Big changes have come to — all content is now read-only, and member subscriptions and the Shop have been discontinued.
Learn more
New? Start Here
Genealogy How-To
 Getting Started
 Getting Organized
 Developing Your Research Skills
 Sharing Your Family's Story
 Reference Guide
 Biography Assistant
Free Genealogy Classes
 Beginning Genealogy
 Internet Genealogy
 Tracing Immigrant Origins

Family Finder
First Name:

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

September 21, 2000
See Rhonda's Previous Columns

Arkansas Census

Q: Is there any way to look up the 1800 census on the Internet? If not where would I go to get some info in Arkansas? -- Teri

A: Whenever we begin to research in a new area, whether it is a town, county, or state, it is a good idea to research the history of that location. It is important to discover the time of creation of the given locality, establish what the parent county was, or determine how the state was created.

What would become Arkansas was part of the Louisiana Purchase. This was accomplished under the presidency of Thomas Jefferson in 1803. By 1812, Missouri Territory had been created in this area. In 1813, Arkansas County was created as part of this new territory. In 1819, Arkansas was set aside as its own territory. It was not until 1836 though that the state of Arkansas was created.

While the federal government did take territorial censuses, those for 1810 and 1820 for Arkansas were destroyed. The only census records that currently exist for Arkansas begin in 1840 and go through 1920, with the exception of 1890 which was destroyed by fire. As a result the closest to 1800 that you can get for your ancestor in the census would be the 1840 census. And in looking at the timeline you can see that what would become Arkansas was not even a part of the United States in 1800.

If you actually meant the 1900 census, you will currently need to turn your attention to libraries and microfilm.You can also check online 1900 census data to see if Arkansas is available yet.

One of the best ways to get familiar with the records of Arkansas is to read up on the subject. The FamilySearch Web site has digitized their Research Outlines and made this information available online. You can find these research aids under the Custom tab at the FamilySearch site.

You will also want to begin your research at the Arkansas state Web page of the USGenWeb Project as they can offer you links to useful information pertinent to your individual research.

Where Do I Look?

Q: I only have My grandfather's name and year of death. Where do I start to look for a date of birth? He died in 1938. -- Peggy

A: Before you can begin to look for a date of birth you must have some pertinent information. This is usually gathered from the death certificate and by talking to living relatives who may have been present at the funeral or at the time of his death.

Some of the information that may be found on the death certificate is

  • Age at the time of death
  • Date of birth
  • Birth place
  • Names of parents

Because this information is supplied by someone else, it is subject to errors. However, it is usually the best information to begin the search. You will need to try to get a copy of your grandfather's death certificate.

In the meantime, it is possible that the census records might be of use to you. If you know where your grandfather was living in 1920, it is possible that you can locate him in the 1920 census. This would supply you with some of the information that you need, including his age in 1920 and the state or country of birth for he and his parents.

If you can locate him in the 1920 census, then you may be able to begin searching back through the decennial census records, locating him at each interval that is available. The 1890 census is not available as it was destroyed by fire.

Working with the census records may help you in the patience department as you wait for his death certificate. You can find information on ordering it through Thomas Kemp's International Vital Records Handbook.

Searching in Indiana

Q: My Father, Leonard Lincoln Loser, was born in Indianapolis, Indiana on January 16th, 1906. He died on April 3,1962. I know very little about his family. I have always suspected there is some Amish in our background. My Mother always said my Dad's family was Pennsylvania Dutch. Where do I start to find out more about my Dad? -- Pat

A: The first thing that you need to do is to get a copy of your father's death certificate. While this will verify the information you have on your father's death date, it will also supply some clues to help you in taking this line back. As with all genealogical research, it is important to work from the known to the unknown. Before you can determine the religion or ethnic background of the family, you must first learn more about the family.

Ordinarily, researchers would jump to the 1910 census, however, Indiana is one of the states that was not soundexed for the 1910 census. And there appears to be no published index yet for that state either by a commercial firm or a genealogical society.

Because of this lack of an index, you need to first determine the names of your father's parents, especially his father. This can sometimes be done through the death certificate. If this information is not on the death certificate, you may need to contact the Social Security Administration for a copy of his SS-5 form. This is the form he filled out when he was applying for a social security number. It will list the names of his parents. You can see the Rhonda's Tips column for 14 September 2000 for the address.

Once you have the name of your paternal grandfather, you can then turn to city directories at the time of your father's birth. I would encourage you to look at the 1906 through the 1912 to determine where the family was living at the time. You can then use this information to locate the family in the 1910 census.

Once you have the street address, you can turn your attention to the enumeration maps for the 1910 census to narrow down your search to a couple of specific enumeration districts.

You will want to keep in mind, in your research, that it is possible that your father's family were some how connected to the Quaker faith. Indiana was one of the heavier Quaker areas, and much has been published on this by way of meeting minutes. However, before you can begin to look at such records you need to work on the above to get the necessary information to determine if the family tradition is correct.

Old Cemeteries

Q: I am trying to locate old cemeteries where my ancestors have been buried but I have had no luck. I can only assume that the cemeteries have been inactive and long forgotten...perhaps they are overgrown with weeds and are part of someones property and they don't know it. Is there a place where these old cemetery names are kept or maybe they have new names? Some of the ones I am looking for are: Old Fields Cemetery in S.Berwick, York, ME (Ivory Hovey, death year of 1748) and Evergreen Cemetery in Milbridge, ME (Earl Ray Farnsworth, death date of June 4, 1965). -- Debbie

A: Cemeteries can be located in a variety of different ways, some of them relying on the latest in technology. It is also important to keep in mind that cemeteries of long ago may not be known under the name they had before. In some cases the cemetery may have been purchased and renamed. Other times cemeteries have been moved.

Gazetteers are the best place to begin your search for a cemetery. One of the best in book form is the Omni Gazetteer of the United States of America published by Omnigraphics, Inc., of Detroit, in 1991 in 11 volumes. These volumes can be found in many different libraries.

A search in this set of books for your specific cemeteries revealed some interesting information. First, nothing was found for an Old Fields Cemetery. When looking for Evergreen Cemetery, I discovered that the town of Millbridge is a town in Washington County. There was, no Evergreen Cemetery listed for this town. However, there was an Evergreen Cemetery in Washington County in the town of Cherryfield. The Omni Gazetteer supplies you with the latitude and longitude coordinates for this cemetery. You would need to convert this information to something else to visit the cemetery. Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) systems can help you in locating such a cemetery to visit. You may not want to have that expense though. While they can be under $400.00, not all researchers can justify such an expense.

A similar option online is the USGS National Mapping Information. Through their online GNIS query form, you can do a similar search. GNIS stands for Geographic Names Information System. This is an online gazetteer similar to the Omni Gazetteer in that it supplies you with the latitude and longitude coordinates.

In regard to Old Fields Cemetery, I was able to determine that it existed in 1938 under the name of Oldfields Cemetery, as the DAR abstracted the tombstones in that cemetery at that time. I did not find your Ivory Hovey listed. There was a Dr. Ivory Hovey, however he died in 1818 at the age of 70. It is possible that your information is of his birth year rather than his death. Dr. Ivory Hovey died 17 Oct 1818. His first wife, Mary, died 7 Nov 1770, age 25. She was the daughter of William and Elizabeth Hight. His second wife, Frances, died 3 Feb 1816 at the age of 68. This information can be found on microfilm through the Family History Center by looking in South Berwick in the Cemeteries heading.

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

Back to Top of Article

Home | Help | About Us | Terms of Service | PRIVACY
© 2011