"If you can't get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance"
-George Bernard Shaw

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Overcoming Murphy's Laws in Genealogy

I said I'd do it, so here it is.... Overcoming Murphy when he comes to 'help' with your research.

#1 The records you need for your family history were in the courthouse that burned.

Burned, blow up, flooded, etc.  Every genealogist has had this happen, if you don't think you have look up the 1890 US Federal Census.  So how to tackle this one?  Try checking other local repositories.  I'll use Great Grandparents Thomas and Henrietta Fitzgerald as an example.  They emigrated from Pennsylvania to Michigan to a little place near Cadillac, Michigan called Hollister.  According to their obituaries they were charter members of the Hollister Methodist Episcopal Church.  Yay!  What a great place to find family records....guess what....the original church burned down taking all those lovely records with it.  So where else can I and did I look?  I found their death information in the liber books at the Wexford County Clerk's office.  (I had those before the obit, but this is a good example where to look).  I could also look for death records at the state level for them and their children.  In fact if you have Michigan ancestors who died between 1897 and 1920 you can access a huge collection of online images of state death records at seekingmichigan.org.  Check some of my previous blog entries for more on Seeking Michigan.  Another place I could research my great grandparents is at the local genealogy library.  I could also check into the current church to see if there are any post fire records of my family.  Another place to continue to look is the local newspapers.  My Great Grandfather was also a members of the Hollister Grange.  I wonder where those records might be.
Another source of information I found for Great Grandpa was the National Archives.  Great Grandpa served during the civil war and I was able to obtain his military records.  There is a fee charged for the records so make sure to check out their website for the most up to date information.  (www.archives.gov).
Another source to check would be the church where they were married at in Pennsylvania.

These are just a few ideas to help you overcome.  Please feel free to share additional ideas in the comments!  I love to hear from my readers.
Happy Hunting!

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