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Anyone have any success you wish to share? A brick wall you finally broke down. How did you do it?

Anyone have a brick wall you need help breaking down? Give us the basics and we'll see if we can help.

Last edited by familyhistoryma; 03/06/08 12:25 AM.

Ebook: Getting Started in Genealogy

Tina Sansone
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I recently found a piece of information I'd been trying to find for a long time -- a naturalization year for a great-grandfather.

I found it at Footnote.com, which was cool because I was starting to think that the only way I'd ever find this year was by paying for official copies of the documents at the local courthouse (something I didn't really want to do).

Of course, Footnote.com doesn't offer official copies of documents -- just images -- but the site did provide me with the year I was looking for, and that's really all I needed.

So this wasn't a "brick wall" really, but it was a small-ish piece of information I was quite happy to finally locate (...for free!).


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Ah, I think I've broken down a *real* brick wall this time.

My Dad had a Great Aunt he always called by a certain name. But in my research, I couldn't find this person. I found families with all the other names, but never hers. Very frustrating!

And then, just today, I was talking to him on the phone and he casually mentioned that this Great Aunt was a twin -- a very important clue I was sort of mad he hadn't mentioned before.

In any case... one of the families I'd been zeroing in on did indeed have a set of twins -- but the birth name of one twin was correct, while the other was not (the "incorrect" should have corresponded to this particularly tricky Great Aunt).

So I checked the first census I could find that would account for her. And in it, she's listed under the "wrong" name.

I tried the next. Still the "wrong" name.

But the third census? A new name -- the one I'm looking for!

She must have decided to change her name in her late teens or early 20s. I don't know what the story behind that is -- and there's no one left to ask, really -- but this was definitely the lady I was looking for.

smile


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How exciting Nancy! Unforunately for me - I'm very annoyed that the ancestry database subscription doesn't seem to include ancestry.ireland !





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Nancy, that's great to use the census that way. I recently found a sister in law so I got the wife's maiden name. I make a point to check every census to find family members that might be living with them, or like you, a difference in name, or a baby that died early.

Not tried Footnote much yet. Do you find it useful. Not really familiar with it, need to research that site more.

I am working on this family and the lady said she gave me "everything" she knew. I kept hitting brick walls. then I called her and she all of a sudden gave me more info. And, she had written down her mom was Christy, but now she says no her name is Charity... So always followup to see if they recall more.

Hopefully Ancestry will putmore Irish links on available to all subscribers. I have Crums and McAnnally's that I"d like to research more on.

Tina




Ebook: Getting Started in Genealogy

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Hi Tina,

Footnote totally helped me find one particular thing -- a naturalization form -- but after that, I haven't found it all that helpful.

It seems to me that the site is a fantastic resource if you're looking for specific types of documents (e.g. naturalization-related stuff, military stuff), but not too useful for other things. (At least so far -- perhaps they'll add more?)

Last edited by Nancy R Callahan; 03/09/08 12:03 AM.

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Thanks... I'll have to try to find time to review Footnote.

I wish there were more hours in a day. Can't do all I want to do.

Tina


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Some success for today...

One thing I've been trying to do is trace each of my parents' families back until I discover exactly which ancestor crossed the Atlantic and when.

As of today, I'm halfway to my goal: I've got the names and dates of all the people on my mom's side (in my direct line) who first came from Italy.

It's not a humongous success, as her family immigrated pretty recently. (Much more recently that the folks on the other side, anyway.) But still it's still really cool to be making progress. smile


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You can get a copy of the naturalization papers, most likely from the regional NARA involved. Are you near one of those? On the Declaration of Intent obtained from the regional NARA in Chicago, city where he applied, I have for my husband's father he stated the name of the ship he came on, where it sailed from and the date, his "foreign residence," his date of birth, his physical description, his occupation, etc. -- a lot of useful information.


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Hi,

I've been doing geneaology since 2000, but always had interest in researching my family history. Im trying to work on my fathers side... COLLINS. They were from Tennessee and cant seem to get out of TN to go further back. My grandfather said his father died when he was 12 so he didnt remember much about his father. I was curious about his father, mother and his siblings. When I started researching the COLLINS line in 2000, I ordered a death certificate and it said that my grandfathers father died in a mental hospital. No wonder my grandfather wouldnt talk about it. It was a disgrace and embarrasment to his family. I'm still trying to go back further, but having a heck of a time with the COLLINS line. I swear, they probably went to Russia and had two more kids... Vodka and Tom COLLINS-lol.

Anyways, any suggestions how I can break the brick wall?

Thanks,

Julie

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Hi Julie:

I've been doing genealogy for 30 years and it is still as exciting as the first time.

I have had two brick-wall lines, such as your own and was able to break that brick wall completly.

The first was, like yours, a great grandfather from Tenn. He had moved from Tenn. into my county when he was 21. Nothing was known of his past and no one in Tenn knew where he had gone. All my grandmother could tell me was the community he came from. She didn't even know her grandparents names.
I ordered a death certificate and got his parents name from that and then took a weekend trip to that community. I pulled into a gas station and asked the owner if he knew anyone living in the area by that last name. He smiled and pulled a huge book out from under the counter. It was a complete history of all the families of that county. I was thrilled. But I was even more amazed when he told me the man who wrote the book lived a mile down the road and that he would give him a call.
In ten minutes I was sitting in a warm kitchen with the county historian, who was able to tell me everything I could have possibly wished for and more. he took me on a tour of the cemeteries and showed me my gg grandfather's grave which I never would have found on my own because it was in a private cemetery that he took care of. I left that day with the complete history of the family, along with the names of other families they were related too, and about 12 pictures he was kind enough to make copies of on his scanner and give me.

The second one was my husbands line. His great grandfather came to the area from Wisconsin. Absolutly nothing was known about him other than he came from Wisconsin and he was german.
Again I ordered a death certificate and got his parents name. But his parents had very generic german names and I knew it was going to be like finding a needle in a haystack. I wasn't even sure absolutly that he was from Wisconsin, that was just the rumor.
I posted the names on the rootsweb site. I heard nothing for about two years. Then one day I got a phone call from a woman in Wisconsin. She told me she had been trying to find my guy and that he was a brother to her grandmother. (I didn't even know he had a sister). She said no one was ever sure where he went, they just knew he had "gone south".

In every situation of brick walls I have had there has been someone looking for me as much as I was looking for them. You may be looking to fill in your families past, but there is usually someone on the other end trying to fill in a brother or sister's future generations. It's a matter of finding that person.
You are not always going to find them on the internet. When you have a brick wall it is going to take talking to people. Call the library in the county you are researching. if there is a historian in the county they will know who it is and can give you contact numbers. Historians usually know every family name in the county and also know genealogist that are working in the county. One of those people is going to be your connection.
The internet is great for finding contact with people researching the same name. It helps if you don't know a state or a county to look in. But if you have a county or community name... go to the source.
Use your phone. Make a fool of yourself and call people by that last name in that county. You may have a few misses, but your going to find someone who knows someone who has done the family genealogy and is willing to help you. Expect to have one person give you a phone number to another person who gives you a phone number. But this is just getting you closer to the source you need. And if no one knows of anyone researching your line ask if they know anyone who is doing any genealogy in the county. You have to first get connected to the right people and they can usually lead you from there.
Don't give up. The one thing I have found about genealogy is that the doors sometimes open slowly, sometimes when you have stopped looking. Even now I have people contacting me about lines I researched years ago. And it seems things I struggled to find and couldn't in the past, come along and fall in my lap with out effort.
I don't do my lines much anymore. These days I usually just play tour guide to those from out of state who need shown around the county.
Good Luck with your brick wall. It won't stay a brick wall forever and nothing compares to the joy you feel when you break it down.

Bylen


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Hi, I've just started doing my genealogy and though my father's side of the family is all from this area or not too far from, it's been fairly easy to find living members to help fill in some of the blanks. However, my mother's side is a mess. She never really met her father, isn't sure what his whole name was and isn't very eager to help find out anything about him. I'm not sure where to start.
I've also been told you can't order birth or death certificates without family members written permission. I'm at a loss. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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hello,

wow, thank you for the advice!!! I know I will have to travel to TN to find my COLLINS line. I have before, but really havent taken the time to ask around. Didn't have time.

I do have a question, by any chance, that book you were talking about, would that happen to be Union County Families? I have that book but found probably nothing about my COLLINS line. My Collins lived (from what I have) in Union County, TN. Eastern TN.

Thank you again for your advice,

Julie

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Bylen, You offered great advise and wonderful exciting experiences. You are right in that not all are on the internet, but sometimes you can get lucky.

Tara, Depending on the state/county in the ordering of vital records. But, usually if it is a family member you can.

For both Tara and Julie: I would love to help you on any brick walls, Just email me at genealogy@bellaonline.com and I will get back to you if I can help. Just send me the basics of what you need. I volunteer at the TN Genealogical Society and we have alot of TN county books and I am sure Union County is included.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving and feel free to post here in the forum with anything you need. Let us know of your needs and your success. I'll do my best to help you in breaking down your brick walls.

Tina

Bylen, again thanks for your great advice!


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Thank you so much for the offer Tina. I too have been to Union County courthouse which burned down 2 times. So I basically really had no luck, just things I've already had. I have a book on Union County Families too only to find a few of my ancetors but none that I'm looking for on my COLLINS side. Union County was formed around 1850 along with Clariborne, Anderson, Grainger and Knox Counties. So I'm not sure where my COLLINS would've been. Plus I was told that my great grandfather's surname was changed from GRAVES to COLLINS therefore, making it hard for me to find him. On my next email, I will send the information.

Thank you again for the offer. I would need to bring a jackhammer with me to Tennessee to brick down the COLLINS line-lol.

Julie

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Depending on how far back you can trace the Collins name, you may what to look at an older map to see if the family tree dates back to when TN was a territory. If it does, you may have to go to the archives of a different state. I'm not sure, but I think that TN, especially the eastern side, may have been part of the Virginia Territory at one point. I do have Collins in my family tree and I am orginally from VA. I have trace different sides of family to the 1600's. My dad's side, while I have traced back to the 1500's the other side, I have had more difficulty. The history itself is amazing. Have you tried writing the Library of Congress? Old grave yards can also yield information. Families were often buried together and that can yield even more information.

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That's true - Virginia extended to the Mississippi at one time, as late as the end of the Revolutionary War.

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Hello, I've been doing family research for many years now and have run into many brick walls. My most frustrating wall at the moment is on my fathers paternal line. His side came from Germany in the early 1900s and went (as far as I can tell) straight to Nebraska. However, I haven't been able to find much on the 1910, 1920, or 1930 census' nor can I find them in cemeteries. My dad's fathers maternal side had a similiar story; however, I'm able to find them in Nebraska. Does anyone have any suggestions? The surname I'm looking for is AHLERS which I've been told is a common German name.

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