Discover Your House History: “If These Walls Could Speak”

A “house history” can tell you more about the house you live in–or your ancestor’s home. Here’s how.

Are you curious about the history of the house you live in, or would you like to trace the history of a family property? The online article “How to Research Your Home’s Past by Charity Vogel has some great ideas. It’s not written for family historians, but I like some of the ideas it suggests:

1. Pull a full history of home ownership off your deed. (Historical deeds may not have these. But each deed does represent a link in the chain of property ownership: you should be able to move forward and backward in time in deed records until you’ve listed all owners.)

2. Use census records to learn more about other folks who lived in your home. Remember you’ll be able to see how many people lived there, and, for some census years, whether they owned or rented.

3. Watch for unusual patterns of ownership. For example, a deed showed sisters co-owning a home in the 1930s. Additional research showed that the sisters were nurses and ran the house as a community hospital. How cool is that to know about a house?

4. If it was a grand or unusual home, see whether the newspapers covered its construction. The author of the article found an 1898 article that detailed the entire five-month building process of her house!

Last year I shared an applicable research strategy in my blog post A Shocking Family Secret, and 3 Powerful Newspaper Research Tips about researching our ancestors and where they lived. By searching on their home address, and not including their name,  you can uncover “a kind of house history set of search results, revealing who lived there before, descriptions of the home and its contents and who moved in after your ancestors left. In my case, I located an article about the Cooke home (by the address) being up for sale several years before they owned it. That article included a fairly detailed description of the property. The final article found in the British newspapers was also found only by address (as the Cooke name wasn’t mentioned) and it detailed the contents of their household up for sale. The auction was held in preparation for their move to Canada.” (Click here to learn more about finding your family history in newspapers.)

While looking for more on this topic, I came across a great newspaper article about three researchers who specialize in house histories. They said that in addition to the personal satisfaction of knowing about a family home, “A bit of history and story makes it much easier to sell: it attracts a certain buyer.”

Here are a few more helpful resources, if you’d like to research your house history:

More House History Gems: Researching a Family Residence

Ancestral Landmark Discovery with Google Earth

How to Find a Family Address: 4 Steps to Using Google Earth for Genealogy

Was This My Ancestor’s Neighborhood?

How to Share Family History with the Non-Genealogists in Your Family

How can you share family history stories and memories without boring your relatives? Catch this free video preview of a new Premium video class that inspires YOU on how to inspire THEM!

Inspiring Ways to Captivate the Non-Genealogist; how to share family history

If you are researching your family tree but haven’t shared it with your family in a way that sparks their interest, then you are only experiencing half of the joy of genealogy! And if your descendants don’t grasp the importance of their heritage, your hard work may tragically find it’s way to the city dump when you are gone.

New Video Filled with Inspiration

Don’t just collect your family history and store it away in binders and files! In her newest Genealogy Gems Premium video, Lisa Louise Cooke shares several projects–displays, multimedia shows, crafts–even a sweet treat to eat! The World War II display shown here is just one of her ideas.

military heritage display

She’ll inspire YOU on how best to inspire your family’s interest in your heritage.

Watch the free preview below on how to share family history with the non-genealogists in your life. ( Genealogy Gems Premium website members can watch the whole thing here (along with more than 2 dozen videos) as a perk of their membership. Premium website members also have access to our monthly Premium podcast and all archived episodes. Click here to learn more! And keep scrolling down to click on more blog posts with great ideas for sharing your heritage.

Additional Resources

Thanks for sharing this post with others who will want a little more inspiration on how to share family history with loved ones. Just email the URL or post this article on your favorite social media channel.

 

Ohio Genealogy Research and the Virtual Courthouse

I have thoroughly enjoyed having Amie Tennant as a blogger for the past year. In her final blog post for Genealogy Gems she takes us on a tour of her home state’s digital records. Then she will be turning all of her attentions to her own genealogical certification. Thank you Amie for all of your helpful and thoroughly enjoyable posts!  – Lisa Louise Cooke  

Ohio genealogy research goes digital. You can now virtually walk into any courthouse in Ohio with the click of the mouse. Check out the amazing browse-only databases at FamilySearch for Ohio and other states, and take your family history research to the next level.

Ohio genealogy courthouse records
I use FamilySearch.org to search courthouse record books all the time. In particular, the Ohio Probate Records, 1789-1996 now have nearly 7 million digital images of county record books such as wills, estate files, guardianship records, naturalization records, minutes, bonds, and settlements. In fact, many other states have their court record books online at FamilySearch, too. So, why haven’t you noticed before?

Browse-only Databases vs. Indexed Databases

Ohio genealogy guardianship recordYou may have read our previous post on step-by-step instructions to using browse-only databases at FamilySearch. If you didn’t, you should know that when you are searching for records at FamilySearch using the traditional search fields, you are only searching for records that have been indexed. In other words, there may be thousands of records you need on the site, but you won’t find them. They have not been indexed by a searchable name, place, or date. Instead, you need to go in the virtual “back door.”

Step 1: First, go to FamilySearch and sign in. Next, click Search at the top right. Now you will see a map of the world. Click on the desired location. I have chosen the U.S., but you can choose any country you are interested in.

Step 2: Once you choose your desired country or continent, a pop-up list will be available and allow you to choose the state (or country) you wish to search in. In this case, a list of the U.S. states appears and I clicked on Ohio.

Ohio genealogy at FamilySearch

Step 3: The system will direct you to a new page. You will first see the Ohio Indexed Historical Records. These are the records and collections that have been indexed and are searchable by name, date, and place. Though these are great, they are not the record collections I want to share with you today.

Instead, scroll down until you see the heading Ohio Image Only Historical Records. You will notice several databases such as cemetery records, church records, naturalization records, etc. All of these are browseable. That means you will use them like you would microfilm.

Step 4: I want to bring your attention to a specific record collection, so scroll down even further until you see Ohio Probate Records, 1789-1996. Click it.

Ohio genealogy probate records

At the next screen, you will see you can browse the 6,997,828 Ohio probate records and you are probably thinking, “What!? I can’t possibly browse through nearly 7 million records!” But, you can, so go ahead and click it!

Step 5: At the new screen, you will see everything is broken up into counties. Click on the county you are interested in researching. You will next see a list of possible record books available for that county. Each county will vary, so where you may find guardianship records available in one county, you might not find them in another.

Ohio Genealogy Research at the Courthouse

As a refresher, courthouse research is often imperative to thorough genealogy research. Here is a helpful chart of the type of information you may find in these types of court records. Be sure to remember: records and the amount of information they contain change over time.

Ohio genealogy records

More on Courthouse Research Techniques

Are you looking to understand the value of courthouse research and how to use those records to overcome brick walls in your family tree? Read 4 Ways to Power Up Your Courthouse Research Skills from our own Sunny Morton.

We Dig These Gems! New Genealogy Records Online

Every week we blog about new genealogy records online. Which ones might help you find your family history? New this week: Delaware land records, French censuses, British directories, Irish newspapers, Spanish municipal records (to the 1300s!), and U.S. passport applications. With whom should you share the great news?

We dig these gems

DELAWARE LAND RECORDS. Ancestry has added a new database of Delaware land records, 1677-1947. According to the database description, “Delaware is a state-land state, meaning that following the Revolutionary War, it continued to grant property within its boundaries, as it had in its Colonial days. This collection includes the recorded transfers of property by grant or by deed. Most Delaware land had been granted by the time of statehood, so in the years following the Revolutionary War, you will find deeds recording the transfer of lands between private parties as they were transcribed into the registers of the county recorder of deeds.”

FRANCE CENSUSES. Find half a million indexed entries and associated images for the Dordogne Census of 1876 and about 30,000 names from the Haute-Garonne Toulouse Censuses (1830-31) in new free collections at FamilySearch.org. Records may include names, age, occupation, nationality, household position and, in the second, address.

GREAT BRITAIN DIRECTORIES. Findmypast has added 122 British almanacs and directories that include “trade directories, county guides, almanacs and general directories. Inside you will find the names of prominent people, tradesmen, people who held office, business owners and local civil servants.”

IRISH NEWSPAPERS. Over 724,000 new, fully searchable newspaper articles have been added to Findmypast. According to the site, new additions span 1836-172 and include a national publication, The Evening Freeman. “Five newspapers have also been added to with supplementary articles. They include substantial updates to Belfast Commerical Chronicle (135,813 new articles), Clare Journal, and Ennis Advertiser (61,194 new articles) and The Pilot (17,721 new articles).”

SPAIN MUNICIPAL RECORDS. Over 400,000 indexed records and digital images have been added to a free database of Barcelona civil registrations, censuses, military records, and other miscellaneous records (1387-1950) at FamilySearch. Additional browse-only records are also available.

US PASSPORTS. Over a million indexed names have been added to a free image collection of 200 years’ worth of U.S. passport applications (1795-1925) at FamilySearch.org. This dataset is still being indexed; browsable images are available at that link, too. This collection overlaps with content already available (by subscription) at Ancestry.com.

Celebrate Genealogy Serendipity! (This Book Does, Too)

Have you ever experienced “genealogy serendipity?” Here’s a great book about it!

Recently, I came across an old blog post by my friend Geoff Rasmussen, in which he talks about discovering family gravestones while on a cruise.

A cruise doesn’t seem like the most likely place to discover ancestral grave markers. But his cruise ship stopped at Bar Harbor, Maine, near where several generations of his family lived.

Geoff stepped off and followed his instincts, his GPS device and–he believes–his ancestors themselves. In the short time he had for a shore excursion, he found the long-elusive graves of several relatives in several cemeteries, including distant great-grandparents.

Sooner or later, many of us experience “genealogy serendipity” moments like these. It’s that moment when an ancestor seems to be sitting on your shoulder, leading you to information about her. Or when an uncanny number of coincidences put you in the right place and time to make an important family connection. It can be downright eerie sometimes!

I’ve had my fair share of those types of experiences. I’ve talked about them before on the podcast, like in the free Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 106, when I recounted the numerous buy medicine online paypal unusual happenings during my recent trip to England! And before that, in Episode 39, about how my great-grandmother Lenora Herring’s crazy quilt came into my possession. The story really wasn’t about the quilt. It was about listening to and following the guidance of my ancestors, even though in the moment the path wasn’t clear.

We all need a little inspiration now and then to stay on the genealogical journey. That’s why I am so happy that Geoff took the time to write more of his fabulous stories down. His new book, Kindred Voices: Listening for our Ancestors, is chicken soup for the genealogical soul indeed. This is a gem of a book! Geoff writes that his purpose is to “further energize” us as genealogists, and “give new meaning to the experiences” we have with genealogy serendipity. These are his true stories of feeling the presence of his ancestors as he looks for them.

genealogy book club genealogy gemsWe love passing along book suggestions! Have you seen the ones we’ve recommended for the Genealogy Gems Book Club? Check them out! And thank you for sharing this book recommendation with others you think will enjoy it. You’re a gem!

Pin It on Pinterest

MENU