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Compiling the Fourth Generation

Family History

Family FolkloreAs you compile your first three generations it is likely some of the persons you are documenting may still be alive depending on your age. As you move on to the fourth generation most of them will have passed away. All of my grandparents (3rd generation) were deceased by the time I was 15 years old. In my childhood I had only one great-grandparent (4th generation) living and she was very dear to me and I cherish my personal memories of her.

As I began to collect the memories of my fourth generation I had to rely heavily on the memory of others and search for records kept by governments, churches, and other groups they may have associated with. Family folklore and stories are important clues to further research.

My Great Grandparents listed on my fourth generation of the pedigree were born in the 1850 -1870s. One of my Great Grandmother’s walked across the plains arriving in Utah as a child. Be sure to interview everyone who remembers your fourth generation ancestors while they are still alive.

Using your software begin adding information on your Great Grandparents. Create a record for each marriage and list all children who are brothers and sisters of your grandparents. If one of your Great Grandparents were married multiple times be sure to list the children with the correct parents. For each child, document their birth, marriage, death, and burial information; if never married make a note of that. Be sure to include locations! Remember, the more people you connect to your family the larger the list of contacts you will have to assist you’re your research.

Here is a list of life events and a few possible sources to search for on your Great Grandparents generation:

1. Birth: it is most likely in the US there will not be a civil record of the birth. Look for family bibles, church records, school records, and even census records can give you an idea of their birth year. If your family is from the British Isles birth records were required to be recorded in the civil registration well before the 1850s. Be sure to check the laws of the country and local jurisdiction where your ancestor was born to learn more about what records may be available.

2. Marriage: There are many legal requirements that must be met before a marriage can take place. This is a very important document because it affects property. Always watch for the marriage record as it holds many clues to the family. There are several documents associated to the marriage contract that you will want to be aware of.

Before the marriage there is evidence of “Intent to Marry” with these associated documents:

Consent Affidavit, from a parent or guardian

Declaration of Intent, such as banns, intentions, allegations

Pre-nuptials, marriage contracts, agreements to protect property rights

Marriage permits, applications, licenses, marriage bonds

While these are not proof of marriage they give evidence that marriage was being considered and a time period that it could have taken place.

After the marriage there is evidence of the “Proof of Marriage” with these associated documents:

Marriage Certificate, usually kept by the bride

Registration of marriage, marriage register, church book, Justice of the Peace Docket

Reports, Endorsement on license, stub, return by officiator

Affirmation and acknowledgements, for slaves, Native Americans, or others

Post-nuptials, to avoid messy divorces

Acquire a marriage license for each of your Great Grandparents children; there will be interesting items to note on each document your discover. You will be excited by some of the information you acquire and by being as complete as possible.

3. Immigration: Use ship passenger arrival records and border crossing records as they may provide evidence of a person’s arrival in the United States, as well as foreign birthplace. The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has immigration records for various ports for the years 1800-1959. Here is a link for more details

4. Military Service: Military records can often provide valuable information on the veteran, as well as on all members of the family. Go here for more information.

6. Life Events and Death Records: Newspapers are a great place to check for data relating to your family. Search the FamilySearch Wiki for information on newspapers from around the world.

Search civil death records, funeral home records, local cemetery records and burial permits. Here are a couple of good online sites for cemeteries:

There are many more record types to search for your family. We will continue to share ideas, sources, and tools with you. Happy Hunting!