Adventures in Family Tree Research Online — Tips for Doing Genealogy

 and you can see an image of the original.   They have been transcribed into type to make them searchable, and that may introduce errors.

No Birth Certificates In the Old Days

Did you know birth certificates are 20th century inventions in this country?  I had never though about it.   Don’t expect to find great grandmother’s birth certificate online.   If she was born in the 19th century, she almost certainly didn’t have one.   When social security came in, older people had to go find family friends and relatives who knew of their birth to sign affidavits to prove their ages.   So, you don’t have birth certificates as a resource in doing ancestry research prior to the early 20th century.   The main resource for finding when and where people were born is the census.  You find them in the census and see how old they say they are.    The funny thing is, if your ancestors are like mine, their ages don’t advance in 10-year increments from one decennial census to the next.     It seems people weren’t so precise about their ages back then.   Old GW Luckett for example, would age 15 years in some decades and only 5 years in others.  So, take ages with a grain of salt when you read them in the census.

Even names were more changeable in the old days.  They weren’t written down in a birth certificate, so names were much more free to evolve over a person’s life, even in official documents.  My father’s mother was Adelia, Delia, Matilda Adelia, and Adelia Matilda.    My mother’s mother was Faith Arleigh and just Arleigh.  GW Luckett’s 2nd wife was Elizabeth Jane sometimes and Martha Jane other times.   Fortunately, when she applied for a military widow’s pension she had to explain her multiple names and that document was available online.

Another New-Fangled Idea:  Inherited Surnames

Another thing I learned is that the custom of having a surname that you inherit from your father only started around the 1200’s to 1300’s.  And that’s in England and some other parts of Europe.  In other parts of the world the custom started later or earlier or not at all.  They still don’t do it in Iceland, for example.    So, if you are able to trace any branch of your family back that far, don’t be surprised to see the surnames start changing from generation to generation when you get back that far.

Free Genealogical Sites – Access  Them Through Google

In addition to, there are a great many free genealogical websites where people have posted family trees that may be relevant to you.    Here is where Google comes in handy again.    Try Google searches for some of the ancestors you found on and see what’s out there on the free webpages.    Quotation marks are very useful in such searches.    One of the fascinating characters in my family tree is George Washington Luckett, my great, great  grandfather.   If I searched

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