Dayna’s Genealogy Toolkit

Dayna Jacobs, AG®

This toolkit is full of my go-to links that are not record repositories, but rather are tools to help me find, interpret, and organize my research and records. I think you’ll want to keep them handy, too.

Abbreviations & Acronyms for Genealogy

Animated Atlas – U.S. History Timeline

ArchiveGrid – Find libraries and archives near you

Atlas of Historical County Boundaries

Cheat Sheets – Family Tree Magazine

Citation Creator – EasyBib

Earth Point township and range tools

Encyclopedia of Genealogy on EOGN – Terminology defined

Evernote – Organize your research

Free Forms and Charts – Family Tree Magazine

Free Forms and Charts – Rootsweb

Geographic Names Info System (GNIS)

Google Custom Search – AncestorSearch

Historical Map Archive

Internet Archive – For digitized county and family histories

Learning Center – Free online courses at FamilySearch


Newspapers – Library of Congress: Chronicling America

Railroad Employee Records

Research Wiki – FamilySearch

Town and County Database (Rootsweb)

United States Digital Map Library

USGS Historical Topographical Map Explorer

Vital Records

Worldcat – Items for interlibrary loan

The ICAPGen ℠ service mark and the Accredited Genealogist® and AG® registered marks are the sole property of the International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists.  All Rights Reserved.

Captain Hook: Misunderstood gardener? It’s all in the records…

Captain Hook

Captain Hook

They say a newborn baby’s name can influence the course of his life for good or for bad. Well you certainly can’t blame Mr. and Mrs. Hook for trying.  After all, they probably were hoping for a distinguished maritime or football career from little “Captain Percy Hook”, and weren’t quite banking on him going the pirate ship route.

But kids will be kids, and what kid, when given the option, would not choose to be a pirate, right?

Little Captain Hook you’ve got a choice to make:  Would you rather be the captain of the Tunbridge Footballers or the Jolly Roger?


I know you think I am making this up, right? But I have proof.  The Fairy Tale Genealogist always has “proof”.  Yes, I know J.M. Barrie’s character was named James, but this is a minor detail when the Fairy Tale Genealogist is presented with such a tantalizing set of records for a fictional character. Who ever dreamed a British birth record, census record, and army enlistment papers for Peter Pan’s archenemy could be produced? Little Captain Percy Hook first appears in the Free BMD Birth Index for England and Wales, for the March quarter of 1899 in Tunbridge district.

Captain Percy Hook, England and Wales, FreeBMD Birth Index, 1837-1915,

Captain Percy Hook, England and Wales, FreeBMD Birth Index, 1837-1915,

Information from the FreeBMD Birth Index (district, volume, and page) can be used to order a birth certificate from the General Register Office or view one online, and from there we could obtain his mother’s maiden name and father’s name.  We can also see both his parents’ names on the 1911 England census, where twelve year-old Captain Percy Hook, the future pirate, has an occupation of “school boy” and a birthplace of Brenchley, Kent, England.

Captain Hook 1911 England Census Brenchley-Kent-England - Copy

Captain Hook 1911 England Census Brenchley-Kent-England pt2 - Copy

Five short years later he has “received notice” to enlist in the British army for World War I. One can only imagine the navy would have been his first choice had he been given one. Wisely, Captain Percy Hook has elected to start giving his name as Percy Captain Hook, thereby avoiding the confusion and redundancy a promotion to the rank of Captain would have caused. (Captain Captain Hook reporting for duty, sir!) Interestingly, he gives his occupation as gardener, giving us a glimpse into his early, gentler side and leaving us to wonder where it all unraveled for him. As a bonus, we get his signature on this document!

Percy Captain Hook, British Army Records, 1914-1920,

Percy Captain Hook, British Army Records, 1914-1920,

Two years later the war has ended and Captain Hook has been awarded the British War Medal and/or the Victory Medal.

Captain Hook WWI Medals

Captain Hook WWI Medals

Further ideas for research would be looking in the FreeBMD index for marriage and death records, as well as the 1921 census. The 1931 census was destroyed in WWII, and the 1941 census was not taken due to the war.

By all accounts Captain Hook was an upstanding citizen, and I am wondering if he was just a misunderstood character with a gardening implement for a prosthetic device. Sure, he was a pirate and forced Peter Pan to walk the plank, but like Jack Ripper and Attila Hun he faced long odds at birth when he was named.

We must look at him through the long lens of literary license and know J.M. Barrie had a story to tell, and perhaps the actual records hint at a more gentle, noble man behind the mustache. OR perhaps the Fairy Tale Genealogist has had some fun again ;)  Sorting out the fairy tales from the facts is what a good genealogist does.  Arrrrgh!

Peter Pan’s mid-life crisis

Peter-pan (1)

Spoiler alert:  Peter Pan DID grow up!  In fact, The Fairy Tale Genealogist has uncovered evidence of a mid-life crisis for ol’ Pete. Yes, vital records can be valuable in piecing together the untold stories of fictional characters.

Certain characteristics of childhood that may have served him well as the leader of the Lost Boys might have caught up with Peter Pan in later years, after immigrating from Neverland to Texas, as we see from divorce and marriage and divorce-again records. Being “the boy who wouldn’t grow up” has certain disadvantages in matrimony!

Peter Pan Divorce 1

Image from

Vital records indexes show us that Wendy Darling may have dodged a bullet.  At age 58 Peter divorced his wife of 33 years (whose name I have redacted to protect her privacy), but a little over two years later eloped to Las Vegas with a 27 year-old woman.

Of course, vital records indexes can give a lot of information in and of themselves, but always try to obtain the original document using the details provided in the index. You will be rewarded with much more–possibly the names of their parents, birthplaces, signatures, and names of witnesses if you are lucky.

Peter Pan marriage 2

Image from

The marriage index does not give his new bride’s age, but the divorce index  three years later does (and whose name I again have redacted)…

Peter Pan Divorce 2

Image from

I don’t know what these divorces cost Peter Pan, but I’m thinking it might have saved him a lot of trouble and money to just buy the red sportscar in the first place.


Stay tuned for a look at Captain Hook’s birth record, and an update on Wendy.  The Fairy Tale Genealogist can hardly wait to share!

Pinocchio: Records don’t lie (or do they?)

The Fairy Tale Genealogist is at it again.  Let’s find out what became of Pinocchio, using records from and good photo-editing software.Pinocchio 1You all know that Pinocchio was the wooden puppet whose wish came true when he became a real, live boy.  But I’m wondering if he may have had second thoughts when the draft board came calling during WWI. Continue reading

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: Little Known Facts Uncovered Thanks to

Subscription genealogy websites are booming in popularity.  It has never been easier to unearth fascinating facts about your kin, thanks to Ancestry, My Heritage, Footnote, Find My Past, and FamilySearch (a non-subscription site), among others.

Naturally, this led me to wonder about the descendants of the Seven Dwarfs. Were they having any luck with their family trees? Were there other famous animated characters in their ancestral lines? And how about some background on the Dwarfs? Did they always work as miners? When did they move to the forest?  Were they related or just sharing rent? And what’s the real story with Snow White? Is there any truth to her family lore? What was her mother’s name. Was she really an only child? Continue reading

Baby Mohamed Clendennen: A lesson in creative indexing 

Today, I share a humorous reminder of why we always check the original source whenever possible, and always look at indexes and abstracts with a healthy dose of “hmmmm…what does it really say?” Last week, whilst searching for Thomas Clendennen [Clendenen] in the 1910 U.S. Census index, I was surprised to find a newborn, little “Baby Mohamed,” enumerated with the family.  

20121227-171828.jpg  Could the Clendennens have been that rare Muslim family in the Bible Belt of central Texas in 1910? That would certainly be a noteworthy entry in the family history. (But…Hmmm, what does it really say, came that little voice inside me.) And so here it is—the actual entry in the census record. What do you think it says? 

20121227-181356.jpg  Yes, little “Baby Mohamed” is actually little “Baby Not Named”, but it is easy to see how a casual glance at the handwriting could lead an indexer to mistake a wee yet-to-be named Baptist for the namesake of an Islamic Prophet. So folks, let’s make a resolution to be thorough in our research—don’t be satisfied with information obtained from indexes or abstracts. Dig a little deeper into original sources—you may solve a mystery or two.

Google Books Reduces its Digitizing and Preservation of old Books while Internet Archive Increases its Efforts at the Same Thing

On Granny's Trail:

I love using Internet Archive, so this is great news on that front. 

Originally posted on Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter:

An article in The Message states that Google is reducing its efforts at digitizing old books. That certainly is a loss for genealogists, historians, and many others. In what appears to be an unrelated move, the Internet Archive is INCREASING its efforts at digitizing old books, adding 1,000 books to the online collection EACH DAY. Perhaps there is hope for genealogists after all.

In 2004, Google Books signaled the company’s intention to scan every known book, partnering with libraries and developing its own book scanner capable of digitizing 1,000 pages per hour. Since then, the company has digitized millions of old books, creating a valuable archive. Google Books is still online, but has curtailed its scanning efforts in recent years, likely discouraged by a decade of legal wrangling still in appeal. The Google Books Blog stopped updating in 2012 and the Twitter account has been dormant since February 2013.

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