It’s 2008 and I graduated from university. My degree is in Computer Science but, after being hyped up on genealogy series, I really wanted to know the names and stories of people in my family tree. I started my family tree on familysearch.org. It’s a free service that is offered by the Church of Latter Day Saints, also know as the Mormon Church. The church collects historical records from all over the world. They do this because they believe that they can pray for the soul of a dead person and that person will gain salvation (http://www.pbs.org/mormons/etc/genealogy.html). I am a Christian, but I do not prescribe to those beliefs. However, the fact that they have this info and offer it for free to anyone wanting to find out about their genealogy is fantastic. I searched for the names of my Grandmother and Grandfather. I found nothing. Back to the drawing board…
How I finally found information
I spoke with my mother to see if she knew the maiden name of her mother. She did, but I still could not find what I was looking for an familysearch.org. I concluded that Jamaica is a third world country and that those records probably don’t exist… feeling dejected I resigned myself to believing that I would never find the information that I needed. Then one day the phone rang. My grandmother’s youngest sister called to speak with my mom. I was able to garner some great information from my grand aunt about her mother. Her name was Miriam McFarlane, and her story was very interesting to say the least, and I’ll be writing a post about her in the near future. Once I got this info I ran to familysearch.org and I met my great grandmother, and some of my grandmother’s siblings for the first time. I also, found my Grandmother and Great Grandmother’s birth certificates and the birth certificates of their siblings. Incredible! I was now hooked.
I found out that my Grandmother’s parents were not married at the time when my Grandma was born. Due to this, she was listed with her mother’s last name. Once I realized this, I used the same method to find my maternal grandfather’s birth certificate and the names of his parents.
I now had a method for searching for people in my family tree:
- If the person is not found with the name that you think that they should have, try using the maiden name of the mother as the child’s last name.
- If a birth certificate is found look at all of the names in the document. Many times, the witnesses are a member of the mother’s family. In my Grandmother’s case, the witness was listed as Evel Rankine, which in actuality was her father.
- Try to also find Church of England christening records. By the time the child is christened point 1 is usually corrected. Also, during those days families were quite large, and more than one child was christened on a specific day. Check the lines above and below your ancestor in the record book, you may find additional family members.
- Do an ancestry DNA test and connect with long lost cousins to garner more information. I did mine with MyHeritage.com, but I would recommend doing it with 23andMe or AncestryDNA. Both of those services have larger databases of people which equates to more matches.
- Check out the Legacies of British Slave-ownership website. Here you can find out information about slave owners from across the Caribbean.