Thursday, August 25, 2011

Stumbling Blocks

Stumbling blocks happen in life, and when dancing with the ancestors. Case in point - Nathan Swett (maternal). I found a bunch of information out there on the web - digitized books, thanks Google - that mentioned his parents John Swett and Bethia Page, and some of his siblings, but . . . he wasn't mentioned.

Great! Fine! Dandy!

But, using I happened across his birth record that listed his parents as, yeah, you guessed it, John Swett & Bethia Page. Woo-hoo!

Now, once again, I've hit a stumbling block regarding Nathan's wife Mary Dearborn. The majority of the information I've found indicates she is the daughter of Thomas Dearborn and Mary Garland.

Dandy! Fine! Great!

But (dontcha hate when that happens?), one book I've found about the Dearborns only lists Thomas and Mary having four children . . . none of which are my ancestress Mary.

Fine! Dandy! Great!

Oh, but wait, I have a birth record - same hospital where Nathan was born, way back when - that lists her last name as Darbon (this is a common variant of Dearborn, Dearebarne, etc).

But (again), I still don't have the connection to Thomas and Mary that'd I'd like to confirm the relationship, and to start tracking the Dearborn (Dearebarne, Darbon) branch of the family tree.

So, I'll search and search, contact people who have tracked her in their trees, and hope to locate the verification.

So, as you're dancing with the ancestors, don't let stumbling blocks stop your search. Keep digging and digging.

Oh, while I'm thinking about it, often times you can verify relationships through Sons/Daughters of the American Revolution Applications, or, by Civil War Regiments.

I've been corresponding with another ancestor researcher - his ancestor and my great-grandfather were brothers. He was trying to track down more information on his ancestor. He had a few Civil War records, but wasn't positive they related to his ancestor . . . until I came along. Ha!

You see, a few of my ancestors and their siblings fought in the Civil War. They were all from Warren County, Tennessee, and all in the 16th Tennessee Regiment, but in differing companies - A, D, G, etc. So, I suggested to my fellow researcher that he focus his research on the 16th Regiment and . . .

. . . Voila! There was his ancestor.

So, keep digging, keep searching, try different options, step outside of the box. Don't give up. Keep looking!


Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Digging Game

So, when dancing with the ancestors, there's a certain amount of digging, which I call the digging game that goes on.

Case in point: Mrs. John Aldred

Okay, I guess you need a bit more info to understand that reference. Ha.

In attempting to track down ancestors - siblings, children, etc. - to verify a connection. I have had to dig, dig, and dig some more. I've had to change spellings of last names. I've had to use two different genealogy sites, and even Google a time . . . or twenty-five.

Dig, dig, and dig some more.

So, I have a handwritten copy of the death notice for my great-grandfather, which lists . . . daughters, Mrs. J. E. Hock of Louisville, a few more, and his sister Mrs. John Aldred of this city.

Well, I couldn't figure out which of my great-grandfather's sisters married an Aldred until, when verifying one of his brothers, I came across his death certificate, the informant of which was . . . A. C. Aldredge.

Uh-huh, my mind began to whirl about in delicate . . . twirls and one question came to mind: What if the spelling of Aldred was incorrect?

So, did some more digging and found out that my grandfather had a sister, according to census records, with the initials . . . A. C. So, a bit more digging, and . . .

. . . marriage record for J. C. Aldredge and A. C. Smith!!! Woo-hoo! Verification.

So, when dancing with your ancestors, keep digging. Alter the spelling of the last name. Look to death records - when you can find them - for additional information as well. If not for the death record of my great-grandfather's brother . . . I wouldn't have finally solved the mystery of Mrs. John Aldred of Nashville.


p.s. As a side note, it took me a while, but I also figured out which daughter (one of the children by his first wife) married J. E. Hock.

Monday, August 15, 2011

You Just Never Know . . .

. . . what freaky things might happen when you dance with the ancestors.

Yeah, there's the normal skeleton or two, possibly three, you might find in the closet. Every family has a skeleton or two, possibly three, in the closet. Trust me on that one.

Most families also lose touch with family members throughout the years. It happens. It's part of life. Enough said.

My family is no different. Many years ago, decades actually, we lost touch with my father's cousin's family. I don't know why, no one really remembers the why, it just happened, and we all moved on with our lives until, well, I began to dance with the ancestors. Like how I keep working the blog title into the posts? Ha!

So, we lost touch, years passed, and then I began to do the family research thing. Then, yesterday, my sister and I went to visit my paternal cousin and he handed over some ancient pictures. We knew some of the people. We didn't know most of the people, but we were 97% sure it was our grandmother's family, which got me to thinking about the estranged/lost branch of the family.

Hello, Google. I keyed in the following: Martha Smith, wife of Jess Andrews. BAM! I found a link to her son. So, flip on over to, type in his name and - BAM - two addresses for the son.

Now, for the freaky part: both addresses are within minutes of my house. Minutes, people, minutes. FREAKY!

One address has a phone number. Yes, I did. I dialed the number and a woman answered. I told her . . .

. . . my name is Scott, and I believe I'm related to your husband. Were his parents . . .

Long story not really short, yep, I was talking to my cousin's wife. It turns out that her first cousin is . . . my neighbor. Seriously, people, my neighbor. Oh, and her husband, through his paternal side of the family, has a cousin who lives . . . on my street as well.

First, small street, no more than twenty houses. Second - OMG! FREAKY!

So, with one short phone call, I've made a family connection that can hopefully help fill in some of the blanks on my grandmother's paternal family, and, will also get me in touch with this cousin's siblings so we can meet, swap stories, and hopefully identify the people in the photographs. Oh, and also net me some more photos to add to the family document. Woo-hoo!

So, when you begin to dance with your ancestors and befriend Google, you never know, your relatives might be just around the corner . . . literally.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Local vs. Federal . . .

. . . census records!

As you should know by know, Census Records are a bit iffy in nature. Why? Two words: transcription errors.

So, keeping in mind that Census Records are iffy, they still help out in confirming basic information: spouse, children, etc. This basic information has helped confirm more than one family connection as I've been dancing with the ancestors.

The reason I'm posting about local versus Federal Census records, is because of my trip to the State Archives yesterday. I spent part of that visit going through the local Census Records for Warren County, Tennessee where a bunch of my paternal ancestors settled, and where some distant cousins probably still live.

Anyhow, I was attempting to find more information about my great-grandfather. So far, he appears parentless, dropped on the Earth by aliens. Go figure. That'd sure explain a lot about my family. Ha!

So, starting with 1900, I worked my way back through 1870, looking up all the Mitchells and all the Tates. Why the Tates? I'm glad you thought that question. Ha! My grandfather married a Tate, so it seemed obvious - at least to me - that there was some connection between the Mitchell and Tate families. So, after writing down every page number connected to the Mitchell family, then the Tate family, I looked for page numbers in common, or one page apart.


In the 1880 Warren County Census I found that there was a Mitchell family that lived just down the road from my Tate family. Woo-hoo! And, lo and behold, one of the children could well have been my great-grandfather - double Woo-woo-hoo-hoo - which made the connection between the two families a bit more than a coincidence. Also, according to that Census, my great-great grandfather Tate was a farmer, as was my great-grandfather. Yes, another coincidence, and connection.

So, with the basic information from the 1880 Census readily available, I went to the 1870 Warren County Census. Paydirt, people, paydirt. I found the Mitchell family again, and this time, instead of initials, actual names and - BAM - there was great-grandpa Mitchell, and the year of birth matched!

Can I have an AMEN??

Yes, I know, it's all coincidence, and no verifiable proof . . . at this point. Still, too many coincidences for my liking. I seriously believe I have found my great-grandfather's family, and made the Warren County connection. I'm hoping, through further digging, to somehow prove the connection. Still, too much information matches what I know, so, at this point, I'm adding this family to the family tree.

But, I do want to mention that, on the 1880 Federal Census, the transcriber added 10 years to my great-great grandmother's age. On the 1880 Warren County Census her age is listed as 58; however, on the Federal Census it is listed as 68. Yeah, I can picture someone interpreting a 5 as a 6, especially if someone's penmanship wasn't the best in the world.

So, when looking at Census Records, do not let age discrepancies stop you. Find other Census records for the same person. Sooner or later, you'll find enough evidence to get a general age for your ancestors.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Backwards Research

Okay, part of dancing with the ancestors is doing backwards research. Say What!?!?

Please, people, it's not as confusing as it sounds. In my family tree there is a marriage between the Boarman and Edelen families. In trying to verify information about the Boarman family, I kept getting conflicting information. So . . . I did some research on the Edelen family and - WOO HOO - I found the connection I needed to verify some information.

So, that's what I mean by backwards research. Or, maybe it should be called sideways research. Whatever the name, sometimes the straightforward path just won't do, and you have to take a little sidetrip to discover the information you need to verify your ancestral connection.


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Last Wills and Testaments

Okay, I haven't been dancing with the ancestors as much as I have previously. Obviously, I'm doing a little two-stepping right now since I'm typing this post. Ha!

A good source of information, especially in verifying wives/husbands/children are the last wills and testaments of your ancestors. Again, with this Google is often your friend. Just type in . . . last will and testament of (insert ancestor's name).

In finding the last wills and testaments of my ancestors, I have been able to verify names of children, as well as marriages that help verify information.

For example, the last will and testament of Richard Edelen mentioned "an unnamed grandaughter who was the wife of Charles Boone and the daughter of Thomas James Boarman".

So, right from the start, I have verification of the marriage of unnamed Boarman to Charles Boone, who is my ancestor. Now, I'd already verified her name, so I know it was Mary. In addition, this will helped verify her father . . . Thomas James Boarman. Woo-hoo!

So, in dancing with the ancestors, don't discount their last wills and testaments, because, quite often, the verification you need to prove a relationship is found in those doucments.

Happy dancing, people.