A Picture Is Worth 1000 Words – Step #3 Dig Dig Dig Through Old Family Photos!

I am sure you have heard the old saying a picture is worth 1000 words. According to Wikipedia, “A picture is worth a thousand words is an English languageidiom. It refers to the notion that a complex idea can be conveyed with just a single picture, this picture conveys its meaning or essence more effectively than a description does.”

The saying has been around for at least the last 100 years and is a part of our culture. The saying is around because its meaning holds true today. Many things can be best described by a picture because people are visual by nature and a picture shows so much more than words could ever convey.

One of my favorite movies is Ever After and in that movie is a line that goes “a lady had many secrets. I merely painted one of them.” It was spoken by Da Vinci, the great painter who painted the Mona Lisa. I like this line because it reflects on the saying about pictures being worth 1000 words. As Henry says in the movie, “she laughs at me sir. As if she knows something I do not.”

Missed The First 2 Steps?

If you missed the first couple of steps that’s OK. You can read all about them here by clicking the links below.

  1. Step #1 – My Family tree – How To Complete Your Family Tree
  2. Genealogy Oral History Questions – Step #2 To Beginning Your Family History Research

The Power Of Photos

Growing up I always wondered why people said “a picture is worth 1000 words.” I couldn’t see beyond the fact that a photo is just a picture and says nothing, or so I thought. Over time I have come to realize that a picture does actually tell a story. You can see the emotions people have in pictures and can imagine the story behind them.

Photography has become a hobby of mine and the part of photography I love is taking pictures of people by surprise. I love seeing the raw emotion from that surprise picture that shows the true emotion felt by the subject. I sometimes take twenty to thirty photos of the same person until I capture that essence I am looking for.

I once took a photo at a relative’s wedding that made me contemplate the power of photos. My husband and I had gotten thereafter most people had arrived so we were in the back of the room. I used my zoom on a really good quality digital camera and caught a picture of the bride and groom where the groom did not look happy, but the bride was blushing. You could really feel her happiness. I remember telling my husband that I didn’t think the groom was happy about the wedding.

At the reception afterwards of course there were toasts and a lot of stories of the two meeting in college and how they were “meant to be.” I let it go, but the picture always got to me because I didn’t see how someone could look so unhappy at their own wedding. A year, year-and-a-half later the two were separated and divorced. I now look back and think I was right all along, the groom really wasn’t happy and I caught that moment on camera and saw that raw emotion.

Pictures can truly speak louder than words…you just have to learn how to listen.

Photos, A Treasure Trove Of Information

You are probably wondering why I am talking about photos so much on a genealogy website and honestly I would probably wonder the same thing if I were you. Photos are actually a great resource for the genealogist…particularly old family photos. They are a treasure trove of information. You get a real glimpse of your ancestors from old family photos and family photo albums are a great place to find them.

I will often visit my mother and dig dig dig through her old photos! I always find new and interesting things each and every time I do. There are all sorts of things in there besides photos like death notices, old newspaper clippings, mementos from family events and more. (Click here to read about a great way to store photos, family mementos and your family history research!) But the photos I find most intriguing. Staring into the faces I see if I can figure out who they are and what their story is.

It is amazing how relatives look so much alike between generations. It is intriguing how each generation follows a similar pattern and from this you can glean a lot of information for your research. The best part though is what you can actually find from photos.

Pictures Are Worth 1000 Words

Pictures are worth 100 words because of what you can glean from a single look. A glimpse at the soul of the person in the picture, a sense of who he/she is and where he/she came from and a bit of what the person’s life is like.

I recently was given a photo of some people from my mom and all she could tell me was that they were related somehow. There were names on the photo so I had first and last names and no other information. Most of my family is in Michigan so I took a wild guess and did a broad search for the surname in Michigan and within a few minutes I had found the two older people in the databases.

Having the picture helped narrow down possibilities because there are so many people out there doing genealogy research for their families that the chances are pretty great someone is researching someone within your line. Having the picture helps you connect the dots. Genealogy is like a puzzle where you have to put one piece together at a time.

Take Your Own Scavenger Hunt And See What You Dig UP

For many years now I have wanted to dig into my grandmother’s old family photos. I recently discovered her pictures in a box of my stuff mixed with my mother’s stuff. I have my mother’s stuff because my parents lived with me for a while and we are still sorting through some items.


Anyways, I found my grandmother’s pictures and spent a good long while digging through them and seeing what secrets I could unlock from them. I actually found a lot more than just pictures like my grandparents marriage license, a loan for a car my grandpa co-signed with my uncle and the total loan was for $250, old army paperwork from when my grandfather was enlisted and more. It is always amazing what information you can find when you are looking!

Looking for a great way to store photos, family mementos and your family history research?…click here to see how!

Take your own scavenger hunt through family photo albums, drawers, boxes or wherever your old family photos are stored and dig dig dig through them all to see what you turn up! I have found posting the pictures on social media like Facebook to be particularly fascinating because relatives see them and make comments. Sometimes the comments are lucrative as far as providing a snippet of family history is concerned. If all else fails, it will be some quality time spent with family members taking a road down memory lane.

Thank you for reading my post. I hope you have enjoyed it and would love to hear your comments and/or questions. Please like and share the post if you found it useful.

Thanks you,

Chas Guevara






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Genealogy Oral History Questions – Step #2 To Beginning Your Family History Research

Starting your family history research is made a lot easier with a few simple steps. In this series regarding steps to begin your family history research, I’ll address what the steps are and how to carry them out so that your path to finding your ancestors is smoother than mine was.

Step #1 to begin your research into your family history, start with documenting each and every name you can think of as far as relatives are concerned. To read all about how to get started researching your family tree, step #1, click here.

In this segment of the series, step #2, we’ll discuss another key aspect of researching your family history. Step #2 is to begin documenting family history by means of completing oral history interviews with loved ones through the use of genealogy oral history questions.

Oral History Interviews

Oral history interviews are just what they sound like. They are oral interviews used to document facts, stories, memories, and whatever other information you can glean from someone else through an interview held orally. With genealogy the intent is to document family history from family members, or even close family friends, prior to their passing in order to preserve the information for future generations. The information is a building block for your genealogy family history file.

This information is key to unlocking family secrets and can be more valuable than anything else you could inherit from a family member. Our family history defines us. It is a part of who we are as individuals and can help us know where we are going.

Preparing For Oral Interviews

It is important to prepare for your oral interviews. Preserving your family history is one of the most important things you can do in your life and should be given the utmost respect. Each oral history you complete for your genealogy research is a part of a legacy you are creating for future generations and by preparing you ensure the best possible interviews which will provide the greatest amount of information.

Some things you may want to consider in preparation are having plenty of paper, a recording device (smartphones work great!), a couple of pens or pencils and a list of questions to ask. You’ll want to make sure the list is as complete as possible because you don’t want to forget anything. These stories and memories you record will answer questions about your heritage and will connect your family members for generations to come.

Memorygrabber A Downloadable Life Story Workbook

Memorygrabber A Downloadable Life Story Workbook is a great idea for any genealogist. It is a compilation of 1001 questions to answer or have answered in order to record family history. What better way to prepare for your oral interviews with relatives than by using a memory life story workbook?

With a Memorygrabber Downloadable Life Story Workbook you’ll have a road map to fully document your relative’s memories and family information in their perspective. You’ll be able to preserve the authenticity of the memories and your relatives’ voices by utilizing these workbooks. These memory workbooks contain 1001 questions which will surely be more than you would ever think of to ask.

How To Use The Memory Life Story Workbook

The best way to use the memory life story workbook is to ask the questions orally to your interviewee and record as you go. This will preserve your loved one’s voice, as well as your own, and it will be a great keepsake for generations to come!

Researching your family history can be very exciting and rewarding. Finding articles on your ancestors and records you find are like piecing together each ancestor’s life and giving you a glimpse into the life each one led. With the memorygrabber downloadable life story workbook and a recording device combined, you can preserve your relatives voices for future generations to literally hear!

But it isn’t just their actual voice you are preserving! By utilizing the memory life story workbook and a recording device, like a smartphone, you will also be recording their figurative voice as well. By this I mean you will be preserving the thoughts, expressions and feelings of your relatives which you interview. You’ll be able to capture the essence of each interviewee which is not something you could preserve through asking questions and writing down answers alone.

Connections To The Past, And Present

Why do people research their family history? What makes people seek out the past? I believe it is a need to connect with our roots that drives us humans to look into our ancestors. It is a need to understand who we are as individuals and how we came to be that leads us to seek out our ancestors and document our family trees.

With smartphones and the internet we are all way more connected than ever before and we have at our disposal the greatest ability to record our heritage for generations to come than any generation before. We have the ability to not only record the voices of our relatives, but we can record videos to share and keep for future generations to hear who our relatives are from their own voices!

Could you think of any more than 1001 questions to ask during your oral interviews? I doubt you could think of half that many. I am sure I would not be able to come up with that many. Having a workbook that gives you a comprehensive set of oral history interview questions is a great way to set yourself up for getting great oral interviews to help further along your family history research and also to give you mementos that will be priceless to future generations!

Click here to read all about a great way to keep your research collection together.

What are you waiting for? Pick up your copy of the Memorygrabber A Life Story Workbook today!

******Get Your Memorygrabber A Downloadable Life Story Workbook now!******

A Walk Down Memory Lane

Having your very own Memorygrabber A Downloadable Life Story Workbook is a great tool for documenting your family history. It gives you a comprehensive set of questions to utilize during your oral history interviews to set you up for success.

Using this workbook will allow you to focus on what is truly important, getting the best interview, documenting those precious family moments and memories, preserving the voice of aging/ill relatives, and continuing to create the legacy that will be handed down for generations to come. Give it a try today!


Get your Memorygrabber A Downloadable Life Story Workbook today!

Thank you for reading my post on Genealogy Oral History Questions – Step #2 To Beginning Your Family History Research. I appreciate you greatly for taking the time out of your day and hope you have found the information useful. Please leave any comments or questions below and I would be happy to get back to you. If you enjoyed the post, please like and share with the links below!

Chas Guevara






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The Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center – A Free Resource For Your Family Research

Across the country there are some really great free resources for genealogy research. Libraries are a rich source of free records, materials and tools to aid researchers in their family tree research for many countries. I’ll be posting a series on the best libraries for researching your family history starting with the Allen County Public Library Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Fort Wayne, IN Located in Allen County

If you have never been to Fort Wayne, IN it is a really nice place to live and/or visit. My husband and I met in Indiana. He is originally from the New Haven/Fort Wayne area and I moved there years ago.

We lived in Fort Wayne for a while, before moving out west, and one of the main attractions, at least for me, was the Allen County Public Library located in downtown Fort Wayne.

I have always held a fondness for books. As a child I read a lot and I mean a lot! I read three novels a day during summer breaks and so the Allen County Public Library was a dream place for me!

The rows and rows of books, the reading tower, the large computer area, the genealogy section, the coffee stand, the art wing, and the rest of the enormous library was like a sanctuary for me.

I spent many days up in the reading tower. I really loved it at the library and every time my husband and I visit Indiana, that is the one place I have to go.

The Genealogy Center

The Allen County Public Library is truly a huge library and has a lot to offer. Really there is something there for everyone and for all of us genealogists there is a whole wing devoted to family history research. Visit the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center online here. You can visit in person with the below address. If you are planning a visit, make sure to check their website for the online catalog which allows you to check the databases to see if there is something there for you to research prior to making the trip.

Allen County Public Library

900 Library Plaza

PO Box 2270

Fort Wayne, IN 46801-2270

(260) 421-1225



Monday-Thursday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Friday-Saturday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Sunday 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

It is great they are open on Sundays! A library with weekend hours is a great thing indeed!

Genealogy Center Databases & Research Archives

The genealogy center at the Allen County Public Library is one of the largest collections of genealogy data anywhere. It contains records from all over the world and is a great resource for genealogists all over. One of the greatest aspects of the genealogy center at ACPL is that their librarians are all genealogists! The staff is very knowledgeable and can answer questions and assist you with your research.

If you visit the online center for the genealogy department, you’ll notice they hold events like 30-minute personal consultations for genealogy research with staff members. I visit the site regularly and see they are always holding some sort of genealogy related events. That would be something you would want to check out if you plan a research trip to Fort Wayne, IN.

The Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center collaborates with other libraries across the county to get the archives online and available for use. The following is a list of the collaborative efforts available thus far:

  • Allen County Public Library
  • American Fork Library
  • Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records
  • Birmingham Public Library
  • Brigham Young University, Harold B. Lee Library
  • Brigham Young University, Hawaii Joseph F. Smith Library
  • Brigham Young University, Idaho David O. McKay Library
  • Church History Library
  • Family History Library
  • Historical Society of Pennsylvania
  • Houston Public Library – Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research
  • Mid-Continent Public Library – Midwest Genealogy Center
  • Maine State Library
  • Onondaga County Public Library
  • University of Florida, George A. Smathers Libraries

The links to these sites are all found within the online center at ACPL. This collaboration effort is called Family History Books and contains more than 350,000 records from around the world. Included in the collection are local and county histories, family histories, some genealogy magazines, some how-to books and medieval histories and family pedigrees.

The genealogy center at ACPL also has more than 95,000 books which have been digitized from their own collection. The collection includes books written in several languages, books from areas across the country and also includes microfilm, and another almost 3 million books which have been digitized from libraries all over the country. The database is search-able by keyword and best of all, completely free!

The genealogy center at ACPL has yet another collaboration which is actually an online family tree. It is a collaborative effort with all the members contributing information. The site is completely free and currently has 2.9 million people adding records. It runs off of tax-deductible contributions and volunteers. This free genealogy site is called werelate.org.

So Much To See, So Much To Do, So Little Time

There is really a lot of information available for genealogists at the Allen County Public Library and it is a really great collection. It would be worth your time to plan a trip and see what all they have to offer, and best of all it is completely free! If you feel the need to plan a trip, just make sure to schedule a tour of the department and use the trip planner online to see what is all available in the collection to research while you are there. Also, don’t forget to bring along your portable external hard drive! These handy devices help researchers stay organized.

The Allen County Public Library – A Must See Stop For Genealogists!

If you have the time and money for travel, then visiting the ACPL is a great place for genealogists to go for researching their family history. I would really prefer to have the time to research in a large library and this one in particular, but my time currently does not allow for that so I primarily utilize online free genealogy websites like WikiTree.

For those of you close to Fort Wayne, IN I would definitely recommend taking a trip to this library. There is a lot of information in this library and something for everyone! If you bring along your children/grand-children, there is a wing for kids too! They will absolutely love the children’s wing and it will keep them occupied while you do your research!

The genealogy center at ACPL has an extensive collection for genealogy, state-of-the-art equipment, librarians that are also genealogists, and so much more! If you are planning a trip somewhere in the Midwest, add a stop in Fort Wayne and check out the library for yourself.

Please comment below if you have used the genealogy center at the Allen County Public Library or have any questions or other comments. I would love to hear you thoughts and please like and share this post with the links below if you found it to be useful!

I truly appreciate you taking the time to read my post!

Chas Guevara






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Genealogy Research – How Long Does It Actually Take To Find Your Family Tree?

I recently had a comment on my post, What Is A Family Tree? – A Detailed Breakdown of What Genealogy Really Is, asking how long it actually takes to complete genealogy research and I answered probably with a vague answer. The truth is, I’m not sure genealogy research is ever done!

Now before you click away, please read on and I’ll explain my reasons for saying this. This post is all about genealogy research and why it has taken me fifteen years and I’m still not done!

How Your Family Dynamic Affects Your Genealogy Research

Researching your family history does take time and depending on your family dynamic, may take longer than others to research. There are a lot of factors which could cause difficulties in your research such as:

  1. Adoption within the family
  2. Loss of contact with relatives
  3. Name changes or variations in spellings
  4. Natural and man-made disasters affecting documentation
  5. International searching
  6. International record keeping
  7. Your personal situation
  8. Tightly held family secrets!
  9. Diversified families
  10. And so many other reasons

This is by far not a complete list of reasons that could cause your research to slow down, but it a list of some I have personally encountered and heard from other researchers as well.

How Adoption Affects Your Family Tree Research

Adoption can be a royal pain in the rear when researching because typically names have changed or you may or may not have any information to go on. In my family we have a few cases, that I know of, where someone has been adopted and information is lacking. One of the biggest problems with adoption is that typically family members do not want to rock the boat so to speak. The family closes ranks and doesn’t want to give details they may know about the situation and over time no one knows anything as memories fade and/or those that know have passed on.

I have two aunts which are biologically my cousins raised by my grandparents. One was legally adopted and the other wasn’t. However, in my family we do not differentiate them. They are, and have always been, both my aunts. I grew up calling them each aunt and still do all these years later. I’ve asked my mom several times about them and she doesn’t really know who their biological dad(s) are. They have the same mother.

I also have a niece and nephew, biologically brother and sister, that my sister adopted. They were foster children that she legally adopted last year. She took them in at less than a year old and two years old. They are now five and six years old. She also has three children biologically, two of which her husband legally adopted.

Very recently I found out an uncle of mine had a child out of wedlock with a young girl back in like 1968-1969 prior to him marrying my aunt. The child (I say child, but he isn’t a child anymore!) found my youngest cousin from that uncle on social media and the two have had some contact.

Adoption makes your research a lot more difficult, but certainly not impossible. It helps when you at least know one biological parent to research as I do in all of these cases. When you are an adopted child, and know nothing about your biological parents, it can pose some challenges. I will delve into this area in a further post. This is a topic that could go on for a good length of time.

Loss Of Contact With Relatives

This day in age, with social media and cell phones, it is probably a lot more difficult to “lose” family members, but in days of yesteryear it was actually quite easy to do. We are all so connected now, it is hard to imagine a time when people didn’t carry phones, let alone even own one!

In my family, we have a whole branch that segregated from the rest on my dad’s side. His father left home in the 1950s to head to Michigan. He is from Kentucky. He left behind family there; brothers, uncles and aunts, cousins, etc. Back in that time period telephones were pricey and long distance calling was expensive. Letters were the method of communication choice, but snail mail, let’s face it is just plain slow. Life gets to us and staying in touch is cumbersome.

For many years I didn’t even know that part of the family existed. My parents didn’t really talk about it much except that some of my aunts and uncles would visit Kentucky and I always wondered why. I know they went to the Kentucky Derby so I just thought that was why. In later years, my dad starting talking about his dad more and how he had family in Kentucky. He didn’t know a lot about them though.

Name Changes or Variations In Spellings

Over time sometimes people change the way their name is spelled or use a completely new name. My name is Chastity, but I’ve been called Chas my whole life so I shorten it. I have a sister-in-law named Kati that was born Katherine, shortened it to Katie and over the years dropped the “e” at the end.

The shortening of names, and/or using nicknames, is pretty common . It can really make researching family a pain because sometimes you don’t even know it is a nickname at all. I have an aunt that I always knew as “Dockie.” I actually thought that was her name because I never heard otherwise until about the time I started doing the family history research.

Another example is that my dad’s family in Kentucky spells their last name Cobern and my grandpa spelled his Coburn. It isn’t a huge difference, but when you are researching and you see inconsistencies, it is sometimes hard to determine if the people you have found are actually relatives because names are spelled differently and information doesn’t match completely.

How Natural or Man-Made Disasters Affect Research

A man-made disaster is like when someone alters information either by intent or accident. Something like setting fire to a county building where records are stored would be a man-made disaster. Natural disasters are things like hurricane Michael that just caused serious devastation or hurricane Katrina from years ago. Natural disasters can cause documentation to become unreadable or obliterate documents all together.

My father’s family lost all record of their existence when the courthouse (where vital records were stored) burned down in a fire when my father was a child. As a result he nor any of his siblings have a birth certificate. I have an aunt whose name was changed during that time because my grandparents decided to change it. There is no record of her birth given name so when she started school, they changed it!

How exactly does this affect your genealogy research? Well, tracing records is a huge way to determine family history. There are almost no records for me to find for that branch of the family. Of course newer generations have records to find, but the records of all aunts, uncles, cousins, great-uncles and aunts, etc. are non-existent. I have had to turn to alternative methods of search.

International Searching & Record Keeping

Depending on the country, completing research that spans overseas can also cause some problems. Irish, Scottish and English records are fairly well documented as there are many researchers researching family histories within those countries and many databases available to utilize for searching those areas.

My husband is Mexican though and researching his family history is like hitting a brick wall. First of all, the records are pretty non-existent. Mexico does not keep records like we do in the US and finding records is also more difficult because of the difference in names. My husband has a lot of people named Manual in his family. Of course, they all have the same last name as well. Men typically take on their mother’s maiden name as their middle name. The records are in Spanish. There are a lot of reasons researching foreign records can be cumbersome.

I switch it up and research my mom’s dad’s side sometimes and then her mom’s side and then switch to my dad’s mom’s or dad’s. In between I search my husband’s dad’s or mom’s side. I don’t stick to one side or the other for too long, especially with his family history because it is so much harder to research. I choose to skip around and when I find something new in whatever branch I’m working on, I follow it until I hit that figurative brick wall.

Family Secrets Can Cause A Lot Of Headache Regarding Your Research!

Family secrets can really affect your research. These days many families no longer keep some things secret like having children out of wedlock, but back some years ago that was definitely a hush-hush situation. I remember sitting in my mom’s sister’s house listening to the adults at the table and they were discussing a young girl who had a baby at sixteen and died during childbirth. She was unwed and her and the baby were buried together on a hill by a tree.

At the time I was probably 8-10 years old. I did not have any cousins my age to play with, so when we were at this aunt’s house I typically sat with the adults and heard some juicy family stories that one just didn’t discuss in civilized society. I never brought up that story until recently when my mom and I made a genealogy trip to Michigan to visit cemeteries. I asked her about it and she couldn’t recall who it was in regard to. She asked her sisters, who were also there, and neither of them could recall either. Dealing with aging relatives is also an issue that impedes family history research!

Diversified Families Can Impede Research

What do I mean diversified families? Well families come in all types. Many families have two moms and dads. Some people are raised by other relatives than their parents. Recently we lost a young member of our family to cancer. She wasn’t even 30 years old and has two kids. Her children are now being raised by her sister. That is a diversified family. Many families these days are diversified and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it, but it can make your family research take longer.

Some people have never known one or the other, sometimes either, of their parents. Of course, you can research based on what you actually do know, but if you do not have all the details about your biological parents, it can slow things down.

Your Situation Can Greatly Impact Your Family History Research

You may have noticed I skipped over this category when I started giving details about each one. This was intentional because this category is what truly caused my research to take so long.

What I mean by your situation is that your personal life can affect your research in terms of time limits for when you have available to work on your research projects. I work full-time, go to school full-time and have other things I like to do as well such as online gaming! I love games and like to relax with them.

To me genealogy is a hobby and in my opinion is never done. It is something I do when the mood hits. Some days I am sitting around thinking of my dad and start looking at pictures and researching names. I start researching when I am feeling nostalgic or when I feel like I don’t want to do my homework. Sometimes I get into kicks where all I do in my free time is research and other times I am just too tired after work and school to do any research at all.

I have been working on my family history research for fifteen years, but there have been times when I did nothing on it for a few years at a time so to say I spent fifteen whole years working on it isn’t the case. My dad died in Feb of 2016 and until May of this year (2018) I didn’t research anything. I didn’t have the heart to research. I was in Arizona and had absolutely no family around me. I worked as many hours as work would allow me to and did homework when I was at home.

Your situation could be completely different from mine and maybe you want to research with no interruptions. That is completely OK and of course it won’t take you as long as me depending on your family dynamic. I am choosing to take longer at it because I view it as a hobby I enjoy.

I also do other things while I am researching such as visit cemeteries and take photos for sites like findagrave.com, I get obsessed with looking through old photos at my mom’s house and get her reminiscing about stories of yesteryear, I take trips to Michigan to visit graves and get information for my research, etc. I spend a lot of time tracking down my hundreds and hundreds of cousins and getting their information on children, birthdays, Facebook profiles, addresses, etc. I do not spend all of my time researching the ancestors, because what is it all about anyways? It is about the living. Discovering your family tree is about documenting your family history for future generations and leaving the legacy behind.

And of course there’s the “it’s not finished until you say it’s finished” reference. That is one my favorite lines from Stephen King’s Rose Red, which of course is fictional, but the point is that I don’t feel my family tree will ever be “completed.” A family tree is a living, breathing entity as I discussed in a previous article. A family tree is always evolving. Some branches are dying out as the people within it are aging and other branches are newly forming as new additions come to the family.

History In The Making

I’ve always heard that history happens all around us and that statement is so true. Every day is history in the making because that day can never be repeated. Researching your family history is about enjoying the time you have with your loved ones and documenting your family heritage for the living as a legacy to be handed down through the future generations to come.

If you are researching your family tree, you will understand what I am saying surely because it is addictive when you find those new clues and just cannot stop following them to wherever they lead. Some of you I have heard from have complete family histories back for centuries. Some of you may be considering starting your journey to finding your ancestors and I am here to help in whatever capacity I can.

Please leave any comments or questions below and if you loved this post, please feel free to share it using the social media icons below! Thank you so much for reading my post! I wish you the best with your genealogy research!

Chas Guevara





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What Is A Family Tree? – A Detailed Breakdown of What Genealogy Really Is

I’ve been researching my family history for fifteen plus years now and the other day I was thinking about a family tree. What is a family tree? Why did a family tree start getting called a family tree? Why is it important to know your family tree?

What Is Genealogy?

Genealogy is the combination of utilizing interviews, records, genetic analysis, and other data in order to gather information about a family unit and show the lineage of its members. Now that sounds very technical, but in reality it isn’t really all that complicated. Genealogy is, quite simply, the study of one’s family lineage by utilizing historical documents and other means.

To me, genealogy is the study of a family. How the family started. How the family evolved and also where the family is headed. Genealogy is about knowing your roots.

Why Do People Get Into Genealogy?

Everyone has a reason for what they do. There are varying reasons for why someone gets into genealogy and researches their family history, but the main reason I feel most people get into it, is to preserve their family heritage to pass down to future generations. We all want to carve our piece of history out and preserve it for those that come after us. That’s why people make time capsules, right?

I started out in my genealogy search about fifteen years ago when my dad started questioning some things about his family. I started researching as a means to get him some answers for things he wanted to know. It didn’t really occur to me that I would get so into it.

The death of my father left me feeling misplaced in the world and, with genealogy, I have found that place again. By researching my family history, I feel connected to the members of my family tree and, more specifically, my dad. I think that many family history researchers probably feel the same way. But to add to it, putting together their family tree helps them to preserve that history for many generations to come.

What Is A Family Tree?

Now you have an idea of what genealogy is and why people get into it, so what is a family tree? Why do we call a family tree, a family tree?

Just the other day I was getting ready for work and I started contemplating that very question. Why is it called a family tree? My thought is that a family tree was called a family tree because each family unit within a family looks like the branch of a tree so I looked up the definition of family tree and found, according to Mirriam-Webster, a family tree is a genealogical diagram. But I would venture to say it is more in depth than that.

A tree is a living, breathing organism that grows in the sunlight with nourishment. A family does the same thing. Give a family nourishment and light, and family will prosper. Take away those things and the family unit dies out, just like a tree dies out without proper sunlight and nourishment.

Over time branches of a tree die out and fall off and all the while new growth is happening to the tree. The tree is getting more roots and more buds which become new branches and leaves. A family does the same thing. Family members die and family members are born. The new buds on a tree represent the new members each family brings.

A family tree is an easier way to view a family as a diagram, but it is so much more. It is the past, present and future. It is the story of a family and genealogists are putting the pieces of their family puzzles together, one piece at a time so that their family story can be told accurately. Professional genealogists also help others to track their lineage and to put their family stories together.

The Importance Of Knowing Your Family Tree

When someone goes to a doctor, the doctor or staff member at the clinic will ask about family history in regard to medical conditions. Why do they do that? Well, they do it because many conditions are hereditary and knowing family history helps medical personnel to choose a course of action.

Let’s say someone has a family history of cancer in the immediate family. This makes the patient at a much higher risk of developing cancer so at the slightest sign of something like a lump, the medical staff will order tests for cancer.

Well, the same holds true for family history research. Knowing your family history can help with medical problems. It can help heal families. Many families have lost members through the years due to divorce, adoption, or just loosing track of each other. Researching your family can lead you to finding those that have been lost and reconnecting. Family history research can provide you with a sense of belonging and a sense of peace. It can give you that piece of the world that you can leave as a legacy for future generations.

Paying Homage To Your Ancestors

Regardless of the reasons you research your family history, the truth is a family is a living, breathing entity. Families deserve respect and researching your family history is a great way to pay homage to your ancestors. It is a way to show respect to those who have traveled before you and leave that legacy for future generations to build upon.

The family tree is a picture description of the family. It is a visual representation of the love shared within a family and it is breathtaking to see the family tree filled out. It still amazes me what two people can accomplish. Just two people can start a huge family tree and a long-lasting legacy.

I hope you have enjoyed my post and would love to hear your thoughts on the matter. What is a family tree to you? Please leave your comments and/or questions below.

Chas Guevara






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A Free Printable Family Tree Chart – Useful Tools for Beginning Your Family Tree Research!

I’ve written a few posts on getting started with creating your family tree, but something I haven’t really touched on yet is what to actually use for starting your family tree. I started my family tree with notebook paper, which is effective, but does create a bit of confusion particularly when you do not know exactly how everyone is related.

In this post I want to go over some useful free tools, like a free printable family tree chart, which can help you organize your family information to limit the confusion. This way you don’t have to keep asking “how is this person related again?” Sometimes I feel I annoy my mom by asking her the same questions!

Free Printable Family Tree Charts

Family tree charts are available in multiple places online and are mostly all free. In this post I’ll point out where to get some of them from and also how to utilize them to your benefit.

First of all I’ll discuss the importance of having your family tree information on something concrete. We all know that the Internet is not 100% safe and the information we store online is not absolutely secure either against hackers or against man-made and natural disasters. Computer systems fail, people can hack into the files and steal information or corrupt it, natural disasters can occur, and as a result information can be lost.

It is important to safeguard your family tree to prevent having to redo any of your hard work. I recommend backing up your file both electronically and physically. The genealogy websites do allow files to be printed out and at the very least I would recommend printing each family tree chart called a pedigree.

An alternative to this would be to print out one of the many free online printable family tree charts and manually filling the chart out with names, birth dates, death dates, anniversaries and children’s names included. This would save a ton of time when re-entering any lost data should a problem occur.

WikiTree Free Printable Blank Family Tree Charts

I recently wrote a post on WikiTree. You can read all about it here, but within WikiTree is a system for printing various family pedigree charts. I have not found a way to print a blank family tree chart out, but with WikiTree you can print a variety of family trees out in different generational levels.

I have created a new account for the purpose of showing you what it would look like and without adding information it looks like the following:

After you have added information about your family into your WikiTree account, other printable family trees are available including family profile sheets and multi-generational charts.

Other Online Printable Family Tree Sheets

FamilyTreeTemplates.net has a variety of free and low cost printable family tree charts available. Some go to as many as 12 generations and are all free unless you would rather have a customizable version. The website states there are 328 versions available so much to choose from! Below is a sampling of some printable charts available.

DustyDocs.com offers a free printable family tree chart which is also available on Pinterest. I have provided a link to print it out for your convenience.

Another available chart on Pinterest is a large tree chart.

There are many other printable charts available online for your every need. I chose these few to list because they encompass the most important aspects of beginning research. The simple pedigree chart is really great for easily jotting down names and dates to add to your online family tree at a later time. This will help with your organization and also it serves the dual-purpose of having a backup in case there is a problem with the online file.

Other Useful Tools for Family Tree Research

File box for storing your family tree information in
Click here to purchase on Amazon!

Once you have your system down for writing out your family tree information, whether it’s through the use of printable blank or filled out family tree pedigrees or simple paper and pen, you’ll want something to start filing these important papers in right away. I utilize the boxes you would use to store important papers in. File boxes you can get at any office supply store, green hanging folders and tabs.

For your convenience I have added a link to the picture of a file box which will take you to Amazon to purchase that particular box if you would want to.

The system you use for filing is whatever works well for you. I have my files set up by surname since I am researching my mom’s side, my dad’s side, my husband’s’s dad’s side and his mom’s side. I have surname files for all 4 names and break down the folders from there.

In the files you’ll want to store the pedigree sheets for each branch of your family along with any important documents you collect. Death certificates, birth certificates, obituaries, newspapers clippings, school records, church records, etc are all important pieces of your family puzzle you’ll want to collect and store for safe keeping.

Having these important documents will also help to restore your online family tree if anything happens causing a loss of information. These documents will help you to easily repair any damage.

Organization Is The Key To success

Staying organized will go along way to keeping your family tree gathering on track. Having printable family tree charts will help your family sections stay together and eliminate the confusion. It will also serve as a great backup system in case of natural or mad-made disasters or any other thing which could cause a loss of your long sought after information.

I also find the family tree pedigree charts help me visualize the connections in the family. For instance, I have multiple Addies in my family. Having the charts helps me to see which specific person I am researching at a given time so as not to confuse them and search the wrong information. This could lead to very frustrating results!

Whichever system you choose, it is just important to keep organization and maintain focus on what you are researching. Having some sort of pedigree charts will help you pick up where you left off when there are intervals between searches due to work, school, or other life activities. Let’s face it…We are all busy with life and remembering exactly where we left off could prove to be difficult. I make notes for myself as well as having all of my documentation. This really helps when I’m switching between branches of my family tree and my husband’s family tree as well.

I hope you have found this information helpful and look forward to assisting you with your journey to find your ancestors. Please leave any comments or questions below and I’ll be happy to get back to you!

Thank you,

Chas Guevara


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How To Search For People For Free – Online Research Made Easy!

Are you looking to find someone and have limited funds? Have you started or are you wanting to start doing genealogy research on your ancestors? If you are you have come to the right place. I have been researching my family history for the last fifteen years and I will share you with some tips on how to search for people for free.

Totally Free Genealogy Sites

I recently wrote a post on totally free genealogy sites which you can read all about here. I will not go into a lot of detail here, but there are many sites online which can be utilized to search for people totally free. I will say my favorite option, which is completely free, would have to be either the LDS website Family Search or WikiTree. Either of these are good options and could be used to create a family tree for free.

Libraries Are A Great Way To Complete Research For Free

Public libraries are a great place to begin research, especially if you live locally to the area your family lived in. Looking over the microfilm is a great way to find information on your ancestors in the old newspaper articles from the area. Also most libraries have genealogy sections with records for ancestry research.

Getting a library card is usually free and researching within a library is free. If you have a library card then you are all set!

Local Records Departments

Another great place to get some information on your family is at churches in the area or civil buildings where records are stored. Churches usually have records on patrons and could be very helpful for your research and records departments can give you certified copies of records for use in your research.

Cemeteries Hold A Wealth Of Information

Visiting cemeteries, in the area your family members would be buried in, is a great way to get information about your ancestors. Recently I was visiting my dad where he is buried in Michigan and, while I have been there several times, I discovered a grave close to his of a family member I did not even know was buried in that cemetery. The headstone gave me quite a bit of information I did not have. I was able to obtain the correct full name of the relative, their date of death and birth, the military status and more!

As I walk through cemeteries, I take my phone out and take pictures of each headstone of my relatives and sometimes a few to make sure I can see everything in the photo. Then, when I am completing my research at home, I enlarge the photos on my computer and can enter all the information from the stones into my family tree profile.

Many headstone list birth and death dates, anniversaries and even children and grandchildrens’ names. I have also found that family members are often buried close to other family members and found relatives in this way. As I walk through the cemeteries, I will also take photos of headstones which share the same surname as the names I am researching. i then see if I can find a family connection.

Social Media Is a Great Free Option For Genealogy Research

The best way I have personally found, on how to search for people for free, is to utilize social media. Everyone has a smartphone these days and that very cellphone opens a whole new method for genealogy research online. You have at your fingertips, a totally free way of finding your relatives.

When I first started out with my genealogy research, I made lists of my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, their kids, my siblings and their kids, and everyone else I could think of. I then asked my parents and compiled all the information into a free genealogy site.

I have since taken this information and I use social media to find my relatives I do not know or haven’t seen in many years. It is fairly simple because I have found most people do not have their profiles as private. scary in this day in age, but true. I take the names of people I know in my family tree that I am connected to on say Facebook and then search through their profiles. I look in the About page for relatives added, schools they attended, locations they lived in, their birthday, and whatever else I can find.

I then add the information into my family tree profile and it gives me so many more clues to search for and the ability to find additional ancestors! Each and every clue is a step closer to finding and filling your family tree and Facebook is free!

Free Resources Are Out There!

There are a lot of ways for how to search for people for free if you are willing to devote some time to the task. Paid sites are easier to maneuver and easier to search, but free methods are available. Searching via social media can be a daunting task, but it gives so much information and also you can have a picture to put to the name!

Having a picture of each relative in my family tree profile helps me keep the people separate in my mind. This is especially helpful when two people, like a father and son, share the same name. having a picture helps me keep them straight. It also adds a very real element to the person, that personal touch.

Other ways of searching for free are libraries, civil records departments, churches, free genealogy sites, and cemeteries. If you have found any other methods for researching your family tree for free, I would love to hear all about it below! I have compiled a list of some free genealogy sites, but if there are others you have tried and liked, please let me know! I will gladly check them out and write about them as well!

I hope you have found this information helpful. Please let me know below if you have any comments or questions. I would love to hear from you!

Chas Guevara






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A Link To The Past – Discovering Your Roots

Every journey begins with a single step and that is exactly how my journey to find my roots started. I began my genealogy research for my family tree about 15 years ago as a hobby to find out information for my dad. He grew up in a family that didn’t really talk about who or where they came from.

In his later years, my dad started to wonder about his roots and family history. I started the research for him and have become very involved in learning more about my family history for myself. I’m not sure if the search is really ever over as every day I am discovering more links to the past and it all started with a link to the past. A single step taken has led to a wealth of knowledge about my family and it can for you also!

My Journey to Find My Family Tree

Years ago, when I first started compiling information about my family, I started with what I knew. Granted, that really wasn’t much. I knew my grand-parents names, my parents names, some of my cousins and of course my siblings. I wrote down everything into lists by family units and then started researching free genealogy sites in order to store my information in and make it easier to sift through all the data.

I then started questioning my parents for additional relatives names. I combed through their photo albums and made notes on the pictures of people I didn’t recognize. It is fascinating learning new things about your family members and looking at old photos is like taking a journey. The memories including in those old family photos will really entice your family members to help you with your research.

I’ve spent hours going over photos with my mom and each time, she gives me a piece of the puzzle when she relates what she remembers about the family member or time-frame involved. Including in the photo albums have been newspaper clippings and death notices, which are really great pieces of information for compiling your family tree. Each one is a link to the past and helps to fill in gaps within the family tree.

Setting Goals and Achieving Them

When I started the journey to discover my roots, I set some non-specific goals which I wanted to achieve and have revisited them through-out the process. I was amazed when I reached 500 people and as of today, I have achieved my next goal of adding 1,000 people to my family file.

A single step to finding a link to the past has now led to the discovery of over 1,000 links to my family tree. It is simply amazing to me that starting with just my mom’s parents, Virgil C. Herrick and Ella Mary Parker Herrick, 1,000 people have been connected between my mom and dad’s sides of the family. It is truly incredible that 2 people can affect the world so enormously. The thought that if either of them had not met, what would my family tree look like?

Discovering Your Ancestors

Discovering your ancestors and filling in your family tree is like a puzzle. Each new piece of information gives you a whole new path to follow. I like to take the information where it leads me. I focus on one tiny branch at a time. For example, I wrote down all of my siblings names and their childrens’ names. I then entered each one with their spouses and children by family unit and searched for all the information I could find before moving onto the next sibling.

By researching this way, your branches of your tree will fill out more so and you won’t get confused on where you left off at. I like to see a complete family unit before I move onto another. Of course I run into additional siblings I didn’t have before (not my own!) sometimes or additional children and just add them and fill out as much as you can.

Finding A Link To The Past

Finding a link to the past can be a cumbersome task, but by filling out each branch one at a time, you’ll save yourself some headache. I find it easier to do it a branch at a time so you are focused on specific names and dates. Skipping around causes me some headache because I end up looking for someone with the wrong birth/death date or the wrong spelling of the name.

For an example, I looked for my great-grandfather Edward Herrick with his two oldest children and wife Adda. In Michigan, where they lived at the time, the names of two Edward Herrick’s appear, both with wives named a variation of Adda and both with 2 children. The names of the children for one of the Edward Herrick’s did not both match any of my family members and thus I knew that the second Edward Herrick was correct.

Had I not been focused on the names of his children, the birthdays of everyone and the name of his spouse, I could have easily had added the wrong Edward Herrick to my file. My mother knows so little about her grand-father Edward Herrick because he died when my grand-father (her father) was a small child. My mother never knew him because he was only 32 when he died.

I had added incorrect information to my family tree file before, and let me just say it causes such a headache because I spent hours searching for a person that does not exist in family tree. Some information can led to misinformation so when you are researching your family tree, make sure the information is correct prior to adding it to your file. This will save you time especially if you do not have everyday all day long to devote to your research. Adding information intending to verify later can led to frustration because you may forget you have done this, as I have on occasion.

Building Out Your Family Tree and Enjoying The Journey

Finding the roots to your family can be a very cumbersome task, but also can be very rewarding and fun. It can be fun for the whole family when you relate what you have found out and the whole process can be enjoyable. Discovering a link to the past is like walking down the same path your ancestor has taken. It is nostalgic and feels me with a happiness which is hard to explain. It is almost like my dad is there with me as I take the journey.

My dad passed away in February 2016 from lung cancer, and by researching his family tree I get the sense he is still with me. I often visit cemeteries in my local area of Plover, WI and take photos of headstones to assist other researchers with their family tree searches and each time I feel a connection to the past. I was always afraid of cemeteries as a child, but now I find them oddly relaxing.

Cemeteries hold a wealth of knowledge in them as well and are a great place to get clues to your family history. Each time I visit Michigan, I visit the cemeteries and find headstones of relatives. I always take pictures so I have the dates and correct spellings of names. I have found most also have anniversary dates on them and many also have their kids names and even grand-kids names.

Have fun with your family research and enjoy all the time you have with those loved ones you have as life is very short. I hope all of you enjoy your research as much as I do and if you ever have any questions or comments please leave them below. I look forward to helping you all with your journeys!





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My Family tree – How To Complete Your Family Tree

Family TreePhoto by takato marui

Genealogy was never something that interested me much as a child. I did often ask my parents and grand-parents questions about where we came from, but to actually research the family never crossed my list of important things to do. I was more concerned with playing with dolls or listening to music than I was with finding who was on my family tree.

As we get older though, our priorities change. I became a mom at the age of eighteen and rounding my mid-twenties mark I started really thinking about who I am and where I came from as well as my parents. I asked my dad questions about his siblings, parents and grand-parents and, for the most part, he didn’t have a lot of answers to give me.

My dad actually started to want to know the answers and so I started a quest to learn who our ancestors were for him. Now fifteen years later I want to help others with their journeys to self discovery through finding the links to their past.

How To Start Filling In Your Family Tree

The very first thing I did, when researching my family tree, was to make a list of everyone my parents could think of related to us. I wrote down all of my aunts and uncles and their children’s names. I wrote down my grand-parents and the few great-grand-parents names my parents knew.

Family TreeI wrote down any dates they knew such as birthdays, weddings, death dates, etc. I started compiling the information into free websites for ancestry such as Wikitree.com. Having the information in a database made it easier to view the tree and see what I still needed to fill in my family tree.

After I finished finding out everything my parents could tell me, I started contacting relatives and asking them about their children, parents, grand-parents, etc. These days staying in touch is simple with Facebook.com and other social media sites. Now I only have to send a friend request to relatives and ask questions, whereas years ago you would have had to send letters or make phone calls. This ability makes researching so much easier.

Research Possibilities For Completing Your Family tree

There are many ways to go about finding your roots, to research your family tree and find your ancestors such as online through genealogy websites like wikitree.com or ancestry.com. You can also go to your local public library and research the newspapers on microfilm and in books and records. You can visit your local records office to obtain copies of birth, marriage and death records. You could travel to places where your family lived and visit libraries and records offices.

The possibilities are endless, but the start should be similar to the way I started. Start by writing down or typing out a list of everyone you can think of and ask your parents, grand-parents and siblings of everyone they can think of as well. Unfortunately for me, I never knew my dad’s dad who died before I was born and my mom’s mom who died when I was 4. My two remaining grand-parents died 11 months apart when I was 11 and 12.

My parents were both on the younger end of their siblings and so the information they knew about their ancestors was very limited so the bulk of what I know, I learned the old-fashioned way through research.

Collecting Information For Finding Your Roots

Once you have the basics down, all the people and dates you can compile, you can start to research and collect additional information to fill in your family tree as I filled in my family tree. It really helps to have as many names and dates you can compile because when you start researching records, you can eliminate people who do not have the same names and/or dates in common.

Jane Austen Family Tree

For instance, when I was researching a great-grandmother on my mothers’ side, I found a person with an identical name with a spouse of the same name as her spouse and a child with a very similar name. Looking over the record I found the dates did’t match or the area she lived in and so I put it into the maybe file until I later ruled it out completely. I have actually run across this quite a few times so having as many names as you can compile is important to help eliminate false information.

I have fallen into a trap of adding information to my file that was incorrect and trust me when I say, it can be very time-consuming and frustrating because then everyone you find related to that person just makes no sense. Now I employ the concept of not adding a person unless I am positive the person is actually who I am looking for. This eliminates confusion particularly since I cannot work on my file every single day.

Another thing I do is to look at the information for validity. By this I mean I check the dates against the age and see if it makes sense. For instance, my aunt gave me some information on my great-grandmother which would have made her 9 when she started having children. This is possible, but unlikely. I had a marriage date already for her and my great-grandfather that would have put her around 18 at marriage which is far more likely. I kept the information my aunt gave me, but did not change what I had already and have found multiple records supporting what I already had in my family tree.

Learning New Things About Your Ancestry

I have found it relaxing and fun to research my family ancestry and to fill in my family tree. With each new person I add, I am adding to my family story and researching what was happening during that time period and discovering the reasons behind why my parents ended up finding one another.

My father was actually born in Tip Top, Kentucky which is literally the top of a mountain. It is a coal-mining small Old Family Phototown where pretty much everyone is related. My mother was born in Michigan where she met my dad at 12 years old. I find it fascinating that those two met because it is highly improbable and that is what I find so exciting about researching my family history.

What is it that makes people migrate from one area across country to another area? Especially when it was during a time when travel was pretty slow and my dad’s family was poor. They did not have a lot of means and my dad actually worked in the onion fields at 12 years old to help support the family. In his family there were sixteen kids!

My father stopped going to school at a very young age and worked to help his parents support their family. His father had been previously married and had 4 children from his previous wife. My grand-mother then had 10 children with him and they raised 2 of their grand-children as their own.

I just find it amazing how things work out. I find it intriguing how two people can meet when they are born worlds apart. Finding out your family history will hopefully be as exciting for you as mine was for me. I spend my free time completing research with online websites for archived newspapers and through websites for genealogy. I am on a mission to discover all of my links to my past!

Discovering Your Roots

Finding your roots and filling out your family tree will hopefully a fun and exciting venture as mine as been and continues to be. Knowing your heritage is important and will give you the ability to tell your children and grand-children where they come from.

Family Tree RootsThe information is out there waiting to be uncovered and I am here to help in any way I can. I have found, during my research, that other people are very willing to help in whatever way they can even with taking pictures of graves in their local area for families that live out of the area. We are all on the same path for discovering our roots and filling in our own family trees and the network is really great.

If you have any questions, comments, or anything else please feel free to add them below and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. I look forward to sharing in your journey to self discovering and helping you fill out your family tree as I have filled out my family tree!

Chas Guevara







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