Friday, July 31, 2015

Coming Soon to a Library Shelf Near You!

Beginner's Guide to Online Genealogy by
Michael Dunn - 929.1028 DUN

New books soon will be on the shelves at the Medina Library!

I LOVE it when we get new genealogy books. They don't always get the attention they deserve, so why not highlight a couple of them?

A Beginner's Guide to Online Genealogy by Michael Dunn is a very thorough beginner's guide. But it does have some issues:
  • It is very dry reading, just like a textbook. It has no illustrations to break up the text and illuminate the information.
  • It could be overwhelming to a lot of beginners.
  • Some of the information is already incorrect. (Dated information on )
  • The warning about critically evaluating online information and the abundance of "shoddy" family trees is only listed on page 221 in the Afterword. It should have been in the introduction. Imagine getting that far in the book and with your research only to realize you may have been misled!!
Unofficial Guide to by
Nancy Hendrickson - 929.1028

The second book is Unofficial Guide to  by Nancy Henrickson. This also seems to be a very complete, useful book. It is readable and does have pictures to break up the text and illustration the information presented. And on page 15, it has a list of genealogical myths that caution you to not be taken in. It has very good reviews on and several of the review that even experienced Ancestry users can learn something from this book.

If either of these books appeal to you, just click on the blue, underlined title and you will be redirected to the library catalog where you can place a hold for it!


Monday, July 27, 2015

The Genealogist Will NOT be in!

The Genealogist will NOT be in, tomorrow, Tuesday the 28th of July.

Lisa Rienerth and I will be going to the Cleveland Public Library to tour their Digital Hub facility in preparation for Medina County District Library's launch into digitization of some of our unique resources.

We will be back next week, August 4 from 1-3 p.m.

And as always, feel free to sign up for a Genealogy One-on-One appointment with either Lisa or myself. You can do that by calling 330-722-4257 and talking to any of our very friendly reference staff.

This form is to be filled out by Reference Staff only.
To make an appointment, call 330-722-4257.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Lineage Society Update

I got in! My application to The Society of Civil War Families of Ohio was accepted!

Next April, in Mason, Ohio, I will attend the Ohio Genealogical Society (OGS) Conference and The Society of Civil War Families of Ohio banquet and receive my certificate and my pin!

You might remember that I was a little nervous about this application, as OGS is known for its stringent lineage society application process.

I covered the application process in two earlier blog posts:
Now, my dilemma is... Do I apply for First Families of Ohio?

First Families of Ohio pin.
Isn't it pretty!?!

The application would be nearly identical. I would just have to prove one generation past my Civil War ancestor and prove that his father was in Ohio before 1820. This gets a little trickier, because of the lack of birth and death certificates in this time period. I will have to rely on wills/estate records and land records to prove First Families eligibility. But I am so close!!

If you still don't understand why anyone would want to apply to a lineage society, or have questions about how to go about it, the Medina County Genealogical Society has a very nice article about it in their latest newsletter:

Do any of these statements reflect your genealogy research:
 My parents and/or grandparents and/or ancestors lived in Ohio before 1914.
 My great grandfather or great uncle served in the Civil War and lived in Ohio.  I learned that my family once lived in
Medina County.
 Whenever I tell my family about these ancestors that I have found, they politely smile, nod their heads and change the subject.
For once it would be nice to have someone tell me “Congratulations” with regards to my research and place on “A+” on the papers I would show them!!”
If you have answered “Yes” to any of these statements, you should consider submitting your research to a lineage society. When your papers are accepted, your work is acknowledged as meeting genealogy standards. Your ancestors are remembered
forever in the collection of the lineage society. Fellow genealogists are acknowledging your accomplishments and publish this in their publications.
Still, you may hesitate to take the time to follow through on this effort. For most people, they are intimidated by the application process. The purpose of this article is to advise our membership that lineage support will be available before and after all future chapter meetings. Board members have lineage experience with Ohio Genealogical Society, our own chapter lineage society, as well as Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) and Sons of the American Revolution (SAR.) The members will be happy to answer your questions, review paperwork suggest areas of research and/or share our previous applications. We hope to show you that the process to honor your ancestors in a lineage society is very rewarding and not as difficult as you think.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Military Records

The Medina County Genealogical Society's July meeting included a class on military records. It reminded me that military records are some of my favorite records to research. The documentation of an individual's life when it is intersecting with big historical events is intoxicating!

There are two major types of military records: service records document the day-to-day records of an individual's service; and pension records, which document the benefits a person takes advantage of after their service has ended.

These types of records produce very different information that a genealogist would be interested in. The service record will tell where the person served and in what capacity, at what rank, if he/she had any awards or medals, what training was received and their medical records. It generally does not have any information about family members or the military members movements after they left the service. That is where the pension records come in. I LOVE pension records!

The National Archives has a very complete page about US military records and how to order them: 

If your ancestor's service was for the Confederacy or for a state militia, the records will be held at the state level, not by the federal government. Foreign military service records are generally available from the foreign government.

So, how do you know if a relative ever served in the military?
My Great Great Grandfather, James Tanner on
the right. He is in a Civil War Navy Captain's
uniform. His son, George Tanner is in his World
War I US Army uniform.
·        Family stories and traditions
·        Photographs
·        Published histories
·        Cemetery markers
·        Biographies
·        Age at the time of major conflicts 
·        Census records that have military service information:
           1910 asked men if they were a veteran of the Civil War
           1890 Census had special schedules that lists Union Civil War veterans or their surviving spouses.
          1840 Census lists Revolutionary War pensioners, or their widows, on the second page.

So what kind of genealogical information have I uncovered in military records??

My Revolutionary War Ancestor, Christian Young, in his pension application, reveals all the different places he served and the battles he participated in. He also mentions that he helped build the cheval de frise (barrier made of spiked posts) across the Hudson River that was supposed to keep the British from sailing up the Hudson from New York City, which they occupied. This was while he was stationed at Fort Montgomery. He goes on to tell how he and others from the fort escaped when the British over ran the fort. They crawled through the trees and rocks to a ship waiting just off shore.

In James Tanner's (pictured above) pension records, I discovered that his rank was never higher than Common Seaman, despite the stories he told his grandchildren and the photo he posed for with his son. I also discovered why it was so difficult to pin him down in the census records. He moved every 18 months. I later learned from a cousin that he worked for the railroad and that was why he moved so often. His record also revealed what ships -- actually,boats, river boats, he served on.
The Grampus

These are the two ships James Tanner served on. The Grampus was a training ship.

The Peosta was a steamboat outfitted as a gun boat. It patrolled the Tennessee River.
The Peosta

James McComas' pension record revealed that his wife, my 4X great aunt, Mary Ann, died of typhus, a disease quite probably brought home from the returning Civil War Soldiers. (I thought it likely that she died of exhaustion after giving birth to 11 children in less than 20 years!) 

Later in James' record, Mary Ann's brother, James Tagg, my 3X great grandfather, served as a notary, taking James McComas' statement for his pension record. After several pages of recording the statement, fatigue must have set in. The nearly 70 year old slipped into the English accent of his youth by writing "he as ad"  when he clearly meant "he has had"!  

That kind of personal detail you can't find in many records!!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

I seek dead people!

No, I am not a vampire hunter! ALL genealogists seek dead people! Once we move past researching our living relatives, it is all we do.

As genealogists, we are trained to work from the most recent events to the furthest past. So when we learn the name of a new ancestor or relative, what we are looking for first is the death record. 

One of the quickest ways to track down an ancestor's death date is to search for their tombstone on one of the online cemetery sites. There are three main ones:
  2. BillionGraves
  3. Find A Grave
1. is a publisher of cemetery transcriptions for use by genealogists and local historians. Visitors use this site to help locate burials of family & friends, trace family history and learn something about cemeteries in general. 

2. Billion Graves Their goal is to preserve precious records found in cemeteries throughout the world. Using modern technology, they capture images of headstones with their GPS locations so users worldwide can access those records anywhere.

3. Find A Grave  Find a Grave's mission is to find, record and present final disposition information from around the world as a virtual cemetery experience.  

Each of the sites provide pictures and ways for volunteers to participate. You can narrow your search by location, first names, dates of death, etc.

My favorite is Find A Grave. It has a cleaner look with less advertisement. Plus, more volunteers work for Find A Grave resulting in many more search returns. For example, search for the surname JOHNSON on each of the sites. Interment returns 6,100 hits, BillionGraves, returns 94,000 and Findagrave finds 190,250 JOHNSON graves!

The draw back to these sites is that they mostly cover deaths that have occurred in the last 150-200 years. If the cemetery or the tombstone no  longer exists, they will not cover them.

If you are looking for a veteran that was buried in one of the US Veteran's cemeteries, you will want to check out the Department of Veterans Affairs Gravesite Locator.

For other cemetery transcriptions, remember to search the county's USGenWeb site for cemetery listings.

Now get out there and dig up some dead relatives!

But not literally...

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Cite Your Sources!

We have all done it. We are rushing to leave the courthouse or library before the doors lock and we quickly make a copy of that last record, thinking " I will remember later where I got this." 

BUT WE DON'T REMEMBER! Then later, maybe years later, we pull that piece of paper out of our files and wonder, "Where did I get that??"

Recently, I have been helping a lady who is applying for membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution -DAR. She has been researching her family for years! So why does she need my help? She is trying to retrace her research because she didn't cite her sources! So now she brings us a piece of paper and asks "Where did I get this?" Mostly, we have been able to find the copy in the library's resources. But now always. I am sure some of her research came from elsewhere.

So, when we relocate her original source, we put the citation on the back of the copy, in pencil.  So what information goes into a genealogy source citation? The minimum information should be:
  • The name of the resource. Its title. What it is called. Iinclude page number, volumes, publisher, & publication date. Examples:
    • Tombstone Inscriptions from the Cemeteries of Medina County, Medina County Genealogical Society. 1983.
    • Marriage Records of Medina County 1818-1965 (microfilm), include the volume and page number. If the film is numbered, you include that information.
  • The repository where you found the item. Examples:
    • Medina County District Library
    • (online database)
    • Medina County Court House
  • The url of any online resource.
  • The date you found the item.
So save yourself some headaches and put the citation on any item as soon as you discover it.

Sources for more information:

  • Cite Your Sources by Richard S. Lackey. 1980. This is the primer that emphasized source citation. Too old now to be useful now (no Internet back then), it still needs to be acknowledged.
  • Evidence! Citation and Analysis for the Family Historian by Elizabeth Shown Mills. Her first book on genealogy citations was published in 1997. It does not include the comprehensive listings for online resources that her later book does. At 124 pages, it is also less intimidating.
  • Evidence Explained Citing Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace By Elizabeth Shown Mills is THE book on how to city any genealogy source you might use for your genealogy research. It is now on its 3rd edition and at over 800 pages, can seem intimidating. But if you want to know how to cite your Great Aunt Martha's wedding dress that has been passed down to you, this is the book!
  • Cyndi's List from the Grande Dame of online genealogy, she includes multiple links to online information for citing your genealogical resources. 
  • Dear Myrtle and if you want an alternative to Evidence Explained, or if you like stirring up controversy, this popular blogger has links to other citation styles.
These books are available for use inside the Franklin Sylvester Room
at the Medina Library