Genealogists talk about Brick Walls–and they sometimes share horror stories about how tough it has been to find anything at all about these ancestors. Almost like a badge of courage, these Brick Walls can become.
So over the past two years, I began to collect reasons why there appears to be a Brick Wall hiding your ancestors from view. Let me share a few of these reasons with you:
- Lack of organization–online or offline. Your ancestor could be hidden in the stack of papers you have collected–some genealogists have boxes full. Or buried deep in the collection of notebooks where you have copied extracts from sources you have looked at. Or combined with notes on several family members you entered into your laptop the last trip you made to a genealogy library.
- Incomplete searches–you hunted only for the ancestors you currently know. You have to examine people who could be parents, or siblings, or grandparents, or children overlooked. You really need to watch for other relatives connected to your ancestors–witnesses and bondsmen, neighbors and business partners, militia fellows. Who did your ancestors associate with–these will often be related to you. And if you have DNA that matches a different surname–search that surname too.
- Not enough research yet. It is hard to fit the pieces together when you only have part of the pieces. Land, tax, court, and probate records comprise a recording system to identify and attach property holdings to the right persons. If all you have checked are the census and vital records available online, you still have data to find. Of your ancestors moved through several states to get where you found them, you still have to examine their years in other places.
- Overlooking evidence–obvious and hidden–in the records and sources you collect. Do you have pictures of tombstones? Re-examine those photos. How big are the stones? What color are they? How are they positioned in the cemetery plot? Whose stones match? Add the names of these persons to your search list. Re-check the census. Who in that same census district or tract comes from the same state or country? Add these names to your search list. Pull out the family Bible Who else is named in your family Bible? Add these names to your search list. These are just a few of the pieces of evidence lurking in what you already have searched. There may be others awaiting your attention and review.
- Not sure where to look or who to look for. Comb the records you have copied, the sources you have extracted, the name lists you have copied and pasted from the internet–seek other people mentioned in those records. Look them up. Run the census records on them. Anticipate the migration patterns your ancestors followed–adjoining counties and states. If your ancestor lived on the border of anything–check over the border in other sets of records. Read the county histories where your ancestor resided–where did the other residents come from? Check those places. You see, with the internet now supplying us with billions of indexed and browsable images from sources not yet indexed, you literally have access to origins of families and individuals–even groups of people you did not study before.
- Not asking for help from me for your most difficult research challenges. Why not let me help you with your hard-to-find ancestors? I specialize in Virginia, Maryland, Tennessee, and Kentucky along with other Southern states; Vermont, New York, and Pennsylvania; the British Isles. My success rate is high because I know where to look for records that others have not yet searched—amassing a substantial library and archive in my possession to support my areas of specialty. And I am one of the few professional genealogists in America who still does field research onsite at the American archives, libraries, cemeteries, and churches in the areas where your ancestors lived
Your favorite genealogist, Arlene Eakle http://arleneeakle.com
PS My research services and fees are described on my website along with a special offer with discounts to aid you during these years of economic challenge. If you need and want help, I invite you to contact me. We can start before the Pandemic ends.