Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I want to research my family, where do I start?

A: Please be aware, before you start searching your family tree, that this hobby is very addictive!  Some people even report that things have gone beyond addiction, they are obsessed!  Seriously, this is a wonderful past time.   One of the best places to get information on basic genealogy is from information provided for beginning genealogists by the LDS (Morman Church) Family History - How do I begin?

Q: My ancestor lived in Michigan, maybe Ionia County, what research should I do to find more about him?

A:  Knowing that your ancestor was in a given locality at any given point in time is a real plus.  However, Michigan is a big state with 85 counties.  I don't know everything about every county.  But, there is a person hosting each county in Michigan. Visit the Michigan State page at MIGenWeb to see a list of all of the counties and links to each of the county web pages.  

Q: I know what town my ancestor lived in but I don't know which county that town is in.

A:  Most discount stores and libraries have reasonably priced atlases.  Often times you can locate the town and the county you are looking for with an atlas.  Or, you can visit  one of the following links.   They all have that type of information for you.
A list of Michigan Townships
You can find about any town and county from HERE
Pam Rietsch's 1895 Atlas for Ionia County 
USGS GNIS Info for Ionia County 

Q: Can you put my family online for us. OR,  I want to put my family history on the net.

A: I can not put your family on the internet for you, but   if I can do it anyone can. You just need an Internet Server to store your pages, write the pages, upload them to your server, and announce to the world that you are online!    Many internet providers give their customers free web page space,  check to see if yours is one of them. If not,  you can get a free website for your family pages from a number of providers. 

Many of today's genealogy software programs have the ability to make a web page from your information. 

If you do not use a genealogy software program that will make your webpages for you, you can write your own, right on any simple text editor like Notepad.  Check The Beginners Guide to HTML to learn how to make web pages.

Q: I think I found my gggrandfather John Doe on the 1880 census index CD,  check page number 123 for us and tell us if it's him.

A: I am sorry but I do not own a microfilm viewer or microfilms. If you know the county he lived in, I would check there to see if the census is online, or if the county has a lookup volunteer listed with the census.  If you can not find someone there, you might ask for a lookup on one of the mailing lists. If that still doesn't get the answer for you then you need to do this research yourself at your nearest Family History Library, National Archives Branch, or possibly your public library.

The 1850 and 1900 Ionia County Federal Census is complete and on-line (click on Census link to the left).   The 1870 Michigan Federal Census has also been placed on line by the Library of Michigan. The USGenWeb Archives has an on-going project that will in time, have every USCensus transcribed and online for your free access. Until more volunteers come forward to help, the USGenWeb Census Project is not expected to be completed for many, many years. If you would like to volunteer to help transcribe, type proof read, etc... Please take a few minutes to visit The USGenWeb Project

Q: Tell my if my ggrandfather's parents are listed on his marriage (birth, death)  certificate.

A: Because the information taken for certificates varied from year to year and county to county, I can't even guess if the info you need would be on the particular certificate you are asking about.  Check the vital records section to learn about the vital records found in Ionia County and in the State of Michigan.

Q: I am adopted and know that I was born in Michigan. Can you help us find my family?

A: We are sorry but in Genealogy we are experienced in searching for people who have been dead many, many years. Adoption research is a whole different ballgame. Don't give up though! You need to check out Cyndi's List of Adoption Resources, if her site doesn't point you in the right direction, nothing will!

Q:  My great grandfather Bill Smith was a famous person in Ionia County.  Why don't you have anything about him on your dumb page?

A:  The information on the Ionia County Website has been laboriously typed from information found in old newspapers, books, diaries, etc.  This information is often submitted to us by the family of the person.   If you have information about an Ionia person, please take a few minutes to type it up and send it to us!  Any number of other people may benefit from the information that you submit.  This project is about SHARING!

Q: This is a great project! How can I help?

I get many pieces of e-mail every week asking this question. It is difficult for us to "make assignments", however, I have been known to ask for volunteers to help us with a specific project. The response has been fantastic. This website has grown by leaps and bounds since it was started a few short years ago. I would love to see it continue to grow, but I need your help. I would like to give all of you a few ideas on how you can help to make this county page one of the best in the project!

1.  Send in those obituaries that you have collected over the years doing your family research. Obituaries can be posted Here.

2.  Send in those family stories and biographies that you have either written yourself or found in various publications. I know that you all have copies of biographies for your ancestor. Take a few minutes to type it up and send it to us in an e-mail message, or better yet, post it to the website Here.

3.  Do you have copies of entries from a birth, marriage or death register. I know that many of you have photocopies of a "whole page" of entries, because that page contains information on your ancestor. Take a few minutes to transcribe the whole page and send it to us. If we all send in transcriptions of what we have, we will soon have quite a collection.

4.  Church documents - Do you have copies of "all of the Smith's" baptized, or married or buried from one of the local churches? If you do research like I do, often times I find that I have acquired a lot of information that does not pertain to my family. But, this might be very valuable information to another researcher. Why don't you take a few minutes to transcribe this information and send it on - I will see that it is posted for all of the county researchers. "One person's trash is another person's treasure."

5.  Cemeteries - this is a huge project that will probably only be completed by a number of people in bits and pieces. I can't imagine anyone walking all of the cemeteries in the county again to update these records. But, do you have information of people buried in any of the cemeteries that is not included in the information already on-line? Please send this to us. Little by little, we can update these files.

6.  Newspaper articles. Again, if you do research like I do, you have whole pages copied from various county newspapers. Take a few minutes to transcribe all of the articles on that page and send them to us for posting!

7.  Census Records - Again this is one of those situations where many of us have photocopies a whole page of a census because our ancestor's name is on the page. Take a few minutes to transcribe the whole page and send it in! Spread sheets are a neat way to transcribe census data. If you need some help with this, I have some templates already done for most of the census years in Excel format. Just let us know!

8.  Did your grandmother keep a scrap book or a diary? There is a wealth of information sitting in someone's attic! See if you can find any of these old articles and get them transcribed. I would be more than happy to post these articles.

9.  Do you have a copy of a will that was probated in the county? If you don't already have it transcribed, take a few minutes to do it and send it to us! I would love to build a page just for transcribed wills.

10. Have you collected a number of names while looking for military information on your ancestor? Why not share these lists with the rest of us?

11. Do you own one of the old county plat maps? We would sure like to see someone take one of these maps and transcribe all of the property owners. Do you have any other land record information that you can share with us?

12. Do you have any old copies ( that are not under copy right) from any of the early genealogical societies? Transcripts of these would be great. And, if what you have was published after 1974 and there is a copy right - we might be able to get the publisher and/or the author to release the copyright for us so that we can post it. Let us know, and I can help you through this process.

13. Do you have any ideas of things that might help this website to grow? Please let us know. I am sure that many of you have ideas of things that I have not mentioned here.  Please drop one of us a line and let us know about the things that you would like to see on this website.

Still need help that can't be found here or on any of our other pages?


Last Updated December 21, 2007



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