Saturday, March 6, 2010

German Roots

German Roots
Kathryn Brannigan Walizer

While browsing the Internet a few months ago I typed "genealogy sites" in Google
Many sites came up but one site caught my attention. Now perhaps you are saying fine but I do not have German ancestors. Well do not pass this up because this site should have the sub-title "And Every Other Nationality" I started to click the links on the main page and was amazed with all the genealogy information jammed packed into the compact web site, Again each link will take you to pages and pages of genealogy information that will be of help to everyone.

The First link I decided to look at was Search Online Genealogy Records this opens a page with General Genealogy Indexes & Records - USA and Genealogy Records for Individual Groups & Countries alphabetical by country or ethnic group now this page alone will take days to go though

The Second link I opened was Finding People and Places this will give you Online Telephone Books & People Finding Tools. An especially useful link is the People Searching link which helps in finding living and recently deceased people in the USA plus online tools for adoptees, genealogists and other missing persons searchers this page also has telephone books and white and yellow pages for every section of the USA.

The Third link I tried was General Resources that brings up general genealogy resources on the Internet including "FamilySearch", "Cyndi's List", "Rootsweb's WorldConnect Project 'Ancestry's Genealogy Message Boards , "US GenWeb Project Archive", "Genealogical Resources at the National Archives", "", and" Library of Congress", along with many other links to wonderful sites.

The Fourth link I wanted to explore was the Emigration and Immigration Records, here you will find links to sections on this page listed on the top as:Passenger Arrival Records | Passenger Departure Records | Naturalization Records | Ships

Totally amazed at the information I was accessing, I continued to roam though all the new pages these links brought up.

The Fifth link I explored was Census Clues and Links which details US census help, links & online records. Many of these sites are fee based like, but give it a look it also has many links to great information. It also has free downloadable blank census forms.

The Sixth link I looked at was Online Searchable Military Records I know many will find this page very informative, as it details every war from the Revolution to Vietnam and every conflict in-between

Down to the Quick Link section I suggest everyone browse though this section, there you will find links to searchable databases online
It has indexes, records & databases on the Internet

And the moral is: "Do Not Judge A Website By Its Name'. and oh yes, if you happen to be researching German ancestors this web site will be a very, very good help.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Ellis Island Research

Ellis Island Research
Kathryn Brannigan Walizer

Always wanted to go to Ellis Island to check out your ancestor’s arrival? Never seem to find the time to go? Or it is too far away ?
Well now you can go from the comfort of your home office and computer. Granted it is not as much fun as being there, but you can glean some much need information from the Ellis Island Website. The link is

After bringing up the site, you will see tab that say Passenger Search, Ellis Island, Family Scrapbooks, Genealogy
Starting with the passenger search you can enter the ancestors name and birth date and hit search, the site will give you a list of persons that entered Ellis Island with that birth date, and name if you find your ancestor it will in all likelihood give you the ships manifest that you can look at and if desired you can order a copy at a nominal fee.

The second tab will bring up the historical facts associated with the Island. It is very interesting reading and offers photographs and web links to sites referring to immigration and citizenship for example will bring you to the Citizenship and Immigration Service website.

The Genealogy Tab is truly a goldmine of information and help for the beginner and even the more advanced researcher. In this portion of the site you will find a tab that offers information on how to research and organize data, a free pedigree chart download and directions on how to use it. A family history sheet and a passenger log

In this tab, it also will list helpful site outside of the Ellis Island site related to genealogy.

The following are among the many helpful sites related to genealogy.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons), this site contains a large and freely searchable archive. Among the data are: the Social Security Death Index (SSDI), U.S. Federal Census for 1880 or the 1881 census for both the British Isles and Canada, a vital records index containing birth, marriage, and death records from around the world. You can download free software for managing your family tree on your computer. Personal Ancestral File or PAF is both powerful and easy to use even for a novice computer user. A very helpful site and free to all visitors.
The National Archives and Records Administration WEb site contains a tremendous amount of information on everything from genealogy to White House tape recordings, Presidential Libraries to the Declaration of Independence. Don't be surprised if you find yourself coming back to this site on a regular basis - it's fantastic and full of useful information for all levels of research. To link directly to the genealogy section of this site, click here.
The USGenWeb Project is a group of volunteers working together to provide Web sites for genealogical research in every county and every state of the United States. The Project is non commercial and fully committed to free access of genealogy information for everyone. Organization of the site is by county and state, providing links to all the state Web sites which, in turn, provide gateways to the county. USGenWeb also sponsors important Special Projects at the national level.
The Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild is a group of volunteers focused on transcribing passenger arrival records and publishing their work online so that immigrant arrivals can be more easily found online. Access to this site is free and all researchers are welcome to share transcriptions they may have already completed. The site currently has free access to more than 7,000 individual passenger manifests and this number continues to grow.
The Federation of Genealogical Societies is an umbrella organization whose membership is made up of the hundreds of genealogical and historical societies in the United States, as well as some international organizations. With more than 500 member societies, FGS has a collective membership numbering in the tens-of-thousands. Each year, representatives and delegates from many of these societies gather for an annual conference. A quarterly publication, FORUM, contains an assortment of articles of interest to societies and their membership.
The online home of the National Genealogical Society, this non-profit organization was formed in 1903 for the benefit of all levels of genealogy (beginner to professional) and promotes education, a high standard of research principles and scholarly practices, and interest in genealogy, family history, and a range of other related activities.
The Association of Professional Genealogists is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting a high set of professional and ethical standards for genealogy research. With more than 1,500 members, the expert knowledge of their members covers a wide range of geographic, ethnic, and other specialties. You can also see more details about APG on our Web site by clicking here.
This site is a general reference for the United States Federal Census and is useful for anyone conducting family history research. Since 1790, the U.S. has conducted a federal census every 10 years and these records contain valuable clues regarding the location and makeup of all American families. A great starting point to learn about census for genealogy research (and it's free).
In many ways, Pier 21 is Canada's equivalent to Ellis Island. From 1928 to 1971, this port received over one million immigrants, wartime evacuees, refugees, troops, war brides and their children. In 1999, Pier 21 reopened after a renovation of the historic building and now pays tribute to those who passed through its doors.
This site is the online home of the Library of Congress and has a tremendous variety of material on many subjects relating to American history, veterans, and other areas sure to be of interest to any genealogist. Of particular interest, you should be sure to see the American Memory section which provides access to many photographs, maps, historic documents, as well as audio and video. An especially useful site for educators.

These are just a few of the places available be sure to check out all the site has to offer and although this site cannot compare to being at Ellis Island, I hope it will provide help to those who cannot travel there. For those who have used the site or have actually been there we would love to have you comments

Words To Live By

Words to live by:
Throw out all the non-essential numbers. This includes age, weight and height. Let the doctor worry about them -- that is why you pay him.
Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches pull you down. If you really need a grouch, there are probably a few of your relatives to do the job.
Keep learning. Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening, whatever. Just never let your brain idle.
Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath. Laugh so much that you can be tracked in the store by your distinctive laughter.
The tears happen. Endure, grieve, and move On. The only person who is with you your entire life is yourself.
Surround yourself with what you love, whether it is family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies, whatever. Your home is your refuge.
Cherish your health. If it is good -- preserve it. If it is unstable -- improve it. If it is beyond what you can improve -- get help.
Don't take guilt trips. Go to the mall, the next county, a foreign country
... but not to guilt.
Tell the people you love that you love them, at every opportunity.

And remember that Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take ... but by the moments that take our breath away!
Author Unknown

Family Tree Magazine Online

Family Tree Magazine Online
Kathryn Brannigan Walizer

Family Tree Magazine Online is a great site that affords many free tutorials and great articles I saw a mention of it on the Dick Eastman newsletter online and decided to give it a look.

The first thing I noticed where tabs across the top of the page. starting with the How To tab. Clicking there brings up a page of interesting articles on a variety of topics that rage from How to Care for Old Christmas Ornaments to Strategies for Finding Problem Ancestors
The next tab Heritage brings up different ethnic groups with help in each or a general section that allows you to select from more than 40 ethnic groups. in each of these groups there is a page dedicated to that ethnic group and many research sites. The Irish link as an example gives you a link to Ancestral Counties in Ireland.

Moving along the tabs the next tab is Getting Started, now even if you are an experienced researcher please give these site a look never know what you may find. For example looking at the genealogy FAQ section there is a suite called Where can I find my genealogy online? This will give you access also to many of the questions and more importantly the answers you may have been searching for.

I cannot say enough about the next section, Research Toolkit here you will find Free Forms, Cheat Sheets,101 Best Web Sites Soundex Generator, Software Guide, Article Index, and State Index Guides, wow and we are only half way though the tabs. Ok I wondered what cheat sheets were too so here is what the editors say about them 'Family Tree Magazine offers a variety of downloadable reference charts and quick guides to assist you in your research. All cheat sheets are PDF files—to view or print them, you’ll need the free Adobe Reader software. Most computers come with this program, or you can download it from Adobe."
I went and looked for one as an example and found a Relationship Chart which is very helpful in determining a quick relationship in the family tree,

The next tab Blogs is a plethora of information because it bring up the genealogy blogs. Here you can access the Genealogy Insider blog with many, many great articles, and the Now What blog where the Family Tree Magazine editors and their genealogy experts answer readers' family history questions and offer advice on next research steps. and to top off this section the Photo Detective Tab.

The sixth tab is the Community Tab that gives you a Forum, a place to Contribute and a Queries section. It would take more space than I have here to explain the benefits of this section but interaction with other genealogists is always a benefit so please give this section a try

The next section Audio and Video will let you access Videos and Podcasts always a good option for those with crunch time

The last tab is the Shop Tab. Here you can order back issues of the Family Tree Magazine print magazine. and they even have the entire previous years on CD format.

Legacy FamilyTree Software

Legacy FamilyTree Software
Kathryn Brannigan Walizer

Ok you have gathered all the documents, have tons of family files, can hardly find the desk and the computer files are full of notes and emails from relatives, things found online, message boards..
Where to store all this and put in some kind of order? The answer may be free, there's that word again, free!! Just go to Here you will find a free download for the basic program You will need to pay for the deluxe version but the free version will get you started in organizing and printing out family files in book form.

Legacy will work on Window 95, Windows 98, Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows ME, Windows XP, or Vista and Legacy will run on newer Macs with Parallel, Bootcamp or Fusion It features a complete source citation system which is extremely important.Legacy imports both Personal Ancestral File® information as well as GEDCOM files.This means if you or someone has a gedcom of your family on a CD or flashdrive you can easily import it into your newly downloaded program. no fuss, no muss.

Once you have entered you information either by typing it in or importing via gedcom all family file information can be exported to a GEDCOM file. Various formats are available, including: Legacy, Gedcom 5.5, PAF 2.31 or 3.0, Ancestral File, TempleReady, Clooz, Basic and Generic. You will have complete control over what is included in the exported file. You can specify which individuals are to be exported as well as what information is included. You can export all records or specify a subset by tag level or focus group. .

Many of you may be thinking, Way to technical ! , Not at all, the help feature is a goldmine of information and will guide you though each step. Say you need help attaching pictures, (you know the ones that are in that photobox under the desk.). Just bring up help and enter pictures and a box pops up and tells you step by step how to include them in the family file. If you need more help there are online tutorials under the Legacy website.

Any number of pictures, sounds and video clips (media files) can be attached to each individual in a Family File. Legacy reads most popular picture file formats. The pictures can then be displayed at any time and also included in many printed reports as well as Web pages.
Once your information is entered you then will be able to print out reports on various families.The report section includes, family group sheets, pedigree sheets, individual reports, which can include all notes on that person.for example a printed bio or obituary. Moving on to the book tab. this enables you to print a report that has a title page, table of contents, name index. The main part of the report reads like a narrative and . looking over the tabs I discovered a tab on the book section that said Blank Charts. That brought up a questionnaire form that you can print and send to relatives asking for additional information or photos that they might share with you. Also in this section is a research log form that can be printed out to keep track of new information. There is also an overlooked tab that will print you out a surname list that lists the surnames, the amount of persons with that surname and the date range. As example I have 8 Brady's with the date range from 1738-1910 There is an additional line which would be best used to write in the area of research .I.E. these Brady's were from the Harrisburg area of Pennsylvania.
Another great report that can be printed is the calendar and you can decide what information to add and it will list all the Birthdays, Anniversaries, and even how old the person will be on that day, How great is that!! Never again forget and important date.

In the deluxe version most of the reports can be converted to PDF file that then can be saved as files on your computer or transferred to CD or Flashdrive. How handy is this when a family member requests information on various families. One of the best features is that you can decide what to put in the reports and what to exclude for the reports.

Legacy is working together with Family Search to be able to access their digitalized records that will allow you to match your Legacy individuals with FamilySearch individuals, and again it will be your choice if you wish to share your records online or not. Further information can be found on this coming feature on the Legacy FamilyTree web page.

If you are like me, time seems to get away and before you know it you have spent way to much time researching and inputting data, well Legacy even has a help feature for that, there is a built-in alarm that you can access under options, alarm settings, this will give you the current time and you can set it to pop up a time reminder, In it you can type your own message.

Mine is: It's late go to bed!!

What is
Kathryn Brannigan Walizer is: The Genealogy Social Network, and what is a social network you ask? It is similar to a facebook site except all the members here have the same passion, genealogy. Joining GenealogyWise will give you a home page where you can post you surnames, area's of research, family photographs, your websites if you have them, and the groups you are interested in. and a wall where other members can leave messages for you there is also a section to send e-mails to other members.
From this home page you can link up to the other venues on the site. one of my favorites is the Forum tab, here you will find many articles of interest to keep you up to date on what is going on in the genealogy world.

From the Group tab it will transfer you to the Group page. as of this writing there is over 3,360 different groups to join, whoa, how to wade though all those groups, no fear the great people at GW have provided a search box, and from there you can type in your area of interest. Typing in Pennsylvania genealogy will provide you with 18 groups. Cost to join $0 benefits, priceless. there are also surname groups and I personally have made many contacts in these and even found a few distant cousins.

It is hard to say which tab brings up the best of the site, because they all offer so much information. The Photo tab is unique because like the groups it brings up all the photos posted by the members but this also has the search box. Here, if you were to type in the surname Harris it would bring up only photo's associated with Harris These photo’s could include bible pages, headstones, ancestor photo's copies of birth, death certificates. You never know what you will find. Under each photograph is the name of the submitter and clicking on this link will bring you to that person's home page where you can leave them a message on the page or ask that they become you friend so you can communicate though the site e-mail.

The Chat tab brings up a screen where you can chat (type) with fellow genealogists in real-time. I know the thought of chat screens scares many, but this is really a place to find good friends and receive help from persons willing to help you scour the internet with various resources at their disposal, I was on the chat the other day and someone came on saying he was looking for a particular name to find out what she died of, he could not locate her. Another researcher asked the name, state of death, and within 15 minutes had located the record of her death, certificate number and because of this he was able to send for the microfilm with the certificate.
The chat screen also serves another great purpose, it hosts chats by noted genealogists and genealogist chat hosts that provide many great presentations, many of these presentations are transcribed and can be found in chat transcripts on the Chat tab

The Genealogy Search tab will connect you to the World Vital Records site here you can search for a person and see what the WVR has but it is your choice to join as it is a $ fee site. what is nice about this site though is that you can see exactly what records there are, and you can join monthly or yearly.

I find it helpful to ask others just what they think and I asked one researcher to give his opinion of the site and this is what he had to say

"I have been involved with Genealogy for over 30 years, first as part-time and after retirement, full-time. I do research in Norway, England and Poland and have connected with cousins from all over the world. On Genealogy Wise I have met some very knowledge people, had lots of help with DAR and other look-ups. I really enjoy the positive attitudes and friendly nature of genealogy researchers, they are the best".

I talked to the administrator of the site and she asked me to be sure to relay the fact that they do have privacy settings on the site that you can decide what information is out there and who may see it.

The advantages of joining GenealogyWise is the ability to meet fellow genealogists, gain knowledge, and most important get help in areas that will allow you to break though that brick wall. GenealogyWise is a social networking site that encompasses genealogists of all areas, there are beginners looking for guidance and experienced and even professional genealogist's that will to give you help and advise, and it is all done in a friendly social setting among friends. Can’t get better than that on any site the web has to offer

Genealogy Research and Organization

Genealogy Research and Organization
by Kathryn Brannigan Walizer

Most of the articles I write detail genealogy websites and how they can help in the discovery of family history. In the ever-expanding genealogical and cyber world many other opportunities are now afforded to the beginning, intermediate and experienced genealogist.

Genealogy Newsletters and Blogs keep us up to date when new databases go online, they list conferences, classes, and webinairs. Most of these sites have news feeds that you can subscribe to, and they will notify you when these changes occur. The following is a list of some of the best in that area.

1. Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter,
2. Dear Myrtle,
3. Cyndi's List,
4. Genealogy Roots Blog,

The next area is Genealogy Libraries and Archives. If you have the opportunity, don't miss out by visiting one of the following.

1. Allen County Public Library (Indiana),
2. Library of Congress,
3. National Archives and Records Administration,
4. New York Public Library (Genealogical Research Room),
5. Newberry Library (Chicago),

Do not forget to check the local library near you, many have genealogy departments, microfilmed records that include obituaries, death lists, and the all important vertical file.

Many libraries offer Heritage Quest that can be accessed though you home computer. This is an invaluable tool that allows you to search census records right from you home computer. So be sure to check this one out.

There are also many websites online that offer help in research and organization. The ones that I found very helpful were

2. Familysearch,
3. Genealogy,
4. Shoestring Genealogy,

The next area of research involves social interaction with other genealogists. These groups are Social Networking groups and we all need help and it is also nice to be able to help others out when we can

1. Yahoo Groups,, has many groups for genealogists, for example there are over 20 groups for Pennsylvania research. There is a search area where you can search for a surname group or local area group. Here you are able to post a question and those on the site will try to get some answers for you. It is also a great place to share information.
2. Genforum, and all the genealogical forums are another great place to connect with persons doing research in a particular area or a surname you are interested in. Also try the E-Mail Lists offered though these sites they will keep up to date on any changes posted on a surname list or area.
3. The new kid on the block is Genealogywise, This site is similar to Facebook but specifically for genealogists. Here you have your own page, where you can list your surnames, areas of research, post photos, receive and send e-mail to other members. There are groups of interest for you to join and interact with other researchers.

Many of these group members have access to research tools and will help group members. The next area you will find on the site is the chat. Here you can interact in real-time with other genealogists that share your passion. There are also scheduled presentations by noted genealogists. If you want to stay up to date and informed check out this site.

All these research areas will give you basic techniques for research and organization and who doesn't need that.

Genealogy Register

Online Help
Kathryn Brannigan Walizer

Recently I was sent a link to a genealogy site that I would like to share with everyone who is engaged in genealogy research,
I found it very, very useful. The name is Genealogy Register.
It lists no less than 305 links to genealogy on the web with thousands of links to other sites . Don't worry, I am not going to detail all of the 305 sites here, I will leave that to you to decide which ones interest and apply to your particular research.
However, I would like to detail some that I feel are most useful and offer a lot of help to the advanced and the beginning genealogist.

wThe first one is #1 on the Genealogy Register and is Ancestor Hunt. Here you will find Free Genealogy Search Engines that will allow you to search for ancestors and locate your family surnames in some of the best and largest free genealogy databases online These include Mormon Church Records (LDS,) Ellis Island Passenger Search, Ship Passenger Lists, Rootseb Search Engines, plus, State Genealogy Records, Court Records, Land Records and even a link to an Instant People Search link

The second one is # 4 which is the most comprehensive resource for locating vital records that includes United States Birth Certificates, Death Records & Marriage Licenses here it will tell you how to order your records online. what a timesaver this one is!!

Moving on to the next site number three on my list is #28 Access Free Genealogy, Everyone know how much I love the Free information online and this site delivers. Click on the balloon on the right hand corner that says new to genealogy, even if you have been researching for years. you will not regret it. This will bring up a list of sites in 9 sections. The first one will tell you (if interested) how to put your family tree online. The second is a section with genealogy charts, all of these genealogy charts are downloadable, printable, easy to use, and free !! Another section offers Tutorials that includes sources and links to Court Records, links to the Social Security Death Index, Ship Passenger Lists, The Railroad Retirement Board. On a personal note, I did request information from the Railroad retirement Board in Chicago and received more information that I ever could have hoped for on our ancestor. There is also a section called Countries and Ethnic Groups. these are extremely helpful be sure to check them out. next there are links to genealogy charts, also free blank census forms on this page.

The next site on the Genealogy Register worth giving a look at is #38 Gengateway, this site gives you links to free genealogy sites, however it is currently undergoing a rehaul so bookmark it and check back in later.

The next site I took a look at was #50 named All Genealogy Sites and it may be that and more. It is a genealogy directory and has links to 5,000 sites, yes that is 5,000 sites that include a United States link. The sites there are arranged by state and link to over 2000 sites on this link alone. Along with the US link, there are 69 Ethnic sites, 23 Immigration sites, 305 Military sites, and even 52 sites on Colonial America. Now this is a directory!!
I want to remind everyone to take a look at the buttons on the top of the Genealogy Register these include a button for Cemetery Lists, City Directories, Message Boards, and Surname Search.
This site is a virtual Genealogical Course all wrapped up in a neat website to save and explore for many months to come.


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Google Ancestor Search

Online Help
Kathryn Brannigan Walizer
Google Ancestor Search
There are plenty of free resources for the genealogist, it is possible to find free charts, forms, templates, software, lessons, lookups, databases, form letters, graphics, translations, clip art, and more all online. The other day I was browsing the internet looking for genealogy site that offered just these free downloads. Through Google, I found a site called Ancestor, the link is
Along with the above mentioned charts forms, lessons and databases, this site offers a free download of FamilyTreeMaker 2005 Starter Edition Genealogy Software FREE!!

Among the sections there is a Google genealogy search section; this has a surname section, a surname origin section, and a tool section. Under the tool section you will find genealogy calculators, These include a birthday calculator that will allow you to calculate a birth date from information found on a tombstone or death certificate. There is a cousin calculator that calculates the family relationship between two people who share a common ancestor. I found this very helpful in determining the difficult removed cousins. There is also a perpetual calendar and a day of the week calculator, and another helpful calculator is an inflation calculator that will allow you to determine in today's dollars just how much you ancestor's property was really worth. Say for example your ancestor was willed $100.00 in 1913, in today's money that would equal over $1,800.00. Another good tool is the time capsule This will Generate a Time Capsule page with headlines, consumer prices, birthdays, songs, TV shows, toys, and books for the selected date. The years included are from 1800 to 2005.

Moving over to the section called Freebies, this is plethora of helpful sites and free trials Some of the free offers include professional free genealogy charts, forms and templates you need to document your family tree. The free genealogy software also includes a link to the Legacy genealogy software download, GenoPro, will give you a pictorial representation of family relationships across several generations. The next free download is Online Family Tree, this site will build your family tree online with the Internet's first real-time collaboration tool that allows you and other family members to create a multi-user, password-protected family tree. The Personal Ancestral File will help you organize family history records.

Under Freebies you will also find some great genealogy databases online, the first being Ancestry World Tree. The Ancestry World Tree contains more than 160,000,000 names in family trees submitted by users. The Ancestry World Tree is the largest collection of its kind on the Internet and best of all it's free. There are links to Rootsweb, GenWeb, Genforum, World Connect, Genealogy newsletters.
Another good section is the free genealogy form letters for requesting genealogical information from an institution or from family members in English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish. I have only scratched the surface of what this site offers. take a look at it I am sure you will not be disappointed.

Looking for the StateGenSites?

Looking for the StateGenSites? think they have disappeared? I found them!!! They are now residing very happily on
a great website on its own but for those, not familiar with StateGenSites, they are a database of over 20,000 genealogy websites with links in many categories and one of the most popular directories for U.S. genealogy. For example lets look at the Pennsylvania link, here you will find'
Pennsylvania Vital Records
Pennsylvania Historical Societies
Pennsylvania Cemeteries
Pennsylvania Census
Pennsylvania Obituaries
Pennsylvania Adoption Support
Free Lookups for Pennsylvania
State Links for Pennsylvania
rClicking the first link. Vital Records brings up a page that details Records for Birth, Marriage, Divorce, and Death Records. The State Department of Health, Pennsylvania Church Records, Pennsylvania Naturalization Records
To find the link for to send for a death certificate, click on Department of Health. scroll to bottom, in vital records link, click on death certificate .This brings up a page with a link to print out a form to apply directly to the state for a death certificate. I recently had occasion to use this form and within two weeks had the information I was searching for. For those who do not know, death certificates can fill in those genealogy holes.because most death certificates contain the maiden name of the deceased Mother, name of Father,and the place of birth. which can include the town and country. Wow, that's what you were looking for!!

Next on the list look at the Historical Society link, clicking here will bring up a web page with all the Historical and Genealogy Societies in Pennsylvania and while there be sure click the link NEW to YAR and look for our website NEPA Genealogical Society which has been recently updated and very well done.

Each of the other links Cemeteries, Census, Obituaries, Adoption Support. Free Lookups will direct you to various websites dedicated to the topic, however the State links do present some surprises one of which I just found recently. On the State links there is a section called wills, since I have many ancestors in many Pennsylvania counties I clicked wills and then went to Columbia county There I found an E-Bay listing that listed genealogy items for sale in real-time related to what I was looking for under the heading of Pennsylvania Genealogy. Well this is a timesaver don't you agree?
One word of caution, sometimes you have to get creative in linking to many sites, as some of the links are out of date and you get the dreaded Website Not Found page, for instance some of the links bring roots web sites, but with the take-over of Roots web by some of the URL's are out of date. For many Pennsylvania sites I use and the new roots web site is from there you can go into the various county sites.

Another thing to keep in mind when linking though this site look at the ad space, there you will find other genealogy sites one that I saw was Genealogy Bank which is a great site that I use often, but then that is a subject for another day.


Castle Gardens New York

Online Help
Kathryn Brannigan Walizer
Castle Garden, New York
The Southwest Battery was built during the war of 1812 on tip of Manhattan Island. It was fully staffed and armed to defend the Island, however it never did fire a shot. In 1817, the fort was renamed Castle Clinton in honor of DeWitt Clinton, Mayor and later Governor of New York. It was deeded to the city of New York in 1823 and was renamed Castle Garden where it housed a popular restaurant and provided an entertainment venue for the citizens of New York. In 1840 a second story and roof were added and it served as an Opera house and theater until 1854. In 1850, P. T. Barnum presented the "Swedish Nightingale," Jenny Lind, in her American debut at the opera house. Well you are saying ,what does this, interesting as it may be have to do with genealogy? Castle Garden was leased to the state of New York in 1855 and opened as a immigrant receiving center prior to the Ellis Island center. During the next thirty four years from 1855 to April 18, 1890 over eight million persons entered though those walls to the United States.
Castle Garden was altered again in 1890 and became the New York City Aquarium and operated as such till 1941. In 1941 the building was scheduled for demolition to make room for the Battery tunnel.
Many preservationists struggled to save the building and preserve its history. The entrance of the United States into the second world war gave them valuable time to convince congress to declare it a national monument and this was done on August 12, 1946 . However before it could be put under congressional protection the wrecking ball had destroyed the roof and top floor before the destruction was halted.
The National Park service then took over the remaining structure and renamed it now for all times Castle Clinton . Castle Clinton is now a national monument because of its historical importance. The walls of the 1811 fort remain intact, while the interior has been given a new life. as a visitor center
Many people who go to the New York Battery pass by this structure on the way to view the Statue of Liberty or to catch the ferry to Ellis Island , perhaps one of your ancestors passed though here, one of mine did.
Castle Garden records can be accessed though then look for the Castle Garden browser link , another site to access the records is here you can search in a variety of ways, by first name and date or just last name and a series of years. This site will bring up all those with that name, the age of the person, the date arrived , origin of voyage, and the ship name.
Immigrant Processing Stations at the Port of New York
1624-31 July 1855: no receiving station
1 Aug. 1855-18 Apr. 1890: Castle Garden
19 Apr. 1890-31 Dec. 1891: Barge Office
1 Jan. 1892-14 June 1897: Ellis Island
15 June 1897-16 Dec. 1900: Barge Office
17 Dec. 1900-1924: Ellis Island

Photo Story3

Online Help
Kathryn Brannigan Walizer

For this issue, I thought I would break away from the normal genealogy website and detail a site that has to due with genealogy, but in a much different way. Genealogy is much more than dates of births, marriage and deaths, It is a family history of the people that have gone before us and it is a record of types of lives that our ancestors lived. Now what is a better way to experience and put ourselves in their time and space than to preserve all the old photographs that can be found in the boxes under the beds and the trunks in the attic. If you are lucky enough to have these photographs in your possession, and can identify them, Microsoft has a free Photo Program download . There are computer requirements for it to work so, please be sure to check them out first before downloading. Now on to the site. It is called Photo Story 3 the web site is:

With this program you can capture those memories of times gone by, the grandparents, the great-grandparents, the family home. the aunts, and uncles, cousins, and family get-tog ether’s, either formal or just back yard bar-b-q's. This program will allow you to take your pictures that are stored on your ,computer hard drive or CD's and import them to create slideshows to bring the photographs to life. You can add titles, captions, and even your own narration to identify the photos. The site will zoom in and out and show details you were not even aware were there. Another good aspect is that you can add your own music in the background, or use the program to create the right music, from jazz to classical. If you have a DVD burner on your computer, these stories can be put on disk to be shared with family and friends. Just think, the idea's are endless, one story could be devoted to cemetery photo's, I know you have them in boxes and folders, gather them up, if not go to the cemetery with the digital and record the family stones. The motion and zoom feature makes it appear to be a video, and with a single click you can touch-up, or rotate photos and bring the family history to life.

I would also like to add a site here that I find very useful it is: and it continues to be one of the most exciting online tools available for researching our ancestors. Ellis island has a newsletter that they will e-mail to you with updates to their site so be sure to check that out.