Tag Archives: Genealogy


I have an ancestor who was in the Revolutionary War, so I typed his name, Elijah Park, into My Heritage (library edition) to see what would come up. I had to guess on his birthdate-let’s see… 1775 minus 20ish…try 1752? I hit “Enter.” The first thing that popped up was my Aunt Marcia’s pedigree chart, which had my great grandma’s name on it. I didn’t even have to wonder if I had the right guy!

You’ve probably heard of Ancestry, but subscriptions to this site are expensive. Luckily, the library provides free access to My Heritage. On My Heritage you can research your ancestors by looking at the U.S. Census and many other documents. The basic site is free. If you want to add more than 250 people to your online family tree you will need to subscribe.

My Heritage and many other useful websites are located on NebraskAccess.You can access them from home with your Nebraska driver’s license or a password. If you don’t have a home computer, you are welcome to use one at the library. If you make an appointment, a librarian will be able to help you get started on your search.

Another free site is FamilySearch, which you can find with an internet search. Wikitree is an interesting site to visit as well; it contains ads and links to My Heritage. Each of these sites has a lot of the same information, but they also have different information and they work differently. If you are having trouble finding something, it may be good to check multiple sources. You can find a lot of other free genealogy sites, but these don’t have popup advertisements and contain the bulk of what is available online.

Several people a year contact me via email to ask me to look through the Gering Courier for an ancestor’s obituary. We have the Courier on microfilm starting in 1892. In addition to microfilm, we have an entire set of physical copies of the Courier and the Citizen. We also have most of the Gering High School Annuals. One of the more interesting collections we have are the City Directories, starting with 1954. You can use these to look up where people used to live in Scotts Bluff County. It gives information about what they did for a living and who their neighbors were. They are like a census, but they are published every year.

The West Nebraska Family History and Research Center at 1602 Avenue A in Scottsbluff is a great place to go for help, as well. They have a lot more genealogy and local history books than we do, but their best resource is their volunteer staff. They will be happy to help you start finding information about your ancestors.

On My Heritage, I found out that Elijah Park was married twice. He lived in Connecticut, Vermont, and New York. He had anywhere from 4 to 14 children. I discovered this by looking at other people’s research. I stopped after looking at 10 of more than 30 different family trees featuring my Elijah Park. The different numbers of children are because genealogists have different research styles and priorities. (Research sounds like a future column.) When I take the time to research Elijah myself, I will have a better idea of how many children he actually had. 

With all the resources out there: online, and in our community, you may be able to find many new and interesting things about your family tree.

It’s All Relative

August 2007

I have an ancestor, Anne Hutchinson, who was quite infamous in her day, and she should be still, but I hadn’t heard of her until Mom told me to read a book called American Jezebel, by Eve LaPlante. As I finished the book, I wondered from which of her children I was descended. She had 15, and only four reproduced that I know of. Turns out, the Presidents Bush and Franklin Roosevelt are all descended from Edward. I was lucky enough to draw the interesting child, the one who was captured by Indians and held captive for several years, Susanna.

I found out on some (reliable?) conspiracy website which of the children the presidents were related to, and the guy had traced the lineage all the way to Charlemagne, Ptolemy and Caesar and so on. It seems a little speculative. He had something going about how all the world’s leaders are all related to each other through this line. It seems that Edward Hutchinson’s wife, Catherine was of that line, so the tendency toward world domination is not in my “bloodline.” (Phew)

Then I read an article in Smithsonian magazine, by Richard Conniff. He is kind of anti-genealogy because he thinks people are hoping that the genetics of famous ancestors will affect them. I had never thought about that, but was mostly interested to see what kind of people I came from. Turns out my Dad’s side weren’t very exciting, at least as far back as he has researched. They were broke when they immigrated from England after the Civil War. Mom’s side goes back to the Mayflower, and most Mayflower descendants are related to each other, because there weren’t many people to choose from in marriage.

Conniff pointed out that 10% of people have “misassigned” paternity, or looking at 10 generations, one daddy snuck into the family tree. I guess that seems possible. I am sure that many rulers expected “favors” from their subjects, not to mention your basic indiscretions. He maintains that:

“ no family lineage is a single thread. It’s more like a broad fan of a thousand, or a million threads coming together from all over the world to weave the fragile patch of material representing the generations of family immediately around us.

And here’s the curious thing about this ancestral fan: it doesn’t follow the simple mathematical rule of doubling with each generation back in time. If it did, we would have between 4 billion and 17 billion ancestors at the time of Charlemagne, in A.D. 800, when there were only a few hundred million people alive on the earth. Instead, because of intermarriage the same ancestors start turning up in any lineage over and over.”

The author then goes on to explain that Edward III, king of England in the 1300s appears 2,000 times in Prince Charles’ line. Kinda sounds like line breeding to me. Conniff said, (unrelated to the Windsor line), that scientists researched “overlapping ancestry in both … paternal and maternal lines, [and] they concluded that everyone on earth today shares a common ancestor who lived just 2,000 to 3,500 years ago.” And from there on back, we are pretty much all related. Well, that is a relief. Can you imagine trying to research serfs who had no last name? I certainly had no aspirations that I was related to royalty, and here I find out I am probably related to Julius Caesar.