Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Free Software? Count Me In

It looks like is letting customers know how to get a free copy of the updated 2009 Family Tree Maker genealogy software program. If you've bought a copy of the 2008 edition of the bestselling family history program and registered it, will send you a unique link and coupon code by email that you use when you check out of the store.

One point though: The free CD will be mailed to you - it's not a download. But hey, if you're one of the Family History fanatics, this is great news. You can get free updated software and send your old 2008 version to your friendly gen blogger who told you about it in the first place. Just kidding.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Why I Got Into This Crazy Genealogy Hobby

I've been tracing my family history for over 30 years now and I've seen it all. I began before the internet which has revolutionized the hobby and turned it into a business. I remember doing an outline for the genealogy book I wanted to write when I was just 14 years old (I knew I wouldn't take that step at that time, but the desire was there).

Now I'm blogging about genealogy and creating cool (in my own humble opinion) webpages for the world and distant relatives to enjoy. Thirty years later I'm still in love with the quest and I'm consumed with pushing back my lines even further. I don't think I'll ever become jaded with this pasttime and look forward to whatever the next changes occur. I was once the young kid peering at microfilm at the local library getting some help from older genealogists. Now I'm the older guy lending a hand to newbies in the field. I hope I can help.

Now, if I can just dig up that old outline, maybe I'll get that book published!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Ancestral Trails: An Excellent Book For English Research

Ancestral Trails is by for one of the best genealogy books for those doing research in England. It's almost like a family history bible containing information about almost everything you would want to know about all sorts of records and research material available in English genealogical research.

Already in it's second edition, the book is described as "the complete guide to British genealogy and family history." Written by Mark D. Herber, it is well written and very enjoyable to read. Herber provides how-to information using examples from his own family tree research to illustrate various different records and methods of research. Very highly recommended.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Scottish Census Records

If you want to take a look at census records for Scotland, then the place you will want to start is at ScotlandsPeople. They will allow you to search the seven census returns for all of Scotland from 1841-1901, but at a cost.

Access to the census indexes costs 6 Great Britain Pounds (about $10.87 U.S. Dollars). And you'll need a credit card to make this payment.

For this fee, you will receive 30 "page credits" which are valid for up to 90 consecutive days. When you view a page of index results the cost is one credit, but each page contains up to 25 search results. So you will want to narrow your searches down as much as possible. If you are looking for John Smith, you will use up all your credits before you even have a chance to figure out which one is yours.

Viewing an image costs 5 credits (equivalent to 1 GBP). Your session begins when payment has been authorized and additional credits may be purchased in 6 GBP increments. The session will restart with each new credit purchase.

An Interesting Census Story

I found something interesting while looking at census returns for southern Ontario, Canada the other day. Apparently a census taker had to pay for a translator when he tried to record several families who spoke only gaelic!

In the census information notes provided by the hardworking agent of the government, he was forced to pay out of his own pocket to pay an individual to help him get the proper information from some relatively recent arrivals who spoke gaelic only. There's no word if the the poor guy was ever recompensated or not.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Top Ten Genealogy Websites

There are hundreds of excellent websites available for family history researchers and whittling that number down to a list of just 10 can be a daunting task. Here are my personal favorites. They are not ranked 1-10 because each contributes differently to your genealogy research. Let me know if you dispute my choices or want to add to the list.

Cyndi's List: One of the most popular genealogy directories and indexes on the web. Cyndi's site features a massive number of links that are categorized and cross-referenced. If you are looking for general or specific family history information, this frequently updated site will point you in the right direction. does require a subscription, but it also offers a free trial on its home page. If you aren't happy with it, just cancel. Use this site to find indexed Census Records and images for the U.S. and other countries, family stories and publications, news articles, birth and death records, and military records. is one of the biggest and most comprehensive genealogy websites out there and a lot of your research needs will lead you there.
Genuki: Hands down the absolute best source for those doing research in England, Scotland and Ireland. Broken down to the county, parish, local level with links to the massive amount of available records. Your best connection to others also researching in your family or area of interest. The best, most comprehensive site I've used for overseas genealogical research.
US GenWeb: This genealogy website contains information about the US GenWeb project and also links to state-level GenWeb sites. Maintained by volunteers and growing daily, this is a site you simply must visit for US family historians and researchers.
Rootsweb: One of the oldest and most popular free genealogy sites on the web. This website offers several different services to the genealogical community, including web-page hosting, search indexes and registries. This site provides actual information and not just links to genealogy information. I've used this site from day one of my online family history research. You can search mailing lists and forum postings. Post questions you have and family names you are researching. Lot's of help here with your family history questions.
Google: First and last, Google is one of the best websites you can use for family history research. Setting aside it's massive search capacity, Google provides access to great genealogy blogs (like this one!), webpages, groups, useful maps and just about everything else. You can also search the web for others posting about your ancestors from the old country.
Family Tree Maker Online: The Family Tree Maker website offers an extensive "how-to" guide, a genealogy mall, the 115-million-name Family Finder index, message boards, a biography assistant and more.
Linkpedium: A new website from the founders of Rootsweb. This site will provide links to everything under the sun for anyone trying to find genealogy records and resources. A massive database and free to use, FamilySearch is favored by just about everyone who does online genealogy. this useful (extremely useful!) website has over a billion names in various databases that get updated all the time. Census records, the international genealogical index (known as the IGI), pedigree resource files, and vital records index. FamilySearch is one of the most visited, bookmarked, favorited and best sites out there. I'd give it 5 stars out of 5 for all the help they've provided me in my own family research.

You probably have even more favorite websites you use. Let me know what you would like to add to this list. It's always changing and being updated.

Searching the Scottish 1841 Census with FreeCEN

One of the many websites available for genealogists is FreeCEN. I used it to finally locate my elusive 3x-great-grandfather, Thomas Bradshaw in Renfrewshire. You can search FreeCEN and hopefully have the same positive results.

Thomas Bradshaw has been ducking me at every turn in my quest to research my family history. He isn't listed in the parish records for Renfrew but was born there and died before civil registration started in 1855 in Scotland and he even missed the 1851 census because he died in 1850. No idea where he is buried, so I wouldn't be able to find relatives buried nearby for any cemetery transcriptions. His wife is listed in the 1851 census as a widow in 1851 with several children. I've found his marriage but no information about any brothers, sisters or other relatives in any of the databases I've searched.

But, the good news! He was listed as BROADSHA, Thomas age 33 Labourer born Renfrewshire with his wife Janet (maiden name TAYLOR) and 3 sons, John, Thomas and James. Also listed living with them is Janet's sister Christine TAYLOR and a Christine MCCARIE age 10 who I guess is Christine's daughter.

Searching the 1841 census yields no other BROADSHA individuals listed in Scotland, 61 BROADSHAWs, and 316 BRADSHAWs, with only 4 in Renfrewshire. Obviously more needs to been done.

You should check out FreeCEN. Maybe you'll have some success with it too.

Wonnacott Family of Devon, England

If one of the surnames you are researching is Wonnacott you will want to stop by this Wonnacott family page. Operated by Paul Wonnacott out of Singapore, Mr Wonnacott has gathered a ton of info about the various branches of the Wonnacott family that originated in Devon, England. You can check out family trees of several Wonnacott, Wonacott, Winnacott and Winnicott ancestors and also submit you own Wonnacott research to the site and hopefully make some connections with others researching your line of Wonnacotts.