Tips From Other Researchers

(1) I was taught to use google by putting a husband and wife's name individually in quotation marks in the search bar and I sometimes add a state also. Example: "George Villyard" "Martha Pierce" "GA". This is especially useful when using marriage records to find related families. Jenny Floyd

(2) One thing I’ve really learned is to pay attention to the “Informant” on those death records. Often it may be a 2nd or 3rd wife or one of their children who doesn’t have a clue to the actual information concerning the deceased nor his/her parents. Regards, Jim Newell

(3) How did you get your surname?  Donna R. Causey


Did you know that before the fifteenth century, surnames were not common? Anglo-Saxon names were used 5.000 years ago and were names like Begga, Agrippa, etc., but after the Norman Conquest in 1066, the English and Europeans starting using names like Richard, Henry, etc but did not have surnames. The Normans only had a small number of these names so their were many Robert's, and Henry's which made it confusing to say the least.


The Church came to the rescue and suggested that people could use Saints names for their children. To distinguish themselves further from other townspeople, descriptions were added to the names such as Robert of the Valley, James the tall (if he was a tall man).


In the fifteenth century, surnames were be coming common but they usually described the way a person looked, lived or occupation. For example if Robert was short; his name would be Robert Short; If James lived in Cottingham; his name was James Cottingham. A Weaver might be named Henry Weaver.


Later on patronymics became popular for descendants. "Patronymics pointed out the individual was the son of a person. "O" for the Irish, "Ben" (Hebrew), "de" (French), "Mc" and "Mac" (Scottish) and plain "son" attached to the name for the English. MacGregor is a Scottish name for the "son of Gregory". "Johnson is "the son of John" and Mendelssohn is German for the "son of Mendel'"


A problem quickly developed with patronymics however because the surname changed with each generation. For example," John, the son of Peter would be called John Peterson but John's son, Robert, would be known as Robert Johnson.


Henry V stopped the confusion when, he ordered everyone to begin using surnames of all legal documents in 1413 and by the middle of the sixteenth century, family surnames became stabilized and remained the same through