Question #2 from the previous post was a poll on how much do you know about your ancestors revealed that 19% of the surveyed people did not know information about their great-grandparents. In order to find them, this requires knowledge about your parents, and your grandparents. Hopefully you know your parents. Knowing facts about them is the foundation of your family tree.
How to find your Great Grandparents
If you don’t know your grandparents, hopefully someone is living that can answer your questions of their names, birth and death dates and places, as well as other family tree information. Depending on the generation of person that you are researching, and how much you know, will contribute to the amount of effort needed to find your answers.
Start your Family Tree Research with one Question
In trying to find any ancestor, start with one person, and one question at a time to fill in the gaps.
Start with the place of the event. If you don’t know where the event took place, you need to piece together possible places based on what you know about the person and their immediate relatives. Look through: census records, old telephone books, residence directories, and church records to help narrow down your search for “where”.
Once you know the “where” then you can discover the “when”
Start by using an average age of when the event could have taken place and exhaust all reasonable possibilities for a match.
Types of Historical Events to Figure Out
Depending on what you are trying to figure out, you should use the following sources to help answer your question. Using more than one source is always a good idea to help build a reliable family tree that is built with sources. The following sources are always useful for genealogy research:
Death Certificate – you can find the names of the person’s parents, when and where they were born, as well as the ancestor. It will also tell you where they were buried and when.
Obituary – can have countless information about the person, depending on who wrote the announcement and how detailed it is.
Church Records – if the person was religious, you should seek out the possible records that exist for their church. Many churches have records about a family that can extend your family tree quickly.
Bible Records – See if a relative has an old family bible. Many times, they have recorded important family tree history facts with dates and places.
Newspapers – check them for birth, marriage, and death details. Often they have enough information to give you the right direction for your quest of “when” and “where”. As well as, help confirm relationships.
Social Security Records – find possible matches using the social security death index. Then order a copy of the original social security application, SS-5. This will give you insight about the person’s birth, where they were living, and, details about their parents, including the mother's maiden name.
Cemeteries – find headstones with your ancestors birth and death facts. You can also discover their spouse, as well as, other immediate relatives.
Funeral Homes – often have records that they can search to help produce death and burial details.
Create a Research Log for your Family Tree
Make sure you are recording all your finding, positive and negative. This will help you from doing the same research again in the future, if you are stuck trying to find something. Sharing your research with another family member or fellow genealogist can also help you possibly try a new approach or technique that may help to unravel your brick wall and help build another branch of your family tree.