It was the pictures of headstones in a small family cemetery with dates going back the the early 1800’s that sparked an interest in learning more about my maternal grandmother’s ancestors and the kind of life they lived in Jackson County Tennessee. I was naturally interested in knowing which ones formed the line that led to me.
Fortunately, I did not have to pay to find out because free with my O’Fallon Public Library Card is access to both Ancestry Library Edition and Heritage Quest.
Ancestry Library can only be accessed from library computers, but once you find something – such as the marriage record I found for my great-great grandmother – you can have it emailed to your personal account to view and/or save. Through Ancestry Library, you can search census records, vital records (birth, marriage, death records), military service, and immigration records.
Through the Learning Center, there are a variety of tips Ancestry provides from Getting Started to Beyond the Basics. “Ancestry Ann’s Top 10 Search Tips” includes how to search and store your information in a Ancestry.com family tree. In “Beyond the Basics,” you can find ideas about a variety of topics from “Using Religious Records” to “Black Sheep: 10 Things to Know.”
The Learning Center also offers guides to searching Immigration records as well as tips to tracing your family’s ethnic history including the unique challenges to researching Africans who entered the US before the Civil War as slaves. Likewise, there is a research guide for help with “Researching Your American Indian Ancestors on Ancestry.”
HeritageQuest Online can be accessed from home using your O’Fallon Public Library card number. This data base is powered by Ancestry, and provides access to unique primary sources, local and family histories with genealogical and historical sources for more than 60 countries dating back to the 1700’s.
The collection consists of five data sets:
- U.S. Federal Censuses from 1790 through 1940, slave, veteran, and non-population schedules, and more.
- Genealogy and local history books provide more than 7 million digitized page images from over 28,000 family histories, local histories, and other books.
- Revolutionary War records provides access to a collection of about 83,000 application files from officers and enlisted men who served in the Revolutionary War.
- Freedman’s Bank Records, offers valuable data that can provide important clues to tracing African American ancestors and researching the Reconstruction Era.
New resources on HeritageQuest Online include: Census and Vital Records for more than one billion names from the U.S., Canada, Europe, Mexico, Central and South America, Caribbean, Africa and Asia. Cemetery Indexes are available for the U.S., Canada, U.K. and Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Mexico, Germany, Italy, Brazil and Global Burials at Sea.
There is also a Map and Photo Collection with more than 7 million names identified and 600,000 images from the Library of Congress Photo Collection 1840-2000.
Steps to locate these resources:
Start with the OFPL homepage. Click on eResources then Research in the drop down menu.
After landing on the Research Page, click on Genealogy – the third bar down.
The Genealogy tab will open up to provide access to both Ancestry Library Edition and Heritage Quest.
When I began my search, I found the tutorial link in the green box a helpful overview of how to get started.
Also, it’s helpful to have the birth date and city or county where your deceased family member was born before you start your search.
Also at the library, are microfiche copies of the O’Fallon Progress from 1898 to Jun 2013 if you would like to see obituaries or articles about a loved one who lived in the area.
My genealogy search through my grandmother’s family led me to the research of other family members and eventually to some very interesting records. One was a very a transcript of a court case contesting a great-great-great-great grandfather’s will that started before and continued after the Civil War. Reading the colloquial speech and the description of the dispute was very revealing. Likewise, I saw a copy of a will written by the first generation matriarch in the colonies.
Through the RootsWeb arm of Ancestry, I found these two photos. You never know what you might discover about your origins and ancestors through these valuable resources.