Friday, June 21, 2013

Digging Up Bones

When my brother came to visit almost 2 weeks ago, he brought along 2 boxes of pictures, military records, tax documents, and other items related to our families. Probably the real treasures in the group were 2 video interviews that my brother conducted with my grandmother and father. In July 1998, he spent nearly 2 hours interviewing my then 87 year old maternal grandmother. Her memory was quite good, and I was especially impressed by the accuracy of the dates she gave. In July 2003, he then interviewed my father for about an hour. At that time, Dad was 77, but his memory was already beginning to fail him, especially as regards specifics. But watching Dad move around and speak made it seem that he was still alive. Dad and I were quite close, so it was a great pleasure to watch that interview.

Larry questioned Dad and my grandmother on family history. As the videos ran, I took notes and have used that information for a new wave of family research. I've spent much time since 1997 digging up my Cameron family bones, and have received a great deal of information from a distant cousin, Judy, whom I've never met in person. Judy has been a wealth of not only dates and places, but she has been able to furnish some great photos of my great grandfather and his siblings and others.

I get in my moods where I spend long hours searching genealogy sources for information on my families. When new information refuses to surface, I tend to go dormant for a while until something new pops up. With the interviews I've just seen, I've had a new burst of energy and am now working on my mother's side of my family tree. This includes several families, but mainly Robinsons and Milligans.

I thought I'd share some of the online sources I use in my research. Some of you may be interested in getting started researching your own families.

My favorite source of all the is FamilySearch, a nonprofit family history organization dedicated to connecting families across generations. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the primary benefactor for FamilySearch services. If you use this tool, be sure to create a free account so that you can have access to the records that are available. It's really exciting when you look at an actual document signed by a distant relative. With FamilySearch, you can find all sorts of records, such as census records, death certificates, marriage certificates, birth certificates, draft registrations, and many others.

I also use Find A Grave a great deal. This site relies extensively on volunteers to gather and contribute information from cemeteries. Quite often, pictures of tombstones or even people are provided. I've even found the contents of a death certificate included with an entry.

Many counties participate in the US Gen Web project. Begin by going to the national USGenWeb Archives. From there you can select your state. At the state level, you can then look for the appropriate county. Some counties are really active in this project while others have very limited information.

These are just 3 sources that barely scratch the surface. Records of all types exist out there, from ship logs to military records. Be creative in your search and use all the information you have. Personally, I enjoy playing detective. I find that it keeps my mind active, and this is a good thing as I age. I enjoy the mental challenge of trying to solve a riddle, and family history is certainly that.

When I first created my web page (Living the Good Life), I included a section on genealogy. Unfortunately, I've not done much on it since. But on a sub page, you can view some early pictures of my Cameron family. I hope to get back to work on that portion of my web page in the near future. But right now, I'm just too busy digging up bones.

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