Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Mormon Writer Blog-fest: Why I search

I was trying to put my feelings into words when I came across this quote by J. Richard Clarke.

Through family history we discover the most beautiful tree in the forest of creation- our family tree. Its numerous roots reach back through history, and its branches extend throughout eternity. Family history is the expansive expression of eternal love. It is born of selflessness. It provides opportunity to secure the family unit forever.

This says everything. I can see the difference searching and finding my family has made in my life. It makes me whole. Words can't express how much love I can feel in my life. Love for myself, love for my family and love for the family I didn't know I had. It can take away hard feeling that can happen in families and fills you with a new understanding and love that fills your whole self. I don't think I could ever put into words how much it means to me to do this work. Perhaps it is this unspoken passion that drives me, and drives me to share what I have learned, am learning and will learn. Maybe it is because I can't put my feelings into words that drives me to help anyone I can so they can feel that love for themselves.

Richard G. Scott puts it so nicely.

What about you? Have you prayed about your own ancestors' work? Set aside those things that don't really matter in your life. Decide to do something that will have eternal consequences... This is a spiritual work, a monumental effort of cooperation on both sides of the veil where help is given in both directions. It begins with love. Anywhere you are in the world, with prayer, faith, determination, diligence, and some sacrifice, you can make a powerful contribution. Begin now. I promise you that the Lord will help you find a way. And it will make you feel wonderful.

If you are interested in finding out more about my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, check out these posts today.

Monday, April 26, 2010

How I got started and why?

My sister wanted to know how I got started or maybe it was why I started, I can't remember....

So I will tell you both.

I can honestly say I felt a drive and push to know my family. It was a feeling that wouldn't stop. Almost a nagging feeling that if I didn't do it I would be making one of the biggest mistakes of my earthly life.

I had no clue how to search or where to start.

So the first thing I did and I do think it is where anyone should start is the begging. Take your name and see how far back your line goes. Find out if there is anyone who has any family information. I was lucky. My parents had started a family file. It hadn't been searched in years but I took the file and put it on my own computer.

I took the line that was pressing on my mind the most and looked up the last known name in that line. For that line it was instant. I put her name in and the first census that came up was her with her father! I of course didn't believe that I had the right person. It couldn't really be that easy. So I looked under every stone before I would put her fathers name and then her mothers name down.

Two things stand out to me from that memory. They were ready and waiting for me to look and the information I needed just jumped into my lap. I can remember the tears of joy at finding someone who was lost. Someone that belonged to me! Someone that I belonged to! You can't mistake the love you feel.

It isn't always that easy. Some lines just jump into my lap. Some I have been digging at since the beginning and every tiny bit of information gets my so excited that I dig harder. Sometimes it is slow, hard and discouraging. I have never wanted to give up though. When your heart turns to your family I don't think you can ever go back to who you once were. You wouldn't want to go back to who you were.

So I started one census at a time to fill my heart with more love than I can express.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Great places to look

Some of my favorite places to look for family.

The funeral home. My family stayed in the same area for many many years. One of the funeral homes has free online records of may of my ancestors. They give the birth, death, spouse, marriage date, where they were buried and parents names. They also don't mind phone calls when I have more questions. So call the funeral homes. They are always happy to help.

The cemetery. When I find a cemetery or think it might be the right one I find the phone number of the cemetery and give them a call. They are also very helpful. They can look up a name to see if they are buried there. If they are buried there the can give me the location and they also have a book that records how they died, the doctor that attended, who took care of or owned the plot and if there are more plots owned and who is buried in those plots. They are happy to send maps of the cemetery and if I come to town they are happy to show me around and mark all the plots for me to visit. And some of the grave stones are very sweet to read.

The library. The local library have all kinds of great things. I love the old news papers. You can find little bits of information in them. They usually have a little notice on deaths and births. They even mention when family go on visits and when they return home!

Local genealogy societies. They have book, news papers, pictures.... to much to list. They love to help. They have a deep passion for family history and can give many tips and places you might want to look. Plus they know the area and when counties changed and where you can find records. A great place to look.

Family. Any family still living will have great stories that they can tell you about. I haven't found anyone who didn't want to talk about how things were for them. You can find forgotten stories and some legends to check out!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Its free

I love to look through census reports. You can find great things in a census. I have been searching for Robert's family on census records ever since I started. I can find the him when he is older but I can't find him in a census with his parents. For a long time I thought he was an only child. His obituary didn't mention any siblings, only his parents.

And of course you can tell I have found a gold mine of information through the census. I tracked my great great grandfather back and forth looking for his parents because the trail stopped with them. I couldn't ever find them recorded. One day my friend called to tell me that she might have found a brother of Robert my gg-grandfather. So I searched and searched and low and behold it is his brother!

So now I searched the brother back and forth. This is were the Civil War pension records came in so handy. I confirmed that they were brother because his mother filed for the pension. I got a look at the whole pension and found out when his father died and that his mother remarried.

Then I looked harder at the census records. I found a sister Robert lived with and then followed her backwards only to find another sister on the same census as the first sister. I then followed that sister forward and found that these sisters and their families moved together. Any time there was a move both families moved! And both sisters named their children after their parents or siblings.

So be sure to check the whole census. You might just find family you didn't know you had! Follow each of the children, you can find lots of things this way. Sometimes you can find a parent living with a sibling! Keep looking and later or sooner you will find something great!

And a great place to look though the census reports is at the library. You can long on from home and they have a free searchable data base called Heritage Quest. They also have other great books and things to look through!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A photo

It is very true. I am not a collector of anything...
I hardly even like to keep the things that get passed on to me.
I have to have a use for everything. No sitting in boxes or crowding my shelves.

I will admit I some times even dream about the day I can pass everything on to my children.
Don't get me wrong. I do like having some of these family keep sakes....
I like to think of myself as a careful saver.
I don't want my children to have the burden of keeping my stuff...

With that said, onto the photo.
I, never being one to save needless stuff, didn't want to keep my wedding dress.
I know this a a girl thing to do but I didn't want that dress crowding my
closet for the rest of my life! So I cut it up.

(Gasp, gasp)

I thought it was a fine idea. There were plenty of voices telling how I would be
sad someday that I cut the dress up. But the practical side of me really didn't want
the dress sitting around. (14 years later and still happy)
So I got my sister, Marianne to help me and
we cut it all up and sewed it into two baby blessing gowns.

One for a boy and one for a girl. And of course they are beautiful.
My two boys were blessed in one and my daughter in the above picture was in the
gown made years and years before her birth! They don't take up to much closet space.
I got them cleaned and check on them every so often. I just want to be sure they can be used when the happy day comes and I get to pass them on.

And if my children don't want them you can be sure I will be pawning them on someone.

But the whole point of this story is you can cut up your wedding dress and make it into something else just as beautiful and still pass it on as a family air loom!

It is true because after I cut up my wedding dress and made it useful
my mom wanted something done with her wedding dress.
So I took her dress and the left over scraps from my dress so
I can make two wall quilts. One for her and one for me!

So be creative.... you don't have to let things sit in boxes or hang in the closet.

Enjoy them if you have to have them!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

National Archive Center

If you ever have the chance to go to the National Archive Center I highly recommend it. It is wonderful. There are a few, I happened to go to the big guy in Washington D.C.! I did prepare in advance. I was searching Civil War pensions. I had about 8 different records I wanted to see.

I first looked up any male in my family tree that might have been at an age I thought he would have enlisted in the Civil War. (1861-1865) I then looked up every name I had at Ancestry.com.(you need a membership) I wrote down all the men I found that had applied for a pension. I found a great great uncle this way! His mother applied for his pension. You take the pension application numbers to the National Archive Center.

I had someone that worked there pull all the files before I arrived. If you don't get them pulled in advanced be prepared for a wait time to get your files. The files are wonderful. Most of them had great information in them. Some were very brief. I found in the files things like:

parents names and death dates
children names and birth dates
wounds from battles
eye color
where they were living
childhood information

Just a note... I did pay for a file copy and had it shipped to me. I bought the cheaper file and didn't find the information I was looking for. I did call them and asked if there was other information that I might find useful in my family search. They were very happy to help me. They re pulled his file and looked again. They didn't notice anything. When I decided to take a trip to D.C I decided to have his file pulled again. He had a large file and in it I found the things I really wanted to find! So if you can't go yourself I recommend just buying the copy of the whole file. I am sure they didn't really know what would be of worth to me. They sent me all the main pages on him and his battles. I was looking for information about his family.

I know it is a gamble to pay for the whole file. Some really are small and some are well worth the money. If you live close enough go in person. It is free to look all you want. You only have to pay for the copies you want. Go prepared.

I wish I lived close enough that I could go often. They have all kind of records stored there! It is a searchers dream come true!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

My Name

I want to know where I came from. I want to know my family before I meet my family. I decided to record my family search as I travel the path to finding them or my memories of finding them.

I have been searching and learning since Oct. 2008. I can't number how many names I have rediscovered. Many. Over 10,000. Some by linking into work already done and others by my own hard work.

This is how my name came to be. I was named after my maternal great grandma. I never met her but my mom always has such a twinkle in her eye when she talks about her grandmother. I have always loved that I have her name. Laura Elizabeth.

As I was searching my family tree I decided one of the first places I would start was with Laura's grand mother. It was a blank spot on my chart. Just calling for me to fill it in. She had a paternal grandmother, Laura. But no maternal grandmother.

Her mother Myra Hickman Howie died at a young age. Laura never heard stories of the grandmother growing up. In fact she spent a short time in an orphanage until her father remarried.

I talked to any living person I could find that might have any information about Myra or her family. Nothing.

I was new at this family searching... how could I trust myself to find her mother to find family that no one else had found. So I was very nervous and a little skeptical when I found Myra in a census with her father and a brother. She was young. Could this really be her? All I knew about Myra fit with this child Myra.

Because this was my first find I was nervous that I was doing it wrong so I searched it to death to be sure it was right. It was right. I had found her father and from there it wasn't very hard to find her mother. Now I had a blank spot filled. Elizabeth Frances Ozment.

Back to my name.... Laura Elizabeth, named after my great grand mother Laura Elizabeth who to my happy surprise was named after her two grandmothers, Laura and Elizabeth!