How-To Essay #5 - So, you think you've
- You've hit a brick wall. Your family
line trickles off into nothingness. Aliens abducted great uncle
Hubert. You may think you've looked everywhere for your family,
but sometimes it's easy to miss the obvious. And, I just may
have a few new ideas for you. Contact me for more. I do better
when I have a location to work from.
- And be patient. Many resources below
are not readily available yet. Give us time. While waiting, utilize
- that are available, or volunteer to
help out your own local county getting information online for
- So many books, so little time. Search
beyond the standard biographical collections and historical sketches.
- centennial books, city directories
and current works. The Rock County Genealogical Society, Rock
County Historical Society and the Janesville Gazette are printing
new books every year. You can find many of them listed at Origins
Genealogy bookstore online.
- There is more to a cemetery than tombstones.
Don't forget the cemetery records.
- So you don't live in the area or near
an LDS library. Get a look-up. Really. It's worth it. Don't assume
it can't tell you
- anything you don't already know.
- Many churches have excellent historical
records. What church did they belong to? What religion? What's
- church to your ancestor's home? Did
they belong to any church groups? And don't forget baptisms,
christenings, confirmations, weddings and funerals.
- Birth, marriage and death certificates
are great, but what about wills and probate records? Land records?
- ancestor ever involved in a lawsuit?
Was he ever arrested for letting his cow run loose one too many
- What did they do for a living? If your
ancestors owned a business, check the city or township for licensing
- Check newspapers for advertisements.
What were the businesses in the area that covered the field your
ancestor was employed in? How many breweries, mills, tailors
or furniture manufacturers? Were they Union members?
- FUNERAL HOMES
- Funeral homes were not as prevalent
back then as they are today. Have you written the local funeral
home for burial
- information or funeral arrangement
sheets? This information is usually free with an SASE.
- LAND RECORDS
- Courthouses, plat maps, homesteading.
- Books, newspapers and so much more.
Rock County's libraries are part of the Arrowhead Library System
- holdings are searchable online. If
you find a likely suspect among their stacks, contact a volunteer
for a free look-up.
- Specifically, plat maps. If you haven't
seen them, you're missing out. If your ancestor was a landowner,
a plat map
- can show the property location and
size. The 1873 Combination Atlas Map of Rock County, Wisconsin,
has plat maps for every township, city and village and will be
online soon. Until then, check with the Rock County Genealogical
Society who has copies for sale.
- MEDICAL INFORMATION
- Does the hospital hold any records
regarding birth, illnesses or death? How about coroner's records?
- MESSAGE BOARDS
- Post everywhere. There are many message
boards out there and the more places you post, the more it will
- Links to several can be found at WI-ALHN-Rock
County. Read Essay #5 to get the most out of your posting.
- Think beyond the Civil War and World
Wars I and II. Was your ancestor in the service during peacetime?
- veteran administration. And, of course,
contact them about your war veteran. Also check with the Rock
County Historical Society regarding any veteran memorials. Your
ancestor may be listed on a plaque.
- More than just obituaries. Check for
advertisements for the family business or employer, birth and
- announcements, and basic interest articles.
Was your family in the area during a big storm? Did they go visiting
relatives out of the area? Did his cows ever escape and rampage
the neighborhood? When they died, was there an auction? Old newspapers
were full of this type of information.
- Masons, Woodman, American Legion, VFW,
there are hundreds of organizations. The organization may hold
- about your ancestor.
- So maybe great grandpa wasn't mayor
of Janesville. Was he a member of the school board for Union
- number of available offices for even
a rural area is astounding. When the county was young and sparsely
populated, it's very possible your ancestor was politically involved.
Township halls may hold the key.
- Schools districts may hold records
about your ancestors childhood or, at least, be able to give
you the history of the
- Just because the Rock County Genealogical
or Historical Society hasn't written a book about your ancestor,
- mean they don't hold information about
him. Contact them and you may hit gold.
- Even if you write all possible sources
and find they have no further information beyond his being a
member or holding
- an office, at least you'll be able
to write "Although we don't yet know the date of Hubert's
death, we do know that he was very active in his community. He
was a member of..."
- And knowing that great grandpa was
a Lutheran, member of the school board and farmer with loose
cows IS something
- to write home about.
County Genealogical Society website
Rock County Historical
Arrowhead Library System
Society Area Research Center (covers Rock County) website
- (c)2002 Lori
- *Please be aware that I'm not a genealogy,
history or geology expert. I welcome any corrections or additions.
updated: April 24, 2005