Category Archives: Web Sites

Maine research: some lesser known places to search – for FREE!

I love Maine research.  The Pine Tree State has made major efforts to digitize their records, increasing the odds of finding your ancestors in both free, online databases and government repositories.  Additionally, I’ve found most town clerks and registrars very helpful and friendly, often willing to communicate via email regarding a research request.

Land Records

The state portal for the Maine Registers of Deeds is found here.


Each county has various levels of digitization underway.  Kennebec County, for example, has indexed all of their deed books, including most historic deeds dating back to the late 1790s.   Continue reading

Find-A-Grave, more than just graves

The new copy of my great-great grandparents' gravestone, taken by a kind Find-A-Grave volunteer.

The new copy of my great-great grandparents’ gravestone, taken by a kind Find-A-Grave volunteer.

Good stuff starts with Find-A-Grave.  Okay, certainly not all good stuff, but lately it seems like LOTS of good stuff has made it’s way to me, complements of the wonderful people who post on Find-A-Grave.   Take, for example, the photo shown above, which awaited me in my email upon arising this morning.  Find-A-Grave volunteer Jaci happened to be at the Crystal Lake Cemetery in Minneapolis, Minnesota, fulfilling a photo request for someone, when she took this picture of the headstone of my great-great grand parents, Albert and Lavina (Bursley) Stanwood.  She had no way of knowing that my yucky photo posted there was taken over twenty years ago, at sunset with a flash, later scanned with a low-res machine, and the original photo lost so I didn’t have any decent version of the precious gravestone.

Taken in 1991, this photo needed help!

Taken in 1991, this photo needed help!

What blows my mind even more is Crystal Lake Cemetery is HUGE, HUGE, HUGE!  What a kind person to be combing that large cemetery for someone, and then on top of it, to serendipitously stumble upon MY family’s gravestone that needed to be updated online.  Totally cool.

My Find-A-Grave stories don’t end there.  I have found the site to be one of the best for making cousin connections.  If it wasn’t for Find-A-Grave, and contacting the individual managing several Bursley memorials, I never would have met my fourth-cousin-once-removed, John.   It was largely John’s research that proved our family’s connection to Benjamin Bursley, a Revolutionary War patriot and a descendant of John Howland and Elizabeth Tilley, two of my Mayflower ancestors.

Most recently my Find-A-Grave connections put flesh on the bones of my Day ancestors.  It was another sort of serendipitous contact – Merrylyn had posted information on my Day family, and when I contacted her, I learned her great-great-great aunt’s sister, Elizabeth Skillings, married John Day, brother of my fourth great grandfather, Aaron Day.  We are both using the FAN principle, researching friends, associates and neighbors of our ancestors, and have had fun collaborating on the John Day/Elizabeth Skillings connection.  Merrylyn had previously obtained copies of some genealogical data on the Day family that had been submitted to the Starks (Maine) Historical Society where John and Elizabeth had lived.  The writer had spent time interviewing old relatives, and stories had passed on through the generations, with the following tidbit revealing the character and personality of John Day, Sr., father of John and Aaron:

“When the children were young they had two Grammy Days. John said his father told him to call his mother’s mother ‘Poverty Hill Grammy.’ He did and his mother spanked him!  Other family notes refer to his other Day grandmother as Pine Woods Grammy. Aaron Day from Waters History lived on what used to be Poverty Hill.  Jeremiah lived in the area today known as Pine Swamp. Hence the name Pine Woods Grammy.”

This simple little paragraph contains several bits of information:

  1. Another confirmation that John Day married his cousin, Sarah Day, daughter of Aaron Day and Sarah Goodhue.
  2. Aaron Day lived at Poverty Hill in Ipswich.
  3. John Day was a character.  I can imagine similar banter in my own household – my husband would make similar jokes and find it hysterical.  Me, not so much.  I can relate to my fifth great grandmother’s dismay at having her mama called Poverty Hill Grammy.  :-)
  4. John’s father Jeremiah Day lived at Pine Swamp, just outside Ipswich, Massachusetts, where he was born.

After learning about these Day family documents, I was able to obtain my own copy from the Starks Historical Society, but never would have known about them (or who to contact) if it wasn’t for my Find-A-Grave connection.  Yup, Find-A-Grave rocks.


Getting the ROI on your genealogy subscriptions??

John M. Bursley with his regiment in History of the Fourth Regiment of Minnesota Infantry Volunteers During the Great Rebellion, 1861-1865

John M. Bursley with his regiment in History of the Fourth Regiment of Minnesota Infantry Volunteers During the Great Rebellion, 1861-1865, located with

If you’re like me, your email in-box is often crammed with offerings for the latest and greatest – books, websites, webinars, etc.  It usually takes a few endorsements before I jump on the bandwagon and subscribe to a new website, but I’ve recently added three subscription-based sites to my list –, and  Am I getting my money’s worth from these new subscriptions?  What’s the return on investment?

Continue reading

Tuesday’s Tip: – You Can’t Live Without It!


Using, I was able to easily create this map on Google maps showing Benjamin Bursley’s residence in relation to those of his sons-in-law, Albert Stanwood and James Smallen.

Okay, it might not be as important as food, water, clothing or shelter, but if you are as into maps and land records as I am, then I’m sure you’ll agree – is one of those “must have” subscriptions.  Here’s why:

  • takes Arphax Publishing’s superb books, Family Maps series of Land Patent Books and the Texas Land Survey Maps, and allows you to search by surname, or browse by county, to find those who had land purchases indexed either in the U.S. Bureau of Land Management database or the Texas General Land Office database.
  • When viewing the digital map on, links are included to the individual land owner’s BLM Document, and <DRUM ROLL>…..a link to the tract of land in Google maps!!!!!
  • For under $60, less than the cost of two books, you can have a one-year subscription to access the maps and detail contained in all 500 books published to date. Continue reading

Are you have problems with’s DNA portal?

Error message I receive when trying to access my new matches on

Are you having issues with Ancestry’s DNA portal?  About a week ago I received an email with a notice stating that I have three new matches.  However, when I try to access them, I keep getting the above message.  Hmmm….sure hoping it resolves soon.  I’m trying to be patient!

Chronicling America chronicles the Stanwood family

Friday night I continued my search for the Stanwood surname on the Library of Congress’ web site, Chronicling America.  What an awesome site!  My great-great grandparents, Albert and Lavina (Bursley) Stanwood, appeared several times in the Princeton Journal – typically when visiting their daughter Georgianna (Stanwood) Cravens.  Here are some of my finds:

Benjamin Stanwood recovers from Typhoid

Albert & Lavina (Bursley) Stanwood visit daughter Georgianna, who is ill

Albert & Lavina (Bursley) Stanwood visit daughter Georgianna, who is ill. This is curious - as Lavina died in 1920, and Albert was residing in Minneapolis at the time.

Albert Stanwood takes A.M. Palon to St. Louis lumbering district

Lavina (Bursley) Stanwood ill

Martha (Bursley) Orrock learns her sister, Lavina (Bursley) Stanwood is ill.

Melvin Stanwood nearly drowns

Albert Stanwood's team drowns in St. Louis river; son Melvin narrowly escapes.

Tech Tuesday: Money and the Great Debate – making my research easier

The year was 1994, and I remember the day like it was yesterday.  That sound…that beautiful sound of a dial-up modem, connecting to the internet.  My husband was by my side, showing me what the “world wide web” was like.  I was mesmerized and astounded.  I don’t recall what I said, but I’m sure “WOW!” was in there somewhere.  Not that there was a ton of genealogy sites online in 1994, but my immediate thought was how this “www” thing was going to revolutionize genealogy.

Well, here we are, more than a decade (almost two!)  later.  My dial-up modem has been replaced with wireless internet service and WiFi in my home.   The internet has grown, and we have a lot of free genealogical stuff available to us online.   Continue reading


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