First, check to see which Surname Site has the indexes for the surname you’re looking for.
Ahner Orner/Arner indexes. [only contains Ahners that are descended from Arner families.]
Arner Orner/Arner indexes.
Auner Orner/Arner indexes. [only contains Auners that are descended from Arner or Orner families.]
Aurner Orner/Arner indexes.
Earner Erner indexes. [only if the family now spells their name Erner.]
Erner Erner indexes.
Ohner Orner/Arner indexes. [only contains Ohners that are descended from Arner or Orner families.]
Ohrner Orner/Arner indexes.
Orner Orner/Arner indexes. [all Orners, no matter which family they descend from.]
Urner Urner indexes.
Second, check to see if the personal name that you are looking for is indexed under another name or spelling. (Different names are indexed separately or together, based solely on whether it makes the indexes easier to use, not on whether the names are etymologically or otherwise related. NOTE: This only applies to the “by Name” Indexes, not to the Birthyear or Spouse Surname Indexes.)
Almira (under Elmira)
Celinda (under Salinda)
Edmund, Edwin (under Edward)
Elisa, Eliza (under Elizabeth)
Estella (under Stella)
Francis, Franklin, Franz (under Frank)
Harry (indexed separately). If not found, also check under Harold, Henry and Harrison.
Heinrich (under Henry)
Henrietta (under Harriet)
Johann, Johannes (under John)
Jennie (indexed separately). Also check Jane.
Katherine, Kate, Katrina (under Catherine)
Louis, Ludwig (under Lewis)
Lorenz (under Lawrence)
Lovina (under Lavina)
Maggie (indexed separately). Also check Magdalena and Margaret.
Maria, Marie, Marian (under Mary)
Mattie (under Matilda)
Owen (indexed separately). If not found, also check under Ulrich.
Peggy (under Margaret)
Roy (under Leroy)
Tileila (under Delilah)
Third, check to see which type of index might work best for you.
The “by Name” indexes are the primary indexes. They are sorted by the person’s call name (the name they used in everyday life, if I know what it was, which I may not); then by their birth year (or birth year estimate or range when the exact year isn’t known). Normally, try this index first.
The Orner/Arner “by Birth Year” Index is sorted by birth year, then by the person’s call name. Use this index if you think you might be looking for an individual under one name, but that I might have them sorted under an entirely different name. Of course, you’ll have to have a general idea of when they were born. Check everybody for at least two to five years on either side of when you think they might have been born. Also, people for whom I can only narrow their birthyear down to a decade (e.g. 1880s) will be indexed in the middle of the decade (e.g. 1880s will be between 1885 and 1886) [NOTE: The other surname indexes aren’t big enough to need a “by Birth Year” option yet.]
The “Spouse Surnames” Indexes are sorted by surnames, then by spouses’ personal names. Use this index if you don’t know the personal name of the Arner/Orner/Erner/Urner relative that you are looking for. Be sure to check spelling variations, such as Schaeffer/Shaffer, Schmidt/Smith, Schneider/Snyder, Remaly/Ramaly, Eiler/Iler/Eyler, etc. That way you won’t have to manually do a search for every possible spelling in the other indexes. Also, be sure to check the “Unknown Surnames” file [just because you know their surname doesn’t mean that I do.J]
Fourth, look for your ancestor in the index(es), using these tips.
If you don’t find your ancestor under the name that you expect to find them, try looking under “Anna [call name or initial]” and “Mary [call name or initial]” for females; and under “John [call name or initial]” for males. I have tried to index everybody under their call name. But I won’t always know which name they normally used. Also, if all I know about a person is that, for example, their name is shown as Mary M. Arner or Anna M. Orner in a census, then I have no way of knowing that M. stood for Margaret, and that their family always called them Margaret (or Maggie, or Peggy, etc).
Also, keep in mind that many birth years are not known for sure. I had to come up with some kind of birth year estimate or range for everybody, so that I could sort the indexes, but some of the birth years are just best guesses. Check everybody for at least two to five years on either side.
Orner/Arner indexes: Erner indexes: Urner indexes:
by Birth Year Spouse Surnames Spouse Surnames
If that didn’t work, come back here, and try using these tips.
As a last resort, try doing a text-string search in all of the indexes (using your browser’s Find or Search option) for the person’s known location of birth, residence or death (preferably a county or township). [NOTE: This option will only be effective for uncommon locations. There is not much point in doing a search for Lehigh or Carbon in the Orner/Arner indexes, for example. You will get dozens of hits in each index.] If you want to search by the state, note that all state names in the indexes use the official USPS two-letter abbreviations, to keep the file sizes down as much as possible. So, if you search for IA (for Iowa), for example, you’ll have to page through every name that contains an “ia” anywhere in it. Instead, search for “[space]IA”. (The state name might be followed by either a period or a semi-colon, but it will always have a space in front of it. Unless I made a typo. J )
I have tried to avoid the temptation of listing all births as happening in the nearest town, since most of these families lived on farms in rural areas. However, if you’re fairly sure that they actually lived in a municipality, then you can try searching for that name also.
The more uncommon that a name is, the better of a chance you will have of finding your ancestor. For example, it sometimes seems that practically every state has an Adams or a Washington County (plus there are also many Washington Townships), but Michigan may well be the only state with a Lenawee County.
If that didn’t work either, come back here again.
If you can’t find your ancestor using these techniques, contact me directly and I will try to find them for you. If you are looking for an ancestor that isn’t on this site yet, I will even do original research (for free, but at my own convenience) to try to help you find your ancestor. I will also post your family on my “Unplaced Families” pages, where somebody else might be able to identify them. In order for me to do that, of course, you will have to send me all of the information that you do have on your line.
Thank you very much for using my website,
Joe Erner, webmaster
[contact me at the e-mail address below]
Tips for using the Indexes. Last revision: 02 Jan 2007
The *rner Genealogy Project (Arner, Erner, Orner, Urner Families in America)
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