May 15th, 2011 at 5:34 pm (Articles)
Do you have a famous outlaw in your family line? Where your family members coal miners in Wyoming? Was there some dark secret told at family gatherings about the Chinese Massacre in Rock Springs? There are always old stories in each family. We all have heard them. You know things like “my uncle worked on a ranch in Wyoming with Butch Cassidy.” But was it true?
If you look at local history books for whatever area you are researching, there are usually some answers. I have always been a history lover, especially local history. It is amazing to me just how much there is to learn. Each area you are researching will have its own setting, people, culture, regional events and mannerisms. Your task is to become a sleuth and find these things out. Start with books from your local library. If they do not have what you need, ask for help placing an Inter-library Loan. This is where you borrow an item for libraries elsewhere. There may be a fee, be sure to ask before placing the request.
If your family did not keep actual records of these famous/infamous relatives, then it falls to you. Take the time to look into local history. A great place to start is the local museum and library. Stop by or call to see what information they may have on your relative or what information they might be able to share. Always take good notes as you go so you may refer back as time goes by. Ask if they keep a photo collection of the well known events or persons from the area. This usually takes a bit of time so do this when you have time to spare.
For our area the Sweetwater County Historical Museum has a very nice photo collection of the local area and many of its past residence. There are also some family histories and many local history books available for sale. Remember, if you do not wish to buy the books, take the pertinent information to the local library and they can help you request the items.
For some famous people, there are well kept records of their genealogy. We can usually find them on Ancestry.com or some of the other better known sites. Many books have been written about the famous and many about locals as well. I must say, I am still working on the supposed connection my mother’s line has to the Younger Brothers of Missouri. Family oral history states that my grandfather was a cousin to Cole, Jim, John, and Bob Younger. I have found this a tedious task. This to date has not been proven. On the other hand, I have been able to find information on my father’s line that we are in fact related to Thomas Jefferson the president. Imagine our surprise! He is actually a GGGGG uncle. Bragging rights are always fun. Finding this information was thanks to a distant cousin that found the connection. What an early Christmas present that was.
Sometimes “gut-feeling” or unconventional research can open new doors. Best of luck with your search and always remember to think outside the box.