Tips for Researching Your Ancestors

I've gotten numerous requests for guidance in researching ancestors in Pemiscot. The following list is where I'd begin my research:

treeTalk to everyone in your family about what they know about the ancestors, keeping in mind that memories can fade and that some of their information is inaccurate. (Great Grandma was a full-blooded Indian or we came over on the Mayflower are two
         examples of information that is said over & over that is usually not true.) Write down what you've found out.

treeBuy or download a free genealogy program to organize your information. Brother's Keeper/a is shareware and can be downloaded for free. This way all of your information is organized and can be emailed to someone easily.

Explore "Resources". In this section you will also find many links to great sites for beginners. 

treeUse ALL types of spellings when you look for records. Many times the spelling changed (Hawley to Holley) or the person writing down the information had trouble deciphering the script. Sometimes names are spelled so "screwy" that your best bet is just to
          go through the pages. The "s" looks like "f" in some old script, so Smith could look like Fith to a beginning transcriber.

Use the search engine on this web and others to locate surnames. 

treePost a query on the query board. There are a number of different query boards including Surname Boards -Gen Forum. (They're listed in "Research Resources" under the "Helpful Links" page)

treeJoin the email list and ask questions about your ancestors there. (I also make announcements to the list when I put new information on the Pemiscot GenWeb.)

treeCheck census records in the county and in surrounding counties. The 1850 census records begin listing all of the family members and where each was born.

treeCheck the Cemetery records. There are quite a few on records in this web and there are links to other's pages that have records. 
Check the funeral home listings. Many times people did not have money to buy a tombstone, but their remains were handled by
         an undertaker.

treeCheck the state library to see if they have any biographical information on the family you are searching for. If you've never been there, it is certainly worth the trip!

treeCheck the birth, death and marriage records. Those may list parents names, etc. Get copies of these records by ordering them from the appropriate source.

treeCheck the court records index. If you find something of interest, try to order the record from the County Clerk. You may have to make a trip to Pemiscot or hire a researcher to get the information for you.

Check the old newspapers. You may need to write one of the libraries to see if your family member's name is listed in the index.

If the ancestor was in the Civil War, order the records! They have a great deal of information in them!

treeMissouri Death Certificates
The MO Secretary of State has amazing help for genealogists. Go to:
You can search by the surname, given name, county and year. Remember that every search item you enter narrows the field. Be imaginative. Many names are misspelled. Data was sometimes not known by the person giving the information and sometimes the information is wrong.
# 1. I could not find a death certificate for my grandfather's half-sister in Pemiscot County, though I know she was buried in Caruthersville. So, I pulled up all the Carleton surnames for the state. I quickly found Georgia Carleton, who had died in St. Louis County.
# 2. I could not find my great-grandmother, Lucy Jennings Fields, though I knew she was buried in Caruthersville. So, I pulled up all the Fields for Pemiscot County. The transcriber has listed her name as Mars Lucy Fields, though it was supposed to be Mrs. Lucy Fields. - Info was taken from the 1900 census.
Family is very helpful. Remember to always check the info yourself, especially any transcription of census data. Go to the original census page. Many are online. (paid site) and Heritage (free if access is available from your local library).

Don't take every piece of information someone sends you as gospel! Ask for sources! Verify information! Have an open mind! YOU could be mistaken!

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