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Family Finder
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Creating a Query

Writing a query is fairly simple. Just follow these few basic steps:

  1. Look in your bag of surnames and pull out one in which you are interested. Your query can be regarding a family, surname, specific individual, event, location, research problem, etc. Whatever you choose will become the focus of your query.

    Example subjects:
    • Stites family
    • Huard surname
    • Peter PATWELL
    • WWI Battle details
    • Benner headstones
    • Puyallup, WA records
     
  2. List information pertinent to that surname, family, or individual. Be as specific as you can! Include dates and locations.

    Good Query Examples

    Looking for information about Peter PATWELL, b.c. 1840, NY; married to Angeline HUARD in 1863 at Stillwater, MN. Died 1905 somewhere in MN.

    Seeking birth information for Hartley Boynton BENNER, b 1865 in Old Town, ME. Son of Hiram BENNER and Jennie BOYNTON. Married Mary PATWELL, died 1950 Phoenix, AZ.

    I'm interested in the STITES family of MacDonald County, MO from 1850 to the present. I'm specifically looking for parentage and birth information of David Stites (b.c. 1830). I'd love to share information with other STITES researchers.

    Information on vital records prior to 1903 for Puyallup, WA needed. Does anyone know what happened to the local records? Where are they kept? Can they be accessed by the public? All info appreciated.

    Poor Query Examples

    Do you have any information on the Legowth surname? If so please contact me.

    Researching Richard Tremaine of New South Wales, b. 1883. Who are his parents? Richard was my gr-grandfather. I'm happy to share information with other Tremaine researchers.

    Looking for the parents, birth date or death date for Alexander Schwartz. I don't have much information on him, but know he was born in Germany. Are there Schwartz researchers around? Please contact me if you recognize the name.

  3. Add related surnames as needed, but don't overwhelm the query with a huge list. Limit yourself to just the few surnames which are closely connected.

    Good Query Example

    I'm interested in the STITES family of MacDonald County, MO from 1850 to the present. I'm specifically looking for parentage and birth information of David STITES (b.c. 1830). I'd love to share information with other STITES researchers. Related surnames: JONES, GIBSON, HARRISON.

    Poor Query Examples

    I'm interested in the STITES family of MacDonald County, MO from 1850 to the present. I'm specifically looking for parentage and birth information of David STITES (b.c. 1830). I'd love to share information with other STITES researchers. Related surnames: JONES, GIBSON, HARRISON, SMITH, BELLOWS, ANDREWS, McCARTNEY, WILLIAMS, PRESLAR, WHITNEY, MORRIS, MOORE, BENNINGHAM, GILLIAN, TRISTAM, KELLINGTON, PORTNOY, and BICKERS.

  4. Place surnames only in CAPITAL letters--it's easier to pick out surnames if they are all in caps.

  5. Don't place too many surnames, or individuals in one query. Too much information can be confusing and visually overwhelming; your goal should be a query which is relatively short, to the point, and easy to read.

    Good Query Example

    I'm looking for birth information on Hartley Boynton BENNER. Hartley was born around 1860 in Old Town Maine, but I can't find any birth records for him at either the state or city level. His parents Hiram BENNER and Jennie BOYNTON moved from Abington, MA to Dennysville, ME and settled in the nearby area. Hartley's gr-grandfather Christopher BENNER was a Revolutionary War Veteran. Hiram and Jennie BENNER lived in Wisconsin for a while according to the 1870 census. Hartley married Mary PATWELL, daughter of Peter PATWELL and Angeline HUARD from Canada. Peter was born in NY but lived in Canada as well. Any information on these people would be appreciated.

  6. If you don't known an exact date, make an educated guess. Use circa or about so readers will get an idea of what time period is indicated.

  7. Don't ask for information about any and all of the XX family unless you really mean it! Being as specific as possible lets the reader know just which family or individual you are searching for, and encourages replies.

    Good Query Example

    I am conducting a one-name study of the PATWELL family in the U.S. for the years 1800-1910. Most of the family settled in the state of MN, although a few may have lived in WI. If you have PATWELLs of that time, I'd be happy to share information.

    Poor Query Examples

    Researching PATWELL surname. All information requested.

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