Local History & Genealogy

Getting Started with FamilySearch



FamilySearch.org is one of many genealogical resources available online to people from around the world. With so many choices for where to turn and what to look for in different websites, it can be daunting to get started into genealogical research. Even at the library we are not professional genealogists and sometimes we might not have the answer. Genealogy take some creative thinking, problem solving, and like anything else: some really helpful tools to make your work easier.


If you’re just getting started in genealogy research, or just looking into your family tree, the best place to start is with what you know and then work your way back through time. If you’re a pen and paper kind of person, there are resources available for you just as there are digital resources for those who don’t mind hopping on the computer. Frankly, the digital family records seem more manageable to me because the trees can get so complex the farther back in time you go and the more details and information you want to include. If you start in a digital format oftentimes the branches will be collapsible to make the visible space easier to navigate.

… I didn’t solve all of my family mysteries or even get terribly far into my family tree, but the hunt is definitely more rewarding than the results…

Tonight, while I was at home and unable to access Ancestry.com through the library, I decided to see what I could find on FamilySearch. I didn’t solve all of my family mysteries or even get terribly far into my family tree, but the hunt is definitely more rewarding than the results. Just knowing that I am reading data that gives me insight to my grandfather’s home-life in 1930, when he was just 5 years old, is very cool. Census data is some of the most readily available digital family data on the internet and it is utterly tantalizing to explore. Learning about family groups, ages, siblings names, naturalization, country of origin, and many other factors just make you thirst for more… it raises more questions and more rabbit trails that you can follow.

Possibly even more fun than census data would be ship manifests that provide details about your ancestor’s journey to the country you call home. What could be cooler than knowing some of the details about their last residence, where they intend to go, whom they know in this new land, and how much money they are carrying in their pockets to start this new life?

FamilySearch was very simple to set up with a basic account. It’s going to take me a long while to learn just how much the website can do in terms of helping me to isolate me family members throughout history, but I have a good start.

Is today the day you take that step? The journey into the past will be there waiting for you until you are ready! If you’ve already gotten started, what’s your favorite find so far, or your favorite resource?

Tips & Tricks for Genealogy Research

5 Ancestry.com Power Tips

courtesy of Family Tree University

  1. SEARCH WITH WILDCARDS. Ancestry.com lets you use a ? to stand in for one letter or a * to stand in for zero to five letters in a name. You can use a wildcard as the first or last character, but not both, and the name must have at least three non-wildcard characters.
  2. GET AUTOMATIC HINTS. Ancestry.com can automatically search its vast collections of records and family trees for your ancestors. Just keep your family tree in Family Tree Maker software for Windows or Mac or create a free Ancestry Member Tree online. Working in the background, Ancestry.com searches its records and family trees for matches to people in your tree. A waving leaf by a name in your tree indicates a potential match. Just click to view the hint. You can review the record to make sure it pertains to your ancestor and then attach it to your tree.
  3. EDIT YOUR TREE ON THE GO. Use Ancestry.com’s free mobile app for Apple or Android to create and edit your Ancestry Member Tree on your phone or tablet. You can add records you find in Ancestry.com, as well as those uploaded from your device. Changes will automatically sync to all your devices.
  4. FIND IT FREE. Search the Ancestry.com card catalog on the keyword free, and many of the results will be free databases. You can access almost all of Ancestry.com’s records free from a library that offers Ancestry Library Edition on its computers. Check the website or ask your librarian to see if your library offers this service.
  5. DON’T LOSE ACCESS TO YOUR RECORDS. Anyone can create an Ancestry Member Tree for free and as a paying subscriber, you can attach records from Ancestry to people in your tree. But if you let your subscription lapse, you could be in for an unpleasant surprise: You’ll be able to access your tree and any records uploaded from your computer, but not the records attached to it from Ancestry.com.
    To avoid this, when you attach a record to someone in your Member Tree, save a copy to your computer with a descriptive name so you can easily find it. You also could use Family Tree Maker software so you’ll have a copy of your family tree on your computer that automatically syncs with your online tree.

8 Places To Find Court Records Online

courtesy of Family Tree University

When conducting courthouse research, it’s perfectly permissible to wait until you get to a courthouse and then ask where each record you want is housed and how far back it goes. But in this day and age, it’s not the most efficient approach. First, the records may exist at another location, which can be a hassle or even a deal-breaker for those with limited time or transportation. Using online finding aids and digitized or microfilmed records can free up more of whatever time you have at the courthouse to dig for obscure or hard-to-find records. What a waste of time it would be to spend all your courthouse time copying vital records you could have accessed from home, only to leave untouched the probate packets you can’t access from home. Finally, sometimes it’s not possible to visit a courthouse in person. When you learn all you can online, you reduce the expenses of hiring a local to research for you or of paying courthouse staff to copy and mail you documents, which not all offices will even do.

The most valuable online sources for learning what county data exists are these:

  1. county offices and their websites
  2. county genealogical societies and their websites
  3. websites devoted to county-level research, like USGenWeb or RootsWeb sites
  4. recently-published guides to local or regional genealogical research
  5. online card catalogs like WorldCat, the Family History Library (see below), and favorite regional libraries
  6. online card catalogs of your favorite genealogical data websites
  7. for older vital records now under custody of the state: state archives and their websites, state genealogical
  8. guides like Family Tree Magazine’s State Guide series and The Family Tree Sourcebook

8 Quick Genealogy Website Search Strategies

courtesy of Family Tree University

     1.  Start with a general search on your ancestor’s name. Run additional searches as needed using initials, maiden name, nicknames and spelling variations.
     2. Pay the most attention to top matches. Most genealogy websites prioritize your results to put the best matches at the top.
     3. Use search filters. These let you sort matches by place, time period, record type and more. Remove filters if you get too few matches.
     4. Note potential matches. You may find records that look mostly right but have important discrepancies. Note possible matches for further evaluation later.
     5. Broaden name searches. When you don’t know someone’s full name, enter part of his name plus the name of a parent or spouse. This is a great way to find women’s maiden or married      names or to find a couple’s children.
     6. Look for less-common names. Ancestors with common surnames sometimes had family members with less-common names. Try searching for those names instead—and then look for   your ancestor in their records.
     7. Explore specific record sets. Some sites have database catalogs or lists. Search or browse within specific databases, such as collections of death or marriage records from an ancestral    county.
     8. Find search advice. Look for search tips on sites you search, such as whether a site lets you search with wildcards to catch similarly spelled names (such as cars* to find Carsidy,  Carseldine and Carsley).

Other Genealogical Hints

try this blog from Family Tree Magazine – Genealogy Insider

Previous posts:

1. Finding Clues in Ancestry.com’s New Probate Collection

2. 12 Tips to Make the Most of the Virtual Genealogy Conference Sept. 18-20


William Clarke Quantrill Symposium

Ohio Humanities Sharing the Human StoryFriday, July 28 and Saturday, July 29

A public symposium on Dover native William Clarke Quantrill will be held July 28-29 in Dover, Ohio. Quantrill was born and raised in Dover before moving to the western frontier of Kansas in the 1850’s and joining the Confederate Army during the Civil War. On August 21, 1863, Quantrill and his band of guerilla fighters attacked and burned Lawrence, Kansas, cementing his place in the lore of the American Civil War. This program is made possible in part by Ohio Humanities, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Symposium events are as follows:



An Evening with Mr. Ed Leslie, author of The Devil Knows How to Ride: The True Story of William Clarke Quantrill and His Confederate Raiders. Reeves Carriage House, Friday, July 28 at 7:00 PM.

A book signing will follow the program and attendees will have the opportunity to examine Quantrill artifacts, including his powder horn, photographs and paintings, rare books and a wax mode of Quantrill’s skull as preserved by the Kent State University Anthropology Department.


William Clarke QuantrillHistoric Quantrill Walking Tour of Dover: Presented by Russ Volkert, Dover Public Library, Saturday, July 29 at 9:30 AM.

Participants will learn what Canal Dover was like during Quantrill’s time in Dover and will visit the grave where his skull is buried and his childhood home.


Quantrill Panel Discussion, Dover Public Library, Saturday, July 29 at 1:00 PM

  • “Letters to Mother: A Discussion of Transcribed Letters from Quantrill to his Mother,” presented by Dr. Kelly Mezurek of Walsh University.
  •  “Legends and Burials of William Clarke Quantrill,” presented by Kim Jurkovic, curator, Tuscarawas County Historical Society.
  •  “The Dover Community Reponse to Quantrill, the Confederate Guerilla,” presented by Jon Baker of the Tuscarawas County Genealogical Society.
  •  “The Rise and Fall of Quantrill the Killer: Understanding William Clarke Quantrill in the Context of Nineteenth Century Violence and Manhood,” presented by Dr. Joseph Beilein of Penn State University.


“Although Quantrill is most remembered for his actions as a Confederate guerilla during the Civil War, he was born and spent his early life in Ohio, where his mother lived until her death,” says Dr. Kelly Mezurek. “Quantrill’s life and death provides the opportunity to explore the complexities of history, from local, state and national viewpoints. Ohio has a rich and well-recognized level of Civil War experiences and contributions, militarily, politically, economically and socially. Quantrill does not fit within this narrative, and as a result is often placed within the context of the Confederate and Southern story of the national conflict that tore apart the United States. This program aims to bring Quantrill back into Dover, Tuscarawas County, and Ohio story of the Civil War, as well as to offer a complete look at his life, instead of the more common practice of analyzing and focusing only on his deeds as the leader of Quantrill’s Raiders.

For more information or to register for any Quantrill Symposium events, please contact the Reeves Victorian Home and Carriage House Museum at 330-343-7040 or the Dover Public Library at 330-343-6123. The Quantrill Symposium is sponsored by Ohio Humanities, the Dover Historical Society, the Dover Public Library, and the Tuscarawas County Historical Society.



Can’t wait for the symposium? Search William Clarke Quantrill on our catalog!


This program is made possible in part by Ohio Humanities, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the program do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

A vision becomes reality.

It’s not often that what you dream keeps its shape when the dream takes physical form. The real world plays havoc with your visions, and what you get at the end, while it may be satisfying, usually looks quite a bit different.


I am pleased to say that our first edition of Tapestries of Tuscarawas County, a book of living memories, has taken shape and finally come to fruition. The best part? I couldn’t have dreamed it any better.

ttcThe stories in the book are from Tuscarawas County locals, sharing memories of childhood, adulthood, and old age. Those of us who live here will recognize descriptions of Tuscora Park, the county fair, and the homey, small-town feel of most of the stories. There are descriptions of growing up in town versus growing up in the country, people who made a difference in someone’s life, and sometimes even crazy surprises that can shock and amaze. “Only in T County,” I was tempted to say a few times.


What impresses me most about this book written by my neighbors is that so many of the stories dig down deep to the heart of what it means to me to live in Tuscarawas County, and I am a person whose love for my hometown came late. I was raised here, and as soon as I could, I fled. I lived all around Ohio, Arizona, and California, but eventually something brought me back home. And a bit of what drew me back like a magnet can be read in between the lines of this book. We all have our struggles and our bad days we long to escape, but home is something that grows up around you when you’re not looking. It steadies you, calms you, and gives you courage. It can be hard to search for and hard to define, but you know it when you’re there. That’s what reading this book does for me. It tells me I’m home.


Look for copies to be available this fall at Dover Public Library – for only $8 you can share the experience of the place that you call home through the eyes of others who feel the same way. Join us at the book reception, Saturday November 5 at 6:00 p.m. to get your copy before they are gone!


– Claire Kandle

Local History Librarian

New resource for genealogists

I would like to draw your attention to a new donation that I recently processed that has some great information for people searching for their ancestors. The collection is titled “Archinal Papers,” and it is available for viewing in The Roots Cellar, currently open Thursdays from 9-5.

People who are members of St. John’s German Evangelical Church will possibly find photos of their parents and grandparents in the church registers that were donated with the collection. Anyone researching the names Archinal, Scarr, Thomas, Kirschner, Olinger, and Umberger will find a wealth of research notes and family trees, some which have been published in family histories, also located with the collection materials.

You can view the finding aid for this collection (including a folder list) here: ArchinalPapersFindingAid

Or visit the Local History & Genealogy collections page of our website: http://www.doverlibrary.org/local-history-genealogy/local-history-collections/

Stop in on Thursdays to view this most recent addition to our growing collection!


Happy Hunting,

-Claire Kandle, Local History & Genealogy Librarian

$200 Contest deadline fast approaching…

To all of my fellow Tuscarawas County residents :

This is the final week Dover Public Library will be accepting entries for our soon-to-be-published living history book! If you would like to see your story in print and want a chance at the $200 prize, stop in to the library and pick up your entry form at the front desk. Or you can download and print it here: Tapestries of Tuscarawas County

Either way, make sure your entry is returned to Dover Public Library by May 1 for consideration! (Since May 1 happens to be a Sunday, we will accept any sealed envelopes placed in our outside drop box before the library opens at 9 a.m. on Monday, May 2. We will also accept any mail postdated before May 1.)

If you find it difficult to begin, you can review the prompts on the submission form for story ideas. If you find you are still having trouble, read on for clarification of some issues I have addressed throughout the contest:

  1. This is NOT a history paper. Please don’t send a report detailing the Gnadenhutten Massacre or the building of the Ohio Erie Canal – we’ve heard those stories already! We want to hear a story that is personal to you. Maybe tell us about the first time you went to see Trumpet in the Land performed, or how you remember catching and eating fish from the Tuscarawas River when you were a kid.
  2. You can incorporate a favorite family story, joke, or legend even if the teller is no longer living. If you think your grandmother had a great story about life in Tuscarawas County but she is no longer around to tell it, you can submit that as your story, as long as you give credit where credit is due.
  3. Please don’t submit genealogies. While we are always happy to accept any complied histories of local families for our genealogy collection, this is not what we are asking for in this particular case.

That’s it! Simple, right? And if you contribute, not only will you have a chance to win a $200 or $50 cash prize, but you will be contributing to the historical record, something your great-great-grandchildren will be able to appreciate!


For any further questions, please contact Claire Kandle at (330)343-6123 or email localhistory@doverlibrary.org 


– Claire Kandle, Local History & Genealogy Librarian