Planning Your Trip

To Yesteryear

It's getting to be that time of year again....

Many of us will be making our yearly (hopefully) trips into the geographic areas of our ancestors.

By this I mean, the points of migrations, places of residence and burial of many of them.

We do this for many reasons: (a) First of all, we "think" we know that they are buried there (or we hope that they are) (b) Something we cannot quite define draws us to stand on the same ground that perhaps our ancestors may have stood(c) to obtain a photo or a sense of just what type of place our ancestor's chose when leaving their families to migrate to Indiana

As this is only April and the true "vacation season" has not yet begun for most of us; it may be wise to sit back and really PLAN your excursion so as not to overlook something on your visit.

As unfortunate or unbelievable as it may appear, not all of us have reached the pinnacle of owning a laptop computer for our travels. For the most part, many of us are left with the simple devises of memory and paper notes to refer to in order to verify certain findings in our search. In our daily lives of researching, we have become so very dependent on our computer databases, that it is just second nature to "whip out" the family file to check a relationship or distant connection. For the majority of researchers today, the old fashioned system of really "thinking and remembering" is an obsolete art. For that reason, there are many researchers who will find themselves standing in the middle of an isolated cemetery trying to recall if this or that person is related and just how they might be if they are.

Unfortunately, it is in those times, that our memories seem to fail us the very most. I myself have had moments when, if a gun were placed to my head, I simply could not remember certain facts that I deal with everyday in my home office. (I like to refer to this as "genealogy's law")

For this reason, I find it is imperative that the researcher take as much time in organizing their notes and as much data as possible before leaving home as they do in packing their suitcases with clothing and personal supplies.

Whether you keep an entire notebook carefully divided into little sections, or just simply a stenographers pad or even 3x5 index cards; what you take with you in those records is all you will have in a remote area. It is in a manner of speaking your only " lifeline to your computer databases".

As mentioned above, most people are not actually taking their vacations at this present time; this is therefore the "perfect" time to organize everything you will need. You will not be rushed into forgetting something, or confused by haste in what you may or may not need "out there".

Although the preparation may appear to be a daunting task, it really isn't when done properly in an organized fashion.

In gathering your fact finding data (a) First of all, make a listing of the families or persons that you are specifically searching for on your trip; make certain to include all of them even the "connected to" surnames. (b) Make a note of any theories you wish to prove or disprove also (c) make a very concise and detailed listing of the items you are wishing to look up in the local libraries and court houses. Include any pertinent data that might assist you in your search such as names, dates, locations. Create a checklist that is easy to work with when you are "in the field".(d) If possible, make a listing of the cemeteries that you are choosing to visit with a somewhat decent idea of just where they might be located. (e) don't forget to list the names, addresses & phone numbers of the court houses & libraries you intend to visit just in case you need to contact them for hours or directions. It doesn't hurt also to make certain that these places will be open during the time you plan to be in the area. (f) Make certain that your camera equipment is clean and in good working order. (g) Take the time now to secure any permissions that you might need to enter onto private property.

Your goal in these organizations is to make certain BEFORE arriving at your destination, that you have everything needed to obtain the information you need.

Won't it be a wasted trip to travel several states away and come home with little or nothing simply because you forgot the data that allows you to know whether or not someone is connected or not?

As there are of course certain personal items that you would not travel without, remember this when going on a fact finding vacation.

These items should be:

Who, what, when, where you are searching for

Data on all facilities you need to use

Appropriate and good working equipment such as: camera, video camera, tape recorder, notepads, pens/pencils, maps, proper clothing for inclement weather

A compact way of transporting these items out to remote areas

To make your journey more pleasurable, take the time to find out about lodging and restaurants in the areas you will visit. Also double check to make certain that you are not visiting during a time when there a perhaps a local event that will make finding a motel room a difficult task.

Ask yourself NOW, what you are hoping to find during your trip and don't leave home without something that makes finding it essential !!