Category Archives: Blog

The Benefit of Hiring a New York Genealogist

As a New York genealogist, I often get some pretty specific requests from people.

When people have reached a roadblock, they tend start looking for a little help. Even though they have searched high and low, for years in some cases, they want a guarantee that I will solve their mystery in 2 hours.

With that in mind, you can imagine what a relief it is for me when I get a client that understands the benefit of gathering as much information as possible on their ancestor’s extended family, even if their main interest is not in finding distant relatives. What happens a lot of the time is you find out that some other family member that you don’t even know exists right now, has already researched your common ancestor, and may have already found out everything you could ever hope to learn about your ancestor’s.

Whenever a new client wants to move straight back in time and pass a roadblock that he has been stuck at, I always take the approach of expanding the project to include filling in the entire family tree. For example, if you want to find out exactly where in “Prussia” your Great, great, great Grandparents came from, but the records do not state an exact city, then maybe he or she had a brother, and his records supply that information.
This is what happened in a recent case for me.

The stats speak for themselves – We provided 64 Documents including Census reports, Naturalization records, Brooklyn Business Directory listings, Newspaper articles from The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, New York Standard, The New York Times, The Herald Statesman, from Yonkers, N.Y, Housing records and passport applications to name a few.

Using other New York City records I was able to pull an address and phone number for my clients distant (and unknown until I found him) cousin. We are also waiting for about 5 different Birth, Marriage and Death Certificates ordered from New York City Archives, all documents ordered based of my finding the certificate numbers.

The request to find the exact city the clients ancestor came from was discovered not from finding a record of his that recorded it, but from the brother of that ancestor having a record that supplied the information.

At this point there is still a lot to be learned about this family from the Certificates that are on order, but at this point I already have an extremely happy client that has learned much more then he was expecting. More to follow.

Geni.com Family Tree Program

One thing I want to do is with this blog is take a look at some of the different websites I use or have used over the years. There is nothing Brooklyn Genealogy specific about these sites, but they have been a big help. Right now I want to write about Geni.com.

Years ago the Ancestry.com family tree was almost impossible to track a family with. You could only view the current “pedigree” version of the tree which only show an immediate family. Husband, wife, kids. At the time I was using Geni.com, which allows you to build a normal viewable family all on one screen. I would print out each separate section of the tree that I was researching at the time, and be able to quickly check relations, dates of birth, date, marriage etc etc. It didn’t take long before a had around 200 ancestors in the family tree.

As times changed, so did the Geni.com tree, which now only lets you add 100 family members in its free version. There was a time I paid for a year of membership to see if their version of “member connect” would match me up with distant family members building trees on the Geni site.

Unfortunately, somebody decided that I was related to them, and connected my family to theres. Long story short, I now have an additional 250 people in my family tree that are obviously not related to me. They are from Indiana. They were in Indiana way before my people came from Germany, and they are still in that part of the country. My family came from Germany and went straight to Red Hook, Brooklyn, and stayed there. None of the brothers and sisters in that family tree match any of the siblings in my tree. With all that being said, I guess Geni allows people to just go and attach trees for any reason, and now I am stuck with an entire tree full of relatives that I’m not related to because we both happen to have a John Zimmerman in our pool of ancestors.

I’m sure there is some way to undo this problem, but I can’t figure it out to save my life. I can’t even delete the members of the tree, presumably because I am not a paying member anymore and can not alter my over 100 member family tree. Whatever the problem is, it has kept me away from their website for a long time now.

Everything they do on Geni.com now has been replicated by Ancestry.com as far as I can tell. I think they charge a comparable price with almost none of the content that Ancestry offers. They have done one good thing though. If you follow the Geni.com Facebook Page, you will get the little profile matches that connect random famous people. Something crazy like, “See how Mitt Romney is related to Barrack Obama”. Apparently they have genealogists that just focus on building as large a tree as possible for every known person that’s ever lived. When they make a connection, they post the link. They also have the market cornered on the “how are you related to this famous historical person” angle. The idea is that everybody is related to everybody else.

There is a certain logic out there that says if you multiply the amount of ancestors you have for 25 generations, that the number (over 33 Million) is some multiple of the earths population. So basically, allowing for geographic constraints, everybody is related to everybody else, having several different mutual 25 x great parents. It seems Geni.com would like to connect it’s members to some of the more famous historical members of their trees, aswell as with each other. Ancestry.com would be wise to attack this method of interaction with it’s members.

Besides that, Geni.com does not have any advantage over the Ancestry.com tree or service, and that angle, in part at least, can be followed on Facebook by liking the Geni fan page.

If you are one of those that have traced your ancestors back to around the 1700’s then you may want to go and enter those names into the free version of the Geni tree and see if you merge with some historical persons tree. Or some current celebrities tree. Take care not to waste your 100 by drifting off into cousins, etc. But maybe they won’t allow a merge even with a match if you are not a paid member. Who knows. All in all, I am pretty upset with the Geni site, and they get no trafiic or money from me anymore.

Please share any corrections, comments or experiences on this subject. Thank You!

Brooklyn Navy Yard

Brooklyn Navy Yard

Along with the Eerie basin In Red Hook, the Brooklyn Navy Yard is a perfect place for a genealogist to find your ancestors employed. These water front locations were the first large population centers in Brooklyn, and many Immigrants found work and settled within walking distance of these dry docks and ship Building areas. Irish Immigrants resulting from the Potato Famine are found holding these jobs in most circumstances.
Do you know the circumstances your ancestors were in during the 1800’s? We have great success supplying our clients with detailed information in minimal research time.

 

Coney Island Parade

Coney Island USA was founded in the belief that 19th century American popular culture gave birth to a democratic cultural golden age, unique to this country’s history and indispensable to its future. This new age not only invented the Broadway musical, it gave the world jazz, the blues and many new forms of performing and visual arts that emerged from and looked to the populist masses. Now, limited arts funding tends to favor the conservative and classical fine arts, underestimating the seminal qualities of the popular arts, instead abandoning the populist arts to the mutli-billion dollar mass media industries. But the honky-tonk subculture that was once uniquely Coney Island has reemerged as a post-modern trend in entertainment and art. The world is cautiously, slowly, but most certainly reawakening to the importance of Coney Island in American popular culture, and what it stands for. Coney Island USA is there to document, preserve and further the unique arts for the masses, providing national perspective, professional dedication and quality programming for Coney Island as it heads into the 21st century.

Finding Images of old Brooklyn or any historical place or person can be a daunting task. The internet has a wealth of knowledge to pull from, but you have to know how to use it. If you were looking for your own historical images or information, the Library of Congress may have what you are looking for.

Coney Island today is still being used for entertainment.