Saturday, March 26, 2016

Viewing Ancestors By Location A Visual Exercise

Viewing Our Ancestors By Location, A Good Visual Exercise

It all started earlier this week as a little meme on Facebook. That little meme soon went viral and took over the feeds of every genealogist on Facebook. We have J. Paul Hawthorne to thank, or curse, for this. 

Locations By Themselves Are Interesting But Not Enough

Isolating the locations from my ancestors names proved interesting. However, once I added the dates to the locations I became even more curious. Historically my family hasn't been in Missouri long. When I look at the dates they made their move and where they moved from I immediately asked how and why.

How Does A Family Move From New York to Kansas In The 1800's?

How did my Merys family make the trip? Did they travel by a steam powered train or riverboat and how long did it take them? We think nothing of traveling halfway across the country today, or even coast-to-coast. We have multiple options to choose from depending upon cost, time and comfort. Our ancestors options were limited, which makes the fact that so many chose to make these cross country moves even more impressive.

The University of Nebraska at Lincoln - Digital History Project

Rates Of Travel From New York City in 1800

While trying to wrap my head around the actual time and effort a cross country move entailed in the 1800s, I found an amazing map collection that took up an hour, or more, of my life. Again, I'm placing all blame on J Paul Hawthorne and you should too.

The University of Nebraska at Lincoln's Digital History Project Railroads and the Making of America contains maps from the 1932 Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States. These maps show the progression of the decrease in rates of travel time from New York City to other areas of the country.

The University of Nebraska at Lincoln - Digital History Project

The entire collection is a valuable resource to genealogical researchers and well worth the time to review. Based on the 1857 map, I can estimate that it took my Merys family four to five weeks to travel from New York to the Kansas state line. I am now looking forward to finding photos of travelers during that time period so that I can get a full visual picture of what their travel was like.

Thank you Paul, for initiating this journey. We all know it is always a good exercise to look at our ancestors and our research with new eyes and from different directions. That is exactly what I have done.

Railroads and the Making of America, The University of Nebraska at Lincoln,, March 26, 2016.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

5 Online Surname Origin Resources II

5 Online Surname Origin Research Resources

A year ago I shared my favorite surname research resources in this post.

I continue to seek out resources to learn more about the origin of my family surnames. In this post I share five more resources and point out my favorite go to resource.

Our surnames can provide hints or clues as to our family origins.


By using a surname distribution map you may be able to pinpoint an area to focus your research. This strategy could prove helpful when you are stuck on a family line and looking for that little kernel of inspiration or direction.

Surnames, originating in some countries, can even give you an idea of what an ancestor did for a living or where they fit into a family line, a patronymic name. You can discover more about a patronymic name here. All in all, I find surnames interesting and fun to learn about. 

 "Patronymic name: derived from the name of a father or ancestor."

5 more online surname origin resources to take a look at.


GeoGen German Surname Mapping Tool
  1. World Names Public Profiler: this tool allows you to perform a name search, area search or an ethnicity search. You will have to provide your email address, however, they explain the reason for that. This link is specific to family names in Great Britain.
  2. For those with German surnames, GeoGen Surname Mapping will be of interest to you. Also you will want to get lost in GeoGen Places and check out Geogen 4.0 for the cool, geek factor.
  3. FamilySearch Surname Distribution Maps: FamilySearch created a collection of worldwide as well as country specific surname distribution maps.This is a resource you will refer to again and again.
  4. Cyndi's List has curated an list of Surnames, Family Associations and Family Newsletters. This collection may contain the link you need to connect you to others researching the same or similar surname you are looking for.
  5. Google. Think of Google as your very own research assistant. Give that assistant the appropriate instructions and direction and see what can be found. Watch this video from Lisa Louise Cooke that was live streamed from RootsTech 2016 to learn how powerful Google can be.
The Internet Surname Database still remains my favorite resource when I begin researching a new surname. I like the ease of use, detailed surname descriptions as well as the underlying statistical information this site provides.

I would love to hear if you have any breakthroughs in your surname research from using these resources. Also, please share any additional resources you have. Visit my Surnames I Seek page to see if we have any ancestral surnames in common.

patronymic. Unabridged. Random House, Inc. February 13, 2016). 

Saturday, January 9, 2016

A RootsTech Marketing Trio

A RootsTech 2016 Marketing Trio

February 3, 2016, 11:30 AM at the RootsTech Innovator Summit in Salt Lake City, Utah.

RootsTech Innovator Summit - Guerrilla Marketing

I am excited to partner with two ladies I admire in the genealogy world, Lisa Louise Cooke and Allison Dolan. As a trio we will be hosting a panel during the Innovator Summit portion of RootsTech 2016.

Lisa Louise Cooke, of the Genealogy Gems and Allison Dolan, with Family Tree Magazine and myself will be sharing our top tips and best practices of guerrilla-style marketing.

"Guerrilla Marketing is an advertisement strategy concept designed for businesses to promote their products or services in an unconventional way with little budget to spend." 1
"Guerrilla Marketing is an advertising strategy that focuses on low-cost unconventional marketing tactics that yield maximum results." 2
"Guerrilla Marketing was made for small business owners. It requires creativity, flexibility and a willingness to take a little risk. The one thing it doesn't take is a big budget." 3

Do you recognize the pattern? Guerrilla marketing strategies are focused on low financial input leading to a large financial gain. Lisa, Allison and I will share our thoughts on how you can gain the most from your marketing time with little to no marketing dollars.

You can visit the landing page Lisa is hosting here. Wait until you see what Genealogy Gems has in store for RootsTech 2016! Outta the ballpark is all I can say! From that same landing page you can download my bonus handout as well. 

The Genealogist's Marketing Sourcebook Facebook Group

I hope to see you in our session, the exhibit hall or maybe in the Family History Library. If you can't make RootsTech 2016, please join my Facebook Group The Genealogist's Marketing Sourcebook, where all we talk about is marketing for the genealogy entrepreneur, small business or society.

1. Wikipedia Guerrilla Marketing,, 1/08/2016.
2. What Is Guerrilla Marketing?,, 1/08/2016.
3.,, 1/08/2016.