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OneGreatFamily Guest Newsletter

July 13, 2006

Is Someone Famous in Your Family Tree?

In This Issue:

Are you related to anyone famous?

See if you are related to anyone famous at OneGreatFamily

Are you a descendant of a notable character in history? Many families tell stories of a famous ancestor - a king or explorer, an actor or rogue - and a surprising number of these family legends turn out to be true. So how can you find out about your own ancestral celebrities?

The first step in finding out if you're the descendant of a famous person is to find the relevant genealogy. For many historical figures, a great deal of family history research has been done already. If your own family tree leads back to one of these individuals, then verifying the story can be simple. At OneGreatFamily, we have the genealogies of some famous people. You can find their genealogies by visiting:

If the famous ancestor's family tree is not well documented, you can do the research yourself to establish the line of descent. Such work will be simpler if you have access to a research library, collections of private papers, or the help of a known descendant.

If your family tree doesn't seem to link up, but you still believe you are a descendant, you may have other ways to discover if the claim is true. Family papers and documents may tell the story of an illicit relationship - one not formally acknowledged by the official records, but factual nonetheless. Some claims of being a descendant can be verified or disproved by DNA analysis, but that requires the cooperation of the acknowledged family.

The simplest way to discover your famous ancestors is to share the research done by other descendants. Collaborate with others through OneGreatFamily to learn more about your ancestors.
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Q&A: How Many Genealogy Terms Do You Know?

Knowing genealogy terms can add value to your research

Knowing your genealogy terms is an essential step when interpreting documents. You can add value to your genealogy by correctly placing and recording your genealogy data. Knowing genealogy terms can help to link persons to the right generation, parents, spouse or children. Understanding the language can help to break down your "brick walls."

Many of us might be wasting time looking for important documents or information about our family simply because we don't know how to interpret the information we have already found. Below is a list of common genealogy terms used. There are many other resources you can look to when interpreting documents, such as dictionaries and genealogical reference books.

Abstract: Summary of essential facts in a document or record.
Ahnentafel: List of ancestors in numerical order.
Ancestor: Person from whom you are descended in a direct line.
Ascendant: Ancestor.
Biography: The history of a person's life.
Burial record: A formal account, normally kept by a church, of burials that occurred in their congregation.
Census record: A government sponsored enumeration of the population in a particular area; contains names of household members, their ages, citizenship status, ethnic background, etc.
Collateral ancestor: Descended from the same ancestral stock, but not in the direct line.
Collateral families: Families with whom your ancestors intermarried and moved.
Descendant: A person who is an offspring, however remote, of a certain ancestor or family.
Emigration: The process of leaving one's home country to live in another country.
Family group report: A form which contains dates and places of birth, marriage, and death about family members (a husband, a wife, and their children.)
GEDCOM: File format supported by most genealogy database programs for the exchange of genealogical information between different programs and computers.
Genealogy: An account of the history of an individual's ancestors or the descendants of a family.
Lineage: Direct descent from an ancestor.
Maternal: Related through one's mother.
Paternal ancestors: Ancestors of one's father.
Pedigree chart: Report showing an individual along with parents, grandparents, great- grandparents, etc., for a specified number of generations.
Primary source: Record created at the time of, or shortly after, an event by someone with personal knowledge of the facts, or the testimony of a person involved in the event.
Secondary source: Material copied or compiled from other sources, or written at a later date from memory.
Surname: Last name.
Vital records: Records of birth, death, marriage, divorce.

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Lisa Lights the Way

Homestead Records

by Lisa South, Certified Genealogist

The following article was written in the August 12, 2005 OneGreatFamily newsletter. Since Lisa is no longer writing for us, we are featuring some of our favorite articles written by her.

The first Homestead Law was enacted in 1862 and was intended to encourage settlement in the West. As with the Donation Lands, the only requirement was to live on and improve the land through cultivation. A very small filing fee was all that was required.

Although only an estimated 780,000 people received patents under the Homestead Law, 2 million applications were made, dispersing approximately 285 million acres.

Applicants initially had to be a head of household, over 21 if single, a citizen or had applied for naturalization, and had not "borne arms against the government". Single women and widows could apply in their own right. The final application for the certificate of patent could be made five years after the completion of the residency requirements. If a homesteader died, his widow or heirs could continue to qualify for the claim, meeting the same requirements.

Subsequent laws enlarged and expanded the homesteading provisions - such as the one allowing Union veterans to apply their service time, up to 4 years, to the residency requirements. After 6 months, a homesteader could "prove up" and change his homestead to a cash-entry and pay for the land at $1.25 an acre. Once the final certificate was received, it entitled the claimant to a patent for his homestead.

Homestead application records are only available at the National Archives. They have not been microfilmed. Copies can be obtained from the National Archives using NATF Form 84, which can be ordered online. Fees for the case files are $17.75.

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One Great Genealogy Site Award

Newspaper Abstracts' goal is to become your complete resource for family history research using newspapers. Our site continues to grow with an average of over 600 new items added each month and currently contains over 27,216 abstracts and extracts from historical newspapers. These articles range in size from a single entry to an entire newspaper issue, all provided by site visitors and made available to you free of charge.  This database continues to grow with the daily submission of news items by site visitors like you.  Please visit "Submit an Article or Link" to learn how you can contribute your news items.

  • Visit for more information.
  • See past award recipients.
  • Recommend a Site Award recipient.

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    Managing Editor: Heather Matthews
    Contributors: Heather Matthews, Lisa South and Rob Armstrong
    Editor: Lani Hyer

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