Genealogy: Where do I start?

In recent years I have become interested in the genealogy of my family. Now that I have no “roots” back in New Jersey, it makes me sad that centuries of my family have lived in the same general area and I’m not there.  Not that I want to live there… just that I want the warmth of living in a place where “everybody knows your name” and “everybody knows where you came from”.  Luckily there are many new tools on the internet to help track down your Family Tree like never before.

We’ve all seen the commercials for ancestry.com but what else is out there?  Undeniably, they have the worlds largest collection of family history, and photos.  That is definately where I started.  I’m very frugal, but they do have Free 14 day trials that you can get accomplish a lot of research.  You can also reach out to others in your family tree that have already done alot of discovery.  They can give you access to their family tree.  If they do that, you don’t have to pay for that information.

1940 Census: Tips for Finding Your Family

The 1940 United States Federal Census was just made public and can be found on several different genealogy sites.  All of the sites have different states indexed so far, so don’t just limit yourself to one site.  For instance, you can get 100% free access to 1940 census collection at Family Search.org .  Want to get involved in helping get the files indexed so that everyone can search by name or city? They are seeking volunteers, they would love your help!

Vintage Maps and Photos

Census Records tell stories that may not be known about your family history.  So do Vintage Maps and photos.  When I was very young my Mother bought a Vintage Map of 1862 of Cumberland County NJ.  This is where we grew up.  The Map of course is Pre-Civil war and was printed by antique map maker A. Pomeroy of Philadelphia.  My mother had it mounted 30 years ago and it has hung on our wall ever since.  I have no idea what archival method was used, if any, so it is difficult to get a good photo of it.  It stands about 5 feet x 5 feet.

Disregard the paint swatches on the wall, we are doing a little remodeling :)   I’m lucky that my family lived in the southern most part of the map in Port Norris, NJ so I can see all of the details without getting on a ladder.  Here is a photo of the upper left corner showing the date of 1862 and the map maker from Philadelphia.

map of 1862 cumberland county nj

And the close up shot that I just love shows every person’s name on it that lived there at that time.  Can you imagine what work it took to compile all this information?  It truly is a remarkable way to study your ancestry and where they lived. My family tree is from The Berry name and Robbins.  As you can see for the main street of Port Norris, it was full of Berry’s and Robbins’.

Share Your Family Tree with Others

There is no reason to re-create the wheel if someone else has done vast amounts of genealogical research on your family history already.  The way to access these is to visit the ancestry sites and go into the forums and boards and start posting questions relating to your tree.  Users have the ability to give you free access to their tree so that you can view it.  I was recently able to do this with a long lost cousin.  In her family tree I  found a picture of my great grandmother that I had never seen before!  I remembered her always as a 90 year old woman.  Frail and dainty and  well, 90.  I was shocked to see this picture of her which oddly enough resembles my own mother.

I had only known her by “Carrie”  and it turns out that her name was actually “Caroline”.  I also found a sterling spoon the other day in my mother’s collection that said “Carrie” on it so I can now date that spoon back to her.  I also have found a sterling mirror and brush vanity set that says Isabella 1898 on it.  I am now scouring the tree to find out where it came from.  Stay tuned …there might be a mystery on our hands.

Caroline “Carrie” Miller Berry, from the photo collection of Sara Robbins Hoffman.

 

 

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