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

April 12, 2001
See Rhonda's Previous Columns

Webb Family Crest

Q: I am interested in finding a crest for the family name Webb. I believe it is of English origin. Any help would be appreciated. -- Sarah

A: This is a question that comes up often. There is a big misconception about crests, or coats of arms, and how they apply to a family. You can find carts in local malls offering such items for sale, claiming it is a family coat of arms.

While the rules of who was entitled to a given crest and coat of arms vary from country to country, in England the rules are specific. A coat of arms was not assigned to a family name. The coat of arms would be assigned to a specific individual, usually a man.

When that man died, the oldest son could then claim the coat of arms as it was assigned. Other children could register a coat of arms, but it had to be modified from the original in some manner.

With all of this said, there are sites on the Internet that offer graphic files of many of the standard coats of arms. You will find a Webb Coat of Arms at Free Coats of Arms.

Stewart Research

Q: I am looking for my great grandfather and great grandmother and it is like looking for a needle in a haystack. All I have is: Joseph Stewart born in Pennsylvania along with my great grandmother Margaret Johnson born in Pennsylvania. My grandfather is Alonzo M. Stewart, born in 1875 Pennsylvania, died 1927 in Ohio around Massillon, Ohio -- Estella

A: When researching, it is important to work from the known to the unknown. When all you know are the names of the individuals, you should step back one generation to get records that will offer more information.

If you haven't done so yet, you will want to request a copy of the death record for Alonzo M. Stewart. If that is what supplied you with your current knowledge of his parents, then you are ready for the next step.

Since you have the name of the father, Joseph Stewart, the next step is made easier. The 1880 census was soundexed for households containing children aged ten and under. The household of Joseph Stewart should appear in the soundex for the 1880 census. When you turn to the actual 1880 census, you should learn a little more about the family. You should get an age for both Joseph and Margaret. You may also get the names of additional children.

Since it appears that the family lived in Pennsylvania for some time, once you locate the family in the 1880 census, you can turn your attention to the records for the county they lived in. One of the first records I would suggest you locate is the marriage record of Joseph and Margaret. This record may supply you with additional information as to date and place of birth for Joseph and Margaret.

Still Related?

Q: If my mother and father got divorced and I lived with my father, would my cousins on my mother's side still be my cousins? -- Joseph

A: While a divorce ends the legal bonds of a marriage, it does nothing to alter the blood relationships between the families involved. This assumes that the parents in question were your biological parents.

Regardless of a divorce, your father is still your biological father. You have received genes from your father and therefore from his parents and so forth. Your mother is still your biological mother. Likewise you have received genes and family traits from her as well.

Since you mention cousins, I will assume that your mother had siblings who also had children, thus your cousins. The divorce does nothing in a biological standpoint to alter your blood relationship to these individuals.

What the divorce is likely to do is to alter your day-to-day interaction with these relatives. While you may not see them as often as you used to, you are still cousins.

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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