in 52 Weeks
I Am Curious About…
Because I am focusing on identifying my 4th great-grandparent brick walls this year, I have a lot of questions about research techniques. In particular, I am curious how other genealogists go about researching ancestors with common surnames. Among my ancestors I am currently researching are the surnames Smith, Gilbert, Russell, and Hill. All are very common. Another ancestor I am researching, named Koontz, has a number of spelling variations that cause the surname to be somewhat common and all the more difficult to research. So, I am curious. What techniques have others successfully employed when it comes to common surnames? Please contact me with advise!
For all the ancestors on my tree, my primary research focuses on time based records: vital and census. However, for the 4th great-grandparents I am currently researching, most lived prior to any government collection of birth, marriage and death records. Church records may be available for those who attended an organized church. They did live during the period when the U.S. federal government began collecting census data every ten years. Of course, only heads of households were named in the census until 1850 and those were mostly adult men. Among my missing 4th great-grandparents are 5 men. Which means, I have a good chance of finding them in the early 19th century census records. The hurdle I will face is their surnames: Russell, McBride, Gilbert, Smith and Koontz. I am curious, how do other researchers find early 19th century ancestors successfully?
A secondary source I often turn to are local newspapers and land records. But, in this case, the ancestors I am researching lived in very rural areas where papers were not published. Or, at least, they were not saved for historical purposes. Land records, however, were recorded and many have been digitized. So, I plan to seek my missing five 4th great-grandfathers in land records and, again, the only difficulty should be their common surnames. Adding to that, is the fact that surnames tend to cluster, particularly for my rural, farming ancestors. A strategy I plan to employ will use the land records to map locations where men with these surnames lived. If I find any living near my known 3rd great-grandparents, I will consider them a strong lead. I am curious, how do other researchers use land records successfully?
NOTE: For both time and place, I may find probate records. Particularly for the 5 men I am researching. Since probate records were recorded, many have survived, and some are digitized. And, if probate records are found, they could be useful in identifying their wives.
Friends and Neighbors
The FaN research method is popular in genealogy. If I research my known 3rd great-grandparents’ neighbors, who are on census and land records, I may get a clue to my missing 4th great-grandparents. This is particularly true for my Gilbert ancestors who I have found on land records with a man named Immel, a much easier name to research. This process can be tedious, but for ancestors with common surnames it should lead to some good leads. I am curious, how do other researchers use FaN successfully?
Here is a research tool I have only been able to use successfully a few times. But those were mostly simple, straight-forward, connections. In the case of my missing 4th great-grandparents, I am attempting to use the “ThruLines” product that is part of AncestryDNA. I am also reading about DNA Triangulation and how that may help with my quest. One strategy I have read about, is to choose a likely person as the missing ancestor and see who, among my DNA matches, has that person on their tree. I have done this and will write about my results next week. The challenge here, 5th cousins (people who share my 4th great-grandparents) have very little DNA in common. And, because we all have 32 couples for 4th great-grandparents, we potentially have a lot of 5th cousins, 10’s of thousands. Of course, only a fraction have tested their DNA, and shared it where I can compare it to my own and other known relations. I am curious, how do other researchers use DNA successfully?
So, I am curious, what methods have others used to successfully research ancestors with common surnames. Particularly those who lived 200 years ago, and lived agrarian lifestyles in sparsely populated areas of the United States. I am using the methods outlined above, but I am making little headway. Any advise or guidance will be appreciated. Sign me, Curious.
- Blog post, Family Finds: Brick Wall; https://barblafara.com/genealogy-brick-walls/
- Profile of William Russell, ‘Osborn‘ tree, Ancestry.com; https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/13493206/person/27581740986/facts
- Profile of Mrs. Gillespie, ‘Osborn‘ tree, Ancestry.com; https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/13493206/person/5085061848/facts
- Profile of Unknown McBride, ‘Osborn‘ tree, Ancestry.com; https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/13493206/person/27581748924/facts
- Profile of Unknown Gilbert, ‘Osborn‘ tree, Ancestry.com; https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/13493206/person/26046078420/facts
- Profile of Christian Immel, ‘Osborn‘ tree, Ancestry.com; https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/13493206/person/26045316684/facts
- Profile of Sarah Smith, ‘Osborn‘ tree, Ancestry.com; https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/13493206/person/26119687041/facts
Born Takeo Furukawa on 15 March 1883 in Tottori-Ken, Tokyo, Japan, little is documented of his early childhood. Family oral history stories say that the young Takeo experienced hunger, poverty and the loss of his family. Additionally, the stories tell of friendship, spiritual learning and scholarship.
My great grandfather, David Louis Osborne, lived at over 20 addresses around Indianapolis between 1876 and 1942. I thought it would be interesting to see all the old buildings and homes where he lived in my hometown of Indianapolis.
My great grandfather, David Louis Osborne (1848-1942), was a widower with two young sons in 1886 when he married Jennie Warbington (1857-1918) in Minneapolis on the 27th of May. I decided it was time to put sources to the story.
While working on a family photo project I decided it would be fun to compare side-by-side my father and his parents, at similar ages, to try and discover a family resemblance.
Jesse King was born in Ohio (probably in the vicinity of Chillicothe) in 1805, he was a son of Philip King and Mary Leah Wright, both of Pennsylvania. Philip King was a farmer, he married Leah Wright in 1801 in Somerset, PA, they had six children, of whom Jesse was the third.
A handwritten letter from Sarah Tucker Lafary to the then president of the United States, Grover Cleveland. It was her last appeal for a War of 1812 pension, sadly the pension was denied. The letter gives a glimpse of a woman who had no formal education, a poor farmers wife, then widow, mother of nine, she probably just wanted some independence through an income of her own.
52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 2: Challenge
So much about genealogy research is a challenge, perhaps the most common challenge is the ‘brick wall,’ meet Sarah Smith. 18?? – 1846
52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 3: Unusual Name
The surnames in my tree are typical of common western European names. However, the name that is unusual among these names is MY surname: LaFara.
52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 6: Surprise!
Just when you think you know everything about an ancestor, surprise! I thought I knew most everything about my paternal great grandfather David L. Osborne, 1848-1942.
For all of us who are procrastinating about labeling photos I have one thing to say, “Be considerate of the genealogist of the future!” My maternal grandmother was very good about labeling old family photos, and there is one, in particular, I found very informative.
52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 10: Bachelor Uncle
My uncles are the marrying kind, sometimes more than once!
I had to go back four generations for a bachelor uncle, my great-great-great uncle Conrad Rumple, 1833-1911.
Conrad was an older brother to my great-great grandfather on my matrilineal line, William Rumple, 1839-1912.
52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 11: Large Family
My great-great grandparents, George Lafary and Catherine Landon, had a relatively small family, three of their six children survived to adulthood. However, they both came from large families of nine siblings and nearly all survived to marry and have children.
52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 13: In The Paper
It’s fun to find articles in the paper mentioning one of my relatives. Mostly they are birth, marriage, divorce and death events. But, it’s the oddball articles in the papers I like the most.
52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 14: Brick Wall
We all have a brick wall, that one ancestor who defies all research. I decided I would work at my brick walls by generation, I broke through the last of my 3rd great grandparent brick walls, now I am working on 4th great grandparents.
52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 16: Out of Place
I realized I did not have a date of death for my great, great grandmother, Catherine Landon Lafary. A fresh search uncovered the date and much more. Out of place, but once discovered, everything fell into place.
I have many favorite photos among my collection of family artifacts. Currently, my favorite photo is of two little children from 1916 who were a complete mystery to me until last spring.