Ancestors are in fashion, and here are accurate directions for getting up a genealogical tree
It is the fashion nowadays to have ancestors. And a very good fashion it is, too, for it leads to much study and research. If you live near a library stocked with genealogical volumes you will find plenty of work for these summer days in tracing out your line of descent.
Fortify yourself first with “American Ancestry,” which is found in many volumes, and alphabetically arranged, so that the name you seek is easily found — if found at all. You will doubtless find important data here, which you will supplement with further items gleaned from “Farmer’s General Register” — a book on the same lines as “American Ancestry.” “Savage’s Dictionary” is the third authority you consult, and in one, if not all, you are certain to find something of which you are in search.
If you have a notion that you are “the daughter of a hundred earls,” turn to “Americans of Royal Descent” or “Collin’s Peerage,” or “Burke’s Peerage,” or “Landed Gentry.” If a drop of Irish or Scotch blood be in your veins, to O’Hart’s “Irish Settlers,” or Douglas’ “Baronage of Scotland.” If your ancestors rolled over the deep in the Mayflower – its passenger list used to number about 101, but surely a million, more or less, must have arrived in that historic boat — consult “History of Plymouth from Its First Settlers in 1620 to the Present Time,” by James Thatcher.
Other works to consult, if you trace back to the Mayflower, are Trumbull’s “History of Connecticut,” “Early Puritan Settlers,” “New Haven Church Records,” “Mourt’s Relations, or a Journal of the Plantation of Plymouth,” and “Founders of the New Plymouth,” by Rev. Joseph Hunter.
Matthews’ “History of Vermont,” Stearn’s “History of Ashburnham, Mass.,” Hinman’s “Early Settlers of Connecticut,” Swain’s “Wetherfield, Conn.,” are other authorities to look into when in quest of New England ancestry.
Meade’s “Old Families of Virginia” and “Virginia Cousins,” by G B Goode, must be consulted for Virginia ancestry.
If there are any historical societies in the neighborhood, important information may often be attained; one may even come across old family portraits or relics, or copies of gravestone inscriptions tucked away in some obscure corner.
During your quest, never lose sight of the fact that genealogical books are not infallible. Jefferson, or some equally great man, once remarked that everyone should have education enough to know how to spell his name in more than one way. Mourt and Morton; Crane, Crain, Crayne; Treat, Trat, Trott, and similar examples, confront you at every turn.
But for all your toil and turmoil, you will certainly feel quite repaid when you have a complete family chart. If you don’t care to have it displayed upon the wall, keep it rolled, and if you have chosen map paper, it will not crease or crack. A circular chart is not nearly as good as a half-circular one, with the father’s line on the left and the mother’s on the other. Then the whole situation can be taken in at a glance. Only dates of birth, marriage and death are written on the chart over against each name, and every space should be numbered – that is, if you have any additional memoranda.
For example, somebody is John Smith and his number is 24. If you have interesting data relative to the gentleman — his coat-of-arms emblazoned, his autograph, a copy of his will, a photograph of him or the house in which he lived, or the memorial bridge his townsmen erected to his memory, put all these in an envelope, which bears the same name and number. It is easy then to lay hands, in the dark, or in case of fire, upon any facts connected with John Smith.
It is often possible to procure copies of wills for a small consideration, or copies of deeds of property sold, if they are desired. From $2 to $4 is the usual charge for procuring a copy of an uncertified will.