Many times in research, the genealogist runs into a brick wall, speed bump or stumbling block. Do you have a plan to overcome the obstacle? How about visiting the basics again, again and again. In order to get a fresh perspective, allow time between looking at the facts already gathered.
- start with what you already know
- write a timeline
- write a research plan
- evaluate evidence
- resolve discrepancies
- update research plan
Is your research easily accessible? When an idea, question or answer comes at inconvenient times such as middle of the night or when away from the main computer, can you remember? Or, do you have stack of scrap paper in your pockets on your desk never to be discovered again? One suggestion would be to use a program such as Evernote. Easily accessible from multiple devices with automatic backup. Never lose that idea, question or answer again.
For collaboration, publish research information. In this Jane Dunham example, partnerships are formed from published (under construction) trees and social media. Jane Dunham is my maternal grandmother’s grandmother or my great great grandmother.
Using Jane Angeline Dunham Couch as my example, the following is my progress:
- in the early 1990s, only a photo of Jane Couch and her parents existed
- In the mid 1990s an unidentifiable scrap of paper was found. The paper tells me that my grandmother’s grandmother is Jane; her birth was 26 November 1823, Rome, New York; her marriage to Elisha Couch was on 24 December 1846; and her death date was 27 April 1906 in Seneca, LaSalle County, Illinois. Several family wedding and baby books have unidentified newspaper clippings with some of the same information. This is a starting point.
- The 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880 federal census list her birthplace as New York. The 1900 federal census records her birthplace as Vermont. The 1880 and 1900 federal census register the birthplace of both parents as Vermont. The 1855 New York state census lists her birthplace as Oneida County, New York. Census records are only clues.
- On the death certificate for Carrie Couch a daughter of Jane and Elisha, Carrie’s mother’s maiden name is listed as Hempton. Other earlier documents add more weight to Dunham instead of Hempton. William Hempton married Louisa Dunham in 1851. Jane was married before Louisa. Yes, they are related, but how? My maternal grandmother gave the death certificate family information. She knew the Hempton name, but not the relationship.
- Autosomal DNA has connected me to family members of William F. Dunham. Exactly what is the relationship?
- After finding the 1835 Oneida County, New York state census on Family Search, a new online New York tree has been started.
- Jane’s obituary mentions the ME Church in Seneca, Illinois; does this church still exist and do any records exist?
This has been a 20 year journey. each clue offers more questions on family relationships. Contact Selma Blackmon with your comments or questions.