Assistance in Unlikely Places

In light of my recent discoveries, I decided to look for a little extra help with my research efforts. If you’re a genealogy newbie like me, this post might be of some help.

While searching on Google, I stumbled upon this Caribbean surnames index which – as it turns out – is managed by a gentleman here in Toronto. And best of all, it’s free!

All you have to do is register (heed the administrator’s terms of use!), post the surnames of the ancestors or relatives you’re looking for (as well as the country, city or town, etc.) on the appropriate discussion boards, and see if any of the fellow users see your query and help you make a connection. Or, just scan the discussion boards before you post – there may already be a request posted by someone who could be one of your relatives.

In addition to the Caribbean surname index, the administrator also has Irish and Canadian indexes.

With respect to my search, once I registered, I went to the general discussion boards and came across a list of other resources to help users with their searches.

One of those resources, as it turns out, is something I use regularly: Facebook. If there is a group for almost everything else under the tree, you might be able to find a genealogy group for your search. And if there isn’t one? Start one. You never know who else is out there, looking for the same information you are.

In my case, there are Facebook members who run genealogy groups for each of the Jamaican parishes. So I signed up for two of them.

One of them accepted me in a short amount of time, and I posted a blurb about the ancestors I was researching.

A member from Atlanta responded to my query almost immediately, suggesting we might be related.  The last name of his ancestor wasn’t one I’d heard within my family tree, so I was initially skeptical. But anything was possible.

The conversation on Facebook led to me to sign up for another genealogy Web site and touching base with the Facebook member there, since he was an administrator for a couple of the genealogy groups there.

The Web site he uses is, in my opinion, a bit awkward to navigate compared to the one I’m currently using. But I’m on a two-week trial, so we’ll see how this works out.

Meanwhile, the group administrator for the other parish genealogy page I’d asked to join accepted me almost immediately. And, just as speedily, she set about trying to find records for some of the mystery members of my family.

I’m still trying to figure out whether that was a good idea.

I believe she has the best of intentions. But she emailed me a ton of records I’d either seen on previous searches I’d done on my own, or that I wasn’t entirely sure were my relatives.

It was a bit overwhelming.

(It also doesn’t help that all my relatives seem to have super-common names.)

One record in particular, though, could be the death certificate for my mom’s maternal grandmother. But the date is off by four years. Still, a few of the details on the certificate were spot-on. I’m trying to cross-reference this by checking with other family members, to see if I can solve the mystery.

For now, I’m going to stick with the connections I’ve made. Maybe the additional assistance will help keep my search moving along.

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