Researching Family History

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Researching Family History

Postby Lynnedean » Wed Feb 03, 2016 5:10 pm

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Researching your family history is a fascinating hobby, but anyone on the board who does it will know how frustrating it can be. For example, it seems that, way back when, parents had the irritating habit of naming their offspring after themselves and other members of their families. It was obviously a tradition - unless they just didn't have any blinkin' imagination! - but it has resulted in the same first names cropping up over and over again, making it very difficult to figure out which person belonged to which family. Talk about needles and haystacks!

One of the most frustrating things is to reach a point in a main family line and realise that you don't have enough information about that particular person to go any further. Sometimes, the naming tradition is actually a help here, because you can guess at what fathers and mothers may have been called, and it can produce satisfying results, but many times you're just stuck with no idea where to go. :puzzled:

I'm making a plea for help ... if you're into family research, do you have any tips as to what can be tried when you hit a wall in your tree (yes, hitting a wall in your tree does sound rather odd, but you know what I mean). I'm on Ancestry, and often look for clues in the family trees that other members researching the same names have made public, but those members are often stuck at the same points that I am, so any ideas would be gratefully received. :smile:
"Progress might have been all right once, but it has gone on too long." ~ Ogden Nash
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Re: Researching Family History

Postby hazeleyes57 » Wed Feb 03, 2016 8:06 pm

I'm doing my family tree and I'm on Ancestry with a worldwide membership. One of the biggest helps and hindrances is the tradition of keeping names in the family. My dad is John, and apart from his father (Leonard), every other male line son has been John or James. The Johns would names their eldest son James, and his brother James would name his eldest son John, There were more John and James than I could shake a stick at, complicated further by the fact that they often lived in the same street or road!! Often family members would be lodging with relatives (to spread the financial load) so the Ancestry transcribers (who do sterling work, believe me) occasionally added children to another part of the family, or took them away!!

One of the most helpful things family pride often did was to add the maternal maiden name to one or more of the children as a middle name in order to keep the name running (especially if all the original children were girls who would lose the family name upon marriage). Occasionally the maiden name would come from a grandparent rather than the mother, but it is still helpful.

WWI records have been released and they have been helpful with DOB and wives maiden names and where the marriage took place.
The Latter Day Saints have a duty to record all parish records wherever they go for their two-year missions, and there are free websites that you can search for this information.
It's worth checking alternate religious records, or even the nonconformist or non-parochial records for couples who have run away to be together. Bigamy was more common than you think, because divorce was almost unheard of, and prohibitively expensive. Far cheaper to move to another county and start again. This is often why names variations happened - we had a 'Marsh' change to 'March' to avoid debt, and occasionally I would find that a name had been misspelled because the enumerator has misheard a local accent (Cabble was written for Cable, Portch for Porch) and often family 'pet' names were written (Millie instead of Amelia), or a second name would be used if mother and daughter shared the same name.
Sometimes I have had to search by location, and just find the street someone lived in and go back and forth on the 'previous' and 'next' options to find other family members. It's useful if they have out of the ordinary occupations too. I found the railway employer's records for my 3x great-grandfather who was a train driver/shunter.
As a general rule, I look at other Tree info for guidance, not actual connection, as I found quite early on that other people are often so keen to 'get' info that they don't always check it properly, but it's fine for clues. The 1911 census has the most info, as it includes the number of children born, living and who have died, so you have a window to narrow searches.

I simply love the detective work, and I can get lost in the Tree for hours at a time :lol:

If you want to tell me (here or via PM) where you're stuck, I'm happy to help if I can.
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Re: Researching Family History

Postby Lynette » Wed Feb 03, 2016 11:12 pm

Hazeleyes wrote:
Bigamy was more common than you think, because divorce was almost unheard of, and prohibitively expensive. Far cheaper to move to another county and start again. This is often why names variations happened - we had a 'Marsh' change to 'March' to avoid debt ...


A version of this happened in my husband's family tree. An ancestor named Yves, a Frenchman, deserted his wife and ran away to Trinidad, then a French colony, changing his last name to Hive. Don't know if there was another woman involved or not. But it didn't work: wife tracked him down in the Caribbean and showed up on his doorstep with the children in tow, calmly re-establishing her marital rights. As far as I know, they stayed in Trinidad.

My mother-in-law was born Miss Hive, but of course the real surname should have been Yves!
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Re: Researching Family History

Postby Sunshine » Thu Feb 04, 2016 11:56 pm

Hi Lynne. Are there any genealogy organizations in your area? That's usually a good place to start; the members share lots of resources. :thumbsup:
Just looked over the chapter on "Horse Racing and Illegal Rambling."

I haven't got the requisite capacity for deceit.
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Re: Researching Family History

Postby hazeleyes57 » Fri Feb 05, 2016 7:40 pm

Lynette wrote:My mother-in-law was born Miss Hive, but of course the real surname should have been Yves!


Not called Beatrice, was she? Known as 'Bee' for short..? :rofl: :rofl:
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Re: Researching Family History

Postby Lynette » Sat Feb 06, 2016 4:19 am

Sadly, no. Madeline Elma.
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Re: Researching Family History

Postby Lynnedean » Mon Feb 08, 2016 8:35 am

Hazeleyes, ta muchly for all the info. I'm aware of a number of the points, but others are now making me "think outside the box" (don't like that phrase, but it fits here :smile: ).

Something you don't mention is the ability to search through old newspapers for articles and announcements related to family members. So far, I've found two items, one being a coroner's report of my paternal grandfather's death, and the other a report of his gr-grandfather's death - the first chap fell off a ladder and the second fell off a boat. A touch accident prone, my family! :-?

Sunshine, there used to be a community genealogy group around here, but by the time I thought about joining it, it had disappeared. I should check now to see if another has popped up. Thanks for reminding me. :smile:
"Progress might have been all right once, but it has gone on too long." ~ Ogden Nash
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Re: Researching Family History

Postby Englishfan » Mon Feb 08, 2016 5:25 pm

Lynnedean wrote:community genealogy group


Great idea.

My cousin and I are just starting our research.....or thinking about it!......but thought we'd start with the oldest living in the fam and then cemeteries to get the gist of who is who. Only 3.5 generations lived in the U.S. so cemeteries won't take long.

then to the web sites and even Salt Lake where there is professional assistance to do the work.

A group would be ideal to help with hitting the wall in a branch on the tree.

Someone in my family started this and dropped it like a hot potato (hmmmmm!) after discovering something surprising? She won't say. But we are ready to go after it again!

Keep posting on your journey through your family.

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Re: Researching Family History

Postby Lynnedean » Mon Feb 08, 2016 6:39 pm

Englishfan wrote:Someone in my family started this and dropped it like a hot potato (hmmmmm!) after discovering something surprising? She won't say. But we are ready to go after it again!

Finding surprising things make it more fun, E'fan! :D A British TV presenter, who researched his family history some time ago, was fascinated to discover that a distant relative had been hung for sheep-stealing on the south coast. Another of our TV presenters, Alexander Armstrong, whose family history reasearch was done for him recently for the BBC's Who Do You Think You Are? programme, was chuffed to little ribbons to be told that he was directly descended from none other than William the Conqueror, the first Norman king of England!
"Progress might have been all right once, but it has gone on too long." ~ Ogden Nash
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Re: Researching Family History

Postby Englishfan » Mon Feb 08, 2016 6:57 pm

Lynnedean wrote:Finding surprising things make it more fun,


I'm hoping to find that Marilyn Monroe is a close relative. Also waiting for the effects of that relative's good looks to find me!!!! :toetap:

I'll take whatever I find!

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Re: Researching Family History

Postby Wolesley » Tue Feb 09, 2016 6:22 am

I've been enjoying the U.S. PBS series Finding Your Roots, where well-known people have their family histories researched by the host, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Each episode features three people. There have been some amazing family stories presented. As the guests are mostly American, there is often an interesting Civil War era ancestor, or even a Revolutionary War ancestor. It is also very interesting when they trace the origins of an African-American guest, or a Jewish guest. Very moving.
There is also a DNA tracing done, showing the guest's "global admixture," which is an analysis of the percentages of their origins, such as 96.3% European, 3.5% Sub-Saharan African, etc. And there is also information on the "haplogroup," which is an indicator of where in the world the guest's ancestral DNA group originated from (if I understand correctly).

Lesley

P.S.
My uncle on my Dad's side researched and put together our family tree, tracing our arrival in North America to two brothers who sailed from England and settled in New Brunswick in 1583! Our earliest known ancestor was a chap who fought with Boadicea against the Romans, apparently. Killed a soldier, stole his helmet and ran away. Smart man. :cool:
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Re: Researching Family History

Postby Lynnedean » Tue Feb 09, 2016 9:31 am

Wolesley wrote:Our earliest known ancestor was a chap who fought with Boadicea against the Romans, apparently. Killed a soldier, stole his helmet and ran away.

Now, that's what I call a fun find! Have to say that pinning down such a fact about an ancestor from so far back is very impressive. :biggrin:

For obvious reasons, the TV ancestry shows always feature people in the public eye who have interesting characters in their family trees who can enable the show to explore particular areas of social history. A number of British celebrities (TV presenter Michael Parkinson and Prime Minister Tony Blair's wife Cherie among them) have reported that they were excited when approached by Who Do You Think You Are? and asked if they were willing to have their histories traced for the show, only to be crushed when later told that they wouldn't be featured after all, because research had found their ancestors to be too boring. :lol:

Re DNA, many genealogy websites now offer DNA analysis to their subscribers (at a price, of course), but an article in the online Telegraph says that it's a waste of time and money ... "A warning about the accuracy of the tests was made by the Sense About Science campaign group, which said "such histories are either so general as to be personally meaningless or they are just speculation from thin evidence." Telegraph March 2013: DNA ancestry tests branded meaningless. Even if there were some value to it, I shudder at the thought of submitting a sample of my DNA to a commerical company, not knowing who would have access to it, and not having any control over what happens to it. :-?
"Progress might have been all right once, but it has gone on too long." ~ Ogden Nash
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Re: Researching Family History

Postby Englishfan » Tue Feb 09, 2016 4:24 pm

Lynnedean wrote:"A warning about the accuracy of the tests was made by the Sense About Science campaign group,


I would think there would be many errors. Sending DNA to someone unknown sounds as much like a sting to find criminals and other wanted individuals as it does a help in genealogy.

Great reminder and warning, Lynnedean.

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