This is one man's story.
I took this project on partly out of curiosity and partly to leave a monument to my family and the kin to come. I did not know how it was going to go. I started off the same way any of you would. Ancestry.com or Genealogy.com and FamilyTreeMaker.com; I used them all. The next thing you know I have some basic crappy information of family members I already knew and a sizeable dent in my debit account. My faith in the project’s success had been momentarily derailed.
I started to wonder if searching public records could yield a more promising result. The last name would not be good enough criteria to go on. I would have to do some tracking. I settled in for the long haul.
It was about 9 p.m. when I found my great grandfather. The hunt had finally given me a lead. Let me first explain the steps I had to do to get to that point. I had to take the names of my grandparents on my father’s side and do a vital records search in their home state. That is the problem with using public records is that they are housed in county and state offices. You can’t just go to a collaborative archive in the National Archives and get everything you need. It is a good source though to look into anyway though. The archives have Census Records from 1790 to 1930. You’ll find once you start your own search that any information is better than no information. But this is why these genealogy sites are in business to begin with. They offer a promise to do all the work for you. It just usually falls short.
I was able to trace my grandfather’s lineage back to the 1900’s. My mother’s I could not even find her parents. Annoyed, I turned my attention elsewhere.
After successfully doing a search of marriage records, death records, and employment records, I had a working family tree. It wasn't easy Google searches as well as other search engines would bring back pages on more and more “crappy” pay sites and deep web searched pages for the names entered. He I was looking for a deceased family member from the late 1880’s and I was getting Myspace pages and LinkedIn profiles.
I abandoned the use of their names for a spell and reverted back to the people search key terms in hopes of finding a new site to try. I was elated when I came across the Ancestry Records Search page of PeopleSearching.com. I could see rating from people who had made the same attempts I was (ironic given the subject material). This one site could have saved me a good bit of money and time in the beginning on this project. Even still, I also found FamilySearch.org. It’s a FREE site that’s actually worth something. I was, to be completely honest, stunned. The entire site/service is hosted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I myself am not hugely religious, but I know gracious act when I see one.
As it turns out, my grandmother was adopted and her family line was easily traced back to the exodus following the Irish potato famine. Immigration records from Ellis Island in 1852 were almost to historic to believe.