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Old July 11th, 2018, 12:38 PM   #1
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Question My ancestors from the Old West


I was born in Tempe, Arizona. My ancestors lived in the Old West, but I can't seem to find any sites on this topic. I'm hoping to get some website/forum suggestions about the Old West here. Any information would be very helpful! Thanks all!!
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Old July 12th, 2018, 05:12 AM   #2

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Got some pretty knowledgeable folk here at historum but I don't know if any are genealogically active. I'm guessing you already checked out Ancestry.com and similar sites?
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Old July 12th, 2018, 05:17 AM   #3

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This might help:


Guide to Researching Arizona Ancestors
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Old July 12th, 2018, 07:54 AM   #4

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To begin with, talk to the family elders. From that, begin to fill in blank genealogical charts. Collect family memorabilia, especially old photographs, letters, diaries, and public documents like ... Birth, Death and Wedding certificates. Think about questions like, where did the family live before moving into the Southwest; when and why did the family move here? Did you grow up Southwestern? How about your great-great-grandparents? Did the family own real property? Answering these sort of questions is best done by consulting elderly family, family stories and traditions, and whatever documentary evidence you have available.
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Old July 12th, 2018, 09:04 AM   #5
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Ancestry.com is a good site. You do have to pay a monthly subscription to access the full service. If you plan it in advance and set aside the time, you might finish your project in a single month. There are other good genealogical sites out there. You can start just by googling your ancestors' names and see what comes up. You will get results from many different genealogical sites. If your ancestor's name was John Smith, you're going to get a lot of results. If your ancestor had a unique name, your job is much easier.

All of the US census' prior to 1950 are now in the public domain and available through sites like ancestry.com. The 1890 census was lost in a fire, but you can usually reconstruct the 1890 figures by interpolating the 1880 and 1900 results. As you go farther back, the census recorded less and less data about each person. If I remember correctly it was only around 1840 that they started recording the names of everyone in the household. Before that they only recorded the name of the head of household and the number, sex, and age brackets of everyone else in the house but no names. Prior to the Civil War the census was more interested in whether people were free or slaves because slaves were counted differently (3/5s).
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Old July 12th, 2018, 10:34 AM   #6

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Asherman View Post
To begin with, talk to the family elders. From that, begin to fill in blank genealogical charts. Collect family memorabilia, especially old photographs, letters, diaries, and public documents like ... Birth, Death and Wedding certificates. Think about questions like, where did the family live before moving into the Southwest; when and why did the family move here? Did you grow up Southwestern? How about your great-great-grandparents? Did the family own real property? Answering these sort of questions is best done by consulting elderly family, family stories and traditions, and whatever documentary evidence you have available.
I would think the bolded would be a great resource.

The Old West seems far removed in time, but it actually wasn't. It was only a little over a century ago, so it is very likely there will people in the OP's family, like grandparents, who actually knew the relatives who lived in the Old West. If the grandparents have passed on their children might have stories about those relatives from their grandparents.

Of course, always try to verify family stories with documented sources, if possible. People exaggerate, details get mixed up when stories get passed down, rumors get accepted as fact, and a whole host of things can happen that can make accepted family histories deviate from the historical truth.

Last edited by Scaeva; July 12th, 2018 at 11:40 AM.
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Old July 12th, 2018, 11:31 AM   #7

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Oh yes. In my generation we long believed we had a Comanche Great-Grandmother who hated Anglos, and died on the Rez. Wrong. That particular woman was born in Tennessee, married our Great-Grandfather (Union Vet and well driller) and moved onto the Great Plains shortly after the Late Unpleasantness. They didn't do well at any thing but have children, and the husband died in Northern Texas. The Widow found herself with a bunch of kids and no man. She got the position of Post Mistress in Comanche County, Texas.

We children over-heard the old folks complaining about how difficult she was to have around. From those two misunderstandings, the story of our "Comanche" Great-Grandmother blossomed into a detailed legend ... almost none of which was factual. She was doubtless a strong tough individual who led a very hard life while raising a half dozen children who escaped her as quickly as they could. She must have done something right, because my Grandfather was probably the most important role model I had growing up.
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Old July 12th, 2018, 01:42 PM   #8

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Quote:
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Oh yes. In my generation we long believed we had a Comanche Great-Grandmother who hated Anglos, and died on the Rez. Wrong. That particular woman was born in Tennessee, married our Great-Grandfather (Union Vet and well driller) and moved onto the Great Plains shortly after the Late Unpleasantness. They didn't do well at any thing but have children, and the husband died in Northern Texas. The Widow found herself with a bunch of kids and no man. She got the position of Post Mistress in Comanche County, Texas.

We children over-heard the old folks complaining about how difficult she was to have around. From those two misunderstandings, the story of our "Comanche" Great-Grandmother blossomed into a detailed legend ... almost none of which was factual. She was doubtless a strong tough individual who led a very hard life while raising a half dozen children who escaped her as quickly as they could. She must have done something right, because my Grandfather was probably the most important role model I had growing up.
Seemed like everyone I knew growing up in Alabama claimed a Cherokee Great Grandmother in the tree. My nephew even has a grandmother (on his father's side) that went by the nickname, Cherokee.

But then came the DNA. . . . and well, the rest, as they say. . . . is history.

Along with her claim to have Cherokee blood. Nephew turns out all European.
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Old July 12th, 2018, 03:44 PM   #9

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Ancestry.com holds the largest data base of records, census, parish, military, etc but beware of the 'family trees', they are often wrong. Ancestry.com is usually free to access at your local library

familysearch.org is free and other resources. You can do a lot of research free. Ignore the uploaded personal 'trees'. Do your own research
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Old July 12th, 2018, 05:04 PM   #10

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sindane View Post
Ancestry.com holds the largest data base of records, census, parish, military, etc but beware of the 'family trees', they are often wrong. Ancestry.com is usually free to access at your local library

familysearch.org is free and other resources. You can do a lot of research free. Ignore the uploaded personal 'trees'. Do your own research
That reminds me of Mom. She built tree after tree from hers and from Dad's family lines. Spoke and recorded conversations with old folks, corresponded with other researchers with handwritten letters, traveled to court houses, wrote letters to court clerks, etc. Basically the whole nine yards. Spent a lifetime doing it, carefully putting together notebook after notebook with copies of deeds, marriage records, cemetery records, all kinds of stuff.

Anyway, the way it is done now with ancestry it all seems too easy. Where is the joy from each item of trivia, each book with a single sentence about great grandpa. . . . .

And now I get the fun part. Putting all the history around these folks to give it context and flesh out the story.
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