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 Post subject: Family History - Real life, not fiction
PostPosted: 14 Apr 2013, 14:11 
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In another topic
Caroline wrote:
All the lovely, lovely names - they are one of the reasons I'm so obsessed with family history research at the moment...


I'm working on mine again at the moment - now seems like a good time to have a topic to chat about family history. What interests or amuses you, good information sources you've found, problems you're having, the lovely names that Caroline mentioned...


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 Post subject: Re: Family History - Real life, not fiction
PostPosted: 14 Apr 2013, 14:32 
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I have found an Almena - which is fairly unusual but sadly most of my ancestors seemed to be named Joshua or Mary, usually marrying each other, which leads to great confusion.

My greatest problem however is trying to trace a death in the US in the 1920s. I know when he went over, which ship, (although there is a mistake in the Ellis Island record, which shows him as married, when he never did.) I then have a letter from him in 1916, where he appears to be in Washington, Indiana, (he was advising his nephew (my great grandfather) to take raisins to the trenches) and after that there is only family legend! He apparently died in the early 1920s, possibly in a railway accident but can I find any sign of him anywhere...

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 Post subject: Re: Family History - Real life, not fiction
PostPosted: 14 Apr 2013, 14:57 
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Some sad stories too. In the summer of 1868 SLOC's great-grandfather must have been pleased with life with a job, a house and two little girls, both toddlers, and a pregnant wife until suddenly one small girl died (no idea what from). Six weeks later a baby girl was born and promptly died, followed three days later by her mother.
So there he was suddenly, with just one very small girl - no surprise, I suppose, that the next piece of news is his remarriage, 5 months later, to a young widow with a small boy. You can picture the marriage of convenience it must have been on both sides - a widow with probably little or no income, and a man who wouldn't have been able to afford a nanny - but it worked out OK and SLOC's grandfather was the third of the second family. Sadly the remaining little girl from the first family died at the age of four.

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 Post subject: Re: Family History - Real life, not fiction
PostPosted: 14 Apr 2013, 15:29 
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Nice thread!

I mainly use Ancestry, with diversions to Find My Past (who's transcribe-y people seems to apply logic and their eyes to much better effect than some of the Ancestry transcribers...) and Familysearch.org.

I've got a huge tree on Ancestry, and am loving the new records they have added since I started a few years ago, particularly the parish records. I'm still stumped by some quite close family members though - my gg grandfather, wife and children are present and correction on every relevant census apart from the 1871, and on that one I just cannot find them - so frustrating!

And then there is the name thing - as a family we have a collection of quite unusual surnames, which in theory is great, apart from the fact that no census enumerator knows how to spell them (and of course, spelling wasn't particularly standardised anyway), so if I want to find my Lovesey relatives I have to search under Lovesey, Lovesy, Lovsey, Lovsay, Lovesay, Lovsy, etc etc etc. Some websites search engines are better than others at covering all the varients...

Grumble, grumble. This is why it's so fascinating - if it was easy, I wouldn't still be doing it, probably!!


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 Post subject: Re: Family History - Real life, not fiction
PostPosted: 14 Apr 2013, 16:56 
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My Dad was trying to research his family- my Mum traces one branch of her tree back to the Norman conquest- but was frustrated by trying to find the right Williams in South Wales. Maybe I'll have to try and see what I can find.

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 Post subject: Re: Family History - Real life, not fiction
PostPosted: 14 Apr 2013, 17:15 
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I enjoy family research. I have a huge tree on Ancestry which is a combination of my family and the SLOCs. We cover all corners of the British Isles.

Often people turn up in unexpected places. My family said my great grandmother was from Co Kerry but I found she was born in Lyme Regis and moved to Ireland.

I have also found odd gaps in the Census for 1861 in Monmouthshire. The other Census problem is that there are only 2 Irish Censuses available - 1901 and 1911. The earlier ones were destroyed so it can be hard to find Irish ancestors.


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 Post subject: Re: Family History - Real life, not fiction
PostPosted: 14 Apr 2013, 17:49 
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I'm addicted again to family history recently after a gap - my grandfather started me off on it in the late 80s, and my parents continued. I have many memories of being taken to look at microfiches and old paper records in various county libraries / research centres as a child, (I was such a cool child me !!! :-D )

It is a lot easier with Ancestry etc, though also easier to think you have "proof" of something only to realise it has come from anther member's tree and seems to bear no relation to the actual sources and facts !

I went last wednesday to visit The National Archives for the first time, and had a great time looking at old maps and general bits of information including finding a police file on a plot to kidnap Lord Nuffield which I had had no idea about ! (no relation, just that I grew up near Nuffield so found the plot when looking things up for there) Very Agatha Christie like plot too!

I find imagining the lives of these people really interesting, almost like inventing or filling in details for characters. I often think that it would have been a nightmare for the next generations of Maynards / Bettanys to track their relatives, since they dotted around living all over the place, and lived with all sorts of different relatives, and had wards and adopted children all mixed up with who they lived with at different times. I enjoyed thinking of it like a FH researcher when writing my drabblet about it, and would love to read someone else following the same idea, writing as a present day descendant trying to make sense of it all, or collecting information from aged relatives and being confused by all the nicknames and "Aunt Hilda / Nell etc " when not actually familial aunts.

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 Post subject: Re: Family History - Real life, not fiction
PostPosted: 14 Apr 2013, 18:06 
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I'd love to research my family tree - it's knowing where to begin that's the problem! A cousin on my dad's side of the family down South is researching my grandma's side. He's got quite far with it, and has given me what he's managed to find - I'm more Irish then I first thought :)

Also his wife told me that on her side of the family if they can trace it back to the right name/branch there is such a thing called 'The Angel's Millions' sitting waiting to be claimed. I told them to get researching as apparently there are not many with that surname!!

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 Post subject: Re: Family History - Real life, not fiction
PostPosted: 14 Apr 2013, 18:47 
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Myth Tree wrote:
My Dad was trying to research his family- my Mum traces one branch of her tree back to the Norman conquest- but was frustrated by trying to find the right Williams in South Wales. Maybe I'll have to try and see what I can find.


One of my great-grandmas was a Williams from North Wales, and it's a nightmare - half of Wales seems to've had that surname :lol: .

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 Post subject: Re: Family History - Real life, not fiction
PostPosted: 14 Apr 2013, 18:58 
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My SLOC's cousin emigrated to New Zealand and whilst out there had a daughter called Esther - chosen for no reason at all except he and his wife liked the name. He returned to UK and some 20 years later started doing family history. He discovered that throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, every oldest daughter was given the name Esther or Hester - coincidence or strange forces at work?!


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 Post subject: Re: Family History - Real life, not fiction
PostPosted: 14 Apr 2013, 19:00 
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There is also the probelm of duplication of Christain names. My paternal grandmother had a sister called Mary & another called Mary Elizabeth. She also had brothers called John and John Wiliam.

Legend has it that my maternal grandfather ran away to sea (the timing of my grandparents wedding would mean that it was before WWI) and was drwoned in the mid-1920s. We've never managed to find out anything about him except that he was an engineer who sailed with an Australian line.

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 Post subject: Re: Family History - Real life, not fiction
PostPosted: 14 Apr 2013, 19:09 
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Yes, I'd thought quite a few of us were addicted interested! Absorbing postings, too :D

emma t wrote:
I'd love to research my family tree - it's knowing where to begin that's the problem!
If you're really not sure where to start, emma, you could do worse than draw up a chart of your direct ancestors like the one SLOC and I use (we found the basic outline aaaages ago in a family history magazine). (Unless you really like creating tables on your computer, it may be easiest to draw it out by hand first, and adjust until you've got it to your liking, but that's personal preference).

If you want to do this, draw columns down a sheet of paper for Name, Birth date, Birth place, Marriage Date, Marriage Place, Death Date and Death Place (for some of the more recent, the info may not get filled in for many years, of course). Across them in lines you can then write the information where possible for each of your parents, then your grandparents, then your great grandparents, keeping them in the same order of families, or it can get really confusing. Then you've got a handy sheet of your thirty most recent ancestors - and it will make a nice thing to do for your nephew, too. I know some people only do father's father's father and so on, but I think that's far too limiting, and often misses out the most interesting characters.

(edited to try and sound a bit less bossy!)

PS Williams is the fifth most common surname in the UK - and they're not even all Welsh. SLOC has one that we're having difficulty with, too, Alison.


Last edited by Noreen on 14 Apr 2013, 23:02, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Family History - Real life, not fiction
PostPosted: 14 Apr 2013, 19:22 
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Literature especially those with childrens nicknames in does come in handy for identifying people on the census who are called one thing but christened something completely different. The amount of short forms for Margaret and Josephine for a start!

I did do some transcribing for a while for Free Reg, which was fascinating although trying decipher the handwriting was difficult. Transcribing the burial records was really sad though as there were so many babies buried before they even had a name.

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 Post subject: Re: Family History - Real life, not fiction
PostPosted: 15 Apr 2013, 06:13 
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My cousin's husband (Lynne and Paul) in Leeds is doing my adopted Dad's side of the family tree and has achieved loads so I thought I try and trace my adopted Mum's side, as well as my natural parents.

Paul uses Ancestry and has suggested I try my local library first because they either do it for free or cheaper than if I used it at home or something; I've checked and Bedfordshire libraries do run Ancestry so I'll go up the road to my local library while I'm on holiday next week.


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 Post subject: Re: Family History - Real life, not fiction
PostPosted: 15 Apr 2013, 11:02 
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I think the first stages of investigating your tree are by far the most exciting, because it's all about the people you know / knew and who are most closely related to you.

I'm far more expert in how I go about it now, but the people I'm investigating are so distant from me that learning about their lives is somehow less engaging, and it's more about solving puzzles and mysteries and the satisfaction of putting the clues together.

I'd start by drawing an actual family tree on paper, and adding your parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles etc., with dates and places, maiden names, everything you know that might be relevant. Then go and see any older relatives you have who are still alive, and see what they remember and add that...

Your aim would be to get the details of relatives who would have been alive in either 1901 or 1911 so that you can see them on those censuses (I'm only 40, but three of my grandparents were born before 1911, and of the fourth, her mother lived to be 99 and I knew her quite well). If you can do that, you're in....


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 Post subject: Re: Family History - Real life, not fiction
PostPosted: 15 Apr 2013, 11:20 
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If you have Scottish ancestors, then Scotland's people are worth a look. They have all the birth, marriage and death records as well as the full census records. Death certificates from 1855 are extremely useful as they usually give the spouse and the person's parents as well. It is pay to view however.


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 Post subject: Re: Family History - Real life, not fiction
PostPosted: 15 Apr 2013, 12:02 
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I'm another family history addict! There's so much you can do online now that I can sit for hours at the computer chasing ancestors, then suddenly it's midnight and I should be in bed. Having an uncommon name is useful, but spelling can then be very varied, especially transcriptions of censuses where enumerators either can't spell it or write it badly so that the transcriber gets it wrong. I use Ancestry a lot, and whenever I find a mistake I report it and it then gets amended. I also use FindMyPast, FamilySearch, The Genealogist, and a few with local records (and don't forget Google - if the name is uunusual it turns up some inexpected gems). I have a couple of lines going back to around 1500 (land-owning minor gentry) and a couple of others back to late 1500s (country folk who didn't move around and go back in same parish register)

It's useful if you can find a criminal - recently found a great-great-grandfather was imprisoned for stealing 5 sacks of wheat (he was a miller) and the Assizes record gives a very full physical description - hair colour, eyes, height, scars etc). I found a Navy service record which also give a description, and Ellis Island immigration does it too. Knowing what they looked like without a photo is interesting.

There are lots of mailing lists - for counties, regions, one-names etc, which are great for sharing problems - and I also enjoy reading about other peoplr's hunts and success stories.


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 Post subject: Re: Family History - Real life, not fiction
PostPosted: 15 Apr 2013, 13:23 
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The war records look quite good, but annoyingly you can't view the details unless you pay £8.95 per month to join :banghead:.

The census records are very useful - although it doesn't say much for evolution that I'm living less than a mile from the house in which one set of great-grandparents were living in 1911 :lol:. If you can get back several generations, you find all sorts of interesting relatives - I found that my great-great-grandma's brother was a Victorian music hall ventriloquist!

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 Post subject: Re: Family History - Real life, not fiction
PostPosted: 15 Apr 2013, 21:34 
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Yet another addict here. I agree that Scotlandspeople is very good for Scottish ancestry. It does however get expensive at £7 for 30 credits. I have traced my fathers side of the family to the late 1700's. I find it all fascinating and very time consuming!


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 Post subject: Re: Family History - Real life, not fiction
PostPosted: 15 Apr 2013, 22:02 
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ivohenry wrote:
Having an uncommon name is useful, but spelling can then be very varied, especially transcriptions of censuses where enumerators either can't spell it or write it badly so that the transcriber gets it wrong.

It's useful if you can find a criminal - recently found a great-great-grandfather was imprisoned for stealing 5 sacks of wheat (he was a miller) and the Assizes record gives a very full physical description - hair colour, eyes, height, scars etc). I found a Navy service record which also give a description, and Ellis Island immigration does it too. Knowing what they looked like without a photo is interesting.
How true - but I think it definitely takes a family historian to appreciate having a criminal in the family tree :D. And what a difference it makes to know what someone looked like - I found someone else on Ancestry had put up two photographs of one of my great-great-great-grandmothers, Elizabeth Harwood, which was the last thing I'd expected.

As for names, I guess what's ideal is something that's distinctive but not outrageous (far too easy to mis-record, as you say). I don't know why some names are quite so prone to mangling, though - my Ayers and Rolf(e)/ Rofe/ Roff/ Roof ancestors are a pain in the neck that way.


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