Historical Records List


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A very enterprising man posted a link on FB this morning for records he has collected over the years and has made public for all to view.  Here is his post that describes his database:


You can view/search his records here and I’d like to offer a big THANK YOU to Ray Gurganus for his hard work and generosity.


Some Pennsylvania Counties with online records searches

As you all know how comprehensive Ancestry’s database of records is, rivaled only by Family Search, it’s nice to be able to go to one location and find many records to aid in tracing your family roots.  But for some, the monthly fees are a bit high. Family Search is free and a good, solid workaround to Ancestry. But many counties in Pennsylvania offer free online access to their records as well.  Here are just a few of the counties I’ve found that have free access. You’ll have to visit the site to see what they are offering:

These are just a few of the counties here in PA that have access to records. Be warned, some allow you to search their indexes, while actual records are fee-based. I did not include any counties that use Landex for public records access since it is fee based.

Some of these allow you to create a username/password and also offer the option for a guest login.

If you know of some counties that aren’t listed here and offer free searching, please comment and provide the URL.

Fold3 & Revolutionary War Records FREE!



If you are researching relatives who fought in the Revolutionary War, right now Fold3 is giving free access to their Revolutionary War records from now until July 15th. This is a great time to take advantage of their wonderful collections which include pensions, service records, war rolls, and final payment vouchers for pensions.  Happy searching and have a safe 4th of July!


Vanishing History


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Here is an interesting project underway – Fordham University (in NY) has begun a project to locate and document burials grounds of enslaved Americans in the US. The project is named Vanishing History.

The University is reaching out to anyone who knows of burial grounds of slaves. Their website has a submission form and access to the project is free.  A listing of burials grounds already known starts here.

I believe this will be a very interesting and insightful project to watch grow.

Researching your African-American roots

If you are researching African-American roots, finding good resources can sometimes prove challenging. Listed below are ten resources that may help you find your ancestors.

  1. Civil War African-American Sailor Search
  2. Freedman’s Bank Records 1865-1874
  3. Virginia African-American Funeral Programs 1935-2009
  4. Freedman’s Hospital & Medical Records 1865-1872
  5. Freedman’s Marriages 1861-1872
  6. NARA African-American Research aides
  7. Civil War Union Colored Service Records 1863-1865
  8. Black Revolutionary War Service Records
  9. Fugitive Slave Petition Books
  10. North American Slave Narratives

Searching for all of these records is free.

Happy hunting!

Well done, Butler County, Pa!


Recently, I offered to do just a bit of research for a friend whose family came from Butler County, Pennsylvania. I Googled the county and one of the hits took me to the Butler Area Public Library. I checked out their genealogy link and was instantly impressed.  Let me give you a smattering of what they offer:

The Weir Genealogy Room where you can conduct your research and get the help of a genealogist.  This resource has the largest records for Butler County.

A Newspaper Photo Index from the Butler Eagle spanning the years of 1935 – 1992. Most of the clippings are social events, such as births, marriages, deaths, etc. There is an index you can search by name.

Access to Heritage Quest, for free, all you need is your library card bar code, and from what I read, you can access this from your own home.

Access to Butler County Obituary and Newspaper Index from 1818 to current.

Ancestry Library Edition, you must use it in the library.

Butler County Poor Farm Records Index that spans 1900-1963 and the records are indexed for easy searching.

The library also offers suggestions on what to bring to do your research and some other helpful tips.

This is a great resource for anyone with family from Butler County.  I’ll do some checking to find other counties that have great resources like this for genealogists and post my finds.

The I.O.O.F


If you are like me, you probably think the Independent Order of Odd Fellows faded away over time.  But I’ve recently come to learn they are alive and well and still working to help others.

As many of you probably know, the I.O.O.F ran the Sunbury Orphanage which began operation in 1896.  The children had to have one parent who was a member of the I.O.O.F or the Rebekahs.

I was recently contacted and asked to provide copies of the Bugle Notes (the orphanage’s bulletin publication) that I had purchased on eBay and then scanned and converted to PDFs. The I.O.O.F Lodge in Lewisburg wanted to offer them for download on their website as a piece of history from a bygone era.

I was immediately intrigued by the logo in the header of the page because I had recently seen it but didn’t know what it meant.  I was headstone hunting at a local cemetery, trying to fill photo requests posted on Find A Grave when I came across the logo on a distant relatives headstone:
Reuben Shipe

I found that logo on a few more stones in the cemetery and made a mental note to research it when I got home, and then it slipped my mind. So when I visited the page, I found the logo and the mystery was solved.

If you are interested in the I.O.O.F and what they do today, stop by the site and have a look around. There is also information if you’d like to join this noble organization.

Pennsylvania County Maps


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I wanted to share a link with the Library of Congress that provides, among other things, Pennsylvania county maps that might be helpful to those wishing to see where ancestors lived.  Not all counties have maps listed, but for those that do, this maybe a useful resource.  My relatives resided in mainly Northumberland County and the map there, from 1874, listed businesses, real property owners names, coal mining areas, and the township boundaries.

Petitions for Naturalization


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Have you searched the free database at Family Search of Petitions for Naturalization for Pennsylvania’s Eastern district? If not, you might want to have a look and the database is free.  I have family that immigrated in the early 1900s and resided in Philadelphia, so I had a look. I didn’t find my ancestor, but the records that were close had a lot of information on them that would be very helpful should you find your relative.  Information asked for on the petition include :

  • occupation
  • date of birth
  • date of immigration
  • port of arrival
  • name of ship
  • if married and spouse’s name
  • current residence
  • number of children
  • children’s dates of birth
  • where children currently reside

This would be a wonderful find for your genealogy research.  And one thing to remember, keep your search broad to start and work down from there so you don’t exclude records.

Laurelton Village Facebook Page



17882f7a7baf84df1f1f0afd8fc63217_f14  After much commenting on the Laurelton Village census information I posted back in 2012, I decided to create and administer a Facebook page dedicated to the former residents and workers of Laurelton Center. It is a closed group, so if you wish to join, please make a request.  Keep in mind, I just started this group today, so there aren’t many members or much information.  But, hopefully, in time, the group will grow.