Sunday, October 16, 2016

Re-examine What You Have and What You Need

Not sure what to do next in your genealogical research? I know I was recently at the point that I kept reaching dead-ends. I couldn't break through a couple of genealogical brick walls and was making no progress. So what to do now? Rather than continue to hammer away at these impenetrable walls, I looked at my direct ancestors and the documentation I had for them. Surprisingly, there were several basic documents I didn't have. For example, I didn't have the 1920, 1930 and 1940 US Federal Census pages for several of them. Realizing this, I went to Family Search, and browsed through their home town, page by page, in order to find their entries.

To to this, go to Family Search, go to Search and click Records

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Surnames - Why Your Ancestors' Names Were Not What You Think They Should Be

I got to thinking about surnames and how many of the surnames of my ancestors did not follow the rule of children taking their father's last name and daughters changing theirs to their husband's last name when they get married. Because they didn't follow this rule, both of my grandmothers had last names other than what they would have been had their ancestors strictly followed this rule. Here is a list of the surnames that did not follow this rule and an explanation of how this happened.

It wasn't changed at Ellis Island - My great-grandfather, Carl Müller, and his brothers and sisters were all born with the surname of Müller. Previous family histories said that it was changed to Miller at Ellis Island or that he gave them the wrong name because he was hiding from the German military. While he may or may not have been hiding from the military, we know that his name change was not because of this and it certainly wasn't changed at Ellis Island.