Saturday, February 28, 2009

I did it-my first power point presentation!!

Photos from the Family History Expo 2009. It was a fun though stressful experience to teach a class on blogging! Just getting all the software and hardware together was challenging but I did it! There were about 25-30 students in my class and they seemed interested. Maybe they'll visit this blog and leave some comments. I love to teach adults.

Family History Expo

I can't tell you the number of WORKSHOPS and GENEALOGY CONFERENCES I have attended over my 49 years of doing family history research. I've learned something NEW everytime. This year I'm taking on the challenge to TEACH a BLOGGING class at the FAMILY HISTORY EXPO 2009. A perpetual student is what I'd call myself, plus a teacher now of what I've learned. It's been a FUN journey. You certainly learn more by teaching than you do as a student. The KNOWLEDGE gained is one of the few things you can take with you at the end of this life along with your EXPERIENCES and RELATIONSHIPS.

A scripture that impressed me the other day in my daily studies...Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection. And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come. (Doctrine and Covenants 130:18-19) That thought gives purpose to my daily life and is an admonition to USE MY TIME WELL.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Article #44 Cameras, Postcards and Souvenirs

Sending home a postcard of your trip was expected. You had to select a photo of something you had seen on your vacation, then write a few words on the back telling family and friends how much fun you were having. Address the card, put on a 1 or 2 cent stamp and send it on its way. While buying postcards you would also want to look at all the souvenirs for sale which were geared for womenfolk and the kids. You could get a fun set of salt and pepper shakers with the name of the state you were in or a fancy decorated plate to hang on the wall when you got home to show everyone where you had vacationed. Head scarves or handkerchiefs for the ladies stamped with name of the place you were visiting were quite popular. For the kids there were pennants with logos of states or national parks plus lots of inexpensive things like comic books for a dime or candy or gum to liven up the trip. 

You had to take a camera along to take photos so you could show them to everyone when you got home and put them in a family scrapbook. A little Kodax box camera was very popular. It was easy to use, just put the film in then “point and shoot.” Roll the film forward or you got a double exposure, then take the next photo. New rolls of film could be bought along the way. When you ran out of film, you put in a new one and saved your exposed film to be developed when you returned home. To make prints of your vacation, you took the exposed roll to a camera or drug store. They sent your exposed film off to Kodak to be developed. 

After a week to ten days of being on the road, everyone was usually ready to head home. Refreshed with the change of scenery but missing home and Texas. So it went year after year until the grandkids had grown up and moved away, and Big Momma got older and lost the energy to travel. It would have been fun to visit other places in the world away from America but in those days, air travel wasn’t available. But she did see the U.S.A. and had a wall full of plates with names of states to prove it.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Need Help?

There are a ton of resources to teach you how to do just about anything connected with family history. Ranging from free TUTORIAL LESSONS to VIDEO INSTRUCTIONS to NEWSLETTERS to help you get started or continue with your genealogy research. One of the best sources is or use a search engine for assistance on any topic. Want to start a website or don't know how to use your PAF or Legacy database? Help is as close as your keyboard or at a LDS family history center where trained volunteers wait to assist you with your genealogy. Better yet find an Internet cousin or family member with more experience than you to teach you or take a CLASS online or at a local library-ask a librarian or join a local historical society. Every community has untapped resources to discover.

A new world of adventure and learning lies ahead of you as you pursue your FAMILY HISTORY and develop a new hobby as a GENEALOGIST. There is even an experienced researcher (me) who is offering a free hour of searching on your line if you will commit to PAY IT FORWARD and help three other people in some way-doesn't have to doing their research. Just send them some blog candy-a surprise gift. So far no one has taken me up on my offer. This could be your lucky day!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sharing your GENEALOGY

So after you've done all the research to find as many ancestors as you can, what's next? Well, first of all your genealogy is never done-there are always more sets of parents to discover unless you have ALL your lines back to Adam. 

Part of FAMILY HISTORY is gathering histories and photos for as many of your ancestors as you can OR writing a history of them. (My first attempt to write a history was of my stepfather who fought in WWII. See cover on the left.)

Compile your PEDIGREE CHARTS and FAMILY GROUP SHEETS into some kind of notebook or scrapbook to look at or publish them online. More and more people are doing that. A WEBPAGE or BLOG is a perfect place to share your findings with others worldwide who could be interested. Depending on how computer literate your family is, you may need to publish online and in a paper format also. When I compile or write family histories I like to print them in paper format and also make a pdf file that I can save on a DVD or CD so others can read it on their computers. These self published collections can be given out at family reunions or family holiday celebrations and events.

Leaving all your research in file cabinets or folders is wasting all the efforts you've put into doing this work. DONATE a copy of your history and photos to local libraries or University libraries. There are many places just waiting for more contributions. The LDS Family History Library in SLC is one. So send them a paper copy and/or digital CD of what you've compiled. Guess what you are becoming a real FAMILY HISTORIAN, preserving your ROOTS and helping others in their searching. 

Other creative OPTIONS for sharing your family history research are making a shadow box or photo collage of an ancestor or a decorated pedigree chart. (Above is a sample of a fan pedigree chart framed and decorated by Mary, a friend of mine. Check out her blog if you are interested in her work.) There are so many options-quilts, cross stitch, paintings, calligraphy,  etc.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Finding our ROOTS

Many of our ancestors moved from country to country to better their living conditions. Some immigrated to America from Europe, Asia, South Pacific and Africa. Others left their homelands because of wars or to colonize new lands like Australia. Some still live in their native lands. It's fun to find out where your forebears originated. In the case of African Americans, there are few records available after a few generations back because of slavery practices, and that's where the new development of tracing your genealogy by DNA can come in handy.
How far back can you trace your ancestors? It is possible if you connect into royalty lines in England to go back to biblical times and our FIRST PARENTS Adam and Eve. I have one line that my cousin Jerusha traced back that far and it really is mind boggling to consider. My Icelandic line goes back to 800 AD because of their excellent written records. Then there are other ethnic groups like American Indians and Pacific Islanders who kept only ORAL GENEALOGIES and much of that has been lost with time. Without written records, your progenitors are still there to be discovered but it is almost impossible to reconstruct except through DNA.

You may reach what is called a BRICK WALL that stumps you from pushing your lines back further. It takes some time, dedication and skill to get past these obstacles but it can be done especially these days with the Internet making available more worldwide records daily and new Internet cousins to met. Don't give up but just take a break and search another line. Later come back to your brick walls with fresh energy and time and maybe you'll make a breakthrough-see a handout from Jerusha. It takes TIME.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Tip of the ICEBERG

I've now been blogging for 3 weeks or 21 days about Family History Research and guess what? I've only touched the tip of the iceberg on what is available. More material is being added DAILY in the form of personal webpages, blogs, and actual digitized resources to search. You could get lost surfing in the Internet for your ancestors and never be missed (unless your spouse or family noticed your absence.)

What's to be done to prevent wasting your valuable time searching without any results? HAVE A PLAN-don't look for every surname on your family tree, pick just one branch to research. Then be SPECIFIC-what info are you missing? A death date for great grandpa? Well, then don't look for his birth record but focus on obituaries, death certificates and cemeteries just in the area where he possibly died. Always check HOME SOURCES first before turning to the INTERNET. Then try a GOOGLE SEARCH before checking out some of the websites I've suggested previously:,,,, among others. (Click on links for more info.)

Keep good notes in some kind of a RESEARCH LOG so you know where you've looked and jot down any ideas as you're working on where to check next...a TO DO list. Remember census records can be great clues if you're searching in America as to where your ancestors lived. This is like a mystery to solve. One thing leads to another until you discover the facts needed. Sometimes you'll find you need to write letters to Courthouses or make a visit in person or hire a researcher to find info for you. Maybe you'll get lucky and find an Internet cousin or two. Good luck!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Article #43 Motels and Diners

Motels were a new development as Americans fell in love with their automobiles, and started taking family vacations away from home. They needed an inexpensive place to stay overnight as a family while on the road. Thus developed a motorist’s hotel or motel which quickly replaced the more expensive hotels. With automobile travel gaining in popularity, tourists demanded cheaper easily accessible accommodations close to the main route.

Each little town had several motels located on Main Street while other accomodations were stretched out along the main highways. Most mom and pop owned motels consisted of a simple building with connected guest rooms in a L, U or I formation with a manager’s office facing a parking lot or they could be a series of separate cabins with common parking. Some had kitchenettes, flashy names and neon signs to catch the passing motorist’s attention.

You can still see them in many old towns. Most have gone out of business and many are used as cheap apartments today. But in their heyday they were quite classy with names like: Last Frontier Motel, Trails End, Hitchin’ Post, Vagabond, and Sun N Sand. There was no need to make reservations ahead of time. They were very basic--just small rooms with an adjoining bathroom––no pools, spas or dining facilities like today’s chain motels. Just clean, neat and family orientated.

My husband’s grandma Big Momma had a map she ordered from Humble Oil Company that she had carefully studied and planned their stops each day to see the most interesting sites in each state they visited. What an adventure. They were seeing the U.S.A. in their own car, staying in motels and eating out every meal-a real vacation for the women. Every town had a family diner where you could get home cooked meals while on your trip which included: fried chicken, hamburgers, sandwiches, plus homemade pies and cakes, etc. There were few fast food establishments then.

My husband recalls how they would get up early each morning from the motel where they were staying, have breakfast and start out by 6 am for the next leg of their vacation. By mid afternoon they would arrive at the next town to get a room about 3 pm before other tourists were stopping. After eating dinner, they’d go to bed early to be ready for the next day’s adventures. What fun they had!

Saturday, February 21, 2009


I was thinking today about the MISSING LINK which in most families is our relationship with our great grandparents. We never knew most of them but may have heard ABOUT them from our grandparents.  Unless someone writes down their information, it doesn't get passed down to our children and grandchildren. Will our great grandchildren know anything about us IF we don't leave a record, a HISTORY of our life either captured in a journal or compiled in a life story or scrapbook? (Photo of my mom and me above.)

It's not too late to start compiling a record of your life's experiences. What have you learned that you'd like to tell your posterity? Words of wisdom that can help them along their paths. I know some phrases that have guided me in my life came from a grandmother's wise words...if life gives you lemons make lemonade and this too shall pass. During my life and trials that have come, those words have sustained me as well as knowing the love my grandmother continues to have for me. (Photo above standing me and my mom, seated my grandmother holding my first son Frank-her great grandson. Unfortunately, she died soon after his birth but I've written her life story to pass to her great and 2nd great grandchildren.)

Death is just a passageway and we who remain behind for now are RESPONSIBLE to connect the missing links as we learn more about our ancestor's lives and pass that knowledge on to our posterity. For that is why I do family history research, collect old photos and write my ancestor's stories to ...turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to the fathers.. (Malachi 4:6) So they are not forgotten by us. (Photo of me above as a grandmother holding my first grandchildren twins Heather and Emilee.)

Friday, February 20, 2009


Back in 1967 BC (before computers and the Internet), I was searching for my great grandfather Wm M. Johnson, and discovered looking through court records here in Utah that he had received an inheritance from an aunt in Middlebury, Knox County, Ohio. My mother remembered that her father (my grandfather) had received a small amount of money from this will since his father was deceased. So I had several clues to track down. I wrote to the  COURTHOUSE in Middlebury, looking for probate papers or further information about this aunt. Unfortunately they couldn't locate anything for me. (Found out later Knox County was divided and her papers were filed in the next county Morrow.) It wasn't until 10 years later when I was finally able to make a trip to the courthouse in person, from California where I was then living, that the puzzle began to take shape. (Ohio state Knox County map below from

I found a wealth of information at the COURTHOUSE as I searched for VITAL RECORDS, WILLS, PROBATES, LAND, and other records for this aunt. Discovering a handwritten will of her father which filled in many gaps for me. It listed all his living children and descendents of his deceased children. Now able to link my great grandfather to his father, mother and siblings, many doors were opened for me. I was able to trace my Johnson ancestors back to VERMONT and discovered they were involved in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. Seems that soldiers in the military in those days were given land grants in Ohio to expand the frontier. All of this I found when I made the TRIP to a quiet little courthouse in the midwest but these days FIRST check the Internet and you might save yourself a trip! I also put a personal ad in the local newspaper there and found a cousin who offered me many valuable tips in locating family living in that area. Today you would call him an Internet cousin.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Libraries and Family History Centers

LIBRARIES are wonderful resources and most of them have ONLINE CATALOGS these days. That means you can check out their holdings-books, old newspapers, histories, etc. from afar. If the library is not close enough to visit, it's possible to get interlibrary loans if you find a record you want to examine. Most university libraries usually have a SPECIAL COLLECTIONS section that houses valuable historical information for the genealogist. Everyone also has an LDS FHC-FAMILY HISTORY CENTER near them worldwide with trained volunteers who will assist patrons in searching for their ancestors and in ordering microfilms from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City to search. Open to people of all faiths. Check for the addresses and hours of a FHC near you at

Many regional or COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETIES have their own libraries dedicated to preserving local history. GOOGLE search for one in your area of interest. I've had great experiences with librarians I've contacted over the Internet who did research in their facility and sent me copies of what they found for a small donation. Visiting the area you are researching is the best thing to locate information, old homesteads and cemeteries but finding a local person who will assist you in researching can save on travel expenses. There are even several websites that will do free lookups for you or film a cemetery headstone. Try looking a or Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness or findagrave. Have fun!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Checking out COURTHOUSES

Now I'm going to switch gears and talk about finding actual COURTHOUSE RECORDS which can include VITAL-BIRTH, DEATH, MARRIAGE RECORDS, PROBATES, LAND RECORDS, etc. Not many of these court records are online which means you may have to write to a court clerk or visit a courthouse sometime to further your research or hire a local genealogist to do that for you. Addresses of Courthouses can be found on or with GOOGLE. (Coryell Texas Courthouse below where my husband was born and raised.)

SUMMARY OF RECORDS available online, in Court houses and/or other places like libraries 

1. LOCALITY records-censuses, histories of towns, counties, states, regions, etc.
2. VITAL RECORDS-marriage, death, birth, adoption, etc., kept in counties+towns, some online, varies by state or area when and how they collected info. 
3. COURT RECORDS-probate, land, tax and adoption records, divorce, citizenship, naturalization papers, etc.
4. CHURCH RECORDS-can have vital records: births, deaths, marriages, confirmations, baptisms, etc.
5. BIOGRAPHIES-can be found in county and town histories and other local collections
6. MAPS-plat maps, etc. It's fun to find where your ancestors lived and walk on their land.
7. NEWSPAPERS-obituaries, marriages, etc-lots of digital newspapers on-line, do google search by areas-country, state, county and some towns have local papers with archives.
8. CEMETERY and funeral home records-may need to write to get these, check death certificates for where buried.
9. MILITARY RECORDS-many ancestors were involved in wars, Google search+, and
10. CITY DIRECTORIES and old telephone books-good for unusual last names, find in libraries
11. ORGANIZATIONS-State, County Historical Libraries and local Historical Societies can have good local genealogy collections.
12. Personal WEBPAGES and BLOGS-find with a search engine. Check out my family history webpage

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


One of my favorite websites for American research is, an all volunteer FREE website for every county in every state in the USA. So, if you know your ancestor was born in a certain state and county, give it a try. Click on the state first to go to that webpage, then click on the county in that state. If you don't know the county but just the city-the STATE website many times has a list. There's always a map and history of the county and sometimes photos also.

Every county webpage is different because each one has a different volunteer webmaster. Some of the fun things they usually include are QUERIES that you can leave and check for your surnames in this area.  If there's a SEARCH ENGINE for the county site-be sure to type your ancestor's surname and see what comes up. Check also CEMETERY and CENSUS records, local history, BIOGRAPHIES of early settlers, early NEWSPAPERS, old photos, LOOKUPS etc. Many times there are links that will give you the address of the local County HISTORICAL SOCIETY's Library or the COUNTY COURTHOUSE's address for further researching. It's a marvelous resource for American research.

Monday, February 16, 2009


Better than a search engine because it's more accurate and organized is Cyndislist your free CATALOG of GENEALOGY SITES on the Internet. It's an amazing collection of links to assist you with ANY genealogy problem you might have or direct you where to go to find answers online. Started in 1996 by Cyndi Howell, a family history librarian, she has been working steadily on this project, updating DAILY the latest links to keep you informed on how to accomplish your family history online. Want to know more about a certain country and their records or where to find someone to translate a record or how to make a family history webpage-it's all here. 

You could spend the rest of your life just surfing the links on Cyndis and never get around to doing actual research. With a search engine like GOOGLE and CYNDIS list you can find lots of places to check out. So plan your work and be focused. Keep your RESEARCH LOG. When you finish a session of searching, make a TO DO LIST on your log for the next time you are going to work on your family history-so you'll know where you left off. 

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Article #42 Seeing the USA

In my grandma’s youth, most people never traveled further than fifty miles from their hometown. Traveling was slow and difficult by horseback or stagecoaches, then came the passenger trains which were a great improvement––if the depot was nearby both your hometown and destination. When the automobile was invented and became more available, a new way of traveling opened up. We take for granted these days freeways and paved roads. But imagine living in my grandma’s time when most roads were dirt. So in winter or stormy times, roads could be closed because of mud or flooding, etc. (My uncle Norman and family traveled to Utah from San Francisco by car to visit his mother, my grandmother.)

The advent of transcontinental highways linking major U.S. cities and the creation of national parks like Yellowstone, Zions, Grand Canyon, and the Rocky Mountain National Park to name just a few gave the tourist a definite destination. Larger cities like Chicago, Detroit, New York City and Washington D.C. offered educational attractions like museums and historical sites that brought a new era of family vacationing. 

My husband’s maternal grandmother ran a country store in central Texas but every summer she’d take a week to 10 days off and gather family members (her grown kids, grandkids or other relatives) together to go on vacation. She’d spend the winter months planning her vacation route with the aid of Humble Oil road maps. Her husband who didn’t like to travel would stay at home to take care of the store while Big Momma would leave Texas’ humid summer days and head west to the cool Colorado mountains then on to other cities and parks throughout America. Over the years, she was able to take her kinfolk who accompanied her to all 48 states. (Photo l-r: Grand dad Travis Laxson, his son Bill, grandson David, great grand daughter Deborah Floyd, Big Momma Juanita and great grand daughter Alicia Floyd.)

It was a highlight of my husband’s youth recalling those trips. It broadened his horizons as a young boy to see there was more to America than his life in Gatesville, Texas where he was born and raised. Seeing Pike’s Peak in Colorado, visiting Yosemite and the Redwoods in California, riding a paddle boat on the great Mississippi River, and gazing on the massive sculptures at Mt. Rushmore created a real love of nature in him. It influenced his career choice to work for the Forest Service and live in the West with its mountains, wide open spaces and great beauty. A summer vacation gave his hard working grandmother an opportunity to be together with family and fulfill her desire to see America.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Remembering Family on Valentine's Day

With all the airplane crashes in the news lately, it brought back to me the importance of FAMILY and cherishing each moment with them. As survivors were interviewed from the flight that landed safely in the Hudson River, they said over and over again how thankful they were to be able to be with their families again. Then the crash recently in Buffalo that killed so many, separated many loved ones. Some comments by a couple of passengers who missed that flight recalled the same sentiments. One woman "Asked how her husband's close call would affect the family, which includes two children and two grandchildren... said, 'I think we'll probably appreciate each other a lot more.'" Then our President Obama remarked... "Tragic events such as these remind us of the fragility of life and the value of every single day." 

We know that we will all be separated by DEATH from our families at some time but understanding that can make each moment with them NOW that more meaningful. The WORDS of love shared, and the HUGS given bonds us as a family together forever. And even when separated by death, we can look forward to a glorious REUNION one day with our immediate family and all our loved ones that are our ancestors. Let us cherish FAMILY this VALENTINE'S DAY and commit to strengthening and preserving our family HERITAGE through compiling our FAMILY HISTORY.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY photo of my oldest son Frank with his son Hakan helping blow out the candles.

Friday, February 13, 2009

SURNAMES, DATES and PLACES is what it's all about in researching your genealogy online. ROOTSWEB, now owned by ANCESTRY, is a great place to start. It's a FREE website but does ask you to register your email address. This is helpful in contacting other users and submitters. This might be a good time if you don't find your ancestor to submit his or her name to RSL or ROOTS SURNAME LIST. Maybe your submission will be there for someone else later who is looking for the same person then you can become their INTERNET COUSIN. ROOTSWEB has a collection of submitted FAMILY TREES that you can search called WORLDCONNECT. Also see helpful info. on ADOPTION.

PAY IT FORWARD IN KINDNESS-I decided to play this game presented by Jocelyn who has a lovely website explaining the beliefs of the LDS church. I will give an hour of FREE researching for one of your ancestors who lived in America. Give me that person's full name, birthdate/place and any other info you have on them in a comment on this post. I will publish the results on my webpage in a few days. All you have to do to win this free service is to be one of the first three commentors on this post. So comment NOW! Then you are invited to offer ANY service or gift to three other people who comment first on your blog to PAY IT FORWARD. Kind of a fun game where everyone wins who plays.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A commerical website that is adding searchable databases of digitized materials daily to their website. Some of it is free but to get full access, you'll need to PAY A MEMBERSHIP FEE on a monthly or yearly basis. There is a few 14 day free trial available, so try it. I love ANCESTY.COM and use it often to trace my relatives in their US Federal CENSUS databases which are indexed by states, and show you copies of the actual census forms 1790-1930. Lots of errors in censuses but they have great CLUES to where your ancestors lived and other info. depending on the year of the census. They can tell you: approximate age, occupation, marriage status, race, where born, where their parents were born, when immigrated, if they served in the military, if they were literate, etc. A must do for those searching in USA.

Lots of tutorials, free forms and helps on their website including a weekly free informative newsletter. Their maps are excellent also. Many different kinds of records are available and searchable including: vital records, court records, land, probate, books, military, newspapers and more. They have records of other countries here also-check it out. Some local LDS Family History Centers have free access to ANCESTRY. (Most local public libraries have a database called HERITAGE QUEST which will enable you to check the Federal censuses for FREE with only your library card # instead of relying on ANCESTRY.)

A great NEW feature on is FAMILY TREE which enables you to upload your family history information and post it for others to add to and for you to continue working on. The fun thing about this feature is it allows you to link VITAL RECORD certificates or CENSUS forms you discover on Ancestry with your ancestor then you can easily access it. You can also upload photos or GEDCOMS (genealogical data communication) files that can be shared between users of any of the software programs like PAF or Family Treemaker or Legacy. ANCESTRY has enabled me to find some Internet cousins of my husband's who had a ton of info and photos to share. If you're really serious about family history research ANCESTRY is well worth the money to have access to it 24/7. Then you know you are really addicted to GENEALOGY!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

It's time to get serious about Internet researching. I would suggest after trying a SEARCH ENGINE APPROACH to look at This site is sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (or the Mormons) who place great doctrinal emphasis on family history. The results of decades of genealogical research are available FREE to everyone on this website.  They also have a FREE download of PAF Personal Ancestral File 5.2, a software database for recording and sharing the results of your searching.

To start on this site, select one ancestor you are researching-someone deceased and type in as much as info as you know about them. Then click SEARCH and check out any hits you get for a match with your ancestor. (Record any results on your Research Log and print the new info out and attach to your log.) This website has a quite a collection of options for searching, lots of tutorials, research guidance, videos and links to help the beginning to advanced genealogists. Check it out. It's also a great place to find INTERNET COUSINS when you check for SUBMITTERS of the information here. Remember as always any information is only as accurate as the submitter who donated it. Check for documentation of the facts that are supplied. Have fun!

The goal of this website is to digitize and index ALL family history records in the WHOLE WORLD and make them available FREE online for anyone doing research. What an ambitious goal! Check out the results of this project as they are available to search at Also see for free research advice. Exciting developments are in process. You can help, volunteers are needed at familysearch

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Finding Internet Cousins

What is an INTERNET COUSIN? Someone somewhere in the world that you discover while surfing on the Internet that shares the same ancestor that you do. Usually it's not on your direct line but a descendent of a sibling of one of your great grandparents or further back. You may find a new cousin while using a SEARCH ENGINE to find info. on an ancestor or at other family history sites we'll discuss soon. Hopefully, the new cousin will have a current email address so you can contact him or her and start exchanging information about your common ancestor. I've had great success with AOL email addresses-people keep them forever.

Internet cousins have sent me photos, information and histories of shared ancestors that I didn't have. In turn, I've been able to send them via email or snail mail materials they wanted. In the year 2000, I was able to travel to Nauvoo, Illinois and meet an Internet cousin who was an experienced researcher through AOL's genealogy groups. (My real cousin Marion who is on AOL got me interested in this activity and gave me an email address of someone to contact named Luella.) Turns out Luella and I both worked in a family history center for our church, except she lived in Virginia and I lived in Utah. We decided to meet in Kansas City, Mo. and toured historic Mormon sites together in Missouri, Illinois and Iowa where our common ancestors lived. What a thrill that was! She is a dear friend now, only one of many Internet cousins I have discovered online. You may have unmet family members out there waiting to contact you.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Search Engines

Before you dive into the world of Internet surfing. You need to understand that everything that is on the Internet, isn't necessarily true or accurate. There are different types of records-PRIMARY and SECONDARY. Primary records are like birth certificates that were issued at or near the event and have an eye witness. Secondary records happen at a later a death certificate, obituary notice or funeral program that lists the birth date. It could be inaccurate. In fact, my husband's mother's funeral program has her wrong birth date. So it would be a secondary record for her birth and death. Her death certificate would be primary record for her death-it was issued near the time of death and is usually signed by an attending doctor. I've even seen some chiseled marble headstones with wrong information-very secondary. So be careful.

Any information you find can be a clue, but don't accept it as fact or true until you have checked it out or verified it with a primary record-if you can find one. Your aunt Matilda's memory may not be as reliable now that she is 89 years old and suffering from Alzheimers. She may have lots of home sources that can be helpful. You might put a ? by questionable info or list it as abt. 1873, if you're not sure. It's so easy to make errors sometimes just in typing in dates to the computer. So be careful and accurate. Making a TIMELINE of your ancestor's life can be helpful to know where they moved from year to year. It an aid to know where to search, and tells you more about their life and historical times. You can make your own form and fill it in.

Ready to try a GOOGLE SEARCH? There's are many search engines available. All you need is a few facts like your grand parents' or other older deceased relatives' names, birthdates and places, then you can do an Internet search. EXAMPLE: typing in "John Lemmon" 1780 NC will bring up any webpages with that exact name with the date and locality you've added. If I hadn't put in the "first name and last name" in quotes, the Internet would find all Johns and all Lemmons which would give me millions of people to sort through. Another way to type in an Internet Search would be "John Lemmon" (Abbott) 1780 NC. That gives another bit of info-(his wife's maiden name) or vice versa her info and his name in parenthesis. Play around with it and see what you find. Perhaps you'll uncover an INTERNET COUSIN or two that you didn't know. Write down and print out anything you find and add to your surname folder and Research Log. Have fun surfing the Internet.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Research Tips

After you're exhausted HOME SOURCES and not before, it's time to actually do RESEARCH. In the old days before the Internet, that meant traveling to the closest family history library or courthouse to search for VITAL RECORDS-birth, death and marriage records. Now with the Internet available all over the world, research is as close as your finger tips. You can search for your roots in your pjs and robe at 3 am on your home computer if you want to.

First of all, you need to decide WHICH line or surnames you are going to search. If you're looking for information in a certain LOCALITY, I would include all family maiden and married names of the siblings who lived in that same area. So if I were looking for my great grandpa Stevens family in Oakley, Utah, I would also check at the same time for his wife my great grandma Clara Wilkins' family plus the married surnames and maiden names of their children and their spouses-if you want their information also.

If you haven't gotten ORGANIZED before, now is the time. Remember those manila FOLDERS with surnames on them. Get out the approriate ones. In the main folder for the surnames Stevens/Wilkins I would put a RESEARCH LOG which is just a list of what you've searched for and the results in a folder to keep track of your discoveries. It's important to document where you found the information if you need to check it again. Soon it's time to try to fit the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle called genealogy together to form a complete picture of your family history.

After HOME SOURCES, I would start researching on the INTERNET before heading to a family history library or courthouse because some of those family records might just be online. Genealogy is getting easier by the day because of the Internet. All you need is a few facts like your grand parents' or other older relatives' names, birthdates and places then you can do a GOOGLE search-to be explained in more detail tomorrow.

HAPPY birthday today to my oldest son Frank and my friend Susi Q born on the same day!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Article #41 Family Vacations

Remember fun family vacations where you piled all the kids into the old jalopy, packed your camping gear, and headed off to some national park like Yellowstone? There were no freeways in those days plus the speed limit was probably 50 MPH; and it felt reckless to go that fast. No car air conditioning or dvd players or gps systems meant that your vacation was really an adventure in family togetherness. The kids brought books to read, crayons and coloring books to keep them busy when they weren’t playing travel games. Keeping them busy was the answer to avoiding family squabbles like…Joey’s sitting on my side of the car. There were no seat belts in those days to separate the young ‘uns. (That's me in a pioneer costume sitting on the hood of our old Hudson that took my widowed mom and me to California in 1950 to live.)

Games to pass away the miles included I spy. One person would pick out an object outside the car and describe it. The others would try to guess what it was. Like…I spy something that’s yellow and green. The other person would say Is it a cactus? If the object wasn’t guessed, the kids could ask more questions like… Is it alive? Whoever guessed correctly got to pick out something else and the game continued. Another activity was to find objects or signs or license plates with the letters of the alphabet starting with the letter A and so forth till you got through the alphabet. This was difficult to do when you were on a barren stretch of road with few billboards or passing cars with license plates.

When games lost their interest, there were always group singing like Oh Susannah or I’ve been working on the railroad. Listening to the car radio usually wasn’t an option in those days as car antennas weren’t that strong and there were few radio stations. In case everything else failed, there was always the rest stop which was usually a deserted place by the roadside with hopefully a bush or tree to hide behind. It gave the kids a chance to stretch their legs and run around outside the closed confines of the car. (Photo of the car we traveled back and forth to Utah from California with the Berg family to visit Grandma in the early 50s. I'm sitting in front on the left, Grandma is standing second from the left.)

Picnics were the order of the day as fast food restaurants were few and far between. Baloney sandwiches, chips, and bottled pop with cookies for dessert made for an inexpensive family meal spread out on a blanket at a roadside stop. The favorite question of the kids then as it is today when traveling was…Are we there yet?

Friday, February 6, 2009

Organizing your data

Get some manila file folders and label them with your family surnames. Organize materials: photos, notes, research, audio or video tape interviews as they come into this folders. Keep a list of those you contacted and who to contact next for more info. It's helpful to keep some kind of master log for each surname or group of family surnames that you are researching so you know what you've done. I call it a RESEARCH LOG and it goes in your manila folder with the materials you are gathering. There are many research logs online for free that can be used or you can make your own.

If you just write your data or information on little slips of paper and put them haphazardly in your pocket or purse, they will get lost or go through the laundry. I know I've done that. It helps to condense all your notes in one place and add a TO DO list when you stop working on a surname so next time you'll know where to pick up what you were doing last. Whether you're doing family history research on the Internet or just gathering materials for a biography, it helps to be organized as materials will pile up in stacks on your desk very quickly.

Of course having a computer software database program to keep track of all the names, dates, places and sources or documentation is very helpful. You can just do it with a pen and paper forms but the advantages of having it on a computer are amazing as your data multiplies and you trace your ancestors further back. There are many software choices available the easiest and cheapest (it's free) is PAF 5.2 or Personal Ancestral File available to download from

Or if you are interested in other commercial programs, there are many available to purchase. Some that are highly recommended by others are: Legacy, Family Treemaker, and Roots Magic. I use Reunion because it is one of the only ones available for Macintosh computers. There are many sites online available to teach you how to use these programs plus LDS family history centers available all over the world with volunteers available to help you with these programs and assist you in your research.

To start out just download the simplest forms: a pedigree chart to start your family tree, and a family group sheet which shows the parents of a family and all their children's information. Time to get organized and write down the information you are finding or input it in your computer.