Posts Tagged With: genealogy research

Simplify genealogy research with Find A Grave website

stone_john_smithGenealogy research is built around the collection of vital stats because marriage, birth and census and other records help you verify a person’s identity. And death records are some of the more helpful records because death certificates often contain the name of parents and additional clues.

Beyond those records, of course, are the graves and tombstones. If your family has lived in America for any length of time, you will quickly discover that even though there are regions where they settled, it may not always be close to where you live. That’s one of the reasons why Find A Grave is such a valuable resource. It brings the tombstone to you.

When the site was founded by Jim Tipton, genealogists were not the target audience.

Jim created the Find A Grave website in 1995 because he could not find an existing site that catered to his hobby of visiting the graves of famous people. He found that there are many thousands of folks around the world who share his interests. What began as an odd hobby became a livelihood and a passion.

When you visit the site, you will immediately notice its barebones layout — and you will see the home page is divided into two groups. The left side is about famous people and their graves, but the right side is what most family historians will be interested in. At the time of this writing, more than 112 million graves were listed in the database.

The information is created by volunteers and at the bare minimum an entry will have a photograph of the tombstone. Many though offer quite a bit more. It is not uncommon for the entry to include a photo of the graveyard’s entrance and sometimes the entry will include a photo of the deceased and possibly an obituary.

When I look up my great-grandfather Joe Lee Claywell, I find his death certificate information, 1910 and 1930 Census records, and links to some of his children (including my grandfather). Sometimes, the entry will also include links to the person’s parents — like in the case of Ed Claywell (Joe Claywell’s father).

As with any research, always doublecheck and verify the information. If, you use this site more as an investigative tool than as a source of fact, it will help point you in the right direction.

The site’s original purpose is quite intriguing as well. You may be surprised by some of the tombstones of the rich and/or famous.

Categories: Cumberland Plateau, Family History, Genealogy, Tools for historical search | Tags: , ,

Free research tool lets you browse old newspapers

I am always looking for ways to research old stories and articles — and I stumbled across a site which has a searchable database of U.S. newspapers from 1836-1922. Chronicling America is a Library of Congress project that lets you search actual newspaper images — or even create pdfs of the page.

They also have a Flickr account with select images of old newspapers.

The Library of Congress invites you to explore ‘history’s first draft’ by looking at illustrated pages in old newspapers selected from our online collections. We welcome your tags and comments. There’s so much more to discover in yesteryear’s news!

One of the cool things I did when I was playing around on the newspaper site was conduct a search for my surname since it is fairly unique. Some of the stories I found were both interesting (I learned more about Tinker Dave Beaty) and disturbing. For example, there was a Claywell kid who murder a 13-year-old over a ‘Kick me’ sign that was placed on the Claywell teen’s back. This is the news blurb from a January 1906 edition of the Deseret Evening News:

Boy Stabs a Boy

Chicago, Jan. 6 – A dispatch to the Tribune from Dallas says:

Ollie Claywell, 14 years of age, last night stabbed Carl Ownes[sic], aged 13, and is in jail charged with murder. The boys were employed in the Texas Pacific general office. Someone pinned a placard on young Claywell’s back reading, “kick me”. The Owens boy kicked and a fight started. The boys were separated, but went into the street and the stabbing followed.

As disturbing as that story was it wasn’t the most disturbing one I uncovered. I was reading another story — this one involving a Claywell who shot a teen for allegedly stealing a 15 cent watermelon from a freight train (Blue Simmons Shot Friday Night By Frisco Guard: In Hospital). As I read the story, I glanced at the headline next to it and — let’s just say it is amazing how racist newspapers were in the 1920s. I won’t quote the headline (yes, it uses the N-word), but the story — actually more of an editorial — was blaming black teen females for the demise of the Democrat party in Missouri.

When using the site, remember to use the advance search feature. It will let you narrow down your terms, the state and years in a more refined manner. The only downside of the site, that I found, was the images can be slow to load and the convert to text feature is limited at best — but that should be expected since the newspapers are so old.

Categories: American History, Family History, Genealogy, Tools for historical search | Tags: , , ,