Questions From The Peanut Gallery

My God, I am in such a pissy mood. I don’t want to be. What the hell is my problem? This is getting stupid. Can’t I even have one evening where I don’t get all depressed at some point or another?

It’s just little things, too. I finally decide to think about using the video capture card, and now I have no idea where my camcorder source tapes went. Something I’d been planning for Aaron’s birthday is threatening to go awry. I had three bratwursts for dinner because nothing sounded good. I want to clean my desk and have no idea how or where to start. That sort of thing. Little shit is getting me down, and it’s stupid. Then I get pissed at myself for letting a bunch of little shit get me down, and the cycle continues. Gyarr.

Gotta shake this funk.

In the interests of shaking the funk, I will now take questions from my good readership. Sheryl asks:

how did you get into geneology? how much would you say you spend on it?

i’m curious to know waaay back. i need to ask my grandfather what his parents’ names were and what their parents’ names were as far back as he can remember – he’s my oldest living relative, methinks. Wish i’d asked my aunt ginny while she was still alive :/

Well, Sheryl, that’s a good question, and Grandpa is a very good place for you to start.

As for me, I got into genealogy through the Mormon church. (‘Here we go,’ I can hear you groan…) See, the Mormon church has this idea that, in order to get to the absolute highest level of heaven, you have to be a Mormon. (Imagine that.) So, if your ancestors didn’t have the opportunity to be baptised during their lifetime, you baptise them posthumously, acting as proxy—that is, you go to the temple and do Baptism For The Dead.

Yes, I have done this. Yes, I now find it strange.

So, your goal as a good Mormon is to get the rest of your Eternal Family baptised and sealed to you For Time And All Eternity. Hence, genealogy.

When I was in Junior High, Mom got into genealogy, and took me with her to the genealogy workshops and the Western Reserve library and the Cleveland Library and various LDS genealogy centers, and we dug through spools of microfilm and sheets of microfiche looking at census records. That was mainly all we did, and the only cost was our time and whatever donation we opted to give to the place where we were researching.

See, Mom had pretty good info from her father (my Grandpa Cook) about the family—his parents, and their parents. He was a stickler for saving those In Memoriam cards and obituaries and programs and such, so he had a decent amount of info… we just had to find good old Grandpa Sharits in the 1880 Census.

I didn’t get into genealogy on my own until years after Mom had started to slack. In college, with the advent of the internet, I began doing some research on my own. I found sites like Ancestry.com, Genealogy.com, FamilySearch.org (an LDS search site), RootsWeb, and others. Years ago, when I first started using these sites, the vast majority of them were completely free; now, some of them have fees associated with searching certain databases. I actually do subscribe to the Census Records on Ancestry.com, and I pay $12.95 a month for that access. (So, if any of my friends ever need any census records looked up, just ask me!)

Another site I found that was infinitely helpful was United States Vital Records Information. This is a listing of every state in the U.S., every county in those states, and every place to write for birth and death records. These records usually only cost maybe five or eight bucks, including postage, which means I’ve spent about… *counting vital records in my binder* …a smidge over $100 on vital records in the past several years combined.

Luckily, once you reach a certain point in your lineage, you’re bound to find someone with information that links up with yours. Unluckily, you still have to research it yourself, and can’t necessarily take one person’s word for it. I’ve hit snags like this with my Sharits research, finding different people with different opinions of who fathered John Sharrits back in the 1700’s.

For another flip of the lucky/unlucky coin, you have the fact that there is quite a bit on genealogical info online: census records, cemetery plotting, genealogy communities with biographical information, deeds and titles, things like that. The disappointing side of this is twofold: 1.) how do you know those records are accurate, especially if they were transcribed by a single person? 2.) at some point, the online info runs out and you have to either go to your couthouse of origin or do some mail-order genealogy.

So… how to start? For you, Sheryl, depending on how far back Grandpa can get you, I’d say 1.) order some birth and death certificates. Death certificates tell great stories, but since the person they’re about is dead, they’re not always completely accurate. Birth records are more accurate, but much more boring, IMO. 2.) If Grandpa gets you back to 1920 or further, look at the U.S. Census. (I’ll hook you up with my Ancestry.com info if you want.) The U.S. Census is released 70-some-odd years after the fact, to protect the privacy of the people named therein. Meaning, most everybody named in the 1920 Census is dead (but not my Grandpa Cook!)

Those are my two main sources for the vast majority of my genealogical research. There are other possibilities, like church baptismal records, marriage certificates, land deeds, social security applications, obituaries, etc., but I find that most of the info I need is in either vital records or census records. It’s easiest to find there, anyway.

*whew* I just jabbered my depression away. How about that?

If you want any help with the Lineage Of Sheryl Stoller, just holla. Genealogy is fun… it’s like a logic problem that’s never over, or a mystery that’s never completely solved, or a book that you’ll never finish writing.

At least, I think it’s pretty keen.

One thought on “Questions From The Peanut Gallery

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  1. wow. that was a lot more answer than i was expecting o.O

    i learned yesterday also that my mother is also a geneology buff within our own family – just say “what was Gaga’s maiden name?” and she’ll go off about sisters and fathers and first-second-third husbands and then they went back to such-and-such a name..i’d like to have a long chat with her, too.

    I know Gaga, my great-grandmother, was born in 1906 and her maiden name was Ruth Dubek – she was born in Topeka, KS. if you’re bored enough, you could get me her relatives names 😀 i’m not entirely sure how that census search works, like what you need and what it returns, but…

    i have next week off in its entirety – i was going to make a bit of a project of it, if you would like to maybe get together 🙂 i was going to put it at www.sheryl.name (which currently points to my lj, but hey, that can change). my mom also has a photo album made by my great uncle gerry (ginny’s husband) with super-duper old pictures, complete with names for everyone in the pictures. sounds like a scan-fest to me, i’ll have to find the drivers to my ancient scanner 😉

    My paternal grandfather is also over 70 years old – Sam Stoller. i think he was born in like, montana or north dakota or something. i’d have to ask him. his late wife’s name was Ruth Frank or Franks, i’m not sure, i’d have to ask my daddio.

    So i at least have a little start.