I’ve told you how I started on my genealogy path and although I was a family history hound, the site Family History Hound and the subsequent other sites were not born until I met my husband; Kevin.
Just like my genealogy passion, my life with Kevin started on the internet.
Kevin and I met 6 years ago this past February, on the dating site eHarmony. I think it’s a great site and it worked really well for us. but I do know there are others that haven’t had the same experience. Kevin is a computer consultant and an entrepreneur and so after being around him I realized that I’d like to try being an entrepreneur too. From that; Family History Hound was born and then Shop the Hound.
Having Shop the Hound feeds the need I have to help others. I try to have products in the store that help you look after your photos; by scanning them and backing them up. Or getting them easily from your camera to you computer. I’m a firm believer in; “Think smarter not harder”… so I look for techy items. We have DNA guides and I’ve just recently added some bling in the way of Angels from Jacqueline Kent Angels. We have many other items and I hope you’ll check out our site.
Do you read genealogy books? I don’t just mean “how to books” or local history books, I’m talking about novels. There are many titles available that will bring your love of family history and entertainment together.
One of the things that Amazon Kindle has going for it is what I call their “easy button”. It that one click button where you buy the book and it’s instantly on your iPad, phone, tablet, whatever you’ve told it to download to. How easy is that? Well sometimes too easy when I look at the amount of books I’ve purchased. But I’ll read them all someday.
To books that come to mind for me are; 150 Years Later and Annie’s Ghost.
150 Years Later Broken Ties Mended by Melvin J.Collier. During slavery many families were broken up due to selling. This was the case of 12-year-old Bill Reed. Melvin J. Collier has written about his quest to find the descendants of his great-grandfather to bring them all together for a family reunion 150 years later.
Annie’s Ghost written by Steve Luxenberg; a reporter whose mother always said she was an only child. Then a few years before her death she tells him she had a sister that was mentally and physically disabled. Steve Luxenberg searches to find answers to the family secret of Annie.
These are just two books that I’ve found and I hope you check them out.
Something that we are always told we should do, but most often, we think “that won’t happen to me ” or “I’ll do that someday”. Don’t take the chance with your family history. You’ve worked too hard researching to find the information and citing your sources and what about all the photos that you’ve found.
There are two types of emergencies that can happen. You can have your computer crash and you lose all your information.. or heaven forbid something happens to you home.
So you can handle this in several ways. For the first situation you can purchase an external hard drive and set it up so that it backs up your system daily or at least weekly. I have a shadow copy that backs up each day. A shadow copy is exactly that, a shadow copy of my entire computer so, should my computer crash I could get a new computer or flatten the one that crashed if it’s possible and then re-install the shadow copy. The best part is that external hard drives aren’t nearly as expensive as they once were.
For the second event then some thing out of your home is a better approach. For this situation you might want to think about Dropbox, Evernote or Backblaze or any other off site back up system.
Don’t let it be the “hard way” that you learn your lesson.
Something that I look forward to as a genealogist is going to conferences. I’ve been to genealogy conferences with 100 people and I’ve been to Roots Tech in Salt Lake City where there was 21,000 people from all over the world.
It’s an opportunity to meet other genealogist from far and wide, go to classes and learn techniques for doing genealogy or some aspect of genealogy and it’s a chance to go to the vendor marketplace and see the latest gadgets, programs , websites and talk to experts in the field.
For me I like it all. If you know me I’m not a shy person so I’m often looking over my shoulder before the opening session talking to someone and asking them where they are researching. Or doing to the latest DNA session so I can learn the science behind the testing and what it all means. Then it’s off to the Marketplace and see what specials I can find and if they have gadgets then I’m in my glory. After all it was at Roots Tech that I found Flip Pal and I not only had to buy one for myself and my husband but I wanted to sell them and I didn’t even have my store; Shop the Hound yet.
So as we drive our RV on our way to Barrie, Ontario for the Ontario Genealogical Society Conference; I’m excited. After all, where else can you meet so many people who you can talk to about genealogy and their eyes don’t even glaze over?
I don’t know about you but I think I’m in love with Amazon. But not just Amazon; Amazon Kindle. I find it all to easy to search out books that I come across when I’m reading a genealogy blog or in an article .. then I read the reviews and then press that easy “buy now 1-click” button.
I’ve even enabled myself a bit more because, when I’m in the U.S., I buy an Amazon card that I load to my account so that my purchases are made with it rather than with my credit card. But that makes it all the more easy; because now you’ve already paid for the card. So months later it feels like you can buy anything because you don’t have to pay. Silly girl…..
So I pledge that I won’t hit the Amazon easy button for…. a month…. really a month? Wow, that seems a bit long don’t you think?… ok a week…… one week you say? well I probably could do that….. I guess if I find an interesting book I can put it on my wish list…. <sigh>
Sometimes when you’re looking for a birth record you can be disappointed because it’s not there and it should be. Before your disappointed, check the other children’s in the families birth if you have a clue about their possible dates. I’ve seen where seven children were registered at the same time; spanning a time period of 16 years. You just might be looking in the wrong time frame.
(The first photo I took) (The second, read below you’ll understand)
Very early in doing family history I heard the word; serendipity. Wikipedia tells us that serendipity means a “fortunate happen stance” or “pleasant surprise”.
It’s the time that I was going to visit my parents at their cottage but had this uncontrollable urge that I had to look at a website I’d heard about for Lancashire. So I checked just as I was about to leave only to find a third cousin who had posted the family names she was searching for.
Or the time just last year when I was doing research in Kingston, Ontario. I’d been to the Cataraqui Cemetery before and was looking for the same plot for the Batten family. I went to one location and had this extreme feeling that the family had to be there I could feel it. I search and search but couldn’t find them. So I decided I would go to the cemetery office and ask for a map. When I went in the lady said there were two plots for the Batten’s. One had several graves and the other had only one for George Batten . I told her that I was looking for the one with several but could she mark the one with only one grave on the map as well, as George Batten was the father to the other in the other plot and I’d not know that it existed. She told me that there was no marker but I could find the spot by finding the Huston marker. I told her I knew exactly where it was as I’d been looking there earlier and had in fact taken a photo for some reason (the first). As it turned out the plot I had been looking for was quite a distance away from where I’d been looking. But I’d found George by listening to my feelings. (the second)
I don’t know if I call it serendipity or rather that sometimes your ancestors just need to be found and sometimes they have to give you a nudge in the right direction.
When I first started doing Genealogy I decided that I’d have a family of the month. What that meant was that you worked on one family for the month and then at the beginning of the next month you’d choose another family. The families involved were my parents grandparents families. This ensured that you didn’t get really bored with one family.. But if you were on a hot trail you could just opt to stay with the say family and keep working on them until the 1st of the next month.
I probably need to implement this again as I tend to get stuck on one family (the Beaton’s) and keep looking for answers that I may never find.
When your just getting into your family history you don’t realize all the things you have available at your fingertips… well maybe they are tucked away in a drawer or closet, but you probably have them.
As I mentioned in Begin at the Beginning you have to start with yourself and collecting all the bits and pieces in one place is a good way to start. So get out that archival box and start putting those things you have collected all together. Some items that you might have are;
- Vital Records – these documents record those milestone events in life. Birth certificates, marriage licenses and certificates, divorce records and death certificates. Sometimes these records aren’t completely accurate. For example; a death records is accurate for gender, cause of death and location. But it may not be accurate for name and date of birth and if parents names are given, then they may not be accurate either.
- Religious Records – certificates of baptism, christening, confirmation, bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah can all be found in family papers. You may also find a document of marriage issued by the church rather than a government issued marriage license or certificate. Maybe you have old church bulletins.
- Personal or Family Bible – You may have a family member that took the time to fill out the pages containing, some or all; recordings of births, christening, confirmation, marriage and deaths. Note if the information was put in by one person at one time or if they were entered at time of each event. You can tell this by different handwriting or different ink or pencil.
- Photograph Albums – family albums contain photographs and other family mementos of importance. If your lucky and someone labelled with at least the names that’s great. But if not, you’ll have to show them to other family members to help you identify and label the pictures. But that’s not all bad, because it gives you a starting point for discussion.
- Scrapbooks – this is a past time that has fallen by the wayside in my mind, so if you find them they often are a gold mine of information chronicling a lifetime of events in an individual or a family.
- Letters, Diaries and Journals – everyday life events and sometimes innermost thoughts are to be found in these items. They will give you a glimpse into their lifestyle at the time, or the things they purchased or maybe just what the weather was like.
- Family Histories – often you aren’t the first person in your family who was interested in the family. This doesn’t mean your work is done but it means you have a starting point that you can follow and re-prove and add to.
- Local Histories – often people who have lived in an area will purchase the local history book because their family is included in the book.
- Baby Book – these too can provide you with quite a bit of information. Especially if it’s for a first child.. isn’t that what always happens.. the first child get the baby book and all the photos. My baby book tells which cousins I spent my first birthday with.
- Funeral Books and Memorial Cards – guest books can tell you who was at the event. This can give you clues as to who is still alive at that time if you’re not sure. The memorial cards can provide dates of birth and location as well as telling you when the person passed away and where and when the funeral service and burial took place.
- Obituaries – these are probably one of my most favourite documents and they often provide so many details about the family that I have to read them over and over. My grandmother kept copies of all the family obituaries and they have been a huge help in my own research.
- Military Records – these can be service statements, disability certificates, discharge papers or pension records. You may have medals, ribbons or uniforms.
If you don’t find these types of records in your own home then ask your parents, grandparents or aunts and uncles if they have any of these things. If they do; then take that opportunity to go over and scan these items. It’s a great way to let people know your interested in the family and a great ice breaker into the subject.
One thing that happened by taking up this hobby (obsession??) that I’d never thought of was that you meet new friends.. well in actual fact they are distance family.
The first person I met was Gordon. I had just started doing genealogy and my genealogy society was planning a trip to England. I wasn’t going to participate because, after all, I’d just started, what would I look for? I didn’t even really know how to research. At that time someone at one of the many special interest meeting I attended spoke about Genes Reunited.Genes Reunited is a website that many people with English ancestry post their trees to and you can connect with others tracing the same people . It costs nothing to have a tree but if you are connecting to others there is a small fee and they also offer an enhanced subscription service to get documents which costs more.
Many evenings after a special interest group meeting, were late ones. That was because I’d learn so many new things that I couldn’t wait to try out. This was the case with Genes Reunited. So I posted a tree and started to see connections. My first connection was Claire and she said I should me Gordon as he was a closer family connection that she was. Gordon is my third cousin on my dad’s side. With this new connection I decided what the heck I can go to England and meet Gordon and his wife, Sandy.
It’s funny when you meet someone who is your family but you don’t know them. For me at least, it was like we’d known each other for ages. Well in fact we did know each other fairly well as we’d been furiously corresponding daily for 6 months, but still we had never met. His mother; Winifred is a delight and reminds me so much of my great-grandmother although she’s not related on that side. I guess it was the accent. Winifred will be 99 this September. So you can image all the things she’s told us. Like the fact that my family use to send her family Postum in packages..
It was through this trip and through Gordon that I started researching Jesse Vincent; who is one of my all time favourite ancestors. I’ve researched him quite a bit and I love his story, but I’ll save that for another time.
On this same trip I met Alan and Brian from Brighton, Sussex and they too are connected through my dad’s side of the family.
Since that first trip I’ve connected with over a dozen different cousins from almost all sides of my family. Some of our family connections have been lost for over 100 years which I think is amazing.
The best things about these connections is that these people usually love to do genealogy just like you and you will have someone to collaborate with.
Who will you connect with?