Family Tree Climbing

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Handouts and Guides

I'm getting ready to teach a class to the Relief Society Sisters [women in my church] this coming Wednesday.  Always before I teach I need to thoroughly poke around on and their blog in order to make sure that I am on top of what is new and current.  I've been caught off guard SO MANY TIMES.  The technology is plowing ahead at an amazing speed and sometimes I have a hard time keeping up.

Not only do I need to be aware of what is new, but I have made handouts for my classes and I have a hard time keeping up with them and all the changes that are taking place.  Tonight I came across a gold mine though!

There is a Familysearch Library located in Riverton, Utah (South of the "Mecca library"- aka THE Family History Library in Salt Lake).  Personally I have yet to go there, but I have heard great things about it.  I have even more reason to love it...  it looks like they do regular classes (another reason I would love to visit) but they are kind enough to post their handouts ONLINE!

If you are doing anything from using familysearch, to adding sources, to doing google searches, check out their handouts.  [As of today] many of them are current including familysearch and I personally found them helpful so you are sure to as well.  I just printed out the Search tools handout and I'm heading back to print off the general familysearch one.  

Now the question is what to include in my class this week and how to keep the number of pages down? :)

I've included a link to their guides on my blog on the left for future reference. 

Happy Tree Climbing!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Locality Research: McHenry, Illinois

I intend this post to be a gathering place for links to online resources pertaining to McHenry county Illinois and it's townships.

1877 Biographical Directory of the Tax Payers and Voters of McHenry County, Illinois
Sadly it is the year after my Ambrose Dodd died.  It does mention his son George Dodd and there is a small paragraph about his son in law, Vernon Ford.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Historical Maps of Illinois and Algonquin, Illinois

I found these two historical maps today while digging around for some locality information for Algonquin, Illinois.  Maps have always fascinated me and they are particularly interesting when you can compare one place across time.
1818 Geographical, Statistical, and Historical Map of Illinois
1833 Map of Illinois
This is a collection of plot maps for McHenry County, Illinois.  I believe it is for various years, though it is not the most image friendly website.
Above is a screen shot of the Algonquin Twp plot map.  You will need to use the above link (or click on picture then Algonquin) to be able to read anything on the map which includes interesting information about the survey.
Several more historic Illinois maps from 1835-1885 can be found HERE

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Robert Benedict Alderson

I am working on the Descendancy research of James Cole Alderson, my 3rd great grandfather through William Wesley Alderson.  I am stuck on William Wesley's brother Robert Benedict Alderson. 

What I do have:
The Alderson Cousins site gives his birthdate as 16 November 1848 in Maury, Tennessee.  Robert is with the family in the 1850 census in Maury, TN and in the 1860 census in Marion, Illinois.  After that I can not pin down a record for him. 

There is an interesting possibility that he enlisted in the Civil War.  There is an enlistment for February 1865 for a Robert B Alderson from Arrowsmith, Illinois (McLean County) that joined the K 155th Illinois Infantry.  It seems that same Robert died in Nashville, Illinois on 6 April 1864(5).  Oddly though, I can't find the cemetery record on the Nationwide Gravesite Locator even though I have two separate records that suggest it should exist.

United States Civil War Soldiers Index, 1861-1865: Robert B Alderson
Familysearch # LCT2-CZL

Robert would have been 16/17 years old in 1865.  Young but I guess not unheard of. 

There are only two other Robert Alderson's that show up in Illinois in the 1860 census.  (My Robert B acutally shows up as Bennedic).  A father and a son living in Macoupin, Illinois ages 50 and 10.  The same Robert Alderson seems to show up in the 1865 Illinois State Census also in Macoupin, Illinois.  The census was supposedly taken on 3rd July 1865, suggesting he is not the Robert Alderson that died in April.  I guess there is still the possibility that the 10 year old, now 15, could be the one who enlisted.

I feel like I'm just dancing around it... There just isn't quite enough information to pin the two together.  ARG!

MRN (more research needed)

Monday, September 1, 2014

Dodd Genealogy Books

The Dodd's were a very influential family in early America and are mentioned in many local history books and even have a few books just to themselves tracing the descendancy of the first Daniel Dod. 

Here are a few of them with snippets about Ambrose Dodd, my 4th great grandfather through his daughter Emily Augusta Dodd:

Genealogy and history of the Daniel Dod family in America, 1646-1940 
Available on and  The ancestry version is easier to navigate though you likely need a membership to access it.  Ambrose Dodd is on image 107 (book pg 84) with some interesting tidbits about his migration west and family.  This book is the best of the three.  If can't access the one on go here on familysearch and type in the above title.  The book also includes a wonderful Descendancy chart from the original Daniel Dod.
Love the side note about Emily Augusta and her soiled pantalettes! Can you imagine that being the only personal story about yourself recorded in a published book?

Genealogies of the male descendants of Daniel Dod 
Available on google books It is not as detailed.  It includes Ambrose Dodd, no children.

The Dodd's (including Ambrose, no children) are also mentioned in Family Records Or Genealogies of the First Settlers of Passaic Valley a preview is available on google books. You can also find the entire book on

Illinois Railroad Maps

These come from the Illinois Digital Archives.  They are particularly interesting to me because I had multiple grandfather's that were engineers for the C&EI railroad including Charles Everett Condon and Henry Dodd Bigelow. 

 Illinois Railroad Maps

Blog: The Ancestor Hunt

I came across this website, The Ancestor Hunt, through Pinterest (which is a great place to find family history related information).  I've poked around there a little bit and there are a few treasure troves to be found. 

Particularly for newspapers and photos

The photos for Illinois specifically lead me on a wonderful tangent that resulted in me locating a photo of my 4th great-grandfather that I have never seen before!  Gold mine!  (more to come from that story)

Lesson: Never hesitate to poke around on random websites, you never know what you will unearth!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Happy Birthday Grandma!

My grandmother turned 89 today.  She is one of the sweetest most giving women you could ever meet and has been a wonderful example to me.  It is her and her own love of history that started me down the road to family history.  I will be forever grateful for her and her influence in my life.
Age 14

Age 89

Historical US Newspapers Onilne

Penn Libraries has a compiliation of newspapers available online on their website .  You can see a list with a brief description of all the newspapers organized by state.  They also have a nice map feature that helps you visually see what newspapers were published where throughout the country. 
If you narrow it by state you can see what newspapers are available online for specific locations.  Sadly there is nothing for Marion or Clay county Illinois.
The website seems to be well done and I'm excited to keep checking back in looking for updates on my family locations. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Alderson Cousins

I have been working on the Descendancy of James Cole Alderson, my great great grandfather, and came across an old goldmine today. 

There is a book available on called Alderson: Alderson families living in North America thru 1920 by Cross, James Allison, 1928-.

Turns out there is also a webpage called Alderson Cousins that is dedicated to the three main Alderson lines that first immigrated to the United States.  One of which I am descended from: Richard Alderson Richmond, VA mid-1600s.

There is also an old newsletter available on the website that was published for multiple years.  I have only skimmed through the first four issues but found information relating to my family.

Volume 1, Number 4  includes marriage records from the early 19th century in Maury, TN, including some of my relatives.

There is also a website dedicated exclusively to the descendants of Richard Alderson.  My great grandmother is even included!

I'm excited to go through and verify as much as the information I can and make sure it is included in my family tree.  Seems like there is always more work to do!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Illinois Newspapers

Story has it that my great grandfather, John Chester Bigelow, and his mother, Mary Elizabeth Richards Bigelow, contributed to the local paper of Salem, Marion, Illinois in the 1940-50's.  I forget how, but I have it in my head that the paper was the Salem Times-Commoner.  I have tried and tried over the years to figure out how to get my hands on that paper and today google came through and I finally found a lead!

Turns out there is a website called the Illinois Newspaper Project (SCORE!) pulled together by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) Library in Urbana, Illinois.  When I did a search for Salem, Marion, Illinois I came up with many hits, one of which was for the Times-Commoner.
Another paper of interest because of the years it covers is the Salem Republican.  Again not available online (YET).

Frankly there are many papers on the list for Salem that would be worth looking into.  My family is in Marion county for many years and multiple generations and family lines...  There are 51 newspapers that come up currently for Marion county alone.  I can only imagine the treasure trove of information to be uncovered.  Obituaries, marriage notices, birth announcements, graduations...  In fact one of those papers, looks like the Democrat, published this article in 1949 about my great great grandmother, Mary (Minnie) Elizabeth Richards Bigelow. (Newspaper clipping in possession of my grandmother)

And another newspaper published the wedding notice of my great grandparents: John Chester Bigelow and Charleen Margaret Condon.  They were married in 1920.

Now all I need to figure out is how to get to one of these libraries and then I'd have to move in for a few months.  Not likely going to happen in the near future... one can hope they digitize it though, right?!?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Why Family History is Important

Family history work, the seeking out of my ancestors, is important to me for many reasons.  One of those reasons is because of what I believe. 
I am a Mormon.
The following comes from the website by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.



Why Family History is Important

Those of us who have been bitten by the family history bug know how fun it can be. But this isn’t why we have the largest genealogical library in the world and why 15 million Mormons are encouraged to research their family roots. Rather, we are driven by our doctrine that teaches that marriage and families can continue beyond this life. But this can only happen when families are sealed together in one of the Lord’s holy temples around the world and united for all eternity.
That’s fine for all of us today who have the chance to be sealed in a temple, but what about our ancestors who die without the opportunity to receive ordinances like baptism, or the blessings of being an eternal family? Does it make sense that God would simply say, "Too bad, tough luck?" Of course it doesn’t. When Christ organized His Church anciently, it included vicarious work for the dead and the practice of performing ordinances for deceased relatives "Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead?" (1 Corinthians 15:29). Christ’s restoration of his original Church to the earth through the Prophet Joseph Smith included the ancient practice of performing these ordinances for our deceased relatives in holy temples. The gospel of Jesus Christ includes the same blessings today in holy temples.

Genealogical or family history research is the essential forerunner of temple work for our deceased ancestors. We do it to obtain names and other genealogical information so these temple ordinances can be performed for our kindred dead. Our ancestors then are taught the gospel in the spirit world and have the choice to accept or reject the work performed for them. Mother Teresa once said that "loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty." The thought that this poverty of loneliness—this being unwanted and separated from loved ones—could extend beyond this life is truly sad and something temple work can prevent.

Read more about the importance of ancestry at

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Small and Simple Things

Simple things you can do NOW to get yourself and your family involved in family history work and thus gain access to the promised blessings that come with it.

These tips come from a class I taught a few months ago. 

1. Interview Family Members and Share Their Stories Online
There is a lot of information available online about interview relatives as well as fabulous tools to make it easier.  I encourage you to learn more.

 A few simple tips are:
•Decide who you want to interview.
•Prepare a list of questions. 
•Avoid questions that can be answered Yes or No.
•Make an appointment beforehand.
•Keep the interview to a reasonable amount of time.
•Use a digital recorder, smartphone app, or camera to record your interview
•Take notes. 
•Transcribe and share notes as a courtesy and to check accuracy. has made it easy to upload and share memories -stories and photos- online.  Be sure to check them out at

2. Take and Share Photos
This goes along with sharing stories.
Taking photos of living relatives, heirlooms, and so forth, can provide powerful experiences for future generations.  Sharing photos in your possession is an important part of preserving them.  Technology has made it really simple to do.

The photo sharing application on allows patrons to upload photos and add names, descriptions, and other information.

3. Discover Your Fan Chart
Fan charts allow you to see four+ generations at one time.  They are a helpful tool that is easy to understand that you can use when sharing your tree with fellow family members.  They also easily allow you to see holes in your family tree.

There are various places where you can get your fan chart printed.  One website that pulls your information from familysearch and creates a fan chart for you that you can print is

4. Record Your Life
Remember that telling your own story is a part of doing family history.  Keeping a record of your life is important.  Your way of capturing your own story can be as unique as you are.

5. Get Involved in Indexing
FamilySearch indexing unlocks access to the world's records by making them searchable for free at  This is a monumental effort that anyone can participate in.  Every little bit helps and we all benefit. 

Check it out at

6. Find Your Cousins
Also known as descendancy research this is the process of finding the descendants of your ancestors.  There are many benefits to doing descendancy research.  Some of these include:

•Researching forward in time can help you break down your brick walls
•Find relatives researching the same line
•Find relatives who know stories and have photos of your common ancestor
•Records are more readily available as you move forward in time

7.  Search Out Your Ancestors
Probably obvious, but always continue to research your ancestors.  Record availability is always changing and doors open every day. 

Just keep climbing...


Sunday, February 23, 2014

RootsTech 2014

There are many wonderful people in my life that made it possible for me to attend RootsTech this year.  (Biggest thank you's go to my husband and my mother-in-law for taking care of my peeps).  I was also blessed to be able to attend with my mother.  Happy day(s)!

It was very exciting to be back in the thick of things as far as family history happenings.  Rootstech is the place to be to learn and experience the new technologies and techniques involved in family history work.  In the forefront of the event was with all of their amazing updates and the hottest news of their recent partnerships with, and  Exciting things to come!

The big focus of this years' conference was on stories (as expressed by the video I posted earlier that was visible throughout the conference).  Many of the classes focused on the power and importance of stories.  Personally this is one of my weaknesses.  I am NOT a born storyteller, my parents are not storytellers, there are not many stories that have been passed down through the ages (that is except for my grandmother's stories about her dogs).  I now feel the pressure and know that it is my position (dare I say responsibility... uh lets go with opportunity) to create and preserve the stories of my ancestors.  That's a challenge to be tackled in pieces... 

For those of you unable to attend Rootstech you can take virtual classes online through their video archive.

I look forward to next year!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Every Family Has a Story

I was able to attend Rootstech 2014 and this is a video that familysearch  shared.  Literally it was everywhere: on multiple big screens before the keynote speakers, in the expo hall, even on screens set up in the halls throughout the conference center.    Some might have been annoyed with this.  I on the other hand took it in at every chance.  I am touched by this video every time.

There is power, peace, perspective, strength to be found in Family History. 

Every Family Has a Story: Discover Yours!