May 5, 2013 at 11:25am
Have you ever thought of embarking on a trip to the past to pass on to the future? Think about it. Ask yourself what is known of your family history. What qualities do you have that were passed on from an ancestor? Many times I have looked in the mirror and wondered why I am who I am. Life shapes us all through our experiences. Our past also shapes us, the many stories we heard while growing up, the pictures unmarked by name or date that reminds us of either ourselves or maybe a cousin or child. Unknowingly you may be repeating the same steps an ancestor did. My outline will show what is involved in researching your family and what steps to take in gathering and verifying your information.
I started researching my roots out of curiosity. I wrote down all the facts that I remembered and some were extremely easy like my grandmothers' full name and birthday. I mention this as I am named for her and I was born on her birthday. Along with this I had my grandfathers' full name and birthday, not much to start with but with research I was able to find out much more with just those two facts.
I gathered all the information from family, aunts, uncles, siblings and cousins that I grew up with. Unfortunately this was only helpful for those here and now but no leads to the past or extended family. As to the parentage of our grandparents I was at a loss. Most of our parents have gone ahead, and growing up we did not put any value on the many stories we were told. With my many conversations with cousins and learning who and what stories they remembered I was able to go further back on my grandmother’s side. Just talking we recalled relatives we met at parties and family gatherings. With my grandfathers' history I was at a dead end.
My cousin Bill had addresses and phone numbers to distant cousins and a box of papers that belonged to my grandparents. I spent hours reading everything and taking notes. I wrote many letters to the old addresses and researched public records for current addresses. I explained who I was and what I was attempting to do and requested their assistance.
Even though I was being told the information I needed documentation to back it up. Cousins sent me copies of deeds and wills, postcards that were sent to a great uncle in the army, letters from family members I never heard of and, Family Bibles. All those listed qualify as proof of who these people were and how they were related to me. These cousins shared what they remembered and many family stories with me. They also shared old family photos.
I joined Ancestry.com (Anc), Genealogy Bank (Gen) and FamilySearch.org (Fam) all online resources. I was able to gather newspaper articles, census sheets and more to verify that my information was correct. I still double checked with the listed sites before adding into my family history. On my quest I have managed to reconnect many of our family who lost contact with each other, and also connect many of us who did not know of each other. Groups of us arrange to meet and share information that another may not know. Our extended family is becoming closer. In addition to the information I gathered from the sites I made contact with several genealogists that have shared their research and documentation with me.
I questioned when their information did not make sense to me. Like with my Great, Great Grandfather Reuben Miller , according to the genealogists he was the son of Daniel Miller the founder of Millersburg Pennsylvania. I started reading up on Daniel and the facts did not support him being the father of Reuben, no one had documented proof that Daniel was his father. I searched the census records and found several Reubens' with his year of birth. A cousin had given me the information and told me his mother was Lydia. I found one Reuben transcribed as Rebecca age 17 male, father Tillman mother Elizabeth. As Elizabeths' in our family have been nicknamed Lydia I marked this as a possibility. I found the PA Vital Statistics site (PA) and combed through the death indices all I knew was that Reuben Miller died in 1937 but I had no luck. I decided to search other years and located the record in 1936. On the death indices it also lists the county and certificate number. I filled out the form and sent it in. I received his death certificate and learned that his father was Tillman Miller. The information was given to them by Mayme Kissinger who is a daughter of Reuben. I shared this information with the genealogist as this was proof of his parentage. The former being one of the reasons documentation is so important when doing research. I should mention that the reasons I decided to check other years. I recalled something my grandmother said to me shortly before she went ahead,” I will not live to see the New Year just like my PopPop.” Both went on ahead the 31st of December.
Previously I mentioned being at a dead end with my research on my grandfather and the box my cousin Bill gave to me. Within the box was a pile of letters faded by age, they were written in pencil and the return address was PFC Leslie Clark US Army. My siblings and cousins all grew up knowing who Uncle Les was, my grandfathers' brother who died in WWII, his picture hung in the parlor and my grandparents would drop everything to tell us of him. Carefully with a magnifying glass in hand I read them and took notes of names mentioned and dates. I now had my grandfathers and grand uncles’ information to help in my search of the census records. Uncle Les mentioned Margaret, David, Edna, Charles, William and Andrew and referred to them as brothers and sisters.
I started a test tree separate from my verified tree on Ancestry com (Anc). My grandfather John was born 1904 and Uncle Les 1913, I decided to search 1920 using my grandfathers' information and listed all the siblings’ names starting with Uncle Les in the search boxes. Eureka I think I found him but need to verify, Mother is listed as Martha a widow and all the siblings names are there with the addition of siblings Ellen and Martha. I write down all the information and check 1910 and 1930. In 1910 John is listed: father David, mother Martha, sisters Ellen and Edna, brothers David and Charles all the year of birth information is the same as 1920. I move on to 1930 and find John as head of house with siblings Charles, Margaret, Leslie and Andrew. I add all this information into my test tree and these little leaves start popping up. These leaves are hints you need to check them and be careful to read everything as some names are similar and you can add the wrong information in. A hint shows on Davids' name I check and it is his marriage record, I search genealogy bank and come across his marriage announcement and then his obituary in 1919. I note the information and add into my tree and in description box I list my questions. What happened to Martha? I continue on and the 1940 census becomes public record I find my grandparents, father, aunt and uncles I know I have that information correct.
I still have not proven that David and Martha are the parents of my grandfather the facts are there but it’s a common name. I know his birthday and open the Family Search web site and put in the information I know. A birth record comes up showing his name, date of birth and parents’ names. I send off to get a copy. Prior to 1906 they had a return of birth not a birth certificate and that is what I received which was proof of his parents’ names including his mothers' maiden name, this is the first year they started to add the maiden name of the mother. I find a record of baptism for John and his siblings all done on the same day listing David and Martha as parents. I send off for my grandfathers' death certificate. His parents are listed as David J Clark and Martha M Hanson. Now I can fully prove his roots and continue on this quest back further using the same methods of cross verifying the information I come across.
With Davids' obituary I was able to use the Death Indices (PA) to get a copy of his Death certificate which listed his parents. But what happened to Martha? Why was John the head of house in 1930 with minor siblings living with him? I start to recall my grandfather’s funeral; I was 13 at the time. I was sitting in tears when a man comes over and tries to comfort me. He introduced himself as John Paulie and said he was my grandfathers' brother. I remember the tears stopped and I looked at him and said” No you ain’t my Poppop is John and our last name is Clark not Paulie.” He then explained that he was from grandfathers' mothers’ second marriage. I now had another last name for Martha and did more research. I found her burial record and the baptism of John Paulie with my grandfather listed as his godfather. Martha died in 1927 with the birth of her 11th child John Paulie. More proof that I was on the correct path. I then ordered Martha’s death certificate and was able to get her parents’ names. Each little piece of the puzzle was bringing it all together.
“Pass on a Legacy - Now that you've worked hard to create a legacy for future generations, take time to put it all together so that your efforts won't be wasted. Seek out family members willing to help you put together a family history, a heritage scrapbook or create a family web page. The final product is irrelevant as long as the memories you've gathered remain intact for others to enjoy. (Taylor, 1999) “I have a web site on our family (Clark, 2012); I create slide shows and take to our various gatherings to share denoting our history.
With my findings and documentation I am able create family history books (Bourland, 2012) and have several layouts for the different branches of our family. The discoveries made with genealogical research are amazing. I mentioned my cousins above. Some interesting facts I discovered in my research is the double relationships: My cousin Bob is my grandfathers' brother Andrews' youngest son but he is also my grandmothers’ cousin Addies’ son. So much of our history is the same, My cousin Dolores is my Grandmothers sisters’ daughter and her father is my grandfather’s cousin through his mother. President Eisenhower is my cousin on my paternal grandmothers’ side. President Nixon is also a cousin through my grandfathers’ mother.
Does this not make you wonder about your history and if there are multiple relationships. Have you ever passed by someone and thought they looked very familiar but could not place them, gazed upon photos that your family has gathered unmarked by name or date, and seen a resemblance in other family members. The quest of family history has been something many embark upon to find answers or like me out of curiosity.
There is more information becoming available on a daily basis, and keeping up with all the current generations and their information is also involved to preserve for the future.
An interesting fact I came across is the meaning of my maiden name. “The name Clark comes from one of the family having worked as a person who concerned himself with matters of scholarly importance or of religious orders or as a secretary. The surname Clark (names, 2013) originally derived from the Latin form clericus. Even today, the word and profession clerk is typically pronounced clark throughout the United Kingdom. (clark)” In comparison I am the CLARK of my time as I am repeating what my ancestors did.
|The Troutman Murder|
|John Henry Clark||PopPop My grandfather|
|Ethel Elizabeth Miller||MomMom My grandmother|
|Leslie Ewing Clark||Grand Uncle|
|Harry J Ellis III||3rd Cousin 1X|
|Robert Thomas Clark Jr||Cousin|
|John Clark||2nd Great Grand father|
|Irene Wardwell||5th cousin 4X removed|
|Mary (Chisholm) Painter||Spouse of 4th Cousin 4X removed|
|Warren Richards Cox||Spouse of 5th Cousin 3X removed|
|Samuel Burnham McClennen Hanson||3rd Great Grand father|
|Emanuel Matter||3rd Great Grand father|
|R Dewitt Brown||Spouse of 5th Cousin 3X removed|
|Francis Anthony Nixon||Spouse of 4th Cousin 4X removed|
|Jacob Stuart Aydelott||Spouse of 3rd Cousin 6X removed|
|Russell Wilford Annich||1st cousin 3X removed.|
|Jemima Webster Boggs||4th cousin 4X removed.|
|Elisha Kirk||1st cousin 8X removed.|
|Walter Biddle Saul||Patron of my High School.|
|John Mendenhall||9th Great Grand father|
|Benjamin Mendenhall||9th Great Grand father|
|Harris Francis Aungst||2nd cousin 1X removed|
|David Lytle Clark||possibly 1st cousin 4X removed|
|Katy||4th x1||Joseph Maitland Hanson|
|Brian||William Henry Miller|
|Lisa||9th x1||John Mendenhall|
|Jonathan||9th x1||John Mendenhall|
|Theodore||9th x3||Abraham Pierson Jr|
|Alison||18th x1||Elizabeth (FitzHugh) Greystoke|
I have imported several gedcoms and now doing the edits if you see a background like the one on my profile that is the indicator that I have added all I have or known information on that individual. Those that have gone ahead I will make so others can edit the information except for some in my line which will be trusted.
I have a system that I use after the gedcom is approved.
1. I check for dupes in my watch list and do the merges.
2. Begin working on the profiles. I am trying to do this alphabetically.
A. If married I change the last name to married name. When I check for dupes this shows me both names and I can either reject or merge if the information is the same, where others have both the married and maiden name it is a breeze to go thru the proposed matches quickly. When either the married or maiden is missing it makes it a bit harder.
B. Those that have gone ahead in infancy or childhood I add an angel picture.
C. I do the bio edit including categories. You can mark if never married by choosing the add spouse and at the bottom of the page is a never married button to click. Also if you are sure no issue you can check the no children box. This also gives a neater appearance to the public view.
D. Search for dupes across wiki and initiate a merge or reject.
E. I add pic if I have one
F. Change the privacy settings. If living but at least one parent has gone ahead I choose the option that will reflect that in the public view. Same for if the spouse has gone ahead. Unless the biography section reveals too much information that is best to remain private.
G. Change the background.
H. Bother Terry when I need military help :-P
I. Make Terry biscuits which I will eat :D
J. I have made more cousin connections using this system.
K. Leave breadcrumbs. On many profiles I do when a spouse with limited family info and no connection to parents I leave breadcrumbs. i.e., Include all the census info in their profiles along with parents and sibling names. If I can get back to them I have some leads to go by. If I cannot and others would like to add the parents and/or siblings then the leads are there to help them. This can also help others when the siblings may match to make a connection.
L. Search for parents and or children within Wikitree with the information found and connect them if possible or note their IDs on the profile.
Back to the Mendenhalls will return to my system again soon.
The Arnick name has evolved for some branches of the family. When I first noted the change I had my doubts but through research this is true. some took over the new spelling for whatever reason that is unclear. Some variations Arnich, Annick, Annich.
Also it appears to be a custom that when a son is named for his father he is called by his middle name instead of his birth name. Such is the case with my Great Great Grandfather Jacob Arnick. When I first found him married to Anna I could find no prior record of him but a Sebastian kept coming up in the search results. We knew Jacobs middle initial was S but not what it stood for. Research has proven he was born Sebastian Jacob.
The Matter name pronounced "Motter" has also evolved for some branches of the family as is documented on those profiles.
In the case of a relative that married someone with a prior marriage and issue I have added that information to the biography of that person, unless my relative raised those children and was recognized as a parent. my research into my family is extensive and it is just too difficult to research everyone.
As I was trying to find other siblings and being unable to for my Great Grandfather John Clark-15933. I found other baptisms at same church and marriages in the same town as his with same father name listed. Although I have not been able to prove these connections as of yet I followed the lines looking for similarities.
Below are some of my links you may want to right click and choose open in a new window or tab as it will take you away from this page.
My images I use various images on the profiles this will take you to the freespace where you may also use them.
Have you taken a DNA test? If so, login to add it. If not, see our friends at Ancestry DNA.