Researching is not easy, that is why it is called a journey


First, have you visited the library-of-congress-logo

We have a family reunion photo of my grandfather and others, and on the back it states, Family Reunion, Illinois.

Many of my family are from Nebraska and Idaho, so this is a ‘clue’ to do some more searching.

I went to: usagov_logo1

and clicked on Illinois.

The genealogical website that opened was: Illinois

It gave the hours and the many subjects to research, alas, no how to contact info. What to do?

The link at the top, went to a site with a phone number, and a link to Archives, which opened another page to a form to fill out. This is great, forms that are sent can help tremendously. Today, however, I was looking for something that would not take 4 days – it is Friday and by the time a person on the other end would be able to do anything would be Monday, most likely.

There were three links at the bottom of the Illinois page, so I clicked on each of them.

  1. The first was a similar, but more in-depth page to the contact page I just mentioned.
  2. The second was “The Sangamon Valley Collection (SVC), located on the third floor of Lincoln Library, provides in-depth resources for the study of Springfield, Illinois, Sangamon County and the eleven adjacent counties. The collection, established in 1970, contains materials from the past and present. The Sangamon Valley Collection closes at 1 p.m. on Fridays. Regular library hours are observed all other days.” Did you see they close at 1p.m. on Friday and I am sure that is not Pacific time ~ always keep time zones in mind when calling or emailing.
  3. The third link was a 404, page not found, but I was able to click on the icon at the top and got to the website for the Lincoln Library.

What I do next, depends on what I am searching for. In this instance I am going to search for a link between my grandfather and other family members in Illinois. I have no idea what town or county to narrow it down to, so now what?

What do I know already? This is the question to ask when you have a proverbial fork in the road, always ask what do I know already.

I know that my grandfather was born in Lincoln county, Illinois. (Still don’t know how his family got to Illinois, but that is separate journey from this one, or so I think at the moment).

For now I won’t use link #3

I will use link #1 to gather more information. I have found that forms may take some time for a reply back, which is okay. Sometimes the person doing the research looks in other places than where you will look and this gives you another resource to either check off the list as a dead end right now, or as a found it! and can follow that lead.

Link #2 is what I am going to follow today, because link #1 is now in the hands of someone local . Since I have started this journey, I can go on to more research.

(about filling out forms, avoid words like ‘he’ or ‘she’ or ‘they’ or ‘him’ or ‘her’ of ‘them’, use names in all instances. for example:

We have a photo of my grandfather and others on the back it states Clarke Family Reunion, Illinois.

We (think that we) know that my grandfather [insert name here] was born in Illinois.  Logan, Illinois, or Champaign Illinois. His {insert name here] dad was [insert name here] and his mother was [insert name here] pronounced [this is good to do, if you think the pronunciation is usually different than the spelling), on 22 April ****. [insert name here] (called by his middle name Frank) and Lenora were married in Illinois on ** October (yes spell out the month’s name to avoid any confusion by the reader, their eyes get tired too) **** in Logan County, Illinois – (uh oh, that is something I never paid attention to before. Oct to April is only 6 months. Do I have the dates correct? I will double check). No it must be 1882, because his first wife [insert name here] died in Jul 1882 and they were not living together for some time already-but that is a whole different story.

In the meantime – We know grandpa [insert name here] had a [insert name here] as a cousin, and that they all called (this is where you can put nick names or variations of names a relative may have been called), and [insert name here] [yes, again, so they know if you are talking about the grandfather or the uncle] was born ** Jul **** either in Mercer County, New Jersey or in Illinois, we have not confirmed the birth place.

>>>Here I added more info about the cousins dad and mom, marriage date, birth dates and places, so the research can make sure he/she is following the correct people<<<

Next I put the reason for finding this information: We want to find our families connection to Illinois.”

You may notice that IRAD had a link and so I followed that and it took me to a contact for the specific county for my family, I had copied and pasted the above info into the contact form for that county. Cover as many avenues as you can to find what you are after, there may be more than one way to get to the information you are looking for.

On to Link #2, and after a few phone calls to Logan county researching and a few emails I will have to wait for them to do some researching and email me back.

Note on emails– I have an email that is simple to write when someone hears it. I always spell it after I say it, that makes less confusion and assures that a typo or misspelling is averted and I am not waiting for an email that will never get to me. When you can leave more than an email, leave a phone number or two so that if one way of contacting you doesn’t work, the person you are talking with or contacting can have an alternative to get back to you. Some research can take quite a bit of time, so if you forget, or you wonder why you haven’t received any information, perhaps it was a misunderstanding of your email address and that could be frustrating.

Now I wait and do some more online looking as much as I can and then take a break. Stand up and stretch, walk around the room, get a drink of water, have a bite to eat, refresh yourself before you sit down and continue on your amazing journey to connect with your ancestors.


More to help you find who or what you are looking for


More Help for your Search

Genealogy Raodshow on PBS, the webpage has a lot of helpful links for you.

Just one more resource to help you find your own family discoveries.

dem bones, dem dry bones


dem bones, dem dry bonesdrybones

  1. What did your family do to provide for their loved ones? and  how, if at all, does that have anything to do with you and your family today? You might be surprised. Sometimes when we least expect it, we find our own genealogy and history tied to others and tied to our own history.
  2. This is a reminder to keep our mind ready for new finds, especially when we weren’t looking at the time
  3. The end of this blog will take you to the episode to tie in why the Dry Bone Turtle Skeleton was used.

PBS Benjamin Franklin ActorBenjamin Franklin’s Bones, Secrets of the Dead, 33 Craven Street London,

Among other tributes, this is also a tribute to family genealogy/history and how it impacts each generation. Here are only a very few excerpts to highlight the genealogy and history between ancestors and descendants – today descendants.

HewsonDoctor Melissa Hewson, direct descendant of Dr. Hewson:

Melissa Hewson
Medical Historian
William Hewson met a young woman named Polly Stevenson and she was the daughter of Margaret Stevenson. Polly was always described as being an unusually intelligent woman, so Franklin and Polly had a very close relationship, she was a dear friend of his, he considered her somewhat of a second daughter.

William and Polly were married at St Mary Abbot’s Church on July 10th of 1770 and Franklin actually played a very large role in the ceremony. He was given the honour of walking Polly down the aisle and he at the end signed their wedding certificate for their marriage.

COMMENTATOR Franklin and Hewson became friends but also kindred spirits – they were both swept up by the powerful intellectual principles of what was referred to as the Age of Enlightenment.

Melissa Hewson
Medical Historian
I just love this letter because in the first line it talks about “our family here is in great distress” and this just goes to show how close Franklin was with the Hewsons, he had a great deal of respect for Hewson and was deeply affected by his death.

After Polly’s mother passed away in 1783 Benjamin Franklin wrote her a letter and invited her to come to Philadelphia to be his neighbour. In 1786 Polly decided to move her family to Philadelphia and there they remained.

Now since William Hewson there have been 5 more generations of Hewson physicians. I am very proud to say that I am a direct descendant of William and Polly. I am currently in my last year of studying medicine and I am very excited to be continuing this legacy within the Hewson family.

So I have to say that every time the Hewson family comes to see Franklin’s grave, it’s a very special moment for us, our family is just filled with deep emotion of gratitude. We look at Ben Franklin and we see someone who’s responsible for bringing us where we are today and I think that’s just an incredible history.”

drybonesRead more of the transcript here and watch the video:
The Green Sea Turtle was an important clue to tie in the bones and Benjamin Franklin and Doctor Hewson

Eat Pie First


   cake and pastry display

I was thinking about one time when our kids were young, we went on a cross country trip. There was this one particularly long stretch of road on a very sunny day. It was a two lane road and in the distance we could see the freeway and what looked like a little town. As we got closer we saw a gas station and restaurant, pretty big place and most welcoming. We went inside ordered water and pie and then went to the restroom to wash up and refresh after the long drive. piece of chocolate cake with cherry and strawberryWe went back to our seat and ate our pie and then ordered our meal. All the while there was this lady across from us in another booth that kept looking over at us. When the meal was nearly done, one of the kids had to use the restroom again. We headed there and this woman also headed that way. When we washed our hands the woman kept acting like she wanted to say something and finally she did. I thought, oh boy, here it comes, she is going to talk about what misbehaved kids we have and so on, but No. Surprisingly she said, My mother would never give us desert first, but you did and your kids ate it and then they ate all their dinner. I am so impressed and what well behaved kids they are too.

Well, that isn’t what I was expecting at all!

wineglass and napkin in restaurantAnother time when we went to a restaurant on a different family trip, there was hardly anyone in the restaurant, and we asked for a separate table for the kids. The wait staff looked horrified and said we can’t do that, and we said, it is okay they are well behaved and we do it whenever we go out to eat. They said they had to ask the manager and the manager told them that they would do it, but if the kids caused problems or misbehaved, we would have to all sit at one table. hmm, we thought, what kind of kids do they usually get here?.

The kids sat at their own table, next to ours of course, and when it came time to order their food, the waiter kept asking us if it was okay they ordered this item or that item and my husband finally said to let them order what they want, it is okay, they know that if they order it and don’t eat it, they have to pay for it and next time we order for them. He said okay. They got their food, wait staff kept looking around the corners and watching them. We weren’t concerned, we knew our kids and their behavior. When we were all done, a few of the wait staff came over and complimented us on the kids and how surprised they were that the kids did so well at their own table. The next vacation we took and stopped by this same restaurant, we weren’t even questioned when asking for two tables.

vanilla_coffeeBut several times we have been complimented on how well our kids behaved in the restaurants.

My husband and I always try to repay the kindness and compliment parents when their kids have behaved well in restaurants or other such busy public places.

Why am I telling this here, on a genealogy blog? It is important to share stories with your family, even if it is to remind the kids, grandkids, or nieces and nephews about their childhood. Then ask them what they remember about that time. It also gives me a chance to write it down- for them- for later.

(Thank you to J.R.Watkins at for the use of the photos)

Resources, more


Is your email full of helpful resources? Are you utilizing the plethora of genealogical resources available to the world, to you?

Wow, that would be an accomplishment!

There is too much information that it would overload any one person if they had all of it in your face everyday!

What to do?  I am going to just give you a few insights that I have showing up daily in my email, that I don’t use every day of the year, but they are there to remind me that help is only a click away…so to speak.

Family Tree University – classes to learn more

Family Tree Magazine – suggestions and helps more info to help out good history help

TheGenelogist more history

Archives –  lots of informaiotn

Historical Society of …[you can enter your own place here] – this is a specific Historical Society of a place that my ancestors lived. They have lots of information about my family. I support them even though they are clear across the nation, because, they are caretakers of my and others family histories/documents/photos/items and I want to see they stay in business.If not for my family, for others. They are VERY (yes I am shouting how important they are, because they are very important) to anyone that wants to find out about their family. 

A Historical Society has many helpful resources and insight. Use them!

S&N Genealogy Supplies – always helpful

World Vital Records – yes they have them – good to keep up with what is happening specific to my family lines and my cousins

and then there are a few that are specific to people who email me at least once a month.

Just a few to help you along, there are many more that may be more specific to your family, some specific to your country of origin, your state, your province, your area, your county, your city or town or village. Search them out to get some ‘reminders’ that are visible to you each week. Even if you don’t actively use them daily, the reminders are there to let you know you are not alone on this journey.


Historian vs. Genealogist


This is a short blog this morning.

Why choose one over the other? What does each offer? What is best for the research I am after? Perhaps I should use both, but who can afford that?

Why choose one over the other?
This depends on the next two Questions. What do they offer and what are you looking for?

  a student or writer of history;

:  a person who traces or studies the descent of persons or families

Now a Family Historian could give you the history of your family, the stories and the history behind your family.

A Genealogist could give you the names and dates , the facts and figures and places.

However, they can work together, gathering their research and that brings us to the last question – Perhaps both are the best way to go.

What are you after, who are you searching, why are you searching for that information? These are questions you need to ask and answer before you choose one or the other, or both. Get detailed in your answers.This will help you make the best choice.

Because, the next question you ask, is how much can I afford to spend on either one, or on both. Should you use a Genealogist first to get as much info as you can, then use an historian to get the stories behind that information? This will put your cost out over time. Maybe you need it soon and so you hire both, but give them specific search guidelines.

A Little Gem for you:
Remember to start with what you know. Write it out. Ask yourself questions about the person or event or ??? whatever it is you want researched. See what you can find out yourself about it. Ask yourself questions again to make sure you know what you are after and when you think you have gotten as far as you can get, then find a Family Historian and a Genealogist and give them the info you are seeking for and ask them what they can do for you to help you get your answers.

Hope this helps you out. I know it is some general information, but it should help you to find a path that will help guide you on your journey.Home

It’s Summer!


Life is busier when the days get longer and warmer. Time to get all those outside projects done, visit family and friends, vacations, camping, and so on the list goes.

Image“The Meeting of the Hounds” engraved by J.T.Willmore after a picture by Eugene Lami, published in Summer and Winter in Paris, 1844.

What about genealogy? Keep it going; during a quiet evening after the days work and the evening meal is consumed, take some time to jot down a few lines about what keeps you busy in the summer. If you have time, expand on this and tell what kept you busy in summer as a child, what about your parents or grandparents, aunts and uncles. Maybe you will have a memory that you can put down on paper.

Maybe not. It may be a good time to tell stories to your children. Pass those stories down about your families. Tell them about your family coming to America or about where your family is from. You don’t have to go into all of it in an hour. Just tell them some of the history, so they know where and who they came from. Tell them that the next time, you will tell them more about their family- Perhaps you can find an intriguing story to start with.

Image“Taking Pleasure” (family outing) drawn and etched by Richard Dagley, published in Takings, or, the Life of a Collegian, 1821.

==>Now for those that are more serious and determined about getting as much done as possible:<==

Think on this — with technology changing so fast, those A drives? ever try to find one to read the 3.5 disc’s? Nearly impossible now, and the zip drives or jaz drives, or even try to find a computer that has the ports to read them! Even today’s  CD’s, DVD’s are changing. Now may be the time to make hard copies of the family information you have. Letters, emails, text messages, recordings on cassette or digital recorders, MS Word files, and of course remember the digital images!

Use Archival paper– it will last and not fade out. Have you noticed how fuzzy some of the copies printed 8 or 18 years ago are? You want those important family items saved for your descendants to enjoy!


“Mausoleo O Tempio Di Bacco” (Rome) set of eight architectural copper plates published in Giovanni Battista Cipriani’s Monumenti di Fabbriche Antiche…, Rome, 1796. Slight foxing in a few margins (outside plate mark), otherwise good condition and with plate marks.

Thanks to Free stock images for genealogy –

Enjoy your summer and your family and your genealogy! I know I sure am – so you may not get as many blogs in the next 3 months, but don’t give up on me!

This is a good time to go back and re-read the first blogs on the 6 parts of starting genealogy. Sometimes if you can’t find anything on a relative, just start with their name, date of birth and place of birth and see where it takes you. Every year new and different information gets discovered and digitized, this may be the year you find that information you have been looking for!