So you want to find your ancestor and who they were? Genealogy is a HOBBY, and once you get started, it can be an ongoing project if taken seriously.
What do I do first?
First, you begin with yourself listing birthdates and all those important dates in your life. (marriage, divorce, graduation, residences, etc.)
Then list your mother and father and all those dates: birth, marriage, and death. Then begin to answer WHO, WHAT, WHY, AND WHEN about your family.
Remember: your mother’s last name or maiden name is/was different from your father’s name before their marriage. as with all married female ancestors.
IMPORTANT: If any of your aunts, uncles, grandparents, great aunts and uncles, or cousins are still living, NOW is the time to visit and begin asking questions. Asking all those essential questions, record, if possible, the interview, or be sure to write everything down and start a filing system. Stories of the past have a way of changing facts over time. Use these as your stepping stones into your research.
Start assembling all the photographs you can find and write their names on the back. If a family member doesn’t want to give up the photos, take and make a copy on a copier, scanner, or cell phone at their home, making sure not to damage them.
Now, you might want to consider purchasing a genealogy software such as RootsMagic and begin putting your information into the computer. A computer is not necessary, but keeping copies of everything is important. Be sure to write down how, where, or from who you got the information. Having a genealogy program on your computer helps with all those questions you should be asking. (Be sure to back up your files).
IMPORTANT – Just writing down names and dates doesn’t tell you what your ancestors were like. Ask what kind of house they lived in? When did they move, and why? What did your father or grandfather have as an occupation? What were living conditions like during their lifetime? All these questions help you in your searches. Knowing what your ancestor was like and how they might have suffered brings you closer to them as real persons.
Don’t forget to write down their brothers’ and sisters’ information.
Eventually, you will find that an ancestor was not born in America. Of course, there are all types of websites for you to wander through. But, be careful; much of what you find on a website has not been verified and is only tradition or hearsay. Don’t take anything for granted. Verify this information yourself. True genealogy is proving your research and will help you and others down the line with your research.
The further back you go in your research you may find that brothers or sisters spelled their last names (surnames) differently. This happens quite a bit especially if they immigrated from European countries. When arriving in America, many of the names were anglicized. Some kept the old country spelling others changed it for easier use. Remember census takers or immigration people often just wrote down the name as they heard it pronounced. Now you are ready to begin your German-Speaking Research.
For ancestor charts online and census and other types of genealogical data records click here.
The Ohio Chapter of Palatines to America German Genealogy Society has free events about 3x a year that will help beginning German genealogists. See our frontpage for information, dates, times and sign-up information. We also have 2 Seminars a year provided for a fee online and in-person.