Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tuesday's Tip ~ Blogging ~ It Does A Genealogist Good!

A blog post, a Google search, some emails, and we have blast off 
(hopefully through that brick wall)!

Last week I had the great good fortune of connecting with a previously unknown relative (my second cousin once removed) ~ all thanks to the Internet.  I wanted to share the story with you and hopefully motivate you to make use of technology and get out there and blog!

Digital Photo by Filomena Scalise

  • Last Sunday I received an email asking me about some family members who were listed as my relations on this blog (my monthly roll call for birthdays and anniversaries).  He mentioned some other relatives and asked if I had a listing for them. 
  • That afternoon I responded with a few screenshots (using the Microsoft Snipping Tool) of my Legacy Family Tree database program showing our common ancestor and his family as well as my family.  I asked if the screenshots confirmed his information and waited to hear back.  
  • On Monday he responded by confirming our "connection" and providing me with some more current family information and telling me his family remained in Nebraska.
  • On Tuesday I responded by sharing some of my more current family information and also giving him a summary of information about the family members who moved from Nebraska to Washington.  I also asked him if he knew anything about where our original family in Ireland was from as well as possibly exchanging additional information. 
  • He responded by sharing some more about his family and telling me ~
    • "We still own land originally homesteaded by the Murphys in the 1870s." 
    • He found my blog when he did a search of his name - which brought up not his name (living people consideration) but related deceased family as well as the particular towns and counties in Nebraska. 
    • He shared more about family members who moved from Nebraska to Utah and Oregon 
    • He mentioned that many Murphy family ancestors are buried in the town cemetery and that he was willing to check them out for me when the weather improved. 
    • He offered to work on some dates and names and look up some addresses for me.
  • On Wednesday (after checking out the FamilySearch Wiki, Wikipedia, NARA and the Nebraska Historical Society websites), I followed up on the "homestead" issue.  The sites mentioned that the original paperwork might provide some insight into James Murphy's place of birth, immigration and naturalization, all items that I have not been able to find.
  • He responded by providing me the legal description of the land that his family owns and offering to check his title abstract!  He also informed me that certain of the families in our collective past were awarded Pioneer Farm Family Awards by AK-SAR-BEN.
  • After googling AK-SAR-BEN (Nebraska spelled backwards) I found out about the Knights of AK-SAR-BEN Foundation and their various agricultural and civic deeds.
  • On Thursday I offered to work with my genealogy database to prepare a report with the information I have entered to-date for his and other family members' review and comment (my work in progress).  What a great opportunity to fill in some blanks, confirm or dispute information, add to my knowledge of the family and hopefully gain lots more information and stories about our extended family.
  • Later that same day, he sent me the first page of the title abstract for the property which lists:
    • the legal description of the land;
    • the original entry between the USA government and our original Ireland to America ancestor James Murphy dated in 1872 listing the land records office and the registration information; and
    • the patent between the USA government (by President U.S. Grant) and James Murphy dated in 1873 listing the Act of Congress and the homestead certificate number.
  • I went to the NARA site and downloaded the National Archives Order for Copies of Land Entry Files (Form 84).  The information required to acquire copies of the Entry Files consists of the following:
    • Name of entry man
    • State land located
    • Approximate date of entry
    • Legal description of the land by Section, Townland and Range
    • Type of land entry
    • Patent final certificate number
    • Name of land office
  • A completed NARA Form 84 plus $40 should provide me with the Entry File for James Murphy! The entire process can be done online and the processing time is between 60-90 days ~ what an unexpected gift!
  • The abstract contained additional information regarding the land:
    • James' oldest son later quit-claimed his interest in the farm to his mother ~ this was my great grandfather who later moved with his wife and young family to Washington.
    • James' wife later quit-claimed her interest (except for dower rights) to her minor children ~ another way to identify and confirm family members and follow the land through the years.
  • On Saturday I filled out the NARA form and sent a quick question to NARA about in person research versus online request for records.  I also worked on the draft family report which I plan to send off on to my Nebraska relative later today.
  • This morning I received a response from George at NARA explaining the in person research process: 
 You are more than welcome to do land-entry research by visiting our facility on Pennsylvania Ave.
 Note that we prefer that records are requested in person and you are required to get a researcher's ID before we pull records; the second can only be done in person.
 We also have set time for retrieving records, at 10:00, 11:00, 1:30 and 2:30 five days a week, with an additional pull time of 3:30 Wed-Fri.  For the first visit we recommend that researchers show up at least 45 minutes before one of the pull times.
 Our research room is also open late Wed.-Fri. and is open from 9:00-5:00 on Saturdays (though there are currently no Saturday pulls).
 The cost for using our copiers in person is twenty-five cents a page, though digital photography is allowed in the research room.
 If you have any further questions fill free to ask.

  • Since I have the choice and can easily travel to Washington, D.C., I may just make the trip to see the file in person.  Whether online or in person ~ what a difference a week makes!

    ~Five Final Thoughts ~
    Digital Photo by Salvatore Vuono

    1. Blog, Blog, Blog ~ Put some information about family members online.  My monthly blog roll lists birthdays and anniversaries of family members together with dates, RINs and MRINs (all from by genealogy database program).
    2. Have an email address or account so people who visit your blog can get in touch with you.
    3. Correspond with people who visit your blog ~ you may find some family, they may have information which will break down brick walls, and you will be able to do the genealogy happy dance! 
    4. The Internet can open doors ~ I researched online with the Nebraska Historical Society, FamilySearch Wiki, NARA; all provided lots of information and additional links for:
    5. A road trip to Nebraska is definitely on my agenda ~ an opportunity to connect with family, see the original homestead, learn more of our history, hopefully get some stories and the opportunity to scan documents and photographs.
    So, what are you waiting for?  Place some information online, share your family stories and find some additional family members.  Slainte!


    1. You're right, of course. Sometimes I'm caught forgetting how valuable the Internet can be in pursuing genealogy, and other times I wonder what I would do without it.

    2. Congratulations and thanks for sharing your success and the day-by-day details of your research as a result of your cousin's contact. This was such an encouraging post - everyone should read it!


    Welcome - thanks for sharing - just so you know, all comments are moderated.