Civl War Soldiers & Saliors System

I recently came across a new source for information on those who served in the civil war. It’s called the Civil War Soldiers & Sailors System. What I didn’t expect was to find that it wasn’t maintained by the National Archives, but rather the National Park System.  There was quite a lot of information that was available through different types of searches. I’ve mostly used the ‘Soldiers’ search function, but plan on spending some time looking through the cemeteries soon also.

As for the information it holds, Continue reading

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Cemetery “Data Mining”

Call it a method. Call it a resource. Whatever you call it, I’ve stumbled into something that is providing a wealth of information about non-direct line ancestors. Depending on the amount of information one has in their personal genealogy, I suppose this could shed light on direct line ancestors as well. Either way, I have the names and relationships of hundreds of new people I knew absolutely nothing about just a few weeks ago.

What is this wonderful new source of genealogical data? Essentially, it is cemetery transcriptions. I know this is nothing new. Cemetery transcriptions have been around for a long time and in fact I’ve used them for years. The difference (at least for me) is that I’ve started using them in a new way that I’m calling data mining.

In the past I’ve used transcriptions primarily from USGenWeb county sites.  I’ve started using Find A Grave a little more because it seems to have about the same information and I don’t have to jump across multiple sites to search it.  However, when I’ve used these sites, it’s primarily been to look for a particular person I’ve been working on.

While I was wrestling with a recent search, I only entered a surname.  What came back was a very long list of people, most with given names I didn’t recognize, all buried in the same cemetery.  I immediately thought, “these folks have got to all be related”.  After all, this was a small Missouri township with a current population of about 150.  At first, there were no real surprising revelations.  Husband & wife headstones didn’t reveal anything new for me and there were few other relationships that could be deciphered from the headstones alone.

This is when a new idea struck me.  I have headstone data that I will assume is mostly accurate.  If I enter this data into to an search, I’m likely to be able to start piecing together the puzzle. Analyzing the data in this way not only helped me to connect every single person with the surname I was originally searching, but a large portion of other surnames in that cemetery I would never have given a second thought.  Once a spouse’s maiden name was discovered, most, if not all, of the people with that surname would be connected as well.  Out of a total internment of 500, I went from know I was related to less than 10 to over 250.

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Exporting from to NFS

One of the biggest drawbacks to using New Family Search (NFS) for me has always been documenting information with sources. It is, without a doubt, the clunkiest part of the user interface in NFS. I started using NFS in 2008 when it became available in my area. At first I made a half-hearted attempt to document my info, but it was so cumbersome that, eventually, I just gave up. Continue reading

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52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History – Movies

When I was a kid my best friend and I used to go to the movies all the time…especially during the summer. The theater was in a very large outdoor shopping center Continue reading

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CamScanner – RootsTech

One of the RootsTech sessions I wish I could have attended was on genealogy apps for smartphones.  unfortunately, I was an ‘at home’ attendee.  Luckily, there was a very healthy twitter stream from those who were actually in attendance.  One type of app that came up was scanners for the phone.  I immediately went to the Android Market to see what I could find.  CamScanner was the standout of the options to me.  Continue reading

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Sunday’s Obituary

This is the obituary of my 2nd great grandmother.  When times get hard, I remember this statement from the end of the obit.

Her’s was a long and painful life and when the time came for her to say goodbye she was ready to go on the long journey.

The Dublin Progress, 28 Jan 1932
Burch Rites Held Here on Thursday

Mrs. Louella Jochlyn Burch died at the home of her daughter, Mrs. J.G. McCune at 6:30 o’clock Wed. morning Jan. 26. Continue reading

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Geotagging with Google Maps

Even though I couldn’t attend RootsTech, I was inspired with several great ideas for family history.  One was using Google Maps to geotag family history locations and then share it with my family. It’s really simple to set up and especially easy to use with your GPS enabled phone. Continue reading

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Iowa Graves Registration


Iowa headstone

Transcribed courtesy of the WPA

I have quite a number of ancestors that lived in the Davenport area along the Mississippi River through the late 1800’s.  About half of them have been really easy to find. The other half…

A very useful resource for researching in Iowa is the Graves Registration project.  During the great depression there were many government work projects meant to get people back to work and the economy going again.  While historians can debate whether this worked or not, the rest of us are left with a wonderful index of nearly every grave in Iowa. Before you despair that Ancestry has co-opted this source into a pay only database, here is the link where you can access all the info for free.

The WPA (Works Progress Administration) was created in 1935 and existed until 1943. It was one of FDR’s many ‘alphabet soup’ agencies designed to put people to work during the depression.  One unit of the WPA was the Historical Records Survey.  This group largely did work for the National Archives as well as some state archives.  It is also the group responsible for the Iowa Graves Registration. Iowa graves were surveyed in the late 1930’s and since then that work has been indexed, microfilmed, and made available on the internet.

Iowa, of course, was not the only state where these grave surveys occurred.  They were also done in South Dakota (discussed on Dear MYRTLE’s blog here), Kentucky, and Delaware just to name a few.  The picture to the right is an example of the information your research might return.  I especially like the ability to comment at the Iowa site.  It gave me the opportunity to connect with a very distant cousin.  What might you find?  Try the Iowa site or check with your state USGenWeb project to see what other states also have these records.

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Prepping to teach FamilySearch/New FamilySearch class

I’m finalizing my preparation for a class I’m teaching this weekend on NFS & FamilySearch.  Had a great turnout last month and hoping for another good group.  I love helping people discover features that are less than obvious within the system to help them be more productive in their research.

I’m also finalizing a new post on how to move source citations from an Ancestry family tree into NFS.  Hope to post this weekend.

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FamilySearch YouTube Channel

Another great find from those tweeting at Rootstech.   FamilySearch has it’s own YouTube channel.  From the videos they’ve got posted, it looks like they just started posting in Oct 2010, but more than half were posted in 2011.

You can find them here.  Check it out.

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