Alerts 3

Alerts: Google, E-bay, and Ancestry shaky leaves restored my faith.

These days it seems we can set up alerts for just about anything related to our family history. Looking for a postcard or piece of memorabilia from your ancestor’s hometown? Set up an alert on E-bay. Need a rare book? Set up a Google Alert. Even the shaking leaves on act as an alert of their own. This is where my big surprise came from the other day.

I have to preface this story by saying that I do not have a public member tree. I have a small private tree I add individuals to while working on specific projects. The information in that tree may or may not be correct. That’s why it’s private. I don’t want to add to the mis-information so common on public trees.

Getting back to Ancestry’s shaking leaves, usually there’s a pile of semi useless leaves to sort through – census records I have already found for example. The other day an email appeared alerting me to something new and different. It was a Find A Grave notice! On Ancestry!

According to various online trees, Martin Low died in March of 1855. The problem is there are no sources. I’ve been trying to confirm a death date for quite some time with no success. And there it was; a picture of the faded tombstone with a transcription. So now I know where Martin’s death date has probably been coming from all these years. However, I’m still not convinced the date is correct as I have Martin filing for a cash entry on some land in 1857, two years after the date on the tombstone. I’ll be following up on the land records for sure and eventually the discrepancy on Martin’s death date will get resolved.

A bonus came with Martin Low’s shaking leaf. When I searched the same cemetery for other people with the Low surname, Martin’s wife Rebecca and one of their sons turned up. The tombstone information for Rebecca matches what I have from her probate. The son’s information is new so it will have to be corroborated. Still it’s a double win for sure.

Today I’m doing the genealogy happy dance and looking for more ways to set up various kinds of alerts for my family history. I just have to remember to corroborate the information that is uncovered. You can’t just believe everything you see on the internet. So, how about you? Do you have any “alerts” set up for your family history? What success stories can you share?

Michelle Goodrum

About Michelle Goodrum

Writer, family historian, and researcher Michelle Roos Goodrum has been researching her family for over 20 years. Being the caretaker of over 135 years of her family’s papers and photographs, Michelle enjoys piecing her ancestors’ stories together. Michelle is also a Teaching Assistant for Boston University's Genealogical Research Program. Follow Michelle on her blog The Turning of Generations ( ) Michelle is the author of IDG’s monthly column, Timeless Territories.

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3 thoughts on “Alerts

  • Rorey Cathcart

    I’m at that point in my trees at Ancestry where every person has a shaky leaf. Although I do check the hints when I’m working on someone in particular they are no longer a queue for me to check out someone I’ve not touched in awhile.

    I’ve just started setting up Google Alerts for a couple of brickwall, active-research ancestors. So far though I’ve been inundated with false/contemporary hits so I need to work on fine tuning those alters.

    Ebay…Godsend! I use the alerts so I don’t miss coin auctions for one of my ancestor’s Civil War Tokens. Trying to scoop up the good ones as fast as I can afford them!