Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tuesday's Tip: Finding Frank

Sometimes its a little scary how quickly we can find things on the internet.  I was having an online conversation with a friend, Link, in Florida.  He had mentioned that he had always wanted to get into genealogy, but didn't really know where to start. 

"That's easy!" I said, "Start with what you know."  What he knew was his grandfather's name, Frank Stizo, and that he was born in Italy. 

I was already on Ancestry.com, so I did a quick search.  As I mentioned, Link lives in Florida.  I wasn't finding any results in Florida.  Looking at what popped up, I asked "Did you ever live in New Jersey?"

Link was stunned.  "I grew up there!  In Rahway."  I had found Link's grandfather, Frank, with his wife, Matilda, and four children -- including Link's father -- on the 1920 census.

I also found the World War I Draft registration that provided an exact birthdate, November 18, 1888, and listed Andretta, Italy as his birthplace.  Cool!  What Link found fascinating was the description; his grandfather was of medium height, considered stout, and had light grey eyes and black hair.  He had no idea that draft records could provide you with that much information.

"Wow!  You are good!"  I appreciated the complement, but I hadn't done any digging yet.  I'd gotten that within five minutes.  That was just luck.

A few days later with a little digging, and armed with a little more information provided by his sister, I soon found Frank on the 1910 census living with his parents, Pasquale and Antonia.  I also found a manifest showing that he entered the United States through the Port of New York and that his final destination was New Rochelle, New Jersey, to join his brother-in-law.  He was in good health, could read, and had $8 in his pocket.

Trust me, you don't always find that much so quickly, but you should never let what don't know keep you from starting!  Start with what you know, and work back from that.  And don't forget to ask your family what they know, too... their tidbits plus your tidbits will eventually turn into a breadcrumb trail that's worth following.

1 comment:

  1. Finding ancestors is hard. I'm tracking down a relation called Frank Timis but I keep finding a business man with the same name in Australia instead! The wrong Frank Timis