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One of the things I’ve learned about recently is that many laws, both here in the US and abroad, name specific people in them – possibly your ancestor! In the US, there were many acts passed for the benefit of civil war veterans and their widows. in France, there were often memorials and other acts passed including your ancestor’s name. Actes en Ligne is one of the sites you can search for your French ancestors in. This includes marriage. Searching for one of my human’s ancestors with the last name Andre comes up with the following:


Type of act:
  11 -10-1845
First Name:
 Joseph ANDRE
Surname Forenames wife
 On Cirey Vezouze – C. Zip: 54480 – INSEE: 54129
 Meurthe et Moselle (54)

Marriage of Joseph and ANDRE GRANDJEAN Agathe on 11/10/1845 at Cirey Vezouse 
Joseph ANDRE 22 years earthenware turner son of Nicolas ANDRE SIMON 50years maneuver and Anne Catherine 52ans profession without both domiciled in Cirey 
GRANDJEAN Agathe 19yo girl 55 years of operation François Grandjean and Marie Barbe MARCHAL deceased 
Witnesses: ANDRE Louis, FEATHERS Dominica MAGOT Jean Joseph François Sergent and 
photocopied Archives Act

Date of validation:   2006-04-09 06:23:25

My suggestion would be to use Google Chrome when using this site. Over the years I’ve gotten pretty good at scanning  French, but it automatically translates in Google Chrome. At some point you need to use your judgment, because it appears from this Joseph Andre was a 22 year old potter – i.e. “earthenware turner.” Domenica’s last name was not Feathers, but “Plumes.” Mousing over the translation in Chrome gives you the original text and you can compare.

Mucho Fishies,

Bratty Kitty

Often I’ll come across an entire family wiped out within weeks of one another. This makes me immediately question – disease? What was going on in the area at the time? Although this site is more generalized than I would like, it’s a start:  Wikipedia on Epidemics.  It’s amazing how many diseases families had to contend with.

Typically, you can also find out what’s going on in newspapers of the era or in church records. Also, local “Genweb” sites for each locality often list causes of death, much like this for Clinton County, Illinois: St Boniface records

Sadly, I cannot always find causes of death for my ancestors. But death certificates are awesome resources and can usually be ordered through the state. More on that later.


Mucho Fishies,

Bratty Kitty

For a while, I was researching a Canadian murder mystery. That project has stalled out somewhat while I await new resources, but I came across some great Canadian genealogy resources in the search. Canadian News Online is one of those resources.

When doing genealogy, you can either work on the “tree” or the “leaves.” The tree typically encompasses dates, names – the structure of your genealogy. The leaves are the details – stories, photographs, etc. The best resource for details, aside from family sources, are newspapers. Often small-town papers had gossip sections that would go so far as to say when people would visit with relatives in other towns. I found a story about my great great grand-kitty being thrown from a horse, escaping uninjured. These bits of flavor go far to making the people real who otherwise would just be a name, date, and nothing more. If I can’t get even that information, I like to research the place the people are from to get an idea of what life was like in that area during those dates. Newspapers can also help with that.

Mucho Fishies

Bratty Kitty

Post Hallowe’en, I found a very interesting story out there about a “vampire” skeleton discovered with a stake through it. 

Of course, the skeleton revealed no fangs. And was probably not even staked because of imagined vampirism. “”Throughout the Anglo-Saxon period the punishment of being buried in water-logged ground, face down, decapitated, staked or otherwise was reserved for thieves, murderers or traitors or later for those deviants who did not conform to societies rules: adulterers, disrupters of the peace, the unpious or oath breaker” – according to the article. Interesting read.


Mucho Fishies,


Dead Fred is a website of photographs. Basically, it started as a site to look at old photos and see if you could identify anyone in them (i.e., your old cousin “Fred”). Over time, it has developed into a more standard genealogy site offering photos for many surnames.

I check this site fairly often, about once a week. I have had updates surprise me. For example, I have the surname “Ripperda” in my history. Searching Ripperda in the quick search box, I get this: “” a photo of Anna Ripperda Doyle and family. I happen to have her in my tree, and this photo was new to me! What a great resource.

If you want, you can also browse through surnames. I find this helpful as often times surnames can be mispelled or may have evolved over time. For example, the last name Ripperda was also spelled Riperdag, Ripperdoff, Riparda, etc etc.


Mucho fishies,

Bratty Kitty

As a bratty kitty, my job is to sit around all day and look cute. But my human has thought about becoming a genealogist. Forbes recently linked to an article about an individual who did that very thing.  As enticing as that thought might be, it’s a tremendously difficult job. Working in any “service” industry like that, you cannot predict what the results might be. Someone might hire you to discover their ancestor, and you can’t find a thing. You might find a lot and the person doesn’t want to pay you. Just like in the law, services are hard to quantify in terms of value. There are myriad headaches abounding, but for someone willing to face them, it could be lucrative.