Is researching your family tree something that you have thought about, but put it off, because you didn’t know where to start? Then put it off no more, as I describe my journey and also my hints and tips on how you can discover your roots. Plus you can read mine under this section https://www.theshamaninmygardann.co.uk/ann
I love to blog, but back in 2016 I spent over 4 months researching my family tree. When I had finished that, I also researched my daughter Rosie’s grandparents family on her dad’s side as well. I have become a bit of an expert in this field now. I’ve always loved history, I live in a house that was built in the late 1800’s and going back in time and learning and understanding what times were like back then has been a real eye opener for me.
How Did I Begin?
I looked at the best websites to help with researching and the one that I chose was Ancestry.co.uk. You do have to pay for it, but you can do it month by month and the level you want to pay for is another option. I went for option three, as I knew that my family had gone to New York from Ireland. Speak to your family members first, this may help with your choice.
Choose One Family At A Time
When doing your research I found it best to concentrate on one family at a time. This way you build up your information quicker and can start to make notes as you go along. A couple of note pads and a few pens is a must. I was always jotting things down. I had a section for each family as well.
Creating An Account
I created a new account in Ancestry.co.uk and then started on my first tree. When you create your tree, you can either have one name or like me two names. I named mine McCormick/McNaul as this was my mothers, father and mothers surnames. You need a starting person, so for me this was my mother. Once I had created her I could then add in her mother and father.
Growing Your Tree
As soon as I started to add people, dates and places into my tree, the hints started to appear. You will see a little green leaf appear. When you click on this leaf it will show a list of people that could be the people you have just added. So for instance it may show a hint for a baptism, a marriage or a census 1901 or 1911 are quite popular. You then need to check the information to see if the details match yours. If they do you can accept them. You can then save them to your tree to the relevant person. If they don’t match you can choose to click ignore and they will not show up again.
How Do You Fill In All The Gaps
I tried where I could to add in all the brothers and sisters. So for my mum’s father Alexanders family the McCormick’s I added in all his brothers and sisters. As well as his mother and father. I find working from the most recent backwards is the best method. I was lucky I knew who my grandparents and great grandparents were. You may not know that, so as I said build from the bottom up.
Towns and Cities
Keep an eye on where your family were born. My family were from some very old towns in Ireland, that may not be on the map today. This is where your pen and paper comes in handy, as you can write down where they came from. Then when you do a search you can refer to it, so you know you have the right town and people.
Surnames On Certificates And Records
Finding a male relative is far easier than a female as when you go back, especially to marriage certificates the bride took the grooms surname and also her father and the grooms father were detailed on here, so you have quite a lot of info. Female relatives are not always that easy, as if you don’t know the surname it can be tricky, this is where writing things down and paying attention to your hints that come up are really useful. If you do know the maiden name of the mother, you can search for birth records. All birth records contain the name of the child and the mothers maiden name. I found many birth records in one go like this.
I found these records really interesting. They not only contained your family members but how old they were. So for instance if you had a census for 1901 and they were 24, you knew that they were born around 1877. So if you didn’t have a birth record for this person, you could do a search using these details. The next thing was the occupations and whether they could read or write and where they were born. This was either in their home town, or if they left home and lived in Liverpool this could say Ireland. You saw how many rooms they had, what the buildings were made of and how many people lived in them. Street no’s, names and towns and districts are mentioned. I would google the names and read about the place for myself. This way you got a mental image of the places they lived in and as you did your research you could really picture it.
Adding in photos is a great way of identifying people for yourself and anyone else who may look at your tree. I found another tree that had my grandfathers family on and photos as well. Likewise anyone researching their family can see your tree and photos. You do of course have the option to keep things private, but many are not, as we are all trying to find as much info as possible, so sharing and going public with your status is a great way as well.
Dead Ends And Brick Walls
This can be frustrating as you are trying to get as much info as possible, but sometimes you just can’t find things. Don’t get frustrated about it. Keep a note of who you are still searching for and then move on. I have found having a break away for a few days and a fresh pair of eyes helps as it can be tiring. You can always come back to it. The great thing about your tree is it is saved data, so when you log off and then come back to it, all your information is still there. I had some help from a friend as well who had been using ancestry for many years so he helped me when I was struggling. Maybe this is something you can do, or you can always ask me.
Where I Can Find Other Information
The records for England, Scotland and Wales, go back much further than the records for Ireland. I had to use another site for my family from Northern Ireland and that was NI direct Services GRONI (General Records Office Of Northern Ireland). This is a great site. Create an account and you can do searches on here for information. You can look at the basic info for free, but if you want to see the whole certificate you can buy credits. Why would I use this? I think, when ancestry.co.uk can’t give you all the info you need its a great catalogue of information. I found my grandmother’s mum and dad on here. They both died when she was 4 and 9, so to find them was a huge break through for me. I also found their death certificates, which told me what happened to them and who was with them when they died.
This is something that I came across in google. There are people out there that have collated all the parish records and entered them into a spreadsheet and saved them by surname. So you could look up the town or even the parish and get some info from here as well.
Pulling It All Together (Websites and Facebook Pages)
I have a website, so I wrote up all the information for each family and included photos where possible and then posted it out on my website and own facebook page. You could just simply type it up and share by email. I shared some of mine by email, before I published a final version. It may be that another family Member can take a look to see if you have missed anyone or other information. Creating a family facebook page. We have two. The McComick Family Memories and The Cunningham Family Tree. You can post your family tree on here, but you can also ask other family members to contribute by posting photos and information about relatives. This way it becomes very much alive and has one central place. On ours we have seen and shared photos that some of us have never seen before, so it is well worth doing. We forget what we have in our possession, but photos are something that we all hang on to.
I hope that I have given you lots of information to get you started or at least to take a look. I have included below the links to Ancestry and the NI Direct Site.
If anyone has any questions or needs any help then please send me a message