Norris Dearmon column – Historian suggests genealogy as a fascinating project for upperclassmen
By Norris Dearmon
for the Salisbury Post
Schools have started up for another year, and it might be wise for the upperclassmen to start thinking about their projects for the coming year. Since I have been involved in genealogy for the past 20 years or more, I would like to suggest that some consider a project in genealogy. The reasons for the suggestion follows.
I firmly believe that a search of a family history can be rewarding to those who do the research. It is never too early to start, since people die all the time, and some valuable information dies with them. Some of it will never be known. For instance, I would love to ask my grandmothers or my dad many questions to fill in some gaps which will never be filled now.
With technology where it is today, research is much easier than it was 20 years ago. Libraries have much material which was not available just a few years ago. Also, they have computers and subscriptions to some Web sites giving researchers access to information not known before. There are also a lot of Web sites free for anyone online to use. It is easy to get sidetracked when something else pops up of interest.
Some of the information available either published or online are Census records back to 1790, tax records, cemeteries, obituaries, family histories, family Bibles, war records of all kinds, Social Security records, newspapers on microfilm, marriage, death and birth records, city directories, telephone directories and much more. It can be time-consuming, especially when trying to go back many generations, but some can wait should a stumbling block be reached.
The one thing that makes genealogy research difficult is the spelling of names. Census takers would spell names by the way they sounded, because in a lot of cases, those giving the information were uneducated.
In my case, I look for Dearman, Durman, Deerman, Deermon, Diermon and other spellings.
If someone comes from a foreign country, the spelling used there can be very different. When there is no middle name, dates have to be used to determine who is who. Often, only two names were used, so there could be several Henrys or Georges or Johns and other common names.
I have been able to trace my dad’s line back to 1766 and my mother’s line back to 1425. My great-great-great-grandfather on my daddy’s side landed in Wilmington, Del., on June 30, 1789, from Germany, and on my mother’s side, from Sussex County, England.
Sometimes interesting ancestors can be found. There may be pirates, prisoners of war, outlaws, interracial couples and a lot of other surprises.
The journey can be rewarding. It is something to be proud of when it is traced as far as you can go. You should keep logs of your work, locations and copies of information, pictures and anything useful for future reference to prove the findings.
Even recordings of interviews can be very good, especially after the person passes away.
Software of all kinds is available. Some is free and some is not, but all are good. Library History rooms are glad to assist in getting you started.
I hope you make an A-plus.
Norris Dearmon is a historian and a volunteer in the History Room of the Kannapolis Branch Library.