Got a Baffling Ancestor?

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Got a Baffling Ancestor?

Ancestor TreeWorking a month or years on your family history and you have had at least one or more ancestors for which little information is gathered on to date. You might not even have a name yet, only that it is a grandfather or grandmother on your mother’s side.  This known as ‘hitting a brick wall’.

A few proven suggestions are offered which just might create a major breakdown in that ‘wall’.

Be organized.   Review what you do have to date, recheck documents and other records even if they cover other individuals or different family branches. By just taking the time to organize your notes and information sheets as you review them could just spark a clue as to another name or location you had not checked so far.

Time Frames.  Dates can be one main portion of your search to be messed up.  All it takes is one record to mistakenly to have down the wrong date for a birth or marriage and that same date continues to be repeated. Plus our ancestors were known for changing their birth year to avoid any embarrassment.  If your grandmother appears to have different birth dates, it could be her parents had married say in February 1898, she might not want it known as the first born  child, her birth was only three months later.  I have even found where the doctor who delivered a baby changed the birth month / year, just so later the child could enter school earlier.  So always be ready to search other time frames for events; start moving that scale several years either way when trying to find that ancestor.

Siblings.  Some of the most successful searches for one individual were due to searching for that person’s siblings.  Especially helpful is if that sibling had an unusual given name.  Now searching using sisters can be more difficult because of married names, but be willing to give that angle a try also.  Some siblings could have been more accomplished or noteworthy, so possibly easier to locate.

Various Spellings.  Oh — how given and surnames have changed over the decades.  You have to be prepared to investigate numerous spellings for the same family branch.  The further back you go in the family lineage the more likely the surname was spelled different.

Here is one example for the ‘Rue’ surname:

First written — 1840 — Routh
then                   1850 — Ruthe
then                     1860 — Rough
then                       1870 — Rouch  (and Rouche)
then                          1880 — Rue

Within a span of forty years it went through five various spellings – the same family and their descendants.

If an ancestor was illiterate, when it came to the census taker coming around every ten years or a marriage record filled out, the recording clerk or census worker would just make their best attempted at the name’s spelling based on how the person pronounced it.

While doing your research try various spellings, it could pay off with finding a missing relative.

The main key to a baffling ancestor is to use as many diverse sources as possible — leave no ‘stone unturned’.

2016-11-17T20:14:55+00:00 July 23rd, 2015|General Genealogy|6 Comments

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6 Comments

  1. JOHN WHITE August 2, 2015 at 3:49 am

    My BAFFLING ANCESTOR IS STEPHEN WHITE (SENIOR) WHO WAS TRANSPORTED TO ANNE ARUNDEL CO., MD. IN 1659
    ALONG WITH ONE ROBERT SAUNDERS , A CO-TRANSPORTEE OF JAMES SOUTHEARD; I SUSPECT STEPHEN WAS THE SAME “STEVEN” TRANSPORTED IN 165-1658 CHARLES (CITY) CO., VA. STEPHEN OF 1659 MARRIED ANNE ROCKHOLD/ROCKHOULD, DAU. OF ROBERT ROCKHOLD WHO HAD LAND IN NANSEMOND CO., VA. (NORFOLK, VA. IN 1640 WAS THE BIRTHPLACE OF HIS DAU. ANNE.) STEPHEN SENR. DIED IN 1676 ANNE ARUNDEL CO. HIS SON, STEPHEN jR. MARRIED SARA hALL OF ANNAPOLIS, A.A. CO., MD. JR.’S SON WAS JOHN, LIKELY THE SAME JOHN WHO WAS GRANTEE OF LAND, 1733 “WHITE’S LEVEL, LATER GRANTED TO WILLIAM WINCHESTER, FOUNDER OF WESTMINSTER, CARROLL CO. JOHN HAD A WIFE PRISCILLA (RENSHAW?) AND LATER MARRIED MARY WOOD (LIKELY DAU. OF JOHN WOOD). JOHN JR. MARRIED FIRST, SARA LEGOE, LATER OF POPLAR GROVE, DEER CREEK, HARFORD CO. , MD. ENG. ORIGIN OF STEPHEN (SENR.) OF 1659 = WHAT TOWN/VILLAGE AND COUNTY IN ENGLAND? NEED SOME RECORD.

  2. JOHN WHITE August 2, 2015 at 3:55 am

    I CANNOT PROVE THAT ONE STEPHEN WHITE B. 1635 READING, BERKSHIRE, ENGLAND IS MINE, AS I HAVE NO Y-DNA OR WRITTEN RECORD BEYOND SAID NAME AND DATE AND COUNTRY. THE YATELEY (HAMPSHIRE) WHITE LINE DOES NOT CHECK OUT WITH MY Y-DNA HAPLOID GROUP. I WOULD AT LEAST LOVE FIND OUT ALL I CAN ABOUT SAID JOHN WHITE WHO GRANTED LOTS IN WESTMINSTER, SUCH AS THE LOCATION OF POTAPSCO FALLS AND PIPE CREEK.

  3. Alice August 7, 2015 at 11:03 pm

    Carroll County, MD has a wonderful genealogical society. If you have not checked out about their resources, do so.

  4. Laurie Dalrymple August 29, 2015 at 11:00 am

    My grandmother, Sylvia Berger Cunningham died in the flu pandemic and I am having one hard time finding her cemetary plot.

  5. David Hough August 30, 2015 at 6:42 pm

    My grandmother died during the flu epidemic of 1918 as well. A few years back, I spoke with the undertaker who was alive at the time. He told me that “I buried 22 that week” This suggests to me that there may have been mass graves with no grave plots listed

  6. Alice September 14, 2015 at 11:13 pm

    It varied with different towns, but so many deaths due to the Spanish flu, there were mass graves with no markers and few records kept. Also you won’t find obituaries for the most part, the newspapers would have only had obits if all those who died of the flu then had an printed obit. It was a difficult, scary time for everyone.

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