Tag Archives: Legacy Family Tree Magazine

What did Your Ancestor Look Like?

What did Your Ancestor Look Like?

Vicki’s note – article from Legacy Family Tree News magazine online to find out what your Ancestor looked like, even if you don’t have a photograph. Read the full article by clicking on the title below. :

5 Sources to Find Physical Characteristics of Your Ancestor

by Lisa Lisson

“As we research our ancestors in historical records, we start to get to know them. …

But do you ever wonder what your ancestors looked like?

How tall was your great grandfather? Which side of the family did you get your blues eyes from? What color hair did your ancestor have? Did you ancestors have any physical deformities?

Even if you have no photographs of your ancestors, you can find descriptions of their physical characteristics.

Let’s take look at 5 sources for finding a description of an ancestor’s physical characteristics and potentially a photograph. …”

1. Draft Cards

2. Civilian Conservation Corps Records

3. Jail Records

4. Passport Applications

5. Yearbooks


Organizing Family Photographs on Your Computer

Vicki’s Note – article from Family Tree Magazine.  This is how I organize my paper files, and is standard for that.  On my computer, I  organize by surname first.   Good point to  add the first name of the father, and sub-folders for each family member.:
Organizing Your Hard Drive: Photo Filing Tips
Struggling with a system to organize your digital photos? Think like a census taker and try this method of filing pictures by head of household.

How to Set Up Photo Folders on Your Hard Drive

1. Navigate to the Photo folder inside the appropriate surname folder. Click to select it.

2. Inside the Photo folder, create a subfolder for each head of household you have pictures of—for example, John Johnson Family or Samuel Johnson Family.

3. Inside each of these family folders, create a folder for each family member: John, Mary (his wife), John Jr., Susie (children) and so on.

Photo Filing Guidelines

Genealogists research our ancestors within the context of their familial relationships, so filing in this manner keeps that at the forefront of our thinking.

  • Men: File pictures under their parents prior to marriage, and under their own name after marriage. For example, John Jr.’s photos prior to his marriage will be in the John Jr. folder inside the John Johnson folder. Photos after John Jr.’s marriage are filed in a new John Johnson Jr. folder.
  • Women: Filed in the same way as records—Susie’s photos prior to her marriage go in the Susie folder inside the John Johnson folder, and you’ll place photos after her marriage in the Susie folder inside her new husband’s folder.
  • Group photos and multiple families: Photos of multiple family members go in the head of household’s folder—you have to navigate there to get to the other relatives’ folders, after all. But suppose you have a picture of both the John Johnson and Samuel Johnson families around the Christmas tree. What to do? Duplicate the photo and save a copy in each of the respective families’ head of household folder.

More help organizing your family photos and research from the experts at Family Tree Magazine:

Using The New York State Census to Track Your Ancestor’s Migration

Vicki’s note – article from Legacy News.  Many Illinois and (Beloit) Wisconsin ancestors emigrated from (or through)  Vermont and New York:

Your Migration Secret Weapon – the New York State Census


Those of us with westward migrating ancestors know how difficult it can be to trace people from their destination to their point of origin and vice versa. Even harder is finding the short stops along the way.

Many genealogists have learned to use the United States Federal Census as a clue to migration. By looking at the birth location of children in a migrating family, we can often determine some of the stops a family made on their journey westward. The only challenge is that the Federal Census is only enumerated every 10 years. That’s a big gap!

New York’s Role in Migration

New York played a big role in the lives of migrating families. Families who originated in New England often passed through New York, often stopping there for a few years before moving on. New York residents as well joined the migration west heading to Ohio and beyond.

The Trouble with New York

The challenge for many researchers is that the trail goes cold in New York. Vital records for most towns in New York state didn’t start until the 1870s or later. If you have New England ancestors traveling west this come as a cold shock when you’re used to vital records going back to the 1600s. Researching in New York is frustrating to say the least.

Your New Secret Weapon

All is not lost! You were on the right track when you used the U.S. Federal Census. While we may not have the advantage of New York vital records we do have the New York State Census.

The New York State Census was taken for the years 1825, 1835, 1845, 1855, 1865, 1875, 1892, 1905, 1915 and 1925. Not all counties in New York have extant records for all years but for 1855-1905 the coverage is very good
with the exception of a few counties.

Each of the census years asks for different information, of varying value to genealogists. It’s the 1855, 1865 and 1875 censuses that I want to bring your attention to. These three censuses asked for the county of birth. If
your ancestors are making stops within New York before moving on, this information is invaluable in tracing their steps.

In addition, the three censuses indicate if a person owned land and the 1855 census mentions the “years resident in the town or city”.

An Example in Action

One of my “challenging” families is David Allen, his wife Mariah and their five kids. Between a common surname, transcription errors and migration I was fit to be tied tracking down this family.

Then I found them in the 1855 New York State Census. The family was living in Volney, Fulton City, Oswego County, New York. David was listed as being born Jefferson County, New York according to the 1855 census. His wife Mariah (no maiden name yet discovered) was also born in Jefferson County about 1823. Their first child Henry was born about 1844 also in Jefferson County.

The 1855 New York State Census showing the David Allen family. Please note the image has been altered to show the headers directly above the family listing. Ancestry.com

The 1855 New York State Census showing the David Allen family. Please note the image has been altered to show the headers directly above the family listing. Ancestry.com

The next child, Elizabeth, only one year younger that Henry, was born in Lewis County. A second daughter, Eleanor, was also born in Lewis County about 1849. The last child, Charles, only 11 months old was born in Oswego County.

This tells me I can place the family in Jefferson County, New York at least up until 1844. They are in Lewis County from about 1845 to no later than 1854. They arrive in Oswego County in time for Charles’ birth around 1854.

But there’s another clue. Column 13 – “Years resident in this city or town” – shows that the Allens have been in Volney, Fulton City for 2 years thus changing their likely arrival date in Oswego County to 1853. Column 20 – “Owners of land” – indicates that the Allen family did not own any land.

This one census helped to clear up where the family started and where they stopped along the way in New York on the travel west. It gave me new locations to search for new records. By 1860 the family had moved on the Manlius, LaSalle County, Illinois.

If your family traveled west during the mid-nineteenth century be sure to check the 1855, 1865 and 1875 New York State censuses (available on Ancestry.com) to find the clues to solving their migration mysteries.

Unfortunately the Allen family remains a bit of a mystery for me. In the 1880 US Federal Census I find a David Allen, Maria Allen and son Charles Allen of appropriate ages in Faribault, Rice County, Minnesota. But I also find in a different 1880 census a John Slocumb, Elizabeth Slocumb and a widowed Maria Allen living in Port Huron, St. Clair County, Michigan. A Michigan marriage record indicates that a Libbie Maria Allen born in Lewis County, New York married John Slocumb in 1877. It will take a bit more digging to determine which is my Allen family!

For help researching your New York ancestors see our New York series by expert Jane Wilcox in the Legacy library!


Marian Pierre-Louis is the Social Media Marketing Manager for Legacy Family Tree. She is also a speaker, writer and the host of The Genealogy Professional podcast. Check out her webinars in the Legacy library.




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I, too, have found the NY state census records to be invaluable. One of my huge brick walls is John Jones from Wales. Born in about 1820 in Wales, I have no idea how his parents are and I did not know when he had emigrated from Wales and immigrated to the United States. the NY State Census helped me with that. I still don’t know the date of immigration, but the 1855 NY State Census told me that he was 32 years old in 1855 and had lived in Utica NY for 26 years. So he immigrated as a child between the ages of 1 and 6…. approximately (because we know that ages are often wrong on censuses.) The 1855 NY State Census also told me that he was a naturalized citizen. I have discovered a lot of information about John and his wife Sarah and all of their children thru the various NY State Censuses that I did not get from the Federal Censuses !!!

Obtain John Jones’ naturalization papers post-haste! Good chance his parents are listed, and also good chance they were naturalized.

Also check censuses for the Utica area for anybody named Jones, born in Wales. You have a good shot at this!

Finding and Understanding Removal Orders in England

Finding and Understanding Removal Orders in England


A search of the National Archives United Kingdom website can provide many interesting documents for genealogy research. One of the items I found was a Removal Order for my 5th great grandfather Thomas Blanden. Thomas was born in Wenhaston, Suffolk, England in 1739, enlisted in the Suffolk Militia as a drummer at the age of 20, and was discharged in bad health 28 years later.

removal order thomas blandon mary jackson-1

Removal Order FC189/G4/14. Suffolk, Ipswich Branch, Wenhaston Paris Records Date: 1778

Removal Orders were new to me so after ordering the documents from the Archives I did my homework and researched the history of Removal Orders. In 1662 England, an Act of Settlement was passed to define which parish had responsibility for a poor person. A child’s birthplace was its place of settlement, unless its mother had a settlement certificate from somewhere else stating that the unborn child was included on the certificate. From the age of 7 the child could have been apprenticed and gained a settlement for himself or he could have obtained settlement for himself by service by the time he was 16.

After 1697, the poor were allowed to enter any parish in search of work, as long as they had a Settlement Certificate signed by the church wardens and overseers of their place of settlement and two magistrates guaranteeing to receive them back should they become chargeable. No one was allowed to move from town to town without the appropriate documentation.

If a person entered a parish in which he did not have official settlement, and if it seemed likely he might become chargeable to the new parish, then an examination would be made by the justices or parish overseers. From this examination on oath, the justices would determine if that person had the means to sustain himself and, if not, which was that person’s parish of settlement. As a result of the examination the intruder would then either be allowed to stay, or would be removed by means of what was known as a Removal Order.

A Removal Order was sometimes accompanied by a written pass to the parish of settlement showing the route to be taken. This would apply even within a city or town which consisted of more than one parish. Your parish of settlement was obliged to take you back.

Removal Orders would often take a person or a family back to a place of settlement miles across the country, sometimes to a parish they had only known briefly as a small child. It was not uncommon for a husband and wife to have their children taken from them, each being removed to separate scattered parishes.

On 18 May 1778, a Removal Order was served on my 5th Great Grandfather who was recorded as Thomas Blandon, Drummer in the Western Battalion Militia of Suffolk. Thomas, Mary, his wife, and their children Mary, Elizabeth, Ann, Thomas & Susannah were ordered removed from St. James, Bury St. Edmunds and sent to Wenhaston.

The order made me wonder what the circumstances were surrounding Thomas and his run of bad luck. Having found a Chelsea Pensioner record for Thomas dated 1787 I knew that he had been in the Army for 28 years and was being discharged with “bad eyes” and “worn out.” No doubt he couldn’t provide much, if any, income to support his family and thus the Parish did not want to accept responsibility for supporting them.


Royal Hospital, Chelsea: Discharge Documents of Pensioners WO 121/1/38

Royal Hospital, Chelsea: Discharge Documents of Pensioners WO 121/1/38

A Settlement Certificate would have more genealogical information but since I did not find one for Thomas I was happy to see that the Removal Order gave the ages of each of Thomas and Mary’s children – they were aged 1 to 13 years old. How difficult it must have been to be uprooted from friends and neighbours, and sent from the Parish of St. James back to the parish of Thomas’ birth in Wenhaston.

To my surprise the Removal Order was a form with blanks to fill in by the clerk recording the details, which indicates to me that there must have been a lot of them served! What a wonderful item to find. If you have English ancestors, why not have a look on the National Archives website? You might be surprised at what is there. If you have not used this resource, see How to Use the National Archives United Kingdom Website to Obtain Ancestor Documents.

UPDATE: Thanks to Helen Smith for pointing out that most settlement examinations, removal orders will be found in parish chest material for individual parishes so should be found in County Archives rather than in the UK National Archive. Genealogists can use the Discovery Search Engine at the UK National Archives but if a search does not return results they are advised to go directly to the county Archive of interest.


Lorine McGinnis Schulze is a Canadian genealogist who has been involved with genealogy and history for more than thirty years. In 1996 Lorine created the Olive Tree Genealogy website and its companion blog. Lorine is the author of many published genealogical and historical articles and books.


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Very interesting. Brings to mind a question, having to do with the poor in English towns/villages.

Does anyone know of a central repository that would have custody of Bastardy papers for English towns/villages? I am looking for Bastardy papers for a village in Cambridgeshire and having no luck whatsoever.

I have a digital copy of a settlement examination for my 3 x by grandmother. I managed to see the original record at the archives. It was most revealing and I have written about it on my blog.

Most bastardry bonds and settlement examinations, removal orders will be in Parish Chest material so can be found in the County Archive rather than the National archive. Linda check out he Cambridgeshire County archive for material relating to your parish.

Thank you Helen for the correction. I found mine by searching on the UK National Archives and the results took me to the County Archive that held them.

If you look in the FamilySearch catalog some parishes have an item under “Poorhouses, poor law, etc.” of Parish Chest Records. So worth a look to see if there’s any records on film.

So, Robert Frost was right:

Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.

-The Death of the Hired Man (1905 or 1906, published 1914)