How to Find your Ancestors

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      J T Rone: my father

      Why do you want to know about your ancestors. Does your family history offer puzzles that you need to clear up? Do you have missing grandparent information or other relatives that you want to know about? My quest to learn more about my family started in childhood. My father told stories about events in the life of his father and grandfather that left unanswered questions about what really happened when my great-grandfather died leaving a large family, some money, and a farm. I was curious and wanted to find the truth. After researching for thirty years my curiousity was satisfied but I discovered a new curiousity about the rest of my lineage. In this article you will receive the tools to start you off on a journey that will excite and inform you for years to come!

    • 2). The best way to begin your search for your ancestors is to start with yourself. Take your notebook and list all the pertinent data about who you are such as name, date of birth, birthplace, spouse, children and any other data you feel is important. At the same time you should begin to compile factual documentation about yourself and your immediate family. Documentation is extremely important. You must be sure of your sources and never take any story or "fact" at face value. Each link in the chain must be independently verified. Once you have put together everything you can about yourself and your immediate family it is time to start asking questions. Every relative you have should be interviewed to get information about themselves, their children, and their parents. This task might seem daunting at first, but remember that this is a labor of love and does not need to be completed over night. Your mother or father will be a great source of information. One thing I would stress is to ask every question you want to ask no matter how trivial it may seem. Unfortunately, you only have a window of opportunity to get information and then it is gone. My grandmother was a wonderful source of information to me and even though she has been gone for twenty-five years I find myself thinking of new questions to ask her. So ask your questions and record the answers in a permanent file. You will be glad you did at some point in the future.

    • 3). Now, let's talk about documents you will use for your sources. One of the oldest provable sources is your family Bible. These records have been used for hundreds of years. Church records such as baptismal dates are legitimate sources. Look for birth certificates, death certificates, land records, wills, probate records, and voters lists. Census records from NARA will place your family to the year and location. Federal census records are currently available through 1930. All these records offer many ways to validate your connection to your family. The internet has become a good source for online data bases and information. Unfortunately, many web sites are expensive and membership is costly. However, there are online sources that are not expensive. In Texas HeritageQuest online can be accessed through the public library system. Familysearch.org is the official search engine of the Church of the Latter Day Saints. This is a good site with lots of information and free software downloads and work sheets to get you organized on your personal computer.

    • 4). Family historians are passionate about their hobby. Most are willing to share information, but be careful with information you find posted on the internet. First, remember to check the sources. This is the first rule of family history research. You will find many family trees on different sites and sadly they have not all been verified. Some people are looking for a little information and not really interested in verifying the facts. This is fine, and depending on your goals for your research you must carefully review the information you find. Remember not to plagiarize the work of others. Always get permission before publishing any information you find. And then there are the brick walls. I have been looking for information about one ancestor on my father's line for many years and nothing has turned up. Take your time and leave no leaf unturned. Many people are researching and sooner or later a clue will lead you to the prize. Have fun and good hunting!

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