How many of us have watched the genealogy shows that have done research for star celebrities? These programs make it look so easy to find your family information, as if it is all laid out in front of them on a silver platter. To me, it’s like the fairy godmother of genealogy has left you a special gift with just a wave of her wand. In real life, it just isn’t that easy. It takes work and time to find your genealogical lines.
So where do you start?
The first place to start looking is with yourself. Your birth certificate will give your name, your parents’ name, the date, time, and place of your birth. The second step is to find these same records for your parents. If you can’t find their birth records, then a marriage record or death record can sometimes provide the information you are seeking. These steps are repeated for each set of grandparents until you can’t go back any farther. Many states did not record births and death records until the 1890’s or later. If these records are not available, you may want to search local land records, church records, cemetery records, city directories, census records, wills, obits and probate records. These records will give you clues on where your ancestor lived and who their siblings were.
The probate records can give you an idea on what your ancestors may have owned. Household items and farm equipment are listed, and many times the records show who bought or received items from the estate. Sometimes you discover some surprising family stories in old newspaper articles. I found an obit for my great great grandfather, Alexander Killion, from Plainville, Indiana. It gave a long story about how he’d amassed a great deal of farm land in Daviess, Greene and Knox counties. It also told of how his family had been threatened with kidnapping and ransom. The article described how he’d made a fortress at their home with all of the family confined there. I found the story very interesting.
If you live in or around Knox County, the place to come is the McGrady-Brockman House, 614 N. Seventh St., located at the corner of Seventh and Hart streets in Vincennes. The McGrady-Brockman House has many Knox County records of birth, death, marriage, and local newspapers on microfilm. We have several cemetery books, will books and land record books. We also have access to the Ancestry database for research outside the area. However, most of all, the McGrady-Brockman House has friendly and knowledgeable staff members willing to assist you with all of your research needs.
The McGrady-Brockman House is open Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Stop by and visit us.