22 April 2013


The RootsTech convention happened March 21-23, 2013 in Salt Lake City, Utah. While I was not fortunate enough to attend I have been enjoying the streaming of the speakers. There is a ton of great information on these streaming video replays and I invite you to watch them. You can view them for free here RootsTech Videos

Enjoy and happy hunting!

Been Awhile

I deeply apologize for not posting in awhile. We have had some tragedies in our family that took me away from the rest of life. I'll be making more posts a little more frequently but I can't promise daily posts. We are still going through a lot and getting our life back together. Thanks for your patience.

07 October 2012

Finding Obituaries

Using obituaries can be very helping in finding spouses, brothers, sisters and children. By looking at the date of the obituary it will give clues where to look for other living relatives and it will also give insight into those who has passed away.

Here are some websites that have searchable obituary listings. They may or may not have the full obituary but once you know the date and the location you can contact the local library and ask them for a copy for a nominal fee.

  • - searchable Social Security Death Index (SSDI) and Obituaries. You can also have an email sent daily or weekly with obituaries that contain your surnames that you are searching.
  • Cyndi's List - Everything under the sun. This one is a must see.
There are others that will allow you to search for free but to view them requires a credit card and a short 7 to 14 day free trial. Their prices range from $29.95 to $49.95 a year. I just can't bring myself to do this. Some days I think I chose the wrong profession. 

Anyway I will add more when I can find more. I am always available for more information if you have any that I haven't listed send me a message.

Happy searching!

06 October 2012

Family LInes

Here are some of the family lines I am researching:

  • Perry and Peery - Virginia, Missouri, Ohio
  • Kennedy - Pennsylvania, Nebraska
  • Spalding - Michigan, Australia, Indiana, New York
  • Byrd - Virginia, Indiana
  • Scurlock, Sherlock, Spurlock - All over
  • Westfall - New Jersey, New York, Ohio
  • White - Massachusetts, Ohio
  • Barnhouse - Virginia, Ohio, West Virginia
  • Bennington - Ohio
  • Strait - Ohio, New Jersey
  • Wright - West Virginia, Oklahoma
  • Johnstonbaugh -New York, Ohio
  • Lewis
  • Modglin - Illinois
  • Wildman - Pennsylvania

05 October 2012

Next Steps

Now that you have your list of names and some birth or death dates I know you are ready to dig in and find more. Okay, get yourself a nice cup of coffee or tea (trust me, you will grow to love it) and a notebook and a trusty pen. You will need to make notes, lots and lots of notes. Try to organize them by person. Make a single page for each person you find data on. 

Go to your computer, its your best tool. I suggest for fun and yes information as well go to Google and search for your grandfather. Type in his name and see what comes up. Sometimes there are others out there searching for the same ancestor. Sometimes you run into a dead end. No problem, move to the next step. If you know where your grandparent is buried try looking at Find-A-Grave and see who else might be buried there as well. Find-A-Grave is a fun site to look at. There are over 85 million burial records here. If your grandparent or parents are listed keep looking around. Look for Maiden names as well. Search by last names and if you know where your grandparents were from look in those states. You will probably find other people who share their last name. Now this doesn't mean you are related to all of them but this is where the notebook comes in. Say your last name is Strait (I'm using some of my own surnames here) and your grandparents were born, married and died in New Jersey. You search the last name and select the state of New Jersey. It will give you a list of all interments for Strait. Go ahead, try it. You will see that many of my New Jersey Strait's were from Rockaway, Morris County, New Jersey. A few migrated to Sussex County as well. 

Once you have grown weary of Find-A-Grave (I don't see that happening) or if you find some really good leads another great resource is This is run by the Mormon church but let me tell you, they have everything (or so it seems). Here you will be able to search for Census records (1880 is the only free one I believe), Birth, Marriage and Death certificates, links to other family histories and all sorts of fascinating information. If you find your ancestor's birth or death certificate you can often find out who there parents and spouse (if married) were and maiden names as well. 

Now you are a detective. Don't forget your sleuth book because now it gets intense. Start digging deeper by searching Google for free genealogy sites. There are hundreds of wonderful volunteers who dedicate their lives to transcribing documents and posting it online. Here is a short list of some I have used.


  1. Genealogy Trails (I used to do three counties here, Vinton, Jackson and Gallia County, Ohio)
  2. RootsWeb World Connect which is Ancestry's free community based database. I lived here for awhile when I first started my research. Its wonderful but one word of caution, when you find information triple check it and source it on your own because there are some people who haven't researched their own facts and there is misinformation on there. Its great for finding starting points but never assume your done. Find your own proof.
  3. USGenWeb Project is another site similar to Genealogy Trails but often with information that may or may not be on the other one. 
  4. Google Patent Search is fun. I searched various names there and found a lot of cool things my ancestors had a part in. 
  5. The Bureau of Land Management allows you to search for Land Deeds and Patents purchased by our ancestors. I have found a lot of my ancestors here. It gives me the date they purchased the land, the location and I can also download an image of the patent or warrantee of the land. Very valuable site. 
Not Free:
  1. which is not free but will eventually be your best friend. Once you have exhausted everything you can find you will want to invest in this site. It took me eight years to succumb but I am glad I did. There are other pay sites like Footnote but I haven't had to buy into those yet. I'm sure at some point I may.
  2. Genealogy Bank is a great website that offers newspapers full of information. Some of these papers date back to 1690. First time users get a 30-day free trial. After that it's less than $20 a month or less than $70 a year. This is a great site. I don't have a subscription anymore because we had to cut corners but it is well worth the investment.

I suggest if you are really serious about researching your roots and your finances can swing it purchase a wonderful little program to help you stay organized. You may not need it for a month or so but no harm in getting it and playing around with it so you are familiar with how to enter data and edit fields. I personally use RootsMagic. It is easy to use, very powerful and has a great interface. There are lots out there. Download them and use up the trial time on them. Play around and find one that you like best. I will list some of these in a later post. 

Happy searching.

04 October 2012

Where Do I Begin

I have had many people ask me "Where do I begin to look for my roots?" Well the best first step is to make a list of your parents, their parents and aunts and uncles. Contact the living ones. Ask them questions (I'll suggest some of those later in this post). Think about what resources you have at hand. Things like a family Bible, baby books, letters, and the telephone. All of these could be valuable resources.

Make a list of the following questions:

  1. Who are my grandparents. Call them or better yet, pay them a visit. Take a note book or record the conversation for later retrieval. Ask them about when and where they were born. 
  2. Ask them to tell you stories about where they grew up. What was it like then?
  3. Who were their brothers and sisters? 
  4. Ask them questions about their parents. Who were they? Where were they born? When were they born? 
  5. If your grandparents or great-grandparents were immigrants find out if you can when they came over and from where. What was the name of the port they came in to? Why did they leave their home country.
  6. Where is the family burial plot if there is one. Ask for locations of burials. 
Once you have all of the information you can get from them talk to your parents if they are still living. They can fill in some gaps from before you were born. 

Once you have this start compiling your tree. Starting with yourself first work your way back. It may be easiest to create or download a ready made chart. There are a lot of FREE resources on the internet to utilize. A good site is here

I am posting an example of a pedigree chart from my own family. This will help you understand how to do this. 

The person listed in yellow is the root person in this case. Follow the lines up and down to the person in blue. These are her parents. Now follow the lines to the people highlighted in green. These are the root person's great-grandparents and the parents of the people in blue. Keep following lines over to add other grandparents. Each person will eventually have their own sheet. That will allow you to add more information about them. Once you fill in the names as far as you can go start a new sheet for each person listed. It will allow you to add more detailed information about that person. 

Once you get all the people you know on these sheets you are well on your way to tracing your roots. In following posts I will cover researching. Stay tuned!

Happy searching.

From The Beginning...

In about 1995 I was bitten by the bug, the genealogy bug that is. It's a bite like nothing I have ever experienced. It makes me do crazy things like stalk cemeteries, dig through records of long ago and decipher handwriting that most would throw away as illegible. I have read thousands of books, articles, census records, birth, death and marriage certificates, blogs, message boards, phone books, court documents and more. 

My journey is far from complete and I have found so many shocking things that sometimes it makes my head spin. I'll give you an example. One morning about 4 a.m., I was pouring through family histories and suddenly found out that my soon to be husband was my cousin. Now before you flip out on me, he's my tenth cousin 6 times removed so it's legal but needless to say I thought I was going to fall out of my chair upon finding this revelation. 

See one thing I have found while searching for my roots is that we are all one degree of being connected somehow some way. Most people think they have two sets of grandparents and some Aunts and Uncles and cousins. Well boy are they in for a surprise when they realize they have hundreds of grandparents and thousands of Aunts and Uncles and close to an infinite number of cousins. Some days I go around singing "I'm my own Grandma"  and scary enough I could be! 

Seriously though, tracing my roots and the roots of my children has been the most exciting thing I have ever done, next to giving birth. Finding out that my sons are direct descendants of Peregrine White, the first baby born on the Mayflower while it was docked at Provincetown Harbor, Massachusetts or to find out that my Straits and Westfalls were the founding settlers in Orange county, New Jersey and that my Perry family escaped religious persecution from Northern Ireland has really shed a whole new light on who I am. It has helped me know that no matter what I may have gone through in my life that they were probably going through so much more.

I will be showcasing different things about my family branches in posts to come. I tend to follow rabbit trails so forgive me if this blog also bounces around. I have so much information to share, to clarify and to research that I decided this would be the best place to help me and others piece our tree together. 

A few prominate names I have confirmed are Kennedy (Canady, Kenedy), Scurlock (Sherlock, Spurlock), Bennington (Pennington), Barnhouse, Strait (Streit, Straight), Perry (Peery), Westfall, Spalding (Spaulding), White, Byrd (Bird, Burd), Lincoln, Grant, Boone  and many many more. 

Happy Digging and please Don't lose your census along the way.