When you begin to build your family history tree, it is important to start with yourself as well as any siblings you may have, and work your way backwards through the generations of your family, starting with your parents. At some part in your LDS family search you will ultimately hit a snag or what you may consider to be a dead end at the time. When this happens, it is recommended that you step back from your genealogical research for a short time. When you step back from your research for a moment, take the time to enjoy the research you have compiled and start looking at your findings in a new light. This new way of looking at your family tree can open up new avenues of research for you. For example, instead of looking back into your past family history, take some time to search for, and get to know your living relatives that you have never met before. Instead of searching for your own ancestors, search for the ancestors of your distant relatives, and their families. Some of the same tricks of the trade that you have used to find your ancestors can be used to find your distant relatives. Use the following resources to help you link these previously unknown relatives to your own family history.
Make the Best Use of Resources
To help you in your LDS family search, you can often find information about living relatives in the obituary and death notices section of your local and national newspapers. There you will find a list of family members related to a particular deceased relative. These resources may also list churches and other organizations that the deceased relative was affiliated with. Actual death certificates list the location of burial and in most cases; give the name of a contact person or witness who may be one of his or her adult children. It is also important to note the date the relative died, because if they passed away during the late nineteenth or early twentieth centuries, it is likely that his or her living children or grandchildren may be deceased as well. Take the time to search for their obituaries or death notices to find their survivors. You may even want to contact the cemeteries, monument companies, and/or funeral homes by phone, written, or email correspondence for further information. The cemetery may also be able to give you the name of the purchaser of the relative’s burial plot as well as the monument company that built the grave marker. The funeral home could also have a list of descendants and/or living relatives and the monument company can tell you who purchased your deceased relative’s grave marker.
Census Records Are Also Useful
Reviewing census records is another way to find your distant relatives. The U.S. census will give you a bounty of information about your relatives, including a list of parents and the children who lived in the household. The 1930 and 1940 censuses will list your living relatives who were children during that time period. Censuses that date back before 1930 may help you find the starting link in a chain of your living relatives. Another resource for finding your lost cousins is by entering your information found in the 1880 U.S. or 1881 British or Canadian censuses. Whenever someone else lists their information that is similar to your lost cousins this helps put you and the other person in contact with each other.
Many churches and synagogues list their members and will allow you to view these lists to help you find your living relatives. Some churches put together a weekly or monthly newsletter that announces special events such as engagements and weddings. These religious organizations also publish bulletins which list the names of members who have made significant donations to the organization. These newsletters, bulletins, and other informational materials may be found on the church’s web site, if one is available. It may be very helpful to place a telephone call to the church secretary, or the synagogue administrator to get in touch with the person you are trying to reach. He or she may either give you that person’s contact details, or contact him or her for you, passing along your contact details, and any message you wish to leave for that person. Synagogues maintain lists of a deceased member’s living relatives, and send notices to those relatives on the anniversary of the member’s death. These notices alert the member that his or her relative will be mentioned in a future Sabbath service. Feel free to use any or all of these tools to help you in your LDS family search.