You will need a list of new York Cemeteries if you want to get very deep into your family tree. Cemetery records can be one of the most useful tools considering your ancestors are dead, and are probably buried. Once you have a death certificate, you will most certainly be provided with a burial location. Sometimes you do not know when an ancestor died, and you may need a list of the cemeteries to help make an edjucated guess, and to help in locating his grave.
My husband and I have now been married for 40 years. He was raised in Illinois and Wisconsin. I grew up in Arizona. We met when we were both in our late twenties. He came to my home town of Yuma as a stranger who happened to land a teaching job here when he finished graduate school in another city. He had been here a year and a half before I moved back to this town. We met in 1972 on a blind date and he asked me to marry him two weeks later. We married in 1973.
When my father-in-law died in northern Wisconsin in June 2009, the question came up about my husband’s family’s genealogy materials. My 90 year-old father-in-law, Ed, had collected a great deal of his family’s information but my husband’s sister wasn’t interested in it. So, even though I wasdrowning in my own family history, I had said to her, “I’ll take it.” (The true test of a natural born genealogist.)
Two weeks after my father-in-law died, his 80 year-old cousin, Jim, whom I had never met, called me and was very excited that someone in Ed’s family was interested in Ed’s genealogical materials. Jim had talked recently to my sister-in-law, and she made it clear that she was clearing out Ed’s house and sending Ed’s stuff to me, the daughter-in-law. Jim was ecstatic that I was interested in keeping all of the stuff. So Jim and I now became bosom buddies.
Now get this picture:
Here I was, trying to write a book about my own Culp and related ancestors who owned slaves.
I had found 48 slave names and I was working with a university project (LowCountry Africana) to get that information online. Ten of those enslaved people were the children of my 3rd Great Grandfather, Peter Culp. They are my cousins and I am still trying to find their descendants.
Then my father-in-law died and I got all of this totally different family’s stuff. I didn’t need this. I didn’t want this. I didn’t want to “do” my husband’s family. “I don’t have time for this!” I wanted to say. But this Cousin Jim told me in his first phone call that he was coming up on the first anniversary of the death of his dear wife of 57 years. It was just a matter of a few days away. And he was so happy to talk to me for two and a half hours about Ed’s mother’s Thomas family and I didn’t have the heart to cut him off.
He had tons of materials that he was itching to send me immediately and what am I going to say? (Shall I say, “I’m really busy with my own family right now, Jim.”?) He was genuinely elated as he talked of getting this package together to send to me.
So instead I said something like, “I’d be thrilled to have that hundred pound package of new genealogical materials.”
This is when the Universe decided to teach me a lesson in Karma. You can’t avoid it if you are sending out the signals to bring things to you.
This is THE REST OF THE STORY. This is where it gets strange.
You must trust me on this. My husband and I were raised thousands of miles apart, met on a blind date and he asked me to marry him two weeks later. We had just celebrated 36 years of marriage in 2009, when I received this package of new materials on my father-in-law’s mother’s Thomas line.
I still cannot report this without getting chills. What I found in the Thomas family records:
• In 1761, the man responsible for protecting the settlers, the Commander of the British Militia at the tiny settlement of Fishing Creek, South Carolina at the time my 5th great grandmother was attacked and scalped, was my husband’s 5th great grandfather, Colonel John Thomas.
Two hundred fifty-two years ago, my husband’s ancestor failed to protect my ancestor from being scalped.
My husband has always said he “recognized” me as soon as he met me and that’s why he asked me to marry him so soon after we met. He was looking for me and he knew I was the one he was looking for. He has always said that, and now we know why. KARMA. He has spent this lifetime making me feel safe and cherished.
The second part of THE REST OF THE STORY.
• When I looked at Colonel John Thomas’ will, I found the names of eleven more enslaved persons in South Carolina: men, women and children, who I can document on Low Country Africana.
So, my husband’s family documents, that I didn’t want and considered to be a distraction from my own work, turned out to be impossibly interwoven with my own family history and to my work finding and saving slave names.
We always love a guest post here at BrooklynAncestry.com, and the following post written by Sally Sheridan is a great genealogical success story, and a very interesting look at the Doric language.
Speaking Doric in New York; My Mitchells come to America
By Sally Sheridan
My mother’s father was a character. I have spent the last ten years researching him and his complicated family. At first it was the task of finding the family that he abandoned to marry my grandmother in 1911. In 2003 I found them using Genealogy.com., and in 2011, one hundred years after the fact, I met the grandson of the woman my grandfather abandoned in 1911. But that is not the story I am telling here.
Among the many odd things I have learned about my grandfather was that he declared on my mother’s birth certificate, in 1913, that he was born in Ireland when was actually born in Kenosha, Wisconsin. My mother always said he was a great storyteller who could electrify a room with his entertaining stories. And one of his stories was that he was Irish. The truth is that his father was born in Huntly, Scotland and his mother in Illinois.
I have done a great deal of research into his Scottish grandparents and I have spent several weeks in the village of Huntly, situated in the northeast of Scotland between Aberdeen and Inverness, where my Great Grandfather John Charles Mitchell, Jr. was born in September 1845. I have visited the nearby hamlet of Gartly where his father was born and have stood in the kitchen of the farm house near Clatt, Scotland where his mother Isabella Laing was born. All these place names are within a few miles of one another. Walking distance, really.
When Isabella Laing married John Charles Mitchell in the early 1840s, it was the Laings who had the wealth, not the Mitchells. Her family had deep roots in the area and were related to the Gordon Clan. Her family had lived on the same property since 1777. Mitchell, on the other hand, was a stone-dyker (the original spelling on the birth register), an itinerant worker who built with stones. They were not allowed to join unions of masons. They were day-workers. In addition, Isabella had five brothers. She was never going to own land. By 1853, the family now of five could no longer survive in Scotland.
It was a Thursday in July. The twenty-first of the month, 1853. Hot and muggy, no doubt, but after three weeks in steerage with her husband and three little children, Isabelle or Isabella Mitchell as the passenger manifest read, was ready for fresh air.
Captain and Master George W. Robinson signed the manifest top and bottom and took responsibility for delivering the ship Edward Hunly with himself and 592 others from their departure from Liverpool, England to the arrival and presentation to the office of Collector of Customs at the Port of New York. Of the 593 individuals on board, the majority, by far, were from Scotland and Ireland with a sprinkle of English. The other nationalities aboard were as follows: 42 Germans; 14 Dutch (listed as being from Holland); 6 Russians, all males; and 3 Americans.
Before I caught genealogy fever, around 2003, my profession was teaching English as a second language to elementary students, Mexican professional people who needed to learn English and even prisoners at the Arizona State Prison. As a language specialist, I look at the above passenger manifest and wonder, what was the language environment on the ship? Obviously, the majority of language speakers spoke English. As I analyze the other language groups represented, I see the next largest language group were Germans, 42 of them. I would expect that some if not all of the Dutch passengers also spoke some German. The Russians were a distinct language minority.
I now believe that although my Mitchell ancestors were counted among the 528 presumably English-speaking individuals on board, they very well may have been linguistically isolated even from the other Scottish, and almost certainly from the English and Irish. Only six years ago I would have found it absurd indeed to say my Scottish ancestors arrived in America not speaking English but that was before we spent a week in Huntly.
*What language do you hear me speaking?
In July 2007, my husband took me on the genealogy trip of lifetime: a week in the lovely village of Huntly, exploring the villages, farms and, of course cemeteries occupied by my own ancestors, since 1680 (documented). Huntly, at present, has a population of about 4,400. Its original name was Milton (mill town) of Strathbogie. One of its claims to fame is that it is the historic home of the Gordon Highlanders. It is also historically tied to the Blackwatch regiments, which you might think is a good thing. But in my family of Jacobites, supporters of Bonnie Prince Charlie, the Blackwatch were the local traitors the British hired to keep the Clans from rising again after they (the British) massacred us at the Battle of Culloden in 1745. Not that we are still bitter, of course.
The first evening we were having dinner with our daughter, Jill and our son-in-law, Scot Stacy, in the dining room of the Gordon Arms Hotel in Huntly, Scotland. Scot was the last to join us at the table. He sat down and said the oddest thing. Shaking his head slowly, as if slightly confused, he said, “Up until now, I always thought I spoke English, but apparently I don’t.”
He explained that coming downstairs to dinner, he had met a local man who said something to him. Scot said something back and they had this back and forth exchange, neither being able to understand the other and yet each speaking English. Thus was our son-in-law shaking his head and briefly wondering what language was coming out of his mouth.
There are at least three explanations for Scot’s confusion. The first may be that the man on the stair may have been speaking English with a very thick Scottish brogue. The second explanation may be that the man was speaking Scottish English, a recognized variety close to English. The third possibility is that the man was speaking Doric.
Doric is a dialect that is even further removed from English. There are an estimated several hundred thousand Doric speakers in Scotland, and Rhynie, the area where our family is from, is the center of the Doric speaking world according to recent articles in The Scotsman newspaper.
To illustrate the difference between English and Doric, here is a portion of a children’s folk tale told first in English and then in Doric:
THE THREE GIFTS (in English)
Where the Royal Oak [pub] is today, there was once an oak tree. And in the shadow of the oak tree was a cottage. In the cottage lived a young woman called Margaret, together with her husband Donald, and their little baby Angus. And if you asked Margaret which of the two –Donald or Angus– she loved the most, she would find it very hard to say.
Margaret had been born with three gifts: a light hand for the baking; a light foot for the dancing; and a light heart that could see her through the day.
Donald was a drover, sometimes away for weeks. One beautiful day in the late summer, during one of these absences, Margaret decided to go for a picnic. She took a bottle of milk and some sandwiches, and set off up the road with the baby. In the early afternoon they stopped by a grassy knoll to rest. Margaret had unpacked the sandwiches and taken out the milk when she noticed a cloud of dust coming up the road towards her. As the cloud got closer she saw inside it a little old man with a long white beard. He looked worn and weary, and the dust of the road was on him.
THE THREE GIFTS (in Doric)
Faar the Royal Oak [pub] is noo-a-days, there wis eence an oak tree. An in the shadda o the oak tree wis a hoosie. In the hoosie there bade a young wife ca’ed Marget, wi her man Donal, an their wee baby Angus. An if ye speirt at Marget which o the twa –Donal or Angus– she loo’ed the maist, she wid hae been hard pitten til’t ti say.
Marget hid been born wi three gifts: a licht han for the bakin; a licht fit for the dancin; and a licht hert ti mak the day ging by.
Donal wis a drover, sometimes awa for weeks at a time. Ae bonnie day in the late Simmer, durin ane o the times fin he wisawa, Marget took it intil her heid ti ging an see foo the peats war dryin on the peat moss on the hill. She took a bottle o milkan a piece, and an gid awa up the road wi the bairnie rowed in her plaid. In the early efternoon she stoppet by a grassy knowe for a rest. She took oot her piece an hid ta’en oot the bottle o the milk, fin she notice’t a clood of dust comin up the road in her direction. As the clood got closer she saw inside it a littleaal man with a lang fite beard. He looket trachet an sair-come-at, and the dust o the lang fite road lay thick upon him.
(From the small book Secret Doorways and Strange Worlds: A Storywalk Through Huntly. It is available at www.deveron-arts.com)
My son-in-law is in good company. No less than Queen Victoria herself had difficulty communicating with the Huntly folks. This story comes from the book Widow Smith of Spence’s Bridge, by Jessie Ann Smith. Both Jessie Ann Smith and her husband John were born in Gartly in the early 1850s. She tells some delightful stories about life in the area of Huntly. This is the story:
Queen Victoria was our ruling sovereign. Her Majesty liked to journey by railway because she found it pleasant and soothing. While on one of her frequent trips she visited the Highlands of Scotland incognito. While distributing packages of tea among the crofters, a practice often performed by gentle ladies of the district for tea was considered a great luxury and a rare treat.[sic] Her Majesty fell into conversation with one of the few women able to speak English. It was actually a dialect, for Gaelic was her native tongue. [The woman was speaking Doric, but it is close enough to English that the Queen was able to understand her satisfactorily.] The odour of the magic concoction, “Kale,” in the crofter’s hut made the Queen hungry, for she had often heard about the Kale under its better known name of Scotch Broth. The hostess, renowned for her hospitality to travelers, handed the visitor a bowl and spoon and told her to help herself.
The simple, humble fare offered with such a good heart, was very acceptable to the Queen. “How do you manage to make such good broth and what do you put in it to give it that wonderful flavor?” asked Her Majesty.
“Oh,” replied the crofter, “It’s quite aisy. I aye hae plenty o’ beef, then I put barley intult, peas intult, cabbage intult, parsley intult, turnip and carrot and leeks intult. After that Isaison it.”
“But what is ‘intult’?” asked the Queen naively, thinking this was some new ingredient of which she had never heard.
“But amn’t I telling ye what’s intult?” said the crofter. “There’s beef intult, barley intult, peas intult, cabbage intult, parsley intult, and turnip and carrot and leeks intult.”
At last the Queen realized that ‘intult’ just meant ’into it’.
The Queen enjoyed this joke immensely but particularly the homely, rustic way the Highland woman took so much for granted, never, for one moment thinking she was addressing Queen Victoria, ruler of the British Empire.
This became one of Her Majesty’s favorite stories and it was not long before it was known from Land’s End to John O’ Groats.
*What Language Do You Hear Me Speaking? is an excerpt from the unpublished book, Grandfather’s Secret Family, by Sally Sheridan
The following is a guest blog, an a great example of how hiring a genealogist is sometimes the best option, even for the economically conscience researcher. As I mentioned in my Genealogist Fees post, it is sometimes just better to hire a genealogist to get the family tree building back on track after hitting a roadblock. Read about the progress made after only 2 hours of research conducted by this websites Brooklyn Genealogists.
Beginning Your Family Tree Project
I would like to sincerely THANK the Genealogist at BrooklynAncestry.com for providing a major breakthrough for me in my quest to build my family tree. I began my project about ten months ago, and on my father’s side I had practically no information. My Dad’s parents were both only children, and both had lots of mystery about their parents (my Great-Grandparents).
My Dad’s father never introduced his three sons to his parents, and he adamantly refused to discuss them. He told his boys only two things from his childhood, and they were that he was born in Brooklyn, NY and he spent most of his youth working on a farm. With such little information, my search was a monumental task.
Using New York and US Census
Thru the United States Census records I eventually learned the first names of my paternal Great-Grandparents, but I still needed more. Luckily for me, New York State used to do their own state census in the 1800’s and early 1900’s, and I was finally able to learn my paternal Great-Grandmother’s maiden name. I felt I was finally making some real discoveries. My Family Tree now had branched back to my paternal Great-Great Grandparents and a Great-Grand Uncle (I found that my Great Grandmother had a brother).
This victory made with thirst for much more and I began to feverishly search every genealogy website I could find. I needed to know if I had distant cousins out there somewhere. I was constantly on search engines digging for ‘hits’ of my new found information, but I was not having any luck.
Back to the US and NY Census and I was hitting roadblocks. I could not find any record of my paternal Great-Grandparents after 1910. I began to assume that one or both had died around that time, and this must have been why my Grandfather refused to discuss his childhood.
I continued to search through various family tree sites and I eventually found some leads that indicated that my Great-Grandmother was hospitalized in a state facility, and that my Great-Grandfather changed his first name. With this new information, I went back to the US and NY Census records and began to locate both of them at 5 and 10 year census intervals, but not much beyond that. Frustration was setting in.
Through the sharing of my family tree information on a genealogy website, I was contacted by a paternal distant cousin. She was able to provide me with many answers about my paternal Great-Grandfather. Her Grandmother was his sister and she had pictures of him!!! She sent them to me and I have shared them with my family. My Dad and his brother went from never knowing anything of their Grandfather to now holding his picture, truly an emotional discovery.
With my Great-Grandfather’s story beginning to unfold, we needed to know what became of our Great-Grandmother. Beyond her living with her husband and only son in Brooklyn, NY in 1910, I was only left to know that she went into a state hospital prior to the 1915 NY State Census, and she remained there at least through the 1930 US Census. Unfortunately, the 1940 US Census has no record of her anywhere. I had been stuck at that point after about 4 – 5 months from when my journey began. What I knew about her was an approximate date of birth, her parents were both deceased by 1902 and that she had a brother about 13 years older than her. Beyond that I was stuck. I could not find any viable lead on her brother, so that was a dead end.
I hoped that my new found cousin may have known something, but regrettably no. She only knew about a hospitalization, and did not know what hospital. She never met her and said that she was rarely spoke of.
I searched the hospital name and found that it was a massive facility that housed patients for many years, and that it has long been closed. Its patient records had been transferred to another NY State facility.
I wrote to the Records Bureau of that second facility and they invoked patient confidentiality in a standard form letter. The basically did not confirm or deny that my Great-Grandmother had ever been a patient. The letter referred me to the State of NY, and so I wrote them.
Again I got back a ‘no comment’ type letter, but they did give me some guidance. The letter stated that the closest living relative was allowed to get her death certificate, but they could not tell me where her certificate would have been filed.
Back to the internet and genealogy searches I went. I was making a guess that she probably passed during the 1930’s because she does not appear in the 1940 census. I then searched the state hospital again and found the municipality that had jurisdiction over the hospital where she lived. In February 2013, now 7 months into my project, I loaded my family into the car and we drove two hours to that town on Long Island.
The two women in the office were as helpful as they could be. Each searched the records for quite some time, but to no avail. They tried to provide some additional guidance and resources, but all were dead ends.
My search for my Great-Grandmother had come to a complete halt, with no leads. I began to contemplate hiring a genealogist but the costs seem very prohibitive. I was torn between the need to know what happened to her versus the expense in this economy.
<For the next three months my family tree had been stalled, not a single new branch or update was made to anyone already on it. I joined genealogy sites through social media sites in hopes of finding new information, but nothing developed for me on my own.
Then the sky opened up for me. Through the Twitter account I opened and was using to follow various ancestry pages, I was notified that an ancestry page began to follow me. That was a new twist, so I had to learn more about them.
It was Brooklyn Ancestry(@BKlynAncestry). I loved that they were following me, so I sent them a tweet and then immediately responded. From there, I went to their Facebook page (BrooklynAncestry.com) and ‘liked’ it as well. I went through their page history and saw their roots were in my Great-Grandparents old backyard – Brooklyn, NY. I was hoping their intimate knowledge of this region would be the key to uncovering my mystery of my Great-Grandmother.
Hiring a Genealogist
I contacted Brooklyn Ancestry through the message application on their Facebook page and we exchanged several notes. Within two hours of our online conversations, Brooklyn Ancestrys’ genealogist not only found out that my Great-Grandmother was still living in September 1943, but they found that she had an older sister. They also confirmed that her brother was still alive as of 1943. BrooklynAncestry.com sent me two newspaper accounts documenting this discovery. They had done in mere hours, what I had been totally unable to do in months.
With the discovery of a Great Grand Aunt, I was then able to locate her husband and their three children. My Family Tree has instantly added some substantial new growth with great potential for more. I also learned that my Great Grand Aunt is buried only 50 miles from my home, so I have another road trip planned.
BrooklynAncestry.com has not only given my family some new members, it has brought my Great-Grandmother into a new decade – the 1940’s. With this new information, I can begin looking in new databases, and go back to review some previous ones. Since I assumed she passed away prior to the 1940 US Census, I was only searching prior to that date. Brooklyn Ancestry has opened a whole new area for me to go exploring. I cannot thank them enough!!
Everybody has the responsibility to recognize and honor the actions and the sacrifices of their ancestors. It is easy to know that your grandfather was a WWII hero, but did his father serve in WWI? Do you have an ancestors that served in the Civil War? Sometimes these discoveries can be made by a genealogist on the first day of research. Every generation in your family tree played an important part in your genealogy and are worthy of your recognition and praise. Honor them by bringing their memory back to life to carry on for generations to come.
New York City and Brooklyn Directories and Phone Book Listings
Not until all the online records have been exhausted should you ever consider paying a genealogist more than you would be charged on this site. After these genealogical resources stop producing results, it may be time to hire a genealogist from this site or another, to visit one of the many New York Public Libraries, Cemeteries, Churches or the New York City Municipal Archives, and begin paying a higher fee for that additional service. Hiring us to begin building your family tree, or to help get past that point you have been stuck at for years may be the smartest money ever spent on your genealogy research.
Build Your Family Tree
If you are old enough you have undoubtedly seen many changes within the community you lived in as a child. But what will it look like in 120 years from now? Where will your great – great grandchildren be living? How many children will they have? What will their profession be? Will they have any idea who you are and what your role in their family history was? While it may be impossible to look ahead to the lives of your descendants, it certainly is possible to look back and find out exactly who your ancestors were. Whether your interest is in tracing your lineage back to the old country, finding living relatives, or just learning the details of your family in the 19th and early 20th centuries, there is a good chance I can uncover a good amount of information in just a few short hours. Don’t pass up the opportunity while it lasts.
Merriam-Webster Defines a Genealogist as “a person who traces or studies the descent of persons or families”
It seems like a ridiculous question to ask, but it never ceases to amaze me how many people ask me what a Genealogist is after I tell them what my website is all about. The simple answer I usually give is that a Genealogist is someone that builds family tree’s and studies family history, but it is not that simple.
The fact is that a Genealogist is a historical detective. You can not build a complete family tree without having a passion for it, and a detective will never solve a crime without that same passion. If you are a Genealogist For Hire like myself, you have to have that special something inside of you that lets you organize all the little pieces of random information in your head, even if you do not really care about that family on a personal level, because you still care about solving the mystery. This alone can drive you to spend a day in the New York Public Library researching that family. In my case, when I have a genealogy case, I become slightly obsessed. I want so much for that client to blown away by my discovery, that I can easily fill my time searching the New York Phone Books, Catholic Church and Catholic Cemetery records, New York City Housing Records, and countless other Marriage, Birth and Death Records.
I think it would drive most people mad, even if it were their own family. There is no doubt you have to be persistent when you are stuck at that roadblock. Genealogical Databases and Brooklyn Zip Codes are not naturally things you are going to have passion for.
A friend of mine, who happens to be an Arizona Genealogist and the owner of the “It’s All Relatives” Genealogy blog said the following to me:
“solving the question who are my ancestors, takes a methodical approach…bite off only small bits at a time. Most problems are better solved taking them apart into smaller sections. Develop your method, stay focused and have fun!”
Those are two very important points any beginning Genealogist will need to understand. You can not start off your research today, and expect to be 6 generations deep by tomorrow night. At times, I can make that much progress, but only if all the records are right where they can be found and everything is recorded accurately. And this is only after years of experience. This is why the advise of breaking your research down into small sections is so important to follow. My advise to a new Genealogist would be to uncover all the easily found records first. In a relatively short time you will be stuck for a few hours around the generation of your great grandparents. Relax, you have 3 other sets of great grand parents, and maybe one of them will allow an easier route to your great great grandparents. I think the most natural curiosity tends to the Paternal line, and it is the easiest line considering the Surname stays the same, but that does not always equal an easy passage. When you get to the first road block you are going to have to be dedicated. It may take months to make that breakthrough – to find the marriage, birth or death certificate, to find the missing census report that fills in the blanks, or to find that grave site that fits all the pieces together. Usually at this point I would recommend that you hire a Genealogist, but if that is not an option, understand that the information you need is hiding there, develop your method, as my friend told me, and have fun!
In my own family, as in many other families with New York Genealogies, you do not have to go far to find a 100% Italian Ancestor. In my example it is my Grandmother, born in Brooklyn to parents from Palermo, Sicily. I happen to be lucky enough to have a copy of the shipping manifest of my great parents trip to New York in the early 1900’s, and even more lucky to have an address and name of closest family member that remained in Palermo.
Many Italian Americans are able to find their ancestors’ records at Ellis Island, but that is where the research stops. For most people, when you get into the records in a foreign country, in that native language, you have reached what we call a road block. Unless you want to invest hundreds of hours to learn a new language and learn an entire system of genealogical records, your best option is just to pony up with some hard earned cash and pay for a professional genealogist in Italy, or whatever your country of interest is.
For me, I would be stuck with nothing more then that address in Sicily, and the name of that ancestor that never made the trip to America. I decided that I needed more details on this Sicilian branch of the family, and almost immediately my Italian Genealogist was able to provide me with the actual Italian surname of my family member, not the recorded, Americanized version, as well as his fathers name, and the name of a sister.
I usually recommend having a genealogist do your research even if you are a New Yorker searching for family in New York. You can spend hours, days and weeks on end searching for records, while an experienced genealogist might be able to supply you with answers in just an hour. Imagine coupling that difficulty with a language barrier? No, it just makes sense to hire a professional and get the job done correctly and efficiently.
If you have interest in making contact with family from Italy, you may be in luck. Throughout the years I have heard from several people that made contact with distant cousins from various homelands that were very inviting to their American cousins, and welcomed them to visit.
If you have never looked past your grand parents, then hiring us at Brooklyn Ancestry is your first step to finding the link to immigration records. At that point you have names, a home city or town, and it is time to turn over your research to a professional Italian genealogist.
Anybody that is willing to take that next step and truly have a greater connection to you family tree then you would ever reasonably expect, e-mail me at Genealogist@BrooklynAncestry.com, and tell me your story. Let me know if you need research in America, and I will assist you, and also let me know if you need research in Italy, and I will put you in touch with the Pro to begin your Italian discovery.
Several years ago I was lucky enough to visit Sicily and I did my best to see everything I could manage. At the time, I did not have the information on my ancestors that I have now. I quick look at google maps tells me I was no more then a few blocks away from my great grand parents house in Palermo, and it’s entirely possible I actually drove past the very house they lived in.
When I realized that I was able to solve genealogical mysteries with a very high rate of success for many of my friends, I realized I had a knack for solving family history mysteries and decided to create this website. Now, the ancestors of all 4 of my Grandparents came to Brooklyn starting in the 1850’s, from Sicily, Ireland and Spain, so throughout all the many hours of my own research I have spent virtually all of my personal research time searching in Brooklyn, which is why I targeted my services as a Brooklyn and New York Genealogist. By the time I had solved my own case, I had many connections in cemeteries, churches, etc. And I was able to unearth several incredible databases and sources of priceless information available on the internet that allow me to almost always find what I am looking for. After I would find out that my grandparents or great-grandparents had brothers or sisters, I found myself so curious about the descendants of those newly discovered family members that I took a course on locating people in the modern day, and I have been able to help may people find their birth parents, long lost relatives, etc.
With all that being said, one of the first things I needed to do was come up with a rate to charge customers. I love helping people, and honestly a lot of my sources are free to me, and I can sometimes find information very quickly. I don’t need to be charging all that much money, so I decided at first to charge $15 an hour, with the first 2 hours free, if I wasnt able to find anything in that time. The client was able to decide they did not have faith in me since I did poorly in the first 2 hours, and could just walk away without being invested and losing money. Since that time I have had to change things up a bit, mainly do to all the “free” 2 hour introductory periods that people had me do only to tell me they didn’t have any way to pay me even when I did produce results ( my current $5 for the first hour is just to confirm the client has a paypal account), and my $25 hr rate for a 2 hour block is mainly to encourage larger blocks of time to be purchased. It sometimes takes an hour of that time just to get all the information a client provides organized since it is a new case and the first time I am looking into this particular family.
I consider my rates to be pretty fair, and when I look around the net and see the prices these genealogy services are charging, it aggravates me. I want to take a few minutes tonight and show my readers just how ridiculous some of the more popular Genealogy researchers are.
The first website I want to mention is Heirlines.com. The information is pretty straight forward. If you are only willing to pay for 10 hours of research, you better be willing to pay $800, $650 more then I would charge you. The only thing I see on their site that I do not offer, is they send you a physical copy of the document. I’ll tell you what, if you want me to print out the documents for $.05 a peice and mail them to you for an extra $650, just let me know and I will do it. Or you can just print them out yourself when I E-mail them to you and save the $650.
Your next option is from Ancestry.com‘s own “Pro Genealogists“. As you can see in the Image above, the Pro Genealogist website considers their fee’s “affordably priced” and “Straightforward research” costs a Minimum of $65 per hour. I would imagine no matter how straightforward your research is, they will have some reason to pump up your fee closer to the $135/hr range. How many people have paid their hard earned money to have some “Pro Genealogist” log into Ancestry.com and pull up some census reports for $200?
The last website I want to touch on is LegacyTree.com. In the graphic you can see the minimum order is 20 hours, for $1250. That is over four times as much as our rate.
To be fair, if anybody is getting in their car and spending a day in some records hall searching through files in order to find that one impossible link, then a rate much higher then my $15 / hr is called for. The issue I have is that most cases can be solved online, and if you are paying for 10 or 20 hours of research, in 90% of cases a genealogist would spend that much time exhausting all of the online resources and databases at our disposal, before ever getting into a car. After that point, it might make sense to charge the higher rate that travel expenses and the higher level of research expertise would call for. If you are going to hire a genealogist to build your tree from the start, breaking down those brick walls, finding distant relatives, or whatever else you might need, please look around before hiring one of these overcharging websites. It would be well worth the few hundred dollars a website like this one would charge before paying the thousands these other sites demand as a minimum and then can not even guarentee they will find the information you are looking for.
Today we are happy to welcome our first guest blogger, Jennifer Dunn, who writes about a topic that is a little different then what we are used to focusing on while submerging ourselves in New York Genealogical databases for hours on end. We hope you enjoy these tips and urge you to visit her Jennealogy blog to learn more about the southern aspect of researching family history.
Family history is my favorite hobby, but when I’m not deciphering old documents or blogging over at Jennealogy, I’m writing about small business in my “real” job. One of my jobs is to find great tools to benefit small businesses on a budget, and wouldn’t you know it – many of these tools benefit me as a genealogist, too.
Today I want to recommend two tech tools that I haven’t seen mentioned much in genealogy circles:
Use TurboScan and Never Get Extorted for Copies Again – I wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve paid for copies while doing genealogy research. Actually, I would still be poor, because I can’t remember even making copies for less than 10 cents per page. Recently I visited the Forsyth County Probate Court where copies were $1/page. Geesh.
This app (sadly only available for iPhone and other iDevices at this point), allows you to scan a document directly to your device by simply taking three flash photographs of it. From there, you can simply save it in your app, or better yet email it to yourself. You can also choose whether you’d like to save it as a .pdf, .jpg or even print it if you have a printing app.
Because it requires flash, TurboScan can take a little bit of moxie to use. I’ve been using TurboScan in libraries and archives for a few months now, and while I’ve gotten some strange looks when three flashes go off, I haven’t been asked to leave yet.
HUGE CAVEAT! Be wary using TurboScan to scan delicate original records. These days, the jury is out on whether flash photography harms old documents, but I’m always on the side of better safe than sorry.
Use Zamzar to Convert File Types – In my professional life AND my genealogical life I sometimes run into scenarios where I want to convert a .pdf file to an image file, such as .jpg. Recently, for example, I wanted to share copies of an Estate Case for my ancestor George W. West as a .jpg on Ancestry.com so the information there would be easily viewable to people who might not trust a download.
All you do is upload the file you’d like to convert at Zamzar.com, choose the file type you’d like to convert it to, then enter your email address. Zamzar will email you when the conversion is complete. If you’d like to track your files, you can also sign up for a free account. Simple!
Do you rely on a little known tech tool for your genealogy research? Let me know in the comments!
This guest post was brought to you by Jennifer Dunn. Read more from her at Jennealogy.