Welcome to the CCCGS blog.

The purpose of this blog is to promote the Contra Costa County Genealogical Society by announcing upcoming events and reporting on past events. In doing so, I hope it will encourage all who are interested to attend any of our events and meetings, and share in our enthusiasm of genealogical research.

November 19, 2010

Brothers and Sisters

Your ancestor may have had a stable, conservative and quiet life but that doesn't mean that their siblings did. Was your ancestor's brother famous in his time?  This can be the key to helping you go back another generation. And if nothing else, it may give you a feel for the characters of each family member and how they interacted. Looking at brothers and sisters gives you information that you may not have ever found on your own. You should even look at half-brothers and half-sisters. 
In early times, men and women stayed married for survival. If one partner died, the other usually remarried. That second marriage usually produced more children, half siblings. President Gerald Ford is one of those famous half-brothers.  Ford's Presidential Library clearly documents this for us, but it doesn't mean that you are going to have it documented for your famous relative. Some times you still have to do the research. 

Some brothers are famous and well known, like in the case of the Wilbur and Orville Wright. But did you know that they had a sister Katharine? If you were a descendant of Katherine's it would be silly not to look at her brothers information, wouldn't it? 

So what are the best sources for looking sideways? Of course, start with the U.S. Census if the family is in the United States. Then look at the area around where they lived. Did they own property? Were they homesteaders? The BLM has land patent records online.  The results of a search on the Johnson's in Marion County,  MO. confirmed brothers and father. They all went down to the Land office together on the same day. The Patents are in numeric order. I already knew their names. By using the Land Patents I was able to see where everyone lived in relation to each other. 

What tricks do you have for gathering information sideways?

November 12, 2010


Some times to go back another generation we have to go sideways. That means looking at siblings.
If you are lucky enough to know who all of your ancestors' siblings are and where they lived in relationship to where your ancestor lived, then it is easy.In my case, I needed to link my g-g-g-g-g-g-great-grandfather to his father. I know both of there names and I had his brothers names but could not find a document to prove the connection, father to son. I found land records that show the father and all of the sons and brothers were a the land office on the same day. And I could deduct that they knew each other and were probably related as the land grants were in numerical order. But that was NOT proof that they were related.

So I started looking at records of the brothers of my ancestor. I was fortunate enough to find a court record that showed that my ancestor's older brother was appointed executor of his fathers estate. And in that record, there were all of the children listed by name, including g-g-g-g-g-g-great grandfather. So don't discount going sideways every once in a while.

Another reason to go sideways is just for fun. You get a better picture of what the family was like by looking at it from many views. And for fun take a look at what other genealogists are doing. I stumbled upon the blog called, "The Diary of a Mad Genealogist" by Jen. and found myself wanting to connect with even more fellow researchers.  Have fun even if it takes you in a new direction!