You can create a genealogy home page on the Web so that others can benefit from your research. Several Internet sites offer free Web space for the sole purpose of creating a genealogy home page. Two of these sites are:, is a non-profit organization that promotes public access to genealogical information. Family Tree Maker gives you free Web space for a family home page and a template to insert the information.
Web sites that offer free space for putting up a home page of any sort include:,,
Don't hesitate to investigate these sites just because you're nervous about creating a Web page. You can type the page in Word or Excel and save it as HTML. Better yet, make use of the HTML Class for Genealogists at
The course is free and there's no registration required. If you have questions, just ask the Webmaster.
The best way to track a person who may have headed west by way of wagon train, or to learn more about how your ancestors migrated west, is to check the "jumping-off places." Some of those places were: - St. Louis - Davenport, Iowa - Omaha - Muscatine, Iowa - Dubuque, Iowa Check the local newspapers during the time period that you're researching, and look for reports of wagon trains heading west. These reports can identify the captain of the wagon train, provide the number of people traveling, and, often, list the names of the families from nearby towns who took the journey. Check local histories and biographies as well. They may contain valuable information.
In the early 1900's, Four Courts, the repository where public records were kept in Dublin, Ireland, was set afire during a local uprising. Everything except one wing of the building was damaged, and most of the records went up in smoke. Although the Church of Ireland is where the state records were kept, Catholic records were not kept there because they weren't considered state records. This means that not all of the Church of Ireland parish registers were destroyed. The one wing's records were preserved and many records remain today. Also, many parish ministers kept copies of the Church of Ireland records in their home parishes. You can still research those records. Locating Irish records is difficult but not impossible. You'll have trouble finding records before 1800. To learn what's available for Ireland by county and time period, check out
If you're researching your Irish ancestry, it's important to remember that the majority of Irish immigrants came to the United States, Australia, and England during the potato famine of the 1840's and 1850's. Most of the immigrants were poor and were looked down upon because they were willing to accept low-paying jobs. Because most were Catholics coming to predominantly Protestant America, they were also snubbed because of their religion. To be accepted into American society and to obtain jobs, many of the Irish changed their names in order to appear English. "Dunne" became "Dunn"; "O'Feeney" became "Fenny" or "Feeney." You should always check for name variations when searching records. By understanding the circumstances surrounding your immigrant ancestors' lives in America, you'll find it easier to spot the adjustments you need to make in your research.
During several periods in history, large groups of emigrants left Germany and settled in other countries such as Scotland, England, and Ireland. There was also a very large group of Germanic Jews who immigrated to Ireland in the late 1700's. Although your ancestors may have had Germanic names, they could have been born in Ireland.
Researching Irish ancestors is difficult unless you know at least what county they came from. The surname might have originated in a particular county, but that doesn't guarantee your ancestors came from that county. Without the correct county, it's almost impossible to begin your research. To help pinpoint the county of origin, try to locate any records that were kept in the country to which your ancestors immigrated. These records might include: - marriage and death records - birth records of children (which might list the parents' place of birth) - probate records (wills or probates might name a place of origin and refer to survivors who inherited something) - county and family histories - military records - land records - school records - census records - naturalization records - immigration records and passenger lists
Irish settlers came to the United States in three major waves. The first was in the late 1600's when the English supplanted the Irish with English undertakers (overlords) and Scottish immigrants in the North of Ireland. Many of these Irish settlers were the founding families of the American South. The second wave of Irish settlers came during a major uprising between the Irish and the English in 1798. Thousands of Irish left, coming to America through New England or through Canada and the Great Lakes. They opened up the states directly east of the Mississippi, and when the borders opened, they crossed into the frontier. The third wave of Irish settlers came during the Irish Potato Famine in the 1840's and 1850's. These settlers came through all ports--Canada, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, New Orleans, and even San Francisco. Some were sponsored by landowners who paid their passage, as well as by parishes in which relatives already lived. Others came on their own.
Some ancestors seem impossible to trace. You can't find their origins or determine if or why they emigrated from their home country. If you can't find information on an ancestor, don't give up. Try searching on variations of his or her name. Pay attention to the person's occupation, skills, religion, and his or her ability to read or write. Even the types of foods an ancestor enjoyed could tell you where he or she came from. Write down everything you know about the person. Pay attention to every detail and build a personality sketch. Sometimes doing research really is detective work! You might even try to search newspapers of places you think he or she might have lived to see if there is a missing persons report. Also, try to find out if the ancestor was a stowaway on a ship. Some immigrants changed their names when they arrived in America to hide their past or perhaps a misdeed they had done.
You probably won't be able to find a death certificate for someone who died before vital records were required. That doesn't mean you won't be able to find a death date or documentation to support it. You can still find death dates through probates and wills, land records (when transfer of land occurred after a person's death), church records, cemetery records, county and family histories, census records (census mortality schedule--records were kept for household members who died during the preceding year), and other records.
A reader asks: "My ancestor lived in Indian territory before settlement was allowed. Will I ever find records to further my genealogy?" Finding records of mountain men, trappers, farmers, and traveling men who lived in the territories is difficult, but not impossible. Several types of territorial records are kept in state historical libraries and the National Archives. For instance, if you were searching for Julien Dubuque, a trapper and Indian scout from Dubuque, Iowa, in the 1750's to 1780's, you'd most likely find him listed in the Wisconsin territorial records in the Wisconsin State Archives. Fort records might also mention him, as well as reports of interactions with Indian tribes. County histories often mention original settlers, although the records might not be accurate. Try to collect every scrap of evidence and build a character sketch and timeline of your ancestor's life.
Having a brief outline of a country's history is helpful when you're doing genealogy research. For example, the 1850's and 1860's were a time of great unrest in Germany; there was civil and international war almost every year. Because of warfare, an area's physical boundaries could change without notice. A good example of this is Schleswig-Holstein, which at one time was in Prussia, then Denmark, then Germany, and finally back in Denmark. Records (including emigration records) would be kept in the archives of the country that the area belonged to at the time.