Archive for November 27, 2013
How to handle a roadblock in your research efforts.
Step off the family story train and take a fresh look at the research facts.
Heirlines Professional Genealogy Tip: Don’t Let a Family Story hinder you from finding the Truth on your Family Tree – Be Willing to let it go so you can open up your options for discovering your elusive ancestry.
Today was a very fascinating day in research because we have been working on cracking open a client”s long-held family story. Family tradition is that their earliest known ancestor was a Revolutionary War Veteran and that one of his sons was born in 1791 in South Carolina and fathered their lineage. (For the sake of this discussion, this son will be called the father). Some census records that family tradition accepts, have added fuel to the fire by indicating that this father was really born in 1798 and had children by two women at the same time, while only married to his wife, who had 8 of his children, and not to her daughter, the mother of 7 of his children according to census and family church records. Pretty Bizarre and convoluted.
We have gone the rounds with the client over their family story, never finding enough evidence to prove the connection to the Revolutionary War Soldier’s son born in 1791, and never finding enough evidence to disprove what has come down in family records of the guy born in 1798 who was the father of the 7 kids found in the church records the children made when they were adults, where the parents names are clearly given. We searched for land and probate records. None were found in the states where he was listed in the Census. We searched church records (when the children were in the home) guardianship records as well as military records, and got no where. Since no paying client comes to us with Fort Knox backing, it was time we stepped off the family story train for a fresh view of the known facts.
Today we had a break-through because we took a major step back and looked at everything again. We decided not to accept the family tradition at face value because it was using records with such wide variances in age that made it impossible to pin the guy down in the records. Census records are notoriously unreliable from decade to decade, whether we are dealing with names or ages or location of birth, etc. We put family tradition aside and went with the known facts, that the father was born in South Carolina and he did father 7 kids by a woman who the children identify in their adulthood as their parents.
And lo and behold, by doing a general search for the father’s name in Census Records, we found a man in another State, who had been born in ’91 in South Carolina which now opens up another whole avenue of research. And another wife. The plot thickens.
The story is not over yet. The client now has a new possibility for research in two other states where this father may have lived or will lead to a conclusive elimination to him even being related to the Revolutionary War soldier. I hope some day, with the client’s permission to write this story in detail, showing there are more ways to skin a cat, than just holding on to family stories forever.
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