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# Thursday, March 15, 2012
Tips on Exploring Your Irish Family Tree
Posted by Diane

I grew up thinking I’m an eighth Irish, through my great-grandmother Mary Norris. But my genealogy research has since revealed that I’m only 1/16th Irish—Mary’s father was from Ireland, but her mother was German.

And this little guy is 1/32nd Irish:

So this St. Patrick’s Day, Leo and I will have to make the most of our respective slivers of Irishness.

Whether you're a lot or a little Irish, you share heritage with the second-largest heritage group in the United States. Here are some more stats:

  • 50,000 to 100,000 Irish came to America in the 1600s, and 100,000 more in the 1700s. Eight signatures on the Declaration of Independence belonged to men of Irish descent.

  • In the American colonies, up to 90 percent of indentured servants were Irish. 

  • About 250,000 Scots-Irish settlers from Ulster province arrived in the United States during the Colonial era. They were descended from Scottish and English tenant farmers settled in Ireland during the Plantation of Ulster.

  • In the century after 1820, about 5 million Irish arrived on US shores. Irish made up almost half of all US immigrants in the 1840s and one-third in the 1850s, the decades of the Great Potato Famine.

  • Today, Massachusetts is the most Irish state, with about a quarter of the population claiming Irish roots.

FamilyTreeMagazine.com has some great advice for tracing your Irish roots:

For in-depth help researching your Irish ancestors, take a look at our Irish Ancestry Value Pack, with:

  • how-to guides
  • the Genealogist's Guide to Discovering Irish Ancestors book download
  • the Irish Research 101 Family Tree University Independent Study course

The Irish Ancestry Value Pack is just $49.99 this month.


Editor's Pick | International Genealogy | ShopFamilyTree.com Sales | UK and Irish roots
Thursday, March 15, 2012 8:09:01 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Upcoming Genealogy Webinars: Census Secrets and Indiana Crash Course
Posted by Diane

Just a quick reminder that our Online Census Secrets webinar is this Thursday, March 15, at 8 p.m. ET.

Family Tree Magazine publisher Allison Dolan will share key facts about censuses, where to find free census records and what to expect when the 1940 census is released. She'll also show you how to use the major online collections to find your ancestors, using real examples from webinar viewers to demo census search strategies.

Click here to learn more about the Online Census Secrets webinar.

And our Indiana Crash Course webinar is right around the corner next Tuesday, March 20 at 8 p.m. ET. If you have Hoosier ancestors like I do, click here to find out more about this learning opportunity.


census records | Research Tips | Webinars
Wednesday, March 14, 2012 7:44:52 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, March 13, 2012
House History Research Tips From the Virtual Conference
Posted by Diane

One of last weekend's Family Tree University Virtual Conference live chats I was really interested in was Marian Pierre-Louis' house histories chat. Researching my great-great-grandfather's cigar store and home in Cincinnati is on my genealogy to-do list.

In addition to hearing fascinating tales of participants' old family homes with kitchens constructed from peach crates, cheese packaging used for insulation and old newpapers as wallpaper, I got tips for researching the cigar store and other ancestral homes, such as my great-grandparents':

And I smuggled some tips from the chat to share with you all! (The conference participants can download chat transcripts to keep.) Here they are:

  • If the house is relatively new, Marian suggests starting with deed research. "I've researched every house I've lived in, even one built in 1985," she typed.
  • Start with the book and page number of the property deed in county or town records. Many areas have property assessor records online, where you can search by address. Then you'll trace the deeds to find out names of the previous owners.
  • City directories are a great tool for house history research, especially for multifamily dwellings or those with with renters.
  • You can get a historical contractor to walk through your house and 'read' it. "That is your best shot for knowing when the various parts were built," Marian suggests.
  • One participant asked whether it's possible to research a house that's been torn down. "Absolutely," Marian replied. "The deeds and tax records never disappear (well unless there's a fire in the courthouse or something)."

If you missed the Virtual Conference, the 15 video classes (see a few of them listed here) will be available soon at ShopFamilyTree.com.

And if you're particularly interested in house histories, we also have a digital download guide to researching houses in ShopFamilyTree.com.


Family Tree University | Photos | Research Tips | Social History
Tuesday, March 13, 2012 8:53:59 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Saturday, March 10, 2012
"Who Do you Think You Are?": Jerome Bettis
Posted by Diane

It was fun watching “Who Do You Think You Are?” in the company of other genealogists during our Family Tree University Virtual Conference live chat. (The conference is taking place this weekend.) 

In this episode, former Pittsburgh Steelers player Jerome Bettis visits Kentucky to learn about his mom’s roots. He didn’t trace as many generations as in some other episodes, but I liked the attention spent on each person.

Bettis, an African-American, turned to newspapers for details not documented in official records. He found references to court cases for his great-grandfather being struck by his boss, and in a separate incident, his great-great-grandfather being hit by a train.

The deck was stacked against each man in his case, but Bettis discovered in court records that his great-great-grandfather Abe Bogard won his complaint against the Illinois Central Railroad. Bettis actually got to talk to someone who remembered hearing about the case from men employed by the railroad at the time.

One of my favorite aspects of this episode was the way a Western Kentucky University history professor showed Bettis how to trace his family into slavery. Presuming that the name Bogard was taken from a former owner, Bettis found a white Bogard family in the area and checked will records and slave dower lists (reports of slaves women had inherited).

They found a Jerry and Eliza, with a son Abe. I can’t imagine the feeling that would hit you when you see a record showing that your family members were owned by other people, and monetary values placed on their heads.

The owner, Joseph Bogard, willed Bettis’ ancestors to his wife. After she died, Abe and his parents were sold off to separate owners. The good news is that the 1870 census, the first US census to name former slaves, showed the family was reunited.

Here’s a Western Kentucky University article about the professor’s work with Bettis

Here’s a FamilyTreeMagazine.com article about making the jump from freed slaves in the 1870 census to enslaved ancestors in the 1850 and 1860 slave schedules

Update: For those of you wondering why Burnett Bogard, Jerome's great-grandfather, abandoned his family, part of the answer is in this deleted scene about a rift in the family's church:




"Who Do You Think You Are?" | African-American roots | Celebrity Roots
Saturday, March 10, 2012 10:17:27 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Friday, March 09, 2012
Genealogy News Corral, March 5-9
Posted by Diane

  • Ancestry.com, along with United Vacations and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, is holding a sweepstakes to coincide with the DVD release of the movie The Descendants. (I have to admit I'm not much of a moviegoer, so I don't know whether The Descendants has anything to do with genealogy, but I do know George Clooney is in it.)

    Prizes include a "glamping" (glamorous camping) trip to Hawaii, a year-long Ancestry.com membership and The Descendants on Blu-ray. Click here to enter.
  • FamilySearch.org added 31 million new, free records this past week for Argentina, Canada, Colombia, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Hungary, Italy, Micronesia, New Zealand, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Russia and the United States. Those with California roots, in particular, will appreciate the more than 24 million Golden State birth records dating from 1905 to 1995. See the full list of updated records and link to each collection here.

Ancestry.com | Archives.com | FamilySearch | Free Databases | Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | UK and Irish roots
Friday, March 09, 2012 10:04:40 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Thursday, March 08, 2012
Tips for Finding Female Ancestors
Posted by Diane

March is Women’s History Month, so let's seize the opportunity to talk about finding women ancestors. Learning their maiden names can be a big problem, especially when you're researching before the era of consistent vital records.

For me, birth and death records, when they're available, have been a source of maiden names. Carefully examining census records also has helped: In two cases, I've found a female ancestor's elderly mother or father living in the daughter's household.

Here's a roundup of free FamilyTreeMagazine.com articles that focus on finding women ancestors:

You'll discover more research strategies and details of our female ancestors' lives with the tools in our Women's History Month Value Pack, specially priced at $29.99 (a 59 percent discount) in March.


Female ancestors | Research Tips | ShopFamilyTree.com Sales
Thursday, March 08, 2012 10:06:06 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [23]
This Friday on "Who Do You Think You Are?": Jerome Bettis
Posted by Diane

Tomorrow night on "Who Do You Think You Are?" we'll see retired football player Jerome Bettis explore his roots.

I'll be watching as part of our Virtual Conference viewing party (even though Bettis played for the Cincinnati Bengals rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers).

In this video, Bettis visits the land where his enslaved third-great-grandfather lived and worked.


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | African-American roots | Celebrity Roots | Family Tree University
Thursday, March 08, 2012 8:56:21 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, March 07, 2012
A Peck and a Pottle: Re-creating Family Recipes
Posted by Diane

Have you ever tried to make a cake or a kugel just like Mom or Grandma used to make? (Or, even harder, just like your husband's mom or grandma used to make?)

A recent Wall Street Journal article profiles several cooks who managed to recreate family recipes by doing these things:
  • Developing a flavor profile describing how the dish tastes, what the consistency was, etc.

  • Running recipes by family members for their input.

  • Scouring old cookbooks for potential recipes.

  • Listing ingredients the original cook would have used by considering her tastes and financial means (some ingredients would've been too expensive for everyday use).

  • Finding out what ingredients were available in the time and place. Old cookbooks from local churches and women's clubs are great for this.

  • Using the same tools as the original cook, including rotary egg beaters instead of a fancy stand mixer and old loaf pans instead of today's nonstick ones.

If you're recreating family recipes, you'll also want to refer to our list of old measurements and their modern equivalents.

Our book From the Family Kitchen: Discover Your Food Heritage and Preerve Favorite Recipes by Gena Philibert-Ortega, now available for pre-order in ShopFamilyTree.com, has tons of advice on finding vintage cookbooks and recreating recipes.

From the Family Kitchen also covers the social history of food and contains a recipe journal so you can write down how to make Mom's delicious banana bread. 


Family Recipes | Genealogy books | Social History
Wednesday, March 07, 2012 4:07:35 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, March 06, 2012
Our Spring 2012 Virtual Genealogy Conference is THIS Weekend
Posted by Diane

Just a heads-up that this is the last week to register for our Spring 2012 Virtual Conference sponsored by Flip-Pal mobile scanner. The conference is this weekend, March 9-11 (which is also time change weekend, by the way).

Wondering what this Virtual Conference thing is? I'll tell you: It's an opportunity to improve your genealogy skills and network with other researchers while hanging out at home in your pajamas (or at the coffee shop, let's hope in your regular clothes).

You'll log in anytime during the weekend to watch video classes, participate in live chats, visit our virtual exhibit hall and pick up your swag bag.

We've got 15 video classes to choose from. Some of them are:

  • Using Steve Morse’s One-Step Site to Get Ready for the 1940 Census with Thomas MacEntee
  • Using Your iPad for Genealogy with Nancy Hendrickson

  • What’s in a Civil War Pension File? with Diana Crisman Smith

  • Using Guardianship Records in Genealogical Research with Marian Pierre-Louis

  • Reconstruction 101 for African-Americans with Tim Pinnick

  • Strategies for Finding English Ancestral Origins with J. H. “Jay” Fonkert

And chat topics include (but aren't limited to):

  • Tech Talk: Ask Your Technology-Related Questions with Thomas MacEntee

  • Using Military Records with Diana Crisman Smith

  • All About House Histories with Marian Pierre-Louis

  • “Who Do You Think You Are?” Virtual Viewing Party with Kerry Scott
You'll find the full program listing all the classes and chats at FamilyTreeUniversity.com. Hope to "see" you there!


Family Tree University | Genealogy Events
Tuesday, March 06, 2012 8:46:15 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Monday, March 05, 2012
"Who Do You Think You Are?": Reba McEntire
Posted by Diane

Friday’s “Who Do You Think You Are?” was pre-empted around here due to coverage of the severe weather Friday. Our immediate area was lucky to come through unscathed. Not so for many of our neighboring communities, and our hearts go out to those people.

I watched the show online, which is a bit of a problem for me because I want to sit there and do research, so then I had to watch it again. The ratings are already out and apparently this episode did the best of any so far. Who doesn't love Reba McEntire?

Here’s the full episode if you still need to watch it:

She started the show at her family ranch in Oklahoma and traveled to Aberdeen, Miss.; Raleigh, NC; Oxford, NC; Tappahannock, Va.; and England in pursuit of her mom’s family tree.

I was surprised to see Josh Taylor (formerly of the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS), now of FindMyPast.com) walk into the library in Aberdeen. This scene was in the clip I posted Friday, but I had assumed they were at the NEHGS library in Boston.

One theme is McEntire’s discovery of her family’s slave-owning past. When she’s confronted with her fourth-great-grandfather’s life as a slave trader, I like what the archivist says, that slavery is part of all of our histories.

Later, she learns the same ancestor’s grandfather (McEntire’s sixth-great-grandfather) came to the country as a 9-year-old indentured servant. He was one of the fewer than half of all indentured servants who lived long enough to become free citizens—and became successful enough to purchase land.

When she learned the boy’s father put him on the ship, McEntire cautions herself against drawing early conclusions. Good for her: Before making judgments about an ancestor’s actions, it’s a good idea to learn the context of their lives.

I like the variety of records used in this episode (though we didn’t see where Josh found his information). Censuses, obituaries, land records, tax records, newspapers (she used GenealogyBank at the Granville County courthouse, but they didn’t show the name of the site), slave bills of sale, deeds, baptismal registers and more.


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots
Monday, March 05, 2012 8:40:29 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [7]