16 December 2015

December Find, Take, Teach

My Find, Take, Teach class this month had few attendees. I am hoping the issue was the number of different activities that conflicted with the Class. December is a hard time to try and fit everything in. My youngest son had a band concert at the Junior High School so I even had to bump the start of the class half an hour.

I started out the class with a talk from Elder Dallin H. Oaks called, Family History: “In Wisdom and in Order”. I think that Elder Oaks has some great advise for those of us who are trying to help others to do their Family History work. I suggest that you read it but he gives a great summary in three points.
(1) All things should be done in wisdom and order. We should recognize that our members have many individual circumstances. Considering these, we should promote the mission of the Church in such a way as to accomplish the work of the Lord, not to impose guilt on his children. 
(2) There is a time to every purpose under the heaven. There are many tasks to be performed in temple and family history work. We should encourage our members to make prayerful selection of the things they can do in their individual circumstances and in view of their current Church callings, being “diligent unto the end.” 
(3) Each member should think about... the mission of the Church... as a lifelong personal assignment and privilege. Each should gauge his or her personal participation from time to time according to his or her own circumstances and resources, as guided by the Spirit of the Lord and the direction of priesthood leaders.  [I edited this quote to make it shorter and because of the redefinition of the mission of the church.]
We have to be careful when teaching others not to overwhelm them or make them feel guilty about what they have or haven't done. I try to give answers and information in a way to assist and help.

Family Discovery Center

If you have not have the chance to visit the Family Discovery Center in the Joseph Smith Memorial building on temple square you are missing out. Dennis Brimhall, former Managing Director of FamilySearch, liked to call it a Museum of Me. It is a different approach to getting people engaged in Family History without the usual roadblocks many beginners are challenged with.

It may be difficult to coordinate a visit to Temple Square for a group of people so I thought I would share with you two ways you can bring the Family Discovery Center to you and those you teach.


RootsMapper is an app that uses the data in FamilySearch to plot on a map the places where your ancestors were born and the migration of your family across the globe.

I have a blog post that goes into a little more detail about the app. This is very similar to one of the booths that you can use at the Family Discovery Center. One advantage to using RootsMapper is that you can customize your search for different generations. You can also search from one of the pinpoints on the map. This would be a fun way to introduce your others to their families.

You will need to have an active FamilySearch account and to have linked yourself to some ancestors for this to work. Members of the L.D.S. Church who have pioneer ancestors will have the best results.


Forbears.io is a website that specializes in surname and related resources.

I have a blog post with more specific information about the website. Although the presentation of information is not at all like in the Family Discovery Center the general information about a person's surname is similar. This website engages users in learning about their family name through maps and other information. This would also be a fun way to introduce someone to information about their family.

We discussed the use of GEDCOM files in websites and other software. I was surprised that more people did not know about GEDCOM files and how they are used. I made a short blog post about them. I believe this is something we may discuss in the future. I believe this is key to understanding how we can use data as a tool to find for family members for our Family History.

Turning of Our Hearts

The Turning of Our Hearts is a video that shows how a family was brought together by learning about their Family History. It shows how the Ward Council plans and engages the family in the work. I think every ward council should watch this video as part of a training.

15 December 2015

A look at Forebears.io

The Forebears.io website was launched in June of 2012. I remember coming across it a couple of times in my searches and I am sure through other blog posts. I was trying to find a tool that was similar to the one FamilySearch uses in their Family Discovery Centers.

Although similar, it is not the same as what is used in the centers but I thought for my purpose it would show interesting information about surnames. Forebears also links users to other resources of information they may be looking for.

After a quick search of my surname Forebears shows me how common my name is in the world and approximately how many people in the world have my name.

I also appreciate the maps that show places in the world where my name is found the most. You can also change the time period that the map represents.

The maps are also interactive an allow you to drill down for more information. The above map shows where Trotters can be most easily found.

Drilling deeper I can see where in Utah my name is most common.

I also looked in Louisiana where my surname line is at a brick wall. The Parishes in the toe of the boot are where my ancestors once lived.

The Trotter surname is also common in northern England and Southern Scotland.

One of my branches in Louisiana is the surname Facundus. When I look at the map the only place in the United States where there is a cluster of these names in in the same place my ancestors lived. In this way this tool could be very valuable as in research and giving you educated guesses where else you might find information.

RootsMapper a FamilySearch compatible app

I have been using RootsMapper for a while now. I cannot remember when I first came across the app but it has been listed on my internet resources page for at least two years.

If you have never heard of RootsMapper their blog has a description as:
RootsMapper allows you to easily visualize the migration patterns of your ancestors. It utilizes the data that already exists in your FamilySearch Family Tree to plot your ancestors onto an interactive map. Discover your family’s heritage with RootsMapper. It’s easy to get started. Just visit our website and login with your FamilySearch credentials and a basic map will automatically generate. From there you can explore additional options and plot multiple additional generations in seconds.
A lot of people are familiar with what RootsMapper can do if they attended RootsTech last year or if they have been to visit a Family Discovery Center. I am not positive that it is the same technology but the results are pretty close.

RootsMapper works in conjunction with FamilySearch. When you first get to the RootsMapper.com website it prompts you to login with your FamilySearch account.

Once the pages loads your information from FamilySearch you can watch it plot on a map the places where your direct relatives were born. Each pin in the map represents a person. By clicking on the pin you can open a link to their profile page in FamilySearch.

Using the tools in the top left hand corner you can select how many generations you want to have plotted. You can also toggle the lines, pins and country colors on and off.

The tools also show you the number of people in each country. You can also get the same information but generation.

I like the way this tool allows me to visualize the immigration pattern of my family. It also will allow you to see the disbursement of families across the work by generation.

As you can see by my maps, it looks like my first seven generations all lead back to Great Britain and Germany. No wonder I get sunburned so quickly. Try this app. It is interesting to play with the generations. You can also have a seperate relative be the beginning of the map.

What is a GEDCOM file and how do I use it?

I first became familiar with GEDCOM files when PAF support ended and I migrated my data over to Legacy. GEDCOM stands for Genealogical Data Communication. It is a file standard first developed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and since adopted and the standard for exchanging data between different genealogy software.

How can you use a GEDCOM? 
One of the great things about using computers to complete Family History work is that the information can be used in many different ways. It is very hard to maintain several different databases. Ancestry.com, Family Tree, WikiTree, rootsweb, MyHeritage, and FindMyPast all allow you to download the information you have in your GEDCOM to their websites so you can use their tools to find out more information about your family.

However, not all of these sites allow you to download information into a GEDCOM file. Interestingly Family Tree currently does not support downloading or exporting information from the website. In order to get this data you would need to use a third-party certified program like Legacy or RootsMagic to convert the information for you into a GEDCOM file.

Why talk about GEDCOM?
I have recently started using MyHeritage.com. When I uploaded my GEDCOM file to the website it searched and found over 12,000 possible record matches for my ancestors.

I am familiar with many of the sources but there are 1282 matches in the Newspaper Archive alone.

After finding a newspaper record MyHeritage also shows you related records for the source you are checking. In the case above there are 10 other related records including pictures, headstones and other records.

Check out using GEDCOM files to find more information about your family members. I suggest that you keep a master file in either Legacy or RootsMagic. Make updates to your master file and then use it to create other GEDCOM files for tools on the Internet.

19 November 2015

My connection to Eugene Waldon Trotter

My mom sent me a message this morning on Facebook that said.
"We heard of a death notice in the Herald today for a 'Eugene Trotter'.  Your dad knows the name but we were wondering if you knew the connection."
So I thought I would take a look. I know that my parents live in Provo, Utah and that they probably read the Death Notice in the Provo Herald. I jumped on to the website and did a search in the obituaries for Trotter. I could not find an Obituary. Realizing that my mom mentioned a death notice I did a general search of the website for Trotter. The first result was Death Notices. I clicked the link and then the Crtl+F keys and searched for Trotter in the text on the page. The very last notice on the page was the one I was looking for. It says that Eugene died 15 Nov 2015 and that services will be held on 21 Nov 15 in Provo, Utah.

With this information I did a search on google for Eugene Waldon Trotter. It looks like the first seven results are for relatives of this Eugene and the eighth result is the death notice for Eugene I had just found.

The first result was for an Elouise Trotter's Obituary.
Elouise Griffin Trotter left this mortal realm to return to the arms of her Beloved Savior on December 23, 2013. Elouise was born June 1, 1927 in Clarkston, Utah to Joseph Donald and Grace (Fisher) Griffin. She later moved to Sugarhouse in Salt Lake City where she graduated from South High School. At the age of 17, she started working for the Army. She later moved to San Francisco where she continued working for the Army as a clerk and statistician in the headquarters of the Sixth Army in the Presidio of San Francisco during World War ll.
She later returned home and subsequently served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the Texas Louisiana Mission.
There she met and taught the Gospel to her future husband Eugene Waldon Trotter on the campus of Texas A&M. After her mission, they were married August 25, 1952 and the marriage was solemnized in the SLC Temple one year later. She continued to serve the Lord and His church throughout her life while raising six children despite severe health limitations.
She also was active in the PTA, in politics and in community service. She was an excellent seamstress, painter, poet, and calligrapher and enjoyed cooking and gardening. She was also an avid BYU football and basketball fan.
Our mother was a light to all who knew her and she lived her love of the Savior by serving her brothers and sisters, no matter the sacrifice or humility of their circumstance. Our home was always a refuge to those in need and her door was ever open to the lonely and outcast. It can surely be said of her that she loved us unconditionally, never wavering. She was an astonishing example of enduring in her faith despite much pain and suffering.
She is preceded in death by her beloved parents, her brother, Donald Clain Griffin, and her sister, Barbara Ann Griffin.
She is survived by her beloved husband, Eugene Waldon Trotter and her six children: Sheridan (David) Arnall of Jonesborough Tennessee; Nick Trotter of Salt Lake City, Utah; Robin (Richard) Pedersen of Seattle, Washington; Rebecca (Russell) Boshard of Provo, Utah; Claudia (Jeffrey) Loertscher of Salt Lake City, Utah; and Malinda (Mark) Bramwell of Provo, Utah.
She has twenty grandchildren and twelve great grandchildren. She is also survived by her sisters, Leanor (Paul) Densley of Leeds, Utah and Rebecca (Gene) Mann of Farminton, Utah.
Memorial Services will be held at the Oak Hills Hillside Chapel, Saturday December 28th at 11:00 am, 1960 North 1500 East, Provo, UT where a viewing will also be held Friday December 27th from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm as well as prior to services on Saturday from 9:30 am to 10:30 am. Interment in the Clarkston Cemetery, Clarkston UT.
Funeral Directors: Utah Valley Mortuary. Condolences may be expressed to the family at www.uvfuneral.com.
I have highlighted the Family History information from this Obituary. I believe this is the right person because they are both from Provo and his will name is in the obituary. I will keep cross checking to make sure this is the correct obituary.

Although I began my search or Eugene Waldon Trotter, in two searches I think I have found his wife's birth and death dates as well as the names of his children. I also have Elouise's parent and siblings names.

The second and third records were from ancestry and required working through that site for information. Since I am just doing an internet search I am trying to cover the basic information I can find so I do not use these two results.

The fourth result from my initial google search get me to the Fold3 website and a Eugene Waldon Trotter's birth certificate. When I got my free account to Ancestry.com and stopped payinf for that subscription I registered for a much less expensive Fold3 account. I am not sure if you can view this from their website without a subscription or not. This is one of the big three documents you can try and find for a person. For now I am not positive this is our Eugene Waldon Trotter. This seems to fit with Elouise's obituary because it says she met him while serving her mission in Texas. Eugene also has one older sibling.

The fifth result is an index of the Sterling County, Texas Birth records from 1927. This index includes the birth certificate found from result number four.

The sixth result is for The David and Sheridan Arnall Family website. Sheridan Arnall was born Sheridan Brooke Trotter to the above mentioned Eugene and Elouise Trotter. Sheridan is also one of the daughters mentioned in the above obituary.

The seventh result is the same obituary as the above Elouise Griffin Trotter but from the Daily Herald website.

I then searched FamilySearch for Eugene. I found his name in the Texas Birth Index, 1903-1997. He is listed as the father to Sheridan Brooke Trotter, born 13 Sep 1953 in Brazos, Texas. The mothers name is listed as Floise Griffin, I can see this is a fat fingered Eloise or Elouise. I also found a U.S. WWII Army enlistment record for a Eugene W. Trotter from 20 Jun 1945 in Ft. Sam Houston, Texas. His birth year is listed as 1927. Same birth year and state as as the birth certificate, this information is backed up by the obituary.

This 1930 U.S. Census shows the Marcus Trotter family in Tom Green county, Texas. The baby Eugene is three years old and has one older sibling. His mother's name is Mable. This record supports the birth certificate found earlier.

My response to my mother was,
"I don't think we can prove how he is related to us. His Father's name was Marcus W. Trotter, the W is probably for Waldon. It looks like Eugune was probably born in Sterling City, Texas February 1, 1927.  Eugene's wife's name is Elouise Griffen Trotter and she passed away December 23, 2013. She was a missionary at Texas A&M and taught him the gospel before they were married. Their children are Sheridan, Nick, Robin, Rebecca, Claudia, and Malinda."
I also added the above information to my Legacy database so in the future if I can find more information to tie these Utah Trotters to my Trotters.

12 November 2015

Find, Take, Teach

Tonight I taught my first Find, Take, Teach class for members of my ward and stake. I think it went well, I hope those who attended got something out of it. As part of my employment I made a commitment to teach others the things I am learning.

Tonight we talked about the resources available on lds.org. You can access them on the homepage, by clicking the Families and Individuals link in the menu bar and then click the Family History link.

Here you can find resources about FamilySearch, indexing, lessons, and doctrine. Clicking either the Callings link in the left side menu or the Family History Callings from below leads you to resources about fulfilling your callings and responsibilities.

Check out the resources from the consultant blog, training for your position, or the consultant webinars.

Next we talked about the App Gallery on FamilySearch. You can access the apps from the link at the bottom of the page as seen in the image above.

I have covered several of these apps (Kinpoint, Hope Chest, and Puzzilla) previously in my blog but I suggest that you try them for yourself. I should have also mentioned the apps that they are working on at BYU: Relative Finder, Grandpa's Pie, and Virtual pedigree.

We talked about other things as well as general questions but if you want the good stuff you need to come to the class.

Here are two takeaway handouts.

05 October 2015

Where did you go to school? 52Q W18

This week we will focus on the question:

Where did you go to school?

Good follow-up questions that go with this question are:
What was school like for you and what are some of your memorable experiences?
What were your favorite subjects in school and why?
What subjects did you like the least and why?
Who were some of your friends in school, what were they like, and what they are doing today?
If you went to college or a vocational school, where did you attend, and what subjects did you study?

It is interesting the information you can learn about a person based on the schools they attended. Last night I worked on an indexing project for schools in Oklahoma. The records I indexed had parents names and home addresses along with children's names, birth dates, ages, race, and gender. Sometimes the history of the school reflects the history of the people who attend the school.

I attended Provost Elementary School from kindergarten through sixth grade. Our mascot was the cougar which was appropriate for Provo, Utah. The school was named after Etienne Provost, a French Canadian explorer and trapper who is argued to be one of the first men of European descent to see the Great Salt Lake. The Provo river and Provo City were named after him. Provost live the end of his life in St. Louis, Missouri. He is considered a contemporary of Jim Bridger and Peter Skene Ogden.

Provost is one of 24 people memorialized on the This is the Place monument in the mouth of Emigration Canyon in Salt Lake City, Utah.

My memories of Provost are foggy. I remember Mr. Penrod who was my kindergarten teacher and eventually became principal. Mr. Shoemaker, my 5th grade teacher, who introduced me to the Apple computer and the 50 yard dash. I believe he also became a principal in the district. I had a relative who worked in the lunchroom. She is related to my grandma, Gloria Taylor Trotter. I cannot remember how they were related but I knew she watched out for me and loved me. We played games at recess like Red Rover and Pomp. I remember being very good at Pomp because I was a very fast runner and not so good at Red-Rover because I was small enough I couldn't break through the girl's arms. During the holidays the librarian would open the library early before school and a bunch of kids would go in and she would play the piano and we would sing Christmas carols. My friends Dick Dyer, Robbie Robertson, Bobbie Boyd, Murray O'Dell and I would sit on our skateboards and ride down the paved driveway in front of the school. The sixth graders were able to play in the band. I learned to play the Alto Saxophone but could not beat Tomika Young to be first chair. I had a crush on Tomika and once gave her my sister's new bear shaped earrings as a present, only to find out that Tomika did not have pierced ears. (Sorry about that Missy.) At the end of school year the sixth graders would tie the maypole and play the teachers in kickball, our class won the kickball game that year. I didn't much care for the maypole dance.

For 7th and 8th grades I attended Farrer Junior High School located on Center Street in Provo, Utah. We love our mountains. You can see Y Mountain and Squaw Peak directly behind the school. Mount Timpanogos is off to the left. Farrer got it's name from a Provo School Board member Bruce Farrer.

Photo taken, Tuesday, April 13, 2010 by PATRICK SMITH for the Daily Herald
In 2005 Farrer became an elementary school and in 2010 they tore down the old building and built a new school on the front field. When the new elementary school opened they changed the name from Farrer to Provo Peaks. I am not sure which is worse, naming a school after a school board member or a water park.

My memories of classes at Farrer are also foggy. I remember that I took two band classes, one for the sax and one for the clarinet. I was proud to be proficient at both instruments. I also remember dissecting a pig in class and I got sick. The mascot was an Eagle. The school had two giant ramps, on the east and west side, to get from the first floor to the second. There was also a staircase by the band room. I remember attending dances at the school. We didn't really dance we just kind of jumped around with our arms in the air to the beat of the song. I wanted to dance with a girl named Debbie Hill but just as I asked Michael Jackson's Thriller came on and she ran off to dance with her friends. I used to work for my lunch so in the mornings Dick Dyer and I would go in and set up the tables, and put the bags in the trash cans. For one year I went to school with my cousin Teri Jensen. She is my uncle Dick's daughter. We also played Buns Up, I was pretty good at that game.

When I was in junior high people would call the house phone and when I would answer they always thought I was my mom. Puberty plays mean tricks sometimes. Once when I was home the secretary from the school called and though I was my mom. It planted the seed of an idea. About a week later I decided I did not want to go to school so I called the secretary to pretend I was my mom to excuse me for the day. It didn't work, the secretary was not fooled and said, "Mat, I need to speak with your mother right now." I hung up the phone. I had a meeting with the principal the next day. I never tried anything like that again. For some reason I also associate my memory of Farrer with the movie Footloose. It was filmed in nearby Lehi, Utah and several students from my school said they were extras in the movie. I tried to cut and style my hair like Kevin Bacon. One time when Murray O'Dell and I were walking home from Farrer we found a bottle of alcohol next to horse pasture.  There was only a little left in the bottle. Murray was so excited to drink it. All I could think was that it was almost all backwash so I didn't try it. A boy cut off his index finger in woodshop, he lost it for good. We couldn't go in there for about a week. The boy had this cup shaped attachment to cover the scar. It was perfect for holding a joystick for video games. I thought he was the luckiest guy alive.

Timpview High School was named after the beautiful view of Mount Timpanogos. The Mascot is the Thunderbird and the sports programs are some of the best in the state. I played in the band for two years before dropping the class to focus on debate. We had a highly successful program until the year after I graduated when they killed the debate all together at the school. I attended most of the dances, learned to drive, and decided to go to college while a student here. I stopped hanging out with my neighborhood friends and started hanging out with Kim Brown, Jim Pier, and any girls that would allow. I dated several girls and burned a couple friends. In the off season for debate we would have a murder mystery and then a court case to determine the killer.  I felt out of the mainstream and rejected by most of the student body. I got suspended for fighting once with a kid we called food. I regret calling him food. I regret the fight. I think sometime when we feel picked on we pick on others to make ourselves feel better. I don't know why. I went to School and debated with Mike Lee, who became a U.S Senator for the State of Utah.

While at Timpview I traveled to Phoenix, San Francisco, Boston, and Berkeley. When I graduated I entertained scholarships from Harvard, Arizona State and Weber State. All of these schools were ranked in the top five nationally for debate with Weber State at the top spot.

28 September 2015

Where do you find records? 52 Questions Week 17

This week we will focus of the question:

 Where do you find records? 

We have gathered information and decided to begin looking for a specific ancestor. As a beginner we want to start with the information that we know.

I always begin my search at FamilySearch, the largest collection of genealogical and historical records in the world. The best part is that it is free to use either with or without a free account.

The search feature allows you to search by Name or Location. To search by name enter in information on the left side of the page. Sometimes adding or removing information from the search will give you more or less results. It is a good practice when searching to start with a small amput of information and then narrow the search.

For this search I want to learn more about my second great-grandmother Christina McKay and her family. I know that the image says third great-grandmother but my legacy database hase my oldest son as record number one so I can have all of my data in one database.

I know that She died in 1925 in Los Angeles,  I will begin with a search there. I decided to use the name search and I entered her name and death place and date.

The top five search results were for my Christina and two of these were records for her death. It is ok if the birth date is not quite right because we are focused on the death information. If this were birth records we would have to look more closely.

The Find a Grave record and the California Death Index record confirm this is my Christena. The headstone from Find-A-Grave gives me her Husband's Birth and death year. I also know burial custom is that one or both of  them must have lived in or near Pamona, Calfornia at some point in their lives because that is where the grave is located.

The 1900, 1910, and 1920 Census records confirm Christena living in California first with her husband Everett but in 1920 with her daughter. This backs up the dates from the headstone that Everett most likely died before the 1920 census.

The biggest clues from the census records is that Christena's birthplace is listed as Canada and both of her parents were born in Scotland. Other information contained here is that her birthdate is in Dec 1954 and she immigrated to the United States in 1884. Both of these dates are secondary and need to be supported with primary sources but they provide great clues as to when to look for more information. It also says they have been married for 28 years so they were married around 1872.

A quick search for a Christena McKay married in Canada between 1871 and 1873 find an Ontario, Canada Marriage record between Christina McKay and Everett Merriam. I cannot show the image of the record because of Intellectual agreements but the information from the record gives us more clues for where to look for more information. Everett's parents names are Justus and Caroline Merriam. His brothers marriage record is on the same page and his name is Rustin Merriam. They lived in Chatsworth, Canada when Everett was married at the age of 23. Christina's parents are Angus and Hannah McKay. They lived in Sydenham, Canada when Christina was married at the age of 18. They were married on September 24, 1872 in Owen Sound, Grey County, Ontario, Canada by Rev. William Tindall. Everett's brother was married the same day.

25 September 2015

New Way to Search Partner Sites From FamilySearch

I logged onto FamilySearch tonight and noticed in the search record field the logos from the partner sites.

Clicking the FamilySearch logo takes you to a familiar page with search results for the persons whose profile page you searched from. The top five results were for my person.

The Ancestry.com logo has the same functionality as the FamilySearch link. The top nine results were for my person.

The find My Past search resulted in a total of four results, all for my person.

The MyHeritage results were mixed but among the top 20 results were three family trees for my person.

This search along with the hinting feature have made FamilySearch a first stop for searching for ancestors.

20 September 2015

Original Research, Where Should you Start? 52Q W16

This week we will focus on the question

Original Research, Where Should you Start?

Now that we have gathered information, organized our records, and decided what we want to learn about it is time to plan out where to begin.

Depending on your goal, or the question you want and answer for, you may need to break up the goal into small steps. Like I talked about in last weeks post, you need to start with an individual or family  you could research to move you toward your goal. These closer relatives are usually easier to research and will give you a great foundation and more information for the path to the answer of your question.

If you use a tool like Kinpoint to visualize holes of missing information it is important not to start with the hole but with the closest relative for which you have information.

It is easy to be distracted from your main goal and follow research in a different direction. Sometimes this side research can be fruitful but it is best to stay within the same family and within your goal. Start with the easiest research goals first and progress to the harder goals.  If you come across a trail of information you can always create a to do list or another research log about what information you may find and set it aside for when you complete this goal.

Crista Cowan work for ancestry.com and she vlogs about many different genealogy and Family History topics. The above YouTube video is about To-Do Lists.

I use Legacy to keep track of my to-do lists. With the To-Do list I can separate out visits to the Family History Library so I can get copies of the indexed records I have found. I also add a to-do if I think of a place to look for more information about a specific individual. The main purpose of the to-do list is to help keep you on task with your goal. 

This helps you with a larger question of where to start, so every time you sit down to do work you have a great list of places to start. In coordination with your research log it makes your start up time shorter so you can spend more time doing actual research.

13 September 2015

What do you want to learn about your #FamilyHistory? 52 Questions W15

This week we will focus on the question -

What do you want to learn about your #FamilyHistory?

Follow-up questions that go with this question are:
Do you have a burning question about the family that you would like to know the answer?
If you had questions about your family, who would you turn to for the answer?
Do you have any information about this person in your records?
What information do you have to link you to this person or event?

Deciding on a research objective is the next set in learning about your family history. Sometimes you need to set several different objectives to reach the end goal if what you really want to learn. It is important not to pick to large of an objective. It is best to set smaller goals that will help to lead you to the bigger goal or objective.

It is important to research only one objective at a time. Objectives should be small and based on events. Start from what is known to the unknown, sometimes this means starting with a death certificate or a grave and working toward a marriage or birth certificate. It is also best to work within family groups one at a time and not large branches of your tree. Each step you make will lead to more and more information.

The minimum amount of information you should find for a person is their name, gender, approximate birth date and place, and their death date and place. Marriage information is also a great way to expand your tree and find more related documents and sources.

By no means am I an expert but I have a desire to learn and have had my own experiences of trial and error.
Henrietta Inez Moler Merrian Green (1896-1966)
For years I worked to try and chip away at the Trotter family brick wall. A task that I am still working on but need to focus on something else for a while. You can only bang your head against a wall so many times before you learn your lesson. I took a look at my fan chart and saw the blank spaces from my maternal grandmother's family.

My uncle Michael Hill had done a lot of genealogy work on the family in the 80's and had presented my mother a book of printed pedigree charts and family group records. In all of his efforts he was unable to find any information on my grandma's line. FamilySearch also did not have any information populated into my tree. I decided I would take a look at this line and see if there was any information I could find now that 30 years had past since uncle Mike had worked on the line.

When I was a child my mom told me the family tale that the Merrian family had come from Nottingham, England. They they were part of Robin Hood's merry men and lived in Sherwood Forrest.  The thought of being a descendant of these people gave me a lot of pride and many visions of grandeur.

There were few real pieces of evidence I had to go by but another more plausible story I heard about my grandmother's name gave me a place to start. My grandmother was named Wilberta Annette Merrian Bartholomew and she said that she was named after her father Wilbert. He was expecting to have a son so they settled on naming him after his father but when she was born they gave her a feminized version of his name. I was fairly certain that her father's name was Wilbert Merrian.

Because Wilberta is such an unusual name it make it pretty easy to use as a search term. I quickly found her in the 1930 U.S. Census living in Reno, Nevada. A record my uncle Mike would not have had access to. In the census I found the family of Alfred W. and Henrietta I. Merrian along with their children Wilberta, James and Ruth. This record also states that Alfred as well as his father were born in Canada. It also says he immigrated to the United States in 1892.

In the 1920 Census in Reno, Nevada I found the entry for A. W. [indexed as H. W.]  and Henrietta Merrian. Both A. W. and his father are listed as being born in Canada. I am almost positive this is my great-grandparents. A bonus from this record says he immigrated to the United States in 1898.

A 1918 World War I Draft Registration Card lists a birth date as June 7, 1879 for Alfred Wilbert Merrian. It also lists his nearest relative as Henrietta Moler Merrian, and they are living in Sacramento, California. I am sure these are my great grandparents despite the change in his name.

 Following steps like these I was able to verify the members of my family across Canada to Connecticut. A process I will outline in another post.