and free to use. If you subscribe to Ancestry.com it is linked and records will show up from Find-A-Grave, but you can just go directly to Find-A-Grave to conduct your own search.
 
First, open your internet browser (Internet Explorer, Chrome or Firefox, etc.) on the computer and type in www.findagrave.com. Once there, the two best tools to use are in the right column. One is “Search xxx million grave records” (that number will increase over time) and the other “Search by cemetery”.  By the way, if you see a big note at the top of the page that says “You have a Message!” skip it, it’s an ad.
 
Choose “Search….. grave records”.  A page will open where first name, middle name, last name, date of birth, date of death (or ranges), country, state and county can be entered. Fill in everything known and click the “search” button. There should be a listing of names that match what was entered.  If there are several pages there is a very small link to go to the next page. It usually says something like “records 21-40”. Click it to go on.  Also, at the bottom of this search there may be another big ad that says “Vital Records Found”, skip that. 
 
If no matches are found, change the search by dropping off some information. On the left is a small menu, choose “Refine last search” to make changes. There are several broad searches that can be tried:
  • Try omitting the exact dates; try a before or after date – remember people fudged their ages or heirs were not sure of dates or the stone was placed  there later; omit the dates completely
  • Leave off the first name; last name is required, but it will take partial names of at least 2 letters; try different spellings; search by maiden name
  • Try searching surrounding counties
  • Search the entire state by leaving off the county – remember, county lines may have been redrawn since burial
Another way of looking is to go back to the start page (click on the Find-A-Grave logo) and choose “Search for a Cemetery”. It’s right below the “Search … Million Records”. In a perfect research world, the two types of searches will have been linked, but sometimes they are not – meaning you may find a person in one search and not the other when both search methods should return the same results. So just keep in mind that this is a whole bunch of data entered by volunteers who are human – and try every way you can to find your information.
 
With the “Search for a Cemetery” option put in the cemetery name if known, country, state, and county and click “Search”.  If the cemetery name is not known, leave that blank and enter the State and maybe the County. Then I look for the cemeteries on the list that are in or near the town the relatives were last found in on the censuses – or where they were known to have lived. Sometimes you just look for cemeteries that seem likely, such as affiliated with a denomination or town or social club, or with a large number of interments. When you chose a cemetery to search, click on the cemetery name and on the next page that comes up, type in the surname and see any records with that name. If you click the number of interments (to the far right of the cemetery name) then it will return an alphabetical listing, page by page – sometimes this can be a good option when it turns out the name was misspelled or the person was listed under a maiden name.  Do remember that not every cemetery has been abstracted and sometimes a person could be missed. If you create a “login” name and password you can contact the person who abstracted the information for a specific grave or cemetery to see if there is more information they can give you. Those names are found at the bottom of an information page.
 
When you actually find someone, make note of all the info given, such as the cemetery name, address, plot number, inscription on the tombstone, etc. and include that in the notes on the family tree.  Also, make note of any family members listed in the description that can be added to your research.  Copy the text of the obituary, if it is included. This will help in citing your source.  If there are family members listed sometimes those names are linked to their tombstone information – so click the names and you may find more.
 
Remember, again, that this information is entered by people who are volunteers and mean well, but the information could be inaccurate or unsourced so take it with a grain of salt!