Writing Your Family History

Friday, March 6, 2015 Posted by

Well, it’s been quite a while since I last blogged regularly. My personal life was thrown for a loop quite some time ago which led to my absence. I’m trying get back into a regular blogging habit for those of you regular readers of this blog. I feel somewhat guilty since my absence in blogging occurred shortly after my blog being mentioned in Family Tree Magazine’s 2013 best genealogy blogs. First I’m going to finish what I started in 2013.

In addition, this year I thought I would try something a little bit different and something I haven’t seen done on any other genealogy blog. I’m going to choose one of my ancestors and try to write his life story. I will write snippets of his story by evaluating each record group and showing how you may be able to start on your ancestors life story. You do not need to be a great writer and you do not need to have completed all research you can ever find about this ancestor. You only need to review the research, perhaps find and complete some gaps in that research and just start writing. If you do not document his life story, who will?

My goal is to write something about his life every month. My ancestor I chose to write about is Edwin A. Banks. He is pictured below with his wife.

Edwin A Banks & Mary Ann McKeown

The following snippet is what I have written about his life story in my version Family Tree Maker software right now. Let’s see how we can write this life story using primary and secondary records.

“Edwin Alfred Banks was born on 28-Nov-1846 in Newtown, Fairfield County, Connecticut and the son of Alfred Banks and Jane Ann Shepard. He had a twin son Edward Alfred Banks. In 1850, he was living with his parent and brother in Seneca, Ontario County, New York. By 1860, the family was living back in Newtown, Connecticut.

On January 2, 1864 at the age of 17, Edwin enlisted in the Union Army. He had lied about his age and he indicated he was actually 18. He served in the 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillary. On August 18, 1865 he was discharged from the Union Army.

After the war, he married Mary Ann McKeown on April 22, 1869. The ended up having three children, Minnie, Alfred and Charles. During the rest of his life, he moved around quite a bit. He lived for a while in Washington DC. He died at a soldiers home on July 2, 1921.”

While writing his life story this year, I will try to document the sources properly to the best of my ability. A great resource for this is the Book “Evidence Explained”. It shows the proper way of citing just about any resource you can imagine. Look for the first snippet of Edwin’s life story to emerge by highlighting his civil war service records. At the end of the year, I will attempt to put all these snippets together and create one long blog about Edwin’s life.

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Almost Wordless Wednesday – early school photo

Wednesday, February 25, 2015 Posted by

early Connecticut School Photo

Does anyone recognize this early Connecticut School Photo?

Thrifty Thursday – National Archives of Ireland

Thursday, January 2, 2014 Posted by

Do you have ancestors who come from Ireland? While most of the Ireland Census records were destroyed prior to 1901 were destroyedm they 1901 and 1911 Ireland Census records are available to researchers. In fact, The National Archives of Ireland has images of the 1901 and 1911 Ireland Census for free on it’s website.

The Census is easy to search and you can download and view the original records. Once you find your family see which townland/street they lived on. Once you have that information go back to the search engine and use only the townland name in the search criteria. Do not put in a surname or a forename. If you’re lucky to have someone who cam from a small townland you can often find other relatives or at least very close neighbors. My Ester Doyle was from Carrickslavan. In the 1901 Census there were only 21 people living in that townland. They must either have been all related or at least very close neighbors. Be careful using the townland name. The Carrickslavan from 1901 was spelled Carrickslavin in the 1911 Census. Notice the slight spelling difference.

Make sure you check the National Archives of Ireland if you have Irish ancestors.

Genealogy by the States – Week 52 – US Territories

Sunday, December 29, 2013 Posted by

This week’s blogging prompt is the United States Territories. Blog about an ancestor or your families connection to United States Territories. If you don’t have any connections to United States Territories, find a United States Territories resource useful for genealogy research to highlight and write about. This week’s prompt runs from 12/29/2013 – 1/4/2014. If you choose to follow along, I would appreciate a mention to the Hidden Genealogy Nuggets website.


There are a number of territories of the United States. The largest by population of which is Puerto Rico. There are many others including Guam, United States Virgin Islands, Northern Mariana Islands and more. Perhaps you have ancestors who came from one of these territories. English may not be the native language of the territory and you may need to research records in Spanish or some other language.

A few United States Territories Genealogy Links


1930 Guam Population Census Transcribed