52 Ancestors,
in 52 Weeks
Week 16:
Negatives
Family Finds Charter Oak

Research Negatives

While researching my so-called brick-wall ancestors, I review many sources that often lead to negative results. These research negatives, or null results, are frustrating but are expected when I do genealogy research. I have many examples of a negative result that proves to be a positive, or at least useful, finding. Additionally, documenting the negatives may help another researcher along their path. Sharing negative research, and highlighting how it does not match a particular ancestor, can aid with correcting family trees that have saved the results as positive sources.

NOT my William Russell

In the 1830 census I found a family that fit the profile for my missing Russell ancestors. [1] The family was living in Strasburg Twp., Lancaster Co., PA, which is where MY William was living in 1850. The head of household was a man named William age 50 to 60. There was also a woman 50-60 and a male age 15-20 and another age 20-30. Either of which could have been MY William. I tracked this family and discovered they were William and Mary Russel and they had a son named William who was born in 1815. But, in the 1850 census, I found William Sr. had died and Mary was head of household with her son, William Jr., listed as “idiotic.” At this point I knew this family was not the one I was seeking. But, I now recognize this family in other records and have been able to discount them quickly and move on to other results.

Week 11, 2021: Fortune

I wrote an entire post for the week 11 prompt last year: Fortune, highlighting a negative research result. [2] I intended to write about some wealthy ancestors. I decided I needed to document some primary sources linking the wealthy family to me. Instead, I discovered the primary sources did not support the connection. This negative result led me to primary and secondary sources that instead linked me to a family whose surname is a homophone for the wealthy family, Bird vs Byrd. Documenting this negative research I hope will help to correct the many family trees that have the erroneous connection.

Conclusion

These are just two examples of negative research results I have encountered, and made use of in a positive manner. This year while researching my brick-wall 4th great-grandparents I have had MANY negative results. I have concluded that the more common the surname, the more negative results to expect. So, I am not always able to turn these negatives into positives, but, at least, most can be used to eliminate particular lines of inquiry.

These are many of the surnames in my family tree

SOURCES:

  1. Entry for William Russel, US Federal Census, Year: 1830; Census Place: Strasburg, Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Roll: 153; Page: 448; FHL Film: 0020627; Online: 1830 United States Federal Census [database on-line] at Ancestry.com, page 37 of 50.
  2. Blog post, Family Finds: Fortune; https://barblafara.com/fortune/

1 Comment

  1. Susan Blakley

    Turn the negative into a positive. We should encourage one another. Thanks for sharing !

    Reply

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Remember Me and I Will Live

Frank Takeo Flucawa

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