Ancestry.com Blog » Ancestry.com Site http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry The official blog of Ancestry.com Thu, 02 Oct 2014 08:45:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.5.2 World Famous Comedian Billy ‘The Big Yin’ Connolly is next on Who Do You Think You Are? (UK)http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2014/10/02/world-famous-comedian-billy-the-big-yin-connolly-is-next-on-who-do-you-think-you-are-uk/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=world-famous-comedian-billy-the-big-yin-connolly-is-next-on-who-do-you-think-you-are-uk http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2014/10/02/world-famous-comedian-billy-the-big-yin-connolly-is-next-on-who-do-you-think-you-are-uk/#comments Thu, 02 Oct 2014 08:45:39 +0000 Brian Gallagher http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/?p=20814 Read more]]> World famous comedian Billy Connolly is the next star to go on his family history journey on tonight’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are?

 

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‘The Big Yin’ is famous for his Scottish wit and has entertained audiences for many years with stories of his life in Scotland. Having endured a tough childhood at the hands of an abusive father after his mother walked out, many people were surprised to hear that he wanted to explore his family history.

“I’m 71, so I’m a lot closer to death than I am to birth… I’d like my children to know where I come from. I know so pitifully little” said Billy

Billy’s journey starts in his hometown of Glasgow. Having always considered himself Scottish through and through, he is surprised to find out that the Who Do You Think You Are? team is taking him to India. The show takes Billy on a trip that follows in the footsteps of his Army ancestors.

He finds out that his great-great-great-grandfather was present at a very important moment in Indian history. The surprises don’t stop there though! Billy discovers that his connection to India is deeper than he could have ever imagined.

Tune in to see what happens on Billy Connolly’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are?

Who Do You Think You Are? airs on  BBC1 tonight at 9pm. Join us on Twitter and Facebook to share your thoughts or questions.

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6 Tips to Get Your Family Tree Off to a Good Starthttp://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2014/10/01/6-tips-to-get-your-family-tree-off-to-a-good-start/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=6-tips-to-get-your-family-tree-off-to-a-good-start http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2014/10/01/6-tips-to-get-your-family-tree-off-to-a-good-start/#comments Wed, 01 Oct 2014 15:22:24 +0000 Juliana Smith http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/?p=20768 Read more]]> When you’re first getting started with your family tree, it’s tempting to just dive in and start adding names. If you do a little reconnaissance beforehand, you can give your tree in a firm foundation in which it will thrive. family holding tree seedling

1. Start with yourself. I know you may not find yourself as interesting as all those remote and exotic ancestors who lived in a different era, but you are the anchor of your family tree, and to those who come later, you will be that exotic ancestor who lived in a different era. What memorabilia do you have? Look at all of your family records and scan them all for clues to extended family. Document siblings, cousins, in-laws, aunts, and uncles. Think back to family members you met when you were a child and how they fit in the family tree. You can start sketching them out on family group sheets or in an online tree. Share family group sheets with family members so your relatives can fill them out as well for you.

2. Talk to family. Now. The people in our families are our most precious and most fragile resources. Find out what they know and what family records they may have in their possession. What stories have they heard? If multiple family members know a story, compare their versions. Not sure what to ask? We have a free download with interview questions that can get you started.

3. Inventory Existing Records. Ask your relatives if they have saved any family correspondence, newspaper clippings, funeral memorial cards, scrapbooks, autograph books, military medals, photographs (request copies of any info on the backs as well), postcards, Bibles, diaries, citizenship documents, and even heirlooms with engravings. Get a good inventory of who has what, and ask for photocopies or photographs of everything. Nowadays, smart phones can make it easier than ever to exchange images.

4.  Tell Your Family. Connect with extended family through social media channels like Facebook. Let them know you’re working on the family history and ask if they know of any other relatives who have done or are doing research. Someone in your family may have a good head start.

5. Cite Sources. As you gather information, be sure to note the sources of that information. Chances are you’ll run into some conflicting facts at one point or another. If you’ve noted where you got the information, you’ll be better equipped to assess what is correct.

6. School Yourself on Geography. Get familiar with the places where your ancestors lived. Learning the geography and the history of the places where they lived will help you as your research progresses. Check for historical maps online. Collections like the David Rumsey Historical Map Collection can be incredibly useful in seeing the places as they were at the time your ancestor lived there. Street names and county boundaries changed over time and knowing the lay of the land will help you navigate these changes. Ancestry’s Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources is available online on the Ancestry Wiki and the County Resources section for each state will give you a list of county dates of formation, as well as when various records began being kept.

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Upcoming Ancestry Events: October 2014http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2014/10/01/upcoming-ancestry-events-october-2014/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=upcoming-ancestry-events-october-2014 http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2014/10/01/upcoming-ancestry-events-october-2014/#comments Wed, 01 Oct 2014 13:48:09 +0000 Crista Cowan http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/?p=20773 Read more]]> CalendarHere in the U.S., it is officially National Family History Month.  Fall is in full swing.  Crisp air.  Crunchy leaves.  The perfect weather for taphophiles (also known as cemetery enthusiasts).  We hope you’ll join us this month for our FindAGrave Community Day on October 18th. We’ve also got some great webinars, tweetchats, and family history events planned throughout the month.  Take a look at the complete list below and choose the events that will help you create the perfect Family History Month for you and your family.

 

Webinars:

What’s New at Ancestry.com:  October 2014 Edition
Thursday, October 2nd at 1:00 pm (Eastern)/10:00 am (Pacific)

Join Crista Cowan for a quick look at the new features and tools available to help make your family history easier and more fun. She’ll also review the databases full of new content released in the past month and show you how best to search them to find the stories of your ancestors’ lives.

 

Ten Things You Can Do To Celebrate Family History Month
Tuesday, October 7th at 1:00 pm (Eastern)/10:00 am (Pacific)

October is National Family History Month here in the U.S. Join Crista Cowan for a quick look at ten things you can do to celebrate family history month over the coming weeks. Then join us in the LIVE chat afterwards to share your ideas and suggestions.

 

Genealogical Proof Standard:  Resolution of Conflicting Evidence
Thursday, October 9th at 1:00 pm (Eastern)/10:00 am (Pacific)

Join Crista Cowan for the fifth in our series on the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS). Step four is “resolution of conflicting evidence.” You will learn both WHY this is such an important step in your research process and HOW to do it.


Five Reasons You Are Not Finding Your Ancestor

Tuesday, October 14th at 1:00 pm (Eastern)/10:00 am (Pacific)

You have searched and searched and searched and are still coming up empty when looking for information about a particular family line. Join Crista Cowan for a look at five possible reasons why you might not be finding your ancestor. Even one of them could provide you with the spark of an idea you need to bust right through that #genealogy brick wall.

 

Joining A Hereditary Society
Thursday, October 16th at 1:00 pm (Eastern)/10:00 am (Pacific)

SAR. DAR. DUP. ADEAW. What do all of these acronyms have in common? These are just a few of the 100 (or more) hereditary societies you can join once you find a person in your family tree who qualifies. Join Crista Cowan for a look at the different societies that are available for you to join, what the membership benefits are to you, and how to complete the application process.

 

Navigating the Ancestry YouTube Channel
Tuesday, October 21st at 1:00 pm (Eastern)/10:00 am (Pacific)

It’s the 3rd anniversary of The Barefoot Genealogist. Join Crista Cowan for a look at some of her favorite videos from the past three years. She’ll even throw in some tips for navigating YouTube, creating your own playlists, and sharing videos with your genealogy friends.

 

Putting Together a Family Health History
Thursday, October 23rd at 1:00 pm (Eastern)/10:00 am (Pacific)

One of the reasons people are drawn to genealogy is to learn more about their family health history. Join Crista Cowan for a few quick tips about putting together your own family health history for yourself and your children.

 

Lesser Known Ports of Immigration
Tuesday, October 28th at 1:00 pm (Eastern)/10:00 am (Pacific)

Have you looked for your ancestor coming into the Port of New York/Ellis Island and come up empty? What about Boston? Philadelphia? Baltimore? Join Crista Cowan for a look at the “lesser known” ports of immigration that your ancestor might have used on their journey into the United States.

 

 Top Tips for Beginning Mexico Family History Research
Thursday, October 30th at 1:00 pm (Eastern)/10:00 am (Pacific)

Do you have Mexican ancestry? Join Crista Cowan as she shares some of the top tools and record collections that will help you find success in tracing your Mexican ancestors.

 

Click here to RSVP for any of the above webinars. Watch each webinar live via Livestream here. If you can’t watch live RSVP anyway to receive reminders via Facebook prior to each event and a notice when they have been archived on YouTube.

 

Conferences and Events:

Central Indiana Genealogy Conference 
Saturday, October 11th in Indianapolis, IN

The Genealogical Society of Marion County, in cooperation with the Indiana Historical Society, presents the 19th Annual Central Indiana Genealogy Conference. This full-day conference features four sessions which includes Ancestry speakers and professional genealogists, Juliana Szucs and Lou Szucs.

 

#AncestryChat:  Migration Through the Centuries 
Thursday, October 16th at 7:00 pm (Eastern)/4:00 pm (Pacific)

Join expert genealogists, Amy Johnson Crow and Juliana Szucs Smith for a Twitter chat. Come prepared to ask your questions about migration patterns through time. If you don’t have a question, join us anyway. You never know what you might learn that will help you in your own family history journey.

The October 16th TweetChat will start at 7:00 pm Eastern (4:00 pm Pacific) and run for approximately 1 hour.

 

The Genealogy Event – NYC 2014 
October 17th, 18th and 19th in New York City

The Genealogy Event, in partnership with the National Archives at New York City, will offer two days of learning, fun – and genealogy enthusiasm! This will be followed with an entire day dedicated to DNA and genetic genealogy at the India House Club in New York City.  Click the link above to see the class schedule for the three day event, which includes a full track of Ancestry classes on Friday and Saturday and a presentation on AncestryDNA on Sunday.

 

Genealogy COMO 2014
Saturday, October 18th in Columbia, Missouri

This regional conference is open to all levels of expertise and boasts 30 sessions to select from including Ancestry professional genealogist, Amy Johnson Crow. This conference is free to attend and children as young as 12 years old are welcome.

 

#AncestryChat: Going Beyond Census and Vital Records 
Thursday, October 30th at 7:00 pm (Eastern)/4:00 pm (Pacific)

Join expert genealogists, Juliana Szucs and Anne Gillespie Mitchell for a live Twitter chat. Come prepared to ask your questions about looking for vital records beyond the census. If you don’t have a question, join us anyway and share your knowledge or tips with others. You never know what you might learn that will help you in your own family history journey.

The October 30th TweetChat will start at 7:00 pm Eastern (4:00 pm Pacific) and run for approximately 1 hour.

 

 

A Look Towards November and Beyond:

Ancestry Day in Oklahoma 
November 7th and 8th in Oklahoma City

Ancestry.com, the Oklahoma Historical Society, and the Oklahoma Genealogical Society present Ancestry Day in Oklahoma, two days of genealogy and native culture November 7-8, 2014. Both novice and experienced genealogists are welcome at this event. Registration to the main event is $40 and includes admission to all Saturday classes presented by Ancestry.com. Participants may also attend optional activities for an additional charge including Friday sessions, bus tours, a reception, and a Saturday lunch program.  Click the link above for the complete schedule and registration information.  Seats are limited so sign up soon!

 

RootsTech 2015 and FGS 2015 – Two Conferences, One Location! 
February 11th – 14th, 2015 in Salt Lake City

REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN!  The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) and RootsTech are teaming up for a one-time special genealogy event at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, February 11–14, 2015. FGS and RootsTech will share the expo hall, general sessions, activities, and more while each conference offers their own program of sessions. FGS sessions will focus on methodology, records, ethnic research, and migration for honing your research skills and society issues to motivate and inspire society volunteers. RootsTech will offer a program of technology-based solutions for the genealogy needs of both individuals and societies.

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That is a lot of events for one month!  We’ve also got some fun and informative posts planned for you here on the blog so check back here often.  One last thing, don’t forget to tune in to Finding Your Roots on PBS every Tuesday night.

Happy Family History Month!

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Piecing Together US Marine’s WWII Historyhttp://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2014/09/30/piecing-together-us-marines-wwii-history/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=piecing-together-us-marines-wwii-history http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2014/09/30/piecing-together-us-marines-wwii-history/#comments Tue, 30 Sep 2014 19:50:25 +0000 Ancestry.com http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/?p=20791 Read more]]> By Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Lisa Elzey, Ancestry.com Family Historian 

My uncle, Walter Rybicki, was a US Marine during World War II who died on 6 Feb 1944. How do I find out the details of how and where he died? Where can I obtain the records? – Norm

Growing up in the late fifties and sixties, World War II seemed so long ago, the stuff of family legend at the dinner table (stories about relatives and neighbors who had served and returned, and relatives and neighbors who had served and did not return), or the subject of thrilling black and white feature films at the local cinema or drive-in.  Our personal favorites included “From Here to Eternity” (1953), “The Bridge Over the River Kwai” (1957), “The Longest Day” (1962), and of course the JFK bio pic, “PT 109” (1963).  But without a doubt the depiction that made the war the stuff of popular American culture was the weekly television series, “Combat,” which ran every week on primetime from 1962 to 1967, and starred the irrepressible Vic Morrow, whose image comes to mind whenever those of us in our sixties think of a prototypical World War II combat soldier.

Similarly, when we both encountered World War II Army enlistment photos of our own relatives—Henry Louis Gates, Sr. and Delbert Clair—we were surprised how much a military uniform can transform a person’s bearing. These photos transcended the nostalgia and legend of the World War II soldier and became a tangible reality of those spared and of those lost.

Over 400,000 men and women of the “Greatest Generation” sacrificed their lives in service to and protection of our country. Many of their children and grandchildren also recall their first encounter, in family scrapbooks or framed photos on the living room mantle, with a dapper young soldier in his new uniform or a group victory snapshot taken while serving in Europe or the South Pacific.

WWII Airmen

Some soldiers recounted their experiences in the War through vivid stories.  But others never found the words to express to their friends or families (even their wives) the depth of the trauma and horrors they witnessed in combat.  Sometimes even a person’s closest family members only learned about their father or grandfather’s war experiences second-hand, from letters or phone calls or stories recounted by fellow soldiers to next-of-kin, after their relative had passed.   So if you don’t know a lot about the military experience of your father or grandfather, don’t feel bad:  you are not alone.

So, where do you start piecing together your ancestor’s experiences in World War II?   Military service records can be a remarkably rich source of information, full of intricate insights and surprising details about the life of your own veteran relative.  As with any search for your ancestors, begin your research with what you already know, combined with any clues from letters, journals, photographs, newspaper clippings, and especially family stories.  (Family stories can often be replete with details that don’t pan out, because of the nature of oral tradition.  Remember the game of “Telephone?”  Facts get distorted the more mouths there are repeating them, especially over a long period of time.  Still, we think that, often, “where there is smoke, there is fire,” and often these stories—legends or myths by the time they get written down—do contain a kernel of truth, something for you to go on as you pursue the lost facts about an ancestor’s life.)

Because you already know the death date of your uncle, Walter Rybicki, a great place to start would be on Ancestry.com to find his Headstone Application for Military Veterans. From this record, we found some critical information about Walter’s service in the Marines, including his regiment, his enlistment date, and his serial number.

Headstone Application

The information provided on this card was enough for us to make a further inquiry about his service to the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis, Missouri, a division of the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

It might surprise you to know that millions of military personnel, health, and medical records of discharged and deceased veterans are housed at the NPRC from World War I to the present day. Records become archival and open to the public 62 years after the day of the service member’s separation from the military.  Records before the 62-year mark are only accessible by the actual military veteran or to his or her next-of-kin.

After filing a request online at their website, we received Walter Rybicki’s compiled service record.  Obtaining a record such as this can be difficult, because of the loss of millions of records destroyed in a 1973 fire at the NPRC.  Fire and floods are the twin enemies of ancestry tracing. That fire left only about 20% of the Army and Air Force personnel files intact. Fortunately for you, Walter served in the Marines, so his complete archived record was still available.

In the compiled service record, we found a remarkable assortment of documents that reveal not only how Walter died in 1944, but also how Walter lived as a United States Marine during the War.

Some notable items include his Professional and Conduct record, confidential letters of recommendation from those who knew Walter well from his hometown in Michigan, and a Presidential Unit Citation for “outstanding gallantry and determination.”

Conduct Record

One letter of recommendation described Walter as a “respected citizen, a man of many good qualities, honest and capable.” When the form asked the writer to supply any other pertinent data, he explained that Walter was the “sole supporter” of a mother and two sisters, a “natural hard worker, cooperative, sociable and of a family of good reputation.”  Your Uncle Walter lived his life the same way he served his country—with dignity and integrity.

What did we learn about the circumstances under which your uncle died in the War?   We found a number of documents pertaining to this tragic event in the NPRC file. In a letter addressed to Walter’s mother, Michalina, we found the answer to your question of how and where Walter died. It reads as follows:

“…While on a flight between the Russell Islands and Guadalcanal, British Solomon Islands, on February 6, 1944, the plane on which your son was serving accidentally crashed on Talina Island…approximately two and one-half miles from Renard Field, Banika Island.”

The plane had stalled on takeoff and then crashed. Walter died from multiple injuries; in fact, all of the other 21 men on that DC-3 aircraft died as well. Walter’s remains were initially buried on Banika Island, in the Solomon Islands, which, according to Pacificwrecks.com, was a quite dangerous and highly secret military site used for the storage of various sorts of munitions, including Mustard Gas. After the war, Walter’s remains were relocated to his final resting place at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Detroit, Michigan

Walter’s mother was later given his military service medals including the Presidential Unit Citation with ribbon bar and one bronze star awarded to the First Marine Division for service in action in Guadalcanal. Walter was also awarded the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal and the Victory Medal for his service during World War II.

We thought you might like to see your uncle’s military ID photo, taken only one week after his enlistment in 1942.

Walter Rybicki Military Photo

Photographs such as these contain thousands and thousands of fascinating stories, reminding us that each image we preserve of an ancestor has a small but important piece of American history to tell.  We are glad to have helped you discover more about your uncle’s life story and service.

Ancestry experts, along with Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. will be answering your questions in a new Huffington Post column which we will republished on our Ancestry blog. For a chance to have your family research question answered, submit your questions to ask@ancestry.com.

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The Dreaded Brick Wall. What to do next?http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2014/09/28/the-dreaded-brick-wall-what-to-do-next/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-dreaded-brick-wall-what-to-do-next http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2014/09/28/the-dreaded-brick-wall-what-to-do-next/#comments Sun, 28 Sep 2014 09:18:02 +0000 Brian Gallagher http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/?p=20404 Read more]]> The Dreaded Brick Wall

 Brickwall

How can I get past a brick wall?

When you run across a brick wall in your research, what do you do? You may be tempted to send your laptop on an expedition out of the first floor window, and who could blame you? A brick wall can be incredibly frustrating.

Some researchers might advise you to abandon the individual concerned for a period of time and move on with the rest of your family tree, and there is some wisdom to that. You’ll want to check back on that individual from time to time though. Ancestry is constantly adding new records to the site and other members are adding trees every day. A brick wall today may not be a brick wall in a few week’s time.

Review your research and revisit the card catalog

Sometimes the answers to our questions are waiting in the research we’ve already conducted. Revisit the records you’ve gathered. You may find that you have overlooked an important detail or missed a connection.

Survey what resources are at your disposal. Ancestry members will want to head for the Card Catalog to see what collections may hold the answers they seek and search them directly. A new collection may have crept in under your radar. Use the filters on the left to narrow your search by geographic location, and if you like, by record type.

Take a step back . . .

In family history, a step back may mean revisiting more recent ancestors. In your haste to move on to the next generation, are there records you overlooked or that were previously inaccessible to you–records that may knock down that brick wall? Seeking them out will give you a more rounded picture of those recent ancestors, and you may uncover new clues.

Talk to family members again

When you begin researching your family history, it is important to talk to other family members who may have information on your shared ancestry. When you hit a brick wall in your research, revisit these relatives or have a discussion with them over the phone or through email about what you have found since your last conversation. Share your recent discoveries with them. New names and locations may jog their memories and you may hear previously untold family stories.

Go beyond the direct line

Go beyond your ancestor and his or her siblings and expand your search to include distant relatives. The records of in-laws, half-siblings, cousins, step-parents and whoever else you can dig up, may include details missing in the records of your direct ancestors.

Use social media and other online resources

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you use Facebook you can search for living relatives who may hold the key to your brick wall. Feel free to post research questions to the Ancestry Facebook page or follow us on Twitter. Our online communities are an amazing resource with many experienced researchers who are willing to help other members. All you have to do is ask!

Try searching for an elusive ancestor into your favorite search engine. You may be surprised at what you can uncover in this way. The most important thing is not to lose hope. We have all faced a brick wall in our research, but with perseverance all things are possible.

Photo: Lars Thomsen. Flickr creative commons.

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From London to Ghana with Reggie Yates on the next episode of Who Do You Think You Are? (UK)http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2014/09/24/from-london-to-ghana-with-reggie-yates-on-the-next-episode-of-who-do-you-think-you-are-uk/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=from-london-to-ghana-with-reggie-yates-on-the-next-episode-of-who-do-you-think-you-are-uk http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2014/09/24/from-london-to-ghana-with-reggie-yates-on-the-next-episode-of-who-do-you-think-you-are-uk/#comments Wed, 24 Sep 2014 11:52:49 +0000 Brian Gallagher http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/?p=20572 Read more]]> Presenter and DJ Reggie Yates is the next celebrity to share their family history journey with us on tomorrow night’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are?

 

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Growing up in London Reggie was conscious of the bustling nature of a city with a diverse immigrant population. Both of Reggie’s parents are from Ghana and his father is mixed-race. It is his father’s family that are a mystery to him.

‘‘Growing up in London you sort of get asked all the time where you’re from because there are so many immigrants’’ said Reggie.

His parents split up when he was just four years old and having been raised by his mother, Reggie knows little about his father’s family. The Who Do You Think You Are? Team travel to Ghana with Reggie to delve deeper into his father’s side of the family.

Reggie meets with a local chief and his trip uncovers some unexpected surprises in his family tree.

‘‘Oh my God, what is wrong with these Yates men?’’ exclaims Reggie at one point in his journey.

Tune in to see what happens on Reggie Yates’ episode of Who Do You Think You Are?

Who Do You Think You Are? airs on  BBC1 this Thursday at 9pm. Join us on Twitter and Facebook to share your thoughts or questions.

 

 

 

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Branch Out Contest Winner: Robin Martinhttp://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2014/09/23/branch-out-contest-winner-robin-martin/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=branch-out-contest-winner-robin-martin http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2014/09/23/branch-out-contest-winner-robin-martin/#comments Tue, 23 Sep 2014 14:45:38 +0000 Ancestry.com http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/?p=20665 Read more]]> By Paul Schmidt

Robin Martin, our most recent Branch Out contest winner, asked us at ProGenealogists to research one of her German immigrant families. She knew the names of her grandfather, Peter Joseph Lear, his sister Agnes, and had a possible name of Gertrude for his mother. She also knew he married three times, all to women named Mary, though it was a little unclear which Mary was the mother of his different children. His birthdate and place was also unclear—conflicting information stated both Wisconsin and Germany between 1844 and 1849.Branch Out_Rob Martin

Initial searches for Peter in Wisconsin weren’t fruitful, though we did find him later in life living in Washington State. When this happens, it is often a good idea to look at any other known family members—in this case, Peter’s sister, Agnes, was our next target.

An early search result for Agnes was an Ancestry member tree, which gave her death date and married name, Agnes Muller. The tree also included a photograph of what purports to be Peter standing to the left of Agnes!

A Milwaukee County marriage record revealed her marriage to Heinrich Mueller, with her name listed as Agnes “Lährer.” The bride was the daughter of Peter Lährer and Magdalena Lährer, with Pet. Jos. Lährer listed as a witness.

This sibling research pattern continued: Agnes’ obituary named a brother Theodore “Leare,” who earlier in his life had lived with another sister, Eva “Loeher.” This helped us locate Robin’s grandfather, Peter “Lehr” who lived in Chicago in 1880!

With the names of his parents and siblings, we found the family in Oak Creek, Milwaukee County, Wisconsin in the 1860 Census with the surname spelled “Leohrer.” The parent’s place of birth is listed as Prussia, which was a huge part of the old German Empire, but it did help narrow their place of origin more than what was previously known.

This was a challenging project! Not only because the family moved around a lot, but also because of the many variations of the family name. We always anticipate some spelling variations with “foreign” surnames, especially with vowels, but the addition of syllables—Lear v. Learer—made finding even Soundex matches very difficult. (Soundex is a phonetic code for indexing names, like Hall, Hill, or Hale.)  Tracing the family laterally through familial relationships, instead of concentrating on the direct ancestor alone, made all the difference. Interestingly, Lehrer means teacher or rabbi in German, which could be a possible origin of the family name. The mutation of “Learer” over time, and the loss of the second syllable to “Lear,” reflects the fabled Anglicization most immigrants to America experienced in one way or another.

Knowing the family’s religion was another key to this project. Local German-American church, cemetery, and newspaper records can provide a wealth of information. Those early communities were tight-knit groups that immigrated and settled together, working hard to establish a little piece of Germany in a new land.

We hope you are pleased with this new information and wish you the best of luck with your future research endeavors!

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Ancestry Weekly Roundup: September 22nd Editionhttp://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2014/09/22/ancestry-weekly-roundup-september-22nd-edition/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ancestry-weekly-roundup-september-22nd-edition http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2014/09/22/ancestry-weekly-roundup-september-22nd-edition/#comments Mon, 22 Sep 2014 17:45:19 +0000 Anne Gillespie Mitchell http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/?p=20604 Read more]]> pirate-ship-flagBlog Posts
Ancestry.com
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Newspapers.com

Video

Interview with Who Do You Think You Are? Production Crew

From the Barefoot Genealogist:
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Throwback Thursday: Dolls and Other Toyshttp://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2014/09/18/throwback-thursday-dolls-and-other-toys/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=throwback-thursday-dolls-and-other-toys http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2014/09/18/throwback-thursday-dolls-and-other-toys/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2014 12:31:17 +0000 Juliana Smith http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/?p=20495 Read more]]> Family-Christmas 1971Now that my daughter is off to college, I’ve been doing some heavy duty house cleaning and going through some of her old toys that for some reason I’ve hung onto. I guess I figured if we hung on to them, we could hang on to some of her fleeting childhood. But it’s time to go through some old boxes that have been stored and determine what’s worth keeping and what we should donate. As I reminisced over some of her toys, I was thinking back to some of the toys we had growing up, so that’s the topic for this week’s Throwback Thursday post.

Growing up in a home with three sisters, dolls were a big part of playtime. We had Barbie dolls, cupie dolls and other assorted baby dolls, including some that talked or cried when you pulled a string. Then there was the Crissy doll, whose hair could be lengthened or shortened with the push of a button. That feature could have come in handy for those of us who did a little hair styling of our own. I cut my hair once with pinking shears. Not the best tool for cutting hair.

We also had a Doctor Doolittle doll. When you pulled his string, he said, “I talk to the animals.” My sister hated that doll and we might have tortured her a bit with it. We got in trouble for that.

With the Barbie dolls came accessories, like those tiny shoes that would somehow always find their way into the soles of your bare feet. Like socks disappearing in the dryer, we could never find a matched pair, so our Barbie dolls typically just went barefoot.

We had a lot of stuffed animals too. One of the early favorites was a Cuddly Duddly doll,that came complete with a cardboard house. I slept with him so often that eventually all the stuffing in his neck was gone and his head just drooped to the side. The black poodle in this picture was a later favorite. I named him Frenchie.

One of the more unusual toys we had was a Roulette wheel. Don’t remember where we got it, but it seems strange in retrospect. I guess it was an effective tool at discouraging gambling because we learned at an early age how impossible it was to actually pick the number that came up.

We also had a pet rock the year they were all the rage. We had to share though. I seem to remember my dad not being thrilled with us spending money on a rock.

One of my favorite pastimes was working on jigsaw puzzles. I had one of a Venetian painting that I worked and re-worked so many times that I practically knew it by heart. Since family history research is often compared to putting together a jigsaw puzzle, I guess it’s not too surprising that I was (and am) drawn to them.

What about you? What toys did you play with growing up? Did you play more indoors or outdoors? Share your memories with us, and more importantly, write them down and share them with your family.

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Utah’s ABC 4 Takes a Deeper Look at One Anchor’s Family Historyhttp://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2014/09/17/utahs-abc-4-takes-a-deeper-look-at-one-anchors-family-history/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=utahs-abc-4-takes-a-deeper-look-at-one-anchors-family-history http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2014/09/17/utahs-abc-4-takes-a-deeper-look-at-one-anchors-family-history/#comments Wed, 17 Sep 2014 15:53:08 +0000 Anna Swayne http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/?p=20520 Read more]]> Learning from others helps to inspire us to do more for our own story. In this three piece segment, Utah’s ABC 4 news anchor Nadia Crow discovered her story using the tools on Ancestry. Each video follows a different step in her journey and includes some behind-the-scenes footage of Ancestry’s scanning technology.

Click on the links below to watch the three part series,

Getting started on your family tree [Video 1]

Nadia Crow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What you can find out from the records [Video 2]

Nadia Crow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DNA is another tool for your research [Video 3]

Nadia Crow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Want to begin your family history research journey? Start with Ancestry or by taking a DNA test.

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