It can be tempting to think that if one keeps looking and tries hard enough, that there’s “got to be” a document somewhere that answers all your questions.


But most of the time there’s not.

To be certain, I’ve found a page of court testimony that outlined the family relationships and military pension affidavits that answered many of my questions. But in most situations, determining the relationships required looking over all the snippets of information I had from a variety of records, analyzing those snippets, and trying to determine what they said in the aggregate. No clue is too small.

There might be that one piece of paper in a courthouse that will answer all your questions, but likely there’s not. Chances are it’s quite a few smaller pieces of paper that need to be analyzed together. That’s why it is important to find as much as you can about your “confusing ancestor” and his circle of relatives and friends.



3 Responses

  1. With my luck, that one important piece of paper would have been placed into a storage bin that leaked and all the documents were ruined!

  2. I recently found there is an Orphan’s Court record in a Pennsylvania county. I wrote asking for a copy. I received a call from the Archivist. He said there was little information in the record and was I still interested. Having been at this a long time, I always say “yes!” I received the information today and it actually contains a couple of interesting pieces of information. Apparently there was a will. Now to continue by obtaining a copy of that will. In addition there were two executors named. More tidbits to check. This article just seemed to be perfect for my day! Thanks!

    • Glad you made the discovery. Sometimes the best discoveries seem really small on the surface–especially to someone else.

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