Archive for the ‘Research’ Category

I’ve spent a lot of time researching in Rowan County. I’ve found people there to generally be friendly, patient, and willing to help. Much of my research has focused on a specific line, and how that line moved from Maryland around 1776, into Rowan County, by 1800. There are a number of fabulous resources online, and I thought I’d make a list from my collection.

So here goes:

Genealogists who research far enough back – and it’s not really that far in genealogical terms – will have to learn about the Julian and Gregorian calendars, and how each one affects dates that we recognize today.

“New Years Day” has not always been celebrated on the first of January. Calendars were developed to make sense of the natural cycles of time: days and years are derived from the solar cycle, while months come from the lunar cycle. There are many calendars, as it took some experimentation before we finally settled on the current system of leap years. For our purposes, we’re only concerned with the Julian and Gregorian calendars.

The Julian calendar resulted from Julius Caesar’s changes to conform more closely to the seasons within a year. Started in 45 BC, the Julian calendar held March 25th as the first day of the year, and every year was 365 days and 6 hours long. Pope Gregory XIII determined in 1582 the gradual problem that had developed when using the Julian calendar: over time the calendar was 10 days off the natural solar cycle. So Pope Gregory XIII created the Gregorian calendar, which is the one we use today. To compensate for the days which were out of sync, the Gregorian calendar dropped 10 days from October in 1582. The Pope also had everyone jump ahead by 10 days to make up for the lost days due to the earlier erroneous calendar.

Because of the calendar change in 1752 the calendar changed to a January 1st new year, and accommodations had to be made in the way dates were written to avoid confusion. Dates were designated O.S. (old style) and N.S. (new style). Such dates are usually identified by a slash mark [/] breaking the “Old Style” and “New Style” year, for example, March 19, 1631/2. Occasionally, writers would express the double date with a hyphen, for example, March 19, 1631-32. In general, double dating was more common in civil than church and ecclesiastical records.

Although current genealogical standards have us retain Old Style dates in transcriptions, historians and genealogists need to be aware that some people living at the time converted the date of an event, such as a birthday, from Old Style to New Style. George Washington, for example, was born on February 11, 1731 under the Julian Calendar, but changed the date to February 22, 1732 to reflect the Gregorian Calendar.

There are many pages online with more in depth explanations of the Julian and Gregorian Calendars. Simply search on Julian and Gregorian Calendars, or genealogy double dating.

No, it’s not some sort of kinky inbreeding – at least, not deliberately. We don’t think!

Pedigree collapse happens when there are shared ancestors in a pedigree. In some locations, cousins would marry as there were not many people to choose from. The days when families had 8 or 10 or more children meant that lots of the Jones family was available to marry the Smith family, and if the Brown family had plenty, that was all you needed! Bobby Jones married Susan Smith, and Bobby’s brother John Johns married Susan’s sister Sally. Parallel families who eventually re-intermarried cause some pedigrees to show the same ancestors two, three or more times.

You end up being descended from the same person or parents multiple times. Royal families do it all the time, and it turns out that “commoners” do it as well. Some people find it outrageous, while others are fascinated.

Isn’t genealogy fun?

One of the beautiful things about genealogy is that it’s always there. You can take off a day, a month, a year, and there’s always genealogy. Sometimes life takes you away from your research and that’s okay – your ancestors aren’t going anywhere from where they were before.

It’s actually likely that the increase of information available might make your research easier, faster, or simply provide that one piece of information you couldn’t find before.

On the other hand, stuff happens for the worse, as well. There are plenty of articles about “old, moldy records” having to be destroyed as health hazards. For that matter, buildings burn, taking all the records with them as well. Relatives pass, and their belongings which had rich sentimental value to them, are disposed of, because no one in the family knows that value.

So while you are active in genealogy, take the time to find your relatives, and talk about what’s valuable. Having the family photo album doesn’t do much good if you cannot identify anyone. Do what you can, as you can, and do it thoroughly. The information you save, may well provide that special link to someone in the future.

Taking genealogy courses allow you to update what you already know, or learn new things. There are PLENTY of genealogy places that offer courses, so you need to review who’s giving the course, what the course subject is, does it require any prerequisites to take the course you want to take, is it online learning or at home learning, and – sometimes the most important part – how much it costs.

Anyone can get started in genealogy without needing any education. But we often find out that a course or two really enhances our knowledge. There are many paid sites where you can register for courses, but offers FREE courses through their Online University. Their course offerings include Beginning Genealogy, Internet Genealogy, Tracing Immigrant Origins, and Researching with Genealogy.Com. They also have some fundamental articles on Getting Started on their site.

FamilySearch also offers free courses online. Their courses also range from beginner to advanced, and cover many topics from ethnic groups to international research. And their courses are offered in a variety of languages. Family Search is provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

As with any popular hobby, there’s always someone out there trying to do their best to lure you in to their website fraudulently. offers a great page on “How to Identify & Avoid Genealogy Scams” which you should check out if you have any questions about the site or an email that you receive.

On a quick aside: thanks for the inquiries that have come personally. Having had some health issues the past few months has side-tracked my ability to post. I appreciate your concern and well wishes!