52 Ancestors,
in 52 Weeks
Week 16:
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.


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


  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 !


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Remember Me and I Will Live

Frank Takeo Flucawa

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.

David L. Osborne: His Indianapolis Homes

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.

The Marriage of David and Jennie Osborne

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.

Do You See A Resemblance?

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.

Probate of Jesse King 1868

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.

Letter from Sarah Tucker Lafary

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Laferre to LaFara: 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.

Luella Pressell: Surprise!

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Rumple Family Photo 1895

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.

Conrad Rumple: Bachelor Uncle

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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.

George Lafary and Catherine Landon: 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.

In The Paper

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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.

Genealogy Brick Walls

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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.

Catherine Landon: 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.

Immigrant Ancestors, Fresh Start

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William and Uva Lafara: Favorite Photo

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.

Close to Home

My grandparents. Earl and Pearl, met at church, close to home, in 1914,

So Far Away

My great-uncle Frank immigrated to the United States from Japan in 1905 to further his education, so far away

Same Name

I get excited when I discover an ancestor with the same name as a friend, or co-worker, or neighbor. Maybe we are related!