I started on my quest for genealogy when I was a little girl after getting my assignment to fill out my family tree when I was a member of the LDS Church. I asked my grandmother to help me and when she got to her husband's parents she told me that grandpa had been born out of wedlock and that he was adopted and suggested I add his adoptive father's name as the father. I, being the stubborn little thing I was, didn't want to. I wanted answers. Well, 40 years later, I still don't know my grandfather's dad's name.
I know that my dad's half sister knew. I was told by family members to not ask her. I now wished I would have. She MIGHT have told me. The I can't tell you would have been better than 40 years of wondering if she might have told me.
My philosophy is ASK! You never know, you might get the answer you want.
My suggestion for getting answers to who is in your family tree are numerous. I recently had the opportunity to get back into genealogy with a very challenging line and I would like to offer some suggestions on getting answers before that member of the family may have passed away or has lost their memory to answer your questions.
1. Get family group sheets for the following filled out (these will overlap with siblings, parents info)
a. your immediate family
b. your parents siblings and parents
c. your grandparents siblings and parents
d. go as far as you can on the line
2. Spouses are very Important. Make sure you add the SPOUSES of every member of the family. I have to tell you that a very large percentage of my information recently came from the spouses of cousins and not the cousins themselves.
3. Go meet the family. If you can physically meet with relatives, ask if you can bring your Laptop and scanner or Camera to take copies of photos they may have in their possession. People are reluctant to let you "borrow" them and many never get around to getting the copies you want due to time constraints. Make note of who is in every photo. This is very important.
4. A Simple Chart saved me so much time. I was trying to find nine siblings born between 1880 and 1894. I made a time line on a piece of paper with each sibling and parents in boxes in one column the census dates and 1917 and 1945 for military registrations in the columns across the paper. In the boxes under each date I put the residence of each member of the family in that year and the blanks are my next search. I was able to put a time line together for each member of the family very quickly and write up a story of each one. Although I have only written one of the nine stories so far, it worked up quickly because of my basic charting.
5. Yellowbookcom, Facebook and Google.com. If you knew Uncle Tom Smith had a son named Joe and Joe had a son named Steve and they lived in Richmond Kentucky, start by searching on the internet on google with "Steve Smith" "Richmond Kentucky" and you might get the white pages directory or even a facebook entry. Yellowbook.com (the top tab that says people search) helped me find six relatives last week. they also have a free link to find people that will gleam information for free on very general information like the cities people lived in and ages. I was able to locate a Steve Smith that had lived in Richmond with a Robin in the household (I assumed was a wife). It showed he had lived in Mount Sterling at one time so when I did not locate Steve in Richmond I looked in Mt Sterling and had ended up having a two hour talk with his darling wife Robin.
6. FindAGrave.com is a growing community and I have found many of my relatives gravestones at this site with dates of birth and death. (Including a total stranger who took a photo of my little boys marker 800 miles from us.) I love this site. It is staffed by volunteers who go to local cemeteries and take photos of markers and post them online. I happened to write the lady that took the photo of someone I was researching and found out she was a distant relative. She did put me in contact with nine family members in the area of the cemetery and I have contacted all of them.
6. Ancestry.com. I find Ancestry to be worth the money if you get the basic service. I have searched literally thousands of census records at the site without having to go through miles of microfilm in Salt Lake. I also connected to the spouse of a cousin just last night that had posted new information on my grandfather's line. I told her my story about finding the "real" father of my grandfather and she is going to ask any and all people she can think of.
I think I have bored you enough for the evening. I am excited about this site and can't wait to participate