Which genealogy challenge has given you the best sense of accomplishment? What was the research problem you had to hurdle? What steps did you take that led to success? Do you have any words of encouragement for others who are facing their own genealogy ch
I personally had a problem with my mother's side of the family tree. They being St John's is a huge family. I am from the UK and mine have nothing at the moment to do with the USA side of the St.John's.
The problem I had a challenge with is this:-
a) I am limited to resources and have to rely on family members, and Ancestry.co.UK as i live in the middle of no where right now. Money is limited, very limited, so have to rely on me to find what i can.
Determination is my key, I get a record and I research it - churches, dates, family names, and I have been able to find parents - in some cases just one. If you research one person at a time you will be surprised how much information you can get. For example I was researching my 5th great grandfather there was a discrepency in the wifes's surname, so i researched outside of of Ancestry on the internet.. and i found them in the church listings that had been transcribed. Someone had suggested that it was not the name of her father on the record.. but the place where they lived... but in researching outside ( as I knew which church it was from the Ancestry records) I found that the person was the wife's father and he was there when they got married.
b) reading the old writing was a huge hurdle, as many people didnt know how to spell, so names can sound like the surname you are researching - or just spelt so the vicar knew whom he was dealing with. I have found if i read and read you canstart to understand the writings of a person. Once you get the hang of example, a,e,i,o,u the other letters fall into place. You start to recognize letters. Someone said in a magazine about writing out the alphabet and copying the letters from you form on to it... and it works.. Get to know the key letters of the writings you are trying to read and it all falls into place...
c) Dont just rely on family stories as I have found out the hard way some families likes to think they were a better family line than they actually were. Example, mine had sent down through generations that we were a line from Lydiard Tregoze.. NOW in saying this I do beleive there is a link somehwere, but i will say at this moment it is through a marriage somewhere... distant..
Because I am upto 1668 at the moment, records are harder to find. I have found a link through solid research that may be ( and the more I work through the research it is more so guaranteed) that we are a Huguenot Branch. Now this relates to photos my mother attained of a strange looking family, strangely dressed... which are her great great grandparents. I also went further than records and looked at the Huguenot records.. that you can get online and if you are rich you can buy the CD's.. this led me to a UK history Link.. from this I found that My 5th Great Grandfather was indeed a weaver of some kind and lived in Bethnal Green, London... I even found a map of the time of roughly where abouts he would have lived and worked... This led me into another website I beleive is the Latter day Church? anyway they have records of my 5th Great Grandparents, registering their childrens birth in the French Huguenot Church in London.. I found through this 11 children.. somewhere along the line they changed their religion and became members of the Church of England... this has now led me to try to find records in France. My 5th Great Grandmother was dutch it would seem and her name is very very unusual..
SO if you can get the time researching OUTSIDE of your tree site, just use a snippet of information, and it could open up doors in your research.. it takes a lot of reading and traveling through websites but it is worth it in the end.
d) DONT ever give up.. if it appears hopeless it is possibly because you are tired and you need a change of thinking..
Put it away and leave it for the time - do something else that you enjoy and you will find that whilst away from it you start to think, 'ah yes if i do so and so, or look at so and so'... it gets you away from it all. I got it so in my head I had to go away completely.. I kept a notebook and wrote things down - so i didnt forget. I also have a fullscap.. A4 writing notebook. I write down what it is I am looking for.. where to start, and I ask myself questions.. WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, a person at a time. The interesting thing is this - that when you are researching someone you find their siblings and spouses as well.. dont dismiss them out of character - because these links are just as important, because they also lead you to your eventual search end.. Parents, parents of parents..yes you have to draw a line somewhere.. but the siblings whether they were a suriving child or not.. there is a record and 9/10 the father is on the record and sometimes the mother too..
d) DONT put the WIFE as the husbands surname because this can cause you terrible confusion. SO many places I have visited this happens.. The wife NEVER has the same name as the husband on her birth cert. if you dont know it, just put her first name, her maiden name will turn up at some point. This is a very important point in your searching - UNLESS in a situation where you have inter family marriage and yes this can happen. It happend in my family and I can tell you it was a huge shock.. I kept on looking and looking and researching I could not beleive it.. But in truth it happened, in the late C1700, a family member fell in love with an Uncle and they married - it turned out that the family were into banking and this was the done thing in those days. A shock maybe, but it happens. In this situation make sure you find out everything you can find out.. check and re check so you are at peace of mind..
e) If possible research your own family and your spouses family - IF you get fed up or brain dead as can happen - you can move to the other family -
Ask for help - Like I did and you can end up in a place like this with like minded people who can help or advice - use family information, Internet, Library, If you can afford it get cd's or certificates - there are places on line where you can buy records.. In the UK we have the National Archives and we can get some from the them through the internet.. In saying this make sure you DONT already have that piece of info through your tree site first or you will double up..
f) If you are subscribing, like I am through Ancestry.co.uk, make sure you keep a copy on your Hard drive of any certificates or info you find.. because if there comes a time when you have to UN-subscribe everything will be gone. Hvae a seperate folder for these on your Desktop.
g) Finally for now, Allow your tree to go public - I personally have a strange family is all i am saying, and i was in two minds of having it public - I spoke to my husband and decided to go public - and from this I have come across family I never knew, links to cousins whom have contacted me, and research i could have never found with out them all.. Aunts and Uncles coming out of the internet, really weird.
The reason I came to go public is this - ' I am interested in the family history - where they worked and what they did, what their life was like, history is so good to know.. For example - I found my Great Great Grandfather was on a ship and I learnt more about him in two hours than I had ever been told in 40 odd years of my life.. I now know where my love of the sea has come from.. although my legs are firmly planted on the gorund and not a sea farer, the sea calls me as they say, I have to go to the seaside regularly.. this family tree for me has answered a lot of questions...
My Husbands family is so much further than mine and I have got back to 1045 the history within this family is huge, things they never knew about, knights and sheriffs and poets and all sorts.. one of which was instrumental in the changing of the guard at the Royal Palace and signed the death warrant of Charles I, now that was a shock and a half.. but interesting to know. It brings us to places to visit and see in the country we live in. However, be prepared to start asking questions to yourself - example - 'Why is my family like this now?' the changes you find are very interesting to learn.. and many have said to me that with my Husbands family I am now into serious Geneaology - and it is true as records are harder and harder to find which leads to books!!
Watch any programs you can on People learning there family history, it can help with ideas of where to ring or write too, and could find a new link to look at as well..
Enjoy your researching, and learn from it, it answers a lot when you find your family were artisans, or sailors, they fought for their country, they built buildings, they landscaped what we all live in now. Maybe we can somewhere within it all find out a little about ourselves during this process. All good stuff...
A warning though that I think is very very important.. to anyone researching - IF you are going to do this for history and build a tree then all well and good.. IF you are approaching this to find someone whom was lost for what ever reason - be careful - step family, adopted family, half family ect.
Is it a worm worth digging up?
Will it be a good thing? or cause you anguish or the person concerned..
Be mindful of the hurt it can cause you or your family..
Some doors are meant to stay shut for a reason.. it doesnt mean you cantput them onyour tree because they belong.. but do it carefully.. and thoughtfully...