Category Archives: Websites

Mountain States Resources: New Mexico

Photo by Fluzwup

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

The Sandia Mountains one can see when in Albuquerque, New Mexico are on the eastern edge of the Rio Grand Rift Valley. Click here to learn more about this set of mountains. Having lived in N.M. for a few years, the beauty of the mountains is often breath taking.

When searching for ancestors who lived here, it’s best to remember the state began recording births in 1920, yet the first ‘Spanish’ colony, San Juan, was established in 1598. Already occupied by the ‘Pueblo’ Indians, they revolted and drove out the Spanish, but, by the 1700s they reestablished control. The history provided in the FamilySearch Research wiki helps provide important dates needed when researching. The New Mexico History website also has a great section going back much further, however the sections from 1598 maybe far enough back for researchers.

In 1912, it became the 47st state in the United States. There are other records available going back to the 1600s in the manuscript resources and land grants at the State Records Center and Archives. Some of the earliest records are the Roman Catholic Church records covering 1694 to 1957 for the areas covered by the Archdioceses of Santa Fe and Las Cruces. Ancestry has some of the United Methodist Church records covering 1870-1970, includes places in Texas. has 9 collections with the earliest beginning in 1726.

There is a ‘Resident Index’ for 1790 with Ancestry and other early ‘territorial’ census records. Military records cover the major wars, plus the Indian Wars, Spanish-American War and a large collection of all the ‘forts’ located there during the various conflicts. Linkpendium adds some additional collections including oral histories, diaries, correspondence and more.

Cyndi’s List adds even more smaller collections depending on your area of research. When you combine these resources along with the vast online coverage chart and the Record Finder from FamilySearch, you’ll be able to aid your research even more.




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.