I've started tracing my ancestors

  • Thread starter Evo
  • Start date
  • #1
Evo
Mentor
23,106
2,458

Main Question or Discussion Point

My mother's side of the family was professionally done years ago by one of her sisters. But no one knew about my dad's family, or my ex-husband, (my girl's father). I'm using ancestry.com, even though they are expensive, it's easy. I figure I'll find all I can in a couple of weeks, actually the free trial period is long enough, but I'm taking my time.

I'm amazed at all of the mistakes in name spellings, dates, etc... My birth certificate is wrong, my dad's name is wrong, my mother's place of birth is spelled wrong. My grandmother's name was spelled 3 different ways, her year of birth was estimated. Rural home births weren't too accurately registered if they were at all.

My ex's father's birth certificate was accidentally typed with his middle name as his first name, and so he just switched names on legal documents without ever getting it legally corrected, people just didn't seem to care back then in a small town.

Anyone else been tracing their families? What have you found?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Astronuc
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
18,704
1,718
My wife joined ancestry.com (or genealogy.com), and we were able to locate some ancestors. We also found errors and misspellings. Fortunately, quite a lot of the English census are online, so we could follow families as they moved.

We traced my father's side of the family back to the 1700s, but it gets spotty earlier.

We found some of my mom's side - even more of a mix of Scots, Irish and S. England. My aunt had some background on the Scottish side back to the 1700s.

My dad's side of family dispersed to Australia, NZ and Canada, and now the US, while others stayed in the UK. I think some of my cousins may be living temporarily the UK or mainland Europe.

I found a third cousin in Christchurch, NZ and we filled in some holes.

My wife has also been transcribing copies of hand-written census to that they can be put online, and she encounters errors and misspellings. It was pretty common depending on the recorder.
 
  • #3
Evo
Mentor
23,106
2,458
My wife joined ancestry.com (or genealogy.com), and we were able to locate some ancestors. We also found errors and misspellings. Fortunately, quite a lot of the English census are online, so we could follow families as they moved.

We traced my father's side of the family back to the 1700s, but it gets spotty earlier.

We found some of my mom's side - even more of a mix of Scots, Irish and S. England. My aunt had some background on the Scottish side back to the 1700s.

My dad's side of family dispersed to Australia, NZ and Canada, and now the US, while others stayed in the UK. I think some of my cousins may be living temporarily the UK or mainland Europe.

I found a third cousin in Christchurch, NZ and we filled in some holes.

My wife has also been transcribing copies of hand-written census to that they can be put online, and she encounters errors and misspellings. It was pretty common depending on the recorder.
Cool. The mistakes on permanent, important legal documents just amazes me. The people that typed these things were horrible and obviously there was no oversight. Amazing.
 
  • #4
256bits
Gold Member
2,993
1,019
Records of census data, ship's logs, baptism, birth certicicates, marriage certificates, hospital, land ownershp, death certificates. Perhaps schooling records would be important also.
Not all of these are available for everyone who traces their ancestry.
Even so, if found, some information can be missing or is guessed at if after the fact - winter births might only be recorded months later at the parents disretion when they get into town to address officials, or a few years if they just forgot at the time due to whatever.
Destruction of records due to fire, war, flood can lead to deadends.

Handwritten accounts of ship's passenger lists, for example, are limited in information, and dependant upon the recorder's ability to write legible. Some records are permantly destroyed due to the fact that the paper copy was not microfilmed before being disposed of - pages can be missing. A lot of people were named after previous relatives, and 5 Janes Doe's entering the country on 5 different ships, will lead one to having to search 5 different histories, none of which can be certain as being yours. ( Funny thing is, with the relative naming thing, they all could have named their first born son "Bob" after some past great ancestor, but which Bob is your own great grandfather - there should be some commonality, but that is the fun part ( and frustrating ) in trying to soert that out ).

Census and other personal information might not have been released yet due to laws regarding privacy.

Adoptions and out of wedlock births have their own pecularities and can reach deadends.

For a lot of people, unless they have word of mouth to follow up on, a family history can never be declared as being accurate, contrary to what ancestry.com might have one believe by their seductive advertising.

It can be that a search into local records, for search and crosschecking, is necessary.
 
Last edited:
  • #5
Evo
Mentor
23,106
2,458
Records of census data, ship's logs, baptism, birth certicicates, marriage certificates, hospital, land ownershp, death certificates.
Not all of these are available for everyone who traces their ancestry.
Even so, if found, some information can be missing or is guessed at if after the fact - winter births might only be recorded months after the fact at the parents disretion when they get into town to address officials.
Destruction of records due to fire, war, flood can lead to deadends.

Handwritten accounts of ship's passenger lists, for example, are limited in information, and dependant upon the recorder's ability to write legible. Some records are permantly destroyed due to the fact that the paper copy was not microfilmed before being disposed of - pages can be missing.

Census and other personal information might not have been released yet due to laws regarding privacy.

Adoptions and out of wedlock births have their own pecularities and can reach deadends.

For a lot of people, unless they have word of mouth to follow up on, a family history can never be declared as being accurate, contrary to what ancestry.com might have one believe by their seductive advertising.
I find ancestry.com quite good, but they're expensive, I haven't found them to have made any false promises. And they do pull records from all sources, which saved me from having to track them down, as I said, you can probably find all available information within a day of signing up for the free trial. I'd say if they are in the US, you can easily go back 200 years the first day, I did. Once you have to go outside the US and farther back, it gets dodgier.
 
  • #6
256bits
Gold Member
2,993
1,019
The thing about ancestry.com is they put most of what is out there all in one place rather than picking at it from several. I wrote just to try to tell others how are where to look and snags if they desire to trace and get fustrated.

So, have you found your link to nobility yet?
 
  • #7
Evo
Mentor
23,106
2,458
The thing about ancestry.com is they put most of what is out there all in one place rather than picking at it from several. I wrote just to try to tell others how are where to look and snags if they desire to trace and get fustrated.

So, have you found your link to nobility yet?
Actually, my mother's family are aristocrats, but we already knew that, my uncle is titled and owns a castle.

Don't know what you are talking about when you say
ancestry.com is they put most of what is out there all in one place rather than picking at it from several
They have local birth, death and marriage certificates, census records, military records, immigration records, pages from phone books, newspaper articles, obituaries. I don't know what else there is. Please explain what you are talking about.
 
  • #8
wukunlin
Gold Member
403
44
My father's family originated from China and it is one of those who take their "roots" very seriously. Every few decades someone in the extended family will offer to donate money and resource to update our family tree. A copy of the latest version (new enough to record my father and his brothers' names) sits on my uncle's bookshelf. It is thicker than any dictionaries and the labels date back to over a thousand years. One thing though, the family tree omit all daughters and wives...

It is quite remarkable how we can make contact with our twenty-something-th cousin if we want to, but the age gap has stretched to over 60 years.

Apparently at some point someone made up some naming conventions to make it easier to distinguish which generation we are meant to be in, but I think my grandfather outright ignored them. I've also seen one of those extended family photos with the caption saying it was taken before the Chinese civil war. There are hundreds of them. Looked more like a photo of a town's population.
 
  • #9
256bits
Gold Member
2,993
1,019
I mean that they have a wealth of information on their own site of what is recorded out there, instead of you yourself having to try and locate individual internet sites yourself.

Aristocrats and a castle - that's neat.
 
  • #10
Evo
Mentor
23,106
2,458
My father's family originated from China and it is one of those who take their "roots" very seriously. Every few decades someone in the extended family will offer to donate money and resource to update our family tree. A copy of the latest version (new enough to record my father and his brothers' names) sits on my uncle's bookshelf. It is thicker than any dictionaries and the labels date back to over a thousand years.
OMG, that's awesome!!! My mother's family could only be definitely traced to the 13th century, and only her father's line.
 
  • #11
Evo
Mentor
23,106
2,458
I mean that they have a wealth of information on their own site of what is recorded out there, instead of you yourself having to try and locate individual internet sites yourself.
Yeah, it almost makes it too easy, but I'm lazy. I know tracing back to England and Ireland will be more difficult, that might be next, but that's REALLY expensive. But that's where my dad's family are from in the 18th century, his mother's parents were from England, she was first to be born in America.

I want to do this for my kids, they think it's neat. So far everyone had regular jobs, telegraph operators, railroad, shopkeepers, sherriff on my Dad's side, he was the first in his family to get a degree, he was an EE. His dad's cousin/uncle was a famous actor, I did have a letter and the note he left in my grandad's book at the funeral home. Oh well, of course it got destroyed, story of my life.
 
  • #12
lisab
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
1,887
616
My father was raised Mormon but it didn't "take". As a consequence I was given my family history back to the 1500s, as a birthright. I'm not in the least bit religious but this part of it is great!

My earliest traced ancestor to date was born on an island off of Glasgow called Jura, in 15-something. His first name was Angus - pretty cool :cool:.
 
  • #13
Evo
Mentor
23,106
2,458
My father was raised Mormon but it didn't "take". As a consequence I was given my family history back to the 1500s, as a birthright. I'm not in the least bit religious but this part of it is great!

My earliest traced ancestor to date was born on an island off of Glasgow called Jura, in 15-something. His first name was Angus - pretty cool :cool:.
Wow, you are so lucky!

I think old records are cool. They sure had lots of children. And weird names, I noticed that the same names were used over and over. And my dad and his dad had what appears to be an old family surname as their middle name, I'm going to trace that next, seems it might be old Scottish. Unusual, from what I gather, probably reavers. :devil:

A friend of mine came from a wealthy colonial family and the census showed the slaves they owned. Other records listed wives, what lands and money came to the husband at death of the wife (wife's family) and in some occasions what the woman was allowed to keep, they didn't get to keep much if there were male relatives.
 
Last edited:
  • #14
Monique
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
4,149
63
Cool. The mistakes on permanent, important legal documents just amazes me. The people that typed these things were horrible and obviously there was no oversight. Amazing.
It still happens today, my US visa contained the wrong name, my US bank cards contained the wrong name, any time I had to sign up to something it was a struggle to get people to type it correctly. Some people take the easy route and just change their name to a US-acceptable format. A new hype is to spell my name as Moniek, very annoying.

I've tried tracing my ancestors, but then I already don't know how many uncles/aunts I have. I did find some documents in the city records, but nothing of great interest. When I googled my family I did find a picture of my grandparent's wallpaper online, that was a nice find.
 
  • #15
130
13
We have a family tree. It contains the names of almost all of my male ancestors from the early 16th century.
Akbar the Great used to rule most of India then. Crazy!
 
  • #16
Curious3141
Homework Helper
2,843
86
We have a family tree. It contains the names of almost all of my male ancestors from the early 16th century.
Akbar the Great used to rule most of India then. Crazy!
I'm not of Indian nationality, but I am of ethnic Indian descent (South Indian Brahmin heritage, to be more precise). The great Indian poet Bharathiyar is in my family tree: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subramanya_Bharathi
 
  • #17
130
13
I'm not of Indian nationality, but I am of ethnic Indian descent (South Indian Brahmin heritage, to be more precise). The great Indian poet Bharathiyar is in my family tree: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subramanya_Bharathi
Although this is the first time that I heard of Bharathiyar, he seems like an amazing person.
 
  • #18
Borek
Mentor
28,326
2,706
My earliest traced ancestor to date was born on an island off of Glasgow called Jura, in 15-something. His first name was Angus - pretty cool :cool:.
15-something, that means around 450 years, or 20 generations. In every generation there is several percent chance that the kid's father is someone else than everyone thinks. Let's say 5%. That means chance of you being really Angus descendant is around 36%.
 
  • #19
Evo
Mentor
23,106
2,458
It still happens today, my US visa contained the wrong name, my US bank cards contained the wrong name, any time I had to sign up to something it was a struggle to get people to type it correctly. Some people take the easy route and just change their name to a US-acceptable format. A new hype is to spell my name as Moniek, very annoying.

I've tried tracing my ancestors, but then I already don't know how many uncles/aunts I have. I did find some documents in the city records, but nothing of great interest. When I googled my family I did find a picture of my grandparent's wallpaper online, that was a nice find.
I know Ancestry.com is in Europe, they have a site for The Netherlands. They are pretty good at their searches, they will pull records with similar spellings in a certain time period which allows you to catch the documents with mistakes. Then the more info you find and match, the deeper they can search, every other day I get an e-mail with more hits, it's nice.
 
  • #20
Evo
Mentor
23,106
2,458
We have a family tree. It contains the names of almost all of my male ancestors from the early 16th century.
Akbar the Great used to rule most of India then. Crazy!
Wow, I wish I had something like that.

I'm not of Indian nationality, but I am of ethnic Indian descent (South Indian Brahmin heritage, to be more precise). The great Indian poet Bharathiyar is in my family tree: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subramanya_Bharathi
Fascinating, I think it's great to see who was in your family.
 
  • #21
AlephZero
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
6,993
291
My earliest traced ancestor to date was born on an island off of Glasgow called Jura, in 15-something.
Unless there's another island called Jura, your geography is a bit "off of". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jura,_Scotland

It's in a bit of a decline at present - the population density is only marginally higher than Alaska, and Alaska is probably easier to get to. I spent a couple of days there about 30 years ago. The ferry service had a notional timetable, but in practice it ran by negotiation when enough of the locals wanted to use it, and the boatman wasn't doing something more important!

Corryvreckan, the third largest whirlpool in the world between the Jura and the island of Scarba, was worth seeing (and hearing) up close though. There are some videos on Youtube, but they don't give the sense of scale of the real thing - waves up to 30 feet, and a roar you can hear from miles away.
 
  • #22
Monique
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
4,149
63
I know Ancestry.com is in Europe, they have a site for The Netherlands. They are pretty good at their searches, they will pull records with similar spellings in a certain time period which allows you to catch the documents with mistakes. Then the more info you find and match, the deeper they can search, every other day I get an e-mail with more hits, it's nice.
Ah, I didn't know they had a Dutch site. But then any action takes me back to the US site. I tried some different names (myself, parents, grandparents), but no matches. What would then be the way to start?
 
  • #23
Evo
Mentor
23,106
2,458
Ah, I didn't know they had a Dutch site. But then any action takes me back to the US site. I tried some different names (myself, parents, grandparents), but no matches. What would then be the way to start?
Do they have a free trial on the Dutch site? No records came up?
 
  • #24
Astronuc
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
18,704
1,718
My father was raised Mormon but it didn't "take". As a consequence I was given my family history back to the 1500s, as a birthright. I'm not in the least bit religious but this part of it is great!

My earliest traced ancestor to date was born on an island off of Glasgow called Jura, in 15-something. His first name was Angus - pretty cool :cool:.
I have two lines of ancestors going back to Skye. Part of my ancestry comes from the MacDonalds of Skye and the Highlands.
 
  • #25
Monique
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
4,149
63
Do they have a free trial on the Dutch site? No records came up?
Nothing, but then when I click "collections" there is no option for searching the Netherlands. Oh well, maybe in a few years.
 

Related Threads for: I've started tracing my ancestors

Replies
24
Views
2K
Replies
19
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
12
Views
2K
  • Last Post
5
Replies
119
Views
7K
  • Last Post
Replies
6
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
3
Views
2K
Replies
87
Views
8K
  • Last Post
Replies
14
Views
2K
Top