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.



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