Planning a genealogy trip? Where will you go? What states and counties are in the area?

Before the trip, review your family tree to identify ancestors who lived there. Record the name of the state and counties where each lived. What communities and towns are nearby? What are the dates when the ancestor lived at the sites? Obtain a map of the area you will visit and mark the sites where ancestors lived.

Where is the courthouse of each county in that area? Learn where old courthouse records are stored. Do any counties have a record center that is separate from the courthouse? Where is it located? What is a contact number for each courthouse and record center? Learn whether a fire, flood or similar disaster has destroyed the records in which you are interested.

If you know the name of cemeteries where ancestors are buried, check to learn the location of each and whether a photograph of your ancestor’s grave stone has been posted. Who is in charge of the cemetery, and how can they be contacted?

If the name of mortuaries and churches are mentioned in the obituaries of your ancestors, do an internet search to learn the location and contact number of each facility. Are there museums and libraries nearby? What is the location of each, hours of operation and how can they be contacted?

Do distant relatives live in the area? Contact family members to learn their address and contact information. Place an ad in a local newspaper where your ancestors lived. In the ad, list the names of your ancestors, the communities in which they lived and the dates they lived there. Request that anyone who has information about them to contact you.

Mark the location of pertinent cemeteries, mortuaries, churches, libraries, courthouses, homes of relatives, old home sites and museums on your map. Identify motels to stay during the trip. Add them to the map. Use this map as a guide in determining the route of your trip.

Visit courthouses and record centers first. Next, visit libraries, where you will find a wealth of information in the local history/genealogy sections. When traveling to old home sites, stop by homes in the area. An older neighbor might be a local historian. At churches, ask about the year each was founded and whether its name has changed. Also, ask about old minutes, church history books and the name of the church historian.

Follow the route on the map, and your trip will be rewarding beyond expectations. As you travel about, keep an open mind and don’t forget to visit and be friendly with people you meet along the way.

Comments or suggestions? Contact Frankie Meyer at