June 16, 2004
Photos: Family Photo

Chat: Comments from our Readers

Recipes: Potato Soup and Taco Salad
On Ancestry.com: WWI Draft Cards
Online Classes: Online Classes on Genealogy Topics
Calendar: Upcoming Events and Topics


This is a picture of my great-grandmother Sarah holding my great-uncle, Willie Walters as well as: (L-R) Lona Walters Murphy, Daisy Walters Crouse, my grandfather Harry Walters and his twin brother James Walters. Sarah is behind them with Willie Walters
Submitted by Sarah Horn Durbin Walters

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Twenty-Five Places Where Your Family's Facts May Hide
by George G. Morgan

Everywhere I go these days, I find that genealogists are becoming savvier. Most everyone who's been working on their family history for awhile seems to have exhausted the traditional birth, marriage, and death record resources. Researchers are now expanding their quests by searching for alternative records and artifacts to help locate additional genealogical and historical facts. I'm often asked for suggestions about where to search for these “additional gems.”

In "Along Those Lines..." this week, I want to share a list of twenty-five unusual places where your families' information might be hiding. I prepared this list for a SeniorNet presentation in Tampa earlier this month and everyone seemed excited with some new suggestions, so I thought I'd share them with you too. These are in no particular order, but please read them and consider how they might apply in your own research.

The List
1) Check between the pages of family bibles for newspaper clippings, obituaries, greeting cards, and other treasured papers.

2) Your parents' (or another relative's) address book is a goldmine for determining where to search for other family members' information.

3) Professional clubs, trade unions, and fraternity/sorority organizational records may hold important clues to activities, awards, and other records.

4) Check the backs of old photographs or the card stock of cartes de visite for names of photographers, studio locations, and dates. The photographer's records may still exist in a library, archive, or private collection.

5) Never overlook the Periodical Source Index, commonly referred to as PERSI ( www.ancestry.com/persi ) as a resource for locating articles about your ancestors, the places they lived, and the schools, businesses, churches, mortuaries, and cemeteries in the area.

6) Cemetery lot deeds are usually recorded as part of the county land and property records. Check with the county clerk and/or recorder of deeds for grantor/grantee entries that can point you to the right cemetery and a specific lot.

7) Old family jewelry should be checked for initials that might identify the owner, as well as dates such as wedding date, anniversary, birthday, graduation, and so on.

8) Insurance policies, premium notices, and special coverage schedule documents may contain the names and birth dates of family members and beneficiaries.

9) Old letters from family members should be collected, arranged chronologically, and read for names, dates, and clues to personal and family events and locations. If the envelopes were retained, the return address or postmark can point you toward places where records may exist.

10) Contact college and university libraries in the area near where your family lived for possible special collection materials.

11) Cancelled checks and checkbook stubs can identify payees that may still have records (tax bills, morticians, churches, lawyers, doctors, charities, fraternities/sororities, social clubs, unions).

12) School records contain the student's date of birth, parents'/guardians' names, address, and other information. Contact the schools for applications and academic transcripts.

13) Annuals and yearbooks from schools, colleges, and universities may contain biographical profiles that can point you to the next educational institutions, or reveal interests and organizations.

14) Alumni organizations may provide the current or last-known address for a family member who attended there.

15) Probate packets contain the names, addresses, and status (alive or deceased) of all named beneficiaries or presumed heirs of an estate.

16) Records of siblings may get you past the “brick wall” to provide names of parents and other family members. Sometimes you have to take a step sideways and research a sibling to go up a generation in order to connect downward to establish the relationship between your brick wall and his or her parents.

17) A baby book may contain valuable information about the child and his or her family, and that may include labeled photographs.

18) Cemetery administrator/sexton records can provide the exact site of an interment. There may also be an interment ledger or log indicating the name, age, cause of death, date of interment, and other useful information. In some cases, these were maintained many decades prior to death certificates, coroners' reports, and inquest records.

19) Investigate the availability of out-of-print local or county histories that might include details about your family. Even information about a blood relative or a collateral line may confirm the family's presence in the area at a given time.

20) Guardianship records can confirm the name(s) of the parent(s), date of death, details about the surviving family members, and arrangements for the minor child.

21) Alien registrations were required to be completed at various times in U.S. history, especially between 1798 and 1828, during WWI and WWII, and subsequently.

22) Tombstones and monuments often have the initials or a mark inscribed somewhere on the base to indicate the person or business that did the work. Business records and client files may still exist, including correspondence, work orders, invoices, and other documents.

23) Voter registration records contain name, address, and age, and sometimes indicate proof of citizenship for naturalized individuals.

24) Oaths of allegiance for Southern males were required to reinstate their U.S. citizenship following the Civil War, and to permit the men to vote in elections again. These can help you locate the person in the post-war years. They are typically found in state archives or libraries.

25) Ethnic and foreign language newspapers may provide information about your ancestors and their families, including births, engagements, marriages, deaths, and other events.

Other References
I frequently recommend Laura Szucs Pfeiffer's book, Hidden Sources: Family History in Unlikely Places , as a great reference to learn about alternative record types. The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy , is another excellent reference resource for details about common and unusual materials used as alternative sources. My new book, How to Do Everything with Your Genealogy, is also crammed full of alternative source descriptions and samples.

Use your common sense and your imagination when trying to solve problems of missing documentation and evidence. Remember that many types of documents generated today, such as probate documents, have been handled similarly or identically for decades or centuries and may contain much of the same information. Therefore, you can learn about the current processes and then do a little historical research to determine the differences at the time your ancestors lived. This can provide you with clues or suggestions to extend your research and locate some alternative (and possibly very unusual) evidence.

Happy Hunting!

This article was recently published in the Ancestry Daily News, a daily newsletter from Ancestry.com.

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Potato Soup
This recipe comes from my Great Grandmother Bucher's, the Swiss side of the family.

Cut potatoes into bite-size pieces (enough for your family). Boil until tender.

Mix one egg with 1/2 egg shell-full of flour. (More eggs and flour if more rivlins are needed) Add crumbled, crisp bacon, salt, pepper, and some onion or green onion. Mix until it forms a stiff batter.

When the potatoes and water begin to boil rapidly, take a large spoon of batter and with another spoon, cut off small crescents of the batter into the boiling water.

When the potatoes are tender, the rivlins are done (unless you made them too large). Drain the water and add milk, salt and pepper. Serve with a dollop of butter and chopped onions.
Submitted by Gene Grant

Taco Salad
This is a family recipe that is so simple, but tastes soooo goood. I use this at almost all office pot lucks and events where a dish is needed. I also get people raving about it and asking for the recipe.

1 plum tomato
1 pound
ground beef, chicken, or turkey 1 package el paso taco seasoning
1 eight-ounce sour cream
1 16-ounce jar mild salsa (1)
1 8-ounce bag shredded colby jack cheese
1 1-pound bag corn chips

Brown meat and drain. Add taco seasoning cook according to directions on package. Scoop the meat out of the pan with a large spoon and put in either an aluminum square cake pan or small square roasting pan. Spread the meat out until the bottom is covered. Top with sour cream and spread until even. Take the jar of Salsa and pour over the sour cream and spread evenly. Cut up the plum tomato into small pieces and sprinkle over the salsa, then top with the shredded colby jack cheese. Use the chips to dip the taco salad after putting it on your plate.
Submitted by Kim Douglas Hampton from Virginia

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from: Judy B. Blue Spring from Missouri
subject: Thomas and Elena Tice

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This week:
Where you can find more details about your family.

June 23:
Share your funny family reunion stories.

June 30:
Share your Great Depression recipes.

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