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View Full Version : Geneology & Records Search, advice and tips



Perks
03-26-2010, 05:18 PM
I've decided to root out the technical specs on my father. He and my mother separated when I was five and he died when I was nine. I haven't had contact with any of his family in, well, essentially forever. They saw me when I was a baby and I don't even know their names.

High drama rode the pale horse of mental illness all his life and, subsequently, the sketchy knowledge I have of him is likely unreliable.

So, what I've got is his name, date (and State) of birth; date, county and State info of death, and his social security number. It's my understanding that he was in the Army at some point.

I'm starting out by requesting a copy of his death certificate. I was going to see if I could track down his birth certificate and perhaps military records.

Any suggestions on what else, where else, or why else? It's a curiosity that's really bloomed into an itch.

Williebee
03-26-2010, 05:39 PM
It's my understanding that he was in the Army at some point.

When the black SUV's show up at the house? Don't bother moving. They'll find you.

Good luck!

Priene
03-26-2010, 05:47 PM
Sending off for the birth certificate is a good start. The usefulness of death certificates varies from place to place: in England they're almost useless as they contain no parental information at all. It might give his wedding details, but I presume you've got those already. The BC will probably have the names of both his parents, plus possibly when and where they were married. Censuses in the US are available up to 1930, I think, so addresses given on certificates can be used to find out about siblings and occupations. His parents' MC will have their parents names (in England, annoyingly, just the father), and so on, and so on. Things get tricky once you get back before birth and marriage certificates and censuses, but you'll be hooked by then.

And with each generation you go back, the number of ancestors you're searching doubles. You never finish.

Perks
03-26-2010, 05:53 PM
It might give his wedding details, but I presume you've got those already. Ha! Not even.




And with each generation you go back, the number of ancestors you're searching doubles. You never finish.I don't know how far I want to go back. I'm just a bit curious about him.

Thanks for the suggestions!

Perks
03-26-2010, 05:54 PM
When the black SUV's show up at the house? Don't bother moving. They'll find you.

Good luck!Lol! At least there'd be a story in that, yeah? I bequeath it to you if I'm disappeared.

cray
03-26-2010, 05:57 PM
i'm sure you will check out web geneology sites using the info you have on him.
maybe you will get lucky and find that someone on his side has an interest in the family tree as well. :Shrug:

the addster
03-26-2010, 05:59 PM
legacy.com might bring up an obit with his relatives listed.

privateeye.com will probably bring up his last city of residence for free, quite a bit of info will be available for a fee.

Do a free search on ancestry.com, that should give you info on what's available, if you look hard enough it can usually be found for free elsewhere, or many public libraries have subscriptions.

Priene
03-26-2010, 06:18 PM
Ha! Not even.

In that case, assuming your mum's no longer around, I'd start by phoning up relatives on your mother's side. Hopefully someone will remember when and (especially) where they were married. That should be enough information to get a copy of the MC (assuming USA record access works like it does in the UK).


I don't know how far I want to go back. I'm just a bit curious about him.

That's what I thought, once. Up until the moment I saw the names of my g-grandparents for the first time.

Perks
03-26-2010, 11:15 PM
Well, for good or for ill, I've found my father's sister on FaceBook. I also discovered that my dad's brother died a year and a half ago, but his daughter, my cousin, is also on FaceBook.

We'll see if this is fun soon enough, I suppose.

Lavern08
03-27-2010, 12:37 AM
Keep us posted - No pun intended ;)

Mr Flibble
03-27-2010, 01:20 AM
Ooh good luck with this!

We had a surprise a couple of years ago. A lady rang my aunt....to say she was the half-sister my mum and her siblings never knew they had. ( they'd pretty much lost touch with their Dad after the divorce when my Mum was none or so) We all met up and it was seriously spooky how much I look like my new aunt, and we found out such a lot about my Granddad after he'd split with my Gran, and about the rest of his family, which we'd never known about.

I'm hoping to go stay with my new Auntie in Montana sometime soon.

Ol' Fashioned Girl
03-27-2010, 04:16 AM
Ha! Not even.

I don't know how far I want to go back. I'm just a bit curious about him.

Thanks for the suggestions!

Just about the time you've almost decided you've either found all you can or all you want, you'll stumble across something that will force you to keep going.

This will happen repeatedly.

And yes, occasionally, you'll find something or someone you'll wish you hadn't.

All in all, however, you'll be glad you started.

Perks
03-27-2010, 06:48 AM
Well, that was, in fact, my aunt. Neat! I hope we get to talk. What would be kind of fun would be if she had any pictures. I only have two photos of my father and they are from years before I was born. I have also never seen a picture of myself as a baby or small child, so that would be very interesting to me.

We shall see.

Williebee
03-27-2010, 08:49 AM
I would not be at all surprised to find out that you HAVE seen pictures of yourself as a child. They just happened to be pictures of your girls. :)

writerterri
03-27-2010, 09:00 AM
Well, that was, in fact, my aunt. Neat! I hope we get to talk. What would be kind of fun would be if she had any pictures. I only have two photos of my father and they are from years before I was born. I have also never seen a picture of myself as a baby or small child, so that would be very interesting to me.

We shall see.


I do hope you find out your relatives are nice people.

I called my dad's brother 10 years after my dad offed himself and he told me to never contact him again. And the rest of my family all gave me the finger too. My only crime, being my dad's child.

Plot Device
03-27-2010, 05:35 PM
Ancestry.com

Perks
03-27-2010, 09:39 PM
It's going very well, so far. My aunt seems pleased that I contacted her and she volunteered that she has pics she could send, which would be very neat.

I have a half-brother and half-sister that I can seek out, if I like.

jennontheisland
03-27-2010, 09:46 PM
Call people. Ancestry.com and places like that have proven all but useless to me in my search.

It took calling the local library in the town where my dad was born to get anywhere. (I was looking for my dad's dad though - died when he was an infant). The librarian took my dad's name and grandmother's name and 2 weeks later called me back. Turned out the name my uncle had for his father was a middle name, and we'd been searching for the wrong guy. The librarian gave us his full name as well as local articles, and a death notice, and even searched in the local phone book for the names of people mentioned in the article. She also asked around to friends and neighbours and got the names and phone numbers of people who may have known him. I called those people. Spent hours on the phone talking to them and getting their impressions of him. Unfortunately they were all quite old and trying to remember things from a long time ago, but at least it was more than I started with.

Priene
03-27-2010, 10:04 PM
Call people. Ancestry.com and places like that have proven all but useless to me in my search.

The further you go back, the more useful they get. Victorian families often had seven or eight children, so going back a generation vastly increases the number of distant cousins, and that's when censuses are available. Ancestry.com has little to offer after 1910, in my experience, which is why birth and marriage certificates are so important.

Perks
03-27-2010, 10:30 PM
Yeah, I got a little bit off Ancestry.com. Not a whole lot, but the free trial period is two weeks, so I'm getting my money's worth.

Perks
03-27-2010, 10:35 PM
And in one of the weirder little small-world coincidences I discovered by looking at my newly-discovered-aunt's FaceBook photo albums, it turns out that we were in Ireland and England at the exact same time last year. What's more, she has pictures of the same beach - Caherdaniel in the south of Ireland - taken within a day or so of when I was there.

Thirty-five years and over eight hundred miles of separation and we were probably standing withing walking distance of each other on vacation on the other side of the world. Weird, huh?

jennontheisland
03-27-2010, 10:35 PM
The further you go back, the more useful they get. Victorian families often had seven or eight children, so going back a generation vastly increases the number of distant cousins, and that's when censuses are available. Ancestry.com has little to offer after 1910, in my experience, which is why birth and marriage certificates are so important.
I was looking for someone born around 1900, but who settled in Canada, not the US which is where almost all of Ancestry's ship's logs are from.

I got his parents names from a UK marriage certificate. But kinda stalled out at that point.

Lavern08
03-28-2010, 04:15 AM
Thirty-five years and over eight hundred miles of separation and we were probably standing withing walking distance of each other on vacation on the other side of the world. Weird, huh?

Actually, rather cool ;)

juniper
03-28-2010, 04:31 AM
I guess everyone's got skeletons in their closet, and some of them rattle to life.

It was only at my uncle's funeral that I found out he'd had a love child about 35-40 years before. All the other cousins knew, but my family had moved to a different state so we weren't part of the cousin in-group.

The love-child daughter showed up at the funeral and that's when I found out. I was horrified to learn from my aunts (my mom had already died) that this child had been shunned her whole life, for the doings of her father, their beloved brother! My cousins and aunts wouldn't even talk to her.

I spoke with her briefly and said I'd like to talk more with her at the gathering later. I managed to get her name and address so I could send her some old photos of her dad. At the gathering I again spoke with her briefly but was pulled away to something else, and the next thing I knew she had left. I think I was the only one who was talking to her and she probably just felt like crap.

I felt the sins of my family on my shoulders. How could my family be so cruel to this woman? I lost her address so never contacted her but just found it again a few days ago. I'm going to write to her.

Silver King
03-28-2010, 05:53 AM
I started a similar search some years ago before it was possible to do so online.

Found out that my father's dad had stabbed a man to death before he fled his native country. When I brought it up to some older family members, I was told that the crime was "justified" and not to worry about it.

Oh, sure, no problem.

At the time, it put a huge damper on my research and need to know, which hasn't been reawakened since.

benbradley
03-28-2010, 07:02 AM
My father did a lot of this for the last 20+ years of his life, when he died he had a database of many relatives from the state. Over the decades he went to many county courthouses and cemeteries looking for records and grave markers, and spent a lot of time in the records department of a big Mormon church (The family is Baptist for probably as far back as the Baptist church goes, but for whatever reasons, I once heard why but I forget, the Mormons have huge amounts of records on everyone). I think my father did it all on his side of the family, not my Mother's (who was also Baptist, and probably as far back - they were both from different areas of rural Georgia where there's at least one Baptist church on every street corner).

Perks
03-28-2010, 07:16 PM
Yes, there are definitely always skeletons in with the coats and hats. I went in knowing my father's is particularly haunted, so I brought armor. It looks good on me, but the clanking is maddening.