I've been looking at the way people search and studying the search results almost everyday.  Most people seem to be lost when it comes to understanding how to search and find what they want. I've even seen searches that read something like this: Mrs. Jack Jones died in 1889. Or something like this: The Jones family in Washburn or Seligman. Searches like those are certainly a waste of time.  

Here are some examples that might help.

Example: Utter + murder - would get a murder of Utter in 1908.

Example: "John Patton" would give you John Patton.  If you search John Patton then you get all the John names that are listed plus all the Patton ones, too.

Example:  *don would give you words such as Hendon, Croydon, Weldon, Gordon ...

Example: Thomas - newspapers would give you the names of Thomas that were listed in this website besides those that are in the newspaper files.


The below search suggestions are those of Free Find and they really do work. It pays to do a little bit of studying so that you can find what you are looking for.


By default the search engine tries to locate pages which have exact matches for all of the words entered in your search query. If that fails, it then tries to locate pages which contain any words in your search query. If that happens a short message is displayed at the top of the search results indicating this has been done.

In addition, there are several ways to modify the default search behavior.

  1. phrase search
    The search engine supports three types of phrase search.
    • To match an exact phrase, use quotes around the phrase
      Example: "free search engine"
    • To match a near (within a couple of words) phrase, use square brackets [around the words]
      Example: [free search engine]
    • To match a far (within several words) phrase, use braces { around the words }
      Example: {free search engine}
  2. + and - qualifiers
    If you prepend a word with + that word is required to be on the page.
    If you prepend a word with - that word is required to not be on the page.
    Example: +always -never
  3. * wildcard
    If a query word ends with a * all words on a page which start the same way as that query word will match.
    Example: gift*
  4. ? wildcard
    If a query word contains a ? any character will match that position.
    Example: b?g
  5. boolean search
    You can use the following boolean operators in your search: AND, OR, NOT. These operators MUST be in capital letters.
    Example: (contact AND us) OR (about AND us)

All of these techniques can be combined: +alway* -ne??r*