Have you had a chance to visit that older relative? Did they give you lots of information and maybe some pictures?
Did you fill out the pedigree chart and decide on your surname? Is the surname on your mother's or father's side?
Let us start by getting to know something about him/her. Did you get the birth/death date? Where did you find him/her living? Let's explore this a little more. Let's say grandma knew nothing about her own grandmother.
We are going to use one of my surnames as an example: Katherine Vanalstyne Mykel. If you have access to Ancestry.com, try searching there first. Remember, Newton County Library has free access to Ancestry.
Another free online source to search is Google. We would type in Katherine Vanalstyne Mykel/genealogy. Google will give you a lot of information about Katherine Vanalstyne Mykel, so try and decipher the right information. Adding a birth/death date to the search will weed out unwanted results. Sometimes if you put in where they lived, that will help also.
Have you tried spelling variations such as Catherine instead of Katherine? Maybe she used a nickname such as Kate or Kitty. In my search on Google, a newspaper article popped up with Katherine spelled Catherine. In this article about a car accident, it gave me her age (now I have approximate birth date), her husband's name and age and the two children with her and their ages. Newspapers can give you a wealth of information which we will go into depth later as we continue our hunt.
Let's explore other free websites on the Internet. USGENWEB is a free site for every state.
Type: usgenweb.org/georgia. The screen will give you many options to look for your ancestor plus links to other websites. Always read the homepage fully. Check on the right side for query boards, you might just find your surname. Take your time and explore this free site as it has useful information such as, "How to get started and forms."
Let's take a look at Newton County. Scroll down and click on Newton County. You will see many different boxes such as bible records, biographies, cemetery records and so forth. You should click on each box to see what it offers.
A great way to learn about genealogy is to volunteer. If you click on the cemetery box you will see that volunteers are needed to take photos of gravestones and transcribe. You never know, you just might find one of your ancestors buried in the cemetery you are transcribing. Now how cool would that be?
Also you will find a box labeled Court Records. By clicking that box, you will find wills transcribed again by volunteers. In reading these wills you will become familiar with how wills are written in the 1800s and exactly what property they gave to their wife and children, to wit: animals, such as pigs, horses, furniture, etc.
Thank you for all your emails. I welcome all genealogical questions which will help others by answering them here in my column.
Next week, stop by as we list my top 13 free Internet sites as we continue our hunt for our ancestors.
Ellen Blakeslee is a professional genealogist living in Covington, Ga. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.