Are You Just One Genealogy Search, or At Best Two Searches away from PROOF…

Do you feel like you are just one genealogy search away from proof that your ancestor fits? Every genealogist I know wants to be one step (hopefully one simple and easy step) away from actual proof. And every genealogist I know is somewhat impatient to get that proof before some genealogy cousin finds it first. Think how you love to “one-up” your relatives–especially those who state most emphatically, “I don’t think we’ll never find the answer.”

Sort of makes you want to say, “I’ll show you,” doesn’t it?

Let me share three strategies to increase your chances of finding the proof:

  1. Account for all family members, especially small children. Did some children die young? Compare census entries with marriage records and entries in the family Bible. Remember that many families have more than one Bible and the entries may be different in each one. Where are these children buried? Many cemeteries have been read and printed–by the WPA, by the DAR, by local genealogy societies, in New York by town and county historians, by amateur history buffs who live nearby, and even by 4-H clubs, and Eagle scouts.
  2. Search all the levels of jurisdiction. Is the census for 1810 missing (Federal level)? Substitute the militia lists (military district level). Or fill the gap with court minutes (county level). Many Tennessee counties have been transcribed and indexed by every name, every place, many subjects. A close look at these indexes reveals the incidence of absentee landowners, especially those from New York and Connecticut who invested in Tennessee lands. Almost all adult males are named as jurors, both petty jury and grand jury; as responsible for road building and maintenance; as militia members required to muster once a month or be fined. In short, court minutes will name adult males as regularly as the missing census schedules. We just tend to overlook how productive one genealogy search in these court files can be. And those exempt from jury duty or the militia are listed along with the reason for their exemption!
  3. Account for all land holdings owned by your ancestor. Do the acres sold equal the acres bought? If not, is there a special land grant? Bounty land for military service or forging iron? Inheritance from a wife’s family or lands bequeathed by a father’s or a mother’s estate? In these cases, trace the descent of the land until you find the origins of the land–then grab the evidence and family relationships.

Add to your summer reading: Family History for Fun and Profit, 30th Anniversary Edition by Arlene H. Eakle and Linda E. Brinkerhoff. Your genealogy evidence guru, Arlene Eakle

P.S.  I will be speaking at the Northern Utah Family History Conference, 15 Sep 2007.  If you live nearby, mark your calendar to attend and watch my website for details.  You know me, I always speak on something too good to miss!

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