Whether your ancestors settled in the Midwest long-term or just stayed for a while on their journey further west, our specialists can help you learn more about your Midwestern family history.
Midwestern Family History Research
The Midwestern United States is made up of 12 states including: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Many people will find that their ancestors arrived in the Midwest, put down roots, and stayed for many generations. However, many others will find that their ancestors simply made stops in one or more of these states as they gradually made their way further west in search of better opportunities for their family. For example, one case that we’ve worked on showed that the ancestor was born in Pennsylvania in the mid-1820s, lived in Ohio at the time of the 1840 census, got married in Illinois in 1847, and lived in Iowa from the 1850-1900 censuses. All his grown children had moved to Kansas by 1910, and then most of them had moved on to Colorado by 1920, with some then moving to Utah in the 1930s and 1940s.
How to Research Midwestern Family Lines
So how do you research these Midwestern family lines? If your ancestor kept moving to a different location every couple of years, how can you be sure you’ve identified the correct person in each place? Or how can you find out where he went when he disappears from the place you knew he was living? First, you should always make use of the basic U.S. sources like census, land, probate, church, and vital records. Collect anything you can find about your ancestors and their families. One great thing about U.S. research is that census records are nationally indexed. If your ancestor has disappeared from where you thought he should be, you can do a nationwide search to see if you can find potential matches, and then compare things like occupation, names of family members, ages, religious affiliation, etc. to determine which one might be yours. You can then look at more sources for that area (think newspapers, military records, etc.) and study migration patterns to strengthen the chance that you’ve identified the correct person.
Applying Historical Context to Genealogy Research
It can also be helpful to look up historical events that occurred during the time period your ancestors lived in a specific place. By doing this you can sometimes theorize about why they might have moved on, and where they might have gone. Was the area hit by an outbreak of disease? Or a natural disaster? Were they farmers whose crops might have suffered from an ongoing drought? Was there religious persecution? Or political unrest? Learning about these things can not only help you trace your Midwestern ancestry, but it helps add context and brings them to life as more than just names and dates on pieces of paper.
Our Team of Professional Genealogists Can Help
Whether your ancestors settled in the Midwest or just passed through, our specialists can help you trace their migration path, learn details about their lives, and extend your Midwestern family history!