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Rhonda's Tips: Genealogy Questions Answered
by Rhonda R. McClure

January 11, 2001
See Rhonda's Previous Columns

Looking for Birth Place

Q: I am trying to find the name of the town where my great great great grandfather was born. I know that he was born in the State of New Jersey on Sept. 19, 1807 and that he lived in Greentown Howard Co., Indiana. His death was August 25, 1873 and because they did not record deaths in Howard Co. before 1882, I am unable to get a copy of his death certificate. His wife died on March 8, 1888 in Howard co., and I have a copy of her obituary, I also know the name of the town where she is buried. I have not been able to find anything on her husband after the 1870 census of Howard Co., Indiana. Can you give me any ideas on where I should look for the information on his birth place. -- Cindy

A: Unfortunately you cannot just turn your attention to the 1810 census, as the 1810 and 1820 census for New Jersey did not survive. This would have been a way of determining who was living in New Jersey with a child under the age of ten. This is often a good method to narrowing your search to specific counties and families. Of course, this method only works when the census records exist.

While far from complete, there is an index to births for the state of New Jersey. It concentrates primarily on the counties of Camden, Cumberland, Gloucester, and Salem. This resource may be of use to you. It is on microfilm and available through your local Family History Center.

Another method that often helps in determining where a family came from is to look at the neighbors living close by. Research their ancestry a little. It may be possible to pick up the trail by following them backwards. This is especially useful when your ancestor's name is common. By working with some slightly less common surnames you may be able to pinpoint the county of origin for your ancestor without using the surname SMITH to do it.

Which Society

Q: I feel it is time for me to join a genealogy society, but since I live in Connecticut and all my ancestors lived in New York City and its boroughs I can't decide whether it would be better to join a Connecticut or New York City society. What are your thoughts on this? -- Kathleen

A: If your genealogy budget can afford it, I would encourage you to join both societies. By joining both, you get the best of both worlds. You get information from the area where your ancestors lived, and you are also kept up to date on the genealogical issues in your local area. However, if that is not an option, then you need to weigh the benefits to see which would be the most beneficial to you.

The benefits to the New York society would have to do with the records transcribed in their publications. These of course would be of the most benefit to you in your research. The information in the newsletter about their regular meetings would not be of interest, unless you were planning a trip up there. Another benefit would be knowledge of possible issues that would affect the records you are in need of. For instance, if a repository was no longer going to fulfill mail order requests. This would be important news to you.

The local society, has some benefits, though they are not directly related to your personal genealogy. Attending meetings of local societies is often an uplifting and supportive experience that encourages you to strive forth in your own research. The camaraderie that exists among genealogists - those others who understand what you do - makes all the difference in the world. If you have small children or another contributing factor that would prevent you from attending the meetings, this would not be a benefit to you.

If I were forced to make a choice, I would lean toward the society where my ancestors lived. This is the society that may offer me help with my research. The publications they generate will be pertinent to my search. The news, while not local, may still affect the way I get my information.

What Do You Source

Q: I am trying to put the source for my family in Family Tree Maker 7.5. I would like to know if I am quoting a source from a Genealogical Society, should I put the source in for the name and the date/location both? Also if I am quoting a source for the birth of a child, should I also put the source under the parents names. Example is John S. Finley born 11-4-43 in Ann Arbor, MI. Do I put the source information under his name and also under the date/location? I have several sources under many of the names in the book I am doing. I love your book, are you going to write one for Family Tree Maker 8.0? -- Sue

A: While your question deals with Family Tree Maker, many genealogy programs offer the ability to cite a source either for the individual or for a specific event. How you use these options should depend on the information found in the source.

If the source I am using supplies me with the birth information on a given individual, then I cite the source as part of the birth event. This would apply for any one or two events in the life of an ancestor where that is all that I found in the source.

If the source offers me much information on an individual, perhaps a biographical write up or an entry found in a published family history, then I cite the source a little differently. If all the information I know on a given person up to that point has come from a single source, I cite the source under the individual's name.

I use the source by the name as my "all-in-one" source. And I use the sources by the events to cite those specific sources that supplied me with information on that given event. However, it would be a waste of time to cite the same source for his birth, marriage, death, and burial events. If all of those events came from the same book then in essence everything I know about the person comes from that one book, so I would cite the source one time.

The exception to this rule is where the information falls on separate pages. It is important when citing any source that we are complete and accurate, and this includes the page where the information was found.

As for a book for version 8.0 of Family Tree Maker, yes, I did write one and it is available. You can find out more information on it by clicking here to read about Family Tree Maker Version 8 fast & easy.

Military Records

Q: I am searching for information on my uncle who served in World War I. His name was Beaugard G. Stephens ("Baro"). He was born 3-3-1892 in Marshall TX. His parents were George & Ruth Stephens. He died 8-7-1976. Will military records provide additional information? Is there a web site to search for this information? -- Grover

A: If you are looking for additional genealogical information about his parents and grandparents and such, the military records will not be of use in that type of a search. If you are wanting to know more about his experiences during the war, it is possible that you could find this information.

Military records for World War I are housed in St. Louis, Missouri. While the records themselves are not online, nor is there a database, other than for those who died during the war, the National Archives Web site does have some information.

The National Archives has a page on their Web site that looks specifically at Access to Military Service and Pension Records. This page discusses the Standard Form 180, necessary for ordering military records of the 1900s. The form itself is available in a PDF format. You can print out the form, fill it out, and send it in to the address on the form.

It is important to remember that some of the military records deposited in St. Louis were damaged or completely destroyed by fire in 1973. It may be that they will not have the records you are requesting.

Rhonda R. McClure is a professional genealogist specializing in celebrity trees and computerized genealogy. She has been involved in online genealogy for fifteen years. She is the author of the award-winning The Complete Idiot's Guide to Online Genealogy, now in its second edition. She is the author of four how-to guides on Family Tree Maker. In late 2001, she wrote The Genealogist's Computer Companion. She is a contributing editor to Biography Magazine with her "Celebrity Roots" column and a contributing writer to The History Channel Magazine. Her latest book is Finding Your Famous and Infamous Ancestors. She may be contacted at

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