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Any ancestry surprises when researching your family tree?
Old 10-13-2013, 09:47 AM   #1
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Any ancestry surprises when researching your family tree?

I've recently gotten very interested in tracing our family trees.

My dad's side was well documented on paper so all ancestry.com did was confirm what I already knew.

My mom's side was a different story. There is an anecdote that my mother's grandmother was full blood Osage. But I've recently done a DNA test using 23andme.com and the results say I'm 100% European. So the native american story isn't true, but mom wouldn't believe the results so I started digging.

It was hard tracing mother's line since her mom died when mom was 5 and the eight kids were farmed out to lots of relatives (mom and her twin brother were sent to different relatives!).

Using lots of digging in ancestry.com I've confirmed my DNA results. My mother's line comes from Ireland and I was able to trace them back to the mid-1600s.

Since I had the DNA test it wasn't surprising. What was hugely surprising is that my mom's dad's ancestors were some pretty important folks in England back in the 1600s. Seems they had a castle, were knighted and when they came to the US, one of them was the governor of Pennsylvania for a time.

No idea where that money went since by the time my grandfather was born they were sharecroppers who moved just about every planting season!

I'm still digging since I'm stuck in the early 1600s on both sides of my mom's line. I've only been at it for about a month but I can see where this could be an all consuming hobby!
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Old 10-13-2013, 10:14 AM   #2
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I have been researching my tree for over 15 years and now have close to 8000 people in the tree. So yeah, if you have the bug, it can become quite a consuming hobby.
I've had a lot of fun connecting with living distant cousins (mostly 3rd cousins now, but some even more distant). In the last couple of years, I've found that my mom had first cousins we never knew about. They had emigrated from England to Canada and the Canadian records online are not that good.
The 1940 US Census was released in April 2012 and a swarm of volunteers indexed (read the original and typed in) 132 million entries in just 4 or 5 months. It was amazing.
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Old 10-13-2013, 10:32 AM   #3
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I'm still digging since I'm stuck in the early 1600s on both sides of my mom's line. I've only been at it for about a month but I can see where this could be an all consuming hobby!
+1

A first cousin on my dad's side spent more than 20 years researching that side of our family. He got stuck at a dead end with our gggrandparents who were born in the 1790's. He even tried hiring a genealogist from the UK to help with his research without success.

He did publish a huge book with every known family ancestor. The book is 900 pages in length, highly detailed and contains the name, place and date of birth & death of more than 9,000 of my relatives. But the most interesting part of the book by far are the more than 500 photos and countless individual stories he managed to dig up, especially the account of the murder of our ggrandfather in 1885 and the trial and conviction of his killer. I am amazed and highly appreciative of all the work that went into putting the book together.

I purchased three copies, one for me and one for each of my two daughters. Neither seemed particularly impressed with the book, but I write that off to their current status as busy working moms.

Funny how we don't seem to appreciate this sort of thing until we have a lot of miles on us...
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Old 10-13-2013, 10:44 AM   #4
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I sent off a sample to 23andme a few weeks ago. When I get the results, will do some more research via online sites.
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Old 10-13-2013, 10:52 AM   #5
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My father did the geneology on his side of the family very thoroughly, about 50 years ago. He even traveled back to Scotland to do extensive research on our ancestors and to photograph our ancestral home and environment. Fascinating stuff, to me. So, since I have known about all of this for a half century, and since I haven't delved into it any further, in a sense there have been no surprises.

BUT - - in reviewing all of this geneology in order to properly label some old photos after scanning them, I discovered that my great grandparents on his side BOTH died of pneumonia only 10 days apart, on their tiny farm in a remote part of rural southern Missouri. She was only 55 and died first, and he followed only 10 days later at age 61.

How sad for their many children and grandchildren!! My father was just 6 years old at that time, and had nearly died himself from typhoid fever when he was 4-5 years old IIRC. He never mentioned his grandparents to me.

This was in 1916 so I suppose that their pneumonia could possibly have been a complication of influenza, which I believe was epidemic at some point around that time.
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Old 10-13-2013, 10:52 AM   #6
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I agree. I'm trying to get copies of work my cousin did a few years back. I've been told she found amazing history. While doing my own free research I've found interesting stuff.

Dad always said our family went back to the Mayflower, both grandmother's were DARs. I can't find reference to the original Mayflower, but have found tree's with my ancestors going back to 1641 in this country.

I get stuck on a branch back in the 1850's for my fraternal great grandfather. Was wondering if anyone here knew how to track birth records or imigration records in public domain?

MRG
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Old 10-13-2013, 10:55 AM   #7
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I sent off a sample to 23andme a few weeks ago. When I get the results, will do some more research via online sites.

One of the fun things the 23andme report does is tell you a current celebrity that you're related to.

From our tests, DH and I learned that we're both related to Jimmy Buffett. However, DH and one line of my ancestors are from Ireland, England, Scotland so there's no telling how far back in the tree we're related to Jimmy!
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Old 10-13-2013, 10:55 AM   #8
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My mother died in 2012 -- the day I joined this forum -- and that prompted me to get into a bit of her genealogy to learn more about her and the women in her family. They were Scots-Irish in Kentucky, so that little chore is going to take a few of us some time. All those cousins marrying each other. Sheesh. :-) I follow various threads and learned to fit in the pieces she had told me about. I started by using FindAGrave, and it made all these people so real to me that it just lit a fire.

More recently, I have followed another direction. I was born in Texas, and I also started learning more about my dad's dad's roots. I always knew my Gramps came from Rhode Island, leaving that state when he was a teen. We were in TX and he talked different from the rest of us. I always thought it sounded very cool.

The family tree on both sides of Gramps's parents is very well documented back to Roger Williams, who founded Rhode Island, and further back to England. That tickled me, Anglophile that I am. I have always felt quite at home in London, and both sides go right back there. To find those two family lines were so well documented has been wonderful; once I learned some of the names, I found that I am probably related to just about everyone buried in those historical cemeteries in RI that I recently visited.

Just a couple of weeks ago I made my first trip to Rhode Island to visit family graves, and I made a few discoveries in the cemeteries. What I really found exciting, and special, was visiting a local apple orchard, while in search of a nearby historical cemetery, finding another cemetery there, and then seeing family names in that one. I realized that I was sitting there, eating a honey crisp apple, on land that my family had settled and farmed quite some time back. My friend looked up some old maps of the area and I could see family names in several areas right at that intersection.

I stood at the graves of 4th great grandparents and had I visited another cemetery that I drove by, I could have visited the grave of my 8th GG, who married the first immigrant in that family from England. I have her name as my middle name, and her name is my maiden name. It just blows me away.

I never knew anyone but the kings and queens of England had such well documented histories OR gravesites, so it was pretty amazing to me to see all that history there.

Now when I look at a map of tiny little Rhode Island, I can see family names all over the place.

I feel like Rhode Island is a tiny little jewel box full of things to discover, and it means that I am also learning more about our nation's history, the stuff that didn't stick when I had to learn it in school.

Learning about where the family came from has been very educational in several ways. I am planning to return to RI from time to time, to keep exploring and to get involved in the reclamation of some of their historical cemeteries.

I just loved the Ocean State, like I have always loved London. If there is such a thing as genetic memory, now I know why, and why Texas never was home to me.
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Old 10-13-2013, 11:01 AM   #9
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+1
He did publish a huge book with every known family ancestor. The book is 900 pages in length, highly detailed and contains the name, place and date of birth & death of more than 9,000 of my relatives.

Neither seemed particularly impressed with the book, but I write that off to their current status as busy working moms.

Funny how we don't seem to appreciate this sort of thing until we have a lot of miles on us...
That's awesome that you have a book that is so detailed. In my short month I've found dozens of pictures from other people's trees that cross ours so publishing a book at some point would be a goal.

And the disinterest isn't necessarily a generational thing. We've been tracing my husband's side as well and when we found father and mother-in-law's relatives back to the early 1700s my MIL's response when we showed her was "really... why are you spending so much time on this... they're dead."

I was shocked! Both her parents died very young and she didn't know much about her history so I was very surprised at her not caring that we were doing the research.
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Old 10-13-2013, 11:01 AM   #10
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This was in 1916 so I suppose that their pneumonia could possibly have been a complication of influenza, which I believe was epidemic at some point around that time.
There was the Spanish flu(well documented), in 1918. It could have been a pre cursor of that. There are other smaller epidemics prior to that. There were no antibiotics back then so being around a sick person was potentially deadly.

Our Grandfather was orphaned in the 1890s, in similar circumstances. I wish I could spend an hour with a few of those ancestors.

MRG
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Old 10-13-2013, 11:02 AM   #11
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Was wondering if anyone here knew how to track birth records or imigration records in public domain?

MRG
Sorry MRG. I don't know of good public domain sources. I tried that route too and got stuck so joined ancestry.com. It's some of the best money I've ever spent.
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Old 10-13-2013, 11:09 AM   #12
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There is also a free site, at Find A Grave dot com (well it's free for now, except that Ancestry bought them out, so who knows how long it will stay free). There are over 105 million grave records entered, and often those grave records have not only photos of headstones and people, and cemeteries, but also census info and whatever other pertinent info that was entered. The work is done all by volunteers, and it's amazing.

When I started on that site just a year ago, they had about 82 million records; now they are at 105 million and growing.

Also, I think that certain census records are available for free, but I can't remember the cutoff date.
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Old 10-13-2013, 11:48 AM   #13
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If you have an opportunity watch the show "Who Do You Think You Are?" The American version is obviously an advertisement for Ancestry.com but the British version is much better. I'm amazed at the remarkable stories of ancestors that are revealed.

I've dug around in the free access parts of Ancestry.com and found census records for my parents and grandparents. I also found muster records for my Dad in the Navy in WWII.

What I would love to research is my maternal grandparents' lineage. They came to the USA in the early 1900s from Hungary. I know they left their families to come here and as they were Jews in Hungary, I'd love to find out if any of them survived the Holocaust.

I remember being a young kid and going with my Mom to her parents apartment and they packed up boxes of stuff (and chatted in Yiddish) to send "to the old country'. Who were they sending packages to? How did these folks survive WWII? My grandparents never talked about those times.

An interesting thing that I found at Ancestry.com is that my paternal grandfather has 2 different birth years in his military records vs his census records. Hmmm.....
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Old 10-13-2013, 12:00 PM   #14
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I found my great grandfather's passage info from Ireland at the Ellis Island website, which shows a photo of the handwritten ship's register. I have this picture of him in my house:



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Old 10-13-2013, 12:07 PM   #15
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Regarding the different birth years for military vs census records: the draft cards are usually filled out by the individual and often, I've noticed, are off by a year or two to make them less likely to be called for service. Sometimes a young boy would adjust his age upward to make himself eligible for service if he wanted to.
The census records are also self reported. The earlier records (childhood censuses) are reported by parents or whomever spoke to the census taker when they knocked on the door.
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Old 10-13-2013, 12:27 PM   #16
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My aunt, who was born at home in the Irish countryside almost a century ago, had a baptismal date registered prior to her birthdate. The midwife registered a batch of births together and made a mistake. After that she had two birthdays!

It is well known that when old age pensions were first introduced, there was a spike in the number of people who wee born in the first possible year of eligibility.
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Old 10-13-2013, 12:37 PM   #17
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It is my understanding that the Mormon church collects and archives genealogy records from around the world.

They also make them available to anyone (free, AFAIK) who has an interest. https://familysearch.org/search?PAGE...rchresults.asp

omni
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Old 10-13-2013, 12:48 PM   #18
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I found my great grandfather's passage info from Ireland at the Ellis Island website, which shows a photo of the handwritten ship's register. I have this picture of him in my house:
There doesn't appear to be a strong family resemblance to your photo in your avatar...
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Old 10-13-2013, 12:50 PM   #19
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My Paternal Grandmother's ancestors were kicked out of the Puritans for "overindulgence".
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Old 10-13-2013, 12:56 PM   #20
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It sounds like genealogy may be as much of a hobby in early retirement as photography has turned out to be, for some.

I hope we can keep this thread going and share tips and techniques as we go along.
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