Thursday, January 30, 2014


I know, I am not very good at keerping up with this blogging thing but I have some information that I felt I needed to share.

When working on my ancestry, I try to be diligent in researching the facts.  There are a lot of genealogists out there that take information they have found from the web and consider it gospel.  I am here to tell you, DON'T!

I am currently researching my husband's side of the family, Harris.  I have been so excited because they can be traced back to the Mayflower and Mary Chilton, the first woman to step foot on Plymouth Rock!  Now this is a genealogists dream to have so much information at your fingertips.  I live in Mass so researching should be easy.

Anyways, the first "Harris" appeared in 1640 and was one of the original proprietors of Bridgewater.  Exciting so far!  There is so much information both on the web and in books.  One thing that kept appearing all over the place was excerps from his will.  It named 4 children, his wife, and hinted to the fact that there were additional children.  The same quotes were everywhere.  It would be so easy to take this information as truth and add it to my family's story.  Not me, though!  No, yesterday I trotted into the Massachusetts Archives and after 4 hours of research I had a copy of the of the original court document, transcribed.  It was handwritten.  We just don't appreciate the luxuries we have today such as copy machines!

I have read the entire document three times.  It clearly names 2 sons but none of the daughters by name.  The only reference is to the "eldest daughter" but no name given.  It never mentions the wife's name, only referring to her as is wife.  The quote I have found says "bequested to his wife to care for the other children".  It did not say this at all.

Research, research.  If you want accuracy, you can't take information for granted.  Wills are a wonderful source.  Not only was I able to clear up this matter but I also found that he seems to have been a wealthy man according to the inventory of his estate.

Wills can be found usually at the probate court.  If it is old enough, you may be able to find it at the archives.  Wills may give names of children and relatives.  Give description of land owned.  Even give an insight into who this person was.

Happy Hunting!!!

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Never under estimate the value of church records.  Don't be afraid to go looking for them.

The Archdiocese of Boston has a wonderful archive.  They are very helpful.  Twice now I have emailed them and they have very quickly responded with the information.  It does help to have as much information as possible.  You should be able to provide them with the date of marriage, the town, and the priest.  All of this information is in the town records.  This will help them to locate the church they were married in.  Here is the link to their website:

I had been researching a Carroll family in Iowa for the longest time.  I suspected that they were the long lost relatives I had been seeking but I couldn't prove it.  I emailed the church and they very graciously provided me with the little amount of information they had.  It was not a lot but it was enough to prove they were the relatives I was looking for.  The Godfather on the only baptismal record they could find was that of my grandmother's sisters husband.  The link I was looking for.

Baptismal sponsors and marriage witnesses can be relatives you didn't even know that you had!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Massachusetts Naturalization Records

First, I am going to say that I am confident this method of researching works for Massachusetts residents, however, I can not say it will work for all states.

Researching naturalization records can be very frustrating.  Once you have an understanding of how they have been indexed, you will find it a breeze to research.

The first thing that you have to know about is the Soundex System.  You can study this system all you want to try and figure out where your families name fits in all of it but you don't have to.  All you have to do is understand the principal behind it.  Believe it or not, the reason they came up with the soundex system was to make researching easier.  Since there are so many variations of names, the soundex systems combines them together which reduces the amount of time and energy needed for a researcher to locate the record.  I will give you an example: Monahan would be the same soundex code as Mannion, Moynihan, Menihan, etc., soundex code M550.  Makes some sense, right?  Want to know a little more, well lets take a look.  Code M550....M O N A H A N.....use the 1st letter to start M.....ignore the letters A E I O U H W and Y...this leave N and N which corresponds to the number 5.....there are always 4 digits so when there are no more letters to assign you place a 0....thus M550.  Still confused?  The National Archives gives a great explanation, just follow this link:  If you are still confused, this site will conver the name for you.

O..K. so now we have some understanding of the soundex system, the rest is easy.  If you ancestor is from Massachusetts then all you need to know is that they are filed by Soundex, then by First Name, then by Town.  So when I do a search for John Monahan I will find a John Manion in Lee, MA and a John Minihane in Lewiston, ME before I will find a John Monahan in Lowell, MA ( has ME, MA, NH, & VT indexed together),  Understand?

I hope this has helped.  If you are still confused, post your question and I will be glad to help.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Land Ownership Maps

What an amazing document to add to your family treasures.  Yesterday I went to a craft fair.  There was a women there selling reproduced land ownership maps from the late 1800's.  I had seen this on and knew that my family's homesteads were plotted on the 1876 map of East Dedham, MA, but, did she have it.  YES!  How amazing,  they are reproduced on parchment paper and just look amazing.  I am going to frame it and hang it  on my family room wall.  Both my great grandfather O'Neil and my great great grandfather Mahoney are on the map.  How cool is that!  She primarily does New England and I got her business card.  If you want to check it out, the link is

OK so what can you do with this map, genealogically speaking?  Do you know what town and state your ancestors settled in?  Were they here in the late 1800's?  There are over 1400 land ownership maps covering over 1000 counties in the 46 states.  If you have done your research already and the approximate location of where they lived, finding them on the maps is fairly simple.  Once you have located them, you can also go to google maps  and input the street, town, and state.  Google maps allow you to go to street view which you means you can virtually walk down the street your ancestors lived on.  If you are lucky enough, maybe the house still exists.  This is especially helpful if you don't live in the vicinity.

OK so now you have found them on the land ownership map, walked the street on google, and found the house, yes it still exists.  What can you do now?  Do a google or yahoo search for that town and assessor.  Many towns are now using online assessor systems.  This is public information and anyone can gain access.  Put in the street information and when you find the house, click on the link.  You will be able to see what the house looks like, the year it was built, and at least partial historical ownership information with book and page info if you ever want to do further research.  You can also right click the picture of the house and save a copy to your computer.  What a great extra to add to your families genealogical file.


Friday, November 5, 2010

Acts Of Kindness

This is something that I try to do often.  I monitor queries made in the message boards for my local area.  When something is posted that I might be able to help with, I will.  They don't have to be posting about names in my ancestry, as a matter of fact, they usually aren't.  I have access to Mass Vital Records up to 1915 and it only takes me a few minutes to do a search.

I recently helped a person that was trying to find Naturalization Records.  I responded to her query with the index records that she was looking for along with a link to ordering them.  She asked how I found it.  I told her my little trick on searching (which I will post later).  A couple of weeks later I received a message from her thanking me, I was right.

I am a true believer in "What goes around, comes around".  I am very thankful that there are other people out there that are willing to assist as well.  I recently discovered a death certificate for a family member in Manchester, NH.  It showed that he was killed in a train accident.  I thought that there could be a newspaper article.  I live about 1 1/2 hours away and I am limited on time during the day since I have to pick up after school.  I posted a query for that area and received a response from a wonderful women who went to the local library and found 2 articles on the accident.  She transcribed them for me and sent me copies of the original.  WOW, what an important discovery full of information!  Thank you again!!!

Help others in their research and don't be afraid to ask for help yourself!  Just remember, when you post a query, supply as much information as you can.  You never know where it may lead you.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Create An Online Family Tree

Creating an online family tree is easy and so beneficial.  I use (which I think is the most popular) but you can use any online site you wish.

Creating an online tree allows you to quickly organize your work.  Although, I do recommend that you keep some type of file on your computer as well.  Have you ever gone to a site that you had used before only to see "Page can't be found".  What a disaster that would be!  All your hard work gone!  Make sure you stay organized with the files on your computer.  Create folders to separate families and folders within that to organize the data you have compiled.  Anything that is related to your direct line, make sure that you download a copy to your computer.  Keep a tree on your computer as well.  You don't need any fancy programs to do this, word works great!  Learn how to use the numbered bullets so your tree will look something like this.
1. Patrick Mahoney
1.1 Thomas Mahoney
1.1.1 Lawrence Mahoney
This allows to reader to follow their line backwards.  Also, make sure you include information such as birth, death, marriage, interment, and any important info such as "fought in the civil war".

There are 2 important reasons to start an online family tree.  The 1st reason is: continuely uses the information that you supply and the information that you have found to search for possible matches.  The 2nd reason is:  Other researchers will know that you exist.  I have found several cousins this way.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wow I Have Followers

Hi Everyone,

I have to admit, I really started this blog to vent some frustrations I have when researching genealogy.  I never thought anyone would actually look at it.  I am very excited.  I haven't been on in quite a while and decided to check in today and saw I had 16 followers.  WOW!!!

Well I have been very busy researching.  So now that I know people are watching, I will do updates frequently.  Genealogy is a passion and needs as much support as possible.  I would love for you to share your stories and ideas with me.  Feel free to post your comments!