Getting Started With Family History: Difficult Cases

Posted on May 8, 2016 by Martin Oaks under Resources
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Martin Oaks Cemetery

In our last genealogy-themed blog post, we discussed how to gather information for beginning your family history journey. As we mentioned before, however, certain factors can make even these basics difficult.

If your parents are no longer living or unable to be reached and other family members do not have the necessary information, check the cemetery where your parents and/or grandparents were buried, if you know it. Rather than visiting a cemetery yourself, you can check online. Many cemeteries’ information is online through services like or

Here you can see an example of the type of information you’ll find at Find A Grave, from Martin Oaks’ very own cemetery. This listing shows the grave of Hiram Arnold, a Confederate soldier in the Civil War, and one of our earliest grave sites. It lists all the information on the headstone and includes a photo of the site.

Hiram Arnold Headstone

If you are unable for any reason to reach your parents or other relatives, simply write down the information you do know and can access. What you have is almost always more valuable than you would think. The most difficult part will be finding information on persons living within the last 100 years because of privacy protections, but if you can find enough information on your parents, grandparents, and if necessary great-grandparents, online resources will help you fill in the information beyond that.

In mixed-marriage and adopted families, remember that you don’t have to choose between your biological and adopted/married-in family lines. It’s up to you who you would like to include in your family tree; pursue the lines you’re interested in! Many genealogy sites allow you to create more than one family tree, and most have ways of accounting for adoptions or mixed families.

In the case of adoption, a lot of resources are available to you. Follow this link for a pedigree chart structured for both adoptive and biological parents. If you don’t know or have information on your birth parents, you may want to consider pursuing that. has a page with some steps you can take.

Now that you’ve gathered a base of information, you’re ready to take your search and record-keeping online. Check out next week’s blog post for how to set up online genealogy accounts and continue your search!

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