Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Census and Family History

Every 10 years the United States Government takes a census used to allocate Congressional seats ("congressional apportionment"), electoral votes, and government program funding. The census is mandated by the Constitution.

Start with the 1930 census and follow your ancestors back in time through the censuses. has the censuses online with the option to view the original page and copy it for your records (highly recommend taking a copy of the information and placing it in your filing system; also highly recommend using a research record that records where, when, and all the information needed to find the record again).

The first census was taken in 1790. The records for Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, New Jersey, and Virginia went missing sometime before 1830. Below is a list of the information available in this census.

Columns - left to right
1. Name of head of family
2. # of free white males 16 & up including heads of families
3. # of free white males under 16
4. # of free white females including heads of families
5. # of all other free persons except Indians not taxed
6. # of slaves

The 1800 census isn't complete as well. The records for Georgia, Kentucky, New Jersey, Tennessee, and Virginia were destroyed.

Columns - left to right
1. Name of the head of family
2. # of free white males under age 10
3. # of free white males age 10-16
4. # of free white males age 16-26
5. # of free white males age 26-45
6. # of free white males over age 45
7. # of free white females under age 10
8. # of free white females age 10-16
9. # of free white females age 16-26
10. # of free white females age 26-45
11. # of free white females over age 45
12. # of all other free persons
13. # of slaves

The 1810 census included Louisiana, but the records for the District of Columbia, Georgia, and New Jersey were destroyed. This census gives the same information as the 1800 census. The census for 1820 through 1840 gives the same information. The article, Clues in Census Records, 1790-1840, outlines what you can learn from these censuses with examples. The article, Clues in Census Records, 1850-1930, outlines what you can learn from these censuses. They also have articles on Nonpopulation Census Records, 1935 Census of Business Roll Lists, Indian Census Rolls, 1885-1940, and more.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

The 1890 census was the first to be compiled on a tabulating machine, developed by Herman Hollerith. This introduction of technology reduced the time taken to tabulate the census from seven years for the 1880 census to two and a half years for the 1890 census.

The logistical difficulties in compiling the census drove computing technology for the next fifty years until computers became widespread in industry. IBM's first electronic computer was created primarily to deal with the needs of the census in addition to military and academic uses.

This census is one of the three for which the original data is no longer available. Almost all the population schedules were destroyed in a fire in 1921. The Other Censuses that have lost almost all information were the 1800 and 1810 enumerations.

The census is a great tool, but the information can have errors. The information given to the census taker might be wrong either by mistake or intentionally. The census taker could misunderstand what was said and enter misinformation. My husband's great grandfather on his father's mother's side is a case in point. He went by the name Perry and in one of the censuses they had him listed as Harry. Investigate different spellings of the surname, too. I've seen the same person listed as Slater, Slafter, and Slaughter.

Happy hunting
Dale L. Edwards

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Blog for Money

You can make money online. will pay you to write in your blog. Sounds too good to be true, doesn't it, but it is true. will pay you each week, through Pay Pal, to write in your blog.

The popularity of your Blog is important. Qualify for Blogitive’s program by submitting your blog into RSS Syndication sites like, commenting on other people's blogs, submitting to blog directories, and asking friends to add you to their blogroll. Once your Blog qualifies, you can participate in Blogitive’s web release program and start making money online. You will usually make $5 per post. There are people who are making $1000 a week with Blogitive, but they have multiple blogs. You can submit as many blogs as you want to as long as they meet Blogitive's requirements.

This is just one way to make money with Two new programs will launch soon - NewsNerve and Ghost Writing. NewsNerve is a service that will display relevant syndicated news headlines and allow you to earn money from every click that your visitors make. Ghost Writing doesn't require a blog, just good writing.

Blogitive will roll out more ways to make money as they come off the drawing board and implemented.

Filing Systems

I think there are as many ways to set up your filing system as there are people doing genealogy. I'm going to detail just a couple.

1. The one I started out with used file folders, numbered documents, a master sheet, and family group sheets in a binder. This was a very awkward system that took up a lot of time to keep it current. I don't recommend it, but it is one that many people use.

2. Another method uses manila envelopes, one for each direct ancestor family, or in other words, John Doe's family envelope would include all the information you have on his children and their descendents except for your direct ancestor and their family would be in another envelope with all the children and their descendents except your direct ancestor. In these envelopes you keep not only the family group sheets for the married couple, but for their children that married except for your direct ancestor. Also in these envelopes you would keep the documents that deal directly with that family. You could end up with several envelopes with John Doe's name numbered 1-whatever. There is also the problem that sometimes you have information that should be in more than one envelope. When that happens put a page in the envelope that directs you to the envelope containing the document.

3. Another method requires 3 ring binders and page protectors. Everything goes in the binders except your research logs. Start with 4 binders and expand as the binders become over crowded.

I would look into other methods you can find on the internet and decide which one will work best for you. I am still deciding how I want to organize my stuff. I lost most of my documentation when we moved and I've got to go back and try to reconstruct it.

Dale L. Edwards


Sounds like work, doesn't it? Very important work, but still work. It isn't nearly as much fun as searching for your ancestors, but a necessary evil. Without good documentation a researcher ends up going around in circles because it's very possible without documentation to research the same documents many times and never move on to other possiblilities. When you share information, the recipient would like to know where you got the information, in other words what was the source of the information and is it a primary or secondary source. It makes quite a bit of difference whether the source is primary or secondary. Primary records are vital records or records directly from the subject. Everything else is a secondary source.

Some kind of filing system is necessary, when I just started out I didn't realize the amount of paper you accumulate when doing genealogy. Photo copies are the best way to copy the information from your sources because hand written notes are prone to errors. The information about where, what, and who are best kept in a research log that lists the depository (library, ect.), name of the source (use the same criteria used in term paper documentation), name of the subject (John Doe), and the page number and any other information you feel you need to keep from going in circles, and this record is hand written. I suppose you could type it out when you get home, but I don't think it's necessary.

Dale L. Edwards

Silver and Gold

Monex Deposit Company (MDC) have been America's gold, silver and precious metals investment leader for the past 30 years, and prides itself on having the best United States silver coin prices and programs in the silver coin industry. A large and dedicated staff of hard asset professionals are committed to serving your precious metals investment needs. Offering a convenient market with competitive precious metals prices.

Since 1990 world demand for silver has exceeded annual production. Above ground stockpiles of silver bullion are low and shrinking rapidly. The U.S. government - once the largest stockpiler of silver on the planet - has dumped billions and billions of ounces of silver bars onto the world market since WWII, effectively depressing the silver price. Today the U.S. government is buying silver because the government stockpiles of silver are gone.

For centuries gold has been the best way to preserve wealth. Throughout history man has had an affinity for gold boullion. Today, the beauty of a gold bar lies in its proven ability to diversify investments, protect wealth and preserve one's purchasing power.

Silver and gold are available as coins and ingots.

Family History First Steps

Step 1
Fill out a pedigree chart to the best of your ability. You can download these forms from the internet.

Step 2
Contact older relatives to try to fill in information that is missing on your pedigree chart. Get as much information on your family as you can from these precious resourses because they won't be around forever. I have a friend that asked her grandmother for help with her genealogy and her grandmother said she would, but she died during the night. They will be so happy to talk to you about their past and the people they knew long ago. Try to tape them if at all possible for two reasons. The first is so you can go back and make sure you get the information right and the other is the priceless recording you make of your relative's voice.

Step 3
Now the fun begins. Decide which line you want to follow and begin looking for information on that line. I suggest taking what you know and searching for your names on This is a free site and many people have added their genealogy to the site. You can contact the people who have submitted the information through e-mail. Their e-mail address is with the information in a grayed out area that is hard to read.
Another good place to start is and if you are having problems a Family History Center is a good place to go ask questions. There is a Family History Center locator on the website. They have some good how-to information and aids on the site. is also good, but isn't free. You can join for $10 a month.

Step 4
Document EVERYTHING. Keep a record of where you've searched so you don't keep searching the same records for the same information. I'll go into documentation in more detail in another post.

Just keep following leads, and when you come to a dead end for the moment with the first line you chose, start with your next line.

Good luck with your hunt.
Dale L. Edwards

Family Search

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been redoing their website and Family Search is also getting a new face lift. If you haven't been there in a while, you might want to take a look.

New resources for African American research are available. They have added an indepth guide to African American research available on the website. They are planning on adding audio and video from the recent AAHGS (Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society) conference.

Presentations include:

  1. Dr. Quintard Taylor, Jr., Author and Professor of American History, University of Washington Presentation: Roots West: African American History in the Trans-Mississippi West

  2. Mary Hill, Author and accredited genealogist for Southern and Eastern States Presentation: Finding Records of Your Ancestors: 1870 to Present

  3. Beth Wilson, Retired reference librarian for land records, African-American genealogy, and documentation research Presentation: Trails Back: Tracing Ancestors in Slavery through Census, Probate, and Land Research

  4. Dr. Spencer Crew, Director of the National Museum of American History, Washington, D.C. Presentation: National Underground Railroad Freedom Center: Activities and Accomplishments

  5. Angela Walton Raji, Author and avid African–Native American genealogist Presentation: Beyond the Dawes Rolls: Black Indian Ancestry East of the Mississippi

  6. Adele Marcum, Professional genealogist and content specialist Presentation: Where Should I Start? Beginning Research on

  7. Howard Dodson, Chief, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at the New York Public Library Presentation: To be announced

I hope this helps those who are looking for their African American heritage.

Dale L. Edwards

College on the Internet

Capella University, an accredited online university offering graduate degree programs in business, information technology, education, human services, and psychology was founded in 1993. This distance learning mba is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, and they are also a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, located at 30 N. LaSalle Street, Suite 2400, Chicago, IL 60602-2504.

The university also offers bachelor degrees in business and information technology. They offer 76 graduate and undergraduate specializations and 16 certificate specializations. At this time they serve 16,000 students located in all 50 states as well as 63 countries. As a national leader in online education, Capella is committed to academic excellence.

Capella University is a subsidiary of the Capella Education Company headquartered in Minneapolis.

Still Here

I need to apologize to my readers because I haven't been writing in my blog. I have no excuse, I just have been busy doing other things. Until I started looking at the dates of my last posts, I didn't realize how long it had been since I last posted. I've got to find a way to earn income and I had been trying to do that with my blogs and writing. I think you have noticed some posts that are basically advertisements for other companies in the blog. I've tried to make the advertisements interesting and relate to the blog's subject matter, but I feel that some of the posts were a reach. I still need to do these advertisements, but I will give you a heads up. If I see a way to slant them toward family history, I will, but some of them just don't slant very well.

The next 3 posts I'm doing are for Blogitive, which pays me to put their ads in my posts. If you are interested in doing this, you can go to and submit your blog to run these advertisements. They pay weekly, and they are very good about paying, it's first come first served to get the assignments, so you have to keep a close eye on their site, but it's worth it.

I will get back to family history very soon.

Dale L. Edwards

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Creative Pre-Wedding Pictures

A wedding is a huge event in our lives when someone close to us gets married, and I, for one, want spectacular pictures of the events leading up to the wedding. While the wedding is the main event the rehearsal and the dinner the night before the wedding will hold good memories, too, and you'll want to record these events.

To get spectacular pictures, I, if no one else, need to plan the event around the kind of pictures I want to take. The wedding camera shots of the wedding dinner the night before need to be carefully planned to make sure we get the type of shots we want, and to be sure everyone has a good time. This includes the children; be sure to include them in your planning. Stuffy formal sitdown dinners the night before the wedding are a thing of the past. Be creative when you plan the dinner.

Unless you and everyone else in your family know the members of your soon to be in-laws, the dinner is a good place for everyone to get acquainted. A bar-b-que in your backyard would be one way to get everyone to mingle and get to know each other. If you're going to an exotic place on your honeymoon like an island in the South Pacific, or Paris, France, use that as a basis for your theme. How about an excursion to a sports event since usually stadiums have group rates. These are just ideas. What do the couple like to do? That could be a basis for a theme for the dinner. Be sure to ask what the other family doesn't like to do and avoid that activity. We're trying to have fun, not put someone's nose out of joint.

The children at the dinner could have their own table covered with butcher paper with crayons for each child. They can then enjoy coloring on their tablecloth, and it keeps them busy. Usually there some children that don't want to color and you will need to plan an activity (or several) for the children. Make sure there is child friendly food for the children. There's nothing worse than a hungry or bored child. Feed and entertain them to keep the party running smoothly.

The wedding and honeymoon are over. You've finally gotten the pictures you've taken of the wedding events back. Now is the time to make sure you have a record, using a pencil, on the back of each picture, of the name of every subject in that picture. My husband inherited a box of pictures; his grandparents are all deceased, his mother and father are deceased, his older brother and sister are deceased, and he has no idea who some of these people are in the pictures. It's very important to do this as soon as possible.

All pictures should have the names of the subjects listed on the back in pencil, not pen. A pen can ruin the picture.

Dale L. Edwards

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Graduate Degrees

Capella University is a distance learning institution that was founded in 1993 and is a subsidiary of Capella Education Company located in Minneapolis, WI. They offer graduate degrees in business, information technology, education, human services, and psychology and bachelors degree programs in business and information technology. They offer 76 graduate and undergraduate specializations within these areas and 16 certificates.

Currently they service 16,000 students from all 50 states and 63 countries. Capella is a national leader in online education. They are committed to providing high-quality accademic excellence.

Education is very important, and taking classes over the internet is a good way to learn. We can learn at our own pace, and not have to be at school at a set time.

Dale L. Edwards

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Heraldry - A Language All It's Own

In the Middle Ages the practice of heraldry had a very important purpose on the field of battle and in jousts. When a man was covered in armor from the top of his head to the tips of his toes, heraldry identified the knights. The art of designing, displaying, describing, and recording each coat of arms became very important when the nobility took up heraldry and the coats of arms became inherited. The coat of arms was worn by all male descendents of the House. In some countries every male descendent wore the exact same coat of arms, but in other countries the arms were changed slightly for each son, and others could tell at a glance whether the knight was the noble himself, his brother and which brother, his heir, his nephew, or his 6th son. At this time in history most of the people were illiterate, even the nobility.

We don't really understand the language of heraldry any more. Each part of a coat of arms told others something about the man who was wearing that coat of arms. The following terms and short definitions are just a sampling of the unfamiliar words dealing with heraldry.

  • Cadency - any systematic way of distinguishing members of the same family
  • Herald - an officer of arms that carries messages and proclamations
  • Tincture - colors used in the coat of arms
  • Blazon - a formal description of a coat of arms or flag
  • Lozenge - a diamond shaped charge
  • Charge - an image on a sheild
  • Ordinary - a simple geometric figure on the arms
  • Aspilogia - armory

There are many more words associated with heraldry that are unique to heraldry or are used in ways most of us have never heard before. In the United States we use the word crest to mean a coat of arms, but the crest is only part of a complete acheivement of arms. A complete acheivement of arms is another way of saying coat of arms.

I have just scratched the surface of heraldry. Many people have spent many years studying heraldry. It has a very complex set of rules. Before I started reading I didn't realize women and clergy can have coats of arms of their own. After knights no longer wore armor, the coats of arms were used in stained glass, sealing wax, needlework, and other depictions of the coat of arms.

Dale L. Edwards

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Generating Income with Family History

Back in June my husband's back finally gave out and he has been unable to work since the last of October. The plan was for me to get a job and bring in enough to supplement his service retirement check. I started looking, but my GERD got totally out of hand and I realized that every time I went to work my stomach would start giving me fits to the point there were times I had to leave work. The more I thought about needing to find a job the worse my stomach got. Almost 2 months ago I started looking for something I could do at home and bring in extra money. I discovered blogging and Google AdSense. I realized I could use my love for genealogy and my love of writing together with Google AdSense and maybe make enough to keep us going until my husband officially retires in 2 years.

I did a little, well, actually I've been doing a lot of research on different ways to generate income from the blogs (I have 3 main blogs) and family history. I found out that Family History is a big business now and many people are earning income from their passion for family history. According to a telephone survey, about 60% of the United States population is engaged in genealogy, and genealogy has become the number one hobby in the United States. On the Internet you can find 7.2 million hits for "genealogy" and 1.8 million hits for "family history."

This is great, but my AdSense wasn't going anywhere and I needed to give it time to grow, so I looked into affiliate programs, and I have 3 companies I'm affiliated with. Still not getting much of anywhere, and as you can tell I get impatient.

One day I was in the forum (Work At Home Moms) and discovered a way to actually make some money while I write my blogs. Actually get paid after I write my post. Last week I earned $20, and the only thing holding me back is landing assignments. Go ahead and check out Bloggitive and Blogsvertise see what you think of their programs.

I haven't stopped looking for ways to bring in income because $20 a week really isn't enough to take up the slack. So, I have continued to look for ways for me to bring in more income doing the things I really like to do such as genealogy and writing. I came accross Helium Knowledge. It's a site where those who like to write can make some money and indulge their love of words and knowledge.

In the beginning I looked into paid surveys, mystery shopping, reading e-mails, ect. They just weren't programs I could work with, but there are people who make them work and are able to earn a living from those programs.

I've done party plans before, and I enjoyed it, but for some reason (probably because I spent too much money on my own wares) I couldn't make money at them. I looked at some party plans on the net and thought about it, but decided that although others could make money that way, I would be unlikely to do so myself.

I'm still looking and thinking. Earning that $20 has given me hope that with hard work I'll be able to make these programs work for me.

Dale L. Edwards

Friday, August 25, 2006

Court Records for Familly History

Court records, property records, and vital records are considered primary records and are a good source of information about our ancestors. There are many different kinds of court and vital records. We all know how important vital records are, well court records and land records are just as important as vital records. Wouldn't you like to know what kind of property your ancestors owned? How about a will for that ancestor you've been looking for? Did your ancestor sue anyone? Was there someone who sued him? These are all questions that can be answered by court and land records.

Before we can search the court and land records we need to know where your ancestor was born, where he lived, and where he died. To get this type of information we start with the census. Preferrably start with a census that has a soundex index, not all censuses are indexed. The 1880 census is online at the Family Search site. has most if not all of the censuses online, but you need to be a member to use their records. If you can afford to do this it's well worth it. Start with the location you know farthest back in time. In other words, if you know where your grandfather was born, but don't know where his parents were born,that would be the first location you would start searching for records.

Now, if the court record was historically important, you'll find much more information on it than if the proceedings were a common everyday occurance law suit. As an example lets take the story of a woman who was widowed in the 9/11 attack. I'm sure you've heard about the September 11th Victims Compensation Fund which was created for those who lost loved ones in the attack. She hired a lawyer to help her make her claim. The way the fund was set up lawyers weren't supposed to charge the families of the victims for their help, or at least not gouge them. The lawyer she hired filed a suit in a federal court for $2M to cover his fees for representing her. She has hired Simmons Jannace & Stagg to defend her against the lawsuit. Her lawyers argued the Compensation Fund didn't give the federal court jurisdiction over a dispute between the lawyer and his client and the federal court agreed to abstain until if and when the state court finished its investigation into the lawyer's fees. This is a benchmark case because the federal court abstained from exercising their jurisdiction while the state court tried their case. I have a feeling that alot of papers and articles are going to be written about this case before its conclusion. Which will be good for genealogists who come along later looking for information about their relatives.

I have a colleague that reasearches each person in her line extensively and has umpteen spiral binders, not the little ones, either, but the big 2" to 3 " binders packed with information on the individuals she has researched. Those binders are a personal history all by themselves. Anything she can find with the ancestor's name on it she copies and puts in a sheet protector
to place in her binder for that family. Wouldn't it be something to come accross a binder like that with your greatgrandparents information?

Legal papers are primary source materials. Even legal documents can have errors, but if you find the same information in several different places, you can be pretty sure you have the right information, unless they all copied from the incorrect original.

Questions and comments are very welcome. Hope this helps you in your search for your ancestors.

Dale L. Edwards

Monday, August 21, 2006

Google Accessible Search Engine

I found a search engine that I really like. It's called Google's Accessible Search and is in beta testing right now. Accessible uses Google's PageRank system and added an evaluation to determine how easy the web page is to use. This is a great step forward because Google has shown the ability to link PageRank to accessibility, and will make Accessible Search much more useful to a wider range of people.

I found the results interesting when I used the search term "family history," because Accessible returned no American website on the first page. The Cleveland Family History Society was #2 on the second page with 2 more before the end of the page. Google has no international on the first return page and only 2 international sites on the second page.

"Flowers" was the next search term I used, and again I found that Accessible had more international results (Google had none on the first page). Only 3 American companies showed up on the first page and a company from the UK had the first position.

Why is the difference so great between the two search engines? Accessible searches for sites that use Web Standards, and are in compliance with Web Accessibility Guidelines. In fact I learned that 2 of the 3 American companies on Accessible's "flowers" first return page used the same search engine marketing firm.

The next search term I used was "online marketing" and both Google and Accessible had USWeb as #1 on the first return page. I used "Internet marketing" as my next search term and USWeb was #2 on Accessible and #8 on Google.

It would make a lot of sense for Google to use these guidelines in their main search engine. A website that uses Accessible Search Guidelines is using a road map to a better site. When I am looking for a search engine marketing firm, USWeb's track record makes it the one I would choose.

Governement and education websites already comply with the Accessible Search Guidelines.

The link to a site that explains the guidelines is in the Link section to the right along with the link to Accessible Search. Go ahead and try it out and compare the two search engines.

Dale L. Edwards

Friday, August 18, 2006 and Family History is stuffed with interesting links and articles on genealogy. They have articles on how to get started, what to look for in a cemetery, how to find information about your ancestor in the military, even how to do a tombstone rubbing, and many more.

Here are some links inside with interesting articles and links:

Genealogy Conferences and Events
Links and information for some of the largest and best known conferences and events in genealogy.

Genealogy Blogs - Family History News & Web Logs on the Internet
Stay current with the world of online genealogy with these fun and interesting genealogy blogs.

About Genealogy A-Z - Family Tree Resources by Topic and Location
Find the genealogy resources you need fast with this A-Z directory of family tree resources, organized alphabetically by topic.

Genealogy Software Reviews, Ratings & Comparisons - Family Tree Software Reviews
Check out this great assortment of genealogy software reviews and ratings.

Genealogical and Historical Societies
Learn more about or join one of these well-respected genealogical organizations

Genealogy Clipart & Graphics - Family Tree Art for Websites and Family History Books
Looking for graphics for your personal genealogy Web site or a family history book, newsletter or project?

Genealogy Search - Tips and Strategies for Genealogy Search
Learn how to find your family tree on the Internet with these tips for advanced genealogy searching.

Genealogy Hoaxes Scams Myths and Frauds - Protecting Yourself From Genealogy Schemes
Learn to protect yourself with these links to common genealogy scams, hoaxes, frauds and myths including fake coat of arms, phony inheritance and estate scams, fraudulent genealogy software and services, misleading family surname books and more.

This is just a sampling of what you can find at There are no surname lists here. They give you links to sites that do have surname lists and many other sites that are interesting to genealogists.

Happy hunting,
Dale L. Edwards

Friday, August 11, 2006

Family Tree Magazine

Family Tree Magazine's website is a wealth of information. They have some of the best free genealogy forms I've seen. I found this site when I was looking for free genealogy forms online. At the Homepage you can Subscribe, Renew your subscription, give the magazine as a Gift, access the Tool Kit, Article Archive, Marketplace, Current Issue, Back Issues, Special Issues, and the Bookstore. There is even a pop-up offering a free copy of the Family Tree Magazine.

The Tool Kit Page

This page includes links to:

Ethnic Tools
Includes web sites, books, organizations, other resources, and essential tips to help you explore your ethnic heritage. Presently there are 42 ethnic toolkits ranging from African-American to Welsh. There are more being added all the time.

Web Exclusive
This information isn't available in their Family Tree Magazine. You can submit your unidentified photographs to a noted genealogist specializing in photograph identification. Browse photographs already examined. Index of questions others have asked with the answers. Don't find the answer you're looking for, send in your question to receive and answer. Nancy Hendrickson of supplies new and helpful ways to do your online genealogy research. Included is access to her prior columns. You can check to see if Family History Tree Experts are coming to your area, and when they will arrive. They have a Site of the Day featuring a site their experts pick as an informative and well-designed site with archives.

Download Forms
Family Tree Magazine's free genealogical forms will help you organize and access your research, and are available in PDF format as well as text format. They have forms for general research, people or families, census, tombstones and artifacts, books, and articles.

The Bookstore
Carries Betterway Books. Subjects are, Start your research right, Computer-based genealogy, Create a written legacy, Keeping in touch with the family, Fascinating details from every era, Discovering your Ancestors series, and Scrapbooking. A different book is featured each week.

Soundex Generator
The Soundex Generator converts surnames into the soundex code. The soundex is a way to find your ancestors even if they are spelled differently from what you're looking for. Lets take 3 variations of Growel, the way my maternal grandfather spelled the name; Growel, Growell, and Growl. Growel comes out G-640, Growell is also G-640, and Growl also comes out as G-640. I can just hear you asking yourselves, why on earth would I want to do that? Well, this code is used in the later census indexes to help find our ancestors. As another example, lets say Janzen is recorded as Johnson because the town clerk doesn't speak German, and the German father doesn't speak, read, or understand English. So, we're looking for Johnson, because that is now our family's legal name. Do you think we'll find the family? This is where the soundex comes in because Janzen and Johnson both have a code of J-525. Try it for yourself.

Resource Guide
The Resource Guide Supersearch is designed to help you find the answers to genealogy questions.

Writing Workshops
Fundamentals of Lifestories Writing and Focus on the Personal/Family Memoir are workshops presented online to work on whenever you have the time.

Family Tree News
The Family Tree News Service is a wire service that sends free e-mails with genealogy news.

Free e-mail newsletter.

Not everything on Family Tree Magazine website is free, but there is loads of free stuff here. You can spend many hours mining this site for all its nuggets. They are also continually adding content, so we won't be done with this site any time soon.

Dale L. Edwards

Monday, August 07, 2006

RootsWeb Resources

RootsWeb is a free site. When going into the site, an ad shows up that will take you to, which supports RootsWeb. and is not free. If you want to use RootsWeb, scroll down to the list of links they have further down the page, or if you want to search the family trees click on Family Trees in the top menu.

Getting Started

Getting Started at RootsWeb is an overview of the services available at RootsWeb.

Ancestry Tour gives information about This link also connects with their free trial offer. The free trial is for 14 days.

RootsWeb Review Archives is a data base of all the editions of the newsletter from 1998 to 2006.

Subscribe takes you to the Newsletter Management Center. You can subscribe to their free newsletters and search the archives.

What's New is a list of all new databases added to RootsWeb.

Search Engines and Databases

Search the RSL DataBase includes adding and editing your surnames, problem solving as well as a place to search for surnames.

SearchThingy is just that, a place to go to search in RootsWeb.

Social Security Death Index is a place to search for SS numbers for your deceased relatives that had a SS number. The Railroad Retirement is also included. If you don't find your relative in the database it's probably because they didn't have a SS number or there was no claim made against the account.

Town Search takes you to a place to search for town record databases.

USGenWeb Archives searches all the USGenWeb archives.

Index of all Search Engines and Databases is just what it says it is.

Family Trees (WorldConnect) is your entry into the family trees where you can search, add your genealogy, edit your files, connect with others researching your line, add comments by way of post-its, and learn the history of WorldConnect.

Mailing Lists Index is a way to browse all the lists that are available.

Requests for Mailing Lists Don't see a list you'd like to belong to? Here is where you can request a new list start and adopt an old list if there is one adoptable for what you want. Gives you the rules and responsibilities of a list administrator.

Message Board Homepage contains a way to search or browse the lisings.

Requests for Message Boards requests sign-in before using.

Research Templates

They have search areas for surnames, USA, countries, and a plact to link your site to RootsWeb.


Register your website at RootsWeb gives you a way to link your website to RootsWeb.

Free website at RootsWeb, to apply fill out this form.

This is just a sampling of what you can find at RootsWeb. I can spend hours at this site and just scratch the surface.

Dale L. Edwards

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Geography and Genealogy

Geography can play an important role in genealogical research. A little geographical knowledge about the places where your ancestors lived can be important in tracking your ancestor. Knowing something about the region can lead us to ask questions we wouldn't ask if we have no idea how the places in our ancestors lives are related. When we know where a town is located in its county, we have clues to their lives not found in most genealogical record sources. It's always possible to encounter a research question that can't be answered by the normal sources and can only be answered by a geographical clue.

Very few beginning, or even more experienced, genealogists will know enough about the geography of a region they've never lived in or visited to understand the importance of a geographical clue we might trip over. Asking questions about the geography of a place is an important part of research. If you don't have access to someone who has lived in the area all their life, geography books and maps of the regions are helpful.

Details, such as where they went to church, which cemetery they used to bury their dead, how and where they took their crops to market, and which rivers and trails were commonly used for migration, can give you clues to the identity of your ancestor. Studying the history and geography of a region are important to get a feel for the region. When was the county formed? Is there a closer town in another county where they might have sold their goods? If they were farmers, where is the closest grain elevator to their farm? If he was a blacksmith, did he travel around to ply his trade, or did the business come to him? I'm sure you can think of dozens more questions to answer if you think about it.

This is a hypothetical situation. The time is now:

Joseph Ridell and his wife, Elizabeth, are our research subjects. He was born 2 Jul 1849 in Seneca County, Ohio; died 10 Jan 1901, in Clyde, Ohio. We don't know where he was buried. Elizabeth wrote a letter to their daughter, Ruth Hutchins. Ruth is the researcher's grandmother. The envelope was missing from the letter, so there was no way to know what the subject's home address was at the time.

The letter went on to say that Joseph had gone into Clyde for supplies (this tells us he didn't live in Clyde, but probably pretty close), and he had dropped over dead of a heart attack. Elizabeth asked Ruth if she could come to live with her family in Upper Sandusky, Ohio. We don't know if she came to live with Ruth and her family. The researcher did learn Ruth was born 10 Feb 1880 in Seneca County, Ohio; died 30 Nov 1966, in Sandusky County, Ohio. These dates were found in Elizabeth's obituary published in The Fremont News Messenger. Plans for interment we not decided upon at the time the obituary ran in the paper. There was no other reference to where she would be buried in any subsequent issues of the newspaper.

We know the researcher's father was born in Saginaw, Michigan on 6 Oct 1905, died in Saginaw, and buried there not far from the researcher's grandparents. The researcher has lived in Saginaw all his life and has never visited Ohio.

The question is, where are Joseph and Elizabeth buried? Now, we know all the important dates and could stop here. But this researcher wanted to know everything he could find out about Joseph and Elizabeth, so he decided to examine the geography closer.

The researcher knew Joseph had died in Clyde, Ohio, but had no idea what county Clyde might be in. He knew his grandparents lived in Upper Sandusky, Ohio, and moved up to Saginaw, Michigan before 15 Aug 1901, since an aunt had been born in Saginaw on that date. Both Joseph and Elizabeth was born in Seneca County, Ohio. Elizabeth died in Sandusky County, Ohio. Is Upper Sandusky in Sandusky County?

Our researcher takes a trip to the library. There, he found maps that told him how the counties relate to each other. All three are fairly close together, but Sandusky and Wyandot don't have a common border, Seneca is between them. Fremont is the county seat of Sandusky county, and Tiffin is the county seat of Seneca county. He decides to concentrate on these two counties for now.

They were both born in Seneca County, so our researcher investigated the Tiffin Adviser Tribune. There he found not only Joseph's obituary, but also Elizabeth's obituary. In the obituaries were Elizabeth's maiden name, the names of their 6 children, their places of residence, and number of grandchildren, but still no place where they were buried. Elizabeth's obituary mentioned she had been a life-long member of the Adams Lutheran Church, but no location for the church.

The researcher decided to investigate Seneca County first since they were both born in Seneca county. Searching, he found the Adams Lutheran Church in Adams Twp., Seneca county, Ohio. Now the church is known as the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. The Adams Lutheran Cemetery, which is located on the south side of the church, is the location of the subjects' burial.

There are still many questions that could be answered by property records, vital records, and ect. My purpose with this exercise was to create interest in geographical research. We still haven't found the address the subjects were living at the time of Joseph's death. (Joseph, Elizabeth, ect. are fiction, they do not exist; I am familiar with Adams Twp., Seneca, Ohio).

Have fun with your geographical research.

Dale L. Edwards

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Determining Relationships

When two people have one or more ancestors in common, they are related. The number of generations separating them determines their relationship. The children of two siblings have the same grandparents. They are also first cousins (1c). A cousin is the child of an aunt or uncle. In earlier times a cousin could be a kinsman, close relative, or friend. A kinsman could be either a male relative, or a man sharing the same racial, cultural, or national background as another. A grandparent is the parent of one's mother or father; a grandmother or grandfather.

The children of first cousins are second cousins (2c). The relationships start getting tricky at this point. A first cousin is a first cousin once removed (1c1r) to the child of their first cousin. Removed is the number of generation(s) separating two people. If they are separated by 3 generations, they are 1c3r. A second cousin is separated by 3 generations from a younger relative. That makes them 2c3r. I find this all very confusing, so here is a link to an interactive relationship chart.

As an example we'll examine the relationship between Prince Charles and Princess Diana. Princess Diana is 12 generations from James I, King of England (James VI, King of Scotland). Prince Charles and King James are 13 generations apart. The first generation after James is a brother-sister relationship. Princess Diana is 11 generations removed while Prince Charles is 12 generations removed. This makes Diana an 11th cousin once removed (11c1r) of her husband.

Prince Charles, Princess Diana, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Gerald R. Ford are related to Edward III. This is a chart of their relationship:

Prince Charles and Tomas Jefferson are 13c8r
Prince Charles and James Madison are 17c4r
Prince Charles and Gerald R. Ford are 19c2r
Princess Diana and Thomas Jefferson are 13c7r
Princess Diana and James Madison are 17c3r
Princess Diana and Gerald R. Ford are 19c1r

Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Gerald R Ford are also cousins through their relationship to Edward I, Edward II, and Edward III. This a chart of their relationship:

Thomas Jefferson and James Madison are 13c4r
Thomas Jefferson and Gerald R. Ford are 13c6r
James Madison and Gerald R. Ford are 14c2

The direct line of ancestors begin with an individual's parents and extend to many greatgrandparents (12g gp, 20g gp, and beyond). The descendants of siblings (uncles and aunts) are always related as nephews and nieces whether they are 2 or even 32 generations removed. This shows the direct relationship between Edward I and 5 of his famous descendants:

Prince Charles 22nd great-grandson (22 ggson)
Princess Diana 21st great-granddaughter (21 ggdau)
Thomas Jefferson 14th great-grandson (14 ggson)
James Madison 19th great-grandson (19 ggson)
Gerald R. Ford 20th great-grandson (20 ggson)

This is a chart of how 5 generations descended from brothers are related:

1. George brothers 1. Ben
2. Henry 1c 2. Arthur
3. Thomas 2c 3. Caleb
4. Adam 3c 4. Ralph
5. Wesley 4c 5. David

This chart shows how the generations are related:

2g grandfather George <> Wesley 2g grandson
1c1r Henry <> Caleb 1c1r
2c2r Caleb <> Wesley 2c2r
2g uncle George <> David 2g nephew
1c3r Arthur <> Wesley 1c3r

More free charts and forms are found at Dale's Geneaology List. The link is in the sidebar.

Dale L. Edwards

Monday, July 17, 2006

Dates and Genealogy

Dates are so important, it's prudent to assign an approximate date to individuals with no dates. This is especially important when several individuals bear the same name. Using approximate dates simplifies searching. When there are many, or even two, individuals with the same name, an approximate date quickly helps determine which individual
could be the right ancestor. When making the approximation, take into consideration all dates pertaining to the individual's family. These family dates are clues to birth, marriage, and death dates.

All approximations should be marked with either brackets or something like bef, aft, or abt, which stand for before, after, and about. This marks these dates as approximations. Consider the family as a whole, not just as individuals. "Very often the relation of dates determine or negate the possibility of an alleged line of descent or provide clues that might otherwise elude detection." Taken from Genealogy as Pastime and Profession by Donald Lines Jacobus.

As an example, my husband's fmily had a tradition that Nancy A. Dalton was related to the Dalton Gang. Well, the Daltons did have a sister named Nancy A. Dalton, but she died before his grandfather, George Edwards, was born.

For some reason I always thought we had the same calendar throughout history. Well, I was wrong. I knew the Chinese currently use a different calendar, but for some reason I thought everyone else used the same calendar. Now, I know better.

The Julian calendar was used during the Middle Ages in Europe. By 1582 it was 10 days behind the actual date. In 1582 the Gregorian calendar, named after Pope Gregory XIII, became the calendar of Europe. However, England and her colonies didn't accept this calendar until an Act of Parliament in 1751. Ten days lost just by crossing the English Channel is unbelievable. Well, not really lost, but it must have been difficult to convert dates back and forth.

By 1752 the Julian calendar was 11 days behind the new calendar, so an Act of Parliament stipulated the 2nd of September 1752 would be followed by the 14th. In other words the 3rd of September 1752 became 14th of September 1752. People were very upset because they believed they lost 11 days out of their lives. Some even went so far as to change their birthdays so they wouldn’t seem 11 days older than they were. One example is George Washington. We all know he was born 22 February 1732. No, he was actually born 11 February 1731/32. This needs to be kept in mind when looking at birth dates of people born before 1752 and died after 1752.

For example, Ephraim Burr, by his gravestone, died 29 April 1776, aged 76 years and 13 days. Subtracting the age gives us 16 April 1700 for his birth date. To get the Old Style date we have to subtract 11 more days. His birth was not recorded but he was baptized 14 April 1700, 2 days before he was born using the New Style calendar. His birth date using Old Style is 5 April 1700.

New Year’s Day has always been the 1st of January, right? Wrong. Before 1752, the new year started on the 25th of March, or in some places, the 25th of December. The United States used only the 25th of March and the 1st of January. I'm grateful we don't have to worry about the 25th of December, too.

As long as the name of the month was used there is no real problem with the dates. May 5 is May 5 before and after 1752. However, if the number of the month was used, there could be a problem because before 1752 March was the first month of the year. March 25, 1750 would be 1/25/1750. As if it isn't hard enough to keep dates straight when ancestors have duplicate names. If your record says John Smith was born 3/15/1749, it means he was born May 15, 1749. If he was born 12/8/1732, his birth date would be January 27, 1732/1733. To make it even more confusing, someone may not know the dates changed, and wrote December 8, 1732 as 12/8/32. Now we wouldn't know his actual birth date, and need to check all the possibilities.

Check the introduction of your sources to determine if adjustments have already been made to accommodate calendar changes.

I hope I haven't completely confused you, but without this information you could be looking for the wrong birth date. It may be possible with this information to find that ancestor born before 1752 that has eluded us.

Dale L Edwards

Monday, July 10, 2006

Rome wasn't built in a day.

Don't expect to understand everything about family history right away. Remember Rome wasn't built in a day and cut yourself some slack when you feel you aren't learning fast enough. Ask questions. The only dumb question is the one we don't ask.

Break family history up into small tasks to accomplish in an hour or 15 minutes. In 15 minutes you could write a letter, add new information to the records of 1 individual. In an hour you could search for one name on the Internet, maybe 2 if you find the information you're looking for quickly. Of course, you could spend that whole hour on one name and not find anything. Large chunks of time aren't necessary to accomplish many tasks connected with family history. However, if you need to go directly to a source, you will need anywhere from all day to several days when you travel to another state or country.

When children are small, it's almost impossible to take them with you when you visit sources. Perhaps you could trade data entry with someone who is able to travel more in connection with family history for research services. There are older researchers who don't like to work with computers, and would really appreciate such an arrangement.

Include older children in cemetery searches by making a game out of it. I've known researchers who offer their children a dollar to the first one that finds the target tombstone. The reward doesn't have to be money. You know your children, and can choose an appropriate reward. If you're including family history in the family vacation, plan your time, and plan your research so the children don't get too restless.

Everyone needs to plan each research trip carefully. Make the most out of every minute of your trip. Here are some steps to plan your trip:

  1. Decide destination. (Could be just around the corner to your public library)
  2. Gather the information you'll need to take along
  3. Call to find out hours, days open, do they have the record, fees, ect.
  4. Decide when to go
  5. Pack a family history bag with the information you need, any forms you want to take along, pens, pencils, scratch paper, water, snack (to eat outside the library), and, very important, your method of choice of recording sources for any information you find.

Keeping good records is very important. You may need to find that record again for some reason. All dates and facts need to be verified with documentation. Make a copy of the record, either photocopy or by hand. Photocopying is the preferred way because errors can sneak in when copying manually from one page to another. I can't emphasize the importance of keeping good records often enough. The records need organization so they can be found again. There are many different ways to organize family history. The link at the bottom of this post connects with a list of web sites with free forms and methods of organization. There are also some fee sites, but you can usually find what you're looking for free.

Take your time, study, and play with the various forms and organization methods. Once research starts it's amazing how fast the paper piles grow. Without an organizational method you're able and want to use consistenly, it'll be a daunting task to change the way your files are organized. I know, because I face that daunting task. If I had it to do over again, I wouldn't start compiling a large amount of information until I had a good way to keep track of where and when I found that information. The system has to fit you or it won't get used.

Click for forms.

Dale L. Edwards

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Why Family History?

Family history is more than genealogy. Genealogy concentrates on names, dates, places, and blood relationships. Family History concentrates, not only on names, dates, places, and relationships, but tries to answer questions such as -- What were their lives like? Were they short or tall, dark haired and brown eyed or blonde and blue eyed? I know that my ancestor John Slafter came from Wales in the late 1600s. He wasn't a tall man. I don't know about his coloring, but I can guess he was fairly light haired and maybe blue eyed. I also know he had a presence about him, because someone told a story to his descendent, Rev. Edmund F. Slafter. Edmund Slafter wrote a family history about John Slafter and his descendants. In his book he wrote:

"On one occasion, at least, he is reputed to have made proof both of his personal courage and physicl strength. During his abode in Massachusetts, the forests were infested with Indians, who made frequent incursions upon the English settlements, often carrying terror and death to the cottages of the emigrants. Returning on one occasion after a brief absence, he found his home invaded by two athletic savages, whose insolent threats and gestures had put his whole household in fear of instant death. Assuming the authority which belongs to the lord of the castle, they were at once ordered to leave. Obedience to this command was haughtily refused. Fastening his eye upon the leader, the second injunction was followed, with quickness almost of lightning, by a blow from his clenched hand, put forth with all the energy of his powerful frame, which laid the savage prostrate at his feet. The other, awed by this lesson, showed only signs of fear, and with humble promises on the part of both they were permitted to depart, and never afterward ventured to repeat their visit."

The story may have grown with the retelling, but doesn't that paint a picture of a man who is secure in who he is? I can just see my ancestor as he protects his home and family.

There are many more things I know about my ancestors because Edmund wrote the stories and facts in true family history style. The first time I looked through the book I knew this was how I wanted to write about my family.

This is why I do family history in addition to genealogy.

Dale L. Edwards