Saturday, November 26, 2011

Free BYU Independent Family History Courses

Importance of education: BYU Independent Study offers no-cost online classes

By Ryan Morgenegg

Church News staff writer

Published: Saturday, Nov. 26, 2011

Follow the link above to a great article that tells about the free courses offered by the BYU Independent Study Department.  We have taken courses through this department and have always been impressed with the quality of information available.  The family history courses offered will help you to begin your family history or to move your family lines further along. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

FREE Beginning Genealogy Lesson #5

  In all important decisions we need to consider the source of our information.  This article helps us to understand why we should check our genealogy sources carefully.

This great article is written by my friend, Bryan Mulcahy, from the Ft. Myers, Library. 
Primary vs. Secondary Sources in Genealogical Research
For many beginning researchers, the terms primary and secondary information and sources can be confusing.  Primary sources, briefly defined, are documents or records created at the time of, or shortly after, an event by either someone with personal knowledge of the facts or the actual testimony of a person involved in the event.  In the ideal situation, informants may have been on the scene at the time of the event, and were close friends of the individual or family members. Unfortunately, it is possible that they may have been bystanders or neighbors whose knowledge of the individual or family may have been limited at best.  Fortunately, if this was the case, authorities may have tried to locate family members to obtain additional details.
Primary sources are usually the first or earliest documents in which a particular piece of information was recorded.  This source may be an official document or certificate, or a published work containing  transcribed information from  original documents or other primary sources.  Records containing this scope of information may include diaries, journals, state or federal census records, courthouse records such as deeds, wills, probates, birth or death records, baptism or marriage records, ships passenger lists and military records.  Primary records are, of course, the most reliable sources, but secondary records can provide you with many clues for further research.  
Secondary sources are published works, including those distributed electronically, either copied or compiled from primary sources, or reflecting the conclusions of a researcher based on primary or secondary sources.  Secondary information was usually provided by someone whose knowledge of data was not from firsthand knowledge.  They may have been family members but were either away at the time the event occurred, estranged from the individual or family, or resided in distant localities.
Secondary sources are those records or other pieces of information that were created at some time after an event occurred. The passage of time, the lapse of memory, and the lack of knowledge (or ignorance) of the person providing the information all conspire to make the evidence less than reliable. In addition, an informant sometimes falsifies information for a variety of reasons.  When analyzing information, regardless of whether it is a primary or secondary source, it is helpful to know the relationship between the informant to the individual or family.  That relationship may shed light on the potential accuracy of the information.
Secondary sources should be viewed with skepticism until they are later verified in a primary source. By their very nature they should be suspect, and you should always seek additional evidence to either corroborate or contradict the facts they present.   Examples of secondary sources may include family histories, bible records, indexes or compilations of census or marriage records, any sort of history (county, state, etc.), and collections of cemetery inscriptions.
Some documents can be both primary and secondary sources. Death certificates are notorious for their errors. Dependable information on a death certificate may include the name of the decedent, date and place of death, place of burial, and undertaker’s name.   However, the key word is “may”.  Always examine the date of death and the certificate's issue date. If there is any significant time lapse, look for other corroborating evidence elsewhere. Also, the date of birth, birth location, age, names of spouse, and names of parents are all secondary sources. Never take these details for fact. Remember that someone else acted as informant in order to fill out the certificate. If he or she didn't know the correct information, he/she may have guessed at it. Use these pieces of information as pointers, but always find other substantiating evidence.
BLM 11/4/2011
Bryan L. Mulcahy
Reference Librarian
Fort Myers-Lee County Library

2050 Central Avenue

Fort Myers, FL  33901-3917

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Halloween Family History-Style

This is an excellent Halloween article from written by Juliana Smith
28 October 2011

 Legend has it, on Halloween the veil between this world and the next is lifted a bit. I for one am hoping that when that happens tomorrow, a few of my ancestors will reveal themselves.  (Note to William Dennis—if you could reveal yourself through the 1860 census, that would be awesome.)
So while I’m not a huge fan of “all things gruesome,” I do feel somewhat of a connection with Halloween. I mean, as family historians we’re all about dead people, right? We love cemeteries, obituaries, death and burial records, and really anything death-related.

Ghost stories?  Since our favorite stories are about people who have passed on, I think they qualify. And of course, if you’ve been doing family history for a while, you’ve probably uncovered a skeleton or two in the closet. Sure you can still hand out candy to the kiddies, but here are ways you can celebrate Halloween “family history-style.”
Put Some Flesh on That Skeleton
Today we have online trees and software that make it easy to organize and keep track of names, dates, and places. They form a framework—or skeleton if you will—for our family history.  But they’re not the story. The story lies in the details we find in the records.
What was your ancestor’s occupation and what might that work have been like? Census records and directories are good places to learn about their occupations. Take it a step further by researching that occupation online, and in books and periodicals.
Were they active in their church? Look into the history of your ancestor’s church. You may find him or her mentioned in a published history of the religious community.
Were they educated, and could they read and write? Most of us have seen the columns in censuses noting whether an ancestor could read or write, or noting “at school” in the occupational field, but have we ever put that together with their ages? Or how old they are when you first find them listed as employed? In the 1880 U.S. Census, my great-grandmother’s two sisters, aged fifteen and seventeen are employed as coffee packers. Another column in that census revealed that when that enumeration was taken in June, their father had been unemployed for three months of that census year. It’s possible they had to leave school to help supplement the family income.
Were there health issues that impacted the family? By looking into the causes of death, both primary and secondary, we can gain helpful insights into the family life. Often, the attending physician had to note how long the deceased had been in his care. This could indicate whether there was a lengthy illness or whether the death was sudden and unexpected.
Locating Cemeteries and Other Haunts
Genealogists are ahead of the curve when it comes to appreciating cemeteries, but sometimes locating them is half the battle. If you can get your hands on a good local map for the vicinity in which you are searching, you may find some larger cemeteries outlined on the map. In other cases you might have to turn to local resources.
Genealogical societies are a good starting place. Like you, the genealogists in that group are likely cemetery enthusiasts and probably know a lot about graveyards in the area—large and small. They may have even canvassed the cemetery and published an index, abstracts, or transcriptions from the headstones or other cemetery records.
Often a death certificate, obituary, or some other death-related record will include the name of the cemetery where your ancestor is buried. If not, map out the cemeteries that are near where the individual lived.
For those searching in the U.S., the U.S. Geological Survey’s Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) is a very useful tool .  Select the state and county name and “cemetery” from the “Feature Class” drop-down menu, you can see a list of cemeteries for a particular county.
From the list of results, you can click on each cemetery name for more information and to map the location using a number of mapping tools that will give you the exact location of the cemetery.
You can also locate some of your ancestors’ other “haunts” using this tool, including schools, churches, and “populated places.” Maps show streams, rivers, ponds, wooded areas, mountains, valleys, etc. If you have an obscure U.S. town or feature name associated with your ancestor, this is a great place to look.
Communicating with the Dead
Superstitions say that Halloween is a good time to communicate with the deceased. Of course, I do that all the time. Usually the conversation is one-sided with a lot of pleading on my end and silence on their end, but occasionally, I could swear I hear laughing. (Of course, that could be my husband.)

Saturday, October 22, 2011


Family Search Gift Certificates
From Legacy Locators

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The card will include the name of the sender and the amount of research hours due to the card recipient.

The recipient may contact Legacy Locators to schedule the time frame for the work to be completed.  All work will be completed in a timely manner.

Gift certificates are available in the following amounts.

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Some family trees have beautiful leaves, and some have just a bunch of nuts. Remember, it is the nuts that make the tree worth shaking.
~Author Unknown

Friday, October 7, 2011

FREE Genealogy Course

Lesson #4
What Records Tell Us
Franklin Guy Rivers Draft Registration

  • Each census record will tell you different things! The US started censuses in 1790 and the UK started in 1841. The US releases censuses to the public every 72 years, the UK every 100 years.  The 1940 US census record will be available in the spring of 2012.
  • Not every census record is available (1890 US census was mostly destroyed and most of Ireland’s census records were burned).
  • If you find an ancestor on a census but can’t find them in the next census, search the next census by the address where they lived. It could be they’re still there!
  • Check out who lives next door to your ancestor; oftentimes relatives lived close together. If someone lived on your ancestor’s street with the same last name, that could be another ancestor for you!
    • An ancestor’s occupation.
    • Where they were born and their age.
    • Where their parents came from.
    • If they immigrated or if they’re citizens.
  • There are different kinds of immigration records: emigration (leaving a country), passenger lists (ship records), immigration (coming into a country), and naturalization (becoming a citizen).
  • The older a naturalization record is (1800s), the less it will tell you.
  • Before 1892 most immigrants immigrated into New York through Castle Garden Port, not Ellis Island!
Harry Blimes' Naturalization Document
  • Country of origin.
  • If any relatives were traveling with them.
  • Ancestor’s occupation.
  • Ancestor’s destination.
  • Details of where the ancestor came from.
  • Name of parents.
  • Current residence.
  • Occupation.

Minnie Estell Tolliver Death Certificate
  • Vital records are birth, marriage, and death records for an ancestor.
  • Social Security Death Index is useful for people who died after 1960’s.
  • In 1837 England began civil registration (registering vital records on a governmental level). Before that all vital records were recorded by the parish (areas based on proximity to local church). Therefore it’s IMPORTANT to find out which religion your ancestor followed!
    • Names of ancestor’s parents.
    • Time and place of an event (birth, marriage, death) took place.
    • Cause of death.
    • Maiden name (if marriage record).

Monday, October 3, 2011

FREE Genealogy Course

Lesson #3
Where to Find Information

Are you the last one left of your family? 

Hopefully not!  

 But do ask your oldest ancestors soon to tell you the stories and myths surrounding your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.  Get all of the names, dates and areas where your ancestors lived.  These memories will provide invaluable clues as you search for histories of those who have gone before.  My husband’s great grandfather accidentally killed his best friend in a bar fight in Nelsonville, Ohio.  He fled to West Virginia and thought he was hiding out but the sheriff from Nelsonville tracked him down, brought him home to Nelsonville and put him in jail.  We learned about this escapade by reading an article in the Nelsonville newspaper because the family was embarrassed and did not share this story with the rising generation.  The best part of the story is that the only witness to the killing was a young girl who went to visit great grandpa in the jail and then married him so she would not have to testify against him.  A GREAT story, right?  It might never have been documented if we had relied on what grandma was willing to tell us. Always check a lot of sources.

Finding census records is a major help in documenting relationships.  Census records since 1860 list the members of the household and you can tell by the ages how the relationships work.  Census records from 1880 and later tell the relationships.  Now that you have some names, dates and areas where your ancestors lived here are some sites where you can locate census records for your ancestors.  Google US census records for more sites.  Google is great for all things genealogy.

Email me at and I will send you a census abstract form to help you organize the information contained on a census record.  This form was created by Linda Kralman-Lambert, ILGenWeb Coordinator for Effingham County, Illinois © 2005

Don’t forget to write your own history for the generations to come.  Your stories will keep your memory alive to them.

"This packrat has learned that what the next generation will value most is not what we owned, but the evidence of who we were and the tales of how we loved. In the end, it's the family stories that are worth the storage."
-Ellen Goodman, The Boston Globe

If you need a giggle check out our Halloween decorated website at

Sunday, October 2, 2011

FREE Genealogy Course

FREE Genealogy Lesson #2 

Where to Put Your Information 

Shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall! 

Most trees can be transferred from one genealogy program to another by putting the information into a gedcom (genealogical data communication) file. All of the names, dates and relationships will transfer correctly but media (stories and pictures) does not transfer in a gedcom file. So choosing a good base file is important if you like to add ancestral stories and their pictures. 

Free sites: - This is my favorite free site. It has never charged and it never will. There is no small freebie section that will become too full so that you have to purchase a subscription in order to continue to build your tree. No need to make a purchase to see documents. - The free version of You can download an existing gedcom file or build your tree from scratch. My second favorite choice. - A good site but you have to purchase a premium account to build a large tree. This site uses family tree builder. - Claims to be a free search site but you have to register for a free 7 day trial if you want to see the information that they found. After the free trial you must pay. - This is a good place to search if you know the area where your ancestors lived. It is more complicated than some other sites but it does have a lot of historical county information. 

Sites that charge: - $159 per year for US records. $299 per year for world records. Give or get gift certificates. This is my site of choice because of the number of world-wide records. The charge is reasonable for what you get. You do need to be careful and verify the information that you find already collected on other family trees. - has a good list of the 50 most popular genealogy websites, which includes search sites, at: 

A review of the top 10 best genealogy websites cyndislist has a comprehensive, categorized & cross-referenced list of links that point you to genealogical research sites online. I have never been able to figure out how to use cyndislist for research so if anyone out there knows how to use this list and has been successful in using it for research please let me know how you did it. 

Families are like fudge... mostly sweet with a few nuts!!! 

If you have any questions or you need help getting started or if you are stuck pushing at a brick wall, please contact me and I will help you.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Free Genealogy Course

Genealogy Lesson #1
Why do family history? 

As a young girl I enjoyed hearing the stories of my ancestors. My mother read to me from a book called, “Jeremiah Woodbury & His Family”. It contained rich accounts of her father’s family and even included my mother’s name. There were tales of the early Mormon pioneers who crossed the ocean to come to America and then pulled handcarts across the prairie to join the Saints in Utah. These stories of those who are long gone, are a part of who I am. When my children were small I read these stories to them. Now they have a copy of the book to read to their children and I no longer have a life because I am a genealogist.

In the Foreword to the book Ethnic Genealogy: A Research Guide, Alex Haley wrote: “Tracing ancestors as far back as possible has brought to many people great satisfaction and pleasure. Even documenting one's family thoroughly for but a few generations can prove just as exciting and fulfilling as a more sketchy documentation across two or three centuries. Each individual ancestral relative previously unknown and genealogically discovered is its own special thrill! No less thrilling is the discovery of records rich with information, which would have remained untouched, which would never have come to light, unless you had gotten caught up in the multiple, magnetic lures of genealogy.”

Who doesn’t like to solve a good mystery puzzle? Many books and TV shows are plotted on an intriguing mystery. TCasteel, who writes the Tangled Trees blog says: “Genealogy and mysteries, they go together rather well.” Solving who your ancestors are and how they are related to you can be very satisfying. Finding their stories and pictures from their life not only keeps their memory alive but brings you great piece.

When you search for ancestors, you find great friends! 

If you have any questions or you need help getting started or if you are stuck pushing at a brick wall, please contact me and I will help you.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Autobiography of George Plant Ward

Written in Salem, Idaho on January 31, 1899

The biography of your humble servant commences at the early dawn of January 1, 1828, at Newborough, Northamptonshire, England. I am the son of John Ward and Ann Woods, who were born at Eye, Northamptonshire, England, and North Lufnaham, Ruthlandshire, England, respectfully. My parents were in humble circumstances and the common education of life was not attainable, in consequence of which my education was limited. I spent the first twenty years of my life on the farm and at the time of the inauguration of the Free Trade Law, which proved to be very detrimental to the renters, my father was compelled to leave the farm. In consequence I turned my attention to the bakery and grocery business in which I was successful.
I was married March 28th , 1849 to Sarah Ann Plant who bore me four children. At this time we were living in West Walton in Norfolk County. There were no Latter-Day Saints in the vicinity until late in the fall of 1850. My wife and I first heard the Gospel preached on the first Sunday in January 1851, and were baptized on the 23rd, of the same month. I was ordained to the Priesthood in February following, and ordained an elder in March of the same year. I commenced my missionary labors on the day I was ordained an elder and was successful in the work, as we had a new branch of sixteen members: my father, mother, youngest brother, and two sisters being among the number. We had much joy in our labors for the Lord was with us.
At a conference held at Bedford I was called as a missionary, sold out my business and left on Nov. 1st , 1851, leaving my wife, child, father, mother, brother and sisters. I was appointed to labor at New Market and vicinity. After two weeks of continuous labors I was unable to get a meeting in the great town of New Market. I then directed my labors to the surrounding county and was very successful in so doing. In a small town called Seahim. I baptized sixteen unto the church, and a very successful branch was organized. After this I was appointed to labor in the Southampton conference, in the branches of which my labors were abundantly blessed in the bringing of many souls to the truths of the Gospel, and the building up of the various organizations. I labored in this conference during 1853 and 1854. In 1855 I was called to labor in Scotland and was appointed by the presidency to labor in the different branches of the Glasgow conference, in which I was blessed in the counseling of my brethren and the Saints.
In the reformation of 1857 my president (the president of the Glasgow Conference) baptized me after I had first baptized him, We together baptized forty of the members of the conference and continued our labors in this direction throughout the different branches, in which was manifest to us that we were all accepted of the Lord. During this year I was called by Apostle E. T. Benson to labor in the Dundee Conference; while laboring in this conference, I was up to hold a discussion for three nights at Airbraugh. The subjects were arranged by Apostle Benson, which ended in a perfect victory for the Gospel, my opponent having given up and was satisfied in two nights, he being incapable and not desiring to continue longer. After visiting the different branches, we went to old Bonie Aberdien where I received a call from the Liverpool office notifying me that I was appointed to preside over the Liverpool conference. A short time after commencing my labors in Liverpool I had the misfortune of losing my wife who was called by death; two weeks after the death of my wife, I also lost a daughter in death leaving me with two children to mourn the loss of our dear ones.
I had the good luck in getting Sister Clegg at Stockton (of Stockport) in whose tender care I placed my children, and by whom they were given every attention possible.
Continuing my labors with much pleasure and being blessed by the power of God, we labored diligently in the up-building, and bringing many to the cause of truth. In the fall of the same year I was called to preside over the Irish Mission. In connection with my brethren we labored with much satisfaction and with the blessings of the Lord. I was pleased with the opportunity to labor in this part of the Lord’s Vineyard. In the fall of 1858 I was appointed to labor in the Manchester Conference, having much pleasure in visiting the branches, and was an instrument in the organizing of branches that had become disorganized.
In July 1860, on July 21, I was again married, taking to wife Martha Monks, daughter of John and Alice Monks, and who was born Sept. 14th, 1839, near Bolton, Lanchestershire, England. (She bore me ten children. She died May 8th, 1899, after a useful life.)
I was appointed captain of the guard on the ship Manchester. We were 27 days and nine hours coming from Liverpool to New York. After a long and tiresome journey, we arrived in Florence, Nebraska and stayed in camp here for six weeks, leaving with ox teams under the care of Ira Eldgredge, arriving in Salt Lake City, Sept. 14th, 1861. Our riches consisted of fifty cents cash. My wife and two children had no shoes. All was well. We visited father and mother (John and Ann Woods Ward) at Ft. Herriman for six weeks and then started for Wellsville, Cache County, and arrived there October 25, 1861.
In November, my wife and I enjoyed the privilege of receiving our endowments in the Salt Lake Endowment house.
In March 1862, we moved to Hyrum, Cache Co. I was appointed president of the teachers quorum shortly after arriving, which position I held for fifteen years, acting on many occasions as bishop of the ward and was called as one of the (members of the High Council previous to the reorganization of the Stakes of Zion) appointees of organization of the Stakes of Zion. I had the privilege of being a member of the School of the Prophets. Shortly after this I was ordained a Seventy of the 64th Quorum.
During the epidemic of diphtheria there were seven of the family stricken, but by the blessings of the Lord we lost none.
On August 18, 1867, I married a plural wife, Sennie D. Nielsen, (daughter of Seron and Elsie Marie Nielsen, and who was born Sept. 25th 1846 in Yerring, Denmark) by whom there are nine children (Six of whom are living).

In the year 1871, I was again called to fulfill a mission in England, during which I was appointed as president of the Manchester conference, in which position I filled with pleasure and satisfaction to my brethren. On my return I was appointed captain of a company of 3 50 Saints sailing on the ship “Wisconsin.” In September 1872, I arrived home in the full blessing of health.
On reaching home in Hyrum I received a kind reception from my families who were all well, and from the saints who were glad to have me back. I employed myself on the farm and in the fall of 1873 I made up one thousand and fifteen gallons of sugar cane syrup.
At the time the Utah Northern railroad went through, I was cook for the company. Our quarters were at Richmond and Logan. After this I was agent for the Hyrum Lumber Co. in Logan. It was afterward called the Cache County Lumber Co. I was also secretary and treasurer for the Seventies of Hyrum, Paradise, Wellsville, and Millville. We employed two men to work on the Salt Lake Temple.
On March 30th , 1874, I again married, taking Jane Ashworth to wife. She was born Oct. 4th, 1853 and was the daughter of Edmond Ashworth and Alice Ashworth. She is the mother of four children. I left Hyrum in 1878 and moved to Randolph, Rich Co., Utah. From here we moved to Meadowville, Rich Co., Utah, and from there we moved to Snake River Valley, arriving in the latter place September 21st, 1884, and settled in Salem.
I have had a family of 27 children; 18 living and nine dead. I have 30 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren.


Here we go again.
(I wrote this blog back in January, 2010, when we began talking about building our "Legacy Locators" business. It is interesting to go back and look at how different our life was at that time. We worked 8 days on and 4 days off with little time to spend on genealogy. Now we get up in the morning and get on our computers and go to work, in our casual clothes, consulting with those who hire us to find dead people.)

All we did was go to tithing settlement (like we always do at the end of the year) and all of a sudden we are setting out on a new adventure. We met with Bishop Dunn and asked him what he wanted us to do? It had been suggested by our Stake President that we go on a mission and then one Sunday the Ward Clerk had us make out some forms to be submitted for us to be temple workers. We were becoming kind of confused as to what the Lord was going to have us do next to justify our continued existence. Bishop Dunn said that we needed to get our finances in order or we couldn't do any of those things and asked us what we would like to do. Bill told him that he likes to do his family history. The Bishop jumped on that and said, "You can do a family history business! There are lots of clients that will pay you to look up their history and tell them they are related to the guy who invented the toaster." Bill and I just looked at each other and smiled. We had thought about trying a business doing genealogy but we did not think anyone had the money to pay us to look up their ancestors. Bishop Dunn assured us that there are still folks with lots of money who will spend it on things that they truly desire.
The Church declares the importance of temple work for all people. What an opportunity to be a part of the great work of linking all of our ancestors together into one big family. Just think of the blessings that this could bring to others as they are added to the giant family tree.

Bill and I got on our computers to learn all we could about doing family history work so we could start our business as quickly as possible. It was challenging to do this while working and taking care of 10 girls but we would squeeze in a few minutes here and there to read books or ponder internet lessons.
Our focus was to be on completing family history projects for customers. We wanted to search out their 4 generations and compile the genealogy and stories into a published book for them to share with their families and friends. We have the capability to link everyone to royalty as we are all related in some way as cousins, whether once, twice or three times removed.