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Finding a Soldier

If your ancestors participated in military service, you are in luck-there are many different records used by the military to keep track of their personnel. Even as far back as the Civil and Revolutionary wars, record of a soldier’s involvement was kept for the government. There are seven basic types of records that you will find most useful, and your ancestor may be listed in one or all of these ways, so it’s a great way to find information.

First, men during a time of war were asked to register for the draft, which was then placed into effect. Ages 18 to 35 were required to sign up, but some that were older and younger also joined the ranks. Some companies have begun the process of indexing these records, so contact any research company for more information about obtaining these records. Canada also has searchable records of men that signed up for the draft. If your ancestor not only signed up, but also served, he is probably on a muster list as well. This is a roll call list that companies used to keep track of their soldiers and may include information other than a name if you are lucky.

Service records, if available, are great for information about your ancestors. These records were kept during the Revolutionary War and are still kept today. Information includes a timeline of military service, medical history, vital stats, marriage information, locations, date of death, and other information. These records are especially detailed in the southern United States. Even better than service records are pension records. Very precise records have been kept since the start of the Revolutionary War, and you may also find names of relatives or friends in these records.

Other records that are worth obtaining are bounty land records, cemetery records, and veterans’ records. These documents may also hold valuable pieces of information that could be missing from your family tree. If you find that your ancestors have long been military men (or, in more recent decades, military women), it would probably be beneficial to copy and organize your data as you collect it. Because records are often hard to read, it may take you a long time to figure out certain pieces of information, so be prepared with reading glasses and perhaps even a magnifying glass. As you decipher information, write it down neatly so that you won’t have to begin the process again the next time you look at your information. Military records are a relatively easy way to come by some great information, so be sure to consider this option early in your research.

Don’t Forget the Obituary

The single best piece of information you can find about a person is usually their obituary. Unless you are related to a celebrity, the obituary is probably the most detailed biographical sketch you will find of a person’s life. It provides you with countless pieces of information, as well as names (and sometimes locations) of the person’s immediate relatives. When beginning your family history research, the first place you should turn is the obituaries.

Obituaries have been published since the early 1800s, and detailed biographies came into style around the time of the Civil Way, so you can use obituaries to research people more than one or two generations back. Most people overlook this fact, thinking that obituary research will only be useful for information they already know. That’s just a starting point. For example, if you find the obituary for your grandmother, it will probably list her maiden name as well as her parents and siblings, so you can use this information to continue your search. Some detailed obituaries, both very old and modern, include much more information including hometown, church affiliation, political party, organization membership, cause of death, place of burial, and occupation. Occasionally, if your ancestor was a well-known member of the community, you will find not only an obituary, but also an article about their life and achievements. Make a copy of this for your records.

Obituaries are not as hard to locate as you may think. There is no nation-wide database of all obituaries, if you know the location and approximate death date of your ancestor, you may be able to find it in the newspaper. However, some papers do keep their own indexes of obituaries, depending on the volume they write every day. The librarian at your local library will be able to help you in this area, as well as teach you to use microfiche and microfilm readers if necessary. Some genealogical societies also keep an index of obituaries, so you can check there as well.

Remember that the obituary may have been published in more than one newspaper; so check all of the periodicals in the proximity of the person’s location at death and their hometown location. Many times, they will each include different information, making your obituary search even more successful. Obituaries are a great resource for anyone beginning genealogical research, so don’t overlook their usefulness when you are beginning your project.

Child Detectives: How to get your Kids on the Hunt

Child Detectives: How to get your Kids on the Hunt for Ancestors

There can be no better activity to do with your child than tracing your genealogy-after all, the connection from one generation to the next is what your research is about! Kids as young as 5 can start learning about their family history and many even surprise you with the help they provide or the new ideas they have. By working on the project together, you can teach your children about their ancestors and create a keepsake that can be passed on to them when they are older.

Begin with what you already know. The easiest way to get started is my filling out what researchers call family information sheets. These can be printed from the Internet and usually include full name, birth date, death date, parents, hometown, spouse, children, and other vital information. First, have your child help you fill one out about yourself, your spouse, and him or herself and any siblings. Make it a game-what does your child know? For example, can your child give you his or her sister’s birth date? Tell your child funny stories pertaining to the information, such as details about your wedding or what your hometown was like when you were growing up. Of course, not every child will be interested in hearing about this, so don’t make yours listen if he or she would rather be doing something else. However, many children will surprise you with their interest. Be prepared for lots of questions. Get your parents or other older family members involved as well if possible. Oral history is vital to genealogy, not so much for research purposes, but to ensure that your family history stays alive with each generation.

When your child gets a little older, you can take him or her to the library with you to do some research. Kids like finding out about their family crests and surname meanings, and learning to use a library is an important skill that kids should learn at a young age. As they mature, kids can accompany you on other field trips as well, such as to family plots in the cemetery, to the records department at your local courthouse, or to virtual destinations on the Internet to help you find your ancestors. By learning research skills, your child will develop an interest in genealogy that might last a lifetime. When your research is done, have your child help you put together a family tree or other family history project that can be passed on to them when they have a family of their own.

African American Research

If you are an African American who had ancestors living in the United States since before the Civil War, chances are your ancestors were slaves. This can make research extremely difficult, since written records are almost nonexistent. However, if you go into the project with a willingness to work hard and a positive attitude, you can uncover lots of information about your family history.

A good place to start is with your ancestors who were free. Using the same research techniques that other ethnicities use, trace your lineage back into history as far as possible. Don’t be discouraged if you hit a brick wall as early as the 1950s. Before the Civil Right movement of the 1960s, African Americans were not always given the same rights as others in the United States, and so their records are not nearly as documented. African Americans before this time also had a harder time receiving education, so many (and this number becomes larger and larger as you research back in time) could not read or write. The most common problem was that, with all the other problems African Americans had to deal with during these years, recording written family histories was not high on the priority list.

Oral family history, however, was. If you are researching your African American ancestors, you will probably have to rely more heavily on family myths and legends than someone, in contract, descending from a slave owner does. Remember that stories get exaggerated and pieces of information are forgotten over time, so look for sources to compare the facts. You can find many good sources online to help you do this. In general, if you find the same story with the same facts in three unrelated pieces, you can (cautiously) trust the facts as truth. Be open-minded to discovering mistakes in these stories in later research.

As you delve farther and farther into history, you will probably need to rely heavily on the records kept by slave owners and ship captains. It is almost impossible to find the exact tribe from which your ancestor was taken, but you may be able to find a region from African where the ship was docked. Follow bills of sale and, if you are very lucky, ship logs and journals to determine when your ancestors gained freedom, bounced from owner to owner, and arrived in America. Don’t get discouraged easily. Studying African American family history is a daunting task, but with some dedication to the project, you might surprise yourself with the results.

Welcome to Southwest Virginia Genealogy .com

Hi guys.All the books are back again. My brother has taken them over. Sorry that it took so long.

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Welcome.

This is the website for all things about Southwest Virginia Genealogy.

As most people know this is an important melting pot area for people to have met and married in the expansion of America. The Scott County area is famous for the Wilderness Road and most families had to travel through here to go to other parts of the country. This are has a natural gap that let people travel trhough the mountains.

From this a lot of people met for the first time and married and then spread out all over the country.

I have started a series of books that are available on Amazon as electronic books, or ebooks. These books can be viewed on Kindle, your computer, and other book reading devices. View the books page for more information.

I am unable to provide you with my actual books here due to my agreement with Kindle. You will need to go there and purchase. I do have other files that you can access here that are about some of my immediate family and the paid section has some other information.

If I can be of any service you can email me at charles_osborne@hotmail.com.