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The Value of Putting Queries on Online Message Boards
Column published: 17 February 2010
By: Shirley Gage Hodges   Biography & Archived Articles

It is important that we do not overlook the value of putting queries on message boards. We have to face the possibility that we might never hear anything from these queries but oftentimes they bring great results. I like to think of them as a putting a message in a bottle and throwing it into the ocean. It might come to rest in exactly the right place and find the right person. I personally believe that most of our greatest genealogical finds are because of divine intervention. I look at answers to these queries in that light.

About twelve years ago I placed a number of queries on several different boards. One of the families I was looking for was Charles Welch who married Abigail Chase. The family had moved from Vermont to New York then on to Fulton County, Ohio with some of the family moving on to Michigan. I received a reply back to one of those queries about six years ago from a wonderful lady by the name of Vivian Russell. I knew from her response that she and my husband were related. I sent a reply back and told her that my husband would like to talk with her. She called a few days later and we had a delightful conversation. At the end of the conversation as she was getting ready to hang up she said, "well dear, you do know that there is a Welch Reunion this week-end in Michigan don't you?" We did not know about the reunion. Vivian said she was coming up from her home in Florida and would love to meet us there. We went to the reunion and my husband met 65 new cousins who have all become very dear friends. This was all because of a query that it took me ten minutes to write and post.

I like to think that posting a message board query
is like putting a message in a bottle... you never know
when the right person is going to find it!

Take time to go to these message boards. Do a quick search and see if anyone else is searching for the same people that you are. You may find relatives who will be happy to share and exchange information with you.

For a quick list of family history message boards, Google the search term "genealogy message board"

Until next time :)

Shirley Hodges, biography & genealogy lectures; email:

Editor's Note: Shirley Hodges is the author of the popular Guide to United States Census, 1790-1930

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