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.

Laurelton State Village in the Census


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Since Laurelton Center generates a lot of conversation, I thought I’d post links to the US Federal Census for 1930 and 1940 for anyone to browse.  The links are at Family Search, so it is free to review the census lists. I haven’t stumbled upon Laurelton Center in any earlier census lists, so if anyone out there has, please feel free to pass on those links.

1930 census

1940 census

Search your Irish roots for free

Between March 13 and 17th, Find My Past is offering free access to their Irish records. Now is a great time to explore your Irish ancestry for free.  You will need to create an account, which should only take a minute.  Today is a perfect day to do a bit of genealogy research while Stella keeps us indoors.


How to video from Family Search

Family Search is the largest FREE genealogical research site. Many researchers use their search tools to track down relatives. But did you know that their search tool only represents about 30% of their records? I know I didn’t. So how do you find more information if you don’t use the search tool?  Family Search to the rescue! They have put together a video that will help you utilize their website with more efficiency.

And here’s another thing Family Search posts on their YouTube channel – recipe stories! You’ll see a story of the food item, like Rocky Road Fudge and you’ll also get a recipe that may have been handed down for generations.

You can subscribe to their YouTube channel and get notified of new videos that will help you keep on top of tips they post. When you are at YouTube, click subscribeto subscribe to the channel and if you’d like a notification when something new is posted, click on the bell icon by the subscribe button that will appear after you hit subscribe.

Break Through that Brick Wall

When you’ve been working on your family tree long enough, sooner or later you will hit a brick wall. It happens to nearly all of us. That one elusive relative that no matter what road or path you take to trace their movements, they seem to vanish.

Recently, I read a wonderful article in Family Tree Magazine on how to help break through those brick walls or even find a way around it. So if you are at a point where you need some alternative ideas to get past your wall, then try some of the tips in this article.

Happy searching!