The USGenWeb Project
N E W S
Volume 4, Number 2
Notes from the Editor
Well, as you will see from the current issue of our Newsletter, we
are appropriately celebrating the Irish. And if you are anything like
me, you probably have a "WEE" bit of the Irish in ye'. My Irish ancestors
came to New York during the famine time period, lived in an Irish
community up the Hudson River, worked for an Irish brick manufacturer,
and during the Civil War time period moved to Cleveland, Ohio. From
there "me Irish great grandfadder" traveled to Chicago. These are
just a few of the communities brimming with Irish immigrants. I hope
you enjoy our Irish Newsletter this month. We will endeavor to celebrate
other nationalities through the coming year around the United States
and abroad. If you have pages in your USGenWeb county or state site
relating to a particular nationality, please send me a quick email
and let us know about them. We would like to gather a list of pages
inside the Project that celebrate different nationalities. Email me
I would also like to introduce you to two new members of the Newsletter Committee. Joining us on the team are Darlene Anderson and Christine Sweet-Hart. Darlene is a former CC for Williamson County, TNGenWeb and the current CC for Marion County, INGenWeb (my home community), among many other hats that she wears for various societies and personal projects. Christine is a Certified Genealogist, has been researching since 1983, and currently a LC for two towns: Groveland in Essex County, MAGenWeb and Arlington in Middlesex County, MAGenWeb. Welcome ladies! We on the Newsletter Committee look forward to working with you.
And a thank you to Daryl Lytton for the new table of contents for the USGenWeb
Newsletter. You may want to bookmark this for future reference when
looking for a prior article in the News: http://www.usgenweb-search.us/NEWS.html
Notes from the N.C.
Scott Burow - USGenWeb National Coordinator
I hope everyone had a happy St. Patrick's Day! As we celebrate our Irish roots this month in our 'green' issue of the Newsletter, I'm again reminded of the strength and determination of our ancestors who forged a place for themselves in a new society. So many changes in our society took place in a short time due to the influence of the different cultures that poured into the melting pot by immigration. In their differences they made our nation strong as they came together in a society.
Not unlike our early ancestors, the members of this Project are also strong and determined and are working from within to make the Project stronger. During the last few months, there have been proposals made to make changes in the structure of the Advisory Board for more equal representation of members, the Advisory Board has adopted procedures for handling the business of the Project in an effective and standard manner, and a method of resolving our differences has been put in place which will protect the rights of all.
When this next election comes around this summer, as members you'll have the opportunity to vote on these and other matters relating to the project. I urge you to look at the issues closely and to decide for yourselves whether the changes are in the interest of the Project and it's members and vote accordingly. We all need to remember, this is our Project and the direction it takes is up to each of us as members.
Again, I thank you for all that you put into your local and state sites and your special project sites. The information that you make available for researchers is invaluable and for many, many researchers is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
[Ed: Proposed bylaws amendments and states sponsoring them can be found at
Notes from the E.C.
by B. Jo Branch, Election Committee Chair
New E.C. dataset ready!
After months of work from behind-the-scene volunteers, the Election Committee is happy to announce that on Friday, March 23, 2007, USGenWeb members will be able to access the new dataset.
This dataset will make updating records easy for each member. Members will be able to change their email address (only one address can be the primary for all states/projects), add alternate email addresses, add or delete projects, etc.
This announcement is particularly important to new members of the USGenWeb, as those members will now be able to register to vote.
Search Us Update
by Daryl Lytton
during February had 5,975 different people visit the home page 8,699
times. They conducted a total of 25,163 searches. Search Us opened
on February 1st with only the 13 original states and the last two,
ready to search. Throughout the month more states were added ... AR,
CO, ID, KS, MN, MT, NV, OK, OR, SD, UT, WA, WY, and Indian Territory.
By March 3rd, Search Us had 486,103 pages indexed.
USGenWeb at the 2007 FGS
by Linda Hass Davenport
Those of us who are volunteering to host a Project booth at the FGS
conference in Ft. Wayne have put up a Web site -- http://homepages.rootsweb.com/~binkley/
-- about the committee and the conference. If you are interested in
helping, furnishing brochures or helping with booth expense, stop
by. If you have been "thinking about designing some brochures," now
is the time to get started. You can find examples and suggestions
at the above site.
History of the USGenWeb
by Linda Hass Davenport
When I was in Boston at the 2006 FGS conference in September, I was asked by the publisher of Everton's Genealogical Helper, in recognition of the Project's 10th anniversary, to write a history of the USGenWeb Project. The resulting article is in the current March/April 2007 issue, beginning on page 78.
From Around the Project
Native American Resources:
Cursors Gone Wild:
New England Regional Genealogical Conference, April 27-29th in Hartford, CT. USGenWeb member Christine Sweet-Hart presents, Managing a Large Genealogical Project.
MyFamily.com -- http://www.thegenerationsnetwork.com
-- has changed its name to The Generations Network.
The Allen County (Ind.) Public Library -- http://www.acpl.lib.in.us/genealogy
-- moved in January 2007 into its expanded quarters in Ft. Wayne,
Indiana. ACPL holds the largest genealogy collection of any public
ProQuest -- http://www.il.proquest.com/
-- has been sold to Cambridge Information Group, as well as HeritageQuest
Online, ProQuest Information and Learning divisions.
Baltimore County, MDGenWeb
by Darlene Anderson
The Baltimore County, MDGenWeb site is hosted by Lee Garlock. Upon entering this site your interest is sparked by "Helping You Research Your Ancestors in Baltimore County." The site is quick-loading and full of information. From the start, Lee discusses the finding aids for locating information about Baltimore County. The site hosts 30,000+ records.
Links include: bibliographies, vendors (in Maryland and the surrounding states), bibles, marriages, cemeteries, first families, queries and death notices, just to name a few. Each page opens to a general description and a transcript of the material begins. For example, the page for marriage licenses contains 10,000+ records from 1800 - 1816, and the obituaries from Baltimore newspapers from the 1840s holds 13,500+ entries.
This site contains large amounts of data and is a great example of a successful site. Mr. Garlock has done an outstanding job!
Buffalo County, NEGenWeb
by Denise Wells
My first glance at the Buffalo County, NEGenWeb site was very disarming. It is a nicely arranged, clean, easy-to-navigate site, but that's not all you get. This site is full of valuable information to any researcher with roots in the county.
A quick visit to the Recent Changes link gives you an idea of how busy Mona Muelle Houser, the County Coordinator, has been. Literally hundreds of extracts of obituaries are present on this site. Some items have been donated and many are works for love. Cemetery transcriptions and photographs; photos of area buildings and locations, plus stories; family group sheets; a church newsletter from 1899; Pictorial Book of Kearney, NE; a listing of historical markers in Buffalo County; City Directories; Street and Avenue Guide; Standard Atlas of Buffalo County; Bassett's 1916 History, Volumes I and II; Biographies; and the list of items goes on and on.
Each and every piece of information is attractively displayed. I'm sure that Mona is proud of all the work that has gone into making this site one that is worth visiting. She has also added links to genealogy lessons to help the new researcher, a resource page full of book titles to assist Buffalo County researchers, Nebraska county basics, and the mail lists at Rootsweb for Nebraska and Buffalo County. And if you can't find what you are looking for at her site, just try the FreeFind search engine. It just might be hiding among all the wonderful information provided by this site.
Another great site by a USGenWeb volunteer. Thanks for the work you are doing, Mona!
In Search of Your Irish Roots
by Anne J Lex - Records Reporter
Several years ago, I attended a workshop to learn more about researching my Irish roots. The workshop was very informative and interesting. Although Irish genealogy is difficult, there are many resources available that make it possible to trace your Irish roots back to about 600 AD. Before beginning your research, it is important to have some background information about the people of Ireland, the penal laws, Irish surnames, geographical subdivisions and the records in Ireland.
Between 600 BC and 400 AD, the Celts invaded Ireland from Wales, Scotland, Cornwall and the Island of Man. Due to these invasions, the five Celtic tribes consist of Welsh, Scotch, Manx, Cornish and the Irish. The Celts developed a social structure based on the tuath, which stresses the importance of the family structure. The tuath are tribes that can be compared to the clans of Scotland. The tuath Celts followed Gaelic laws and practiced Gaelic customs and rituals. Around the same time period, there were invasions from Greece, Spain (black Irish) and Gall, France. In 432 AD, Patricius (St. Patrick) came from the west coast of Britain to Ireland and began his mission of Christianization of Ireland. Christianity continued to mix with Gaelic laws and customs through 900 AD. Between 714 AD and 920 AD, several invasions by Scandinavian Vikings occurred. These invasions resulted in settlements in Waterford, Wexford, Limerick, Cork, Arklow and Dublin. In 1067, The Normans (French) invaded Ireland. In 1171, the English started to arrive. King Henry II of England was granted lordship over Dublin, Wexford and Waterford. English colonization continued through 1541 AD when King Henry VIII declared himself king of Ireland. By 1550 AD, the Gaelic chiefs began to resist English colonization. This continued until 1607 AD with the Gaelic chiefs' flight from Ireland. This is more commonly known as the Flight of the Earls. Between 1606 through 1649, King James I confiscated 40% of Ulster from the Irish. Ulster was redistributed to English military and Presbyterian Scots (Scots-Irish). In 1649, Oliver Cromwell arrived in Dublin and conquered all of Ireland. Cromwell redistributed all but 9% of the land owned by Catholics.
There were several penal laws enacted by English monarchs for the sole purpose of punishing Catholics. These laws prohibited Catholics from purchasing land and from renting or leasing land for profit. Catholic teachers were prohibited from teaching or assisting in any educational forum. Catholic clergy were prohibited from performing marriages between Catholics and Protestants and Catholics were prohibited from marrying each other. Catholics were not allowed to vote or serve in Parliament. The Statutes of Kilkenny prohibited many of the customs and rituals practiced by the Irish. This included speaking Gaelic, Irish dancing etc. During the 19th century, the Poor Relief Act was enacted for taxation purposes. These laws have a great impact upon the Irish records that are available for research.
Prior to 1000 AD, Gaelic surnames were not used. Last names usually identified descent from father or an earlier ancestor. For instance, Mc and Mac stood for son of. While O stood for descendant of. Here is just one example of three generations: Neill MacCormac was the father of Eoghan MacNeill and Eoghan MacNeill was the father of Brian MacEoghan. As the population expanded, these naming patterns became too confusing. To remedy the problem, Ireland began using surnames around the 10th century. Various surnames sometimes derived from one ancestor. The surnames Gilbride, Kilbride and McBride could all be descendants of Mac Giolla Brighd. Likewise, the surnames McElroy, Gilroy and Kilroy could all be descendants of Mac Giolla Rua. Variations of the original Gaelic name differed according to the person who anglicized the name. This is most likely due to mixed dialects. Although the Normans used similar naming patterns, they wanted to set themselves apart from their Irish counterparts. They did so by adding Fitz in front of their surnames. Fitzgerald, Fitzsimmons and Fitzhenry are a few examples. Fitz is a derivative of the word fils, which is the French word for son.
As any good researcher knows, it is important to be familiar with the geographical subdivisions of the location you are researching. This is because records are held at different levels. There are 4 provinces in Ireland: Ulster, Munster, Leinster and Connacht. There are 32 counties (also referred to as Shires) in Ireland. Counties are boundaries for the purposes of courts, taxes and militia. Each county is divided into civil parishes. Civil parishes consist of several townlands for the purposes of tracking church records. The average size of a townland is about 400 acres. Each county is subdivided by Poor Law Unions. These Poor Law Unions were formed as a result of the Poor Relief Act. Baronies are county subdivisions that have no real genealogical value other than being referred to in Griffith's Valuation. It is possible that Baronies were a county subdivision used by the Normans.
If you begin your research with just a surname, you will have to narrow down the location in some other way. Robert E. Matheson conducted a study of surname distributions for the year 1890. Matheson's published work is known as The Special Report of Surnames in Ireland. This report can be searched on the Internet. There is a limitation in the use of Matheson's report since Matheson only included surnames that recorded at least 5 births. Thus, rare Irish surnames may not be found in the report. Search results will provide a table of the highest concentration of a surname in each county. For instance, if you research the surname Corr, you might find the following occurrences: Ulster 31, Munster 3, Leinster 16 and Connacht 5 with the most frequent concentrations in the counties of Dublin and Tyrone.
Special Report on Surnames in Ireland, by Robert E. Matheson (1890) http://www.ancestryireland.com/database.php?filename=db_mathesons
As a result of the Poor Relief Act of 1838, local taxpayers were required to pay a tax for the care of the poor in their county. Each county had a market town that served as a workhouse. Workhouses kept registers of individuals that sought tax relief under the Act. Poor Law Unions were also formed in each county as a result of the Act. These Poor Law Unions served as registration districts for civil registrations: birth, death and marriage. Civil Registrations began in 1864. Registration of non-Catholic marriages began in 1845. Civil Registration indices can be searched in person at local health boards in Ireland. The Dublin office holds Master Indices for 32 counties up to 1921 and 26 counties thereafter. Civil Registrations are available on microfilm at the Latter-Day Saints (LDS) Family History Centers in the United States. LDS has yearly indices from 1864-1877. LDS also has yearly indices for non-Catholic marriages beginning in 1845. From 1878 through 1902, records are indexed quarterly. In 1903, Civil Registration records began including the mother's maiden name. The indices for 1903 were indexed by year. Check with your local LDS Family History Center to determine which indices are available.
Latter-Day Saints Family History Web site
Church Records can be divided into three categories: Catholic, Presbyterian and the Church of Ireland. Church records consist of baptisms and marriages. Catholic parishes began recording baptisms and marriages in the 1840s and 1850s. Catholic records are written in Latin or English. Never in Gaelic. LDS has baptism and marriage registers available for rental on microfilm. Presbyterian records began being recorded around the same time as Catholic records. Presbyterian records are available through the parish, the Presbyterian Historical Society and the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland. Church records for the Church of Ireland began as early as 1634. These records consist of baptisms, marriages and sometimes include burials. These records were written in English and were organized by Diocesan parish. By 1869, these records were declared property of the State. In June 1922, the church records for the Church of Ireland were destroyed in a fire. However, many of the Diocesan parishes retained copies of their records. The National Archives of Ireland has a catalog of the records that survived the fire.
In 1826, Parliament enacted a Townland Survey known as Griffith's First Valuation. The purpose of the First Valuation was to determine a uniform value of land for tax purposes. Valuators assessed and recorded information about properties in house books and field books. Field books recorded information about the size of the property, the quality of the soil, rent and sometimes the occupier's name. House books recorded the occupier's name, rent and the condition of the property. The records from the First Valuation are available at the National Archives of Ireland, the Valuation Office in Dublin and the Public Records Office in Northern Ireland.
Griffith's Second Valuation of 1846 consisted of tenement surveys in response to the Poor Relief Act. The Second Valuation recorded the occupier's name, name of the landlord and the size and dimensions of the property. Surveyors recorded the information in notebooks and on corresponding maps. These notebooks consist of Perambulation books, house books, quarto books and rent books. Perambulation books are available for research at the Valuation Office in Dublin. House books can be researched at the National Archives of Ireland. Quarto books are house books for large towns. Quarto books recorded the occupier's name, rent and value of the property. Rent books are arranged by landlord's name. Rent books are available at the National Archives of Ireland.
Griffith's Third Valuation consisted of tenement surveys for the purpose of a new tax valuation. The Third Valuation used the same methods for recording information as the Second Valuation . Most of the notebooks from the Third Valuation are available on microfilm at the LDS. The notebooks from the Third Valuation are arranged by Poor Law Unions.
Griffith's Valuation http://www.failteromhat.com/griffiths.htm
Now that you have an overview of how to begin tracing your Irish roots, I hope you realize that although it may be difficult, it is not impossible. Many of the records you are seeking are available in the United States or on the Internet. There are several Irish organizations, like the Ancient Order of Hibernians, that can help guide you in your research. Tracing your Irish roots may take months or even years, but with a little patience and the luck of the Irish, it is possible to trace your Irish roots back to about 600 AD.
Some Irish links:
Irish Genealogical Society International
Guide to Irish Genealogy
Researching Irish Names
RootsWeb's Guide to Tracing Family Trees
Ancient Order of Hibernians
Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement in Virginia. USGenWeb Archives
The Anglo American Partial Passenger List: Irish Immigrants Sailing From Liverpool England To Boston Arrived In Boston On April 3, 1848. USGenWeb Archives
The Scotch-Irish Migration Patterns Into Tennessee. Campbell County, TNGenWeb
Scotch-Irish and Ulster Scots Family Research
Van Buren County, IAGenWeb
Irish in Michigan, MIGenWeb
IrelandGenWeb Project, WorldGenWeb
Northern IrelandGenWeb, WorldGenWeb
Original IrelandGenWeb Resource Page
Search RootsWeb.com for Irish lists
GENUKI, free information about all of the United Kingdom and Ireland
Amazon.com Irish research books
Amazon.com Irish genealogy books
Irish Newspapers to Research...
- Free -- Boston Pilot on Boston College's free Information Wanted site -- www.infowanted.bc.edu
-- This site includes key details from threads; more than 31,000
records are posted that cover 1831-1893, 1901 and 1913 are online
at this site.
- Free -- Ireland Old News -- www.irelandoldnews.com
-- This is a volunteer-generated collection of obituaries and news
items in Irish newspapers from the 1700s to the early 1900s.
- Free -- Belfast Newsletter Index 1737-1800 -- http://www.ucs.louisiana.edu/bnl/
-- This site covers nearly 300,000 news items and ads.
- $75 membership fee -- NEHGS -- www.newenglandancestors.org
-- Members can search online databases of 45,000 ads covering 1830-1920,
containing 100,000 names and the entire advertisements rather than
- Free -- Griffiths Valuation 1848-1864 -- www.failteromhat.com/griffiths.php
-- This index covers all of Ireland and gives the first and last
names, townland, parish and county; most of the details are available
from the original records.
- $ -- Eneclann CDs -- www.eneclann.ie
- $ -- Irish Origins -- www.irishorigins.com
-- pay-per-view, 1 credit per index entry retrieved, 20 credits
per image viewed, 300 credits good for a week = $9.00 U.S. Dollars.
I Worked Hard to Find My Information --Why Should I Share?
by Sandi Gorin, Kentucky Colonel
Hey, that's not fair! You expect me to share -- to give away -- information that I've worked on for years????? You want me to volunteer to help others, giving them data that I paid good money for? You honestly want me to spend time on line uploading files? You'd better have a very good reason for thinking I would do this!
How many of us have had that thought cross our minds if we're honest with ourselves? Ah yes, we have worked hard. Many of us started before the days of instant internet access where we could search on a name and find records from far-flung places. We had to actually write letters to hopeful descendants of our family, enclosing a self-addressed stamped envelope, never getting a reply. We went from 20/20 vision to bifocals reading census records from those old microfilm readers with their scratched screens, blurred images and the reel that was on backwards. We have tromped through cemeteries bringing home chigger bites, poison ivy and sunburn. We have been at the County Clerk's office so many times that they think we work there. We have typed up our data on old typewriters and had the ribbon wear out; run mimeograph machines (remember them?) that stunk to high heaven and got ink all over us too. We have written our own code for the early computers when genealogy programs were unknown. We have had notebook after notebook full of family sheets and pedigree charts along with book citations where we forgot to write down the source. Ah yes, the good old days. I did this since 1970; with a reluctant husband and two daughters who thought that all families took their summer vacations in a cemetery!
So why should we consider helping others? I faced this decision about 12 years ago before there was a Rootsweb, a USGenWeb, an Ancestry.com or any other genealogy site. When the World Wide Web opened up for the general public and email was still a mystery, I stumbled my way into the 20th, now the 21st century, feet first and kicking. Even though I had been employed for many years in the computer field, it took my daughters to explain how to "surf the web." Then it grew, and grew and grew until today there are literally thousands of sites crammed full of information. We can now sit in the comfort of our home, a cup of coffee in front of us, television blaring, and we still have those stacks of notebooks and papers. What could possibly convince me to contribute as a volunteer that would help anyone?
There is a lot of information that is not on the genealogical sites! Have you gone to a county web site after doing a search for a county name and genealogy and found nothing that would help? Alas yes; it seems every name in the world is listed there, except, of course, your family. Oh, they have cemeteries listed!!! But, no names, just the locations. Well, how about deeds? Only a few. I think you get the idea. It takes a living breathing human being to submit the information. Without you, it might never get on line at all. Can't you take a few minutes out of your busy days to :
- submit your family tree
- transcribe a cemetery
- dig through old year books and diaries and type them
- volunteer to do look-ups from your over-the-years growing library
- go to the court house and copy deeds, wills, marriages. Using a digital camera or the old fashioned copy machine makes it a lot easier now 6 -- volunteer to be "list mom" or "list dad" to a county or specialty site that just sits there with no data and no administrator
The list of possibilities is a long one. I have learned over the years that he or she who gives, receives. Receives what? Satisfaction that you have helped someone who is maybe a stumbling new researcher like you used to be. Meeting family members -- distant cousins and all -- from all over the world who found you "on the Web." Enjoyment of putting the pieces together, playing detective, solving puzzles when family histories come together.
Is there pay involved? Not exactly. But the satisfaction received more than makes up for the missing pay check. So many have helped me in the past; this is my way of saying, "thank you for helping me when I was that beginning researcher."
Prose & Poetry
Q. Why do people wear shamrocks on St. Patrick's Day?
A. Real rocks would look funny.
Where Are the Wicked Folk Buried?
'Tell me, grey-haired sexton,' said I,
'Where in the field are the wicked folk laid?
I have wandered the quiet old graveyard through,
And studied the epitaphs, old and new,
But on monument, obelisk, pillar, or stone,
I read no evil that men have done.'
The old sexton stood by a grave newly made,
With his chin on his hand, his hand on a spade:
'Who is the judge when the soul takes its flight?
Who is the judge 'twixt the wrong and the right?
Which of us mortals shall dare to say
That our neighbour was wicked who died to-day?'
'In our journey through life, the farther we speed,
The better we learn that humility's need
Is charity's spirit that prompts us to find
Rather virtue than vice in the lives of our kind.'
'Therefore good deeds we record on these stones;
The evil men do, let it rest with their bones'
I have laboured as sexton this many a year,
But I never have buried a bad man here.'
-- From Journal of the Association for the Preservation of the Dead in Ireland, Vol. 2, Part 1 (1895)
The views expressed in this newsletter are those of the contributors, including newsletter staff, and are not necessarily those of the USGenWeb Project.
You are receiving this newsletter because you are a member of The
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from The News, visit the EC Web site http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~usgwelections/
and contact your EC Rep. To submit articles, letters and ideas, write
The USGenWeb News is archived at http://www.usgenweb.org/newsletter/
Managing Editor: Denise Wells
Assistant Editor: Daryl Lytton
Records Reporter Editor: Anne J Lex
Project Spotlights Editor: Darlene Anderson
Contributing Editor: Christine Sweet-Hart, CG
(c) 2007, The USGenWeb Project. Permission to reprint articles from this newsletter is granted when the author and The USGenWeb Project News are credited