Category Archives: Genealogy

Mountain State Resources: Wyoming

Photo by Jon Sullivan, PD

by Claire V. Brisson-Banks, BS, MLIS, AG®

The above picture shows the Teton Range rising above Jackson Hole, the barn is the “John Moulton Barn” on Mormon Row at the base of these mountains. Most of this state is covered in mountains with 48% of the land owned by U.S. government.

Wyoming became the 45th state admitted to the United States on 10 July 1890. Up until 1848, at the end of the Mexican-American War, southwestern Wyoming was part of the Mexican Territory. Different parts of Wyoming were claimed by Spain, France and England, to see how it all came together read this in the FamilySearch Research Wiki. There are 11 Indian Tribes here, information on various record sources, collections and how to research members of these tribes is located here.

When doing research here, one needs to know who owned what to locate ancestral records. While the U.S. Census started in 1790, the first census to cover this area was the 1850 and it was enumerated as part of the Utah Territory in the ‘Green River Precinct’ at the end of Weber County. As the area known as Fort Laramie today was unorganized territory it was not enumerated. To fully understand what was enumerated for each census, review this FS wiki page.

Statewide registration of births and deaths began in July, 1909, while marriage records didn’t begin till May, 1941. Only a few counties kept records of births and deaths a few years before 1909, while many counties began recording marriages soon after the county was organized. Some county marriage records go back to the 1860s with more than 23,800 marriages indexed on the Western States Marriage Index website.

FamilySearch has four sets of online records here. The State Archives has a Death Certificate database covering 1909 to 1967. has 27 databases with the Wills and Probate Records covering 1864-1915. For a look at what’s available online check here.

Major repositories for records not online are listed here, also the Family History Library’s collection is available through Family History Centers. Lastly, one needs to consider checking Emigration and Immigration when research in Wyoming. Fur traders first opened a trail through this area, it was the domain of the American Indians where about 200 men would barter with these Indians, who were they, what about their families?  Learn the history to obtain more records here. The Oregon Trail to California, Utah and other western states passed right through parts of Wyoming bringing families and your ancestors.

In closing, be sure to use the  FamilySearch  Wyoming Record Finder in your pursuit of family from Wyoming.





Mountain State Resources: Montana

by Claire V. Brisson-Banks

This is the upper end of St. Mary Lake and Wild Goose Island, Glacier National Park in Montana, we have Ken Thomas for providing such a beautiful picture of this area. It looks so peaceful and inviting.

Historically, Montana was home to various indigenous peoples for thousands of years throughout the area. A map showing each of these tribes, their locations and locations to the their reservations is available on the American Indians in Montana website. This would be very helpful if any of your ancestry is from one of these tribes.

Montana territory was part of other states and territories as well as being disputed by the British. Carefully map out who owned what part of Montana and the matching dates to know where records may be located. We have Montana as part of the Dakota, Idaho, Oregon, United States and Washington Territory.

Between the homestead act, the desert land act, gold, railroads, farming and the wild life Montana had a lot to offer but still didn’t become a state until 1889 and became the 41st state in the union.

Land records from the US Bureau of Land Management can provide some great information on those who settled in this area through the land patents and tract books and counties have recorders who kept their records too.

According to the FamilySearch Research Wiki, 1878 is the earliest date for birth records and many vital records are available online on various websites.

Military records are a good source of information for those researching Montana. From wars with the Indians, like Custer’s last stand and many others, to all the wars throughout the years, there are enlistment records, casualty lists, pensions and  memorials for those who died in the war. Besides the Family Search Research Wiki one can also check out the New Horizons Genealogy and the National Archives.

There are many more records available to help you as you search for your Montana ancestors. Checking out the Montana Research Tips and Strategies to provide you with a lot of guidance as you continue your research in this beautiful state.