Today I decided to experiment with Genealogy Bank (www.genealogybank.com). I’ve tried it in the past and have found that the results vary greatly depending on which state you search. Results depend also on the name you are searching. Were your ancestors public or private people? Were they active in politics? Club joiners? Did they own a business? Even if your ancestors liked to stay out of the limelight, there are usually marriage and/or death notices to be found.
I did a search in Vermont for the name “Boyden” with a keyword of “Guilford” and got 165 documents. Two hours later I was filled with information about my Boyden line. Here’s a sampling of what I found.
- Probate court notices
- Town events where Boydens were Committee members
- For sale notices of Boyden businesses
- Help wanted ads by Boyden business owners
- Death notices
- Fascinating human interest stories involving people named Boyden
- Records of political conventions that Boydens attended
- Lists of letters at the post office belonging to Boydens
- Names of the heads of household in Guilford, which included Boyden and a number of my surnames.
- Reports from the court house containing lists of the composition of juries, which included Boydens and other surnames in my tree.
- A list of town officers, which included a Boyden.
- Accidents involving Boydens
- Hotel arrivals of Boydens and other ancestors
- Boyden goods sold at a cattle show and fair
- A list of Revolutionary soldiers buried in Vermont, which included Boydens
- Marriage notices
- Nominees for office
- Court case results
I found the estate notices especially helpful in confirming approximate death dates as well as relationships. In addition, I now know some of the types of businesses that my ancestors owned as well as some of their occupations. I also know their political leanings and the names of people they associated with.
Even if you don’t find an ancestor, old newspaper writing is quite entertaining. The press included many every-day events that would never be published today.
Thanks to GenealogyBank, I now have a vivid picture of the lives of my Boyden ancestors who lived in Guilford, Vermont. Then, out of curiosity, I did a search for “Cutler” and “Guilford”; I got 263 hits. I think I will save that for another day.
Dover Publications, Inc., Mineola, New York, Full Color Electronic Designs, Full-Color Victorian Vignettes, 2002.
Dover Publications, Inc., Mineola, New York, Full Color Electronic Designs, Full-Color Men and Women Illustrations, 2001.