Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Finding sources for Families

Part of the fun in finding your ancestors is the challenge of where to look and what to look for. With the Internet, it is now VERY easy to locate a large number of records, BUT they can only get your so far. The majority of records on the planet are still hidden away in books, micro fiche, and certificates.

A good example are my 5G grandparents, whom for now I am calling Samuel and Sarah Foy. They were born in the 1760's somewhere in New Hampshire or the near vicinity, as best as I can tell and eventually moved to Vermont and possibly New York, in later years. Previous efforts have narrowed a location to Lydon, Caledonia County, Vermont as a possible "stopping" point, where a number of their children, MAY HAVE been born.

Narrowing down to a specific town/vilage is very important and in turn reduces the number of records to look through and focuses the resources that may prove your ancestors were there. In this case, I have sent a request to the local Lyndon Historical Society for help on finding any of the following:

"I am looking for a Samuel Foy/Foye and Sarah ? Foy/Foye, who likely married in or around the town of Lyndon sometime between 1788-1791. I am fairly certain they had several children here, namely William Foy (b 1791), Benjamin Foy (b 1796), Ruth Foy (b 1797), Jonathan Foy (b abt 1802), David Foy (b 1802), Samuel Foy (b 1804). There are at least 5 other females born, whom I am uncertain if they lived to adulthood.

My question is do you have any source listing of the surrounding cemeteries, for any Foy’s or Thorp’s? Or any obits for Foy’s? Births, death, marriage certificates for Foys? Any historical “gazette” or biographical information on Foy/Foyes?

If you know of other sources I can contact for same information, I would appreciate that as well."

Another source, which was located on the Historical Society webpage, was microfiche listings for Lyndon on Births, Marriages, Deaths, and minutes from town meetings, going back to when Lyndon was formed (1791). Next step here will be request those microfiche films, which will take about 2-3 weeks, and then review them as well.


Tuesday, April 07, 2009

One Foy too many...

Part of the fun in finding your ancestors means running into others you didn't know existed. For example, my 5G grandfather MAY be named Samuel FOY, born in Vermont sometime around 1760. For many years, I have been trying to identify the elusive grandfather FOY by connecting him to my 4G grandfather, uncles and aunt. This is easier said than done.

It seems that the name Samuel is a popular one from this time period, not to mention the last name of FOY/FAY/FOYE. I have found 3 Samuel Foys in Vermont between 1790 and 1820. We have Samuel Foy from

1) Calais, Caledonia County, VT or
2) Lyndon, Caledonia County, VT or
3) Bennington County, VT.

By process of elimination, I was able to show that the Samuel Foy from Bennington County, VT, if not likely related. The process was tedious, but I used the 1810, 20, 30 census records coupled with the Foy sibling birth dates.

For those unfamiliar with the census records, prior to 1850, the US Federal enumerators were instructed to collect the name of the household, and count the number of males/females living in the household, based on age. For example, Samuel FOY of Bennington was listed as head of household in 1820 and the information listed for those living in the house was as follows:

Age: 00-09 10-15 16-18 16-25 26-44 45-99
Male 1 1 1 1 - 1
Female - - - 1 2 -

It is hard to tell who is whom, so knowing WHO to look for and their birth years helps, but it is still speculative. So why do I think this family is not related to me? Here are the reasons:

1) Some of the known William FOY sibling births do not match in census 1810,20,30
2) Family continues to live in VT, past 1820
3) Additional persons living in household post 1820, 30, and 40.

This process of elimination will be done on the other "FOY" contemporaries until I find the "best" match... then it remains to finalize the research by locating 1st or 2nd source reference documents, such as marriage certificates, obits, wills, etc.

Shouldn't be long before we can start calling them "grandma and grandpa".

Monday, April 06, 2009

Samuel and Sarah Foy - Update

Looking at item #7 in the plan, I may have found "Sarah Foy”, wife of Samuel, in the 1830 census living with Daniel and Ruth (Foy) Thorp (her daughter), but she does not appear in the 1840 census of the same household and the same is true for ANY of the children. There is also an older man (50-60's) living in the Thorp household in 1830... could this be Daniel's father or possibly Samuel? Something to keep in mind, which would mean we need to expand the death location for Samuel to include Napoli area.

By 1840, we know that William and Jonathan are in Illinois; Samuel, David and Ruth are still in New York; and Benjamin is in Pennsylvania. So where is Sarah Foy? This means she either 1) died before 1840, 2) was traveling when the census taker showed up in 1840, or 3) is living with someone else entirely.

I am going with 3, so we need to expand the search criteria and look at the grand children, or siblings of Sarah, and since we don’t know her maiden name, that could be anyone!

I updated my online website with the most recent data, assuming our Samuel/Sarah theory, from Lyndon, Caledonia, Vermont is correct. You can find the details at Samuel and Sarah Foy.

Samuel and Sarah Foy - Plan to find

Searching for your ancestors, 7+ generations back, can be difficult, but it is sometimes like police work - you have clues and motives. Piecing together those clues is always a challenge - keep good notes, devise a theory, and have plan on how prove or disprove that theory.

Quick summary of the facts: We have a documented biography that states Sarah Foy traveled with her son when he was 15 years old to Napoli, NY in 1819. From this we can deduce that Sarah Foy's husband may have died prior to that date, somewhere in Vermont. In addition, we have Sarah Foy buried in a Napoli cemetery in 1844, near her daughter Sarah (Foy) Thorp.

Census records show a "Samuel Foy", head of household, in 1800 and 1810 in Lydon, Caledonia County, Vermont, with children, wife, etc, but they are no longer in Lydon in 1820. So where did they go?

All these clues may fit together, but we need more details to confirm either way, so the plan to find the truth is to dig into the records... Here are some ideas of what to look for “Samuel and Sarah Foy":

1) Search for obits on "Sarah Foy" in 1844 in and around Napoli, NY
2) Search for obits on "Samuel Foy" before 1820 in and around Lyndon, Vt
3) Search for obits on Sarah (Foy) Thorp, Samuel Foy "Jr." - both lived around Napoli until their deaths. Expand the search for obits to the other children.
4) For "Samuel Foy", compile a list of cemetery listings for the Lyndon VT areas, then search for ALL cemeteries ided by government maps - cross reference to online sources and those without online listings, a) contact the local societies or b) visit the location. For partial online listings, a) contact the website owners.
5) Get in touch with local VT genealogical societies and Caledonia county GENWEB communities, who may be able to help with history and other sources for "Samuel and Sarah Foy"
6) Check into the other contemporary Foy’s who also could be the xG grandparents ie. Samuel (2 of them), Charles and others. Try to eliminate those as possible family members.
7) If "Sarah Foy" is our xG grandmother, and she traveled to Napoli in 1819 and died in 1844, then where was she living in 1820, 1830, 1840? Check census records for 1820-1840.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

A new Foy name to add to our tree?

There are times when I will spend several hours looking for something important and after a point, having to give up. These are not essential items, but they range from books, old nick-knacks, or even an ancestor hidden in the misty past. A day or month may go by and along the course of your regular activities, you end up crossing paths with that exact item you were looking for, and in the most unlikely places. It is times like that when I wonder if it might be better to be LESS determined to find it the 1st time as it always seems to be found the 2nd time! Sounds odd, I know.

Recently, I received a note from someone who said that one of my early Foy records had an error. As I always remind myself that although I try to be very thorough, genealogy facts can sometimes be in error, so I requested additional information from this person so we could corroborate the details easier (by the way, this person turned out to be a cousin). Well, the record I had was not the correct David Foy (Note: he is my 5G uncle), even though the correct one lived in the same county, a few hundred miles away, but in a different state, in the 1840's. Very soon after, I receive an email from a Foy cousin in California (Ralph) who had connected with still another cousin, who was a descendant of this same DAVID FOY - coincidence? What was most intriguing was this descendant had a "lead" on the father of said DAVID FOY - which would be my 5G grandfather.

The FATHER FOY is someone whom I and others have been looking for a long time (YEARS for me). Based on what I have uncovered so far, he was born in the ~1750's, died most likely before 1820, and lived around the VT/NH/NY region. Of course, I contacted this other cousin (Lori - my 5th cousin, once removed) and we started sharing information about the FATHER FOY, his wife, and possible areas to look for additional facts. The person who we think MAY be our common xG grandfather is named "Samuel Foy". The connection is circumstantial at this point, but with more information/research, we may be able to prove (or disprove) this link.

More details about this new connection will be published as they are found in the near future. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Genealogy - Integrating images and data

For several years, I have been building websites for my family tree. Over those years, the method for integrating images has changed, but until recently, it has always been very time consuming.

One limitation from the past has to do with the proper image size and resolution. Too large a file and you spend hours waiting for it to display and too small, there isn't any detail to be useful. Through trial and error, I went from simple HTML code to more advanced scripts and displaying methods.

Around 2006, I started reading about a great software package called TNG, which uses an SQL database and PHP/HTML language. It didn't take long for me to realize this was the future. Having to manage a large family tree with hundreds of webpages was becoming too difficult, so with a quick purchase of TNG, it became a quick and simple task of just uploading my GEDCOM file! Plus, TNG had several features that allowed the detailed data to be shared in very efficient and professional ways.

About the same time, I was also experimenting with online image retention sites, such as and a few others. These offered some nice image manipulation features, such as batch editing, thumbnail organization, etc, but was not easily accessible as a link. Soon after this, I happened upon PICASA, from Google and found it could manage ALL my images on my desktop AND allow online publishing with linkable accessibility.

Taking the two items together (TNG and PicasaWEB), I have now been able to mass produce, manipulate, and organize hundreds of images in original and high resolution format online (with PicasaWEB "name tags") and link to my family individual records in TNG. From this point forward, I can continue to scale the number of images and the TNG link doesn't change.

So, if you are looking at some of the names, you may be sent to an off site webpage, that shows more images throughout time, of that person... I have recently created many new links to the "people" in Picasaweb from TNG, so hope you enjoy this.


Saturday, January 17, 2009

What is a First Cousin, Twice Removed?

Figuring Out Family Relationships
If someone walked up to you and said "Howdy, I'm your third cousin, twice removed," would you have any idea what they meant? Most people have a good understanding of basic relationship words such as "mother," "father," "aunt," "uncle," "brother," and "sister." But what about the relationship terms that we don't use in everyday speech? Terms like "second cousin" and "first cousin, once removed"? We don't tend to speak about our relationships in such exact terms ("cousin" seems good enough when you are introducing one person to another), so most of us aren't familiar with what these words mean.
Relationship Terms

Sometimes, especially when working on your family history, it's handy to know how to describe your family relationships more exactly. The definitions below should help you out.

Cousin (a.k.a "first cousin")

Your first cousins are the people in your family who have two of the same grandparents as you. In other words, they are the children of your aunts and uncles.
Second Cousin

Your second cousins are the people in your family who have the same great-grandparents as you., but not the same grandparents.
Third, Fourth, and Fifth Cousins

Your third cousins have the same great-great-grandparents, fourth cousins have the same great-great-great-grandparents, and so on.

When the word "removed" is used to describe a relationship, it indicates that the two people are from different generations. You and your first cousins are in the same generation (two generations younger than your grandparents), so the word "removed" is not used to describe your relationship.

The words "once removed" mean that there is a difference of one generation. For example, your mother's first cousin is your first cousin, once removed. This is because your mother's first cousin is one generation younger than your grandparents and you are two generations younger than your grandparents. This one-generation difference equals "once removed."

Twice removed means that there is a two-generation difference. You are two generations younger than a first cousin of your grandmother, so you and your grandmother's first cousin are first cousins, twice removed.


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This article was written by staff.