Thursday, July 7, 2011

Genealogy Serendipity Moments - Shepherd Family

Last week I decided to focus my research time on the Shepherd family. A dear friend of mine recently moved to a care center and currently does not have access to her family history work. We have worked on her ancestral lines for many years, having met about eighteen years ago. She is one of my kindred connections. Her family brought me a box of books and in it was a flash drive with her genealogy database. There was also an old ledger book printed in 1913, in which her father recorded their family history in great detail. This was truly a serendipity moment, as I don't remember seeing this book before.

After glancing through the book I decided to meticulously go through it to see if there were any details not in her database. Then I compared it to details on There were a couple of family members who made contributions to the information found there, but they were missing details.

From there, I decided to focus on the Shepherd line as that is one line we had not worked together on. There were other online Shepherd family trees at that were comparable, but they were missing some of the links for her ancestors. At this point I did a complete census search for the known generations and looked for other possible records. This led me to realize that the family lived in Saratoga, New York for many years.

Finally I did a google search for Saratoga, New York Genealogy Records. This took me to:, the website for New York-Genealogy. This site has links to an extensive collection of New York genealogy records. It felt like the best of serendipity moments. I have some of my own New York research to do and this website gives me hope of having success with my searches.  

This site had a connection for church records which took me to:, the website for Friends Historical Library, Swarthmore College. This site has, among other things, an amazing collection of early Quaker church records, easily searchable by surname and other identifying pieces of information. There is a list for abbreviations, which is very helpful in understanding their usage in the index. While it does not lead to online digitized copies of documents, it is possible to order them.

By going on to the website of the Friends Historical Library at:, you will find a vast collection of Quaker records. I feel like a kid in a candy shop. It was so exciting to work with these records and piece together the families of my friend's ancestors. Sharing with her this new material, she was thrilled to hear of all this important information.

The most amazing thing about the Internet is you never know when you will happen upon something totally unexpected. Every time I work on a new project there is always the need to learn about the current resources of the locality being researched. You will only have these types of experiences if you push beyond those easy access websites to even more valuable resources. These records were put online in about 2005.

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