The 4th of July is a time when friends families gather together to BBQ, watch fireworks, and good summertime fun. We celebrate and remember the sacrifice and service of those who fought for the freedoms we have today. On this historical day of fun, don't miss an opportunity to discuss family history! It's so easy, just start asking questions! You will most likely find your grandparent, aunt, or whomever will be very forthcoming with anecdotes and details. I find when I start a conversation with anyone about genealogy and family history they share their token family story or famous ancestor. You might think you've heard all the stories, but you never know who might have a new twist or different side of the story! A few tips to get you started...
"The ancestor of every action is a thought." Ralph Waldo Emerson
Entries in genealogy intro (33)
If you're wondering how to get started with your genealogy research- DRAW out your tree!! Having a visual sketch of your family tree will help you absorb and organize new information. As you will see from my examples, I am an avid family tree sketcher. There are so many ways to draw your family tree, each perspective is unique and can help identify new clues and relationships. You don't need any fancy tools...I use wrapping paper!
It must run in the family. These are 2 handwritten family trees found in the "box of old family stuff". These trees have given me so many amazing leads! ONE TIP: get credit for your hard work, leave your name and date somewhere on the tree! I don't know who wrote either of these trees, but I have passed them around to some family members for handwriting comparisons :) Someone in my family tree was interested in this great pursuit!
My Genealogy Charts- get inspired!
The first thing I do when I'm looking at a new family is sketch out their tree. This chart will be so much help for you while you're researching records. Expect to make mistakes, cross out information, and sometimes get confused...don't worry that's why you are drawing it out. A visual will give you some orientation. At first don't worry too much about making it pretty, you want it to be useful.
Refresh and redo
Once your first draft gets a little too busy, you might want to consider drawing a fresh copy. When I did this I created a coding system with different colored markers and symbols. This way I could fit more information and keep it looking organized. To get an idea of what I used for encoding vital information, click here.
Connect or Eliminate Leads
My grandfather, his grandfather, and his great grandfather all shared the name Joseph Kirkbride Wright. In an attempt to knock past a brick wall, my gggg grandfather Joel Wright born 1782, I tried to find a connection through this namesake. There was a well documented Joseph Kirkbride also from Burlington County, NJ with connections to Wright lines. I made this chart as I navigated through his family lines looking for a lead. For the most part this is a resource I can reference while I research new leads to see if I have already ruled out their connection to my line.
I made the chart below after researching a friends great grandfather. The witness on his naturalization shared the same last name, address, and was also a barber. After looking into this witness I found another male barber with the same surname living next door to the witness in the 1910 census record, another potential relative? I needed to work through the information to see all the connections. Work in progress.
Step outside the box! Look at your family from different perspectives, get creative, and start drawing out your family tree. *don't fold them like I did, roll up the paper to maintain your work!*
Census records are great. They are FULL of interesting information. But every census record is different, the information collected varies for each census year. I find it helpful to have an idea of what information was collected for each census while I do my research. Knowing what information is available will save you time and your sanity :) A few tips from the Desperate Genie...
News From the Suburbs: Married in Spite of Her Father
What great vintage gossip! This rule breaking bride is my gg grandmother. I guess even in 1887 gossip found it's way into the public eye. This article was sent to me by a fellow researcher, thank you Charles!!
"Social circles on Jersey City Heights, and especially the members of the South Bergen Reformed Church, are interested in a wedding which took place Saturday evening at Asbury Park. The bride, Miss Virgnia Wentworth Franks, was a school teacher living with her father at No. 173 Bergen Ave. She was active in church work. About three years ago she became acquainted with Thomas Middleton, and an engagement soon followed. The young woman's father positively refused to sanction the projected marriage because Mr. Middleton had been divorced. All the other members of the family sympathized with the couple. On Saturday Mr. Middleton, Miss Franks, her brother, Mortimer Franks, and some friends were at Asbury Park and it was decided that three years were long enough to defer to the prejudices of the father. The Rev. Mr Battin was hunted up and the couple were married, Mortimer Franks giving the bride away. They will at once go to housekeeping in a pretty little cottage in Ocean Ave, which has been handsomely furnished by Mr. Middleton."
I wonder what Virginia thought of this being published!! Did she ever think that I, her gg granddaughter, would be reading it!?
The groom, Thomas Middleton, is a very mysterious character in my family tree. I have connected with my grandmother's cousin who has also extensively researched the family tree and he is facing the same brick wall. I know he was born in England, purchased a house in East Orange, NJ 1896 (I have the paperwork), and died in 1910. And now that he was married/divorced to someone before Virginia Franks. The 1900 census lists his arrival year as 1884, so was his first wife in England? Did they have kids? ahhh more questions...
Connecting with family members is HUGE! DO IT! If you don't know of anyone, find them! Charles and I share gggg grandparents and I found him very randomly. He had posted a query on a message board and when I googled my gggg grandparents names I found him. He had letters and had done a lot of research. We have been able to exchange a bunch of really great information and details. Not to mention, I have 3 daguerreotype's from the Franks family and he had 3 or 4 from the same generation! How about that.
I'll take what I can get, I've learned to focus on the details. Sometimes it can be the smallest detail that leads you down a path to copious amounts of information. If nothing else, this article gives me a fuller understanding of their life experiences. I'm sure glad I wasn't there when he father found out!