Category Archives: Research Help

Internet Genealogy: Finding Family Tree Clues in a House Clearing

It can be sad and stressful clearing out an elderly relative’s belongings.  It can even be double the work when that relative found it too overwhelming to dispose of their elder relatives possessions. You may find that you’re cleaning out not one person’s decades of memories, but the paperwork and nick-knacks of several people!  

Too often in a cloud of grief or in a rush to empty a house or a rented space, well-intentioned  family members or nursing home staff dispose of family history information, erasing valuable family tree clues. Even when someone has no children, there are cousins and their children who would love to see old photos and find data in old documents that would complete empty lines of their family tree. What may have been embarrassing during life and not discussed even with close family members, like divorces and adoptions, can surface in a house clearing.  

Follow these 3 steps to preserve family history when facing a house clearing.

Spotting the Family Tree Clues. When one of my relatives passed away, I was confronted with a house and garage brimming with a lifetime of accumulation. A big task was made easier by having a plan in place not only for disposal, but for when to slow down and take a second look at items.  The things that deserve closer scrutiny are jewelry inscriptions, family Bibles and book inscriptions, old bills and receipts, letters, and copies of public records. Family tree researchers are interested in locations where people lived and the dates they lived there, family names, birth dates, death dates. Have a small box on hand to separate papers with important dates and family information from what will be shredded or recycled.

Preserving the Information.  Whether you’re clearing out property in your hometown or in a distant city, there are often scanning services available; check with companies like FedEx Office and Staples.  A digital camera or smart phone is also handy for photographing jewelry and book inscriptions. Scanned documents and digital photos can be saved to a disc or emailed to interested family historians.

Sharing the What You Find. Once documents and photos are stored as digital files they can be passed on to interested family members. If you, or someone you know, are members at Ancestry.com you can upload the documents to that site. If you don’t know any interested family members, it’s easy to locate groups of people tracing a last name or interested in the history of specific location. It doesn’t cost anything to post a query on a message board, like Genealogy.com. A simple online search, like on Google, may turn up a website dedicated to a surname and location. If you email the webmaster of any surname site you are on your way to connecting with someone who would be grateful to have photos and other documents.

It doesn’t take a lot of work and the goal of cleaning out a space will be accomplished, however by preserving family documents you are preserving history.

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TN Pryors Now Has A Facebook Fan Page!

This year researchers have contacted me, looking for other researchers who over the years they’ve lost contact with. I’ve had a couple Pryor researchers ask for a way to connect to other Pryors, even Pryors who don’t know they hold the answer to the questions that have stumped out genealogy search. The answer is FACEBOOK. So, the Tennessee Pryor website now has a fan page on Facebook.
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Pryor-Lastname-Genealogy/126290204055545?v=app_4949752878

If you aren’t on Facebook yet, it’s easy and FREE  to set up an account. You may have heard from your friends or maybe from your kids that it’s fun and a great way to keep in touch– it is!   You’ll be surprised at who you’ll find on Facebook – with 400 million people on Facebook you’ll probably find someone you already know.

If you are on Facebook, you just click the above link to go to the Fan Page and then click the “LIKE” button at the top of the page. Welcome to the group!

The real fun of a Facebook Fan Page is watching the group grow. You can help! Let your “Pryor” relatives and researcher friends know about the page and invite them to also “LIKE” our group. The more the merrier!

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Added Tennessee County Map and Reorganized Census Extracts

I admit that alot of the enhancements I make to the Tennessee Pryor website, I make for myself. I really hate looking at a census record on the site and then having to find a map to see where a county is located and what other counties surround it. We know have a new way of looking at the Pryors in Tennessee!

In the MAIN MENU under the section called CENSUS EXTRACTS we have a new link called TN COUNTIES. Click on the link to go to a map of Tennessee. It’s not just a map, it’s a means to navigating to Pryor census extracts for each county. (Go to Map) It’s a cool way to explore which Pryor families lived in a particular county and also to explore which Pryors were living in neighboring counties. Who knows, we may be able to figure out some more relationships and ID a few more Pryors!

For the researchers who like the “tried and true” you can still view the Tennessee census extracts organized by the census year by goint to the section called CENSUS EXTRACTS and clicking on TN CENSUS. 

Let me know if you find any bugs, and of course let me know who you find!

Beware of VitalCheck – They’re A Money Pit

I ran in to an issue with VitalCheck.com recently when I ordered a record. They handled the situation so poorly and disreputably that I feel that it’s important to forewarn other genealogists and family history researchers about this service.

I’ve used VitalCheck in the past to order public records for my family tree research. I never had a problem. However, the last order turned into a problem and how well (and in this case how poorly) the problem is handled speaks volumes about the business practices of a company. Vital Check tanked in my ratings.

Recently a relative died and I needed to travel out-of-state to handle their estate. I needed a certified copy of the death record. I ordered the record on December 3 and paid a whopping $48.50 which was to include 2-day expedited delivery. I was to receive the record in about 10 to 14 days.  My out-of-state trip has come and gone.  Thank goodness a relative was able to obtain the death record from a more reliable source, so we were able to accomplish what was scheduled for the trip.

It’s now a new year. Today is January 5th, still no death record from VitalCheck. When I called VitalCheck I was told that $6 of my payment was to VitalCheck and that the rest was to the county records office who are responsible for locating the record and shipping it.  VitalCheck refuses to refund me for either the record that I haven’t received nor the 2-day shipping fees which have not been used (obviously because the record never shipped!).

VitalCheck’s customer service (1-866-203-2777) answers with a recorded announcement that VitalCheck is now a Lexis Nexis Company. Lexis Nexis has a very good reputation as the source of case-law and legal records, let’s hope they are cleaning house at Vital Check and that their current policy of passing the buck and no refunds even when service and product have not been provided will be changed.

So friends, be aware. Beware.

Pryors Indexed Under Surnames Starting with “Poy”

Oh dear, just when I thought I had seen every possible misspelling of Pryor! While researching the Pryors in Hardin County, TN I came across a George “Poyer” in Ancestry’s index. George and family from the 1870 Census are now on the TN Pryor website as the handwriting definitely says “PRYOR” and the family members match with Pryors on later census records in the same county.

Margaret Pryor, daughter of Samuel Pryor of Blount County is on the 1870 Census as “Poyer”.

Samuel W. Pryor of Adair Co., IA is indexed as “Poyor” for the 1870. Census.

John Pryor b. 1816 in TN is on the 1870 Census of Linn Co., OR. His is the John or Johnathan Pryor in Davis Co., IA in 1860 and in 1850 in Menard Co., IL. He was the son of John Pryor and Ruth Sherrill. It looks like this Pryor family did some traveling. A grandson living nearby in 1870 was born in Montana. John is indexed as “Poyer” in 1870!

Help in sorting out the Pryors is always welcome! There really is a surname “Poyner” and there were quite a few living in Henry Co., TN, so please report only true “Pryor” discoveries. Thanks!