family tree research question

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  #1  
Old 07-22-12, 09:37 PM
wwc
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family tree research question

I have been working on my family tree and I have gone back to my great great grandfather and I'm going to my family reunion in a couple weeks and I wanted to see what advice I could get for things I can do to get alot of info while there.
 
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  #2  
Old 07-22-12, 10:31 PM
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The biggest problem with getting info from people is the memory! Who besides the parents remember exactly when someone was born or married? Now if you can get a hold of the guest list and contact each one and ask them to bring stuff they have written down..well you get the idea. You might look on the family tree sites and find a simple blank family page that they allow you to download. Then you could make several copies to take with you to the reunion and ask the guests to fill them out. They could do it there or take them home and do it, then send them to you when they are done.
If you were to print out what you have and take it along to show then it might entice the others to be interested enough to help you get an even bigger family tree the next reunion.
 
  #3  
Old 07-22-12, 10:54 PM
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I haven't done as much research on my family as my cousins have but I have helped them in what little bit of research they have done.
I think my best advice would be to keep it simple. I don't know your name only your online handle but lets say you are Mr. Smith and your mothers maiden name was Jones. Which side of the family are you most interested in the Smith or the Jones family or are you interested in both? Well depending on the family reunion you are going to maybe none of the Smiths will be there but plenty of the Jones will or maybe both sides will be there. If they are both there and you want to find out about both sides of your family tree then you will not have to go anywhere else.
Once you have decided on your course of investigation into your family I suggest you bring along a camcorder if you can so you can do a video of the older members of the family or at least a small tape recorder so you can record that persons voice. Bring along a note pad too so you can write notes down. Also bring along what research you have, you might think everything is right in your computer but those genealogy programs can get the names you gathered all mixed up as it happened to a cousin by marriage at one time. Bring along your digital still camera and take plenty of pictures and write down the names of people who you took the pictures of. If you can and your more elderly relatives are up to doing so bring them along to the local cemetery where some of your relatives are buried and take more pictures and notes bringing along your tape recorder so you don't miss anything. Old newspaper articles that your relatives might have will help you or archived copies of newspapers at the nearby public library. If you want to go further still in your research go to the nearby court house where the land records are held and also copies of marriage and birth certificates as well as death certificates. Of course if you want copies that can be expensive so I suggest just writing down the relevant facts. If you have old houses in that part of the family don't forget them especially if the family has lived there for many generations. Over time houses get destroyed either through fire,storms or just the mark of what some call progress so having a record of what the house looked like will be nice for you and others to look back on. I especially like pictures of more formal gardens at really old houses. I hope you enjoy your trip and I am very happy for you as not everybody has a chance to do the kind of research you are doing.
 
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Old 07-23-12, 03:01 AM
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I have researched our family trees back to about 1600 with fairly good accuracy. Beyond that it gets "iffy". Use a genealogy subscription site for a wealth of information. Beware, however, you have to cross reference everything you do. You will fall into the trap of feeling you have succeeded in securing a certain line, only to find out the mother of a child gave birth at 4 years old, or even worse 5 years after she died Search and verify.
I visited with my sister at my mom's former house to try and dispose of "stuff". Sis brought in 4 large boxes of pictures from the barn of all places. Some of these were family pix dating back to the mid 1800's, to the infancy of photography. Luckily many had rosters with them, and I was able to identify many of the people.
 
  #5  
Old 07-23-12, 05:42 AM
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I have researched my family tree for more than 30 years. Like Larry I have followed most of my ancestral lines to the 1600's.

The best advice I can give you is to talk to people at the reunion. Many will probably have little or no interest in what you are doing but some will. If there are old folks at the reunion they are likely to be the ones with the most interest i what you are doing. Ask them questions about their life and listen to their stories. You will be amazed at the information you can get from oral family history that is often wrong but usually contains elements of fact that you can build on.

You might think of doing a little presentation at the reunion. About 20 years ago I went to a reunion of the descendents of my greatgrandparents. There were a couple of hundred people there and it was a gold mine. I had prepared a presentation for those interested and I gave handouts to the people that wanted them. The handouts included a tree and a list of questions about "missing" people. The results were all sorts of photos and records and memories, including my great grandparents family bible.

If I were doing it now I would probably just use genealogy software (Family Tree Maker is the elephant in the field) and a rented projector.
 
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Old 07-24-12, 10:00 PM
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Thanks for the reply's.

All good advice.
I will try to do some of all the suggestions, I don't know about a presentation yet but that would be great if I had more info and ideas, maybe next year?

I tried also to find a blank family tree to make copies to handout but I can't seem to find any. If anyone has a link you can post to one I would greatly appreciate it.
 
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Old 07-25-12, 03:08 AM
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Couple of weeks doesn't give you enough time to research properly. Ancestry.com and their sister site Family Tree Maker are excellent resources as long as you keep your head about you and use common sense regarding dates, locations, etc.
For now, your best bet is to take a spiral notebook and a good camera (not a phone) to the reunion. Take pictures of the people in attendance and make note of their names and addresses. Talk to the older generation at length. They will be excited to impart stories of the older days. Write it all down (or record it). There are places on those sites where you can upload pictures and stories along with the personal data of the person who told it.
Ask them all if they have old photographs they can scan and send to you. They may not want to let them go, but having a copy is great for archiving. Ask them to identify all in the pictures if possible.
THEN, next year it will be show time!!
 
  #8  
Old 07-25-12, 04:23 AM
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You can find blank trees on hte internet. Try Google. If you get into genealogy seriously you'll find a tree type format is very limited. Go back 10 generations and you have over one thousand direct ancestors.

Most people use genealogy software that offers not only a dbase capability but also a variety of record formats. There are also subscription seervices on the internet that offer not only tree management capability but also some significant search capability.
 
  #9  
Old 07-25-12, 06:08 AM
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You a good software program to keep track of all possible information. It is good for all bits of information (complete, proven, rumors, etc.) for future uses and reminders. Put in the sources or references (books, lists articles or personal conversation). You just select which items you want to show on anything printed, but have still saved the other possibilities for future use since you will find some errors or minor differences.

Key resources are census records, immigration records and other published trees. Do not get hung up on spelling, since there will always be some spelling differences, minor errors, nick names, switching first and middle names and name changes. If you are in a city with an LDS (Latter Day Saints) or Morman Family History Center that is free, has free access to many computerized sources, - It is manned by people interested in Genealogy research that are willing to help with any problems and not all are Mormans.

Getting a short (1 or 2 month) subscription to the major "elephant" service provides access to most resources by computer at home and an opportunity to use the research contributed by other individuals.

You will be guaranteed to find "skeletons in the closet".

Dick
 
  #10  
Old 07-25-12, 09:02 AM
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Here are some free sites to get started

Family Search is a site run by the Mormons. It is a great place as the Mormon Church has been documenting family histories for decades.

Find A Grave has millions of burial documented. If you want to find out where your dead granny is, it's a good place to look.

GenForum is a good place to contact others that are researching the same surnames.

Rootsweb is another free search site with lots of family trees posted.

As others have said, a good software program is a must. In my opinion Family Tree Maker is head and shoulders above any other genealogy software I've seen.

As for skeletons, they are often the best finds. In my tree I have a murdered little girl, a half dozen suicides, a union soldier that swore allegiance to the rebs when he was a prisoner at Andersonville and my favorite, an accused witch that was hung in Dorchester Mass in 1651.
 
  #11  
Old 07-25-12, 11:34 AM
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One of the biggest problems is the immigration across the pond and the subsequent name changes or even the spelling changes. Once you can make a tie back to the old country, you go through the sources available and them make contacts there. In some countries, the records are poor or limited, just like the early U.S. censuses.

I was fortunate to have some Norwegian and Swedish ancestors where the records were maintained by "parishes" (a major church in an area) that kept all records for the government for people in the area even if they were not members of the church. They usually are available (if you can wade through the beautiful ornate script with a minimal understanding of key words). They are so detailed to even provide information on people in a family (including everyone's age birthplace) and also including moving to another parish, dates of inoculations and the doctors name and location. It is not easy and fast. Because of wars and document destruction, western Europe is more difficult to get complete information because of the separation between countries and Protestant/Catholic separation that did not always provide complete information if the parties were of different religions.

If you find an ancestor's country, if you can find local hobbyist/genealogist, you have struck gold because they provide detailed information if you are willing to fill in there the descendants of a family went in the U.S. and who they are. Very often, they will provide photos of old homes/home locations in addition to contacts. My cousin and her daughter went to Scandinavia and met and stayed with relatives for several weeks and returned the favors and are going back in a few months. - This started with my contact with an old Swedish genealogist that provided me with detailed information back to the 1500's and photos from the late 1800's and early 1900's including exchanging Christmas cards for several years until she dies.

A few weeks is not much time to come up with many good details, but it can be an opening into a long term hobby that you can get involved in with whenever you choose.

Dick
 
  #12  
Old 07-26-12, 08:27 PM
wwc
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wow that would be really great to make contact or even get back to Europe or over seas anywhere.
 
  #13  
Old 07-27-12, 02:53 AM
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Be careful. Often records prior to 1600 are sketchy, or non existent due to being lost at sea, left in the homeland or destroyed by fires (not many first responders in 1600). Some have had our family traced back to 1200 in Normandy France, but there is no solid confirmation or collaboration of their records, so as far as I am concerned they don't exist. One booger date and everything ahead of it is void.
 
  #14  
Old 07-27-12, 08:14 PM
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The key to catching bad information is to add all items to a good family tree program. They do not have to be printed, but you have them along with the sources. I have many conflicts/questionable people in my 15,000 names. One thing to look for are identical dates (to the day) might be a sign of copying information that others have copied for an erroneous source.

Just don't sweat the minor differences in dates since they may be typos or bad interpretation of original document writings. They may be due the methods described as "birth dates", since different countries use different criteria - some may consider date of birth and others recognize baptism/christening dates, which may be in different years if the dates span New Year. The sloppy U.S. Census also is responsible for incorrect birth dates, because the census only shows the AGE of the person when the census was taken, so the birth date could be off by almost a year.

Use what information you discover, save it and decide what makes sense to find the erroneous 4 year old mother.

Once you get back to or before 1600 (if you are lucky because of wars/damage and restrictions/practices of the period) the accuracy is questionable and you have rely on documented historical data because everyone liked to be related to a King or Queen plus many descendants of Kings were never "legal", but the King did admit to mistresses and similar.

It ends up being a great way to learn history. Chances are you are related to Karl I of Germany, also known as Charlemagne or the First Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, since today 1/2 of the people in Europe are his descendants and this carried over to the U.S. While researching my grand children's tree, I found out my children of my first wife and I were related by 2 different routes - Pilgrim (French/German) and Scandinavians (Norwegian/Swedish) and even later after earlier generations cause the possibilities to explode.

wwc - What countries did your ancestors come from? They are many ways to "skin a cat" and get the information. Some countries are easy to research once you find out the possible immigration dates, countries and possible names in addition to their U.S. names. - I am still hunting down my great-great grandfather that was born in Norway about 1814 and have not been successful after 15 years of hunting despite the good records.

Dick
 

Last edited by Concretemasonry; 07-27-12 at 08:48 PM.
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