Monday, December 29, 2008

Great Gifts

Who knew family trees and compilations of family documents, stories, and data would serve as a great holiday gift? I have spent all of November and December putting together Christmas gifts for spouses and children as well as Anniversary gifts for couples.

Some of the gifts were extremely fun to research. One, for example, was to prove a family myth as accurate. (Her husband didn’t believe her family folklore that she came from Irish royalty.). Well, it was proven possibly, maybe, perhaps, TRUE! No, I couldn’t prove in 40 hours that she was related to a Royal family of the 9th century, but I could give her the history of her maiden name, trace her family to the arrival to the USA and place her family in the same country and “general vicinity as the Royal Family.” Well, that was enough for my client, and her husband, who decided to give up the argument and accept his “possible royal-blooded wife.”

Another set of clients (cousins) needed to prove which GGF built the first grist mill of some secluded town in Missouri. I have no idea what the wager was, but it sounded like a family feud, and I really hope I proved it correctly. I haven’t heard from them since.

Basic family trees, with census records, marriage licenses, military service, death certificates, and sometimes newspaper articles, seemed to be the most popular. When accompanied with old photos and even family stories (concocted, believed, or true), these gifts are personal and lively.

Don’t forget: if you wish to have a family history prepared to coincide with a birthday, anniversary, or family reunion, the genealogist needs ample time to complete the research and to create a memorable keep-sake.

Hopefully, you too are gifting and giving for those special occasions! Happy New Year.

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, Accessible Answers

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Pulling WWI and WWII Military Records

I will be going to St. Louis Dec. 2 - Dec. 3 to pull WWI and WWII records. These military records are in St. Louis (those that did not burn in the fire - read below DD214.

At a3 Genealogy, we verify that your records are available. If they are not available for us to pull, we refund your money minus a $15.00 service fee ($60.00). We, of course, do not know what is available in any veteran file, but we copy the entire file for the client, up to the first 25 pages. Most files are less than 25 pages. For additional pages, we charge .35/per page. We will send you a separate invoice if this is necessary. Please note, that we have not had this issue on WWI or WWII records, but on Civil War records and Civil War Pension records.

If you opt for a3 Genealogy to pull your ancestor's military records (must be deceased), you will need to provide the following information, if known:
1. Veteran's complete name used while in service
2. Service number (if available)
3. Social security number
4. Branch of service
5. Dates of service (if available)
6. Date and place of birth (especially if the service number is not known).

The $75.00 charge includes the $15.00 preliminary search and paperwork, up to 25 pages of copying, research in St. Louis, and mailing. I will mail US mail 3 day unless express shipping is needed (extra charge).

a3 Genealogy
Accurate, Accessible, Answers

Monday, September 8, 2008

Newport TN, Cocke County, Research

Sure there are deeds from 1879 and wills from 1879, there are also tax records, and…? If you are looking for good genealogical resources, good luck! I believe I met with the Newport Historian expert and the man who without a doubt is an endless river of knowledge. I dropped in on Duay O’Neil. He not only writes for the Newport Plain Talk newspaper, he is on the board of Stokley Library. Duay was able to narrow and focus my search, quickly reaching for books and accessing info on his computer in the way only a knowledgeable person can do. Straight to the source, verifying his off the cuff data. Oh, and I must thank Missy at the Tanner Culture Center, for leading me to Duay.

I leafed through pages of newspaper articles filed in a notebook that captured the African American history from slavery to present at the library. The history of the African American Education in Newport and the African American churches were both well documented. But where are the original records of these churches? I’d love to see the Member Lists. What about pupils at the school? I have records that a Franklin K. Bird was a pupil for one year under a Professor William H. McGhee, in the Newport High school in 1871.

This leaves me with a few questions: 1) High school in 1871? Every thing I’ve read said there wasn’t a high school for coloreds until after 1872. 2) Perhaps if I could narrow down the poles, bounds, and trees of the 3 acres of family land, maybe then, I could verify the town this High School was in. 3) FK Bird’s biography was written for the AME Zion Church in 1895, how much of it is accurate, how much is misremembered? This is in consideration of the fact that I haven’t found a William McGhee in any of the educational articles I’ve read.

Believe me, more questions is not what I needed!

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, Accessible Answers

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Prayer of Thanks

Finally I reached the beginning. It all began in Rutherford North Carolina in around 1817, and continued in Eastern Tennessee in 1869. I won’t be able to explore Rutherford for another 3 days, but I’m sitting in the Newport, Tennessee, Comfort Inn as I write this blog.

I’ve exhausted the accessible and inter-library books, newspapers, microfilms and fiche, as well as online and database searches of the family. I’ve received the results from a preliminary 12point DNA - I know, basic, but it was all I needed to get 11/12 match all with the surname Morris in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, no trace in Africa which is what I was trying to locate. Logically the last step, at least for me, is to now scour the local courthouses, see the land, try to connect the dots, and fill in the holes (and there are many).

So today I landed in Charlotte and drove the 3 hours to Newport Tennessee through the majestic Appalachians, crossing the so well-researched French Broad River, imagining the rugged path they crossed on horses December of 1869. I minded the speed limits closely 65, 55, 70, as to slowly take in the terrain, the sites, the greenery, the home-place of Wiley, the slave, the blacksmith, the man who paid for his own freedom in 1855. The man who successfully established his family in Rutherford and Eastern Tennessee, in spite of his less advantageous start in life as a slave.

As I did the trek, I could only say a continuous prayer of gratitude thanking God for His generosity in opportunities, and my ancestors for their ever-growing flicker of American hope .

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, Accessible Answers

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

WWI and WWII records

If you would like a genealogist to pull your dad's, uncle’s, mother’s or any other ancestor’s WWI or WWII records, there is usually a fee for pre-processing, verification of records, copying, and mailing. This of course can be controversial since the records are free for veterans. However, it is free, because they are doing all the legwork, not the genealogist.

I never discourage a client from doing their own research. They usually decide it is not their “cup of tea” and would prefer to pay the expert. It is like making the decision of whether to make homemade soup for pennies on the dollar, or just pay the $2.79 for half the quantity (and quality) for Progresso? Even though a kitchen lover may have no qualm about the time it takes to prepare the homemade broth, most people prefer to spend that time in the garage with their newest project, quilting, or just watching CSI. Even professional genealogists chose to hire someone else to pull records. Why use your precious research time, or miss a client deadline traveling to St. Louis, scouring records, when you can continue your client-work knowing someone is working for you?

But, even if you opt for the genealogist to do the work, you still need to provide essential information. Remember, we don’t know your granddad! You will need to provide the following:
· Veteran's complete name used while in service
· Service number (if available)
· Social security number
· Branch of service
· Dates of service (if available)
· Date and place of birth (especially if the service number is not known).
· and a signed authorization form (for most genealogist).

If you want more information on the process, here is the link to read. It may also help you make a decision as to whether you are up to the task yourself or not:

I will be going to St. Louis August 19th-Aug 21 to pull WWI and WWII records. WWI and WWII records are in St. Louis (those that did not burn in the fire). I will mail US mail 3 day unless express shipping is needed (extra charge).

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, Accessible Answers

Monday, July 28, 2008

Customer Service Surveys: Were Your Customer's Expectations Met

A happy client is synonymous with repeat business and business referrals. So my first goal, is to give the customer what is needed in an easy to read format. Most of my customers are amateur genealogist, retirees, or researchers needing assistance. They don’t want the ins and outs of genealogy, they want answers to their questions, verifications of kinship, documentation to support the research, all presented in any easy to understand report without a lot of jargon.

So with every completed report, whether by pony express or email, I send out a Customer Satisfaction Survey. It only contains questions that directly reflect the purpose, goals, and mission statement of my business as a Professional Genealogist: satisfaction, costs, response time. Since the survey should be short, concise, and easy for the customer to respond to, I created a five question survey (one printed page). If I send the report by mail, I send the customer survey in a self-stamped folded format, so they can open, answer, and drop in the mail. If I send the report by email, I attach a second file for the customer to complete online.

The Customer Satisfaction Survey allows the customer to provide immediate feedback that serves my main purpose: How can I improve my service? It doesn’t matter how well you research if the customer does not understand the report. It is equivalent to the best mathematician in the world teaching you math and not being able to explain how to solve a problem so you can follow the logic on the whiteboard. In the role of professional genealogist you must know your audience and write to their level of comprehension.

While one hand is on the pulse of communicating, educating and informing the customer, the other hand is checking the delicate balance of cost for the service and reasonable/ acceptable response time for the customer. This is another topic for a blog…coming soon. Of course, you must cover your costs and charge for your services, but being noted for “she’s good, but expensive” or “he’s good but slow” is not necessarily going to assist your workflow (unless of course, you want to limit your customer base). These values measured by the customer using the survey gives you a hint of your “genealogy reputation.”

The survey can also provide kudos for referrals. I merely ask “How could I have served you better? (Or any other comments)?” I receive answers that not only gives me feedback for bettering my service, it also generates wonderful comments like “I can’t imagine a more thorough approach to the topic requested.”

Suggestions for marketing and new services needed are also frequently given on surveys. One customer from Maryland wrote “Local knowledge of resources by an experienced researcher is a great help in efficient record discovery.” This rises the question of how can I market my genealogical expertise of the Kansas, Missouri (Kansas City area) migration to those searching but not willing to make the trip to this area. It would give me more excuses to stroll the aisles of the Mid-Continent Library’s new Genealogy Center along with other valuable resources at my fingertips here in the Midwest.

The saying “customer service affects your bottom line,” is true to genealogists also.

Happy Researching!
Accurate, Accessible Answers

Saturday, July 19, 2008

a3Genealogy Investigative-Forensic Genealogy Services

Forensic genealogy includes identifying and locating unknown or missing heirs and owners of unclaimed property. We evaluate kinship evidence and are experts at researching direct and indirect family lines. We are often called upon to verify relationships for DNA testing.


If you are in need of expert probate research in order to disperse an unclaimed estate, wishing to locate heirs or beneficiaries, or needing assistance with your missing persons research look no further than a3Genealogy.  We are an international investigative genealogist research firm, with years of experience in probate research, locating heirs, and verifying the relationships of the decedent’s heirs/beneficiaries.

As a professional investigative genealogist our research is used to determine potential heirs and locate beneficiaries. Whether you are an heir or possible heir to an estate, probate attorney conducting an heir search, or a trust officer appointed by the courts, a3Genealogy has the tools and resources to assist you.
a3Genealogy clients are billed at an hourly rate (vs. contingency basis) which often results in a substantial savings for you in the long run. We believe our clients prefer to set a budget per case.  

What we can do for you:
  • Genealogy and Genealogical Research
  • Locate Ancestors and document Ancestry (Proof of lineal descent)
  • Adoption and Guardian Research
  • Probate Research
  • Locating Heirs and Heir Searches
  • Estate Research
  • Locate Beneficiaries
  • Inheritance, Estate and Trusts Research
  • Real estate missing and unknown heirs
    (including quiet title actions, mineral rights, and oil & gas leases).
  • Citizenship and emigration.
  • Unclaimed persons and cold cases
a3Genealogy has extended its services to include professional investigative genealogy.
(updated 6 Feb 2012)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Living By Writing, Traveling, and Genealogy

It never occurred to me that I could indulge in my two favorite pastimes, letting one pay for the other, while still providing me with an income. I love traveling, visiting the most rural of spots of Comanche County, Kansas to the hills of Rutherford County, North Carolina, and let’s not forget those 3rd cousins three times removed long lost in California. So with a notebook, a laptop a dozen pens and pencils and a camera with a USB port, I’m off to the next location.

Okay, not so glamorous, but it is St. Louis in August to research WWIII military records. I negotiated an upscale Price Line hotel walking distance from the arch, an $8.00 roundtrip ticket on the MegaBus from Kansas City that will drop me off at the train depot within minutes from my hotel (and the arch), and I am off for 3 days of walking, researching, and fun.

So where does the money come in? From producing of course! I will write a quick guide to maneuvering the WWII records in St. Louis. No frills, no techno-speak, just “How to get my Information?” Not an original, but it will be written uniquely in my voice.

Following the writing, editing, and near-perfecting the manuscript, I will spend plenty of time on the marketing, so that I can pay for the next fun trip.

Hopefully, you too are doing your research and working in some travel!

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, Accessible Answers