Instead of banging your head against the wall on the same person, pick an ancestor or relative you think you have “finished.” Go back and double-check your conclusions on that person, cite sources that weren’t cited, originally, look for gaps in their life chronology.
The time away from the brick wall may give you a fresh perspective on it…and save some wear and tear on your head!
Church records often contain more than just details of births (or baptisms), marriages, and deaths (or funerals). They may contain lists of individuals who were members of the church–even for a short time. They may contain lists of individuals who took communion or made a donation. Any of those lists could be clues–perhaps clues to other family members who lived in area a short time or attended the church for a short time.
There can be a great amount of variation in church records. The key is not to just rely on records of “vital events.”
If your ancestor’s estate settlement indicated he was owed money and that he owed money, who are those people? They may have been business associates, friends, relatives, or any combination thereof.
Some of them may have been from the same original location as your ancestor. Some of them may have been members of the same church as your ancestor. Some of them could have been neighbors of your ancestor in more than one area of residence. There could be clues in those names.
Years ago when I started my genealogy research, I would occasionally give my grandparents various records I had located on their grandparents or great-grandparents. My maternal grandparents had a moderate interest in genealogy and I enjoyed sharing my discoveries with them.
After these grandparents passed, I ended up with most of their papers–including the copies I had made for them years ago of various records. I didn’t need the duplicate copies of things. But what was helpful was the notes that my grandma had written on some of them. Many of these details were things that I did not know.
If you are needing a memory prompt, consider giving that relative copies of a few family documents. Encourage them to write on them and mark them up. Their comments may contain details of which you are unaware. Information on a record could easily be the trigger to pull memories out of the depths of their mind.
While browsing the stacks at the Allen County Public Library recently, I noticed a book that appeared to be out of its geographic element. The book “Knox College,” actually a 1993 yearbook for that institution, was shelved in the materials for Gallatin County, Illinois. Knox College is located in Knox County, Illinois.
The reason for the unexpected location of the book in the stacks was due to a typographical error in the call number of the book. That was why the book was placed where it was.
Everyone can occasionally make a mistake. Browsing the stacks is still a great way to find things and a way to catch errors of this type.
“Deed” records may contain entries for documents besides those that transfer title to real property. This 1736 deed, recorded in the land records of Baltimore County, Maryland, documents a transaction where the property being transferred is a dark bay gelding. The horse is also described as having a “great Star in his face.”
Do not assume that your ancestor will not appear in the deed books if he never owned real property. Some times records of other property transfers are recorded there.
Indexes that take us to one page are great, but they can be limiting if we only look at the page referenced in the index or linked to from the online search results.
Some US federal censuses have more than one page. The 1840 census in particular contains names of Revolutionary War veterans on the right hand page–which many researchers fail to look at because it’s the “next image.”
Deed books can contain multiple deeds from the same grantor recorded sequentially–if they were brought in for recording at the same time. For one reason or another the others may not have been indexed. When you find a deed always go a page or two before and after.
Neighbors on the next census page may be relatives.
Occasionally siblings have double weddings. Any chance that the other couple is listed on the next page?
Children who die at birth along with the mother may have sequential death certificates.
It does not take long to look a few pages before and after the “item of interest.” You may be surprised at what you locate.
My Grandma always told me they went four counties away (staying within the same state) to get married because “your Grandpa just decided to.” They weren’t hiding the marriage from their relatives and were well over the legal age to marry. From what I heard about my Grandpa, he never did anything on a whim.
Chances are your ancestor did not pack up and move for no reason either. It might have been because local soils were getting depleted, former neighbors wrote home with news of “prosperous times further west,” a new political allegiance increased the chance of sons being drafted into military service, Pa got a military bounty warrant, or one of several other reasons.
Have you tried to find out what might have motivated your ancestors to move by doing more than a thirty second Google search and only reading the “first hit that came up?” While internet postings can be accurate, peer-reviewed articles and journals may give more insight into the era, potentially be more reliable, and provide additional reading references. Don’t just read the first anonymous blog post that you find.
Keep in mind reasons for immigration that you find may or not have been what actually motivated your ancestor. You won’t know that unless he or she left behind something that provides evidence of their reasons.
I still don’t know why my grandparents made a long trip in December of 1935 to get married.
But learning about the era will always enhance your research.