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Month: January 2017

Websites To Help You Find Old Local Maps

Websites To Help You Find Old Local Maps

Whilst it’s great learning about your ancestors, a lot of people neglect to learn about the places they lived or even the land they they might have owned or worked on. The majority of us will have ancestors that lived and worked in rural areas, be it in the United Kingdom, Europe or the USA. There are websites dedicated to preserving and displaying old local maps.

1. Old-Maps.com (USA & Ireland)

Old-Maps.com has Maps from: Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New England, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Washington DC, Virginia, Nautical Charts, Alaska, California, Florida, Georgia, Great Lakes, North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio, Texas as well as general maps of: America, Railroad Maps, Ireland Maps.

Each category differs vastly in what it offers and all have loads of maps within, of various shapes and sizes. The website itself is quite dated (as is the case with most genealogical sites) however it has no problems with it’s functionality. It also offers large scale prints in it’s shop of any of the maps it offers on the site.

2. HistoricMapWorks.com (WorldWide)

“Based in Portland Maine, Historic Map Works, LLC is an Internet company formed to create a historic digital map database of North America and the world. Drawing on the largest physical collection of American property atlases of its type, it is our aim to be the single best online destination for map enthusiasts and researchers alike.

In addition to our own atlas collection, we incorporated our scans of the antiquarian world map collection from the Osher Map Library and Smith Center for Cartographic Education located at the University of Southern Maine. Combining these collections allows site visitors a vast amount of information spanning several centuries of cartographic information.” – HistoricMapWorks.com About Page

Their collections include: United States Property Atlases, Antiquarian Maps, Nautical Charts, Birdseye Views, Special Collections (Celestial Maps, Portraits, and other historical images), Directories and other text documents. They too offer large scale prints of the maps they offer and often have sales.

3. The Canadian County Atlas Digital Project (Canada)

“Between 1874 and 1881, approximately forty county atlases were published in Canada, covering counties in the Maritimes, Ontario and Quebec. Thirty-two of these atlases were produced for Ontario by the following five companies: H. Belden & Co. (17); H.R. Page & Co. (8); Walker & Miles (5); J.H. Meacham & Co. (1); H. Parsell (1). Two types of county atlases exist for Ontario, those which covered a single county or multiple adjacent counties, and those which were published as supplements to Dominion of Canada atlases. In total, 40 Ontario counties were covered by these 32 atlases.” – McGill University Site

The Canadian County Atlas Digital Project is run by McGill University and offers a nice drop down menu at the top of the page that allows you to search by  County, Township or Town. Each item in the drop downs contains one map of the area. You can view large versions of any of the maps for free!

4. Old Maps Online Web + App (Worldwide) 

Old Maps Online is not only a powerful website but it also offers apps available on the Apple App store or on Google Play. It started as a collaboration between Klokan Technologies GmbH in Switzerland and The Great Britain Historical GIS Project which is based at the University of Portsmouth, UK. They offer over 400,000 Old Maps and whilst the app has its downfalls when zooming and scrolling the sheer scale and intuitive interactive map give it an edge especially as they’ve gone down the Mobile route. The majority of niche genealogical sources seem to be about a decade out of date when it comes to design so its nice to see a fresher website.

DNA Shared Between Two People Checklist

DNA Shared Between Two People Checklist

Whether you are looking up the percentage you share between a known relationship or have just got back your DNA results and want to know what the possible relationships are between you and your matches the checklist below will help you figure out the possibilities.

Identical Twins

100% DNA Shared

Parent/Child

50% DNA Shared

Full Siblings

50% DNA Shared (Approx)

Half Siblings

25% DNA Shared (Approx)

Grandparent/Grandchild

25% DNA Shared (Approx)

Aunt-Uncle/Nephew-Niece

25% DNA Shared (Approx)

Double First Cousins

25% DNA Shared (Approx)



Great Grandparent/Great Grandchild

12.5% DNA Shared (Approx)

First Cousins

12.5% DNA Shared (Approx)

Great Aunt-Uncle/Great Nephew-Niece

12.5% DNA Shared (Approx)

Half Uncle-Aunt/Half Nephew-Niece

12.5% DNA Shared (Approx)

First Cousins Once Removed

6.25% DNA Shared (Approx)

Half First Cousins

6.25% DNA Shared (Approx)

Great Great Aunt-Uncle/Great Great Nephew-Niece

6.25% DNA Shared (Approx)

Half Great Aunt-Uncle/Half Great Nephew-Niece

6.25% DNA Shared (Approx)

Double Second Cousins

6.25% DNA Shared (Approx)

Second Cousins

3.125% DNA Shared (Approx)

First Second Twice Removed

3.125% DNA Shared (Approx)

Half First Cousin Once Removed

3.125% DNA Shared (Approx)

Half Great Great Aunt-Uncle/Half Great Great Nephew-Niece

3.125% DNA Shared (Approx)



Second Cousins Once Removed

1.563% DNA Shared (Approx)

Half Second Cousins

1.563% DNA Shared (Approx)

First Cousins Three Times Removed

1.563% DNA Shared (Approx)

Half First Cousins Twice Removed

1.563% DNA Shared (Approx)

Third Cousins

0.781% DNA Shared (Approx)

Second Cousins Twice Removed

0.781% DNA Shared (Approx)

Third Cousins Once Removed

0.391% DNA Shared (Approx)

Fourth Cousins

0.195% DNA Shared (Approx)

Third Cousins Twice Removed

0.195% DNA Shared (Approx)

Fourth Cousins Once Removed

0.0977% DNA Shared (Approx)

Third Cousins Three Times Removed

0.0977% DNA Shared (Approx)

Fifth Cousins

0.0488% DNA Shared (Approx)

Fifth Cousins Once Removed

0.0244% DNA Shared (Approx)

Sixth Cousins

0.0244% DNA Shared (Approx)

Sixth Cousins Once Removed

0.0061% DNA Shared (Approx)

Seventh Cousins

0.00305% DNA Shared (Approx)

Seventh Cousins Once Removed

0.001525% DNA Shared (Approx)

Eighth Cousins

0.000763% DNA Shared (Approx)



Researching Your Freemason Ancestors

Researching Your Freemason Ancestors

The Freemasons have a reputation for being a very secretive an secluded organisation, but depending on the locations/lodge there can actually be a lot of information available on its past members. Generally speaking a lodge is unlikely to offer up any information relating to an Entered Apprentice or Fellowcraft Mason but would be able to offer information on a Master Mason.

Before getting in to Freemason research its good to read up on how the freemasons actually work and what they do. Members of a lodge are known as “Accepted Masons” this means they have been accepted in to the lodge by its members. Freemasons in general have three degrees of Masonry: Entered Apprentice, Fellow of the Craft and Master Masons.

1 – Freemason Collections on Ancestry

The records Ancestry offers include over 1.7 Million Names transcribed in both the English and Irish collections. This can help you find out what order or jurisdiction your ancestor was a part of. Finding out this information will be the most helpful data you can have on them as it will open doors to the types of records that could be available to you.

2 – The Library and Museum of Freemasonry

“Library and Museum is the repository for the archives of the United Grand Lodge of England, the governing body of English freemasonry. Information about individual members is based on Annual Returns of members compiled by individual lodges and sent to Grand Lodge. The earliest such Returns date from the 1750s. These were used to create registers of members. Members are listed in the Registers under their lodge and according to their date of initiation or joining.”

The Library and Museum of Freemasonry offers three centuries worth of freemasonry records and artefacts. The staff here can help you search for your ancestor by name in thier digitised records but can also search outside of the digitised records pre-1750s or post-1921. There is a fee payable for staff searches in which the lodge is not known however if it is, then it is usually free.

3 – Find and Contact the Local Lodge your Ancestor was part of.

If you know where your Ancestor lived and you suspect they might have been a Freemason then you can use google to find out what the local lodges in the area were or still are. Each lodge should have some contact details somewhere either on their own site or on the site of the Grand Lodge that they would be a part of. Each Lodge usually has a secretary that can help with any enquiries and as each lodge is relatively independent then prices could vary between them.

If you still cannot find anything, you might find that contacting the Grand Lodge will yield some answers. There are Grand Lodges in varying jurisdictions. For example in the US There are Grand Lodges in each State. However in England there is the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE).



4 – County Record Offices in the UK

The various County Record Offices in the UK hold a lot of local Freemason records, the reason for this due to the persecution of Freemasonry which in turn resulted in the Unlawful Societies Act which was effective from 1799 to 1965. Although in it’s final years it fell in to disuse. This act forced Freemasons to register their organisations and also the names of the members within them to the Clerk of the Peace and the Local Quarter Sessions. Which whilst unfortunate for the members of the Freemasons at this time, it is massively helpful to Genealogists in the modern day. These records can include: Names, ages, addresses, occupations and age and date of joining the lodge and sometimes date of leaving. Just find your local Record Office and take a look through the records available. If in doubt email them!

Researching Ancestors In The German Military

Researching Ancestors In The German Military

Anyone with German Ancestors know that German Research can be at times, very tricky but once you’ve got the people you’re after you can find lots of very interesting sources. One of the most important sources beyond Birth, Marriage amd Death records are Military records. Below are some great resources for finding anyone that was in the German Military.

1 –  Deutsch Dienststelle (wasT)

Probably the most important German Military Collection around is the Deutsch Dienststelle (wasT) as it allows you to request the records for any German that was a member of the Wehrmacht. This however comes with a few hoops to jump through for obvious reasons. You cannot request any records of someone that was a member but is still alive without their permission. You can also not get any record of someone unless they died in the field or as a prisoner of war without the permission of their next of kin. It is worth noting however that some members of the Forum der Wehrmacht state that the archive are still likely to release documents as long as the person has been dead longer than 10 years and sometimes without the permission of next of kin depending on circumstances.

This is however not a free resource and records cost around 20 Euros, which depends on the amount of time taken, difficulty and number of records. Of you are requesting a full genealogical enquiry the waiting time can be up to 24 months so its good to get as much information as humanly possible before sending it off. Make sure you state your goals in the form and that you’d like copies of all sources found.

2 – German Red Cross Tracing Service

The German Red Cross Tracing Service is a great resource for finding people if they seem to have fallen off the face of the earth. It’s primary use is not for Military records but its so simple to use that it’s worth a punt every time. It also includes a Missing Person Photo Search feature that requires little information but can yield great results.

3 –  Federal Archive – Military Department

These archives include loads of records relating to: The Prussian army from 1867 onwards, The Army of the North German Confederation, The Imperial Navy, The Colonial Protection Force and the Freikorps, The Reichswehr, Wehrmacht, and Waffen-SS, The German Work Units in the Service of the Allied Forces
the National People’s Army including any border troops and The Bundeswehr. However although they house a lot of records, a lot of records have been lost due to war.



4 –  Federal Archive – Branch Office Ludwigsburg

This is the Central Office for the Investigation of National Socialist Crimes. It can be an incredibly interesting resource although be it a rather dark one and holds information on units and people involved with War Crimes. Data can include Scenes of crimes, suspects and culprits. The majority of the time this also includes anyone mentioned in the cases. It’s worth searching these archives if you suspect that you have an ancestor that might have been in a unit that was involved with any war crimes.

5 – Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge

This site is a lot like the German equivalent of The Commonwealth War Graves Commission. It can help you find fallen or MIA soldiers. This can be searched using cemetery search and they even offer photo services on the contact form where you can request photographs of any of the graves.