Last week I decided to tackle the pile of documents I found on a trip to the FamilySearch Library almost five years ago. If you missed that post, you can read it here. As I looked further into the genealogy research of my 3x great-grandparents, Edwin H. Dennis and Sarah Rock, I stumbled upon something huge that I totally missed before – the kind of discovery that gets you excited!
Let me explain…
On Sarah’s Ancestry.com page, there are two sources for her marriage. But they are both indexes. If that’s all there was, I would accept that, but that’s not all.
The top choice, Virginia Compiled Marriages 1740-1850, is just a basic index with the marriage date, place, and the groom’s name:
The second, Virginia Select Marriages 1785-1940, looks like just an index, but it also includes a Family History Library microfilm number and page number. Do you know what that means? There is an image to find!!
If you don’t have a FamilySearch account, what are you waiting for? Go Get One! It’s free and has so much to offer. You can start your journey at www.familysearch.org.
Once you sign in, look at the menu across the top:
Click on Search then Records.
Search boxes will appear in the middle of the page:
Next to the Search button, click on More Options:
Now, under the bottom grouping, click on Image Group Number (DGS) or Film Number:
Type in your group number (mine’s 30734, which was given in the index).
Searching with just that number gives me over 21,000 results, so I need to narrow it down by entering one of their names. When I type “Sarah Rock” into the name search fields, I’m left with only one entry…YAY!!
That’s great!! But we’re not done yet…I still don’t have an image.
Since there is no “camera” icon on the right-hand side to tell me a single image is available, I make do with the “paper” icon. This will lead me to images of the entire record set and I can narrow it down from there. So click on the “paper” icon.
A summary page opens up of what we’ll find in the record:
Click the “Check Image Availability” button and when the pop-up appears, click “Browse The Film”. This will give you a screen that shows every image in the record set. We’re in!
Now, don’t let the sheer number of images intimidate you. Remember, the index gave us a page number of 459.
Change the Image number to 459 to see where you are in the record set. Image number and page number are two different things, but this will give us a good starting point.
Look for the image that has a box around it. Double-clicking on this highlighted image will make it bigger.
The page number of the register we are brought to is 436, only 23 pages from our goal. So either click forward 23 times or change the image number to 482 (459 + 23).
There at the top of page 459 is the 6 July 1846 marriage of Edwin H. Dennis and Sarah Rock in the Botetourt County, Virginia Register of Marriages:
This might seem like a bit of a process, but trust me, it gets easier. And there’s no genealogist alive who won’t click a few times to get to an original record!
Uncovering overlooked information is a compelling reason to revisit your genealogy research. Plus, your evolving research skills, digitalization of new records, and a fresh set of eyes may also be great reasons to go back and take a second look at the work you did a while ago. Who knows what epic discoveries you’ll find!
Need a hand with FamilySearch or uncovering your ancestors’ stories? Give me a shout! I love digging into old records and bringing your family history to life!