google-site-verification: google65e716d80989ba07.html The Armchair Genealogist: April 2009

Tips for a Successful Cemetery Outing


Spring is in the air. For most, that would mean the thoughts of gardening and flowers but for me and I suspect a great deal of genealogists our thoughts turn to cemeteries. Not to sound morbid but if you have been stuck in your armchair staring at the computer screen for the better part of the winter then now is the time to plan a cemetery outing.
Many leads in your family research can be gained through a trip to a graveyard. However, just don't head out without a plan. A successful research trip to the cemetery involves careful planning.
Step 1. Find the Right Cemetery
Decide which one of your ancestors you are looking for and narrow down where they may be located. There are many excellent websites that can help you. If you're in Ontario like myself then check out the Ontario Genealogy Society at http://www.ogs.on.ca/ who have transcribed 95% of Ontario's cemeteries or in the US http://www.findagrave.com/ is a helpful site. Another Internet site I have just uncovered which works for all of Canada and the US is Cemetery and Tombstone Transcriptions and Death and Burial Registers online. This is a very comprehensive site with lots of great information.

Step 2. Mapping Your Route
Once you have determined your cemeteries of choice then next step is to map your route.
Map quest and your GPS is your friend in planning a direct route to the cemetery in question. I always print out copies of my travel directions from the Map quest website in order to keep me on track.

Step 3. The Cemetery Office
Upon arriving at the cemetery visit the office if your cemetery is large enough to warrant one. Often there is someone on duty during regular business hours who can offer you maps and locations of tombstones, some even other washroom services. Don't underestimate the knowledge this office has in saving you a great deal of walking and your feet. Many are computerized and will quickly enter in the name of your ancestor and send you off in the right direction. In larger cemeteries the grounds are often numbered or alphabetized for identifying quickly the location of the tombstone.


Step 4. Tools of the Trade
Make sure you have the essentials to capture the important information, a camera with back up batteries and back up SD card. Pictures are the best way to capture tombstones and to keep records for future generations. Also take pictures of your ancestors neighbouring tombstones. Often when you get further into your research you realized that a missing relative was lying next to your Great-great grandfather and you didn't know it.

Sometimes older tombstones don't photograph well. A quick outline with white chalk can make the letters on a grave marker more visible in a picture. It easily washes off in the rain. Or if you are up to the task you can bring tracing paper and lay on the tombstone and make a transparency. Bring a clipboard, pens and pencils for making notes. Some clippers for clearing away long grass and weeds. And an umbrella, often what started out as a beautiful day can sometimes find yourself standing in the middle of a rainstorm.

Without a doubt a good pair of comfortable shoes can make the difference in a highly productive and successful cemetery outing.

Never Under Estimate the Power of a Genealogy Source

This week I was able to uncover some new information on my great-great-great grandfather James Stapleton. At first glance I would have thought this source to be weak in terms of offering anything new.
The source came to me through my cousin Danette. Now she is not the weak source by any means. Danette is my partner in genealogy studies of our family tree and we share info almost daily as we discover it. She knows her stuff.
This week she sent me a link to a website that contained an 1842 Land Assessment for Huron County, Ontario, Canada. Previously, we had found James Stapleton’s land in an atlas of this county, however this potentially offered more confirmation of this fact and of course the more citations you can obtain on a piece of information the more solid your tree becomes.
Nevertheless, when I opened up this assessment I was pleasantly surprised. This assessment not only contained the location of his land, which did confirm our previous information but it also contained a census of who was living on this land. This makes it the earliest population census of this area.
I learned there were two people living in the home in 1842, one male over the age of 16 and one female over the age of 16. This just answered one of my burning questions. In trying to place my ancestor’s movements, I know they came from Stratford to this parcel of land just outside of Holmesville. What I wanted to know was if any of their children had been born in Stratford before their move. We have their eldest child being born in Dec of 1842, but we did not know where. I can now conclude that James and his wife Ellen married and then moved from Stratford, Ontario, Canada bought 65 acres of land just outside of Holmesville and began their family.
This little land assessment put a few more pieces of the puzzle into place. I have been doing this long enough to know that you never leave a stone unturned and that every document can offer up more proof of your ancestors lives. However, I am always pleasantly surprised when what appears to be a source of known facts suddenly reveals another new tidbit of information. Moral of the story never under estimate the power of a source.

Welcome Armchair Genealogists

Welcome Armchair Genealogists
If you are just getting started in your family history research or like me perform the majority of your research from the comfort of your lazyboy and laptop then you have come to the right place. In this blog we'll discuss the genealogy world, the ins and outs. How to break down those brick walls and some tricks of the trade. However, we will do it in a simple, easy to follow, no nonsense manner.
Personally, I have found that sometimes the genealogy world can get a little too academic not to mention extremely techy in the last couple of years. For those who are new to this exciting new hobby then I hope my blog can help pave your entrance into this very addicting and compelling pasttime .