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Step 3 – Starting your Family tree

This is where all the fun begins!  So, you have gathered all the vital information you could for your family members (mother, fathers, grandparents, great-parents etc.).  Most sites will prompt you to fill in your mother and father’s information.  Then you will take it from there by adding their parent’s names, date of birth, birthplace and marriage date & place if you have it.

You are what is referred to as the home person of the tree and you will grow your tree upwards and outwards creating new branches with relatives directly related.  Hopefully, you have chosen a site which offers suggestions or hints to help you grow your tree.

If you have not chosen a site which helps you move along, you will need to do manual footwork and research to build your tree.  Here are few suggestions:

  1. Contact the town where the person was born and determine what is needed by you in order to obtain the information you are looking for such as; birth certificate, marriage licenses etc.
  2. Perform a search on the internet, looking for their obituary. This is great because it tells you their children’s and the children’s spouses name and sometimes where they were living at the time of death.  (I found many of my relatives information by performing this 1 simple search)
  3. If you need to contact an outside the U.S. source. Make sure you follow their instructions to a tee to obtain what you are asking for.  Noting that all of these sources require a fee.

If you chose a genealogy site, know that they all work pretty much the same way.  I use Ancestry.com but you can choose whomever you feel works for you.

At Ancestry, after I entered a few family members it automatically began to attach “hints” to certain people.  This helps me further my search.  They also provide a search link to be able to search an individual and present in front of you a list of possible matches which you can click on and review and make the decision based on the facts you have gathered whether or not to connect the hint to the individual in question.

Be prepared to get hooked and spend a lot of fun time online doing your research. There is a plethora of information online depending on how you choose to search for ancestors.  I took the easy way!  I pay a minimal monthly fee and the return is well worth the investment!

Happy digging y’all!

Step 2 – How to Choose the Right Geneaology for You

This is the step only you can decide which to use.  I have provided you with a list below of the top 3 genealogy sites.  I could have collected more info about other sites but to me, after these 3 sites the rest fall off the ledge very quickly.

The 3 sites listed below are numbered 1 thru 3 with #1 being the best.  They were selected based on; types of records, volume of records, ease of use, how many services are offered and whether or not customer service support is readily available.  Here are the Top 3 Genealogy sites:

  1. Ancestry – Is the leader of the pack.
    1. PROs: Provides access to 16 billion records dating as far back as 1000 years ago and has more immigration records than any other site, allowing you to build a family tree and connect with other genealogists and provides an email system to be able to connect with other tree builders.  com also offers a mobile app for iPone, iPad, Android and Amazon and are user-friendly.  Able to choose how you wish to subscribe: Monthly or Annual payment plans.  Able to download a copy in excel format of your GEDCOM file.
    2. CONs: Subscription based
    3. CONCLUSION: Ancestry’s extensive database, family tree builder, DNA testing, wide range of services and helpful, responsive customer service truly sets them apart as an industry standard.  They currently have 31 million user-submitted family trees.
    4. My comment: After having joined several other sites (non-paying) and not being able to get anywhere with my searches I decided to do some research to determine which would return the most for my investment.  This was the site and it has proved to be worth its weight in gold for me.

If you were to create a full map of your family’s ancestors from beginning all the way up to you?  It would cost you an astonishing amount of money not to mention paperwork and investment of time and travel.  Ancestry works in the same way search engines do.  It seeks out and returns your search request for items such as; census reports, documents pertinent to the era such as WWI & WWII draft cards, marriage licenses, birth records and much more.

  1. MyHeritage – Considered # 2 in the industry
    • PROs: MyHeritage encourages the whole family to get involved. Let’s you search through 7 billion records and connect with other genealogists.
    • CONs: Subscription based – does not allow a monthly payment plan and doesn’t have many records available making your search difficult and time-consuming.
    • CONCLUSION: com’s database, family tree builder, DNA testing, sense of community means you will likely learn something new about your family.
    • My Comment: I was not willing to pay up front for a year to begin my tree therefore I do not have a personal experience wiht htis site and am going by research of wht others have said.
  1. FamilSearch
    • PROs: This site is free to anyone to use.
    • CONs: Does not provide DNA testing. Limited database records.
    • CONCLUSION: org is sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has been actively gathering, preserving and sharing genealogical data around the world for more than 100 years.  If this is makes you uncomfortable you may want to continue to search for a free geneaology site. It is said to be ‘the biggest geneaology website in the world, hosting billions of resources online and hundreds of physical locations with volunteers to help you search.” It is free and connects you to other online geneaology searches, though limited, such as Ancestry.com, therefore increasing the amount of information.
    • My Comment: I joined thi siste and can honestly say it was not my experience. org didn’t have any family records except what I was willing to provide which was not much at the time. Keep in mind they are collectors of vital records.  Not sure why they began collecting this data such a long time ago but hopefully it has panned out to be a good thing for someone.

RE: GEDCOM file

For those of you readers who do not know what it is? It is the file contianing the information of the family tree you have created.  Note: it does not arrive looking like a little tree you planted. J It arrives a gobbled mess!  But with a little work and ingenuity, you can format to be readable for your own use or upload it to another geneaology site once you decide you need to grow.  I will provide a lesson somewhere down the road on GEDCOM files. So check back again.

Thoughts:  Keep in mind when choosing your genealogy site: 1, you are helping them build a better database by providing your information, 2, you get what you pay for so “free” is not always better. Whichever you choose to begin your journey there is no doubt it will be adventurous and excting.

Step 1: Gathering your information

This is the most important step you can take right now. Unfortunately for me and many others, I made the mistake of waiting until I was interested in my past and as Julia Roberts once said in the movie Pretty Woman, “Big Mistake! Huge!”

Instead, and for many out there, by the time I developed a serious interest, my grandparents and parents had already passed away. Leaving very little information except for the tiny memory cells I could drag forward.  It’s not the end of the earth if you’ve waited past an interview opportunity.  It’s what happened to me.  It’ll just take a little longer to get rolling, that’s all.  I have been researching my family tree(s) for over a year now and believe I have become pretty good at it! The most important items to always have handy are; Pen & Paper Or, some kind of recording device to record your interviews.

In the case of your grandparents, you’ll be surprised once they begin to tap into this part of their memory at what they’ll actually remember and how fast it will flow.  You may even receive a few phone calls wanting to share more memories.  If they have passed away before you can interview them, move onto your own parents making sure you always have handy a notebook and pen for the interview.

If your own parents have passed away, try your aunts and uncles. Ask them all the same questions which are on the Ancestry Interview sheet. Your goal is to gather as much information about your immediate family so that you have what is needed to get off to a great start when developing your tree.

I can’t say this enough, about that notebook and pen? I don’t care what you think I promise you, you will not remember some of the details shared with you once you sit down to enter the information.  I don’t care if it is the same day a few hours later. You will forget some important detail.  A detail when if you return to ask again they may not remember.  So trust me on this, write it down! I found out the hard way.

Let’s get started! To make it easy for you, feel free to download the Ancestry Interview PDF here and use it again and again.

What you’ll learn

Researching genealogy has changed my life and the way I look at my family all by simply researching my ancestry in the comfort of my own home.  I have uncovered amazing details about my family which makes me feel so proud.  Relying on my own experiences while digging into my past I plan to show you:

  • How to get started
    • Who to ask
    • What to ask
  • How to choose an online genealogy site which works for you and your budget
    • The difference between and fee-based genealogy sites
  • How to begin your research after you plant your tree
    • How to start your tree
    • How to grow your tree
    • Where to search
    • How to search
    • What to search for
  • What to do if you get stuck
    • Where to look
    • What to look for

My next blog will be Step 1 – Gathering your Information

What to Expect

I think everyone should know where they came from and not just stop at, ‘my parents had me’. The history of your family can be so intriguing. So why not start your own family tree?  Through my blog posts, I hope to show you how easy it is to research your own ancestry and even create your very own family tree to share with your parents and children. You’ll be creating a legacy of your family to be handed down for generations to come.

I started my own research over a year ago and have been able to take my mother’s side all the way back to the year 736!  I discovered I am a descendant of a very large Clan called Clan MacMillan in Scotland and a tower at Castle Sween one of the oldest fortresses in Scotland, is named MacMillan Tower.  There’s even mention of the possibility of Macbeth being related but no proof.  That’s not all, I was also able to discover living relatives on my father’s side that I didn’t even know I had.  And…they are living here in the United States.  I would never have known the delicious history of my family had I not decided to do a little research.

There are so many other discoveries I have made it would be too much to list here but you get the message.  I have uncovered all of this in the comfort of my own home.  Ok, here’s another little tidbit I recently uncovered sitting at my desk.  My siblings and our children are eligible to be part of the Daughters and Sons of the Revolution through a 5th Gr Grandfather who was a soldier in the historic American Revolutionary War.  I know this is pretty cool right!  No one in my family ever mentioned this either! Your Research will uncover things that will blow your mind too!