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Blakeslee: Using the census to find relatives
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During this past Mother's Day Sunday, did you record some fascinating stories told by your relatives at your gathering this weekend? Do you have any questions about one of my top 13 free sites? Were you able to talk about the site,, with relatives?

Let's talk this week about the next three free websites on my list:
• is a cross referenced index to resources on the internet pertaining to genealogy. It gives you a list of links that point you to genealogical sites. It is a good starting point.

• On the homepage, there is a form for you to start your search. You can search historical records, family trees and the library catalog. Try your surname and see what pops up. Remember to try all spelling variations. This website also needs lots of indexing volunteers. Anyone can volunteer to help. The more volunteers, the faster the 1940 census will be indexed. I hope you will think about volunteering. It also has a free database you can download.

• (Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness.) This is a website "free" to have volunteers look up such items as death records, marriage records, land records, wills, baptisimal records from churches, cemetery information such as photos of tombstones, military records, obituaries and the list goes on and on. Or, you can volunteer to lookup in your city and state. "One hand washes the other;" is a great motto in this case.

Ellen Chit Chats
Helen writes: my problem is finding my maternal relatives. My Mother's grandfather is Charles Washington Snyder, born April 26, 1842 and died Feb. 9, 1907. He was from Philadelphia, Pa. I don't know whether he was born there or in Germany. I do know he was in the Civil War and fought for the Union. After that he was working on a railroad and found his way to South Carolina where he met and married my great-grandmother. Her name is Martha Strange Snyder, born in 1850 and died Feb. 15, 1923. I am at a standstill of finding out who Charles' parents were. I think he had one sister, but I don't know her name.

Do you have any suggestions of how I might find out who his parents were?

Helen, there are several ways to find out who the parents of Charles Washington Snyder are. The first way would be to look at the 1850 census from Philadelphia, Pa. and see if you can find Charles listed as a boy since he was born in 1842. (Note: The 1850 census was the first census to list by name everyone in the household.) Unfortunately, no free websites exist to look for censuses. However, you can visit the Newton County Library on Floyd St in Covington. They offer free in the Heritage Room. If you find Charles, it should list his parents and siblings. Remember, after you find him, you need to prove/disprove that this is your relative. You can also check the 1860 census for Philadelphia and see if he is still there. You should try and follow him through the years and after he moved to South Carolina and got married. Finding Charles in the Census in South Carolina through 1920 will give you an idea of where he lived and the county he died. Research that county on line to find out the procedure for sending for Charles' death certificate. When you receive the death certificate, if the informant knew his mother and father's name it will be listed.

Good Luck.


Ellen Blakeslee is a professional genealogist living in Covington, Ga. You can email her with questions about genealogy at