Tag Archives: research

One source makes a tremendous impact on two branches of the family

I learned quite a few interesting things from this book – checked out of the library.

First, while searching for my paternal great-grandmother, I kept coming across the name Delia in reference to the known marriage and children of Bridget and Martin. Delia? I figured this had to be the wrong family… just how many Bowmans were there in New Bedford anyway??? One of the things I found out from this book was that Delia was a nickname for Bridget; I can’t imagine for a moment how Delia relates to Bridget, but this has opened up a whole world of census records that I now know I can use. The elusive Bridget Kerrigan Bowman isn’t so elusive anymore!

I’ve been doing my husband’s genealogy as well. One of the family names in his lineage is Cawley. I kept hitting a wall on the state and federal census records because I kept coming across McCawley in census records with the same relatives listed as those for the Cawley clan. How could this sparsely populated area have two separate family names that were so similar? This book said that in the early immigration days some Irish families dropped the Mc and O’ in their names. It was like a light went on!  Cawley and McCawley are one and the same family.

The impact on both branches of the above families is tremendous. Now I can proceed with confidence that Delia is Bridget and McCawley is Cawley. Pretty awesome!

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Posted by on June 22, 2013 in History, Irish Genealogy


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Come on, this must have happened to you too

Okay, so there I am on minding my own business, building my tree, armed with a plethora of family history and dates. Then some kind soul emails me through Ancestry and tells me that someone one of the branches of my tree is wrong (my great grandfather). The tree that I so carefully filled was wrong?

So what happens if you make an error on your tree? Do you toss it out and start all over again? No, you work the steps from yourself back through time until you find all the facts. But what if you aren’t wrong? You begin the laborious task of proof all over again anyway.

The Irish name in question is so common that maybe my tree and her tree are both right.

Go back to basics and your sources:

My tree is made up of facts from the family bible and family sources:

family bible pages can be indecipherable, but can contain some of the best information

You can find some records on Ancestry:

You can find priceless information in texts online that contain a lot of detail - most of the books on (where this page comes from) are also available for free on Google books

Or, you can go to my favorite FREE site – FamilySearch – and find transcribed records of historical texts:

So, the next time your information is challenged, remember that you may actually be right and, just to recheck yourself, you can use these sources.



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What I stumbled upon on the trail of a dead relative…

I was searching through for an early relative and stumbled upon a link to this website…

…a site maintained by the National Park Service. After you get on this free information site, you can search for a relative that you know, or suspect, was in the Civil War to see their service record and even their cemetery site. Free info, in a world where documents and searches can be costly is a great thing.

Lesson learned: It pays to look more closely at some of your search info. The James Purdy noted on the research page is not the relative that I was looking for, but I clicked on the research page just for the heck of it, wondering if what I found was a relative of the original relative (it was not). When I read the source information, I saw a link to the park service page. In the future, I’ll look more closely at my sources.

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Posted by on August 18, 2011 in research, sources


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Reusing the names of deceased children …. what?

I found a pretty cool ebook called Genealogies of the families and descendants of the early settlers of Watertown, Massachusetts. The book details exactly what the title says. Utilizing this book, I was able to go all the way back to the first Stearns family members who emigrated with the Winthrop fleet in 1630.

So, having already started some flawed work on the family tree, I started a new one utilizing only information found in this book. As I was going along, I found multiple branches that don’t necessarily reach to me, but decided to help others on by putting the information in for all to use. I had no idea how much of an undertaking that would be.

Between job hunting (post layoff) and generally organizing my home (post education), I’ve been imputing the information I’m finding in this book a little at a time.  I’m about halfway through … I think

Anyway, as I’ve been working through all the descendants and their children and their children’s children, I’ve noticed the high mortality of infants – so sad. It made me rethink the old phrase, “you’ll catch your death,” a warning to people go out in the cold without a jacket. I’ve also noted that some deceased infants had their names, including middle names, reused for later children (from the same parents). I imagine that mothers in the 1600, 1700, and 1800s were heartbroken each time they lost a child. But why reuse the name of the earlier deceased child? That is a question for historians to answer. This amateur genealogist doesn’t have a clue.

Stearns family coat of arms

Stearns Coat of Arms

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Posted by on July 16, 2011 in random musings, research


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Genealogy research resource citation

When I undertook my genealogy search, I had no idea that such care had to be taken with source citation. Here is a video post regarding two texts commonly used for genealogy source citation:

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Posted by on March 29, 2010 in citation, research


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Tried something different

I thought it might be interesting to try to do a video blog – or vlog – for this week’s reading response as well as a short recap of my recent research findings. Unfortunately the video is slightly longer than I intended – YouTube recommends 3 minutes or less. My video is 5 1/2 minutes long, but it includes a reading response as well as an update on my research. One observation: newscasters must practice in front of a camera a lot in order look as natural as they do. Doing this video has given me a new respect for vloggers who do it well. Hopefully with practice, I’ll improve.


Posted by on March 21, 2010 in Reading response, research


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Zotero research tool

Working with Zotero was a little different from my perspective as I had played with it at the end of fall semester 2009. I didn’t put it to large-scale use, but only dabbled with it. As an existing user this semester, I had to figure out how to join the Core 2 group, which turned out to be pretty easy. Then I had to sync – this took some guesswork on my part – it didn’t work the first time I tried to sync, but did work on the second try. The tool to sync, which brings groups you belong to into your Zotero dashboard is a circular shaped arrow at the top right corner of the dashboard. 

Zotero displays in three different ways: 

Zotero Full Screen display

Zotero half screen display

Zotero available in the background, but only a link at the bottom right corner shows - one click opens Zotero in half screen mode

So, after I joined the group and saw that my icon was just a “Z” in a grey box, I realized that I still had to construct my profile. Fortunately, this task was fairly intuitive. After you are logged into Zotero you accomplish creating your profile by simply clicking on the settings tab. This will take you to a page where you can insert a photo, give your geographic location, your school affiliation, and write a short narrative about yourself. 

I recently used Zotero on a paper written for Nonfiction Seminar. It was easy to drag and drop the citations into my word document. After a few minor adjustments, my works cited section was created. Even though this tool was initially for use with Core 2, I have used it successfully for another class.



Posted by on February 13, 2010 in Zotero


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Proposal for my genealogical search

Have you ever wondered where you come from? Not your recent history, your distant history. The blood you carry in your veins carries components of the blood of your ancestors. How long have your ancestors lived in the United States and what nations did they come from?

There are a few organizations that are concerned with your lineage – your genealogy – The Daughters of the American Revolution and the Daughters of the Confederacy. For each of these organizations, you need to trace your family tree either back to an ancestor who was in the United States during the founding of our nation or back to the Civil War to gain membership. I am sure their requirements are quite stringent, but I will barely touch on these organizations. My research will be mainly concerned with my own ancestry.

When, in the past, I had been asked what my ancestry is, I have said, “mostly Irish.” While that is true, I have been told that I am Irish, English, French, Holland Dutch, and Seneca Indian. I have always been interested in my roots, but never thought I could trace my roots. Too complicated, I thought.

I plan to trace my roots and build my family tree one branch at a time. I will start by interviewing members of the Historical Society to help gain a footing on where I should begin my search. I’ll search for sources that may help me find information about my ancestors. I’ll finally go through the box of family artifacts and papers my mother gave me when she moved out of state. I don’t know much about how to search, but will learn along the way.

I am sure there are other people out there who would be interested in working on their own family tree, but, just like me, don’t know where to start. I plan to create an article for publication to a trade journal, like Family Tree magazine. This is such an extensive, ongoing subject, that I have even considered making it the subject of my thesis – perhaps a nonfiction book concerning the journey I’ll take searching for my roots. We shall see where the journey takes me.


Posted by on February 10, 2010 in First steps


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First steps in genealogy

I went to my library and checked out two books (more on order):

Before I can interview anyone or do any further research, I need to learn a little bit about the topic.

Am wondering how I will ever be able to fill out one of these – and this one only exhibits the first steps:

Image from Trusty Guides Genealogy page by Allyson Wells

I was still worried about taking on such an extensive project, so I went to my favorite video site to see if there were any YouTube videos about genealogy. I stumbled upon a YouTube video about the new US series Who Do You Think You Are? (Canada has had its own version since 2006)

This looks like a fun series to watch and learn from – it starts in on March 5th. In the interim, I may just go check out episodes from the Canadian series Who Do You Think You Are?


Posted by on February 4, 2010 in First steps, research


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A trip to the library nets a curious discovery and launches a quest

I have always loved visits to my local library. I’ve known many of the librarians since our town’s collection of books occupied a tiny building. There was a real sense of community and camaraderie in that tiny building. Times changed and, though that sense of community and camaraderie remains, the once tiny library has grown and has been incorporated into the local community center. The library occupies one wing of the large community center. Outside of the library, off on other wings, are offices and rooms that have always been a complete mystery to me. No longer in a small building by itself, our library occupies a part of a larger community center.

I recently visited my library. I was humming happily with a pile of books I had checked out in my arms. I stepped out of the library entrance into the lobby and noted a green slip of paper laying on a table there. “Trace Your Roots,” the flyer proclaimed. According to the flyer, you can go to the Historical Society to learn how to do your family tree. Historical Society? I looked across the lobby and noticed, for the first time, a slightly cluttered office that housed the Historical Society of the Township of Franklin. The office was closed, so there was no one to ask about this flyer I had found.

I plan to return to the Historical Society to interview the staff about family research, obtain texts related to genealogy, and investigate other resources that are available for further research. With the knowledge I obtain, I plan to begin to trace my family roots and begin to build my family tree.


Posted by on January 27, 2010 in First steps


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