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  • Famous Ancestor: Alexander Hamilton

    Alexander Hamilton was born and raised in the Caribbean and came to New York in 1772, when he was about 13. He attended King's College, now Columbia University, and served in the Revolutionary War as an aide to General George Washington.

    After the Constitution was drafted in 1787, he teamed up with James Madison and John Jay to write the Federalist Papers to rally support for the new government. Eighty-five editions of the Papers were published anonymously in 1787 and 1788, fifty-one of which were written by Hamilton.

    After the Constitution was ratified, Hamilton became Secretary of the Treasury to President George Washington. As secretary, he argued for the creation of a national bank, justifiable through the "implied powers" in the Constitution. Throughout his political career, Hamilton advocated a stronger federal government and government intervention in the economy. Hamilton and his followers became the Federalist Party. Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and others believed that a strong central government was a threat to the agricultural and republican ideals of the new nation; they became the Democratic-Republican Party.

    Hamilton was killed in a duel with Aaron Burr in 1804.

    To view Alexander Hamilton's Family Tree, login to OneGreatFamily, launch Genealogy Browser, and enter OGFN# 596209767. You can also see whether or not you are related to Alexander Hamilton by going to the Relationship Calculator on the Family Dashboard Page when you login to OneGreatFamily.

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  • Maiden Names and Surname Customs

    Margaret Thatcher née Roberts? Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton? Catherine Zeta-Jones? What do all these surname distinctions mean?

    Surname customs vary from culture to culture. In some traditions, a woman adopts her husband's surname when she is married; in other cultures, a woman retains her family name throughout her lifetime. As a result of second-wave feminism, new surname conventions have evolved over the last fifty years, including the institution of hyphenated last names.

    In the English-speaking world, surnames are passed down patrilineally and married women adopt their husbands' surnames. This is the case in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and much of Canada. The exception to this is Scotland, where women have only recently begun to take their husbands' surnames (before that, the Scottish tradition was for women to retain their family names).

    The borrowed-from-French word "née," pronounced nay, is used to refer to a woman's maiden name. In France and French Canada, the norm is for women to keep their family name as their legal surname-used on official identification and legal documents-but to use their married name in professional and everyday life.

    In Germany, a married couple can choose to retain their own surnames, adopt one another's, or combine them, but in any case they must declare an official "family name" that will be passed down to their children.

    The American convention is for women to adopt their husbands' surnames. About 25% use their maiden name as a middle name after they are married. But some women will choose not to adopt their husbands' surnames at all. If a woman has already achieved fame and recognition in her career as an actress or a novelist, for instance, she may choose to keep the name by which she is widely known. Others, like Hilary Rodham Clinton, use both surnames. Very, very rare is the practice of a man adopting his wife's surname. Only seven states in the U.S. allow for a man to change his surname upon marriage; in the rest of the 43 states, it would require a court-order name change for a man to do so.

    In the field of genealogy, all women are known by their maiden names. This means that whatever surname a woman chose to go by during her lifetime, in genealogical records she will be known by the name she was given at birth.

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  • Family Info Box: Add Marriage Info

    The Family Info box is located in the Handprint in Genealogy Browser. It is located between the Selected Individual box and the Spouse box.

    When you click on <<Family Info>>, a new window will open that contains the information for that family. This is where you can enter information relating to the family, such as the date of the marriage. From here you can also create a family group sheet by clicking the Family Group button. When you do a new window will open with the Family Group sheet.

    By clicking on the Collaborate button you can see who else has contributed information about the family and contact them to share information. By simply selecting a group and then clicking on a name, you will be able to e-mail them and begin working together to build your family tree.

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  • Famous Ancestors: George Washington

    This blog will now feature a famous or notable person's family tree each week.

    The renowned "father of our country" is usually extolled for his roles as general of the Revolutionary war and president of the new American republic. But what about his life before that? What experiences prepared him for those great responsibilities?

    When he was only twenty years old, George Washington was appointed adjutant general of the Virginia Militia, which meant that he was responsible for training one quarter of the troops. He continued to move up the ranks of the militia, and in 1755 he was promoted to colonel and named commander of all Virginia forces.

    Washington was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses in 1758. As a member of the Burgesses, he began to be involved in revolutionary activities. After the Townshend Acts were enacted by Parliament in 1767, he proposed that Virginia boycott English goods. The Acts were repealed in 1770, but then Parliament passed the Coercive Acts against Boston in 1774, as a reaction to the events of the Boston Tea Party. Washington regarded the Coercive Acts as an attack on American rights, and he attended the Second Continental Congress of 1775 dressed in his military uniform and ready for war. The newly-created colonial army needed a leader; John Adams nominated George Washington, and he was elected commander-in-chief of the Continental Army.

    View George Washington's Family Tree in Genealogy Browser

    You can also see whether or not you are related to George Washington by going to the Relationship Calculator on the Family Dashboard Page when you login to OneGreatFamily.

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  • German Genealogy

    There are more Americans claiming German ancestry than any other ethnic group. More than likely, you have at least one German ancestral line that you'd like to learn more about.

    Many German immigrants, upon arrival to the new world, took a new surname: the English equivalent of their German names. For example, Mohler became Miller and Schneider became Taylor. These surnames are relatively easy to identify. Other surnames, however, do not have an equivalent in English. These names are transliterated instead of translated. For example, Kurrer becomes Kerr and Dirsch becomes Dearth. [i] German pronunciation is different from English pronunciation, so that is the reason that surname transliterations may have different spellings than their German equivalents. The letters "DT" make a T-sound, and the vowel combinations "AU" and "EU" as "oi." Keep this in mind as you're moving back through your family tree. If names don't make sense, make sure you're pronouncing them the German way.

    Because Germany was unified so recently (in the nineteenth century) this can make locating records difficult because there was no central governing body to require all the people to keep records. The key, however, is to utilize church records.

    Catholic church records, as you would guess, are all in Latin. Lutheran records, however, can be found in either Latin or German.

    Don't forget to check genealogical societies (or online blogs and message boards) that are devoted to German research. You never know what you may find there!

    Some other sites that you may find useful are:

    Archives in Germany

    German Emigration and Passenger Lists

    All the civil records that you find (and, as previously mentioned, some church records) are in German. If you don't speak German, you can still conduct genealogical research if you're armed with a few basic German genealogical words:

    Burial: Beerdigun,
    Wedding: Hochzeit
    Birth: Geburten

    When you learn a few German words, and some searching techniques, German genealogy becomes easier than ever.

    [i] A Genealogical Handbook of German Research, FamilySearch

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