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Genealogy/reliable sources

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QUESTION: The German side of the family has done extensive research so I know how important it is for accuracy and the reliability of sources. I look at a multiple of sources and cross-reference them to "fit" into the puzzle. I know that some of these sites just want your money and will generate data, which may be inaccurate. I'm posting this as a warning to other researchers out there.
So here is my problem. I tried to fill in the pieces about my father. Various sources list his birthdate as between 1924-1927, and his birthplace either Michigan or North Carolina. You see, my father was a bigamist. He obviously lied a lot to cover his tracks. My birth certificate doesn't match my sister's for his birthplace. There are 5 of us by the same mother, & now I have located 3 more siblings by 3 other women. One of my half-siblings said "Dad" was married to 3 women at the same time!!! Who knows? I may not even be legitimate! [amusing]
My question is: how do I go about finding records of his marriages and divorces? How do I find these children? He is now diseased. He was also in the Navy. I proved he was born in NC and traced the family. Another interesting note is that HIS father was illegitimate and took on the maternal last name!!
As you can see, there are a few "Oops!" in my family tree.
I want to know what records I can get access to. Perhaps I can locate my other siblings. There might be at least 20 of us. (no, he wasn't a Mormon) "Daddy" was not a nice man. I don't even know his real birth year.

ANSWER: I wouldn't start with marriages and divorces as he may have lied on them and they are usually listed by county.  I would start with making a time line of all you know.  If you know the county in North Carolina, write the Register of Deeds Office in that county.  They have all the births, deaths and marriages from that county.

If you have a library that subscribes to AncestryLibrary Edition,go there. It has NC marriages 1741-2004 for most counties and divorces from 1958 - 2004.  Also this site has the 1930 and 1940 census records.  The 1940 records are on line free from the National Archives.  See what he or his parents said were his birth year and place and where he was living.  This would be the start of your time line.

Military records are at the National Archives.  Go on-line for the National Archives site and download form SF-180 and mail it in.  This will at least tell you where he was and what year.  As next of kin you can get this but the government is slow to answer.

I would also look at Rootsweb.com to see if anyone else is checking his line.  I would also look at Familysearch.org.  These are free.  I would not join a paid site unless you plan to do more research and then I would recommend Ancestry.com if the library edition is hard to find.

Once you have established where he was and when, there are several things you can do.  Look on-line at whitepages.com to see if there are any people still in that town with the same last name.  Also if it is a small town, write a letter to the editor of the town's newspaper and saying you are doing your roots.  I would not put the "oops" in writing as that might turn people who know something off.

Good luck.





---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I actually started with the Census Records and that's how I got what I think is fairly accurate info. I also rely on info from family members, in this case my mother. I had a letter from her which "disappeared". While checking a few sites I found a half-sibling. we disagree because his info doesn't match mine & he insists his is accurate. He sent me a copy of the Death Certificate, but even that could be wrong if he had lied about his age. His birth certificate also lists my father's birthplace as MI, as does my sister's. This confirms his belief, so it shows how easily genealogy research can get totally messed up. He posted his info on the site, but didn't even bother to look at Census Records! I have also been on Ancestry.com and the most reliable data is the Census...which is free. I could not even find records about my mother.

I know that [father] lived most of his life So CA area. I found 4 males
with the same exact name, including my brother, all born in the possible time span. There are no doubt females out there.

I know this could be speculation, but this guy could have produced children for 25 yrs! At least he came from an era demanding that
marriage went with children, so perhaps there are records.

There is a branch of that church which keeps genealogy records, and they offer classes. What exactly type of records do they have?

Answer
The Church of Later Day Saints (Morman's)is the church that keeps all the records it can find.  It's web site is the Familysearch.com that I recommmended.  They usually have a genealogical section connected with their local church.  The local one will help you and also can borrow records or get copies of records that other branches may have.  You do not have to belong to their faith for them to help you.

I am so glad you had done so much of the research before you contacted me.  If you can spare the money, you can get birth records from California.  I would never say a death record is proof of anything except a person died.  Someone else gave the information and they only know that they had been told or thought they knew.  I also think your father might have either not known about his birth or told different stories so no one could find him.  Remember there should have been a lot of child support.

You could contact the 4 males and say you are writing a book about your surname and wonder if they are cousins or something.  Never go in with the "oops" thing.  Ask about their brothers and sisters who might know more about the family.  I always find that if you approach people right, they will tell you a lot.  Sometimes you have to sift through it.  I still think the naval records might have something in them.  I have found information through military records.  It might even list a marriage.  Or a wife who contacted them about support for children.

Again I would look for a birth certificate.  He had to have one to get into the Navy.  If you want to write further, I am at Englishgenealogy@aol.com

Good luck

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Frances Sampey Deak

Expertise

I specialize in English genealogy. I can answer questions on where to look for specific records and advise what is not available.

Experience

20 years experience in England as a professional genealogist.

Organizations
Society of Genealogists, London
Northwest Kent Genealogical Society

Publications
Family Tree, England
Genealogical Helper, US

Education/Credentials
BA and MA University of South Florida
ABD University of Florida

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