Category Archives: Karen’s Family Tree

The Cloning of Solomon Hays: A Beginner’s Guide to Genealogy


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I wasn’t sure what to think when I decided to read this book. I have been tracing my roots for a very long time and I don’t seem to be learning anything. At least I wasn’t. I was also frustrated with books claiming to be help guides, but only touch on the most basic things and mostly irrelevant.

Since buying this book I have added an entire branch to my tree that had previously been tormenting me with its elusiveness.

Ms. Collins opened up doors for me regarding things I should have known, but didn’t. Her down to earth style of writing is more like having a pleasant conversation with her than reading a book. She gives you the facts, then backs it up with practical experience. She explains important things in a manner that any beginning tree climber can understand and offers useful information for people who have been at it for a while but need more guidance.

I didn’t find any slow spots and I even figured out how to highlight and bookmark on my Kindle so I could refer back to things. I think the best thing about this book is that it made learning fun and it had earned its retail price before I even got half way through.

I strongly encourage newbies and even others like me who have some skill under their belt, but need to fine tune it, to add this book to their library. I have read several other books on this subject that were so dry I could not even finish them. But this is going in my book log of favorites right along with my W. Daniel Quillen titles.

Thank you, Ms. Collins for a delightfully educational guidebook.


Where were they?

confusedAs I delve deeper into my family history, I have come to the conclusion that places are going to kill me. Well, not places so much as how they are recognized and what is where. As I look at records, I see a bunch of different words that I thought meant the same thing, but turns out they mean their own thing. Confused yet? Yeah, me too.

As a courtesy to those of you newbies to the genealogy world, I have made you a little cheat sheet. I basically did some geographical homework for you. Below is what I managed to figure out.

How can this help you? I have found that what an area was called has given me insight as to what the life of that family might have been like. I think it might make more sense when you have finished reading this.

A county is a large area that handles the smaller towns, cities, villages, etc., within its jurisdiction. This includes most of the legalities involved with the operation of the smaller entities. The legal middleman, if you will, between state and local.

A city is a pretty big permanent settlement. Although there is nothing carved in stone on how to tell a city from a town, a lot of cities have a specific administrative, legal, or historical status based on the law of the area. Take Massachusetts (a state); an article of incorporation gives approval by the state legislature that determines a city government from a town. In the UK, a city is usually a settlement with a royal charter.

A town is a place where people live. They are larger than villages, but smaller than cities. Each country may define its own guidelines for these classifications. In the USA we have small towns. In the UK the same size place would be called villages. Then again, a small town in Britain might be considered a city in the USA.

A township is an area that might be urban, but in many places, such as Australia, Asia, and Canada it could be an area that is actually rural and outside more of a small town. While in Europe this term is more historical, it is still relevant to records and how certain places were referred to. Generally, a township is a step below a county, but can also be a municipality.

A village is a cluster of communities that serve specific types of inhabitants, especially with regard to agriculture. Villages are usually permanent, but have been known to travel. Without going into the definition of a hamlet, a village is smaller than a town and historically speaking a hamlet grew up to be a village when it got a church.

A borough is an area that, while it may consist of a higher population, is most recognized because it has its own local government. Boroughs are more often found in Europe, but a few areas in the USA have taken advantage of this, the most well-known being New York.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

karenjones-27Today would have been my mom’s 70th birthday. She died five days ago. I’m not sure how the rest of you feel, but I Hhave some mixed emotions. Sounds crazy, huh?

My relationship with my mother has been strained, to say the least, but I discovered something recently. I don’t know if this is normal or not, but in the last week I learned that my childhood/life wasn’t so bad. My mother and I fought horribly and there was a tremendous amount of tension between us for as long as I can remember, but since last Saturday, I have remembered a whole lot of things that I had either forgotten or blocked–misplaced anger?NancyBaar-2

We used to live in this little itty bitty (and I mean garden shed small) house at the entrance to the trailer park where my grandparents lived. It was a duplex…I kid you not. ┬áSo, we had these two guys who lived in the other half and one of them worked at some kind of store and every so often he would bring home these boxes of Charms Pops, you remember the ones in the shiny-colored clear cellophane, and they would give them to my mom for me. She never said no.

Well, Christmas rolls around and our house is so small that we have no room for even a small artificial tree, but my mom was a fanatic for Christmas and refused to be held back. So I wake up on Christmas morning and there is this mound of presents for me and sitting on top of the stack is this 6 inch high Christmas tree statue–all my present under it. I was delighted.

NancyBaar-5I also remember when I turned 10 or so, she gave me the choice of where I wanted to go for my birthday dinner. She listed off some places and ended with “The Golden Arches.” She said it with so much awe that I thought it must be the most wonderful restaurant in the world. We got all dressed up in our very best clothes and we headed out. When we pulled ito the parking lot, I was shocked and then I just giggled and giggled. She was quite proud of herself and it was one of my best birthdays.

I hope that wherever your slippers are sitting right now, Mom, that you are at peace and that you know that I have always loved you, know matter what…I guess even I didn’t know how much