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Amazing Discoveries

As an example of power of the Internet as a research tool, let me describe some of my experiences in family research. With only the knowledge of my Great Grandmother's name and the help of the internet, I was able to discover, within a week, ancestors back three more generations along with names of hundreds of relatives. Such internet discoveries are truly amazing. I will recount how this and other genealogy puzzles were solved and how you can use the internet to discover your family tree.

In this case, most of the information came from another researcher who already knew about my ancestors. Discovering such a knowledgeable researcher is not easy, especially when I only had a name and a place. THE best internet resource is www.familysearch.org. There, you will find the 1880-81 census records for the Britain, Canada, and the United States. The English census showed four name matches, but only one was the right age for my Great Grandmother. The census record showed her husband and the five children which confirmed that this was the family of my ancestor.

Starting with the name of only one person

Census information showed the rest of the family


Now we have a whole family
Elapse Time: Minutes

A query to a surname list found a previously unknown relative who knew all about the family

Now we have the family tree
Elapse Time: Days

Now that there is information on a whole family, I am more confident to post an Internet query. Asking if anyone knows of Charlotte Dunmore of Northampton would be rather hopeless, but now I have details of the whole family. The web site www.genuki.org.uk has a Northamptonshire Surnames List which shows five people registered who are interested in the Dunmore surname. To all five people, I sent a query containing the details of the census record. Within days, I received four responses which eventually led to my receipt of a database containing hundreds of names with my ancestors back 3 more generations. I wish all genealogy research was this easy.

Another important internet tool is the mailing list. People register for mailing lists that are dedicated to research of a surname, a location, or other topics. People send messages that are delivered to all members of the list. I received thousands of messages every month, but most of these messages are not relevant to me. Surprisingly, the very first message I received when I registered for the first mailing list for the first time at http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com, was a query from a relative who was unknown to me at that time. I recognized my family from the query and I discovered a knowledgeable relative who informed me about generations back before my earliest information.

Went West and Not Heard from Again

This is the only information that I have inherited about my relative, William Young, and it is now about 150 years since the event of going west. How is it possible to find information with a common name and almost no other information? Well there is some more information. I know the ages, religion, place of birth and location of his brothers.  A search of the microfilmed 1851 census for the same county, found a single William Young in the township of one brother indicated that her lived in the neighboring township where his other brothers lived. He was the correct age, religion and place of birth. I also studied the other Young families in the area and none appear to have be related to this William Young.

How can I find anything more about this William Young. If he went west then where did he go? When I hear the phrase went west, I think of the west coast, the American Midwest, or the Canadian prairies. The 1880-1 census at FamilySearch.org covers all of the U.S. and Canada so that is a good place to search. A search of Irish born William Young's within 2 years of his age, returns 12 individuals but only half were situated to the west. The Canadian census shows only one Irish born William Young and he was the same religion and the exact age. He was located only 500 miles to the west. This was not what I was originally thinking about as being the west, but west nonetheless. With hindsight, I now realize that the move west was between 1851 and 1871 and there was not much settlement further west in Canada. What makes it more convincing is that 4 of his 5 children are named the same as my William's siblings. Although the evidence is circumstantial, I think that I've found him!

Census Place: Grey, Huron Centre, Ontario
Name  Marital Status Gender Ethnic Origin Age Birthplace Occupation Religion
 William YOUNG   M   Male   Irish   55   Ireland   Farmer   Church of England 
 Hester YOUNG   M   Female   Irish   50   O <Ontario>      Church of England 
 Ann YOUNG      Female   Irish   24   O <Ontario>      Church of England 
 John YOUNG      Male   Irish   20   O <Ontario>   S   Church of England 
 Westley YOUNG      Male   Irish   17   O <Ontario>   S   Church of England 
 Henry YOUNG      Male   Irish   13   O <Ontario>      Church of England 
 Mary YOUNG      Female   Irish   10   O <Ontario>      Church of England 

A search of the 1871 Ontario census index of heads of households finds him in the same western location. A search of the 1901 Canadian census images finds him again indicating that he immigrated in 1844 about the same time as his siblings.

A search of the OCFA Ontario Cemetery Finding Aid at www.islandnet.com/ocfa found many entries for William Young, the name of his wife, and the names of his 3 sons, but only the Elma Centre, Atwood Cemetery had all of the names and its location was appropriate. Although the OCFA database provides no other information on the individual, it does indicate the genealogy society that publishes the cemetery transcript. The cemetery transcript included dates of birth and death and confirmed that this was the same family as the census. It also shows another daughter who died as a child who was named after William's mother.

A search of county maps at digital.library.mcgill.ca/countyatlas finds the exact location of the family farm. With this knowledge, land records can be searched.

This example shows that even without a lot of information to start with, you can discover a great deal with Internet databases.

Surprising Connection

In 1880, my Grandfather's family moved west 1500 miles when he was an infant. One of his sisters, my great aunt, was 15 years old at the time and I knew nothing more about her other than the name of her husband and that she died in the west at age 57 without children. I assumed that I would never find out anything more about her. By chance, I moved east to the city of their birth and became interested in my genealogy 100 years after they left this place. A relative encouraged me to contact knowledgeable local genealogist to see if he know anything about our family. I was reluctant to contact an unknown person believing it was unlikely that he knew anything about our family. By chance, this genealogist's surname was the same as my great aunt. Finally, I send him a message and as a post note I asked he knew anything of my great aunt who had the same surname. This was unlikely since my great aunt would have been married 2000 miles away. I was surprised to discover that they were related and I received information and a picture of the couple through the Internet.

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