Sunday, October 19, 2014

Gradually migrating to a new blog...

Announcing For Us the Living ( , my new  blog and webpage. The migration is happening slowly. Expect some double posts for some time. Please let me know your thoughts!

Your ancestors are American... Right?

 In doing research recently, I've run into the same circumstance over and over again: American families crossing the Canadian border, or vice-versa. If you've been raised in New England, it's not something you necessarily expect. We have a mentality that all New Englanders were Puritan settlers who remained here from their first settlement.

That's not always true. Families from northern New England or eastern Canada migrated across the border in search of new jobs or new opportunities. They may have stayed for years or just months.  Sometimes their descendants forgot that they were anything but American.

Why do I raise the issue? Simply to challenge how you think your research. It's very easy to fall into a pattern of just looking for records in one area. If we assume a family was from Maine, we tend to focus on our work there. By doing so, we may miss the ancestor's actual records, just over the border in Canada. Always do an open-ended search - just in case!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Are you sure you found everything?

Because my home area is heavily immigrant, Catholic church records are a huge source of information.

 Most of us remember the typical: baptism, marriage, and burial. The records should be checked even if you have already located civil records. The Catholic records required sponsors or witnesses, often when civil records do not. These names may turn out to be an unknown sibling, aunt, or uncle.

But you shouldn't forget other sacramental records! Early on, Confirmations did not take place on a regular basis. They occurred only when a member of the church hierarchy visited the area. That meant individuals of all ages were confirmed when St. John's was the only church in the area. Yet, if you are searching for a Connecticut record after 1900, they should appear every year or two at the most. Sacramental records can be used to estimate age when other documents do not exist. I've even used them to estimate marriage records.

Catholic-non-Catholic marriage? In the early 20th century, one individual had to convert or the marriage had to receive a special dispensation from a member of the church hierarchy. That dispensation can provide additional information about the couple's life at the time. In my family's case, it should the applicant's ties to his home diocese - even though he was living across the country

Don't just stop with the baptism records. What you need may be buried deep in another document.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Vintage photo crafts

If you've been following me for long enough, you know I'm a little... okay, a lot... photo obsessed. But I've started trying to channel it. I'm experimenting with different kinds of photo crafts. Most of these will be available through my genealogy business. But in the meantime, I thought you might enjoy the pictures!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A new Civil War research database

Thanks to Dick Eastman for introducing me to the Sons of Union Veterans' online grave database. The database contains the burial information, including full name and Civil War unit, for both Union and Confederate veterans. You can read his extensive write up here. I just did a quick search of my own, using a common Connecticut surname - 121 matches, all from Connecticut. This looks like a great research option!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Sheila Connolly's Scandal in Skibberdeen

Although it's not mentioned often, I know the mystery lovers among us are thrilled every time we succeed in locating a "genealogical" mystery. There are a few well known ones, such as the Torie O'Shea series. A few lesser known works also weave in genealogical themes. Yet, every time I stumbled across one of Sheila Connolly's books, they always seem to fit the bill.
 Her latest, Scandal in Skibbereen, centers on a search for a missing painting. And of course, the former professional genealogist weaves her training.  To find the missing masterpiece, a New York museum curator and an American born pub owner end up delving deep into a family's history - with a few unexpected results.
   I don't want to spoil a read with any more details, but I highly recommend the novel!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Starting your child off in genealogy?

  If you're interested in starting your child off in genealogy, a great place to start is the Daughters of the American Revolution American History essay contest. Designed for grades five to eight, it asks students to write a short essay about a topic in history.
  Here's this year's:

The year 2015 marks the 125th anniversary of Ellis Island as an immigration station. On a typical day, immigrants arriving on the island could expect to spend up to seven hours in processing activities intended to determine whether or not they were legally and medically fit to enter the United States. Imagine yourself as a child traveling through Ellis Island in 1892. How would you describe your experience to your cousin who has never heard of Ellis Island? 

Imagine the possibilities. You could offer your child a chance to learn about the site through history books - or you could introduce them to an ancestor who visited the site...