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EDITING SHAMROCK ROSE AND THISTLE Ancestors of Jean Elizabeth Mathews

Research Your Family History



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Whitefield Watson

RESEARCHING FAMILY HISTORY IS FUN AND REWARDING

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In my experience it can also be pretty challenging.   But as a beginner to the computer and finding that a challenge, I found that when the genealogy bug bit me at the beginning of 2002, it was a great motivator!!   Also much more interesting than simply beating the terror of it all,  learning how to send emails and trying to find my way around my new toy, the computer, and Microsoft Word.  Eventually I became a little more enlightened and daring. 
 
I was very fortunate that my maternal grandmother, had been a meticulous keeper of official papers.  She had her own birth certificate (original) which gave me the names of her parents, and also the date and place of their marriage.  She also had her marriage certificate, her father's wedding certificate, my grandfather's birth certificate, and those of my mother and her sister, plus their marriage certificates.  She even had my father's birth certificate.  All of these were also original!  
 
I was incredibly lucky to have all this information to hand before I even began.   I was also incredibly lucky that this maternal family of mine was Scottish, and I have learned that Scottish Certificates hold an incredible amount of information, particularly the early ones.
 
If you are just starting out, free - familysearch.org - and Ancestry.com are great places to do searches and find information about your ancestors. And you can also create an online tree. Even if you only have the name of your great grandmother there is a good chance you will find a record there somewhere. 
 
Another good place to start looking for information and connections is Rootsweb.com and Genealogy.com.   These two sites have an amazing number of forums, every surname you can think of and every place you can think of.  There is even one for Wellington, New Zealand, and we're a pretty tiny corner of the world down here.  You can search and post messages by topic interest, surname or locality. These sites are free to register and use. Genealogy.com however, has become a read only board, but still very valuable for researching your names and location. Existing entries will still be available to search and browse.
 
An excellent free forum, and probably the most helpful I have used over the last few years, is - rootschat.com - this is just great for beginners, and esperienced researchers alike.  it's interactive, with experienced and friendly volunteers to answer your questions and help you with your research. 
 
Also beautiful photo restorations, and dating,  handwriting deciphering from some of the old documents.  Lots of pointers and resources there.  And perhaps you may soon feel able to contribute some help yourself. Certainly worth a visit to rootschat.com
 
As you will see on the next page, I have compiled a list of links that have been extremely helpful to me in my research.  And remember good old Mr. Google!! And not just as a last resort. Simply typing in a name and location could bring you a sweet  surpise.  Just try it!
 
Once I had some names and dates then I could begin looking for more information about the lives and times of my  ancestors.  I wanted more than just names and dates.   I wanted to see how they had lived!
 
My Scottish families were from a coal mining area of Ayrshire in Scotland, in a little village called New Cumnock.  So that's when good old "GOOGLE" came in.   My best friend!!   Hence all the links to the New Cumnock & Ayrshire web-sites. 
 
Good luck should you decide to have a go, and happy hunting!!  I have met many family members on the internet, made new friends and have managed to trace living relatives all around the world. Not only I have traced them, I've travelled to UK twice and met a lot of my relatives and friends.  It's a wonderful hobby, and yes, fun and rewarding.
 
So do try it!  You can start by asking your parents and grandparents lots of questions about their families. Who were they, where did they came from, and how did they live? Do they remember any family stories to tell you.
 
Were they hard working coal miners like like my maternal side, or were they hardworking, affluent and wealthy, as my paternal side.  What a contrast!
 
My grandparents and parents had all passed away by the time I got motivated to start my research, but fortunately my grandmother had left a little box of treasure in one of the top cupboards in her kitchen. It was full of birth and marriage certificates.  She also had some beautiful photos, and had talked to me about her family since I was a wee girl!
 
Encourage your children to become interested too, even it they're grown up! Just tell them little stories and events from your own past, and if they ever decide to take up this fascinating past-time, they will be able to add their own generation's story to what you already have recorded.
 
So make a start early, its a life-time journey, and well worth it!


On this page I'll describe how I went about researching my family tree in the hope that it will inspire others to give it a try. I'll talk about the process I used and any tools or software I found helpful.

I might also include links to interesting genealogy web sites I came across in the course of doing my research, such as:



Research Tips

Here I might put some tips about researching a family tree, for example:

Be sure to evaluate the source of your information. Remember, you can't believe everything you read!

Remember, most everyone has two family names: your father's, but also your mother's. Don't feel you must restrict your research to just your paternal family tree.