Saturday, 30 March 2013

Free Census Records Access At Ancestry are offering free access to their census records for 1901 and 1911 this bank holiday weekend. From Friday 29th March 2013 until Monday 2nd April 2013 you'll be able to search these census records for free. 

Sounds like a good deal to me, but you need to be quick.

Visit Ancestry to search the records now. 

Monday, 25 March 2013

Finding Your Roots

I just watched a really interesting new genealogy TV show called Finding Your Roots. It's broadcast on Sunday nights at 8pm on the PBS channel. (Sky channel 166, Virgin Media 243). 

Finding Your Roots draws some comparisons to Who Do You Think You Are? in that it deals with the family trees of celebrity guests each week, however the two shows are different in their approaches. Finding Your Roots deals with two, or sometimes three, subjects each week, and presents them with their genealogy records in a "book of life" rather than them doing the research for themselves. 

This is a clever way to progress through a family history, and in the episode I watched last night it was also quite moving at times. The two subjects were American (it is an American show) politicians Cory Booker and John Lewis. Both men are African-American, which is only relevant in that it allowed the show to include  interesting social history in the context of the ancestry of these two men. Specifically, there was information relating to slavery, the Jim Crow laws, and the civil rights movement of the 1960s. The mixture of genealogy and social history, also done very well in Who Do You Think You Are?, is an aspect on which I am very keen.

Finding Your Roots starts with a short biography of each subject, which sets up the genealogical research nicely. At this point they can state if there are any family mysteries that they would like to be investigated. Throughout the rest of the show the results of the research are shown to the participants in their "book of life," a scrapbook that contains photographs and copies of records and other documents. We also get to see interviews with the researchers to see how they found their information. 

One of the most remarkable aspects of the Finding Your Roots is that they use DNA testing to help to unravel some genealogical problems. In fact, the show states that their methods involve "public records, personal family histories, and DNA analysis." In the episode I watched DNA testing was used to confirm that Cory Booker's maternal great-grandfather was a white doctor, and that his grandfather, as the family suspected, was illegitimate. DNA analysis is a fascinating new aspect of family history research, and it promises much for the future.

Finding Your Roots is hosted by Henry Louis Gates Jr. Throughout the run of the show the celebrities to be featured will be:

S1 EP1 - Harry Connick Jr and Branford Marsalis
S1 EP2 - Cory Booker and John Lewis
S1 EP3 - Barbara Walters and Geoffrey Canada
S1 EP4 - Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick 
S1 EP5 - Angela Buchdahl, Rick Warren, and Yasir Qadhi
S1 EP6 - Robert Downey Jr and Maggie Gyllenhaal
S1 EP7 - Samuel L. Jackson, Condoleezza Rice, and Ruth Simmons
S1 EP8 - Sanjay Gupta, Margaret Cho, and Martha Stewart
S1 EP9 - John Legend, Wanda Sykes, and Margarett Cooper
S1 EP10 - Michelle Rodriguez, Adrian Grenier, and Linda Chavez

I really liked the first episode of Finding Your Roots, and I recommend it to anybody who enjoys watching programmes about genealogy and social history. You can find out more at the official website

Monday, 4 March 2013

Abraham Lincoln Family Tree

I recently watched the film Lincoln, and was very impressed. It is as much about the president's family relationships as about his political struggle to abolish slavery. It got me to thinking about the Abraham Lincoln family tree, and specifically how the famous name of Lincoln had been passed down through the years. I decided it was time to do a little research, hence this special Family History Finder blog post on the Abraham Lincoln family tree.

First a little information about Abraham Lincoln's genealogy. The 16th President of the United States was born in Kentucky in 1809. He was the second son of Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks. (Yes, Tom Hanks is a distant relative, as is George Clooney!)

The couple had three children: Elizabeth was born in 1807 and died in at the age of 20, then Abraham, then Thomas junior, who was born around 1912 and died as a child. The issue of children dying, while not uncommon at the time, was particularly prevalent in the Lincoln generations.

Abraham's father, Thomas, was born in Virginia in 1744. Thomas' father was also called Abraham, and was born in Pennsylvania in 1744. He in turn was the son of John Lincoln, who was born in New Jersey in 1716. The Abraham Lincoln family tree goes as far back as his great x 4 grandfather, Edward Lincoln from Norfolk, England. Edward's son, Samuel Lincoln, was born around 1622, and made the journey to America in 1637. He died in Massachusetts in 1690, but not before growing the family tree that would eventually bear the name of Abraham Lincoln.

The Abraham Lincoln Family Tree - Marriage and Children
Mary Todd
Abraham Lincoln married Mary Todd in 1842. The following year their first son, Robert Todd Lincoln, was born. As it was to turn out, he was the only one of Lincoln's four sons to survive to adulthood. Edward Baker Lincoln was born in 1846 and died in 1850 of suspected tuberculosis. William Wallace Lincoln was born in 1850 and died in 1862, with the cause of death believed to be typhoid fever. Lincoln's youngest son, was born in 1853 and died in 1871 of congestive heart failure.

The grief that must have been felt by Abraham and Mary Lincoln after the deaths of Edward in 1850 and William in 1862 in unthinkable, and the president was said to be a very caring father. Mary was so affected by the deaths that Abraham considered having her committed to an asylum.

The Abraham Lincoln Family Tree - the Descendants
Robert Todd Lincoln
Robert Todd Lincoln was for obvious reasons the only one of Abraham Lincoln's children to produce any offspring. He became a lawyer and served as Secretary of State for War under Presidents Garfield and Arthur. In 1868 he married Mary Eunice Harlan, and they had three children together. Mary Lincoln was born in 1869, her brother Abraham in 1873, and a second daughter, Jessie, was born in 1875.

Abraham died of blood poisoning in 1890, but Mary and Jessie both went on to have children. Mary married Charles Bradford Isham in 1891, and their only child, Lincoln Isham, was born a year later. Although Lincoln married in 1919 he never had any children of his own.

Jessie Harlan Lincoln married Warren Wallace Beckwith in 1897. They had two children together: Mary Lincoln Beckwith was born in 1898 in Iowa, and Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith was born in 1904. Mary never married and had no children, which meant that after her death in 1975 her brother was the last living descendant of President Abraham Lincoln. Although Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith married three times he failed to produce any offspring. His second wife, Annemarie Hoffman, had a son in 1968 whom she named Timothy Lincoln Beckwith. Robert stated that the child was not his, and the paternity was never confirmed.

Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith
When Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith died in 1985 it ended the Lincoln line, so bringing to a close this Family History Finder blog post on the Abraham Lincoln family tree.