"Our Loose Ends" Genealogy Column
by Lynna Kay Shuffield
Houston, Texas

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Printed in the Taylor Daily Press - 6 Apr 2000

"Writing Effective Queries"

One of the most effective tools for genealogists is “The Query.” Many genealogy and historical societies will publish queries for researchers. Additionally, there are genealogy query pages for every county and every state in the United States as well, as for surnames.

Writing a query is an effective way to ask a question about a subject. You should follow the basic rule: Who, What, Where, When & Why. The way you ask your query will determine what information you receive in return.

Your goal of your query is to grab the attention of the reader, to establish the known facts, and to get to the point of the sought-after information.

Begin your query with a headline that will grab the reader’s attention. Include the surname and place. Example, “SHUFFIELDs in Milam Co., TX."

Next, tell the reader what you know, i.e., dates/places of birth, death, marriage; the names of spouse(s); the names of children and their dates/places of birth.

Here is an example of a “get to the point query” even if it is long:

CAVE(S) in Milam Co., TX - Looking for information on information about the ancestors or descendants of Henry W. CAVE(S) who was b.abt. 1800 in Barnwell Co., SC. He was the oldest child of John CAVE(S) Jr. (b. bet. 1775-1784 - d.bef. Dec. 1814) and Lucinda HARDIN. He married Nancy Jane BASS (b. 1810, NC - d. 1895, Nolan Co., TX) on 25 Feb 1826 in Marengo Co., AL. They lived in Clarke Co., AL; Clarke Co., MS and finally in Milam Co., TX. They were the parents of: John B. (b. 1827) m. Martha J. GREEN; Martha (b. 1827) m. (1) James S. KNIGHT, (2) John T. CARVER; Wayne (b. 1837 - d. Civil War); Clarke Uriah (b. 1838 - d. 1907) m. Sarah Jane MERCER (MUSER); F. M. (b.abt. 1839 - d. Civil War); Lucy Ann (b.abt. 1844 - d. 1904) m. James M. CLENDENNEN; Hiram David (b. 1845 - d. 1896) m. A. Jane McLAUGHLIN; Permia/Permilia (b.abt. 1847 - d. unk); Mollie (b. 1848 - d. aft. Jul 1872) m. James J. HAIRSTON; James Monroe (b. 1850 - d. 1876) m. Frances Elizabeth McDONALD; Jefferson Davis (b. 1853 - d. 1884) m. Melinda Jane DAUGHERTY; and, Jack Cave (b.abt. 1855 - d. unk). Contact: L. K. Shuffield, P. O. Box 16604, Houston, TX 77222 or e-mail: lksfriday@sbcglobal.net . Places to submit you query? Start with this column. If your query is related to any Central or East Texas county, I will be glad to include your query on a space available basis.

To find the address of genealogy, historical or family societies to mail your query, check with the Reference Section of your local library for a book entitled, “The Ancestry Family Historian’s Address Book: A Comprehensive List of Addresses of Local, State, & Federal Agencies & Institutions.” (ISBN: 0916489744). This book was complied by Juliana Szucs Smith and was published in 1998.

Remember, sometimes queries are printed free and sometimes, there is a fee charged.

The best on-line resources for submitting a query are on the county or on a surname webpage. Keep in mind that you would not post a query for Milam Co., TX on the Bibb Co., GA webpage.

Start at RootsWeb at http://www.rootsweb.com and click on the Surname or United States Counties/States located under the heading, Research Templates. Next, US GenWeb located at http://www.usgenweb.com/ has links to every state in the United States and in turn, every state has a link to every county.

Good luck with your effective queries!

“Texas County Highway Map Collection”

If you need to find a Texas road map, check-out http://txdot.lib.utexas.edu/ , the “Texas County Highway Map Collection.” The County Maps project originated as a joint project of the Department of Geography and the General Libraries at the University of Texas-Austin. The maps in this collection are published by the Texas Department of Transportation.

The website allows you to search the map collection by county or by using a place name.

In this column, I will be glad to highlight and review any family history, genealogy, county history, or similar book, free of charge, if you donate a copy of the book or item. After it has been highlighted and reviewed, on a space available basis, it will be donated to the genealogy section of a library. You will receive an acknowledgment of the donation from the library. Mail item or book to me at the below address.

Lynna Kay Shuffield has written several books related to Texas genealogy and military history. She has spoken before numerous genealogy and veterans groups. Also, is a County Coordinator for the Texas GenWeb Project. Regretfully, she cannot help with individual genealogical research. Please visit the website for this column at: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Academy/2670/ COLUMN-001.htm or if you have any questions, comments, suggestions for column topics, genealogy or historical society announcements, please contact her at: P. O. Box 16604, Houston, Texas 77222-6604 or e-mail: lksfriday@sbcglobal.net

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This webpage was last created on 2 Apr 2000 and was last revised on __________ 2000

Copyright © 1999, 2000 Lynna Kay Shuffield - All rights reserved.
P. O. Box 16604
Houston, Texas 77222-6604