When Writing a Query

There are many avenues that a genealogist can use to leave a query for more information on their ancestors. The problem is this, most do not give enough information to receive a proper reply.

If you join a group on FB or even leave a message on a genealogy message board, leaving the following query will not provide you with many replies:

Anyone researching the O’Connell family from Cork?


I’m researching the O’Connell family from Cork does anyone have information? By the way, I am in Cork now.

There are a few things at play with the last query and we shall discuss both. But first, lets discuss the vagueness of the query. O’Connell family is not enough information, you need to give full names and dates. Any information that you have so that others know you are doing your homework in the research process. A better query would be:

I am researching Denis O’Connell b. abt 1820 Ireland. He married Ellen Feb. 1840 St. Johns Dromagh, County Cork, Ireland. They had the following children, Ann b. 1840, John b. 1841, Michael b. 1843, Eugene b. 1845, Ellen b. 1849, Johanna b. 1854 and John b. 1857. Is anyone else researching this family?

As for the second query, a better one could be:

I am researching the family of Denis and Ellen (Fehine) O’Connell of Garravesoge, Dromtarriff, County Cork. Denis and Ellen were married at St. John’s Dromagh in Feb. of 1840 and baptized their children there as well. I am trying to find records prior to their marriage. Any suggestions?

As for the part where you state you are already there. Well, you might have planned your trip a bit early. If you would like to walk in the steps of your ancestors, you have to do your homework early and be prepared for how long it will take. It took me over 15 years to find my connections to Ireland and I am still working on my connections to Germany. When I started planning my trip to Ireland, I already knew the townland, parish and county. Those are important things to know before you plan that expensive vacation.

To make your trip all you want it to be you have to start the research process early. If you do not have the time to do the research but still want to see the places your ancestors came from, its time to talk to someone who can assist you. But, be prepared, it may not be cheap and it still may take a long time. The secret to your ancestors home might not be so easy to find. So please put some thought into your query and some more thoughts into your trip to your ancestral homeland.



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  1. Hello Terri,

    I don’t know where in Germany your family is from, but there are several hundred family books of towns onine. The link to the main page is http://ofb.genealogy.net/. I stumbled across this site when I was looking for the first wife of my great great granddad and could find my family back to my 10x great granddad, because the area of my family is fortunately well covered.

    I hope this was a help for you

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