Discover your inside story with AncestryDNA®

October 27, 2004

Using Search Engines to Find Ancestors

© Lorine McGinnis Schulze

First posted in response to a question on a mailing list on October 23, 2004

Q: I have been on the temp free list for I did a search under Richard W. BILKEY and soundexed it. It came "Zero Results" Are you saying there is another index I can look under

A: When using search engines, don't limit your searches too much. If you get zero results, widen the search parameters.
  • First tip - Use wildcards to allow for alternate spellings. Instead of BILKEY, try BIL* (the * is a wildcard for any letters after BIL)

    Don't put in the first name. Don't put in middle initials. Think about how the name might have been spoken and recorded at the time. Richard W. Bilkey might have said his name was R. Bilkey. Perhaps he gave his full first name but not his middle initial. Maybe the person recording it put Rich'd for Richard. Maybe the person writing it down spelled BILKEY as Bilkee or Beelkey or ....

    Be creative, try variant spellings and use wildcards.

  • Second tip - for this particular search below, you want to go to and try the spellings and wildcard feature above. Then to see a list of ships from Liverpool to New York in April 1865 follow these steps:

    1. On the Ancestry search box, DON'T put a first or last name. Put the year of arrival as 1865 to 1865.

    2. In the keyword field put apr . Only put 3 letters because if you look at results you get you will see that this is how all the months are indexed - as 3 letter months. So if you put april you'll get zero results!

    3. For Port of departure put Liverpool.

    4. Then hit SEARCH and see what comes up. You'll get a lot of results and you can see that there are many ships - Etna, Kangaroo, Helvetia and so on

    There is another way to get that list of ships -- look up at the top of the Ancestry page where it says

    "You are here: Search > Immigration & Naturalization Records > New York Passenger Lists, 1851-1891 > Results"

    Click on NEW YORK PASSENGER LISTS. That brings up a new page with a search box but look BELOW that search box. See the list of years? Click on 1865. Let the new page load then click on the month you want (April)

    The list of ships arriving in April will appear

  • Third Tip -- Always read the HELP file for every Search Engine you use. All Search Engines are different, you must learn what each can do for you.

    Also see more of my ideas and suggestions re using search engines

Permission granted to distribute this article as long as nothing is changed, and all identifying information and URLs remain. Be sure to include the following footer:

Help File by Lorine McGinnis Schulze of Olive Tree Genealogy at


October 24, 2004

What is a Palatine?

© Lorine McGinnis Schulze

The German Palatinate was divided between two small territorial clusters: the Rhenish, or Lower Palatinate, and the Upper Palatinate. As well as the devastating effects of war, the people living in that region, called Palatines, were subjected to the winter of 1708-09, the harshest in 100 years. The scene was set for a mass migration to America ......

In the spring of 1709, about 7 000 harassed Palatines sailed down the Rhine to Rotterdam. From there, about 3000 were dispatched to America, either directly or via England, under the auspices of William Penn. The remaining 4 000 were sent via England to Ireland to strengthen the protestant interest there.

In 1710, three large groups of Palatines sailed from London. The first went to Ireland, the second to Carolina and the third to New York with the new Governor, Robert Hunter. There were 3 000 Palatines on 10 ships that sailed for New York and approximately 470 died on the voyage or shortly after their arrival.

Their plight did not end there for they were subjected to harsh conditions under the British once in America.

To read more about Palatines see Palatine Genealogy at

Also see

This article © Lorine McGinnis Schulze and may be reproduced as long as all identifying URLs remain intact and nothing is altered

October 18, 2004

Coffin Plates - A Great Source of Birth & Death Dates


The history of Coffin Plates or casket plates is a long, but not very well documented one. Generally made of a soft metal like pewter, silver, brass, copper or tin, coffin plates are decorative adornments attached to the coffin that contain information about the deceased. These plates are an overlooked free genealogical resource. They often contain the Birth date and Death date and can be used as a substitute for vital records.

The oldest ones that I have seen date from the 17th century (1600~1699) and were reserved for people of some stature, in other words people who had money. As time went on more people were able to afford the luxury of a Coffin Plate and with the coming of the industrial revolution the cost of the plates went down so much that by the middle of the 19th century almost every family could afford them.

At the same time that coffin plates were increasing in popularity the practice of removing the plates from the coffin before burial increased. The coffin plates were often removed to be kept as mementos by the loved ones of the deceased. This practice peaked in the late 19th century (1880~1899).

In rare cases the plates are removed when the grave is disturbed for some reason like cemetery relocation. This is more common in Europe were space for graves is at a premium.

Unfortunately these valuable resources are scattered and there has not been a single repository for this valuable free genealogy resource until now. It is my intention to create a coffin plate database and a home for the unwanted plates themselves.

You can see the start of this project at

In some rare cases the plates can contain even more information like place of birth or the occupation of the deceased.

If you want to know more about what things qualify as a true Vital Records there is a good article Genealogy Without Sources is Mythology! at the Olive Tree at




Permission granted to publish this article as long as all identifying names and websites remain intact

October 12, 2004

Pennsylvania Baggage Lists 1809-1819

Early arrival to Philadelphia Pennsylvania were documented in Baggage Lists from 1800 to 1819

Olive Tree Genealogy now has online the start of the Pennsylvania Baggage Lists from 1809. These contain the names of passengers who had to pay taxes on excess baggage. It does not contain the names of passengers who were exempt because their luggage was not over the limit.

I decided to index all names, not just passenger names, but also the names of those shipping luggage or goods, and the names of those being shipped to. Passengers whose names are found also have a list of luggage, so interested descendants should obtain the original film to view the full manifest details. I will be making the images of each manifest available as I have time and space.

Most of the ships also have the image of the manifest online too. I will be putting them all online as I have time, so if the one you want isn't there, just come back and check in a few days.

This is another project of Olive Tree Genealogy to fill in the gaps, and one that I hope to carry on to 1820, which is when full passenger lists began to be archived and are available to us


Copyright Lorine McGinnis Schulze of Olive Tree Genealogy at

Permission is granted to redistribute this article with all identifying URLs intact including this notice

October 5, 2004

One World Tree - The Real Story

What is OneWorldTree?

More than 100 million names!'s new OneWorldTree SM database is one of the largest family tree resources on the web. It's a timesaving resource that draws on decades' worth of family history research. One name match could add entire branches to your family tree instantly.

Is Ancestry charging for user submissions?

NO! Ancestry user submitted records are still free. OWT searches those records plus pay-to-view databases on and gives you the best matches possible. Ancestry will NOT begin selling the gedcoms and family trees that have been submitted to Ancestry World Tree and RootsWeb WorldConnect. The confusion is in the similarity of names - AWT (AncestryWorldTree) versus OWT (OneWorldTree)

How does it work?

OneWorldTree searches thousands of family tree. It gives you information about people and family relationships. You have access to many years worth of research. Be one of the first to use's newest technology to save you time and extra research.

Tell Me More!
Ancestry OneWorldTree is an intelligent search engine that links Ancestry records to family trees through a process Ancestry calls stitching. Ancestry is currently stitching the 1930 census and building trees from the relationship information found there. Ancestry will eventually stitch all of its records including census and vital records, grouping sources by individual. more at