Saturday, December 25, 2010

Researching in Northern Illinois Counties

Everyone Didn’t Go to Chicago or Springfield
 Many of us have found ancestors in Chicago, Cook County.  Immigrant workers and emancipated slaves flocked there for work.  More privileged ancestors settled there to establish businesses and to capitalize on its central location.  But research n the neighboring rural counties and other parts of Illinois is not mentioned often, even though they too have a past full of activities, struggles, and successes.  These smaller rural counties are filled with valuable resources for family search if your family happened there.

It would behoove the researcher looking for a missing ancestor, to forsake  a failed Cook County search and widen their research efforts to  neighboring northern or central counties.

Widening Your Search
I often take state county maps and divide it into three to four sections. For Illinois it is north, upper-central, lower-central and lower counties. I found wonderful information on my “subject” in Winnebago (Rockford), Ogle, Kane, and Dekalb counties. Townships in these counties were often established by German settlers often from the upper northeast colonies.

Importance of County/Township Histories
One of the first things I do when searching for early settlers is research the history of the county and peruse the list of townships.  History books of the counties may mention your family name and their significance to the settlement of a county or township.  Since many neighbors traveled together, be sure to take note of neighbors.  You may find the whole immigrant community moved to a neighboring county in subsequent census record searches. This may reveal a political issue, an epidemic, or other social history of your ancestors.

Every Illinoisan didn’t get off a ship, and go straight to Chicago. I found my subject in Chicago in early 1900’s, but to pinpoint when they migrated to Illinois was rather challenging, until I opened up my research to the surrounding counties. The idea is to expand your research. 

I got the clue needed from the county formation information provided on FamilyHistory 101 ( which showed an extreme amount of activities in these northern counties in 1836.  I found my “subject” in Winnebago, Ogle, Kane, and Dekalb counties, after narrowing the possibilities based on the information given on how a county was formed.  For example:
Kane County was created on January 16, 1836 (Laws, 1836, p. 273) and was formed from unorganized land (La Salle County ) and Cook County. Present area, or parts of it, formerly included in: LaSalle County (1835–1836) , Putnam County (1825–1835) , Fulton County (1823–1825) , Pike County (1821–1823) , Clark County (1819–1821) , Crawford County (1816–1819) , Edwards County (1815–1816) , Madison County (1812–1815) , St. Clair County (1801–1812) and Knox, Northwest Territory (1790–1801).
My family county search led me to Rockford IL, Winnebago County, where I found a wealth of information within the Winnebago County records. These records are readily available on the Winnebago County website which gives direct links to online historical records of birth, death and marriage records:

Local Library Assistance
With the help of the librarians, I was able to obtain copies of obituaries at a reasonable research rate.  A good example is the $15.00/hour fee for research at the Rockford IL Public Library, (Winnebago County).  The librarian quickly located and sent obituary clippings from the newspapers (Rockford Register and Rockford Morning Star), marriage records, and cemetery records. In hours time I received a lot of information from a bookworm who is as dedicated to research as I am.  Thanks Jean!

Happy researching this Holiday Season and remember someone had to establish those other counties in Illinois!

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Friday, December 3, 2010

South Carolina Research

Some of My Favorite South Carolina Resources
from Greta's Genealogy Blog

Have you ever wondered where to start, or have you been stuck doing South Carolina research?  Greta Koehl of Greta's Genealogy Blog was kind enough to share a full list of website links that may help the South Carolina researcher. The post Some of My Favorite South Carolina Resources is chocked full of links to get the SC researcher started, or moving again!

Tips From Greta
A great tip from this posts, is how Greta compiles and organizes her lists or online resources. It's simple, but yet so very clever and a true time saver. She simply copies her bookmarks (which she clearly has saved with relevant titles) and places them in a Word Document. Wouldn't this little tip keep "some of us" from having that "I wish I could find that website I used that one time" moment!

Another great tip: even though visiting a repository is ideal, Greta reminds us "a lot of preparatory research [can be] done through these websites," prior to your on-site visit. I agree with Greta! Why waste valuable time on site, when you can do some of the work before visiting your favorite county?  Plus, you will be so much better prepared for an "on-site" trip.

Although many of the links provided on Some of My Favorite South Carolina Resources covers Anderson and Greenville Counties, Greta also provides us with other great places to start like the South Carolina Department of Archives and History.  We are reminded that "There are a number of documents held at SCDAH that appear on searchable (by name and location) indices or even have scanned images you can bring up on the website."

One of my favorites is Greta's recommendation to researchers that the BYU Ancestor's: Resource Guide is not only out there for South Carolina, but for all of the states.

Thanks to Greta's organization and blog post we have a great start with our South Carolina research.
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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Genealogy Is Global!

Statistics Point International
Question: What does Russia, United States, Lebanon, and Netherlands have in common?  Answer: Visitors to a3Genealogy blogsite were tracked from these countries.

Any genealogist, or family historian blogger knows the importance of visitors to their site - especially since many visitors are silent (feel free to leave comments). Curiosity of where readers reside, which posts trigger the most interest, and the referring sites and traffic source can be satisfied through a standard statistics counter like that offered by Blogger (In Draft).[1]

As an educational blog, a3Genealogy posts answers to readers, clients, and researchers’ questions.  The theory is:“you aren’t the only one with that question.”  This was proven with the reader requested post “Researching in Mississippi?” It was quite popular according to the stats presented.
An interesting result of this week’s end-of-the year analysis of a3Genealogy Blogger stats resulted in creating a separate search label just for Native American researchers,  and closely watching Medical Genealogy/Health trends as the interest increases.  

Knowing that the readers have silently spoken through hard fast numbers, encourages a3Genealogy to analyze these stats.  A bi-annual analysis is needed to watch for trends and audience patterns. But, mostly it is proof that visitors are going to the site. This is probably as good as it gets.  Did they read the posts?  Are they repeat visitors? Have you created a successful brand?  These questions are not answered through the Blogger standard stat overview.  But paired with other tools, a blogger is able to get a fair snap shot of their niche market, and popular post topics.

The international reader is essential to a3Genealogy and it is good to know that So. Korea, Iraq, and Slovenia visitors have joined the visitors from the United Kingdom, Canada and France.[2] 

Keep the topic suggestions coming from every corner of the world!

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[1] I access the Stat information through Dashboard on Blogger.
[2] Statiscal analysis must be applied to account for spams and unintentional traffic.