Search just our sites by using our customised search engine
Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

The Ellen Payne Odom Genealogy Library Family Tree
Beth's Weekly Moultrie Observer Column - Week 85
(This appears here courtesy of The Moultrie Observer)

   Folks come by my office all the time and visit!  It's always fun to meet the people who read this column and always interesting to hear their genealogical problems.
   Some of the things my visitors tell me.and ask me.may be addressed here.
   Sometimes a family researcher will say, "I'm stuck.  I don't know what to do next."
   When I hear that, I will ask them a few questions.  Even one "no" could be the solution to the "being stuck" problem.  Remember, a genealogist is always a pretty good shade-tree detective.
   If you are stuck, have you talked to every single living relative?
   If you are stuck, have you interviewed and talked to former neighbors?
   If you are stuck, have you identified every single family photograph?
   If you are stuck, have you considered ALL of the spellings of your surname?  Remember, spelling doesn't really matter.  If it "sounds alike" it can "be alike."  Make a list of all of the variations of your name that you can think sure and add new ones as you uncover them in your genealogical research. 
   With a simple name like "Gay" I had quite a list of names to check when I was working on Mel's family: Gayre (the original Gaelic spelling) , Gaye, Gear, Geare (How it is spelled in The Domesday Book), Gair, Guy, Gee, and Gay.  In the Gaelic, "Gayre" is pronounced "Geh."  It's easy to see how the name evolved. 
   If you are stuck, think about the name.  I spent years looking for Anders Stilley.  He was nowhere he was supposed to be.  I woke up suddenly in the middle of the night one night and thought."Anders Tilley!"  There he was!
   Have you considered all of the pronunciations of your name?
   Have you gone back and read and re-read the information you have?
   Have you just taken a break and worked on another line of yours.or maybe a family of your spouse's?
   Have you written up or entered into the computer the information you have?  Sometimes, just putting together what you have will make you think of something else you can do or that you can check.
   Here's a checklist of records that you should check before you say, "I'm stuck."
   Check church records; fraternal records, military records.  Check occupational records and organizations?  Check vital records - remembering that your ancestor may have never moved anywhere but the county lines may have moved.  Check the history of the county and state where your ancestor lived.
   Have you just looked at a historical time-line?  What was going on in the world?  Check military records for that period.  Check the places where free land was available (If your family goes missing about 1816.check Alabama records as they were giving free land away about then!).  Check land records and court records and probate records.  Check local records and state records and even federal records.
   Learn about the particulars of a certain time.  For example, after the War Between the States, salt was distributed and the government kept records of that distribution.
   Check agricultural records.
   Have you checked your own assumptions?  As in the rest of your life, assumptions can really get you in trouble.
   Be sure you are researching from the present to the past!  You just can't start with a famous - and most likely untrue tale of being kin to the rich and famous - and work forward.  You work from YOU to the past.
   Have you organized your information and really read and looked at it?
   More help next time!

Return to Beth's Index Page


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus