I've been doing genealogical research on my family. It takes time. I have no idea how people do this who work normal hours. It's calls to libraries, county clerks, countless messages/emails to people on ancestry, etc. I'm glad I decided to start back working on it because it takes my mind off shopping (trying to pay down debt-not shop!) and takes my mind off my infertility issues. So, it has been fun researching and finding my family.
At the same time, genealogy can be very frustrating. Sometimes, like the problem I'm having now, it's as if people appear out of nowhere. Where did you come from? Who are your parents? Why can't I find where you're buried? And so many other questions, that make you scratch your head and have blood shot eyes from staying up all night searching record after record.
One thing to remember is that census records are good, but you must realize that the information on the census isn't always the most reliable. Sometimes, the person wasn't at home, and the enumerator asked the neighbor for information which means they may have just speculated where so and so's parents were born. Also, a lot of people couldn't read or write which means the enumerator spelled the names and information as best he/she could. And people didn't always keep track of time such as when they were born. For example, we always celebrated my grandmother's birthday on a specific date in June...well, because it was her birthday! But, after she passed, her death record actually noted her birthday was on the day before we always celebrated it. Also, nowadays, we always put our legal name on our documents such as the census, legal records, and what not. However, back then, people just gave whatever name they went by (i.e. nickname, middle name, initials, etc). So, for example my great-great grandmother's name is Susan Agnes. In some records, you will see her as Susan and others Agnes. And in fact, if someone was researching her and didn't know much about her first marriage (to my great-great grandfather), they might totally miss where she's buried. My great-grandfather is the one who paid for her tombstone, and he put our surname instead of her second marriage's surname. I'm wondering if there was resentment since he did that, or maybe, he did it because he was the one paying for it. Who knows...these are just examples I've encountered.
Also, another tip, ask all your elderly family members everything while they're still here. I waited too late to start asking questions. I should have asked questions when I started my tree some 6 years ago. Now, my great aunts, in their latter 80s/90s don't remember anything. They have given me tiny pieces, but they just say it's so long ago since they've thought about these things so they don't remember. Interview your relatives. Write down anything---names, places, people, etc. You never know when this can come of use. So file it away.
Another tip that has helped me along the way is to request death records and marriage records. The downside to old death records is it's only as good as the informant. Oftentimes, a family member filled out the death records and didn't know all the information. For example, my great-grandmother Susanna's son filled hers out. Evidently, he still lived with her and is the one who found her. He had no idea about her mother's family and wrote unknown. And for her father's information wrote Doe surname. He knew the last name of his grandparents but not the first. I've found lots of people died young or men remarried after their wives died to younger women and were still having kids at 50 meaning they were dead before their grandkids were ever conceived! On the other hand, marriage records can be beneficial. For example, depending on the state law at the time, people signed as witnesses. I have found those are usually some sort of family member or a friend. Friend meaning maybe a neighbor and can find in census, etc.
I don't know if I would have gotten into it again this summer if it weren't for that pesky little dna test that my father took, the one I posted about last month. I had done tons of research and had my family locked down...or so I thought! There are some researchers who are researching my surname and there comes a point where things get a little hazy. My father was a direct descendant, and we thought the dna test would kind of clear up that gray area in one direction or the other. Quite interesting all of it to tell you the truth. However, what we did not anticipate was the fact that my father's test opened up Pandora's box. All the years I spent searching the people in that gray area to find the connection was a bust. The dna test proved we are not in the same haplogroup as those descendants. In fact, we are NOT related at all. Talked about shock. I think even the researchers were a little shocked too. We carry the surname and match a dna haplogroup in our surname study, so my ancestor wasn't adopted. We had to switch gears, and another researcher found my correct great-great grandfather. But now, we can't find who his father's parents are. Or what happened to his father. So, my friends another brick wall! But like I said marriage records are of help! We weren't sure if this was my family, just a good starting point. Well, I'm almost positive it is. I called the county clerk's office to see if they would pull the marriage certificate from the 1890s without me having to mail a request. And the nice gentleman did:) This is in fact the correct family thus far. The names for my great-great grandmother match up and the witness who signed for them carries the same surname as my great-great-great grandmother's maiden name. So, I'm thinking we've found it. Now to research some more.
So, my friends in a long roundabout way, I've enlightened you on what I've been doing. Not that you cared to know all of that, but it will be fun to look back at this post in years to come to see what I was up to all this summer.
I'm always happier and in such a better mood when the sun is shining and the skies are blue and the weather is warm. Hope you are having a great summer:))))))))