12 July 2007

One of My Secret Weapons - RAOGK

Now of course I do use a lot of Ancestry.com for my research. But there is also another place I have discovered that has helped me to get copies of things I would never find online.

Here is my delima. I'm doing research not only for my family, but for friends as well. I am a stay at home mom of three children, with a limited income. This makes it impossible for me to travel to other parts of the country to do research in the courthouses, till now.

You can't rely on internet research alone to find all the documents you need to properly research your family. Sending off for certificates can be costly, but sometimes necessary. But through the generous volunteers of Random Acts of Genealogical Kindess you may find someone in the county you are researching that can find you a wealth of information. The cost is minimal. They only charge you their cost for copies and documents and in some cases when they travel a long distance for what you need they charge for mileage which is only fair.

A few month ago I used them for the first time. I had been researching a German family from PA. I just seemed to run into so many road blocks and couldn't break through them with what was available online. So I looked up researchers in Crawford County, PA. I was lucky to find one really wonderful lady who was able to find a will for the wife, and a naturalization records for the husband. Both records shed new light on some discrepancies I had noticed in the current research as well as included other family member's names.

The most revealing was Margarett's will, where she listed her cousin John Haghen as the executor of her will. This tied in with the woman living with them in 1880, listed as Elizabeth Haughen the mother-in-law to Charles. After some research I realized that I had never found any more of the family because I was looking for Haughen not Haghen. So I began looking for Margarett's family to find many Uncles, cousins, Aunts, and of course knew who her mother was. Though I have yet to discover who her father was. My feeling is that he died in the old country and then the family moved to PA.

You can see what a few added documents to your arsenal can do to add a whole new line to the family. If you are unable to travel to the courthouse then RAOGK is a great way to get your hands on other documents that are not online and therefor not available to you any other way. They also do things like grave site photos and other types of look ups.

The downfall is that not every county has a volunteer. But it's worth looking into.

On the flip side. If you enjoy Genealogy research and you have the time and ability to travel to courthouses, library, funeral homes, churches, graveyards, and other places that documents can be found in your area, please volunteer. Like I said there are some counties that don't have a single volunteer. They can always use more.

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