Freebie Friday: Historical mapping



I was moved by a newspaper columnist’s description of the great flood in the 1940s that invaded my hometown, Omaha, Nebraska and neighboring city, Council Bluffs, Iowa. What led me to this article was an active conversation I was having with my parents about a time when the entire community pulled together to help one another.

My Dad and his buddies were drafted to help build structures to help fend off the water disaster that paralyzed the area for several weeks.

As I listened to their separate remembrances, I was scanning the flooded areas via today’s Internet. There were empty spaces where houses and businesses once stood, while stronger structures remaining upon the soggy grounds.

What was my fantastic tool to locate the historical Iowa and Nebraska? It’s the Freebie Friday “My Genealogy Hound.” It’s a great website with more than 2,100 historic county maps from throughout the United States. I’ve found it helpful when I was researching my ancestors in Georgia. I wanted to see where my paternal family lived in Helena, Arkansas in 1919, and our (Good Genes Genealogy team) maternal relatives’ homes and businesses in Springfield, Missouri between 1900 and 1945.

Some maps don’t allow the researcher to drill down and find every old road that I was seeking. Yet, most of the county maps give me a great sense of the areas.


There’s at least one county map for every county in the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia.

Only partial lists exist for the remaining U.S. states. Within all states, more county maps are regularly added.

Enjoy your genealogy geography hunting!

Aunt Ancestor Still Leading me on Genealogy Journey

Paternal Aunt Beverly Ann Wead Blackburn Jones

On this annual day of Epiphany, it is also the birth of my most cheriished ancestor. Today, Jan. 6, 2022, would have been my Paternal Aunt Beverly Ann Wead Blackburn Jones’ 85th birthday. She transitioned in 1973 at the age of 36. I was 15 years old. It was the first family death that left an indelible mark upon my life.

My father’s baby sister, my mother’s best friend, my dear ancestor Aunt Beverly, has taught me so much over the nearly 49 years since her transition. Many of our ancestors have that ability to guide us through our genealogy journeys. My advice: Let them.

Aunt Bev’s Grave Marker in Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Omaha, Nebraska

Aunt Beverly is more than the grave marker of her birth and death dates. She was a standout scholar, athlete and civic citizen that began in her high school years. She continued with similar activities in college and added accomplishments that included journalist, sorority member and U.S. Senate recognized achiever. She was twice married, had three children during her first marriage, owned businesses and hosted many recreational and entertainment activities for children and teenagers in our hometown of Omaha, Nebraska.

The summary of Aunt Beverly’s life from our family tree on ancestry.com’s website

When I wrote about my dear Aunt Beverly a year ago, I did not have the family details that I have since retrieved. Thanks to Aunt Beverly, I offer the following genealogy tips that lead to more discoveries in our ancestry searches:

  • Update ancestor’s information. Review the ancestor’s information for updates that are often added through online sources. I found new information relevant to Aunt Beverly’s ancestry data. A closer look at the 1940 U.S. Census data for Aunt Beverly’s/my Dad’s family showed that their Dad/my grandfather completed one year of high school.
  • Review linked ancestor’s information. While reviewing your ancestor, follow her or his lineage for the same purpose of online updates. I found new and rich updates about my ancestors who are Aunt Beverly’s father, grandfather, great-grandfather and great-grandmother’s information.
  • Resist the tendency to keep your original research. Often, we don’t want to release our early research about our ancestors after we find new documents that provide validity. For instance, my great-great grandmother’s birth year and location were incorrect on my family tree. Documents were recently released that gave accurate results based on Fannie Robinson Wade’s recently found birth certificate from 1841.

4. Verify new information. Using my paternal great-great grandmother’s data, I verified her birth year by reviewing the 1880 U.S. Census for her age at that time. I also found two other trees that included Fannie Robinson Wade as part of their research. The reconciled birth year information appears to be accurate.

5. Select a routine day or date to review and update ancestral information. I use my ancestors’ birthdays, marriage anniversaries, holidays and death anniversaries to pause and review existing information for updates. With Aunt Beverly, I review her life’s story on her birthday and in June of each year.

The how-tos that I presented can be expanded by each researcher reading this WordPress blog and social media post. Share your ideas to help others and the Good Genes Genealogy team to gain new research techniques.

This column is reprinted from WeadWriteAwayandGenealogy

Author: Learning family histories

Our genealogy traces our family from western and central Africa and western Europe. Our ancestors entered the United States at the Virginia and Georgia Ports. First cousins Mark Owen and Ann Lineve Wead (it is protocol to use the maiden names of females in genealogy searches) are responsible for writing this blog. Although Ann has been involved in genealogy research while searching for certain ancestors since the age of 10, the cousins began deeper research of their families during the COVID-19 Pandemic Year of 2020. Devoting as much as 6 hours some evenings to the methodical training and research of genealogy, the cousins completed the year 2020 by earning genealogy certificates. Join us. @goodgenesgenealogy on wordpress and fb, twitter Sign up for our blog and enjoy the journey. View all posts by Learning family histories

Barking up the tree: How to create a “real” family tree

One of my facebook genealogy page colleagues gifted her children with their individual family trees. Now that the winter holidays are over, this idea is perfect for 2022 family reunions.

My colleague said the most often asked question is where to purchase the tree stand? She offered this bestchoiceporducts site.

Here is the back of one of the branches for you to consider how to list your ancestors.

How to make this happen for your family? Be creative by using this example as your foundation of an idea that brings new meaning to our genealogy phrase, “family tree.”

Happy New Year!

Update on AncestryLibrary

Ancestry Library Edition
Things are a-changing in 2022

Ancestry.com just posted a new message on my DeKalb County Public Library account. In short it states that its free genealogy research resources are for use only in the library and not at home.

Here’s the new message:


Ancestry Library Edition is a new genealogy research tool that provides library patrons instant access to a wide range of resources for genealogical and historical research. Ancestry Library Edition includes records from the U. S. Census; military records; court, land and probate records; vital and church records; directories; petitions for naturalization; passenger lists and more!Ancestry Library Edition is not for home use. To access this database, please ask for more information at your local library.For libraries wishing to arrange a free trial, please call ProQuest Sales at 1‑800‑521‑0600, extension 3344.For initial account setup or account preferences, contact ProQuest Customer Service.For authentication issues connecting or logging in, contact ProQuest Technical Support.

My genealogy sense is that ancestry.com will again alter this policy as the health pandemic contribute to limited indoor visitations and closings of some facilities.

Stay tuned in 2022 to our blogs and social media on how to benefit from free genealogy offerings.

Happy 2022!

It’s Freebie Friday!

Check out the ancestry.com Library edition for free forms and charts

Check out the ancestry.com Library edition for free forms and charts

I did a double take when I was searching for genealogy information via ancestry.com on my local public library’s website. The free Ancestry.com site courtesy of my favorite library, DeKalb County Public Library, has different offerings than my private, subscription-based ancestry.com account.

That’s the first freebie: Use your public library card to log into your local branch’s website and search for ancestry.com. Once in the site, select the “charts and forms” tab and click on to access it.

screenshot record

The second freebie is found in the ancestry.com charts and forms tab. You may wish to download any or all six of the forms and charts. The forms and charts are great tools to help the novice and seasoned genealogy researchers to organize family documents.

The charts and forms from ancestry. com are also exclusively offered on library sites. That’s a bonus for having a library card.

Hurry! Ancestry.com’s Library editions may be ending soon, according to the company’s website.

How to name your family tree

My ancestry.com family tree is appropriately named: “Bartee Douthy Duncan Fisher Kimbrough Owen Parker Shaw Thompson Wead Weed Wilks Wilkes Family Tree.”

Below is a photo of the Wilkes family and friends in front of their home in Springfield, Missouri. It is estimated that this photo was taken in 1925.


To gain the best results from building your family tree on any ancestry website, list the top surnames. As you build your family tree, remember the surnames and always use the maiden names of your female ancestors in genealogy searches.

In my early years of researching my family, I included my female ancestors’ married names in family genealogy searches. It limited my information collection. Now that I have replaced the married names with maiden names, the family searches are much more successful.

How do you find the maiden names? Check marriage certificates and licenses, marriage announcements and bonds for the correct maiden names of relatives. For instance, as shown below, I located the maiden name of Florida L. Fisher on the marriage license certifying the union with our cousin, Herbert Gerald Parker.


If marriage documents are tough to find, ask your oldest family members to help remember the maiden names. When I used my maternal Great- Great-Grandmother’s Melissa C. Gray Wilkes’ maiden name, I easily located her parents and her grandparents. The Gray surname was the key to finding her parents, grandparents and siblings.

Great-Great-Grandmother Melissa Gray Wilkes (1871 – 1934) is viewed below:


Happy family searches. Build your family trees with maiden names linked to the strong surnames.

HoHo Helpful hints for family tree

It’s Freebie Friday!


For many of us, it is a challenge to learn of our grandparents and their parents. Think about the challenge of locating 10 generations of grandparents, or stated another way, your great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandparents!

While the Good Genes Genealogy cousins are only halfway there with our maternal grandparents, we, like you, will keep trying to reach the 10th generation of relatives.

Notice the fourth and fifth great-grandfathers. The fourth great-grandfather fought a battle in Georgia during the Revolutionary War to keep the British invasion at bay.

Here’s some solid advice from us and colleagues who are genealogy buffs:

  • Decide on your purpose for your family tree. Some prefer to build family tree to only link direct lineage. Others build trees for family history purposes. Both types of family trees are valuable.
  • Now begin with yourself to begin your family tree, hence the top of the Christmas tree shaped family tree that is displayed in this blog.
  • Fill in as much as you know about your grandparents and their parents, if possible.
  • Use death and birth certificates, if available, to verify each grandparents’ parents.
  • DNA results remain a huge help in filling in the names of grandparents, siblings, cousins and other relatives.
  • Do not ignore individuals that keep appearing on your ancestry lines that do not appear to be blood relatives. Their records are equally important to locate ancestors as those “nonblood” individuals may share other family relationships.
  • If grandparents have been married more than once, you have the choice to add each marriage, or directly link your blood lines to the married grandparents. It’s tricky, yet family tree-building technology is now allowing for some flexibility.
  • Build in lots of genealogy research time to achieve whatever goals you have for building family trees this holiday season.

Have fun, relax, share memories and ask great questions of your relatives to build your tree.

Happy Holidays!

What better gift than the gift of family genealogy?


I was busy preparing my holiday cards when my thoughts turned to gift-giving. What is the greatest genealogy gift that I could give to my family? The answer: Ancestral research findings.

Guess what? I, too, received the greatest gift.

I poured through our family ancestry records and discovered great finds via newspapers.com. I attached the newspaper clippings to my family members’ trees and also printed some records to share as part of my gift giving.

The clipping below was part of my gift to Cousin-by-marriage Florida L. Fisher Parker a year ago during the holiday season. She was overjoyed to see this clipping, her marriage license and other related documents that I uncovered through electronic methods. My discoveries also prompted Florida sharing funny and tearful memories about that great day in her life.

My cousin, Ret. Col. Parker and Florida on their wedding day, June 27, 1959

Florida, the widow of Ret. Col. Herbert Gerald Parker, is an enthusiast genealogist. She piqued my interest in genealogy while we all lived in Tallahassee, FL. Typically, I would visit with Florida and we would prepare documents for the family reunion. After the burial of her husband, my cousin, Herb, at Arlington National Cemetery in D.C., Florida chose to live near her daughter and family in Maryland. Distance and COVID-19 restrictions have grounded our travels and frequency of our conversations.

That’s why this year, I bundled up some new finds that are related to her deceased father, Dr. Miles Mark Fisher. During my research of her father, I discovered my greatest gifts.

  • Gift #1: I learned that Dr. Fisher was the author of several books and articles. One of his books, “The Life of Lott Cary” is out of print. It is about the life of a former slave who toiled many years to earn enough to purchase his freedom and that of his family’s. He became a member of the clergy and also ascended into other high places.
  • Gift #2: I learned that Rev. Fisher was the longtime pastor of White Rock Baptist Church, Durham, N.C. It was a church that was widely recognized nationwide and in its community for its social activism and highly touted black businessmen and civil rights leaders as congregants. He also initiated a program that held period racially integrated religious services.
  • Gift #3: I learned that Dr. Fisher was a scholar. He was on faculty at Virgina Union and Shaw University.
  • Gift #4: I learned the young scholar was one of the first “Negroes to receive the Ph.D. degree in philosophy and religion from the University of Chicago.”
  • Gift #5: The joy that the printed articles bring to Florida’s life. She doesn’t use technology, yet, she is fond of receiving information about her family.

By sharing your ancestral findings with loved ones, you are giving the greatest gift of all during this holiday season and throughout the year.

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