Research the Known

We all have ancestral mysteries that we want to figure out. Sometimes the best way to get insight into our “confusing people” is to go back and work on the ones that are already done or that we think are already done. That review may cause us to learn about new approaches or sources or remind us of things that we’ve forgotten.

Many of my maternal families are well-documented in the United States. Double checking that information in vital records, land records, probate records, court records, etc. has confirmed most of what I was told. I learned a few new facts about them and corrected some errors. That’s good.

But it did more than that.

Those searches taught me more about all those records. It helped me to understand those records better. It helped me to see how to use those records better. That helped me when searching for those records for individuals where I “didn’t know as much.”

And reviewing the lives of those families; their migrations; their interactions with local government, state, and federal governments; their church memberships; their interactions with their neighbors; how the family spread out (or didn’t); etc. gave me ideas on my more confusing ancestors.

Building your skills on people you think you know can help you research those you know that you don’t.