Family Surnames

  • *Dukes*
  • *Fultz*
  • *Haynes/Haines*
  • *Lynes*
  • *Mills*
  • *Parker*
  • *Shank*
  • *Thornley*

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Creating a Personal History for Ancestors

I've been trying to write up individual biographies for some of my ancestors. I ran across this really good article on Family Search  ( 
and thought I would share some of the tips.
How do you write a personal history of an ancestor who may have lived hundreds of years ago and left no diary?  It is not easy, but you can make some assumptions like authors of such works do. 

Typical day in the life on an ancestor

In addition, we might be able to describe a typical day of a father by knowing his occupation and learning how he earned a living. We can describe the typical day of a housewife and mother by knowing the kind of house they lived in, how they cook meals, clean clothes, etc.

Research is not hard

  • Get a general idea of the history of the country where the subject lived or came from to see what influence it had on them and why they may have left it.
  • Try to locate any local histories from the area of the country where your subject lived which probably had a larger impact on them than the national scene.
  • Can you find any direct evidence that they were effected by such events as national wars or local conflicts, land ownership disputes, poor working conditions, no opportunities to improve ones economic condition, any ethnic persecutions, religious harassment, etc.
  • Were they native to the country they came from? Many of the immigrants from Wales, for example, had ancestors that were originally from Ireland and Scotland so you’ll want to learn why they went to Wales.
  • What was the town or village like that the subject lived in? Was it a manufacturing or farming area? Was a big town or small village? What were most of the houses built of?
  • What were the living conditions in that town or village?
  • What would the subject’s home have been like?
  • What kinds of furniture would the subject have in their home?
  • How did they make a living?
  • Were they effected by natural disasters?
  • What were their chances for an education? Could they read or write?
  • What was the dominate religion and did your subject belong to it? How did your subject worship? Did they say grace before meals? Read the Bible together? Had their children christened?
  • How did they pick names for children?
  • Learn what occupation your subject was engaged in and learn how he preformed his labors.
  • Find out what would be typical day for a housewife of the period.
  • What would be typical meal served to the family? Did they have plenty to eat?
  • If the subject immigrated, what were traveling conditions like?. Be detailed. How did they travel, how long was the trip, what did they eat, were they sick, who did they travel with, how were they organized, etc. Did they move because of a relative who had immigrated earlier? Did they go live with that relative for a while?
  • What was the make up of the family at the time of immigration?
  • What style of clothes did the subject wear?
  • Where did they sleep? How many to a room?
  • What was medical treatment like in those days?
  • What sorts of illness effected people?
  • Was the subject involved in any wars and if so what weapons would he have used?
  • What was their social standing in the community?
  • What education did the subject have if any? Could they read and write?
  • How were people married?
  • When did people quit working and retire or did they?
  • What did people do for entertainment?
There is some other good information and tips in the article that will help me in writing these biographies, and I hope they help you as well!