Google Searches for Genealogy Leads to an Opera’s Worth of Stories

Google searches for genealogy are a main focus of our Google Guru, Lisa Louise Cooke. Read this inspiring story of how one Genealogy Gems reader used Lisa’s Google search tips to find a trove of family stories worthy of an opera.

Google searches for genealogy

Opera house image courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration via Wikimedia Commons.

You never know when the amazing technology of the internet and Google will lead to a discovery that will open the doors on your family history. I recently received a letter from Genealogy Gems listener, Kristen. She shared the sad tale of her maternal grandmother’s history. Her grandmother had lost her mother before the age of two. Then, as an only child, her father abandoned her to be raised by a less-than-loving step mother. This young woman grew-up and had children of her own, but all she had in the way of a family history was the memory of her father’s name and a handful of unnamed photographs.

Merton E. Markert

Kristen went on to say, “She never really spoke of her sad childhood, save to say that the stepmother would tell her she had always been unwanted and that her mother was unloved and the marriage was forced.”

Among the handful of mystery photographs of her grandmother as a child, was a brief article from a newspaper. It was a lesson in manners titled Silence is Golden and it was written by Merton Markert, a student of the Modern Classics. A photo of a young woman was attached.

 

Using Clues for Google Searches for Genealogy

Here’s the rest of Kristen’s letter:

I took your advice and Googled Merton Markert Modern Classical Silence Golden. Up came the Lancaster High School Yearbook for 1905, featuring p. 41, the senior class portraits with their course study descriptions and a small personal quote for each. There was that exact photo of her, and the name Merton Markert, Modern Classical with the quote, “Life seems a jest of Fate’s contriving.”

Photo courtesy of Kristin Wat

The whole yearbook had been digitized by Mocavo, and it is the only yearbook for that high school in several years. My great-grandmother [Merton Markert], who had been buried and unspoken for a hundred years, had reached out to me. She wanted me to find her! Lisa, I cannot adequately describe the feelings I experienced at that moment of discovery. You understand how a moment like that feels, I’m sure. The chills, the tears…I felt like I was staring into her eyes, reaching through a century of silence, and finally able to acknowledge her sacrifice and legacy.

On the football team that year was my great-grandfather, and the whole book was ripe with clues that still hold nuanced significance.

From there, I was able to grow a tree on Ancestry.com and get the basics. But that does not tell you who the person is, the struggles, the character, the story. So taking your lead, and thinking like my brother the Sherriff Detective, I got creative. Using all kinds of searches and sniffing and turning over and under, I was able to uncover a veritable opera’s worth of stories within this one branch [of my family tree]. The cast of characters include: A Colonial founder, a secret bastard half-sister, a suicidal mother, a Klondike Gold Stampeder, alcoholics, a rejected Baptist Pastor, a homosexual affair-turned-murder victim,  a bonafide Monuments Man (buried at Arlington), and a chorus of war veterans. And cancer. Lots of it. In fact, breast cancer was the reason for Merton’s death in 1910. That kind of information is vital to my sisters and female cousins.

So thank you, my clever inspiration.

Ain’t opera grand?
 

Lisa’s Response to Kristen with Additional Ideas

Thanks for sharing your fascinating story. I completely understand the emotions you felt the moment she was looking back at you on the screen. Those moments are precious and meant to be savored!Using search techniques from my book The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, Second Edition, I also discovered this same yearbook on the  robust and free Internet Archive website. Perhaps there is more there to be found. And I have an additional idea I thought you might like to try. It’s Ebay.

Ebay currently has a commencement program from 1902, old post cards of the school, and other yearbooks from Lancaster High School. Who knows what could be put up for auction in the future. You could sign up for a free Ebay account, run a search, and then click to Follow the search. You will then be alerted to future auctions that match your criteria. Happy hunting and thanks for being a Genealogy Gem!

Genealogy Gems Premium Members can listen to Premium episode 16 which goes in depth into my Tips for Finding Family History Related Items on eBay.

More on Google Searches for Genealogy

Google is an effective and easy-to-use genealogy tool, you just need to know a few basics. Watch my YouTube video on speaking Google’s language and be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel so you don’t miss any of our tech tips and more!

Destination Yorkshire, England with a Stop in New Jersey

This week’s round-up of new and updated genealogical records will begin in the United States with records from Minnesota and New Jersey. Our final destination is Yorkshire, England with the incredible new and updated collections at Findmypast. Baptisms, marriages, banns, and more!
dig these new record collections

United States – New Jersey – Church Records

Ancestry has a new record collection entitled “New Jersey, Episcopal Diocese of Newark Church Records, 1809-1816, 1825-1970.” In this group of records, you will find parish registers from Episcopal churches in the Diocese of Newark. Each register provides a record of the baptisms, marriages, and burials performed at that church. The records are indexed and are easily searchable. Sometimes, these registers include a list of families, persons confirmed, communicants, and details on offerings received by the church. However, these lists of families, communicants, et cetera are not yet indexed.

Baptismal records typically include, the name of the child, parents’ names, baptism date, and the officiator. In many cases the birth date and place are noted as well.

Marriage records include the marriage date, the couple’s names, residences, and the name of the officiator.

Lastly, burial records list the name of the deceased, date of death, date and place of the funeral, and officiating minister. Some funeral records may even include the cause of death and date and place of burial.

United States – New Jersey – State Census

Genealogists are usually well acquainted with the federal censuses taken each decade. Here in the United States, the first was taken in 1790. Many researchers may not know, however, that some states were taking state censuses every ten years on the five’s. For example, New Jersey has a census from 1855.

FamilySearch.org offers free access to all their database collections, including the New Jersey State Census of 1855. Most towns included in the census will only include the names of head-of-households, but the returns for Pequanac Township in Morris County also list the names of the wife and children in each household.

Missing areas in this census include, Burlington, Cape May, Mercer, Middlesex, Ocean, and Salem counties and unfortunately, other areas may be incomplete.

United States – Minnesota – School Records

FamilySearch has also made the Minnesota, Clay County, School Census Records, 1909-1962 available online. School records are a great resource for finding missing children in your family tree.

These records include digital images, but be aware! Some of the records contain many errors with some years incorrectly identified, particularly the 1960’s. Records will typically include the name of the student, the age of the student, and their parents’ or legal guardians’ names.

United States – Military

muster roll genealogy record Yorkshire

Page from Roll 1 1798 Aug-1806 Dec

U.S. Muster Rolls of the Marine Corps, 1798-1937 can now be searched from FamilySearch. These digital images were taken from microfilm rolls at the National Archives. The records are arranged chronologically by month, then by post, station or ship, and are part of Record Group 127 Records of the U.S. Marine Corps. Not all of these muster rolls are complete and some have not yet been indexed. Be sure to check back regularly as more of the records are indexed.

In the meantime, if you do find your targeted ancestor, the following information may be listed:

  • Name of officer or enlisted man
  • Rank and unit in which served
  • Date of enlistment
  • Date of re-enlistment
  • Name of ship
  • Notes regarding promotions, transfers, physical description, etc.

In some cases, muster rolls also contain the following:

  • Injuries or illness and type of treatment
  • Date of death or discharge
  • Date of desertion
  • Date of apprehension
  • Date of court martial
  • Sentence of court-martial

England: Yorkshire Genealogy Records – Baptisms

Findmypast has just added four new collections for Yorkshire England. The Yorkshire Baptism records collection has over 79,000 new records. These new additions cover Church of England parishes across Rotherham, the Roman Catholic parishes of Doncaster, St Peter in Chains, Knaresborough, St Mary, Rotherham, St Bede, Sheffield, St Marie Cathedral, Sheffield, St Vincent and Staveley, and St Joseph. Each record includes a transcript and an image of the original document.

By using the parish location and the parents names, you may be able to continue your search in the next collection.

England: Yorkshire Genealogy Records – Marriages

With over 28,000 new records added to this Findmypast collection, you may finally be able to locate great-grandpa’s marriage record in the Yorkshire Marriages. The record collection actually has over 2.4 million records spanning near 400 years. Because of the time span covering several centuries, information contained on the records may vary. You may find any of the following pieces of information:

  • Name
  • Birth year
  • Marriage date and place
  • Residence
  • Occupation
  • Marital Status
  • Spouse’s name, residence, and occupation
  • Father’s name and Spouse’s father’s name
  • Name of witnesses

England: Yorkshire Genealogy Records – Banns

Findmypast’s collection of Yorkshire Banns has some new additions. Each of the nearly 600,000 records contain both a transcript and an image of the original document. Some information will vary, but may include a name, place of banns, date of banns, marriage year, residence, and the name of their spouse.

These banns cover a very lengthy time span with records as early as the 1600’s through the 1930’s. In this case, a bann of marriage is the public announcement in a Christian parish church of an upcoming marriage. Banns were read on three consecutive Sundays in the church of both the bride and the groom.

England: Yorkshire Genealogy Records – Burials

share celebrate balloonsLastly, Findmypast has been adding to their over 4 million Yorkshire Burials. The records found in this collection record the details of Roman Catholics buried across five parishes in Doncaster, Knaresborough, Rotherham, Sheffield and Staveley. Information found in this collection may include name, age at death, birth year, burial date, and burial place. Each record will contain at least a transcript and some offer a digital image as well.

Thank you for sharing these new genealogy records online with fellow genies and society members! We appreciate you helping us spread the good news.

Didn’t find the records you’ve been pining for? Click here for a Google-based strategy on searching online for genealogy records.

 

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