Latter-day Saints can learn how to find where their ancestors lived.
Read Part 1 of this article here.
“We’re going to Grandmother’s House today! Get dressed! Come on, we’re going to Grandma’s! Everyone get in the car! Put your seatbelts on! We’re going to Grandpa’s! Everyone ready? OK, turn on your computers!” “…what?! Hold on… turn on our computers? I thought we were going to Grandma’s house? What’s going on here?”
Going to Grandmother’s House Through Genealogy Research
Yes, we are going to Grandmother’s House; but as we learned in Part One of this genealogy research series, going to Grandmother’s House doesn’t necessarily mean going “over the river and through the woods”, or even traveling in a car. (Although, going there in person is one of the special rewards of doing genealogy and family history and should always be a desired option.) Traditional research and modern technology provide us with enhanced opportunities for finding the homes of our ancestors and to accurately climb the family tree.
Knowing the homes and where our grandparents lived can be a great boon for family history work. While the building itself seldom has any genealogical purpose, it does give us a point of reference relating to the location and lives of our family who lived there. Plus, visiting the family home in person… standing where our ancestors stood, and seeing what they saw, can provide a powerful and personal emotional connection to our loved ones. But the paramount reason in searching for and locating Grandmother’s home site and its historical and community setting, is that we can discover new ideas and additional resources to improve our family history record. Grandmother’s House is not only a visual reminder of ancestors, but by seeking out the homes on our family tree, we can find hidden links to our ancestry and children’s hearts will turn to their fathers.
Asking the Right Questions to Get the Right Answers
“Grandmother’s House” refers to the actual homes of our ancestors. In Part Two we need to ask several very important questions to be able to accurately identify Grandmother’s House.
By asking the right questions about Grandma and Grandpa, we can come to understand and locate the records of their day and find the right answers for our family tree. By researching these questions, genealogical discoveries can be made that can help reveal both Grandmother’s House and our heritage.
Location! Location! Location!
Thirty-five years ago, before the advent of computers, the Internet, and digitized records, I graphically learned the value of “Location! Location! Location!” I’d hit the proverbial brick wall in my research on the lineage of Ezekiel Slade of Harford County, Maryland. Ezekiel had lived in the mid-1800’s, and was in one location and one home most of his life; but county records just didn’t seem to provide the information I needed on him and his family. The opportunity came for me to visit Harford County, in Northeastern Maryland, and I went searching for the old Slade home.
Using the Family History Library collection in Salt Lake City, Utah, I found county deed records which directed me to a township in the northwestern part of the county. Following plat maps and county histories I was able to identify the actual home site once I got to Maryland and was able to search a county historical society archive. Here I found an old county highway map that showed the residence of the Slade Family. I drove to the community in a fairly rural part of the county, and found the home right on the main road, near the county border, which border also happened to be the state line between Maryland and Pennsylvania. The home was a lovely white wooden frame house reminiscent of the 1840’s. I walked up to the front door and looked around at the property. To my surprise, directly across the road was a large Presbyterian Church, surrounded by a church cemetery where I soon found the whole family had been buried.
Why hadn’t I recognized this church in my research? Then I realized the answer. The county and state border ran right between the Slade home and the Presbyterian Church. I had been searching the records of Harford County, Maryland; but Ezekiel Slade and his family were worshipping God in York County, Pennsylvania! This Grandmother’s House taught me to look at the area around a home; to see where a family lived, and died, and worked, and went to church, because that would be where the records might be found that would reveal their lineage and history.
Tips to Help You Find Grandmother’s House!
What can we look at to identify where Grandpa and Grandma lived, keeping in mind, we may not be talking about our most recent grandparents. We may be looking for ancestors who lived and died two hundred or more years ago. How do we find their homes?
Most families do not stay in one place. They have children who marry and move to their own homes, many times leaving the community where they grew up. Within two or three generations the family home is empty, and is sold for others to use. Often, until someone in a later generation begins looking for their genealogy and family history, Grandmother’s House becomes forgotten by the descendants of its earlier residents. This place that was once so familiar to one generation is no longer relevant to the next, and has to be rediscovered. How is it re-found?
Can’t we just check an old telephone directory and see what the address was? Unfortunately, finding Grandmother’s House again isn’t as easy as that. Grandparents in the 1800’s didn’t have telephones, and so… no telephone directories. What did they have?
The following is a list of recommended resources and
My ancestor, William Henry Wright, once of Birmingham, England, upon returning there on an LDS Church Mission, kept a small journal in which he recorded the important names and addresses of people he visited, including relatives, the places where he once lived and worked, and other historical sites.