Researcher helps put together pieces of families’ ancestry
MUNCY – Making a discovery into her past and learning where she comes from is a favorite past time for Peg Johnson of Muncy. It is almost an obsession she will admit, after giving a presentation to the public on Tuesday, January 17 at the Muncy Public Library. “Genealogy can be a fun and itnteresting hobby,” she said. “There are many places and resources to look, and a lot of places to find information.”
Sometimes it will take awhile but she recommends starting with parents and grandparents and talking to family members to get some interesting stories and antidotes. “Sometimes you will get a lot of information about places, dates and times.”
Johnson said she finds that local libraries such as the Muncy Library have good reference centers. Public cemeteries also have lists and often relatives and family plots can be found there. Family Bibles are another good source and can be invaluable. Often records and dates are kept in them and passed down to the next generation. She remarked how some even save locks of baby’s hair.
Nowadays, it is easier to use the computer but Johnson advises to be careful when going to some of the websites. “Be sure they are secure and proven,” she said. “In no way do I want to discourage you from using these sites. The only thing I can say is to be careful about the information you get. One expereince that I had was when I saw a site with my family information on it, and it was wrong.” She has used findagrave.com, myheritage.com and ancestry.com during her research.
Sherry Stroup of Muncy who attended the presentation said she has used the internet to help her track her great grandfather. “I used Facebook and found a site called ‘Random Acts of Genealogy Kindness in the U.S.'”
History and landmarks and where they come from are also important. So are churches and family history centers, cemetery records and ledgers. “I have found family names in the Muncy Cemetery,” Johnson added.
Wedding and birth certificates are also helpful and can be acquired through the local Prothonotary’s office in the courthouse. There you might find birth and death records, marriage licenses, census records, naturalization records, military records, wills and deeds. “Find county seats and go through them.”
Johnson also said she uses historical societies and local museums. “There you can connect names through someone else.” Ship records and maritime museums are another good resource for earlier periods like the 1700s. When going this far back sometimes the names and spellings are changed.
Newspaper articles are good to use for obituaries and written articles and they are archived at local libraries.
“Following the movements of the family in the land helps,” Johnson explained and recommended using tax lists for a lineage to see where they settled and who moved where.
DNA testing can be helpful but just does ethnicity according to Stroup.
The Oddfellows Organization is another resource for old ledgers and searches to find names and history. Start with surnames, then birthplaces and occupations.
Johnson said she has been collecting volumes of data since 1979. “The movie Roots inspired me.” Johnson can often be seen at the Muncy Public Library pondering over lists and records. Her goal is to print books for her family members. Working full time at the deli at Weis only allows her to engage in family searches on weekends. “I have fun going to the cemeteries to read the names,” she said, and to see the names better, she takes along cleanable chalk, rags and cleaner to wipe some of the letters that have worn badly over the years on the gravesites.
“One of the most exciting things in doing genealogy is when you sit and go over records and find a connection to one of your people.”