Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Use FamilySearch Full-Text Search

It’s time once again for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun with Randy Seaver and this week’s challenge is a hot topic in current genealogy discussions because it’s a game changer for our research:

1)  Use the FREE FamilySearch Full-Text Search ( to find a record for one of your ancestors that is new to you.

It’s been a couple of months now since FamilySearch introduced the beta version of full-text search in its labs. Much of my recent genealogy time has been spent trolling through various searches using full-text.

My very first attempt with full-text search put a chip in a long standing brick wall, which then led to the wall coming down.

Caspar Starr, one of my husband’s 5X great grandfathers, settled in Rowan County, North Carolina. No one seemed to have any documentation about where he lived before that time and no even the tiniest clue had been found regarding the maiden name of his wife, Catherine. Full-text search placed him in Maryland in 1762, From there I was able to trace him into Culpeper County, Virginia by following his fan club, before he settled in North Carolina. I also was able to theorize this wife’s maiden name, which appears to be correct since I’ve found 2 different DNA matches with my husband who descend from the proposed brother of Catherine Starr.

My second attempt is my current research, updating another of my husband’s ancestral lines – that of three Lewis Peavlers in a row, who are his 3X, 4X and 5X great grandfathers. It’s enabling me to separate out who was who, document a ton of unsourced information found online and providing proof that Lewis #1 was actually born Ludwig Bibler.

It’s important to remember two things about full-text search. First, it only searches U.S. land and probate records that are in the FamilySearch collection. It doesn’t search outside the web site. Second, IF the collection is locked on FamilySearch and you can’t view it from home, then you won’t be able to see the results in full-text search either. It’s not a back door into locked records and you’ll still need to visit a FamilySearch center to access the images.

Thank you, Randy, for this week’s challenge. I am loving this excellent new feature offered on FamilySearch.

One thought on “Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Use FamilySearch Full-Text Search”

  1. Good point about the search returns are only in FamilySearch records that are viewable at home, though it will return locked images if at a FamilySearch Center or affiliate library where one can view locked films. Congratulations on breaking the brick wall.

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