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!


Tuesday, January 19, 2010 (Census)

Ok is a great tool with a lot of information.  The only problem with the site is whatever formula they are using for results lacks common sense.  I have put in the exact name, place of residence, and birth year only to find my ancester 3 pages in.  What's up with that?

If you are researching the census and can't find your ancester via the usual query, don't give it.  You may have to do some manual research to find it.  Remember, the query results are only as good as the person that transcribed the census.  What do I mean by that?  For example, I plugged in Iadonisi, living in Dedham, MA for the 1920 census.  Nothing came up even though I knew they lived in Dedham at that time.  I knew the street that they lived on so I manualy searched the census and found them.  I noticed the I somewhat looked like an L.  I tried the query with Ladonisi and behold!

Another means of searching the census can be neighbors.  If you already have one census, try searching the neighbors names.  This is definately quicker than a manual search.

If you aren't sure if your family lived in that town during the census, see if there is a directory around that time span.  Not only will this let you know if they should be on the census but will also give you the street they lived on.  A piece of advice, do a manual lookup on the directories.  It is very simple!  Make sure you are looking at the U.S. city directories, I believe there are more directories in there than the state selection.

How do you do a manual query?  It is pretty simple.  If you want to find a directory for a specific town, do a query on the last name.  Under narrow by selection, choose Directories & Member Lists, then City & Area Directories, then U.S. City Directories.  Click browse individual records and a screen will pop up that allows you to choose the state, town, and year.  This also lets you know what years actually has for that town.

Join me next time for more tips!