“If you CAN prove it, it’s Genealogy, if you CAN’T, it’s Mythology!”

A statement that is frequently made among those who search the records of history looking for that all important clue is “If you can prove it, it’s Genealogy, if you can’t, it’s Mythology”.   When you begin your Genealogy be sure to document everything.  Therefore, a good filing system will be necessary.  There are many ways you can organize your files, and the Kinfolk Detective suggests Alphabetically. Starting with your master family files and continuing with the individual files within you master family file.

With each individual file you should have, if you can locate them, the following evidence:

Birth Certificate or equal –  (equivalent could be baptismal).

Immigration papers – if the individual is immigrating from another country.

Census records showing residence – A Federal census is completed every ten years.

Military records.

Marriage Certificate or equal.

Will or Probate records

Newspaper articles

Pictures

In the Kinfolk Detective’s perspective, a census is the easiest place to start.  A federal census can show a lot of good information including current location, name of every person in the household, a description of age, sex, and color, profession or occupation of each, value of estate owned- both real estate and personal,  place of birth, both parents place of birth, if they are able to read and write, and the last year of school they attended.

Now that you have all of this information, you can make some associations and assumptions.  Foremost where did they come from.  The names of brothers, sisters and parents.  When you can compare census’ you may see a brother that might have disappeared.  Did he marry?  Is he now the head of his own household? Did he die from an injury in a war?    Your dates are important as they can give you clues.  In the 1700’s and 1800’s many men married young.  If a seventeen or eighteen year old disappeared, its quite possible that he married or moved away with his wife’s family.  If there was a war within the ten years its possible he was killed in the war.   Sometimes you must think outside of the box to find your answers.

Many of the above documents can give you information and hints to your next subjects, their parents and siblings.

 

How it all began….

In the warmth of the morning sun I ride Peanut, my Shetland pony, down the winding dirt trail through the grove past my great-grandmothers house while dodging the occasional orange tree limb.   We trot across the open meadow where the garden was planted in the spring and around the corner where the briars are thick and the blackberries are sweet.  We turn back heading down to the boondocks, where either a small stream or a trickle of water can be flowing through the little ravine.  The hope is always for enough water for Peanut to jump across rather than trot right through.  We continue up the hill, past Granny Suggs rabbit pen, through the grapefruit grove and across the clay road.

I’m on my way to have a picnic.  I’m not alone, they are all there.  Aunts, Uncles, grandpas and grandmas at least seven generations back.  I know them all.  As I walk with my great-grandmother, she tells me stories of her favorite sister Creasy, her Uncle Asbury who was killed in the war, and the neighbor that caused her much distress letting food go bad instead of giving it to another in need.  Regardless of their relation, they all now lay resting in the small community cemetery, each  with a different headstone or a memorable symbol I use to remember their story.  As she places the flowers in the vase at the base of Papa Johnson’s grave, she reminds me that she just couldn’t hold on to her two boys, Olin and Paul, which her husband now rests  beside.  “Only the girls were strong enough to make it,” she says in a quiet voice.  Even at the young age of five, I know her heart is torn.

Fast forward forty (40) years; With my own children grown up and gone off on their own adventures, I turn to the stories of my childhood re-igniting an addictive passion within me.  “Genealogy”.

As I share my great-grandmothers stories with my husband, I realize that he never knew any of his ancestors.  How could this be?  How could he not know his Grandparents?   I now realize how lucky I was growing up surrounded by family. I had three of my four grandparents and one very healthy great-grandma, which I saw most every day.   It seems our family lived in the same small community forever.  I always knew where I came from or should I say who I came from  and the stories told by a great woman who wished to keep her ancestors memories alive.  Some died in a war, others from a disease that’s now been extinguished some five or six decades, and then there were those who died of old age, but they all had stories, great stories.

Genealogy search engines

How many teenagers today actually sit down and talk with their grandparents, if they’re lucky their great-grandparents, listening to stories of another time?  Stories that will soon be forgotten if they haven’t been already.  What can we do to resurrect them?  Through genealogy you can bring many of them back to life, returning them to paper or computer, so they can be remembered, archived in the internet world, for the technical savvy generations to come.

To Genealogy, “the computer” is ingenious, and devastating at the same time, and we must adapt.

http://Ancestry.com, http://Fold3.com, http://Findagrave.com and the list goes on.  With today’s technology there are endless ways of searching for your ancestors without leaving your computer.  These three search engines above can be instrumental in finding your ancestors.  They are paid sites used by professional genealogist, and they will hasten your results.  But if you like the search, a “free” simple google.com search can get you started.  It all begins with YOU.

Birth certificate, marriage license,  census – (every ten years there is a federal census that can track re-location), property records, baptismal records, and newspapers to name a few.  The internet brings all of these records to one location, your computer.  Ingenious for Genealogy.

Why do you ask is the computer devastating to Genealogy?

No longer do families sit together passing stories down from one generation to another, stories told to them by theirs.  We have lost a whole generation of storytelling to the computer.  Computers now occupy our children’s lives.

Therefore, if you can’t beat them, join them, as long as we continue to pass down and preserve the stories of our ancestors, with the new technical tools of the future.

Genealogy 101

Do you really know who you are?

Everyone comes from somewhere and everyone has a story.

Do you know the stories of your grandparents and great-grandparents?  Where did they live?  How many children did they have?  What trials and tribulations did they face?  These are all questions that may not have been answered during  your younger years.

Genealogy can give you the answers.

Where do you start?  That answer is with “YOU”.