Finding Your Roots: Helpful Databases

Isabelle MacLean Drown
By Isabelle MacLean Drown March 15, 2010 18:21

Isabelle MacLean Drown

Thanks to the generosity of our Tuolumne County Archivist, Charlie Dyer, I am holding in my hands a real treasure – more valuable than gold! I realize that saying such a thing in the Mother Lode is like swearing in church, but it’s true. Charlie gave me Otis Rosasco’s new book, “Early Day Tuolumne County Cattlemen: 140 Years of Rosasco Ranching.”

I have looked at many family histories, and this one is right up there with the best. There’s no wasted space – even the inside of both covers are filled with cattle brands and marks filed in Tuolumne County. He has listed the owners alphabetically with their brands, the ear marks and the date they were filed. And that’s just the beginning. This man is leaving a wonderful legacy for his family, complete with pictures of six generations of Rosascos, and for the community. He gives the history of many Tuolumne landmarks, and the added personal touch makes it that much more interesting. It’s available from the Tuolumne County Historical Society (209/532-1317), $30 for non-members, $25 for members.

Turning to genealogical research, one of the queries I hear most often goes like this: “I can trace my family back in the censuses to the 1800s but they only say that they were born in Ireland – not where in Ireland! How do I find out?” Well, those Irish ancestors are giving their family genealogists a heck of time, but we’ll find them. New databases are being released onto the Internet daily. I hope that the following sites will give readers some new hope and direction.

www.proni.gov.uk, Public Records Office of Northern Ireland
The Ulster Covenant archive and Freeholders records held by PRONI have been digitized and indexed and are available on this website. These online archives are fully searchable and have links to digitized images of the original documents. Their project to index and digitize 1858-1900 wills will be a welcome help.

www.newenglandancestors.org/database, New England Historical and Genealogical Society
As Irishmen arrived in America, they lost track of one another and began advertising in the Boston Pilot newspaper to find their missing relatives or friends. The Pilot printed some 45,000 “Missing Friends” advertisements from 1920-1931. Now you can access this list, valuable because a full description of the “seeker and/or the sought” is recorded with birthplace and other information about this “mobile, impoverished, immigrant population.”

http://wiki.familysearch.org, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
This site is a great help researching any country. But back to Ireland: At this site, along with other important research aids, is an informative document on Irish names. It’s important that you understand that nicknames were the custom. You could be diligently looking for a Delia, not knowing that the name given her at birth was Bridget (who would have figured that Delia was a nickname for Bridget?). Phidelia, Bidelia, Biddie and Bride were also nicknames for Bridget. And how they get Polly out of Mary Ann is beyond me. Also, in Ireland, the prefix “Mac” means “the son of” and “O” means “the grandson of.”

www.genuki.org.uk/big/
This free site is a must for those researching the United Kingdom and Ireland … many excellent sources! Just click on the area you are interested in and start absorbing the information.

www.angelfire.com/de/BobSanders/81Intro.html
Out of the kindness of their hearts, many people have compiled Internet databases for the benefit of others. This one was created by Bob Sanders, a researcher from Wales who extracted the names of all the men aboard ships in the United Kingdom from the 1881 Census. Who knows: maybe Great Grandpa was aboard one of those ships and didn’t really run off and leave his family.

Until next time, good luck with your research!

Isabelle MacLean Drown of Sonora is an author and genealogical expert currently on a one-year family history mission in Salt Lake City, Utah for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Email her at roots@seniorfan.com.

Isabelle MacLean Drown
By Isabelle MacLean Drown March 15, 2010 18:21
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